Monday, April 28, 2014

Leaving Las Vegas

So, an update just to prove that this blog isn’t dead, merely on life support.
1. We’re in the middle of my favourite time of the year in Iqaluit. From the first of April until around the May 24th weekend is when Iqaluit is in its glory. The temperatures warm up so that it’s around 0 to -15C, which is quite comfortable, especially after going through a winter of -40C. The daylight is back and when it shines on the ice and snow, it is glorious, especially at sunset. Iqaluit is never more beautiful than it is right now.
2. Our annual sealift is done again. We did it much earlier than normal this year. Previously we did in at the end of June, early July and our items would arrive in early September. However, because we had a day to kill while travelling over Easter, we decided to do it then.
And full props to Cathy. I think I take for granted sometimes just how good, and how well-organized she is at this. Right up until I hear other people spending days doing their sealift and never being sure how much to buy and inevitably buying too much of one thing and not enough of another. Cathy is a ninja at sealifts. We landed in Ottawa at 8:30 on a Friday night, were in Wal-Mart by 9 pm. Next morning we were at Home Depot at 9, Costco at 10 and Ikea by 1. By 4 pm we had everything boxed and left at TSC, ready for shipping to the North.
Even for us, that was fast. But Cathy is that well organized it makes doing sealift a breeze. I’m not saying there are moments where we didn’t want to kill each other (You trying spending thousands of dollars in a condensed timeframe with a deadline and see if you don’t snark at your partner occasionally), but that was as quick and smooth a sealift as we’ve ever done.
Now here’s hoping the ice in the bay melts and we get our stuff on the first boat at the end of June.
3. The other big thing was our recent vacation in Las Vegas. Normally I try and write about these things as they’re happening, but the combination of doing a lot of running around and fighting a vicious head cold prevented that. At the end of most days, I was normally so exhausted, and coming down from the Advil Cold and Sinus I’d been pumping into my body all day, that all I could do was sleep.
It was a good vacation. I’m not going to write in-depth about it here because I’ve had the terribly clever idea that maybe I should pitch some of this to newspapers. I quite like travel writing and now that I’ve been nominated for an award (my editor and good friend, Barb, submitted my travel writing from last year to the Newspapers Atlantic Awards. I find out if I win at the end of May) I figure maybe that gives me enough extra pop to get noticed. However, a few random observations from Las Vegas:
· Normally we take our Easter break at St. Pete’s Beach. Florida is crazy. Las Vegas is a whole other level of crazy. It is a melting pot of crazy because everyone in America and around the world comes to Vegas and encouraged to behave like lunatics. Florida has local crazies and snowbirds fleeing winter in Canada. No contest.
· I thought nothing would ever beat Rome for the number of women I saw in ridiculous high heels. Congrats on the crown, Las Vegas.
· On our Friday night there, I watched a drunk blonde, tottering on five inch heels, use her left hand to keep her micro mini skirt down to merely indecent levels while texting using her right. She did all of this while walking the marble floors of the Bellagio. I fully expected her to go arse over kettle at some point, but she didn’t. Fortune favours the foolish, I guess. Or blondes.
· I saw more Minions on Sunset Strip than I did in the last Despicable Me movie. Any urge to spend money to get my photo taken with them disappeared when I saw the sweaty, over-weight middle age guy underneath the costume.
· I do kind of regret not getting my photo taken with a Las Vegas show girl. Cathy was all right with it, but I never found the right flashy, yet kind of classy, that I was looking for.
· However, I would have given money to punch one of those skeevy arseholes giving away cards for strip joints and hookers at every corner on the Strip who would “twack” the card loudly as you walked by. After the 100th time you become slightly homicidal.
· I do not understand how there can literally be a dozen or more Gucci stores on the Strip, and yet I never actually saw a human being shopping there.
· I did accidentally go to a high end watch store and try on what I thought was a very nice watch. Was told it was $15,000. You would have thought it was radioactive I got it off my wrist that quickly.
· Yard-long margarita glasses with a strap so it can hang around your neck, leaving your hands free for other things. Las Vegas has mastered the art of drinking to excess in public.  I'm astonished George Street hasn't imported the idea.
· Walgreens sells Jack Daniels. It’s good that you can get your booze and hangover cures at the same spot. 
· $4.50 for a 500ml bottle of water at the Bellagio. Not quite the price of the “Holy Water” (4 Euros for 300 ml) we bought outside the Vatican Museum, but close…
· The Downtown Las Vegas Experience? Kind of skeevy. The newly opened Container Mall on East Freemont…all kinds of awesome.
· The High Roller, the new 550-foot tall Ferris wheel  just off the Las Vegas strip, is cool, but over-priced. Which means it fits in perfectly.
· If you’re in Las Vegas for a week it is a moral imperative that you get the fuck out of Vegas. Go out in the desert and cleanse yourself for a few hours. Red Rock Canyon Park is 40 minutes outside of town. Go.
· If you decided to leave Las Vegas and go to the Grand Canyon, splurge and do the helicopter tour. Do you really want to spend 16 hours on a bus to go and spend a few minutes at the actual Canyon? Or do you want to spend three hours flying over desert, through the canyon and landing just above the Colorado River?
· Best song to watch at the Bellagio Fountain? Con Te Partiro or Viva Las Vegas. Worst? My Heart Will Go On.
· There is no casually walking down the Strip at night. There is elbowing through the hordes, to get to the next overpass (built presumably because one too many drunken jaywalker got pulped at an intersection), then repeat.
· Distances are deceptive. What looks like it should take 10 minutes to walk will probably take 20.
· For the love of God, do not drive down the Strip, especially if you’re in a hurry.
· We met very few people who were born in Vegas. We did meet a lot of people who moved there for work and couldn’t wait to get out.
· April is a good time to visit. Temperatures are in the high 20s and nice. Apparently in a few weeks time Vegas becomes hell on Earth.
· You can smoke in casinos. After almost a decade of not smelling cigarette smoke inside public places, it’s quite an unpleasant shock.
· I’d love to spend a day hitting the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and the Venetian with someone from Italy. Just to watch their head explode.
· Having said that, the best Italian food/pizza, cappuccinos and gelato I’ve had outside of Italy I got in Vegas that week.
· 84% of people go to Vegas gamble at least a little. Cathy and I were in the 16%. We didn’t bet a cent. Don’t worry, between food, shopping and shows, Vegas got its pound of flesh from us.
· Speaking of which, me and a newly opened Lego Store is a dangerous mix.
· I found The Walking Dead Video Lottery Terminal much funnier than what should be reasonably considered funny.
· Casino VLTs are like an archeology lesson of formerly popular movies and TV shows. Do I really need to gamble at a Sex and the City VLT? Or Howie Mandel’s digital voice asking Deal or No Deal?
· People gambling on the casino floor at 8 am on a Monday morning are some of the saddest looking humans you will ever see.
· Did we enjoy Las Vegas? Sure, it was a lot of fun. Are we going back anytime soon? Nope. Las Vegas is the antithesis of a relaxing vacation. It’s expensive, packed with crazy people and unrelenting. We’re going to Hawaii this summer. We’re looking forward to doing nothing but sit on a beach for three weeks.
Last Five

1. Implosionatic - Hot Hot Heat*
2. Road to somewhere - Goldfrapp
3. If I had a cent - The Hives
4. Seven Seas of Rhye - Queen
5. Crocodile rock (live) - Elton John and Billy Joel