While working on an unrelated story Las Vegas and the following came to mind

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Late Arrivals

Confused by signage stating Interstate 215 and McCarran Airport East/West, I continue south on Interstate 15 past the exit. “Damn, I missed the exit for the airport. I’m not going to miss this flight,” I shout.

“Don’t stress it, if we’re late we’re late we’ll just have to catch another flight,” Al responds, calmly and in control.

Al and I have been together since 1980 and flew into Las Vegas from Camas, Washington on August 21st for a four-day celebration of my 50th birthday with family and friends in Sin City. Now, on August 24,th we race to the airport from old downtown having spent three hours gambling at the Fremont Street Experience instead of preparing for the flight home. We return the car rental in time and jump the shuttle to the airport dashing inside to the Delta check in counter where Karen assists us. After taking our flight information she calmly informs us there is not enough time to catch the flight and will have to re-book. Of all the cities one would think Las Vegas would have flights coming and going around the clock and after a brief discussion of the current time compared to airport clocks Karen holds firm; we accept Monday the 25th at 622am. Complicating the circumstance Al has a flight to Southern California on August 25th which also needs rescheduling. Damn gambling!

The axiom “be careful what you wish for you just may get it” bears fruit as I dreaded arriving home late on the 24th, driving Al back to the airport early Monday then straight off to work with little rest. Karen hands us our tickets and away we go to the baggage area to book a room at the highly recommended Terrible’s Hotel and Casino. After sharing a refreshing lemon muffin and cold water we book the room then head out into the evening heat to await the red shuttle from Terrible’s.

Arriving at the Casino we make our way inside to the reservation desk. Bells, lights, and shouts of success surround us as we check in; schedule a 3am wakeup call so as not to miss a second plane, then I head to the room to refresh but Al signs up for Terrible’s Player Club gambling package. Later Al joins me in the room, then we head to Terribles 2 for 1 Buffet, and we finish the evening playing penny slots with no plane to catch no schedule to keep, just the two of us enjoying true freedom. Both of us get on a winning streak, I cash in, go to bed but Al continues gambling making the room by 230am just in time to rest before the wakeup call.

I sip weak coffee made in-room when Al discovers his driver’s license has gone missing however turning the room upside down and explaining our dilemma to the morning manager yields nothing! With photo identification required to board Al suggests I go on ahead and he will follow later but I convince him otherwise, that surely the airport can help, they must run into this regularly. Damn gambling!

The bus ride to the airport takes 15 minutes but upon arrival the auto check-in is not online for another 15 minutes. While waiting we find a TSA agent, explain our situation and in a calm, composed, polite manner, he informs us the picture on Al’s credit card will work but the baggage will be thoroughly hand searched. I whisper, “See I told you we’d be able to work it out,” to Al. We sigh in relief. After completing the security check, with boarding passes in hand, we ride the escalator up to the boarding level passed empty slot machines. The time is 5am and we sit down to breakfast burritos and watch the sunrise over the tarmac. We lift off at 622am finally shaking the hot desert sand from our sandals.

At Salt Lake City we have a two-hour lay over I spend fighting off sleep while Al writes a letter to his niece chronicling the fun-filled weekend in Sin City. Now, as we climb to cruising altitude Salt Lake shrinks below and I have a strange sensation we passed this way not just four days, but weeks ago.

Touchdown is in Portland, Oregon at 1205pm under partly cloudy skies then a short ride on the blue shuttle to the Economy Parking Lot. Both of us, exhausted, find the Saturn; toss our bags into the trunk and eager to get home jump into the car but the battery is dead due to a light left on! While I try AAA Al flags down a fellow traveler who jumps starts the car sending us, finally on our way home to Camas. On the drive I reflect on the eventful weekend and smile

copyright  2013, jim pykonen.

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