XO-LP // Laura Palmer


Love Letters to a New Year.

What Happened in Vegas.

Dear 30,

You know, they say it stays in Vegas. But I'll let you in on a few details. (VEGAS TODD. We miss you already.)

The HeeHaw machine. Because that's what Iowans do. The more corn you see the more you win. Duh. It only makes sense.

The HeeHaw machine. Because that's what Iowans do. The more corn you see the more you win. Duh. It only makes sense.

On night one we went to downtown Vegas and had a Fremont Street Experience. (I will always think of Heart when I reference that night. Thank you Fremont light show for choosing Heart to be your soundtrack.) So many lights. So many $0.99 margaritas. And then, oh and then, we landed at the El Cortez where I was forced to reprise my Total Eclipse of the Heart moment and bring that smokey lounge to life (there was a move I would later call a jump splits, a run around the lounge to pump up the crowd, and one meaningful seranade to a man named Igor who later sang a Train song). We <3 the El Cortez.
Josh sang way better than I did, and so did these brothers who rocked the hell out of Milli Vanilli AND nearly made me weep during their KC and JoJo hit, but did Josh and the brothers sit on Vegas Eddie's knee while they rapped "On your mark, get set, go, let me go, let me shoop, To the next man in the three-piece suit?" I can promise you they did not. 

My only other trip to Sin City was in 2007. (I had to research the exact year. As I write 2007 I'm still trying to figure out how that was almost 7 years ago. Whoa. I'm a legit grown up.) In 2007 I went for a wedding, in August, saw nearly every casino on the strip, wore a dress I haven't worn since then and saw the Thunder From Down Under. (Yeeeowww) I also had a bob. And thinner elbows. It was a totally exciting, completely exhausting trip. I've learned that's how Vegas trips go, especially when you've aged 7 years since your last visit. (I slept a lot later this time. A lot later.)

Well look at 2007 Laura, rocking the giant slot machine. Or simply posing for a photo, because I can assure you I didn't spend $2.&nbsp;

Well look at 2007 Laura, rocking the giant slot machine. Or simply posing for a photo, because I can assure you I didn't spend $2. 

A quick note to my friends Allegiant Airlines: You offer nice flight prices, but you charge for a glass of water on that flight. That's cool and everything, but it doesn't make that deceptively long flight into McCarran any more comfortable. I do commend your flight crew-- super nice people. And by instituting zone 6, you made my carry on experience a very good one. Thanks for that part.

Each night in Vegas was a distinct experience, topped off by Kevin reminding us that this was, truly, his very favorite trip to Vegas, ever. (Thanks Kev.) Night two we saw the decadent Cosmopolitain. I introduced Jenni to paella and we had a fried pig ear and grilled beef tongue and pickled cauliflower. To the vegetarian barman at Comme Ca who told us all about your trip to China and invasive species and was a one-man-Vegas-welcome-wagon: thank you for making that short visit to your bar one of my favorite moments of the trip.

A coin flip decided our destiny as we skipped the club scene (sorry Dave, the club promoter that Jenni somehow knows. XS sounds like a very small but wonderful place) and made our way through the casino floor enjoying the sweet sounds of the Jennifer Keith Quintet. I started my lucky destiny butterfly streak on a slot machine (exaggeration?) and we caught the Bellagio fountain show performed to Proud to Be an American

The trip took a dramatic turn on New Year's Eve Day as respiratory influenza took out Jenni (so sad) leaving the three of us to bro it up in Vegas. We talked about sports and sports bets and sportsbooks. #sports

We snagged a last minute reservation at Stack and grilled steak on a rock, fussed with bow ties, drank out of illegal aluminum cans (no cans or glass outside the casinos allowed on NYE. none.) and walked in the middle of the Strip, dodging the early drunk folk, to get to the Wynn. Then we met Sue. And Heather and Ray and Merle and Mary Jo. There were cigars and Texans and suddenly we're on the 51st floor of the Wynn watching the fireworks light up the Las Vegas at eye level. It was a memorable, inexplicably fun night where we made new friends and clearly missed Jenni. 

The rest of the trip can be summarized: an Iowa bowl game watch at the Venetiancrab legs, talking frogs over a waterfall, a winning parlay, Josh witnessing a theft and a much too early flight home to sub-zero temps. A special note to our sweet waiter at Lakeside: Thank you, so much, for the lobster tutorial (next time I'll be ordering a spiny lobster-- good call on the shell weight-- it's a doozy) and for showing me the alien crabs with the 4 foot wing span. The food was incredibly excellent and you made that dinner an even more memorable one. 

We'll go back, of course, and repeat the trip with a healthy Jenni, after we've all had flu shots, but this getaway served as a great 2013 closer. 

So much ahead in 2014. So many adventures. And maybe a  $300 lobster.