When the NHL decided to award Las Vegas an NHL franchise, I knew that was finally my excuse to make a visit out west and see the spectacle that is Sin City. I had never had any particular inclination to go to Las Vegas before (I’m not much of a partier or gambler), but when the NHL schedule makers blessed the Blue Jackets with a Vegas-Arizona swing in January, my sister and I quickly booked our flights. (Via Southwest Airlines, of course, because we’re both brand-loyal and cheap, and they finally fly out of Cincinnati! Oh, the joy of getting to fly out of your own airport and not driving two hours to CMH to get on a plane for under $1 billion.)
Sunday, January 21
The day had finally arrived! Not only did we get to fly out of our home airport, it was the first time in a while I didn’t have either a stupidly early flight or a post-work flight that required being in a constant hurry. We had a brief stop at Chicago-Midway, which is a spectacle of its own. It was wet and foggy in Chicago so we couldn’t see the city until we were around 1200 feet, but the airport is literally right in the middle of a neighborhood. Like, there are houses all the way around it. Maybe I’m just used to CVG which is kind of in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, nobody needed a full paragraph about airports and flying and this is why everyone thinks I’m a nerd. (Side note: I finally got to fly on a 738 with the pretty new paint! OKAY, for real, I’m done talking about airplanes.)
After our layover at MDW, we had a 3.5-hour flight to Vegas. I love flying but I have a hard time sitting still for that much time. We both chose window seats so we could watch the scenery below, but most of the flight over the Midwest was nothing but cloud cover. Until we got to (presumably) Utah! I love mountains and other than a weekend in Denver, I’d not seen much of them so I was excited to see it all from above. I even saw the Hoover Dam!
Now, I’ve never been this far west and I knew the only way to combat jet lag was to stay awake until it was bedtime in Vegas, but hoo boy is that easier said than done. After getting a Lyft to the Luxor and finally getting a (painfully overpriced) hot meal in the hotel lobby I was in bed by 7:30 pm. Look, I’m old, okay? I can’t hang anymore.
Monday, January 22
Unfortunately, my early bedtime meant I was up at 5 am pacific time. Hello, body? This is a vacation. By 8:00 we were finally leaving our hotel and beginning to explore the gaudy mecca that is Las Vegas. Have you ever noticed that it’s kind of like the 1990s never ended here? I mean, where else can you see David Copperfield and Carrot Top and Penn & Teller other than a) Las Vegas and b) the 1990s. It’s a bit gross and tacky. But hey, if this is your jam — rock on.
Most of Monday was spent wandering along the strip. We wandered in and out of a few casinos and stores, I had my In-N-Out burger fix, and strangely I did not consume a single drop of alcohol.
For dinner, we had Del Taco because I love making my body suffer from fast food, but it’s new to me fast food. We’d been up since 5 am pacific time and were starting to fade by dinner time, but we had tickets to the 9:30 pm Blue Man Group show, something we’d both always wanted to see. I bought the tickets on Groupon, so I was only expecting a “get me in the door” type of experience on the cheap, but surprisingly we ended up in the second row, just to the right of center. Juuust outside the “splash zone” where they give you a poncho. Like, the guy next to me and the girl in front of me both had them. It made me a weeeeee bit nervous.
The show was great, though! I’m disappointed we couldn’t really take photos because we were so close, but never the less we had a great time and I definitely recommend that anyone see it. And I did not get anything icky on me.
Tuesday, January 23
One of the things I did notice while we’ve been in Las Vegas is that people are very friendly. People always ask if you’ve been here before, where are you from, what did you come in for, things like that. Whenever we told them we’re in for the hockey game, they were so excited to talk about the Golden Knights with us!
In all honesty, I was super skeptical that hockey in Las Vegas would ever work, but they really have proved me wrong and I was so excited to see how much they love their new hockey team there. People who had never been to hockey games in their lives were excited to go see them play.
Ahead of the game, we wandered over to the plaza outside of T-Mobile Arena and I finally found some damn craft beer at Brewhaus. Let it be known the beer scene in Las Vegas is shit. Drink choices are, like, Bud Light or straight up liquor and nothing in between. (I get it, people go there to get wasted, not to like… enjoy the things they drink?)
There was a large contingency of Blue Jackets fans there; we joined them for a group photo and then headed up toward the arena for the game. Overall, I was pretty impressed with the crowd and the whole game day production in Las Vegas. Other than the terrible pregame Carrot Top video, the whole production was very professional and not at all cheesy and minor league like some other NHL arenas tend to be.
Unfortunately for us, though, the CBJ failed to put on a professional show. But I’m a CBJ fan, and it’s not the first time I’ve seen that. Not to mention, a certain William Karlsson scored a few goals, but now he’s just somebody that we used to know.
Wednesday, January 24
Travel day! Stay tuned for part two…
Overall Vegas Rating: meh.