Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My First Trip to Vegas

For as many times as I've been out here now, and as many great "Only in Vegas" stories I've collected, I could never forget my introduction--at age five--to Sin City.

In 1983, my family took the classic Grizwold vacation out west from Ohio.  My mom, dad, and two older brothers piled into our station wagon and off we went--California or bust.  Since the back seat of station wagons faced backward, I got to see all of America as we were driving away from it.  There went the St. Louis Arch... there went Mt. Rushmore... there went the Grand Canyon...

As we cruised into southern Nevada that balmy July afternoon, we checked into a budget motel about a mile away from the Strip.  The temperature outside was 112 F.  We were all hot and tired and hungry.  My dad knew just the place.  Circus Circus was perfect for families because there was a carnival upstairs from the casino.  My mom and dad could take turns watching the kids while the other could go downstairs and play some slots.  After being cramped up in the car all day, my dad made the executive decision that we would walk there.

Circus Circus seemed like it was just up the road.  In the flat desert though, everything seems a lot closer than it is.  It was at least a mile, but to this day the actual distance is still a matter of debate. What I do know was that it was 112 degrees, I was five and I was wearing jelly shoes.  Here's how the conversation went:

Mom, to Dad, in her most pleading tone:  "Maurice, how much further is it?  Maybe we should go back and get the car."
Dad barked back: "We're almost there."
Mom: "It's over 100 degrees out here."
Dad: "But there's no humidity."
Mom: "Gab's feet hurt."  (And they did, so much.  My jellies, although fashion forward for five-year-olds in the early 1980s, were actually melting from the heat and molding themselves into the pavement as I walked."
Dad, to Mom: "Why can't you buy that kid some sensible shoes!?"

And it went on like this for what seemed like an eternity.  And then finally, somehow, we made it there. We ate fried chicken and mashed potatoes at the buffet and basked in the air conditioning. As a peace offering for the forced march through the desert, my dad spent about $100 in a ring toss game to win me the pink teddy bear that I wanted.  I loved that bear.  I named her Sarah Beara and carried that thing everywhere with me for the rest of the trip.

I passed Circus Circus while running the half-marathon on Sunday, and had to laugh a little.  Distance running requires the ability to mentally and physically push past pain in order to make it to your goal. I guess my training started at a very young age.

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