Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Vegas, Baby!

Two weeks ago I cashed in on one of the few remaining perks as a state government employee - out of state travel for professional development. I attended the National Ground Water Association (yup, card carryin' member, and proud of it) annual Expo in Las Vegas. Granted, I had to offer to "pay" my own airfare on Southwest Airlines to get there, but my coworkers found it incredible that I was approved to go to Las Vegas. Something about this Mormon state not usually footing the bill for its employees to go to Sin City.
I had an enjoyable week staying at the Las Vegas Hilton. This is where Elvis played, ya know.

But the show here these days is Barry Manilow. Pass.

The hotel was nice, as was the pool on these 72 degree days.

But I spent most of my time in the Vegas convention center listening to talks and going to workshops on topics like: down hole geophysical logging, new techniques in direct-push sampling, dual rotary well drilling, hydrophilanthropy, and my favorite "repair a hand pump, save a life". I'm not kidding, that was the title of the talk. The talks were very applicable to what I do (except maybe the hand pump one) and I enjoyed the convention, but by Thursday night, I was ready to party. Below is a picture I snapped with my phone in one of the talks as I was waiting for it to let out so I could go meet Drew.

Drew flew down on Thursday and met me in the lobby of the hotel with flowers and wine, him still in his pilot's uniform. We felt like we were meeting for some secretive affair. After we changed into Vegas clothes (remember those new boots I got), we took a cab to the Venetian hotel and casino on the strip. The Venetian is really cool inside with a man-made canal that has those skinny romantic boats pushed along by singing Italians. We didn't do that, but instead we had a fine meal at an Italian restaurant. I had beet-filled raviolli. I don't normally eat beet-filled ravioli (who does?), but I was in the mood for something different, and I was rewarded by creamy, tasty pasta. Then, time for Blue Man Group. Quite the loud, rockin', weird, funny two hours of entertainment. They do amazing things with PVC pipe and paper hand towels. After the show, we strolled through the indoor mall, window shopping and people watching, admiring the fancy evening gowns in the windows and poking fun at the urbanites.

Friday I had one more talk in the morning, then Drew took me out to see the crash pad. The crash pad is a house operated by a middle-aged women where men rent a room a few nights a month. No, it is not what you are thinking. The men are all Southwest pilots who stay at the house instead of getting hotel rooms before or after their 3- or 4-day shifts start. I was able to determine that it is all on the up and up and I'm glad Drew has a friendly, comfortable place to stay when he has to overnight in LAS.

I don't normally enjoy places like Las Veags - they seem too fake and wasteful - but the conference was good, I got out of the mountain cold, and Drew and I had the chance to celebrate 4 years of being together there. It was a good trip. Thanks for having us, Vegas.

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