Sunday, February 17, 2008

The First Anniversary: Fun, Food, and More Fun (plus a heck of an airport experience)

As you probably know, today is the first anniversary of our wedding. It's hard to believe it's been a year already -- in some ways it seems like the wedding was yesterday; in other ways, it seems like it's been much longer.

This time last year, we were at Malibou Lake Mountain club with a lot of friends and family, enjoying the time and with Hawaii on the mind. Now, a year later, we're back in LA after taking a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

And what a trip it was.

Our flight was scheduled for 8:30 PM on Friday. We left Palisades at 5:30, thinking we'd have plenty of time. Traffic was heavy... really heavy... REALLY HEAVY. We nervously watched an hour go by... we were still five miles from the airport. After two hours, at 7:30, we were just getting into Lot C. We grabbed a bus and got into our terminal around 8PM and ran over to our check-in counter. The lady at the desks said that we'd missed our chance to get on the flight, but we must have had an extra-pathetic look of defeat, because she checked us in and let us check our bags.

Then we got in the security line. It was about ten after 8 at this point.

Security dragged and it took forever -- in perceived time. After about 15 minutes we got through security, but it was amateur hour and there seemed to be a lot of people who didn't understand the drill... ("Oh, you mean I have to check my shotgun and can't take my knives and bombs through the metal detector?")... painful.

I got through security first, and with no attempt at retaining any dignity (we were going to Vegas at all, it'd be out of place), sprinted full tilt through the terminal in my socks, clutching my shoes, phone, boarding pass and jacket. Our gate was of course at the other end of the terminal and it was past 8:25. Yelling "excuse me"'s and hearing the laughs of the amused travelers in LAX, I made a beeline for the gate. When I got there, it looked like the plane was gone. Then a guy ran from behind me towards the actual gate door itself and said, "MY WIFE IS COMING, LET US ON!!"

I then realized the plane hadn't pulled away. I ran over too, saying the same thing, and the guy at the gate said, "No one else can board". The sight of two guys screaming about their soon-to-be-arriving wives must have been too pathetic and he waved us in -- although I think the fact that we both pointed out our wives and my notable addition of, "You've got to let us on, we're trying to make this trip for our first anniversary!!", he finally caved.

"No assigned seats, take the first open seat you see" he said. You didn't need to ask twice.

We were off for Vegas. After an uneventful flight, we arrived, took a shuttle to the MGM Grand, and checked in. Then we got some dinner at the Studio Cafe (turkey sandwich for me, chicken strips for Cecilie) and hit the floor. We then made our way to New York New York, passed through, walked through Excalibur so Cecilie could see how bad it was (worse than I remembered), and took a train to Mandalay Bay. I quickly burned through my money and I don't think I won anything at any point Friday -- not even a 5 cent win on a $1 bet at slots. At this point it was getting late and our legs were sore, so we wandered back to the hotel.

The next morning, we went to the Venetian for breakfast, and stopped at a cafe where we got some great quiche. We explored the shops for a few minutes and also stopped at illy for an INCREDIBLE couple coffees. Seriously, these may have been laced with something. Cecilie was not feeling well and within seconds of the first sip was healed. I actually levitated off the floor and did not touch the ground for about three hours. It was ridiculous. Some of the best coffee I've ever had...

We went up the strip to the one casino I'd wanted to visit the most: The Wynn. It's incredible. It fits the mold of the floors I like (MGM, Venetian, Bellagio) -- darker, lower ceilings, relatively open floor layout with good visibility. I sat down to play some roulette and Cecilie joined me for a minute. She lost her money and wandered off to play slots. I stayed for at least an hour or more and walked away winning over a thousand dollars (holy cow!).

I was ready to get out so we walked to the Mirage, and within about ten seconds, walked out. We then walked to Caesar's and hit the forum shops. I got some chocolate from Vosges and got Cecilie a present out of my winnings. We strolled through the Forum and Caesar's (seeing Pete Rose again) and then took a cab back to the MGM. We were pretty tired and ready to relax.

Saturday night was the big dinner plan: Joël Robuchon, our second five-diamond restaurant. We got there early and hit the slots for a few minutes on the floor, where I got a surprise win. We then went in, but were told our table wouldn't be ready for 20 minutes, but were invited to sit in the lounge while we waited. We did, and got a couple drinks.

After a while the table was ready. We elected to do the 6-course tasting menu which was unbelievable. Each course had a predominant taste, each very distinct. We started with an amuse-bouche of an avocado puree with granny smith apples in it, some sort of tomato, and a whipped light cheese. The second course was eel and avocado wrapped in a truffle paper with a gelee on the side having some sort of celery preparation and truffles. Next up was a seared scallop with pasta. Then sea bass with leeks and asparagus; lamb shoulder, and a long string of desserts.

We left, completely stuffed to capacity. It was incredibly delicious, very different from anything I'd ever had, and fairly rich. We went back to the room and I crashed out, having had too much wine with dinner (a Barolo that was incredible).

We checked out in the morning and played a bit, but there wasn't much luck to be had. We made our way to McCarran airport where we played some more slots and waited for a plane delayed for hours due to SFO's ridiculous flow control that seems to be able to wreck the schedules of anything that gets within 2000 miles. We came home and are now unwinding after a tiring but fun Vegas getaway.

We can only hope the next year is as good as the first has been. It's been a great year with ups and downs but having each other has made it so much better.

PS: Don't take US Airways. Seriously, just don't. Avoid it at all costs.