Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lake Las Vegas (As Long As I'm Stuck in Last October)

As long as I'm writing about something that happened last October, I'm going to add one more late post into the mix. Actually, when I was looking at pictures for the last Paris post, I found these pictures from the final leg of my October trip. The entire family flew to California for my brother's wedding. Then I flew to London/Paris via New York (where I met up with my friend and travel companion, Ranell). Dave, on the other hand, went to Lake Las Vegas, where he had a two-week training conference for work (the whole reason he couldn't go to Europe with me in the first place).

One of the perks of being required to go to this mandatory training was that at the end of the training, as "compensation" for taking employees from their families for two whole weeks, they flew the entire family out to Lake Las Vegas for the remainder of the weekend, paying for our airfare, hotel and meals. Suh-weet! (Wait a second--- since when is Dave's company interested in "compensating" for time away from the family? I used to keep track of days that Dave had off but worked anyway but lost count after five....) But regardless of past grievances, I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity for a free vacation, even if that free vacation meant braving a two-hour flight alone with four children.

My mom and sister drove me to the San Jose airport to drop me, four kids and bazillion suitcases (full of all of the kids' stuff from two weeks in CA) off.  When we pulled in there was a firetruck blocking the Southwest skycap, so we parked as close as we could and my sister waited in the car with the kids while my mom and I started shuttling all of our bags to the skycap.
I never noticed before that the sign says "For security reasons." Come on! We all know it's so you don't get those people who arrive 30 minutes early to pick up their Aunt Betty and sit blocking the terminal the entire time.
As my mom and I were transporting ten large suitcases to the skycap as quickly as we could, one of the parking police came up to my sister, who was sitting in the car with the bags and children, and asked her to move the car because she had been parked there too long. She tried to explain to him that she was waiting with the children that belonged to her sister who was traveling and active unloading suitcases to check for the flight. She told him that she needed to stay there and wasn't going to move, so the policeman wrote her a ticket.
Parked, as you can see, one sign- or one fire truck's length- away from the Southwest skycap.

My sister was ticked and asked to talk to his supervisor. Before long, we had three police officers and a supervisor congregated outside my mom's minivan, all to take care of this "disturbance" of a woman insisting that she needed to stay parked so her sister could retrieve her children for her flight once her bags were checked.
Responding to the "threat" of a woman waiting for her sister to check bags in a "loading" zone.
The supervisor (who I think was just ticked that my sister was ticked at him) refused to rescind the ticket, insisting that we were parked too far away from the skycap, notwithstanding the fact that there had been a firetruck in the way when we started unloading. Yep, with 4 kids and 10 suitcases we just decided it would be MORE FUN to park far away. So instead we just took pictures of all of the officers and circumstances involved in case they were needed to get the ticket revoked in court (they weren't). (Did I mention that my sister's a lawyer and you shouldn't mess with her?)

The happy supervisor who insisted that we were parked too far from the Southwest counter to be unloading.
After finally checking our bags, I braved the security lines with four kids, three carry-ons, two carseats, one stroller and a partridge in a pear tree. (Sheesh! I'm sure having to work for this free vacation....)
At least two children were old enough to carry their own backpacks!

Those pack mules ain't got nothin' on me!
We finally made it onto the plane, survived the flight and made it to Vegas. We met up with our driver who took us to beautiful Lake Las Vegas. We soon found out why Dave's company was willing to pay for a hotel room for family out for the end of his conference. Lake Las Vegas-- a beautiful resort development-- was a product of the real estate bubble. Conceived when Las Vegas real estate was at its peak, now several of the hotels there are in bankruptcy and sit empty and those that remain have some screaming killer deals on rooms. Nonetheless, it's a beautiful, if somewhat deserted, would-be resort.

On Friday night, Dave and I went to a dinner while the kids went to company-provided child care (okay, so maybe it was worth the plane flight with four kids). On Saturday we did some sight-seeing. We drove into Las Vegas and took the kids to the Adventuredome at Circus Circus for a ride on the indoor roller coaster. Dave took a video of his and Jared's ride on the roller coaster on his phone. This is still Jackson's all-time entertain-myself-on-dad's-phone-when-he-gets-tired-of-trying-to-keep-me-quiet video.
Going up the roller coaster.
Waiting for the "bid kids" to get off the roller coaster.
We then went into Circus Circus to see the free Circus shows. We saw some clowns doing a juggling show and a pretty great troupe of acrobats. We also established that Circus Circus is every bit as musty and trashy (with dank-smelling motel carpets) as it was when my family stopped by to go to the buffet once on a drive home from visiting grandparents in St. George.
Juggling clowns!
The acrobats doing their thing.
They made it look so easy and even did it to a reggae soundtrack!
After our quick stint on the roller coaster and the circus show (and deciding that trying to take four kids to see a show wasn't worth the $$/potential for disaster) we decided that we really aren't Vegas people and headed back to our abandoned resort community to swim.
Jared and Cam soaking up what was left of the sun.
Who needs Vegas? I've got a pool!
"Okay. It's not THAT warm."

After the pool, we got cleaned up and headed to one of the resort restaurants for dinner. We got a patio table overlooking the green. Even Jackson behaved reasonably well.

When we finished our dinner we sat out on the grass to enjoy the free jazz performance. I wish I remember the singer's name. She rocked out.

Jared grooving to live jazz.
Yet another self-taken photo.
On Sunday morning we went out to feed the birds in the plaza area of the resort with some free bread we got from the convenience store the night before (the man gave it to us with the suggestion that we could use it to feed the birds). I think this was one of the trip highlights for the kids. (Yep, we flew all the way to Vegas so we could feed some birds.)
Feeding the birds.
Lake Las Vegas
Feeding the ducks
We walked around the grounds of the resort and fed some ducks (in addition to the pigeons we fed at breakfast).
Before long, our weekend jaunt (Can you call any trip with 10 suitcases and four kids a "jaunt"?) was over and it was time to head to the airport. Waiting in line and braving the flight with four kids is much easier with another adult. (Let me just say that Dave was duly impressed that I did it by myself on the way there.)
Headed home.


Diana said...

Wow I'm impressed. What an adventure! I got a ticket at San Jose airport too. Those jerks! Hope she fights it. Your trip looked fun Karen.

lynnr said...

Okay--I have to correct the San Jose Airport story---that is what happens when you wait five months to post it, Karen!

Alisa had the two youngest kids already buckled IN THE STROLLER just waiting for you to come back for them. When the policeman asked her to move the car, she tried to explain that she could not leave the babies there without an adult. You and I had taken Jared and Camryn to the skycap and just needed to get back to pick up the last stroller and few bags. Alisa was standing with the stroller right next to the car—She clearly and not left the car “unattended”. He STILL gave her a ticket. Unfortunately, she was flying out that day as well, so I HAD TO FIGHT IT. ...and I'm not even a lawyer!

But, there is NOTHING like the wrath of a too-tired, irate grandma who had already reached the end of her rope BEFORE the ticket…. Anyway, after calls to three levels or supervisors, a formal letter of complaint and two emails, they “graciously” rescinded the ticket and even apologized to me.