Day 95, a BIG day, and it all started at 4am. I woke up in my lavish tent at the Lake Mead campground with the wheels turning in my head. Night time is the greatest time for solid thinking. Being a really light sleeper, I get more than my share of this quite time and frankly more than I want of it. Excitement for the mid-day meeting with the family, and a few thoughts that have been weighing on my mind, kept me up. I tried to fall asleep, but it just wasn’t happening. Two and a half hours later it was bright enough to go ahead and crawl out of the sleeping bag and get on with the day. I zipped right up the hill to the grocery store to buy some healthy food then jetted over to McDonalds for some coffee and wi-fi. An hour and a half later a new post was born and it was time to head back to camp to pack my things and skiddaddle to Las Vegas. The 21 mile ride was over in a flash. A sign at Walgreens on the strip said 11:22 am. Planet Hollywood would be home for the next few days and also the place that I’d meet some of my folks at around 11:30am. I was hoping to get there before they arrived so that I could sneak up on them with the Canon and get some first reactions. By about two minutes, I walked in the lobby before them. I was standing in the registration line when I noticed the east-coasters walk in. The timing was so close that I had to kind of duck and cover behind a pillar to get my camera ready for the sneak attack. With the Canon turned on and my eye socket against the view finder and my new ball cap on, to throw them off, I made my approach. It was as stealthy as possible for being in a crowded hotel lobby. April, my brothers wife, spotted me walking their way. I did happen to catch my brothers first reaction. I’d say it was a pretty neutral reaction. He was on the phone and more than anything I may have just confused him a bit. Joe and Pam (tomato Joe and tomato Pam from Pensacola, Aprils parents) were right there with them and in no time it felt like the three months that I’d been gone never happened. I admit that my legs were shaking a bit in an excited, anxious sort of way. No one knew though since my blue jeans had them covered up. After that we headed to registration were Joe handed me a ticket stating that my room was comped. I haven’t known Joe and Pam all that long, but one thing is for certain. They are by far some of the most welcoming and generous folks that I have had the pleasure to meet.
First order of business was unpacking. I’m staying in a ridiculously nice room on the 35th floor of Planet Hollywood that’s based on the 1987 movie Space Balls. It has one of the jackets that an actor actually wore in the movie. Other posters and memorabilia are scattered here and there to give a neat effect to the room. My brother, Shane, April and Pam and Joe are staying in the Panoramic Suite also on the 35th floor. Now that is a suite worth bragging about. It’s theme is Marilyn Monroe and features two of her dresses from two of her movies. Walking around in the semi-circled living area makes even the most hillbilly boy from West Virginia (me) feel like a big baller. It’s by far the coolest hotel room that I’ve stepped foot in. Vegas is written all over its perfectly decorated interior. After we got settled in, food was on our brains. Planet Hollywood has a huge buffet that we took full advantage of. I made two huge plates of food disappear followed by a heaping pile of ice cream. The folks gambled after that for a bit and I mostly stood by watching green backs get lost into the Vegas night-life forever. At one point I sucked it up and put a five in a slot machine and two turns of the wheel later I won $4.50. I cashed that puppy out faster than greased lightning. Making money gambling, I could get used to that 🙂 The rest of the evening was spent out with my brother on the town. April, Pam and Joe called it an early night. I made my way to the PBR rock bar for a bit of nostalgia from my previous nights out with Luke and Jessie from Minnesota. Shane followed suit about five minutes later. It was pretty much on from there. I mean, you only get one first night in Vegas with your brother. Us Krabals are genetically drawn to this sort of scene whether it’s good or not. He and I bee-bopped around town for a bit before settling at Coyote Ugly for the night. On more than one occasion our super competitive sides came out and we foot raced up and down stairs with me always coming out the victor. My blog, my story ha ha. Actually I think Shane got me on a few of them. Somewhere along the line two cats from Colorado joined in on our shenaigans, and before we knew it, Vegas had completely provided what it was built to do. Making a fun-filled, high energy experience for all.