I'll warn you up front that this first segment is all about airport adventures in just getting to Vegas so those of you who hate that sort of thing can skip this. Ironically, I'm actually one of those who hate that but these misadventures are part of the story so I'm doing it this way anyhow. So there. Oh, and it's stunningly long-winded as well. A little background: I'm 50 and live in a mid-sized town in Texas that counts as the Big City in my neck of north Texas. This was my fifth trip to Vegas but my first solo venture. My previous trips have all been with my friend Jan but she had to sit out this year, choosing instead to spend her money on more mundane things like real life. Piker. Anyway, my choices were to either go alone or not go at all. I wanted to go. Jan is a more adventurous driver than I am so we usually leave from either DFW or OKC. Since she wasn't coming this year and I am a wuss who would rather gnaw her own head off than fight the rabid Dallas traffic, this year I was leaving from our tiny little toy airport, AKA Rinky Dink Airport, to connect with my Vegas flight out of DFW. It started off well enough. It's pretty much the Hooterville version of an airport with one gate so the possiblilities of confusion, bedlam, and other fun associated with airports are minimal. Or so you'd think. About the time we should be lining up to take off our shoes and do our preboarding screening and inspection, they announce that the plane we're supposed to be boarding has just now left DFW to head our way. It'll be at least another hour before we're on our way. Bring on the joy. I celebrated by going outside for a smoke. One of the guys out there said he flies for business several times a month and the flights out of Rinky Dink are late at least half the time anymore. American Eagle is apparently now more of an American Turkey. Did I mention the joy? They finally call us in for our security inspection. I'm second in line so at least I'm not stuck behind all those people who can't seem to catch on to what a bad idea it is to wear complicated, hard to remove shoes to airports. On another happy note, they've expanded the "lounge" area so that there's actually enough seating for everyone--and a good thing too because we're still waiting for our plane to land. I originally had an hour and 40 minutes between landing and takeoff at DFW. This margin was rapidly getting shorter and my original plan to kill the time by getting a little lunch was looking like less and less of a possibility. I was now transferring my hopes to just making it in time to catch my other plane. The plane finally arrives just before noon and we board at 12:05. I had picked a seat in the second row for quick deplaning but the Gods of Irony make their first strike. This plane loads and unloads from the back. Instead of being one of the first ones off, I'm going to be one of the last. We land right around 1. My flight leaves at 1:40 so I've still got a good shot at making it, even with having to change gates. The Gods of Irony, however, are not done with me yet. Since we're arriving about an hour after originally scheduled, we have to just sit there on the tarmac and wait for all the planes who showed up on time to finish up so we can get a gate assignment. The flight attendant is in a seat in front facing the passengers. He is rather desperately avoiding eye contact with us. I can't really blame him. In the meantime, I am the living embodiment of So Close And Yet So Far. By the time we get a gate and they release the hostages, it's remotely possible I might make my plane. If I suddenly sprout a jet pack. Or find a time machine or maybe a transporter. It's good to have options. I make it to my Sky Train to take me to the other terminal gate. I look at my watch to see how much time I have. My flight is set to leave in roughly...NOW. Gee, I wonder if I'll make it. I am also regretting having that giant cup of coke earlier but hope still springs infernal that maybe this flight was also delayed so I don't stop to pee. Then I add to the fun by getting off at the wrong stop which I brilliantly don't realize until I get downstairs. I go back to the elevator but it just stays there with the door open taunting me. Now I'm late, semi-lost, in danger of bladder damage, AND I have to take the dreaded escalator (I have a lifelong fear of heights and escalators deeply creep me out) which is roughly 47 miles high with clear see-through sides and moving at roughly .3 inches per hour. I hate the Gods of Irony. I get back on the Sky Train and get off at the right station. I find what would have been my gate and explain my sad situation to them. They put me on the next flight which is full but they think they can squeeze me in. It's leaving in 25 minutes so it's time to hustle again. Back up to the Sky Train of the Damned. The Gods of Irony must be in pain from all the laughter I've provided them. The gate for the new flight is back at the station where I accidentally got off earlier. Rat bastards. I slosh my way to the new gate, show them the ticket the other gate had given me, and explain my sorry saga. At first they strike fear and despair into my heart by mentioning the dreaded words "Stand by" but then say I've got the very last seat. My carefully chosen window seat is now a random middle seat. Stupid Gods of Irony. On the bright side, the women's bathroom is right across from my new gate and at long last I can finally rid myself of that massive coke. Roughly 10 lbs lighter, I saunter back to wait. They've started boarding but they're doing it by section number. I am in section number 2912 and am literally one of the very last people to board. It is, of course, the dreaded middle seat but it could have been worse. None of us tried to edge into anyone else's limited space and no one leaked noxious bodily fumes. Yay. Once we're in the air, I briefly wonder what exciting journey my luggage had taken and how, when. and if we'll be reunited. I then decide there's not much point in fretting about that. I go into Scarlet O'Hara mode (though hoping that I won't still be worrying about that tomorrow) and start my second book of the trip. Finally we land. WooHOOOOOOO! We're in the furthest terminal and have to take another tram to get to baggage claim. This, of course, entails a Long March along with changing floors and narrow walkways with clear walls. Airports hate the acrophobic. When we get on the tram, the automated voice announces that it is the tram to terminal one, baggage claim, and terminals A, B, and C. It stops and announces that this is the stop for terminal one. Thinking that this was the first of several stops, several of us stay on the tram, only to find out that no, it's just the one stop and now it's going back to terminal D (as in D'OH)where we started. Heavy sigh. Back we go again and this time get off at the right place. Now it was time to resume yet another Long March involving several changes of levels and another Tour of Terror for the acrophobic. I survive all this and plod toward the baggage carousel for our flight's luggage. I make my weary way there in the desperate hope that the Gods of Irony took a lunch break and my suitcase had been diverted to the same flight I was. Hey, it could happen. Oddly enough, I wasn't holding out a lot of hope. Mainly I was looking to see where I would go to try to track it down and concentrating on not screaming "YOU BASTARDS!" and going all Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes when everyone's luggage but mine appeared. As I approached, I could see luggage was already circling. I almost didn't dare to look but--wait--that one--is it?--could it be? No. YES! It was! My suitcase! Being classy (not to mention being too tired), I resisted the urge to grab it, spike it, and do a Victory Touchdown Dance. And on that happy note, we end Part 1 of our saga.