Forget Leaving Las Vegas. I practically limped home.
Yep, I’m still painfully gimpy two days after Tuesday’s big hike. But that’s okay. I have physical therapy this morning and hopefully they can figure out what new hell I’ve inflicted on myself.
Anyway, I’ve made it home and thought I’d post my impressions of the company trip. I went into it pretty skeptical due to my inherent distate for all things Las Vegas, but I have to admit it was a much better experience than I’d expected.
Smarter Travel has grown so much in the last few years and this really gave me a chance to get to know some of my coworkers whose names I couldn’t even remember before the trip began. (It’s nerdy, but there’s something really cool about discovering you share the same taste in books with a coworker, for example.)
And the trip was really well executed. All of the activities were fun, the food was okay, and the hotel was fine. I even gambled a little. (And I do mean a little.) I had no idea what I was doing, but the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom slot machines at the MGM Grand are now a dollar richer because of me.
Fortune and glory, indeed.
Yesterday I hiked for the first time since my surgery. It was a fairly strenuous guided scramble around Red Rock Canyon, and it felt absolutely amazing to be outdoors again! My leg gave out on me a few times, and I ended up limping for most of the evening once we got back to the Strip, but man was it worth it. I proved to myself that I can do this again. I also proved that the 18 months of inactivity since Iceland have left me obscenely out of shape, but then I already knew that. So now it’s back to the gym I go!
(Unrelated side note: If you look really closely you can see Las Vegas through the haze in the background. Pretty cool view, eh?)
My job tonight was to be one of the group leaders for a company-sponsored dine-around session. There were 12 people in my group, and we went to the Grand Lux Cafe at the Venetian after catching the early performance of Le Reve over at the Wynn. The thing about these dine-arounds is you’re forced to socialize with people you don’t often talk to in the office; and while normally I hate forced socialization, this time I had a pretty good group and dinner was fun. At least till a couple people started talking politics.
As group leader I had to a) pick a restaurant, b) make reservations, c) make sure everyone got to the restaurant on time, d) make sure nobody drank too much, and e) charge the whole meal on my credit card. I’m noting this now just in the off chance that Penny sees my credit card statement at some point and wonders what the hell I spent $458 on in Vegas. Yikes.
UPDATE: Just got a call from my credit card company. Apparently they were suspicious of that $458 charge, too.
Day one here in Vegas is nearly in the books, and it was much better than I expected. This morning’s team-building event was a Vegas-themed version of The Amazing Race, with eight teams of eight racing up and down the Strip following clues, completing challenges, and choosing between various detours. Apparently my love for The Amazing Race is stronger than my dislike for Vegas, because I had a blast.
Among my favorite tasks:
Find Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog stand at the New York, New York casino, and then get three complete strangers to each eat a foot-long hotdog. (Surprisingly easy to do, even at 10:30 in the morning.)
Race through all four floors of the M&M store counting the many varieties of M&Ms, then multiply and divide by other factors like the number of M&M tubes on the wall and the number of colors in the M&M rainbow. This one was harder than you’d think; we took two 10-minute penalties for getting our math wrong.
An international scavenger hunt in the shadow of the faux Eiffel Tower that had us begging European-looking tourists for various types of international currency, among other things.
In the end, my team came in second. It was a heartbreaking finish because we’d surged into the lead on the second-to-last clue only to fall short by misinterpreting the final one. The clue was to “Find Love” and we spent half an hour searching for the statue of Venus at the Venetian before we realized that Love is the name of the Beatles show at the Mirage.
So yes, we arrived second, but it was worth it simply to hear one of my teammates have to clarify to the concierge that we were looking for a giant statue of Venus, NOT a giant penis.
‘Cuz in Vegas, you just never know.
Every year around this time my company ships all its full-time employees off to some far-flung locale for a three-day company trip. It’s a sort of working vacation that’s geared around team building and group bonding, with a preview presentation of the year’s corporate goals thrown in for good measure. Thus, a few hours from now I’ll be Las Vegas-bound.
This is my third trip to Sin City, which means that when my plane sets down in the desert tonight I’ll have offically been to Las Vegas more times than I’ve hiked my favorite mountain (Lafeyette) or been to my favorite country (Scotland). And that’s just depressing.
When I think of Las Vegas, I’m always reminded of Alec Guiness’s description of Mos Eisley in the original Star Wars movie: “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”
Into the wretched hive I go.