On The Road by Judy @ 8:57 PM

#1 Son and I go to Las Vegas for Christmas. I know that seems weird to some people. Las Vegas isn’t really the most “Christmassy” place on earth. But it’s become something of a tradition with us to get out of town during the holiday madness, and so we travel. To Vegas. Each year I make our reservation in a different hotel. This year it was The Aladdin. And each year we go on some sort of tour. This year it was to be a ghost town and gold mine. But, to begin at the beginning:

Part One: The Airport

#1 Son and I travel light and never check bags, so I usually check in and print our boarding passes over the ‘net the night before. That way we can go directly to our gate without any stops along the way. I printed #1 Son’s pass, but there was some glitch (or so I thought) that prevented me from printing mine. I kept getting a message that said: Print it at the airport.

We usually park in the economy lot and take the shuttle in. But, after dropping the fur kids off at the Cat B & B, we arrived at the airport to find the economy lot full — so full that barriers were up preventing us from even entering. Signs suggested parking in long term. But long term was full. Signs on the long term lot suggested parking in the garage. At $18/day. So far we’re doing great. NOT

Inside the airport I stopped to print my boarding pass, and then we headed for security. Since the Great Bullet Belt Debacle I was a little more cognizant of what items we were attempting to carry on board a plane. The bullet belt was left at home, as were all scissors. I had checked to make sure that knitting needles were allowed before I brought my half-made socks along. (One is now completed and the other 1/2 finished — pics when done.) What I hadn’t counted on was being singled out myself for a little extra attention.

In the security line, #1 Son was sent down the normal path, but I was shuffled off to the side, where the “special” people get to go. There my purse, bag, shoes and sweater were thoroughly examined, searched and otherwise pawed through. And a fairly rude woman patted me down, front and back, and used a metal-detector wand. I was required to unbuckle my belt, and since the pant I was wearing are rather loose, this had the unfortunate result of revealing my lovely undies to everyone in the terminal. You’re losing your pants. The TSA woman said helpfully, while the TSA man chuckled appreciatively and continued pawing through the undies in my bag.

When I was finally deemed harmless and allowed to depart the security area, I found #1 Son just putting his shoes back on. He had also been subjected to wanding because he’d forgotten to bring the key to the lock that fastens the chain around his neck, and so set off the metal detector. He had not only been wanded, but also patted down. I was neither notified nor asked permission. He wasn’t even asked if he was a minor.

Yes, I’ve complained to TSA, although I waited until I got home.

At the gate, #1 Son pointed out helpfully to me that since he had a bic lighter and a can of hairspray, he possessed what amounted to a flame thrower. I suggested that we not discuss that with any airline or TSA people.

On boarding the plane, when I presented my boarding pass the airlines employee said, Here’s the red boarding pass. You must be the dangerous woman on this flight. I made some noncommittal sound, and he replied by reading my name slowly and loudly enough for everyone at the gate to hear, thus subjecting me to further humiliation. #1 Son’s flame thrower became tempting…

Yes, I’ve complained to the airline, although I waited until I got home. (No sense in jinxing the return trip.)

Part 2: The Aladdin

So this particular vacation got off to a great start. But the flight down to Vegas was at least uneventful, and I finished the first sock while in the air. At The Aladdin, the check-in line was short. Our room was on the 17th floor near the elevators, and if we squeezed behind our table and craned our necks a little we had a reasonably good view of the Bellagio fountains. The bathroom featured a tiled shower with a glass door and a large soaking tub, but only one sink.

Every room in The Aladdin is equipped with a monitor, keyboard and mouse and has internet access via the hotel’s network for $9.95/24 hours. Yes, it’s more than most dial-up providers charge per month, but at least the access is available and “day” really is defined as 24 hours so there’s no extra charge for partial days. Our mouse didn’t work so I made sure that everything was plugged in correctly and rebooted the in-room part of the system. When that turned out to be ineffectual, I called the number provided (it turns out that the provider is Sprint). Since it was Sunday, no technicians were available but I was told that a “trouble ticket” would be issued and someone should be by in the morning.

The Aladdin has thoughtfully provided a PF Chang’s on the casino level. Since that happens to be one of my favorite restaurants, and one where vegetarian dishes are no problem, our dinner plans were easy to make. Although we had to wait for quite awhile to be seated, PF Chang’s was well worth the wait. I’m addicted to the lettuce wraps. Mom’s take on PF Chang’s: starstarstarstarstar

For entertainment Sunday night, we looked no further than The Aladdin itself. Steve Wyrick is the featured act at the hotel. Billed as “Vegas’ Magician Of The Year,” Wyrick’s show promises bad motorcycles, hot girls, killer music and mind-blowing, bigger-than-life illusions. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite deliver. The motorcyle (1) is there, and the girls, but the music is hardly “killer.” The illusions may be big, but they aren’t particularly mind-blowing. (Raise up curtain, roll airplane on stage. Yawn.) The smaller illusions are better. But his patter is annoying at best and his “teasing” of a woman who spoke absolutely no English and so didn’t understand the joke fell completely flat. Wyrick just doesn’t have the panache to pull off illusions of the size his act contains. After the show, the theater exit leads through the magic shop, where one is encouraged to buy everything in sight. VIP ticket holders can have their free magic books autographed by Wyrick. Non-VIP-ticket holders can get an autograph, but they have to pay for the book. We passed, and left wondering who votes for “Magician Of The Year.” If you’re in Vegas and want to see a magician, take in David Copperfield at the MGM Grand, or head over to Monte Carlo for Lance Burton. Mom’s take on Steve Wyrick: starstar

More tomorrow, including Chucky meets Fargo at The Flamingo and the hazards of sudden downpours in the desert.

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