On Christmas Day, my parents, brother, and I packed into a car and drove to Las Vegas. There was an agreement between my mother and I that we could go to Vegas on the sole condition I don’t take a train from Los Angeles back to New York; it’s always been my dream to travel across the country by rail, but my mom insisted I should spend more time with them. Family aside, potentially gambling away an entire paycheck was an incentive in spite of what I’d consider an enlightening, beautiful, and long trip back to Brooklyn.
During the 3-hour drive, I chose to be behind the wheel; I missed driving ever since I moved to the public transportation-friendly metropolis of NYC, and my brother — for somewhat understandable reasons — wanted to work on his laptop in the passenger seat. That three hour drive ultimately turned into a six hour trip: traffic on the California highways is horrible as fuck, not to mention that every ramp into Las Vegas proper was congested with out-of-state weirdos who also decided that gambling on Christmas Day was a great, wholesome idea.
After maneuvering my way through Vegas traffic, we arrived at the Rio Hotel and Casino just outside The Strip. My mom encouraged the four of us to register to Rio’s Total Rewards club, but as luck (ha) would have it, my brother had banned himself from all Ceasar’s/Harrah’s casinos nationwide several years ago. As soon as he tried to register with his driver’s license, security was alerted and were ready to escort him out. Since we already reserved our rooms a couple of months before, we pleaded with security and the hotel staff to stay, on the condition that my brother does not play on the casino floor. Of course, this frustrated me a bit since I promised my brother that I would not gamble without him nearby, and this simply meant that we couldn’t fucking play in the hotel we were fucking staying at.
Still, fortune was on our side: in yet another unexpected twist, the Rio ran out of their standard rooms (like seriously, what’s the point of a reservation?). However, as compensation for overbooking their facilities, they were gracious enough to give us a single luxury suite with all the amenities: a king-sized bed, couch, kitchenette, a view of the mountains, 2 bathrooms, and access to the spa.
After dropping off our luggage, we drove to New York New York, where I wanted my family to try out Vegas’ Shake Shack outpost. They enjoyed the burgers — which are as comparable to In-N-Out’s, but only more expensive — and for the first time ever, I was comfortable enough to drink and carry a beer around my relatively conservative parents. We then did a little bit of gambling inside New York New York. I ended up losing about $20 in video roulette, but my parents collectively won $30.
We stuck around for about an hour and a half, and my parents decided they needed to go to bed. My family and I returned to the hotel, but my brother and I were still game to gamble a bit more. Since my brother couldn’t play at the Rio, we went across the street to the Gold Coast casino. It was there that I profited $150 on the Walking Dead slot machine. Let me tell you, I love the show, I love the comics, and I love the interactivity of the game: the graphics were cool, and you sat on a chair that vibrated each time you spun the wheel. It was like sitting on a giant N64 Rumble Pack.
The next day, I took my family out to Downtown Vegas, on Fremont Street. We had brunch at the Main Street Casino and walked around a bit, my insisting we take photos at every turn. I managed to win some extra cash at the Four Queens Casino, playing the Ghostbusters, Gremlins, and Sons of Anarchy themed penny slots. All my winnings eventually went towards the new DSLR that my parents and I split, so overall my third trip to Vegas was yet again successful. I showed restraint when it came to gambling (and that ultimately got me a few extra dollars in my wallet), plus I spent time with my fam.
Before we left, we walked around the Bellagio at my mom’s behest and took photos. We also hit up a few of the malls in and around Vegas — that mega-mall on The Strip that’s shaped like a circle of human suffering, and an outlet mall on the border of Nevada and California. It was at that outlet mall where I bought a coyote skull from a Native American. I think I’m going to put plants in its eye sockets.