Ah-ha. So this, this is the first installment of the ‘Trip-blog’. I’ve decided to do the recap in the three sections – Vegas Part One, California, and then Vegas Part Two. Part One is damn-long. I’ve included photos so maybe it’s not quite so drudgerous, but, I dunno?? šŸ™‚ Anyhow.

Vegas, Part One.

Monday, May 3rd

After both of us didn’t get to bed Sunday night until after midnight, 3:30 Monday morning came very quickly. Outside it was still dark and the neighborhood still slept – we got ready quickly, had Slimfast shakes for breakfast and made it to the airport for 5am. Both Tay and I were wearing our Bride and Groom T-shirts (mine in white, Tay’s in black) that had been given to us as a ‘wedding present’ by the person we had ordered from; advertising our intent across our chests attracted a lot of attention. The man in customs snarked at us, his colleague inquired as to whether Tay’s finger was getting any heavier. Har-har. On the way to our gate we stopped at the newstand to stock up on water and magazines – there I spotted the third book in the Shopaholic series (Shopaholic Ties the Knot) and had to have it :).

We got to our gate and boarded shortly after, I very nicely asked the flight attendants if there was a closet I could stash my dress in – they had only a half size one that already had stuff stored in. My lip trembled slightly, I sighed, the guy said he’d find some room. He moved some stuff around, gave me a smile and Hoorah!! My dress was safe and sound.

The flight to Chicago was uneventful – we arrived early, found some McDonald’s and had a second breakfast and settled in at our gate for our flight to Las Vegas. There was an elderly man waiting in the seats across from us, noticed our t-shirts and my wedding dress draped (in it’s bag) over the seat behind us and became very interested in our adventure. Such a nice man, he very warmly wished us well. I was liking all the pre-wedding attention – was only hoping that the t-shirts would serve their purpose checking into TI – and that we’d get the room upgrade that we were really hoping for!!

Then onto the flight to Las Vegas, once again uneventful – once again no problem storing my dress – first class had a full length closet and the flight attendants were happy to accomodate my request. This flight longer than the previous but I managed to snooze off and on. Again we were early – off the plane we went to collect our luggage and then grabbed a shuttle to the car rental. First thing I noticed stepping outside the terminal was the heat – the dryness of it, and the immediate way my skin began to warm. Very quickly I got used to it – prefer the dry heat to the humid heat of TO for sure. Much better to be hot and dry then hot and sticky!

We got our very cool rental car (a Neon ;), hopped in, dropped my dress off at Steiner’s for steaming and then on to TI. Tay gave the car to the Valet, we collected our bags, made our way inside and found C&E waiting in the lobby for us, as promised. It was SO great seeing them – they both looked relaxed and happy and were excited to see us – such a great welcoming committee. Tay and I got in the long lineup to check-in, but the queue was moving quickly – while we waited, we chatted happily with Caius who was waiting alongside us, documenting with his video camera.

Treasure Island

Ten minutes or so later we were at check-in, Tay tried valiantly to get us a free upgrade – Elisa had replaced Caius and was chiming in, “They’re getting MARRIED!” she kept saying, and the woman in the next station, having spotted our t-shirts also took up the battle but it was to no avail, an upgrade was going to cost us an extra $50 a night. We left the check-in desk, I a little sulkily, and announced to Caius that we didn’t get the upgrade. And then, a couple of minutes later a staff member approached us, asked how many nights we were staying, were we getting married there etc. etc. He asked for our key, told us to give him a couple of moments and off he went, only to return a couple of minutes later with a FREE upgrade to a Tower Suite – not only did we end up with a much larger room on the 27th floor with TWO bathrooms and a whirlpool tub), but we were just down the hall from C&E!!

So up we went, the four of us chatting non-stop to the room where we ooohed and aaaahed over the luxury of our suite – and then freshened up very quickly as we were supposed to be meeting Gord and Daph at 11:30 at the Grand Luxe (across the street at the Venetian). (It was only after we arrived at the Venetian at 12:30 that we realized our schedule had indicated that we would be there at 11:30 – we thought we had said 12, so our 1/2 hour being late was really 1 hr and, understandably, Gord and Daph were nowhere to be found.)

But lunch was super-yummy – I ordered the jambalaya and as I gazed around me at the beautiful decor of the restaurant, I was very excited that we were going to eating there after the wedding on Wednesday! šŸ™‚

At around quarter to two, we started to make our way back to TI – Lori was meeting us at two o’clock for my hair trial and we met up with Daph and Gord in the lobby. Daph decided to stay with Elisa and me while Gord went with Tay and Caius to the tux rental place – I got to my room just intime to take a call from Lori who was on her way up. Finally met Lori (after exchanging multiple emails) and was surprised with how comfortable I felt with her right off the bat. I told her what I had in mind (I wanted the back curled and up, the bangs smoothed and off to the side) and she set to work – and soon I had an updo that was pretty much exactly what I had asked for (the only thing I eventually changed was that I asked for the curls to be bigger and a little looser – and she obliged happily, admitting towards the end that I had made a good call!).

After Lori left, we waited somewhat impatiently for the guys to return – Gord and Daph had a concert to go to, and I was anxious to get out of the room. The three of us took a quick trip downstairs to the chapel where I saw that it was exactly as it looked on the website and very much what I had expected (Tay had warned me how small it was so I was prepared). Then back upstairs where we continued to wait for the guys to return.

Finally, at about 5:30 they returned – almost two hours later than they had expected – but they had my dress with them, which I promptly hung in my closet. Gord and Daph dashed off to their concert – we discussed where we go to eat, freshened up and off we went to downtown Vegas and the famous Freemont Street Experience. The light show was very cool – we stared up at the lights for the entire duration and then into the Golden Nugget to find a place for dinner. We finally settled on a place called Zax which had tons of potential – the decor was pretty cool and the menu promising – though I ordered the wrong thing – shrimp scampi that was drenched in so much butter, I was unable to eat it. So I ate some of Tay’s pasta, which was very good :). By then it was after 8 – we were almost falling asleep in our food after having been up since 3 (it was now after 11 Toronto time) and we still had to get our marriage license and meet Tay’s dad, grandfather and Stacy.

We left the restaurant and went to the courthouse – the fresh air and the excitement of getting our license rejuvenated us a bit – Caius videotaped the whole thing which made us laugh – following that, we were off again to the strip where we met up with our other guests at the Riviera. Stacy had found Terry and Art easily enough – she was brimming with excitement and ready to take on Vegas (particularily the Big Shot, which I had told her we would do that night) but the rest of us were SOOOO tired we begged for sleep instead – so we said good night to Terry and Art and back to TI we went where we smuggled Stacy into our room and set up a makeshift bed on the sofa for her(saving her the nightly TI rate of $89 USD!).

And shortly after, all three of us were sound asleep, while outside our window, fireworks exploded as the Sirens show finished it’s final nightly show.

Tuesday, May 4th

We woke up Tuesday morning bright and early – Tay had some running around to do that morning so Stacy and I joined him for breakfast at the deli in the hotel (I had a cheese omelette, OJ and a slice of toast) and then we headed out to the pool for some sun while we waited for Dawn to arrive. It was still early enough that the pool wasn’t too crowded – we quickly found a couple of huge orange ottomans near the pool, spread our towels and just soaked up the beautiful weather. Once we were sufficiently hot enough both Stacy and I slipped into the pool. We cooled off and then I got out to order a couple of slushy drinks – they came with little pipe-cleaner flamingoes peeking out of them, very cute!! (The pool at TI, while small, was absolutely fabulous – warm breezes, palm trees, sparkling blue water! I thoroughly enjoyed all four times I managed to relax by the pool :).

Around 11 we headed back up to the room to cleanup a bit – and then back down to the lobby to meet Dawn. We got there just as she was arriving – she came in looking very hot and flustered and very irate – she provides a very amusing recap of her adventures over at her blog, should you want to know more :). (But it was SOOOO good to see her, when I hugged her I absolutely did not want to let go!). Dawn decompressed a bit in the check-in line, we got her up to her room (the two of us carrying that damn-bag-from-hell), she washed up and then we scooted over to the Mirage to meet Tay, Terry and Art for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen (where I had a shared a ceasar salad with Stacy and ate some of her barbeque chicken pizza and some of Tay’s pepperoni). We finished lunch fairly quickly and then off we went to tour the strip – from the Mirage we went to Ceasar’s and then over to Bellagio – where we got to see a bit of the fountain display (though I didn’t know it at the time, what we saw then would it – we tried to go our last night in Vegas but the winds too high – very disappointing, but yet another reason to return to Vegas!). Across the street to walk through the shops at Aladdin and then next door to the Paris, which is where we finished up for the day. Dawn purchased for me a flowered headpiece to where to my stagette-bachelorette-thingy-dinner and then we headed back up the strip to our hotel so that Tay could change for dinner and we would split up for the evening. Upon getting back to the hotel, we hooked up with Daphne and me, her and Stacy headed down to the pool for some more R&R while Dawn power-napped. I drank a Smirnoff Ice and lounged on my chair and leisurely wondered about the perfectness of it all.

And that, in a very small nutshell I admit, is Tuesday-day. The rest of the day is reviewed in much detail over at Bridal Confessions; “Part One – A Mexican-Russian Affair – The Bachelorette” is dated May 14th.

Wednesday, May 5th

Our wedding day – for full details, visit Bridal Confessions; “Part Two – Getting Ready” is dated May15th, and “And then…The Wedding (Part 3)” is dated May 17th, and “And the After…(Part Four)” is dated May 20.

Thursday, May 6th

Waking up next to Tay that morning and knowing that he was my husband was very nice indeed :). We had set our alarm for just after 8, since we had made plans to meet the others for breakfast at 10:30 (despite our careful planning, the schedule was very quickly getting frayed at the edges – we were, in fact, a half an hour late for breakfast). Coincidentally, our lateness worked to our advantage – we got to the Paris just in time to still have breakfast, but the breakfast-to-lunch crossover was beginning – so as they took away breakfast items, they were bringing out lunch – so we had a variety of food to choose from. The Paris breakfast was incredible – I ate until I was stuffed – sampling eggs and hashbrowns, sausages and bacon. I was wondering around the buffet looking for something sweet to finish off with and found Dawn and Stacy in the crepe line. I considered crepes but then wondered off – apples and cinnamon or blueberries didn’t quite appeal to me, but then I returned when I couldn’t find anything else – and as I pondered what to get the crepe-guy suggested he make me a different kind of crepe – and with a wink he plucked a banana from a bunch on the counter and pulled out a jar of nutello. I gave him a huge smile and thanked him – and carried my treasure back to the table to gleefully show everybody. And when I ate that crepe, I almost died over how good it was – since then, I have been obsessed with crepes – so much so that Caius made them for dessert when we were there the other night. Yum!

From the Paris we all piled into cars and drove down the rode to the MGM grand – wandered around there, looked at the lions and then headed across the street to the New York New York, where, after wandering around a bit, we headed up to ride the roller coaster. Only Caius, Tay, Stacy (of course!) and I opted to ride the coaster – Stacy and I cajoled Tay and Caius into letting us in the front and before we knew it, we were off, hurtled into and around all the buildings that makeup the hotel. What a crazy ride – the guy told us if we held onto our glasses we’d be okay – I swear I almost lost mine a couple of times it was that crazy. After the coaster we went back downstairs to the outside of the hotel to walk across the bridge and then split up so that Tay and I could go look at our wedding photos back at TI. Following that, Dawn and Tay went over to the Venetian to visit the wax museum and Stacy, Elisa, Caius and myself opted to relax by the pool instead. After a refreshing dip, a soak in the hot tub and a cocktail with Caius, I headed back up to the room where I had a quick bath and got ready for ‘O’ at Bellagio (Caius, Elisa, Tay and I were going, and would meet up with Dawn and Stacy afterwards at the Palms).

Despite the fact that we were almost late for ‘O’, we made it to our seats okay (which were very good, front row, balcony with a birdseye view of everything), and though I missed the curtain (which, Tay had been told, was the most amazing thing), I was soon sucked into the world that is Cirque de Soleil – afterwards, when I tried to compose my thoughts I found it difficult – it was impossible to describe but was certainly the most surreal thing I had ever seen. After we got back from Vegas, Tay told me that they are building another stage at MGM at double the cost of ‘O’ – so yet another reason to return to Vegas!

After ‘O’ finished we made the quick drive to the Palms where we met up with Stacy and Dawn, had a very relaxed dinner at the diner/cafe that is there (all the other restaurants were closing for the night) (I had wings and garlic cheese bread), and then, we parted ways with Caius, Elisa and Stacy as Dawn, Tay and I had wanted to go to GhostBar – but when we got to the entrance to the elevator leading up to the rooftop bar we found a line that snaked it’s way well through the casino. So instead of spending the rest of the night in the lineup, we gambled a bit at the slot machines then headed back to TI to crawl in bed – a very good decision, as Tay and I had a VERY early start the next day – a 7am helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon.

Friday, May 7th

At quarter after five our alarm rang, beginning our last day in Vegas before we headed for California later that day. Tay and I had received a generous wedding present from the company he works for and had decided to use part of their gift on a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon – it made sense, especially since it was a luxury that we might not have been able to afford otherwise. We got ready fairly quickly, me wearing my “I’m blogging this” t-shirt that Tay had given to me – and met our shuttle outside the hotel for 6am. The shuttle took us to the airport, where we headed inside, had ourselves weighed and then sat down to wait. About 20 minutes later, a woman came by and divided us into five groups – I asked Tay if I should use the bathroom then, as I was waiting until the last possible moment to go so that I wouldn’t need to go again until after we got back. Tay suggested I wait, we were in group five, so he assumed (from his experience the other night) that we were going to watch an instructional video and then they would send the first four groups out ahead of us and I could pee then. We watched the 2 minute video and then the lady called group one, I think and then group five. I looked around a little wildly as we stood up – asked her if I had half a minute to run to the bathroom before we left. No, she said, we were going out now, the shuttle was waiting. And then, as if both me and my bladder needed any reminding, she made sure to tell me it was 45 minutes out, 30 minutes in the canyon and then 45 minutes back. She was so nice, she even did the math for me, summing up by telling me it was two hours. Eeeek! So I followed the rest of our group out to the canyon, already pondering my options a) could I find a cactus to pee behind in the canyon, and b) if I did, would it be against the law to pee there?? šŸ™‚

The shuttle drover up out to the helicopter, and on our way out we passed a very large, black, private jet with 5 letters written in yellow (or was it meant to be gold?) on the side…Trump!

The shuttle dropped Tay and myself off near a helicopter along with three other men, who, it turned out, were staff members. This would work out to our advantage in a couple of ways – they were staff members, so the flight into the canyon wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for them so Tay and I were offered the front seat. Secondly, they were being dropped off in the canyon and not returning with us, which meant, on the way back, it would just be me, Tay and the pilot – kind of like our own private helicopter (I could definitely get used to that kind of life!!).

We climbed into the copter and took off rather smoothly – it was rather odd the way the helicopter kind of just lifted off the ground, hovered slightly and the rose straight up! We took off just behind Mandalay Bay – in the early morning the sun just bounced off the golden glass, making it glow. We headed past the Luxor and then were headed away from the strip, towards Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and the Canyon of course, all of which we had a perfect view of so high in the sky.

Even now, just thinking about the helicopter ride and then our first glimpse of the canyon, and then rounding a bend and seeing it all – the rocks, the river and the way we just swooped down into makes me giddy with happiness – I kept looking around, snapping photos and beaming at Tay. We ended up landing on a expanse of rocks overlooking the river and a sandy white beach – the pilot invited us to look around for a few minutes while he set up camp – we were to have a champagne breakfast and then could look around some more. And as I try and come up with words to describe the beauty that surrounded us at that moment, I’m finding it impossible because it’s impossible. I’m not sure if I have ever seen anything of such a magnitude – it was incredible… just being there touched me to my very core. I stood and tried my best to take it all in because I fully understood that I would never, ever see anything quite like it again.

Our pilot called us over to where he had our baskets laid out in wicker baskets under a straw like canopy – we sat down to muffins, croissants and fruits while he uncorked a bottle of champagne. I suggested we mix the champagne with some OJ, so that we could have Mimosas, which is what we did and after Tay and I toasted each other, we sat and drank and ate and tried to absorb the fact that we were eating breakfast IN the Grand Canyon! šŸ™‚

After breakfast, we went for a walk – I snapping photos and picking up rocks to bring back as souvenirs (inspecting them very carefully for fire ants, because they were there!) and Tay did some videotaping and took some photos as well. And then, before we knew it, it was time to go and we headed back to the copter (me slightly heavier as a result of my bag of rocks – good thing we dropped three guys off!!). And then off we went again, lifting back into the sky, flying through the desert and then back to the stip, approaching it from the Stratosphere and flying down behind TI, Mirage, Bellagio and NY NY – it was fantastic seeing all the hotels and especially the pools from above!

And then, unfortunately, we were landing and it was all over – but definitely an experience that I will never, ever forget, and even though the whole time I kept thinking I wish Stacy were here, or C&E, or Dawn, I was very happy that I was able to share such a beautiful experience with Tay – because somehow, even though we were in such vastness, we were by ourselves and it made it a very private experience – it felt as though we were the only two people on the earth and after such a hectic few days, that was exactly what I needed.

The shuttle dropped us off at TI by 9:30am, we headed upstairs to pack our bags – called the others up to figure out times to meet – we decided to go to In-and-Out burger (after hearing Caius talk so adamantly about it!), so around 11:30 or so, Tay and I checked out and then the two of us, Dawn and Stacy, and Terry and Art all piled in the neon (me on Dawn’s lap in the front seat) and off we went for our hamburgers. (I dragged along with us the top layer of our wedding cake with the notion that we would eat it for dessert at I&O, even if we had to go at it with bunch of forks! We never did eat the cake, eventually I gave it to Dawn and Stacy to do with it what they would – I told them if they had to, to throw it out, but not to tell me about it because that was damn good cake and I hated to see it wasted). We met up with Gord & Daph at I&O, had some burgers then split up into two cars to dash over to Luxor before heading back up the strip to go do the Big Shot at the Stratosphere, something I was determined that we had to do before we left that day as I had promised Stacy we would and she was SO excited.

The Big Shot – absolute craziness – whoever though of that ride is nutso – Tay didn’t think it was that bad, he thinks Drop Zone is worse, but I was terrried on it mostly because those few seconds while you are just waiting to be LAUNCHED into the air (while already being on TOP of the Stratopshere) is absolutely BRUTAL – and you get no warning, just BAM! off you go. Stacy and I screamed the whole time, it was great!! (We also did the High Roller which was really just Enh.)

Then we were off because it was almost 3 and mine and Tay’s flight to LA was at 4:30 and we still had to get our luggage from TI, fill the tank in the rental, drop the car off , get to the airport and head through security and such. GAK.

We should have missed the plane (our bags got checked as being late, the checkin guy said, “Ya, these bags might not get to LA when you do”), because the security line took five hundred years and then we had to take a train to our gate and we were RUNNING down the concourse, praying desperately that a miracle might have occurred and our flight wouldn’t have left yet and we arrived to our gate to find airline personnel almost casually standing around – You’re lucky we’re running late, they observed as they tore our tickets and all I could do was nod because I was so out of breath and so tired from the day in general.

(I later found out that the flight was delayed because a flight attendant was late and they couldn’t leave without her.)

And then we were off, leaving Vegas twinking in the late-afternoon desert sun like the gem it is.

In Part Two:

A Woman Named Nedra, Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, The Hollywood Sign, Mann’s Chinese Theatre, Mel’s Diner & the best breakfast ever, Universal Studios, Santa Monica.

(All in two days! Woo-Hoo!)

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