The last time I saw Vegas

My husband and I don’t travel well together. Besides our tendency to get lost, it’s a given that one of us will get sick on vacation. Our last vacation to Las Vegas went with the odds.

    Our daughter agreed to care for our dog and six horses during our annual trip to visit Sin City friends. With no direct flight to Vegas from Rochester, we booked a flight out of Minneapolis, deciding to drive up to St. Paul a day early, take in the annual Horse Expo, get a hotel room near the airport and leave our car
at the hotel. It was going to be so simple.

No worries!

     My new tennis shoes—advertised to help you lose weight and tone your butt—came with a “how-to” booklet I had no time to read. Thus, I missed advice about breaking them in for only 20 minutes. After six hours in those $90 shoes, I needed a wheel chair. At least I had my purchases of a horse umbrella and a clever T-shirt I thought prophetic: “Whinnying is everything,” it read.

     On our drive to the hotel, a red light on the dashboard beeped that the engine was overheating. We pulled off the freeway and emptied all our bottled water into the radiator. Three miles later, the beeping returned. We barely made it to the hotel and dropped the car off at a repair garage nearby. Diagnosis: a corroded radiator pipe, hopefully fixed by the time we returned.

     I opened my new umbrella in the baggage claim area at McCarran Airport so our friends could locate us easier. With a horse head and pop-up ears, it generated stares and chuckles. We stopped at a casino to eat and start “whinnying” some car-fix money. Instead, we contributed more than $100 to the Las Vegas economy.

      Our friends lived in one of those 55-and-older communities that have sprouted up in the desert in the last decade. They are all made of tan stucco with red tile roofs, and river rock “lawns.” We slept on an air mattress and woke up in the middle of the night, collapsed into each other. Ordinarily, we might have found some humor in this, but running a noisy air pump at 3 a.m. wasn’t so funny.

    The next morning I was nauseous. Breakfast was not staying where I put it. Ditto for ginger ale and Maalox chasers. Instead of a Mexican supper and the Vicki Lawrence show we had tickets for,I stayed behind that night to fight for a spot on a sofa with two yippy Chihuahuas.

    The following day, my body felt like a loaded slot machine. Activia and popsicles fared no better than sips of water. I skipped another supper and more nightlife on the old Strip. Our last full day in Vegas, I treated my still-sore feet to new Dr. Scholl sandals. That night I battled more slots; the car-fix was officially a vacation debit.

     There were long check-in lines at the airport. My bottle of ginger ale didn’t make it through the X-ray machine and the security guard was unconvinced it was a necessity. This delay made us last to board the plane and left us no seats together. I sat between a friendly salesman and a woman with a leg cast that stuck out into the aisle.
My hubby was crammed between two men who snored in stereo.

    At the Humphrey Airport in Minneapolis, our bags were the last through the baggage carousel. We took them across the street to wait for the hotel shuttle. After waiting 90 minutes outside the shuttle, we learned we were supposed to wait inside the shuttle port. A second hotel shuttle finally arrived and even dropped us off at the garage so we could trade our car for its $500 fix.

    Back at the hotel, nobody had a key for the office containing my Horse Expo purchases. By this time, I was a zombie, not wanting to speak, unable even to rejoice that the creamed honey we wrapped in duct tape for a gift to our Vegas friends was still intact—in our car.

    Driving home, our daughter called us three times. “Suspicion antennas” went up. My birthday was a few days off, and I was terrified that either one of the animals died or a surprise party awaited me.
I just wanted to sink into my own bed and watch the Vampire Diaries on TV.

    The surprise was not what I expected: a clean kitchen with new glassware and towels, more ginger ale, flowers and a serenity candle.

I cried. It was almost worth the last time we see Vegas—for oh so many reasons!