Tuesday, December 24, 2013

So I went to Las Vegas and saw Clay Walker, and all you got was this little blog post.

The story starts out like this-
a few day before Thanksgiving I saw a post on Twitter by Clay Walker (one of my absolute all time country music singers) saying "retweet this to win free concert tickets and meet and greet passes." Knowing absolutely nothing beyond that, I retweeted it. I didn't know when or where the concert was, or even when the contest ended.
Thirty minutes later I got the notification that I won!
Turns out I won 2 meet and greet tickets, 2 nights at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, and 2 tickets to a Clay Walker concert (also in the Venetian).
For the very next week!
A few phone calls to BFF Jules, and some Christmas present hints about plane tickets to my generous parents, and boom! I was on my way to Vegas.
Being a fairly seasoned and smart traveler, I booked my flights via Dallas. Because when flying in December, always fly through Denver instead of Chicago, right?
Famous last words.
Due to snowstorms and ice storms in nearly every city except Washington, DC, my flight was delayed, and I got re-routed through Chicago. Go figure.
I flew to Salt Lake City, where Jules picked me up at the airport, and we drove to Vegas. Some people may think flying to the wrong city and driving seven extra hours was crazy. I say that was 7 more hours with my BFF, driving through some of my favorite memories, and not making Juli drive down there alone.
I waved at my old beloved neighborhood as we drove past. Sadly there was no time to stop and visit. But I really wanted to!

I'm going to gloss over the part about hotel room foul-ups when we first arrived in Vegas. Suffice it to say there was one.
It was around 10 or 11 pm Pacific time, which means it was 1-2 a.m. in my East Coast head, after nearly 21 hours of traveling, and no sleep. Needless to say the foul-up was not fun, and didn't bring out my better side. Thankfully, Juli is smarter than me, and cooler heads prevailed.
We ended up spending our first night in town at Treasure Island (and not the Venetian). I may or may not have told my sob story to the check-in desk at TI. The clerk (who probably saw straight through my crocodile tears) took pity on us, and gave us a few fun perks- including complimentary champagne, and free breakfast buffet. (We changed the champagne to sparkling cider.)

First thing on Saturday morning the hotel foul-up got rectified, and the Venetian/Palazzo bent over backwards to get things right. We were checked in and upgraded over there by noon.
If you aren't familiar with the Venetian Hotel, it is connected to and affiliated with the Palazzo Hotel. In theory, the Palazzo is nicer than the Venetian. But really, both are about as luxurious and gorgeous as you have ever seen. The very wonderful person who scurried and worked on a Saturday morning to get us sorted, put us in one of the nicer, higher-up floors, and fancier suites at the Palazzo. For which I will always be grateful. You don't get to stay in that kind of opulence every day, let me tell you!
The view from our new room-

And as for the room?

Juli models one part of the bathroom.

And this is my first and only ever bathroom selfie. Is it a selfie if Juli is in the picture too?
The bathroom alone was bigger than my bedroom.

And here's Juli modeling the lovely marble wall divider between the bedroom and the living room.

And here I am  modeling the chaise at the foot of the bed.

And a better view of the room without us modeling it. 
See how in the picture of Juli the drapes in the back are closed, but in the picture below they are open? One of the fun features of the room was the remote control that moved the 3 sets of drapes, up/down/side to side. It was fun.

After we convinced ourselves to leave our amazing room (did I mention it had a printer in it? And not 1, not 2, but 3 televisions? One in the living area, one by the beds, and one in the bathroom- that was strategically placed so you could sit at the vanity, and see it in the reflection bounced off 3 mirrors, so that it wasn't a inverted reflection directly in front of you.), we decided to tour the hotel. We half-had plans to actually leave the hotel and go do more Vegas-y things, but that never happened.
There was so much to do and see in our hotel, that we just never left!
One of my favorite things was a rare book store. It was less a bookstore, and more a small museum. It had some incredible books in there. I was in heaven!
If you know me, (or if you've read "You Heard It Here First") you know I have been hunting down the original versions of the "Anne of Green Gables" books for years. I used to own several early editions, of most of the series. ("You Heard It Here First" fans- you can guess which is the one book I've never been able to find!) Sadly, I no longer have them. This is the one and only thing I regret about letting my storage unit go. My limited edition Anne books were in that unit. But I digress.
I cried when I saw this in the bookstore. Ask Juli. I really did get all teary-eyed and squeaky voiced.
A 1908 rare, first edition copy of "Anne of Green Gables."
A mere $30,000.
I may or may not have said a silent prayer that if I could win $30,000 in the slot machines, that I would promise to spend it on this book.
Alas, this did not happen.
Another incredible find in the store-
An extremely rare second edition of the Book of Mormon. I was very impressed that it read "Joseph Smith, Translator" not author or writer.
Did you know the second editions are more rare and valuable than the first? True story.
Funny thing about this book. I called my dad and told him I saw it. (I get my love of rare books from him.) When I told him the price he got excited. I could hear the wheels turning in his head, as he was plotting how to send me the money to buy it for him. That's when I realized that the bad phone connection had played a trick on us. He heard $6,000. It's actually $60,000.
I didn't buy it. But I did make another silent prayer that if I won $60,000 ($90,000 really) in the casino, I would buy it for my dad.

Other cool sites and decorations in the hotel-

The Palazzo really was beautiful.
And we dined like the princesses/queens/divas we are! I didn't take any pictures of that though. But trust me, I had the best shrimp and lobster risotto I have ever dreamed of!
One of the other highlights of our stay was the "Cowboy Christmas Expo." I never would have guessed that Juli and I would have spent the bulk of our time walking around a cowboy expo and shopping, but we did. And we loved it. I have no pictures from that either. We both bought a few things in there and really enjoyed the booths and vendors.
And oh we did we enjoy gawking at the Wrangler butts. 

And now for the whole point of it all-
The Clay Walker Concert!

(I bought the pink cowgirl hat at the cowboy expo. It seemed like the right thing to do!)

The meet and greet was before the concert. I was not surprised that Clay Walker took a minute to speak with each person, and seemed to have a genuine conversation. I wasn't sure what I would say to him when it was our turn, and then it hit me- tell him I/we were the contest winners. So I did. He told me to be sure to take some pictures and tweet them so he could retweet them later. And asked if we were having fun and what we thought of it all. 

Something tells me he didn't know that the audience was about to be asked not to take any pictures. The concert was being recorded for TV playback, and photos/video was forbidden by the audience. (And then the "guards" said much quieter, "and when you do sneak a picture anyway, make sure the flash is off.")
And so I did-


It was very different and fun to be in a show being recorded for TV. There were interesting stops and starts. At one point the lead guitar wasn't quite in tune perfectly. Normally in such a loud venue no one would have noticed. And the guitarist could have fixed it during the song I am sure. But since it was being recorded for TV, they stopped the song, let him fix it, and started over again.

The venue itself was very small. My high school auditorium was bigger. We were in the 5th row I think? Maybe the 8th. I can't recall now. But close enough we could actually make eye contact with Clay Walker and his band. (And let me just say, his band is AMAZING! Those are some very talented dudes!) Again to Clay Walker's credit for just being a truly nice guy, I noticed he would make eye contact with some of the meet and greet people from before the show. I'm sure he was doing for them just what he did for me. He made eye contact and smiled at me, made me feel like he remembered exactly who I was, and threw a guitar pick at me during the song I said I liked the most. When the guy in front of me caught it, he (Clay) threw another one my direction. I missed it again, but that's okay. I was just impressed that he made the personal effort like that.

The concert was a part of the National Rodeo Finals (being held at the Sands Expo and the Venetian), and was televised last week on RFD-TV. Unfortunately I don't get that channel so I didn't get to see whether or not Juli and I made it into the footage. But the camera sure spent a lot of time right on my pink cowgirl hat...

The concert was just a ton of fun. By far the best country concert I have ever been to. There were confetti cannons, beach balls, dancing in the audience, and more. And the music was incredible- of course! I've been to a LOT of country concerts, and this was my favorite one ever.

Getting gelato at 1 a.m. and not having to fight parking lot traffic on the way out were definite perks. But the best part was that it was all part of a dream trip and getting to share it with Juli!

I could bore you with the ridiculousness of the traffic on the way back, delayed flights, and bizarre weather situations, but I won't. Let's just say not one flight went according to plan. But who cares? In the end, I made it home. And really it was a phenomenal, unforgettable trip!

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