I've been in Las Vegas for St. Patrick's Day since 2005. I've always called my trip a 'long weekend' or a 'quick jaunt', never being able to give myself over to 'vacationing' in Las Vegas. Vacations are meant for travel to other countries or hanging out on warm sandy beaches, not Las Vegas! Vegas is just a glitzy, loud, drunken mess of a town, not the sort of place for a proper holiday! But, if I'm only there for a long weekend, then it's no problem! (granted, it around 6 'long weekends' a year now). Now of course I've always loved Vegas and only want to go to Vegas, but the non-initiates just don't understand it's allure. Well, that's over for me now. I will for now and forever proclaim with utmost glee that I VACATION in Las Vegas! Sunday My parents live close to Las Vegas and I don't get to see them that much so I asked them to come stay with me for 1 night at the Imperial Palace on Sunday March 15. The IP was gracious enough to provide me with a free Deluxe Luv tub room for that one night. Obviously, with my parents with me, we'd need a couple of beds so at Check-In I asked for a room with two beds. The nice person behind the desk told me that would be a downgrade and if that was okay with me. I responded that it wasn't, and I wanted a two-bed upgrade, such as the two-bedroom penthouse suite. That wasn't available, so we ended up with King suite with a pull out bed for the couch. The room was an L shaped room and I thought it was pretty nice. My parents loved it and they'd happily stay at IP in the future. IP Room: After getting checked in, walking over to Margaritaville (my parents are huge ParrotHeads) for a Margarita, loosing lots of money while gambling, we headed over to Ellis Island to get the steak special. My parents loved the value of the place and were quite surprised that I knew of and went to the better value places in Vegas (as a kid and now, I always wanted to stay in the nicest places...). After my dad turned in for the night, I took my mom down to Nine Fine Irishmen to listen to some Irish music and show her why we come in March every year. She had a blast. We headed back to IP where I turned in at around 2am or so, but my mom didn't come to the room until close to 5am. Monday Today is move day. I'm heading over to NYNY for a couple of nights, my parents are headed back home to Lake Havasu and my wife Emily is arriving this afternoon. My parents have their car so I drive us over to NYNY and check in at about 11am. There is a huge line to check in, but I get to use the invited guest check in line and am checked in within 5 minutes. My dad and I head up to my room to wait for the bell desk while my mom goes back to gambling. It takes quite a while for them to bring up the bags, but I wanted to have everything in the room and ready when Em shows up. We eat some lunch at America, mom gambles some more, then it's time to head to the airport to get Em. Before heading to the airport, my dad and I were hanging out near the brooklyn bridge watching the world go by: We wait for Em at baggage claim and her plane arrives about 10 minutes early. We all go back to NYNY where my parents wish us well and I thank them for coming up for the night. All thought I wasn't sure how it was going to work, I really enjoyed having my parents in Vegas with me for that night. We had a great time and I'd be happy to hang out with them again in Vegas. They are both fun loving, hard partying people that most of the people on this board would dig. Now that it's just Em and I in town, it's time to start drinking, getting ready for St. Patrick's Day the next day! We gamble for a short amount of time, but I lost so much money on Sunday, I don't really want to gamble and rarely gamble the rest of the trip. We head outside to the Nine Fine Irishmen patio to have a pint in the fading afternoon sun and see some fireman we've met at previous St. Patrick's Day trips. We all find out each others names this time an hang out for a while. These guys are a blast and we have a good time hanging out with them. They will be staying at NYNY on Monday and Tuesday night (so they don't have to drive home on St. Paddy's day!), so they had to head home real quick to get their stuff, then check in at NYNY and we'll see them later that night at the bar. We go grab some food and change a bit, then head down to Nine Fine Irishmen to listen to Ri Ra open their set and stay there most of the night, having fun. We were planning on a short night tonight because of st. patrick's day the next day, but didn't call it a night until around 2AM. Here is a short clip of Ri Ra playing one of my favorite Pogues songs "Fairtytale of New York": <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/kTMFmPKZ43o&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/kTMFmPKZ43o&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object> I have several other clips of Ri Ra from this trip as their violinist, Alana Musselman, is leaving the band on May 18th. We'll be back in Vegas to see her off. While we only talk to them while in Vegas and very little via email the rest of the year, we both really like all of the band members and will miss Alana. She's a very nice girl and a very talented fiddle player. If you have the chance, go see her. And tell her Ken and Emily told you about her. She'll know who we are. Special Learnings so far.... A couple of tid-bits we learned this day, it appears that the dueling piano bar at NYNY has a new pianist, at least on Monday nights. There was a girl pianist along with a guy. We've only ever heard guys in there before, but since we never go into the joint and just hear them from outside, we've no idea if it's been this was for a long time or not, just that we've never heard a girl pianist there before. Also, the other band at Nine Fine Irishmen, "Celtic Rockers", have some famousness in them. The bassist for the Celtic Rockers used to be the bassist for Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. More on that later. Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - St. Patrick's Day! It's here! The day of days! Our favorite holiday of the year. A day filled with silly, happy drunk people, all wanting to have a good time and try to strike up a few conversations. A more perfect day there could not be. We got up and showered, grabbed some breakfast at America, all while laughing at/enjoying all the people dressed up for St. Patrick's Day. As it gets closer to 11am and the parade, we found one of our friends from the previous day who wasn't in the parade but friends with several of the fire fighters in the parade. The entire procession begun at the top of the escalators in NYNY, near Coyote Ugly. A bunch of US firefighters (many from Las Vegas, many from other areas in the US) were led by the Las Vegas Fire Dept Honor Guard as they came down the escalator in full dress and began to march through NYNY. They were followed by around 20 members of the Dublin, Ireland Fire Brigade who came out for St. Patrick's day at the request of Nine Fine Irishmen. Then came the Desert Skye Pipe and Drum band and then the rest of the Nine FIne dignitaries, which includes local people who have helped out NFI, top employees of NYNY and/or MGM-Mirage, and others. They marched all through the casino with the pipes and drums blaring. Pretty large crowds were throughout the casino watching the procession. Even thought I thought it would be cheesy, I'm always moved by a Fire Dept Honor Guard. I met most of them and they are really nice guys. Real heroes, every one of them. After the parade was done, there was an award presentation outside on the Brooklyn Bridge for the new NYNY employee of the year, a bunch of new people inducted into the Nine Fine wall of fame and a toast to start the party. Then, it was time for some drinking!!! Ri Ra had the outdoor stage all day, so we found a spot and starting drinking. This is Em and the friend of the firefighters I talked about earlier. He's the 21 year old nephew of one of the fire fighters who lives in Vegas (Joe, the guy below, is from Florida). It was refreshing to talk to an intelligent 21 year old. We hung out and talked with him throughout the night/day. Good guy. there is hope for young america yet. Later in the day, after many pints and a small bit of food, we found that a couple of other friends had showed up out on the bridge so we went over to talk to them. Right now, it was mid-afternoon and the main area directly in front of the stage is still pretty open. if you look at the picture above, the friends we went to talk to were about 3/4 of the way from where Em is in the picture to the stage in the background. Anyway, as we get close to them, the music is really loud but they see us coming and turn around to say hi. Em and one of the girls go to give each other hugs, and something bad happens. Suddenly, they are both stumbling and bumbling. In slow motion, Em heads for the ground with beer in hand. She's trying feverishly to save that beer, but it ends up spilling all over her and the other girl and she hits her butt on the ground. I was about 2 feet behind her and saw her start to fall and couldn't help. Besides, I was laughing so hard I probably wouldn't have been able to help. She's on the ground cracking up, as is the other girl (who didn't actually fall), both covered in beer. Some other dude runs over to make sure she's allright (cuz I'm just an ass at this point, laughing at her). She of course was (as I already knew) and he takes off to get her some napkins to clean up with and all that. I figured, if she spilled it, she can clean it herself. That was an $8 beer she just wasted! After about 20 minutes of cracking up about it, all four of us laughing, i went to find some other people we knew there so they could laugh about it as well. Overall, the whole bar either saw it happen or heard me talk about it so Em was the talk of the place. We go here frequently enough that we know all the bartenders, bouncers, band members and manager. It was nothing no one hasn't seen before, but it's extra funny when it's a girl you know. Em, in true form and one of the reasons I love her so much, was leading the self-depricating rants about how she fell. She is a super good sport about that kind of thing and can totally see the humor in it. Here are the two girls she was going to say hi to. The girl on the far right is the one who was spilled on. We heard a bit after the incident from several independent stories (people we didn't know either) who said the girl accidently tripped Em which is why she fell. Em is a klutz it could have just been Em all by herself, but Em was happy to regain a bit of self-esteem knowing that the other girl tripped her. post fall: everyone's still friendly Night turned to day, more and more people showed up at Nine Fine. We drank more and more. We headed inside to hear Ri Ra play their inside set. We stayed until way late in the night and had yet another completely fantastic St. Patrick's Day at Nine Fine Irishmen. To see a bit more of our St. Patrick's Day fun in Video form, watch this 3 minute compilation. You'll see the parade, some music, some dancing, and some crowds <object width="480" height="295"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/M43cqPsqWz4&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/M43cqPsqWz4&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="295"></embed></object> That's it for Vacation Number 1. Wednesday starts Vacation #2, when we start to meet up with the folks from VMB and the annual MMIV craziness. I'll finish the second half, with lots of Go-Karting highlights this week.