The Steve Harvey Snafu

Happy holidays from snowy Spokane! Vacation so far has treated me very well as I am really enjoying my time out west with my family. Today I feel like I need to briefly touch on the Miss Universe/Steve Harvey catastrophe.

Well, right from the start I should probably backtrack. What happened last night wasn’t a catastrophe. I mean let’s be honest here. We face many more significant problems in this world besides a pageant snafu. It was embarrassing and unfortunate but hundreds of worse things occurred across the globe yesterday. In fact, one event that caused much more tragedy and distress occurred right outside of where the Miss Universe Pageant took place when a woman smashed her car into numerous people walking the Las Vegas strip.

I didn’t watch the pageant last night. However, I was perusing Twitter when the announcement of the winner (s) was made. I engulfed myself in the outcry as it happened live on social media. I watched the Vines and GIFs of the botched announcement and the reaction from Steve Harvey. However, I didn’t watch the program on television. And even though I had the opportunity to do so as the pageant was re-aired on the west coast, I decided to do other things with my time. I want to be transparent about this.

I feel like I need to give my take on the Steve Harvey snafu.

I feel like I need to give my take on the Steve Harvey snafu.

Despite not watching Miss Universe on television, based on what I saw online I want to say this directly regarding the conclusion of the Miss Universe Pageant: I respect how Steve Harvey responded to his mistake.

Not only did the man sincerely apologize in front of the contestants and Planet Hollywood crowd, he did it on live television. But he went even further than saying he was sorry. Steve Harvey took 100% responsibility for the regrettable mistake. We all know it is possible to apologize for something while still casting blame away from oneself but Harvey unequivocally put the whole incident squarely on his shoulders. In front of millions of people he undoubtedly said that the whole mess started and stopped with him.

Of course his unfortunate tweet after the pageant where he misspelled the names of both countries involved in the controversy didn’t win him additional sympathizers, I must say that we should all still cut him some slack. Sure he messed up big time. However, I think he served as a terrific example to our society, especially the younger generation, on what to do when we make a mistake. He owned up immediately and made absolutely no excuses.

Mr. Steve Harvey, I feel bad for you. That blunder could have happened to anyone. The fact that it happened to you on such a magnificent stage was brutal. But maybe it was meant to happen to someone like you because of the grace and humility you showed. Steve, you are alright in my book. Don’t Blink.

That Time of Year Again: VEGAS

Probably one of the reasons why I have written some 320 blog posts in a couple short years is because I have written this very similar post about six times now. Yes, it is time to go to Las Vegas again.

Today I embark on the summer half of my bi-annual Vegas getaway. Maybe I tried too hard to find a deal this time because instead of my usual non-stop two hour flight from Missoula to Sin City, this time around there are a couple more obstacles. I will fly out from the Garden City at 1 p.m. and land in Denver at around 3 p.m. I will then sit through a FOUR HOUR layover and then finally board a plane that will take me to Vegas. With the two hour flight and the change from mountain time to pacific time, I will be at McCarran Airport at 8 p.m.

Besides the roundabout way of getting to Vegas, I know this trip will be a blast. Accompanying me this time around will be my girlfriend, Paige. Except for a very short time ten years ago, Paige has never really experienced Las Vegas so I can’t wait to show her around the crazy city. Staying true to how I always arrange my summer trips to Vegas, we will stay at my favorite hotel, the Flamingo. This trip is mainly to explore the city, lay by the pool, and eat some good food.

Taking advantage of the Memorial Day Weekend, I will be in Vegas from today through Wednesday. As is custom when I go on trips, I will not be contributing to Don’t Blink. But it never fails, whenever I come back from Vegas I always have one or two good stories to write about. Enjoy the rest of your holiday weekend, everyone! Don’t Blink.

An Unconventional Way to Make Money in Vegas

This past Wednesday, my brother and I munched on a delicious lunch inside the Planet Hollywood Miracle Shops on the Las Vegas strip. We were eating at La Salsa Cantina, a Mexican restaurant toward the back of the mall. Serving a mean queso dip and large burritos, we filled up while eyeing from our indoor deck seats the scene taking place right across us.

Here is my food at La Salsa Cantina

Here is my food at La Salsa Cantina

We watched as two guys standing outside of the store space across from the restaurant emerged out into the mall walkway and started asking people passing by if they would like to view a television show in exchange for $15. Because the only thing separating our table from the general walkway was a two foot fence, we could easily hear these men pitching the offer to the Planet Hollywood patrons along with the responses. It seemed like half the people said “yes” and half the people said “no”. My brother and I looked at each other and conferenced for about thirty seconds and decided that this was something we wanted to do.

Glen sitting at our table on the restaurant indoor deck right before we accepted the challenge.

Glen sitting at our table on the restaurant indoor deck right before we accepted the challenge.

To make it look like we were not purposely trying to get selected, we paid our tab and ducked out of the restaurant with our heads hung low walking the opposite direction of the two men. When we reached a point where we no longer were in eye sight we turned back and walked toward the petitioners, trying to give off the best “PLEASE pick me” look that we could. Sure enough, the guys asked us if we wanted to participate and we said yes.

One of the guys took us into the actual store and for the first time I realized what it was called…Test America. It indeed was a research center! They led us to the upstairs of the center and asked us a few questions. We answered and then they told us to hold tight. We stood on the upstairs balcony that overlooked the Planet Hollywood shops, a very nice view. Within two minutes the guy came back and he offered us a new proposition: “Hey, how would you guys like to make $85 instead of $15? All you have to do is participate in a focus group after the show. It will take no more than 2 hours of your time.”

Part of the view we got from the balcony.

Part of the view we got from the balcony.

Under most circumstances we would have said yes in a heartbeat but as we were supposed to hang out with our two Vegas friends (Brandon and Madison) in an hour, Glen had to make a quick phone call. Brandon gave us his blessing and we told the Test America guy that we were in! Before we entered the viewing room, we were grilled with a more stringent round of questions from one more employee. He prefaced the questions by telling us that he had to make sure we were qualified. I knew exactly how to answer to make sure we were “qualified” and with Glen taking my lead, we quickly answered questions about how many hours of TV we watch a week, the type of shows we watch, our yearly income, etc. We passed!

We entered the viewing room, a roughly 25 foot by 25 foot space with one table, chairs, and a flat screen television. If I remember the number correctly, 27 people including my brother and myself filled the room. I am fairly certain that we were all tourists, hungry to get a little extra Vegas spending money. Again, another employee came in and gave a short introduction to the show telling us that we were about to watch an unnamed hospital drama pilot. He asked us to watch the show closely and then get ready to give thoughtful feedback afterwards.

The show started and it was definitely a hospital drama! The actors/actresses were all attractive, the show was fast paced, and the lines pretty cheesy. Although I was mildly entertained, by the time the show ended forty minutes later, I was ready for it to be done and ready to get back to Vegas.

The employee came back in and gave us all a survey to fill out about the show. As most surveys go, it contained several scaled questions (on a scale of 1-10) and a couple of open ended response ones at the end. After we finished he collected the surveys and another employee entered and made the following announcement:

“Could I please have these three people get up, leave the room, and follow me? Thanks: Can’t Remember His Name #1, Can’t Remember Her Name #2, and Brent Reser.”

Glen did a good job giving his feedback.

Glen did a good job giving his feedback.

A bit surprised at hearing my name, and yes, it was the last one called, I looked at Glen and walked outside the viewing room into a waiting area. The three of us sat in three available chairs and joked about why we were called out and what was going to happen. Five minutes passed and the same guy came back and handed us a piece of cardstock paper, said “thank you,” and showed us the way out. As we walked out I looked at the document…my $85 check.

I did actually get paid!

I did actually get paid!

It turned out that they had chosen more people than they needed for the focus group so we got randomly selected to bypass that portion of the research and still receive full funds. I waited an hour for my brother to come out and he gave me the low down of the focus group: Many specific/tedious questions, long winded answers, many follow up prompts from the person conducting the focus group, and too many people who thought they were professional critics. As our bank did not have an ATM anywhere near the premises we went to the restaurant right next door to the center and cashed our checks….at a cut of 20%.

After the deduction, we walked away with $68 each. Although not our biggest win in Vegas, that $68 multiplied for my brother that night and it lasted me a long time. Although this is by no means one of my more interesting posts, actually, it is by far one of my most boring ones, it provided my brother and I the affirmation that participating in a quick hour or two of research can be relaxing, interesting, and profitable. Just another good memory of our Vegas trip. Don’t Blink.

Watching the American Country Awards in Person

My brother, his friend Brandon, and myself were sitting at an outdoor venue in Vegas called the Corner Bar. It is right between Bill’s Gambling Hall and the Flamingo and it offers an elevated deck to sit at and enjoy a cold drink while watching the Vegas throngs walk every direction on the strip. Drenched in the December sunshine and getting a kick out of the people that walked by, we were having an awesome time. The hour approached 4 p.m. and even though I could have been content to sit there the rest of the night, I knew I would kick myself for a long time if I didn’t get up and start heading north on the strip.

“Glen, we have to go down to Mandalay Bay,” I told my brother as we sat in our stools. “I will regret it if I don’t see this show. “

I was referring to the American Country Awards, a mega celebration honoring the superstars of the business annually held at the Mandalay Bay. My brother graciously agreed to walk down with me even though it meant that he might have to hang by himself for a couple hours. You see, we had actually ventured to the Mandalay Bay earlier in the day and tried to get tickets. However, most of the only seats available were in the ultra expensive section and the remaining few left in the more affordable sections were obstructed views and were not together. However, the people at the box office told us to come back right before the show and check again as sometimes seats would open up.

I was prepared to just buy a single seat with an obstructed view and watch the show by myself. However, because we had waited so long I thought that option might had even passed me by. The show started at 5 p.m. and we got to the Mandalay Bay box office at around 4:35 p.m. Expecting the worst, I actually received the best case scenario. Seats actually had opened up, and good ones too! I quickly called Glen over and asked if he wanted to see the show and before he could even answer I told the ticket lady that we would take two tickets…Glen was not going to miss this with me. At $75 per ticket to see the people we listen to on the radio every day, I was not going to let either of us pass this by.

Tickets

Our tickets to the American Country Awards.

We got our tickets and ventured right to the Mandalay Bay events center. First thing I noticed upon entering besides the thousands of cowboys and cowgirls surrounding us? The pristine condition of the arena’s concourse. The place was spotless. We got to our great seats (second level, to the right of the stage) and settled in for the show. Before the show started there were several announcements over the public address system notifying us when it would start, what a great time we were in for, and that the production would be live. The voice also encouraged us to take our seats and to be loud. A few minutes before the show started, a GAC personality came out and gave us a pep talk pretty much echoing what the public address voice had said. He told us to sing along to every song, cheer loudly, and have a great time. He said if we performed all three of these things, we would have a chance to get on television. Finally, the show started…

The voice counted down to the start of the show and Luke Bryan came out and rocked the house, singing “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” It got me so pumped up and excited to have a seat at the show. Out of all the performers, he was one of my favorites. Besides Bryan, I got to see all of these other stars perform: Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Lynard Skynard + Trace Adkins, Kip Moore, Little Big Town, and Lady Antebellum. My other two top performances were by the Lynard Kkynard + Trace Adkins combo and Kip Moore.

Kip Moore performing during the ACA's.

Kip Moore performing during the ACA’s.

Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth hosted the show. Although I didn’t know much about Chenoweth going in, I know a lot now, especially that she is small and that she has an unmistakable voice. The duo did a great job hosting and made me laugh a lot. I will always remember Kristin coming out on stage dressed as Honey Boo Boo.


This was my first ever awards show and let me tell you, they got it down to a science. The show started promptly at 5 p.m. and ended right at 7 p.m. I guess I expected to see more chaos and running around with set changes and stage managers trying to direct people all over the place but none of that occurred. The production ran flawlessly and set changes were quiet and quick. When a performance ended, a simple wall would close sectioning off the old set while the new set was constructed in. You ever wonder what happens during commercial breaks for audience entertainment? At the ACA’s they replayed performances on the big screens from last year’s show. At the conclusion of the old video, the voice over the public address system would countdown to the show beginning again and ask for applause.

Lady A receiving Group of the Year honors.

Lady A receiving Group of the Year honors.

One of my favorite parts of the experience was just to look down on all the talent that sat stage side. I enjoyed watching them interact with each other and mingle from seat to seat during the commercial breaks. Of course you had all of the major country superstars but you also had general celebrities there as well. Carmen Electra, Ron White, Penn and Teller, Natasha Bedingfield, and a couple San Francisco Giants players all presented awards. Even though I don’t get star struck, I do get a little caught up in so much talent being under one roof.

I do admit that probably after the first hour, the show started to run together for me a little bit. When you see so many stars perform and so many celebrities present in such a short time span, you get a little overwhelmed. So naturally, when I mentioned all of the performers above, I know I probably left out one or two…same goes with the presenters. I wouldn’t even dare recapping the show in fear of leaving out significant pieces of the night.

What a great time my brother and I had!

What a great time my brother and I had!

The American Country Awards will go down as a very fond memory for me. Of course the reason that predictably stands out for making this event so memorable was that I got to see my favorite musicians perform under one roof. However, it goes deeper than that. This experience was so awesome because I got to see it in my favorite city, view it in a cool venue, and share it with the one person who I would most want to. I feel very fortunate to have made this part of my Vegas experience. Don’t Blink.

A Successful Vegas Trip With My Bro (December 2012)

On Thursday night I returned to Missoula after spending the first half of the week down in Las Vegas. I had a wonderful time and I must say, it turned out to be one of the most (if not the most) successful trips I have had down there. How do I count success? Just by the fact that it was probably the least amount of money I have ever spent on a Vegas trip. When it came to gambling, I am pretty sure with everything added in, I actually came up ahead. Of course with all the entertainment and food we indulged in, it made me return home in the red a little but as I was saying it was not nearly as bad as usual. I would just like to briefly summarize my trip.

Glen and I had a great trip in Vegas with our friends, Brandon and Madison.

Glen and I had a great trip in Vegas with our friends, Brandon and Madison.

If you read my previous post, you knew that Glen (my brother) and I stayed in Bill’s Gambling Hall. I said from the onset that it would probably be one of the least glamorous hotels we would stay in and upon checking in my assumption was correct. I got off my shuttle and went to the registration desk. There was absolutely no line at the pint sized check in area. I got my room assignment….floor 1! In Vegas I had always stayed on some ridiculously high floor. Not this go around. I got on the elevator that was ten feet from the check in area and took the shaky one floor ride. The elevator doors opened and our hotel room was right there! Least strenuous trek to a Vegas hotel room ever! I was quite pleased at this because as I looked down the hallway it looked quite dark and scary. The room itself was outdated and weirdly shaped and the bathroom had strange stained glass in it. But we also got a flat screen television and the beds were very comfortable! The room definitely grew on us and it served as a great spot to hang out, listen to music, and gather ourselves before we hit the town. We will never see Bill’s again because it is closing in February but we would definitely stay there again.

 

Not a high roller room, but it did its purpose.

Not a high roller room, but it did its purpose.

My brother and I enjoyed the fantastic weather in Vegas. Especially on Monday and Tuesday the weather was sunny and warm and we pretty much basked in it! T-shirts and shorts were the norm. There was a café/bar right in the middle of the strip that overlooked everything that we enjoyed sitting at and people watching as all the Vegas foot traffic would pass us by. During the night the weather did get a little cool but it was a far cry from the harshness of Montana and Washington.

The weather was sunny most of the time we were in Vegas.

The weather was sunny most of the time we were in Vegas.

Glen and I spent a lot of time on the strip and in downtown Vegas but we also spent some of each day at a place called the Stage Door. The Stage Door is a lounge area specializing in cheap drinks, fifty cent hot dogs, and other cheap food. Located off the strip about two minutes from our hotel, Glen and I would walk down and enjoy ourselves with some of the Vegas locals. We made great friends with one of the workers, Brittany, and she treated us very well. With great music, interesting people, and a completely different take on Vegas, we enjoyed our time at Stage Door and have many fond memories.

Glen and I with Brittany

A really cool part of this trip was that we got to hang with a couple of Glen’s friends who live in Vegas, Brandon and Madison. Glen played baseball with Brandon at Walla Walla Community College and met Madison in the town as well. Brandon and Madison started dating and when Brandon moved back to Vegas after baseball was over, Madison went with him. Two different nights Brandon and Madison drove to the strip and hung out with us. We watched sports together at the Mandalay Bay, laughed out loud as we witnessed people trying to sing karaoke, hung out at the Stage Door, met an old rocker, and had an epic night in downtown Vegas. The couple treated us so well and gave us rides everywhere. Thank you so much Brandon and Madison, we had a great time with you guys!

 

The four of us! (From l-r: Brandon, Madison, me, and Glen).

The four of us! (From l-r: Brandon, Madison, me, and Glen).

There are a few highlights from this trip that I will always remember: 1. While we were down in Vegas, the NFR was going on. I have never seen so many cowboys in my life! They had definitely taken over the city. 2. Thanks to my brother’s amazing eye, we saw Jason Aldean up close and personal as he was playing Black Jack at one of the tables in Mandalay Bay. We watched him keep reaching for money and puffing on cigarettes. As other people started to notice it was him, he got up and left. 3. Glen and I had the opportunity to attend the American Country Awards (ACAs). It was a very special experience as we saw our favorite country superstars perform live. It was also my first ever awards show. I will blog about this exclusively in tomorrow’s post. 4. I cashed at a poker tournament!! In my life, I have never finished in the money at a real casino poker tournament. Glen and I played in one at Bill’s. In a field of about 30 players, I lasted until only four of us were left. After about 20 minutes of the four of us taking each other’s chips back and forth, we made a group decision to chop the pot (split up the prize pool four ways). I felt so accomplished! 5. We participated in a focus group! After eating lunch in Planet Hollywood, we were asked to participate in a focus group. We got paid $85 to watch a 40 minute show and then give our opinion about it. This was definitely something I have never done in Vegas and I will also write a post about it soon.

Can you spot Jason Aldean?!?!

Can you spot Jason Aldean?!?!

 

Luke Bryan performing at the ACA's to open the show!

Luke Bryan performing at the ACA’s to open the show!

 

I want to thank my brother, Brandon, and Madison for a great Vegas trip. Of course we have many other fond memories that won’t make it into this post but I think from what I did offer, you can tell that we had a good time. I already miss Vegas and want to go back. Who wants to go with Glen and I next time? Don’t Blink.

Reser Boys Annual December Vegas Vacation

If you start reading this post and ask yourself “Hey, haven’t I read this once before?” you might want to call up your doctor and ask for a psychological exam. I say this because chances are you have read a post similar to this one NOT JUST ONCE but several times. Yes, you guessed it, I am off to Las Vegas again.

I know I need to explore a little more but for me there is only one vacation spot and that spot is located in the desert of Nevada. Each year I take vacation for a few days in June and then for a few days in December and for both of those months I prefer to go to Las Vegas. Because I held true to my schedule in the summer, it was only proper to return to Vegas this December.

Funny story, this trip almost got off to a catastrophic start. I checked my flight itinerary several times and was convinced that my flight departed at 6:10 p.m. I planned my whole day around that departure time and at 3:30 p.m. while I was nowhere near my apartment I got a call from my friend Mike (and chauffeur to the airport) informing me that my flight was to take off at 5:15 p.m. After telling him a couple times that he was crazy I checked my itinerary on my phone and saw that he in fact was correct. I mistakenly kept referencing my arrival time in Vegas as my departure time from Missoula (I gain an hour because of a time zone change). I busted out of my office, hurried back home, packed like a mad man, and hopped in Mike’s car. We got to the airport in enough time for the original 5:15 p.m. departure but I quickly learned that my mad dash was a little in vain as the Allegiant worker announced that my flight was an hour delayed.

So that brings me to where I am at now. Sitting in the Missoula Airport waiting out my delay, I can’t wait to get to Vegas. I am ready to leave the snow covered landscape and icy roads of Missoula for the sunny skies and 60 degree weather of Las Vegas. Making this trip even better is that I get to spend it with my brother. This will be our third straight Vegas December trip together. The two of us always have a great time when we are together and it is amplified even more when we are in Las Vegas. In fact, we have so much fun that it doesn’t even matter that we are staying in one of the, how shall I put it, less upscale properties on the strip. This go-around, we will be staying in Bill’s Gambling Hall. How sad is Bill’s? Well, just two weeks ago, Harrah’s Properties announced the closure of the hotel in February. With closure imminent, who knows what shape it will be in when we get there. But we couldn’t care less, my brother and I love poker and Bill’s offers fun and affordable tournaments.

Besides poker what else do we expect to do? Relax. The atmosphere of Las Vegas is like no other and that is what draws my brother and I there twice a year. We have no set agenda, we just want to hang out and enjoy ourselves.

So while I am in the desert over the next few days I will not be posting to Don’t Blink. However, I will be back posting once I return. Have a great week everyone and get some Christmas shopping done! Don’t Blink.

The Sideshow Freaks of Vegas

In third grade, my parents took the three of us kids to Disneyland. My mom and dad still look back on it fondly and call it the best family vacation we ever took. The five of us gobbled up all Disneyland had to offer as we went on all the rides, watched the parade, and ate Mickey Mouse ice creams. We also did all the other non-Disney stuff that you got to such as SeaWorld, Hollywood Studios, and Medieval Times. My parents definitely spoiled us and I can’t thank them enough because over fifteen years later, I still have vivid memories of that trip. But as it always happens on vacation, it seems like one memory or theme always seems to stand out the most.

When it comes to our Disneyland trip in 1996, what always sticks out to me were the Disney characters roaming throughout the park. My parents bought us those little autograph books that you bring up to each one and have them sign so I got a lot of exposure with the costumed cast. My mom and dad also went the extra mile and bought tickets for us to have breakfast with the whole Disney crew. Talk about a cool experience! Eating Mickey Mouse shaped waffles while sitting next to Goofy and Donald Duck was pretty neat. I held onto that autograph book for a long time and the magical experience of meeting the characters who I had only previously encountered in movies, books, and television stuck with me.

I feel that my Disneyland experience combined with the little known fact that I actually manage a collegiate mascot predisposed me to a bit of a love for people in costumes (not in a sick way). So I guess it is no surprise that I get a kick out of the wide variety of costumed folks who line the tourist streets of Las Vegas.

You never know what you will find on the streets of Vegas.

Over the past few years, the presence of characters on the Strip of Las Vegas and in the downtown Freemont area has skyrocketed. You can’t walk ten yards without encountering some dude in a cheesy batman costume posing for the masses who are walking by. Incredibly enough, these “entertainers” almost outnumber the small army of men passing out adult entertainment cards. It has become quite the industry.

You will always find some cute angels.

In Vegas, the number and mixture of characters is immense. You got superheroes, horror villains, Elvis, Santa Claus, cartoon characters, Playboy bunnies, show girls, Santa Claus, Michael Jackson, pirates, and, oh yes, my personal favorite… Disney characters. To put it mildly, with the eclectic combination of mythical figures, dead singers, and animated icons, it is one big freak show. But a good freak show, right? Well, according to a lot of people who frequent Las Vegas, the answer is NO.

No joke, you will run into horror villains…I unfortunately had an encounter with Freddy Krueger.

There is a difference between the characters you run into in Disneyland and the characters you run into in Las Vegas. In Disneyland, the characters are working for Disney to provide an awesome experience for the millions of families that visit each year. They follow protocol and rules. They also go through a background check. In Vegas, the characters are much less innocent. They are in costume for solely one purpose: To make tips! They don’t answer to the Vegas tourist bureau, they answer to themselves. These “performers” (I use the term very loosely) will do anything to draw your attention, make you take a picture with them, and then make sure that you give them a tip. They take up space on already congested sidewalks. They don’t care that their costumes are dirty or that they look like they were bought at Goodwill. They take breaks by simply taking off their mask/head/hat/whatever, plopping down on the sidewalk, and smoking a cigarette. They do what they want.

I think a lot of people could make a better Winnie.

But as I made sure to preface, that is the opinion of the majority of Vegas tourists and I am proud to report that I am not part of the majority. My Disneyland experience made me eternally appreciate these costumed disciples, no matter how disgusting or pathetic their costume might be.

Characters you thought would never hang out together do so in Vegas.

I would say that I almost spend as much money taking pictures with these character rejects as I do on gambling. I can’t resist! As someone who loves pictures and who loves someone in costume, I have a tough time simply walking by any Spiderman or Winnie the Pooh on the Strip. I irritate the hell out of my brother when he travels to Sin City with me. This past December I took pictures with no less than twenty Vegas street superstars and Tebowed with just about each one. Even by my standards, it was pretty ridiculous. I try to make it a point to take a picture with the people in the most disgraceful, ratty costumes. I think it is just funny that they are confident enough to stand out in front of thousands of people and expect to be handed tips for the lousy condition they are in…so I humor them.

Tebowing with the best of them.

I must give credit where credit is due however. There are the few characters out there who play the part well and put genuine effort into their craft. You will see Michael Jacksons covered in gold paint who stay completely still until someone walks too close. You will see an Elvis here or there who can actually sing. You might encounter a convincing Jack Sparrow. But honestly, these people are few and far between. Most of them get by with the bare minimum while expecting riches. When I go take a picture with one of these sideshows, I make sure to give them their tip as I am walking up to them just to avoid the awkward and rude “We except tips” that they will inevitably whisper into my ear as the picture is being taken. Just the way Vegas works.

It is a must to get a picture with Vegas Showgirls.

Despite how bush league many of these people are, I can’t turn my back on them. My long ago Disneyland experience won’t let me. I also find them in a weird way just part of the Vegas charm. For the many people out there who detest these hustlers, I give you this advice: Go ahead and keep your distance and refrain from eye contact…BUT…please let your guard down just once during your trip and go shoulder to shoulder with one of these costumed characters and get your freaking picture taken! It can be a new Facebook profile picture. Don’t Blink.

Most Relaxing Vegas Trip Ever

You know, it seems like I have already done this blog post about six times before…wait, that is because I have! Oh yes, time for another Las Vegas trip recap. I know these trip summaries can get boring to most of my readers but the reason why I continue to report on my visits to Sin City is simply because each experience is different. As I have done in the past I will just point out a few overarching themes from my time in the desert but first some background.

I went to Vegas this past Sunday via Delta and as I compose this it is Wednesday night and I am on my return voyage to Missoula where I am currently sitting in the Salt Lake City airport on a brutal three hour layover. I once again stayed in my favorite property on the strip, the Flamingo. I can’t express what an enjoyable and relaxing time I had this go around. I traveled solo with my only excuse for going on the trip being that my friend, Erik, was down at the same time for a work conference. Basically, I just needed to satisfy my urge to get back down to my favorite vacation spot.

All and all, it was a very low key trip for me. I hung out at the pool and gambled…that is pretty much it. The weather was 100+ degrees each day, just how I like it. Poker tournaments and Blackjack kept me more than entertained. This trip I actually got some sleep too, even if my schedule was a little messed up. For the three days I was there, I hung out at the pool in the morning, gambled in the afternoon/early evening, slept from 11pm to 3am (you know, when the fun stuff happens in Vegas), and then gambled again from the early morning hours and transitioned right to the pool right when the gates opened at 8am. No clubs, no bottle service, no wild stories. So what if I was a loser this go around? I still had a great time.

So without further adieu, here are the three things I am taking from Summer Vegas Trip 2012:

1. So Much Respect For Teachers: I met three teachers over my three days in Vegas. You think that is odd? Well, I did too until they reminded me that it is of course summer and school is not in session. I met one guy  this morning my age from Atlanta, Georgia, who is a high school math teacher who also happens to coach football, wrestling, and track. After he found out about my occupation he could not stop talking about the Griz and watching the football team play on ESPN this past season. Playing Paigow while the luck was good for both of us, we found we had much in common despite living on other ends of the country.

I also met a middle school teacher on my shuttle to Vegas on Sunday. From Oregon, she also coached basketball. We talked from the shuttle all the way through the registration line about standardized testing.

Saving the best for last, I made a new friend from Minnesota, a second grade teacher who blogs just like me! Eric and myself met her and her group of friends at the pool. Shoutout to her friends: Wendy (not the fast food restaurant), Molly (she is small but don’t mess with her), and Nicole (Snookie-Pink Panther-Booty contest champ). We got to hang out a couple times throughout the trip and we had a blast as she played Blackjack for the first time! I respected her so much because of the unique classroom composition she has and the fact that she works a different job during the summer. Really cool girl.

Teachers are taken for granted. They are underpaid and underappreciated. I am glad that I became more aware of this over the past few days.

2. Best Blackjack Talk: I definitely did not leave Vegas on the plus side this trip. Interestingly enough, I have never made money in Vegas despite all the times I have gone. But what made my losing bearable was the awesome cast of characters I played with at pretty much every table I sat down at. I can’t even count all the funny, bizarre, and intriguing conversations I had with players and dealers alike this trip. You see, when you are in Vegas and you are playing the low limits that I play, everyone for the most part is relaxed.

There was never a dull moment at the tables no matter where I played, what game it was, or what time of the day it was. I played in three poker tournaments over my trip and all the people participating were champs as well. I just the love the opportunity to banter with people from all over the nation (and world) in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

3. Economy Friendly/Tourist Friendly:  This time around, I noticed something a little different. It seemed like prices for everything from food to drinks to gambling limits to cabana rentals were much lower. I could find $5 tables at pretty much every casino I walked into. Maybe the reason was because it is late July and the city is entering its “slow” season but I was just pleasantly surprised. It is always nice when your buck goes that extra mile.

One thing that hasn’t changed and one of the reasons why I continue to return to Vegas time and time again is because of the great customer service I always receive. I think Vegas gets a reputation for being intimidating and snobby but that is hardly the case. Dealers, hotel clerks, vendors on the street, pool attendants, etc. always treat me like a king…and keep in mind, I am what you would call a “low-roller.” It is amazing what a simple $1 tip will do. I have nothing but compliments for the people who slave away in sweltering temperatures serving us clueless tourists day after day.

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Usually when I come back from Vegas I am READY to come back. Not this time. It was just so relaxing and laid back over the past few days that I really would not have minded staying for a few more. But time to suck it up and get back to reality. Can’t wait for work tomorrow and the big news that is to come. Don’t Blink.