The Brosphere Weekend
This is a story of a trip that was planned originally as a road trip to Florida from Columbus. First I’ll tell you exactly how the trip was planned and under what circumstances. Then we’ll have the information and details for the a.nutters and finally I’ll also tell you about some of the experiences we had in Vegas. So sit tight, grab a coke, maybe some munchies and read on, cause this is a long report!!!
There are seven of us who basically partake in a “forum”. This forum pretty much combines of people sending each other nonsense and stupid emails everyday from work. The topics have ranged from cricket, politics, the song girls, and sometimes complete randomness that makes no sense at all. The email range is from 40-50 a day. Well, amongst our emails, one day an old email arrived. This was a forwarded email from almost two years ago. It was an email planning a road trip to Florida. It was the time when the guys who planned the trip were single and making a trip like this was an easy enough decision. Well, a few weddings and a couple years later, it turns out that only 3 of us remain single, with the rest of the boys hitched already.
The road trip email suddenly started getting responses and soon enough someone made a suggestion of meeting up in Vegas. All of us were together in Columbus; however some people have moved to various locations due to jobs, other commitments. 4 of us are still in Columbus, while 2 are now living in Texas. One friend is a consultant whose project is in Pittsburgh. So anyways, a few days of email exchange, it was suddenly decided that we would be meeting up in Vegas on April 4th. We would meet up on Friday and then head back on Sunday. The whole idea of the trip was to catch up with old friends and of course experience Sin City to its fullest.
So a quick login to my United miles account revealed that I had enough to secure a domestic award flight to LAS. The only drawback, I had to fly to IAD and then take a long flight to LAS. I didn’t mind, so I was quick to get the flight booked and paid a total of $10 for the airfare of this trip. Three others decided to splash the cash on SA)">WN non-stop flights. They would arrive together and leave together. My flight time coincidently turned out to be arriving about 15 minutes before theirs, so in terms of logistics, it worked out pretty well. So those were the details of how the trip was planned. Now for some aviation related stuff
CMH Terminal Map
Fri, Apr 4, 2008 - Columbus, SA)">OH (CMH) to Washington, DC (IAD)
Operated by UNITED EXPRESS/CHAUTAUQUA
Depart CMH 02:20 PM
Arrive IAD 03:56 PM
I was to be at work until noon today and frankly, I was hardly getting anything done because of the excitement of a) flying and b) visiting Vegas for the first time. But as luck has it, I had to be at work till almost 1 pm due to a meeting. As soon as the meeting was over, I was out of my cube and driving back at about 80 mph on Rt. 315. I wasn’t really going to the airport first. I had to go home, change out of my work clothes, pack and then get dropped at the airport. For those familiar with Columbus, I live in the Gahanna/Blacklick area. Therefore I had to drive past the airport and then make a trip back. I called up my sister (who was supposed to drop me off) and asked her to pack my bag for me. I made it home by 1:30 pm and I quickly managed to change clothes. There was no time to eat so I grabbed a quick granola bar and was off to the airport by 1:40 pm. I was quite scared that I wouldn’t be allowed to check-in my bags and I won’t be able to take it on board because I had liquids in it.
I got dropped off at around 2:00 pm and I rushed to the United counter. There were a couple people ahead of me checking in for an international flight. I later find out that they were on the same flight to IAD and then connecting to FRA on LH. I had already checked in the night before and selected 1A as my seat. When I got the boarding pass, it said 1E. I was kinda surprised and asked if there had been an equipment change. The lady looked at me in a weird way. I think the look said something like this: “How the heck does this guy know about the term equipment change?” But then she replied with laugh that their system has been acting up all day and that it was printing B, E & F instead of A, B, and C. I couldn’t really figure out how the system was messing up and believe me, I tried to ponder about the reason for this. If someone has an insight, I’d like to know because this caused a commotion which I will tell you about shortly. The security lines were not that bad at this hour and I cleared within 5 minutes. By the time I got to my gate, people were already boarding. This plane had a group of students and maybe their teachers from Germany.
Our ride to IAD. You can see some students at the front of the line
We were boarding through the stairs from the tarmac itself. I got out and these students were boarding the plane. After they boarded, they all thought that they were boarding the wrong flight, so they all deboarded again. Because the plane only had A, B, & C seats, majority of these kids could not find the E & F seats. So they were worried that some of their friends had seats while they didn’t. The flight attendant soon realized what the mistake was and helped all these kids finding their seats. I finally boarded and took my seat. Moments before the door was closed, a really big lady arrived. First of all she was having troubles breathing as she probably rushed to this plane and secondly, despite all my quick prayers to all of my gods, she turned out to be my seat mate. I mean the plane is already quite small and this lady is gonna be sitting next to me the entire time. Well she sat down and I’m sorry to say, but she was “overflowing” into my seat. The seatbelt wouldn’t fit her and for the first time in my life, I saw one of those seatbelt extenders being utilized. Talk about a first…
View from my seat
The door was shut and the cabin was prepared for take-off. The safety demonstration was done and the plane took its spot to take-off. We were number 1 as there was barely any traffic and in no time, we were speeding down the runway for a quick and fast takeoff. Meanwhile, this lady was still huffing & puffing. I tried to scram myself as much as I could so I wouldn’t be touching her overflowing body, but the more I scrammed, the more volume she would occupy. Imagine Jabba The Hut sitting next to me, only a woman. I’m beginning to wonder, why airlines don’t ask their overweight customers to buy two seats. I mean obviously when they check in, they can see their size and can probably guess that they won’t fit in one seat. I have nothing against overweight people but can you imagine if I had to sit next to her on a 5 hr flight to LAS or even worse, maybe a non-stop 14 hr flight to DEL or BOM???
But thank heavens this was only a 40 odd minute flight to IAD so I froze myself to the extreme right of my seat and just looked outside the window. Well I guess today just wasn’t my day as it was a cloudy day and we were supposed to encounter some turbulence. At cruising level, all I could see were clouds and there was nothing to see. Meanwhile, finally after catching her breath, the lady tried hard to move about her seat in order to pick up her purse that she had dropped during take-off. After watching her struggle for about 2-3 minutes, I just picked it up for her. Five minutes later, the lady was asleep and snoring. Could this get any worse for me??? Well it did get better. As we approached IAD, I started to see the line that had formed over the clouds of all the planes that were waiting to take off. I spotted some heavies and in particular, spotted a LH 747 in like for landing from FRA. We got in line to land after him. It felt like the 747 was crawling in the air as compared to some other small planes that seemed to be just “flying” (pun intended ).
And more clouds
Finally out of the clouds
Some community before landing
We made a nice soft landing and I ran into the LH 747 again. Guess what, the big boy was waiting for us to cross into the tarmac before he could. I felt privileged. Sitting on the right side of the plane, I could see this beauty of a machine up close & personal waiting for us to get to our gate. We made it to the remote gate area of IAD, which if I’m not wrong are the A gates. (Please feel free to correct me). I quickly managed to get off before the lady sitting next to me even unbuckled her seat belts!!! All I had was a camera on me so I took the liberty to walk to the B gates as they had some heavies sitting there. These are probably the gates that are used by international airlines. I saw an OS B772 flight being readied for VIE; AF B772 ready for CDG; a VS 343 awaiting for it’s flight back to LHR; SK A330 for CPH; SA A346 for JNB. Just to name a few… After walking through the entire length of this terminal and checking out all the B gates, I got a bit hungry. I decided to stop for lunch but I didn’t have time. So I ended up purchasing two chocolate chip cookies from a bakery near the B gates and boy was that a bad idea. The cookies were hard and not very good.
Letting us go first!!! LH 747 from FRA
AF 772 to CDG
SK A330 to CPH
Walking to the B Gates
SA to JNB (Look at the small jet for size comparison)
VS A343 being prepared for LHR
The SK A330 again to CPH
Just arrived LH 747 from FRA
The KL Tri-Jet to AMS
Some UA heavies
Various Tails at IAD (Notice: SA, UA, OS, VS, EI)
Fri, Apr 4, 2008 - Washington, DC (IAD) to Las Vegas, NV (LAS)
Depart IAD 05:05 PM
Arrive LAS 07:14 PM
I took the shuttle to the C gates and then started walking towards my flight to Vegas which would be departing from the C gate. I figured I had about 10 minutes until boarding call so I went to Gordon Beirsch and ordered a pilsner. The place was packed so it took more time than expected. I quickly managed to finish my beer and then head towards the UA A320 that would be taking me to LAS. I got to my seat and there was a cute girl sitting in the aisle seat and an asian dude sitting in the middle seat. As soon as I got to my seat, the asian dude says:
“I was hoping that this seat would remain empty”
Me: “Sorry to disappoint you”
Him: “No problems. We’re all going to Vegas”
Meanwhile the girl is giggling at this conversation. The flight was completely booked and I believe there wasn’t a single empty seat in the plane. Pushback was about ten minutes late, but the pilot was in a happy mood…
“Sorry about this folks. We will be departing IAD about ten minutes late. Please do not worry. I promise you won’t miss a minute of fun in Vegas as we are expecting good tail winds”
After this announcement, the cabin kinda lit up and there were some happy campers… The plan sped off the runway and we were airborne. The asian guy wasted no time in starting a conversation with the cute girl, while I tried to take a nap. Unfortunately, unless I’m dead tired or under the influence, I cannot sleep in an airplane. This is a curse for me as when I travel to india, I go through those long haul flights with minimal sleep.
Anyways, enough side tracking. The flight had meal boxes for purchase and just had a snack & drink service. The snacks were mini pretzels and the drinks were your normal United soft-drinks. I had a ginger-ale the first time the drink cart came about the cabin along with some water. That lasted quite a while as I was listening to music, reading a magazine and slowly snacking away. The inflight movie today was The Golden Compass. Since I hadn’t seen it, I decided to watch it. Bad choice cause I thought it was a horrible movie. Meanwhile, the asian dude was still talking to this cute girl… Oh how I wish I was in the middle seat today
Midway through the flight, the asian dude got up to go to the bathroom. Sitting in the window seat, I kinda hate disturbing two passengers to let me go about the cabin. But I took this opportunity to hit the bathroom and just stretch in general for about five minutes. I got a cup of water from the rear alley, and another pack of those tiny pretzels. After roaming around for five minutes, I got back to my seat. This time I did have to ask both my seat mates to get up to let me back into my seat. I tried the cookie that I had purchased at IAD, but they weren’t soft at all, and I for one do not like chocolate chip cookies that aren’t soft. Kinda defeats the purpose of a bakery IMHO. After the movie and the not so good cookie, I tried to take care of my accounting homework. More on that later…
The second drink service came and this time I was adventurous. Usually I just get a beer but today was special. I was going to Vegas so I ordered a Chivas. I’m not a huge scotch fan like pretty much all the Indians who drink, but I don’t mind it. I’m more of a beer drinker and like to try out different beers everywhere I go. I paid my $5 for the shot of Chivas (best value for the money I think) and poured it into the glass. Now I’m one of those scotch drinkers who likes it straight up. No ice, no water, nothing. I’ll sip it slowly and steadily, constantly enjoying the aroma & the warmth of the scotch. I was about 3-4 sips into the scotch when this asian dude, who probably got a bit too excited when the cute girl agreed to give him her phone number, knocked my drink. The guy didn’t even apologize for knocking my $5 drink over and yes, he didn’t even offer to buy me a replacement. Moreover, I had to clean up my area while this bugger was busy writing the girl’s phone number. Usually I would ask the person, or at least say: “Excuse you” to make him realize, but the male inside of me let it go this time, as if I were in his spot, I would be happy getting her digits as well
Well, this had put me off drinking for the rest of the flight because I didn’t have change on me. Plus I was saving up the cash for some gambling… So what to do??? Can’t talk to the girl cause the crazy dude is in the middle. Tried chit-chatting to the guy but obviously I was no match compared to the girl. I just got a brilliant idea: looking outside the window!!! We were about 45 minutes from LAS and the scenery outside just got better and better. The red mountains with clear skies were just amazing. Too bad I was sitting right on the wing, so couldn’t really take spectacular pictures. The only opportunity I received was when the plane was banking. I tried to take a picture of the big lake that’s visible while on approach to LAS. I finally managed to get some chit-chat going with the cute girl, and she recommended some places to check out. Turns out she had gone to Europe and was coming back to her home. But too little and less time to get something out of it About ten minutes later, we had touched down in LAS and as promised by the captain, on time arrival. Suddenly, it felt like everyone had taken shots of Red Bull as the entire cabin was loud and energetic.
Tried to capture the red mountains
More red mountains
The lake before touchdown at LAS
Right before touchdown!!!
As soon as you exit the plane, you see Slot Machines. I believe we arrived at the C gates (don’t really remember correctly now) and I took the train to the main terminal for baggage claim. While waiting for my bags to show up, I got a call from my friend who said they had arrived and were waiting for their bags as well. Perfect timing. We grabbed our bags and headed to the strip, where we would be spending 2 nights.
Slot Machines as soon as you exit the plane
Welcome to Las Vegas
This was at the bottom of the escalators
We were staying in the Hilton Las Vegas hotel. Although not on the strip, it was right on the monorail stop which proved to be very convenient. The other three friends had already made it to the hotel and had already started gambling. I had to finish up my accounting homework and turn it in electronically. I didn’t want to risk finishing it on Saturday as I didn’t know when I would go to sleep (if I did). So I got my friends to help out before the night’s festivities began. We went down to the Mexican Restaurant and had dinner and then decided to get ready to hit the strip. After a nice shower, I got ready and soon we were ready to go out. We went to the strip and just checked out various casinos. We then ended up at a club (don’t know which one now) and ended up spending about $550 for bottle service just to get in. It was expected as no club would let seven dudes come into their club without any girls.
Doing my accounting homework
We had a blast at this club and a couple of the married folk decided to go back to the hotel and sleep. Five of us remained till the club closed and got back to the hotel around 4 am. We all had had quite a bit to drink so we decided to gamble. I tried my luck with three card poker and within 3 seconds, I was down $20. The casino staff at the Hilton Las Vegas is very rude. It was $15 to play so I got $5 back (in chips of course) and I asked him:
“What am I supposed to do with this?”
and he’s says: “I don’t know. You can go play roulette or something”.
I asked him “What?”.
He said “Sir, do what you like, but you will have to leave this table”.
I was surprised. So I left and stuck around with my friends who were playing roulette and I acted like I was playing to get free drinks. Around 5:30 am, we felt hungry and we head to the breakfast place in the same hotel. I had some egg whites with ham and wheat toast which was very very good. We decided to leave and get some sleep. I must have slept at 7:30 am and around 9:30 am, I realized that I hadn’t turned in my accounting homework yet. So after 2 hrs of sleep, I wake up and work on my accounting homework as it was due before 5 pm Eastern Time. With me being in Pacific time zone, I was already 3 hrs behind. I turned in my homework and tried sleeping, but by the time I decided to sleep, the 2 guys who left early the night before woke up.
Cutting the story short, we all got up, got some coffee, took showers and headed off to the strip again to go for a nice buffet. I think we ended up at a buffet in Planet Hollywood and most of the food was very good. After a nice lunch, we decided it was best to walk around. Most of us were tired due to the lack of sleep and we ended up at Paris. Two guys wanted to learn the game of craps so they went and started watching. The rest of us hung around at a bar in Paris and after about an hr, we headed back to the hotel to take naps. It was the weekend of the Final Four so the North Carolina game was on. That took care of our nap as we decided to watch the game instead.
Some pictures from LAS
The Wynn as seen from the Monorail
Welcome to Paris, Las Vegas
The Arc de Triumphe
Inside Paris, Las Vegas
Caesar’s Palace at night
Bellagio at night
The Lion’s Habitat at MGM
Planning had now begun as to where to go at night. Most of us agreed to checkout the Playboy club in Palms. We started making phone calls and suddenly the two friends who were learning craps came in. They said:
We asked: “What?”
Both said: “We just won a $1000 amongst the two of us…”
There was a brief moment of silence. And suddenly, a laptop came out and everyone was around it and we asked them to teach us all the game of craps. We unanimously decide that we would not go to the Playboy club in Palms and instead head back to Paris to play craps. This was funny because it was almost like everyone was thinking the same thing as soon as they said they had won money.
This had gotten us excited. We all ended up in Paris and started playing with our luck. We were switching around tables because initially three friends had already lost $100 each. We found a table and set in for a long haul. I personally started with $60. Well, our luck struck as the table got extremely hot. This one guy must have been rolling the dice for about 45 minutes and everyone was cashing in on it. My friends ended up winning more than $300 each while I only won $80 on top of the $60 that I recovered. Not bad, as I wasn’t betting a lot. Just the minimums…
As soon as that roller’s turn was done, the entire table just left. Everyone cashed out. We went for some dinner and decided to hit the craps table once more. This time I was ambitious and started with $60 again, but I was going to bet big. Five minutes into the game, I was already down $60 and using the money I had won the previous time. My turn to roll. First roll, a 7. The entire table claps. 2nd roll – an 11, my friends start high-fiving. Third roll, a 6. Marker now on 6. Could this turn into a hot roll??? My luck finally started to turn as I finally started getting some of that money in. I was on a hot streak when the casino decided to change personnel. As soon as the guy steps near the table, I roll a 7 and boom goes away all the chips. Next was my friend and he had started to get hot again when the same guy came back and as soon as he came, the dice showed 7. What was up with that??? In the end, I managed to get $100 out of this round of craps. Overall, net winnings of $180. Not bad at all I’d say!!!
It was about 3 am now and we decided to call it a night. We got a limo and it took us back to our hotel. Even though my flight was on Monday morning, I figured that I would go to the airport on Sunday and try to get onto a standby as all of my friends were departing at some point on Sunday, with the last person leaving at 11:15 pm. He was flying to Austin so in case I couldn’t get a flight; I could at least have some company till late night. The next morning we all woke up, got coffee again, and then decided to get some Indian food. This turned out to be a bad decision for me which I’ll explain later. After having delicious Indian food, we went back to our hotel, picked up our bags and departed for the airport.
I went to the United desk and asked about going as stand by back to Columbus. The lady said that had I been there in the morning, there was a possibility but now, she could only get me to Denver and then the next flight would be tomorrow to Columbus. So she said, you can either spend the night here, or spend the night in Denver. I selected LAS as I knew I at least had confirmed flights the next day. I enquired about the Red Carpet Club and/or other airline lounges where I could buy a 1-day pass and just relax there. But turns out that LAS doesn’t have any lounges in the domestic terminal. Anyways, I hung out with my friend until 10:45 pm and decided to clear security and head to our respective gates. The terminal was starting to be deserted at this time as probably the last flights depart LAS around the midnight mark. I found a peaceful place near a gate and decided to sleep. I guess I must have been exhausted because I got some sleep. I woke up around 2 am feeling very cold. So I walked around and spotted a Delta employee at her podium. I asked if she had a blanket and she was very kind to help me out with one. I found space close to my departing gate and slept some more again. I woke up at around 5:30 when the starbucks employee had come in and started setting up shop. I couldn’t sleep anymore. I went and got some coffee to get myself warm and then waited until boarding was called.
Mon, Apr 7, 2008 - Las Vegas, NV (LAS) to Denver, CO (DEN)
United 1430 Operated by UNITED FOR TED
Depart LAS 06:20 AM
Arrive DEN 09:15 AM
Boarding started at around 6 am. I do remember taking some pictures here, but I think after take-off, I pretty much settled in and slept throughout the flight. Just remember landing and then walking towards my gate for the flight to CMH. I was very hungry after this flight so I got a soft pretzel.
View of the Strip after take-off
Another attempt, but a bit blurry
Final try before I passed out…
Mon, Apr 7, 2008 - Denver, CO (DEN) to Columbus, SA)">OH (CMH)
Depart DEN 10:00 AM
Arrive CMH 02:49 PM
After grabbing the pretzel, I settled in for my flight to Columbus. Unfortunately I ended up sleeping on this flight as well so I don’t remember much of it. I did manage to take a couple pictures again before the take off.
Walking to my gate for the flight back to CMH
View from my seat
Overall it was a great trip to Vegas. I didn’t really sleep in Vegas except for those 2 hours and it took a toll on me when I got back to CMH. I got sick a couple days later and it took about 3-4 days for me to get back to normal functionality. It was an awesome trip that we friends decided that we would try to do this every year. Let’s see if this actually happens.
Questions / Comments / Concerns ???