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Allaine's Gathering Journal
Wednesday, July 27
Compared to last year, coming to Las Vegas was uneventful. I boarded a 11 AM EST flight at Phila International Airport. It landed at 1:30 PM PST, which gave me just enough time to read Harry Turtledove's Settling Accounts in its entirety. I didn't make it to the hotel until 3 PM, though, because the shuttle I boarded stopped at three other hotels, including one downtown, before mine.
Princess Alexandria, Mooncat, and Summer Jackel were my roommates this year, but Summer wasn't due to arrive until Friday morning. When I got to the hotel, Alexandria had already checked in, and she met me at the front desk. Mooncat wasn't going to come for another couple hours, so we went to our room and I dropped off my bags. I gave Alexandria several chapters of a story I'd been working on as a surprise gift, and then we went to the Guadelajara Cafe, which normally was the Palace Station's Mexican restaurant. But this weekend they were renovating the 24-hour restaurant, so the Guadalajara had expanded hours and American items on the menu. We went for a snack, because Mooncat wanted us to have dinner with her once she arrived. That took place around 5:30. Needless to say, I was really happy to see both of them. We'd been planning the details for weeks.
The Palace Buffet was, I suppose, what one would expect for $6.99. A lot of choices, none of which were exactly superb. Still, it did the trick, I guess. Alex and I weren't that hungry, so we could pick and graze as much or as little as we liked. After that it was back to our room again. Mooncat had been told upon landing that her luggage was on another plane that wouldn't arrive until later, but that they would deliver her baggage to the hotel. Until then, she had the clothes on her back and not much else.
We eventually decided to visit a local miniature golf course Alex claimed to have seen from the freeway near the hotel. As we were walking out, we ran into Kathy Pogge and Mandolin, our first Gathering guests, and we talked for a while. We caught a taxicab, and proceeded on a laughable half-hour drive where our driver assured us he knew what a miniature golf course was. Alexandria kept trying to explain anyway. "You know, windmills," she said. I sat in the back and muttered, "He has no idea what she's talking about."
He didn't. He took us to a typical country club. The valet there told us that we were looking for a place called Skandia, which was on Industrial Blvd. He was half-right, as it turned out. We drove up and down Industrial but saw nothing. Eventually we went back to the hotel, threw thirty dollars at the driver for the fare, and went inside.
The bell desk informed us that we could walk to Skandia in fifteen minutes if we went out the back entrance. Someone, at last, who knew what they were talking about. We walked up Rancho Drive for a while and arrived at the mini golf course. We played eighteen holes of miniature golf without bothering to keep a detailed scorecard. Instead we just paid attention to who got the best score on each hole, and then whoever "won" the most holes would win. I think I won by three. At the end they had this 18th hole where you got a free game if you made a hole-in-one. Both Alexandria and I got holes-in-one, and we gave our passes to someone else.
By then we headed back to the hotel because it was dark outside. Mooncat's luggage hadn't arrived yet. Apparently the same company handles all the missing luggage and makes one big delivery run at night. The bell desk said they'd call us if it arrived by ten, but we assured them that we'd be up until midnight. Good call. They brought her luggage to our room at 10:30. Mooncat had been wondering what she was going to wear to bed, so that was good timing.
We crashed in our room, and watched some TV and some videos on Mooncat's laptop. I gave Mooncat a T-shirt, and she gave me a Kim Possible snow globe, some Batman: The Animated Series commissioned art, and two Kim Possible posters. We went to bed around midnight, as predicted.
Thursday, July 28
Since we had a whole day before the Gathering began, we decided we would hit the Strip today. We took the hotel shuttle to the Tropicana, and from there we checked out most of the major casino/hotels in the surrounding area. The heat was brutal, so we tried to stay indoors as much as possible. First we went to the MGM Grand and saw the lion habitat. From there we got a little turned around, and ended up at the Excalibur, which was cute. We checked out the shops, and I won a little telescoping lance when some woman failed to guess my birth month.
The best part was next - the Luxor. I love ancient Egyptian history and culture, so it instantly appealed to me. They did a really nice job with the place too. Golden sarcophagi, obelisks, realistic-looking walls, sphinxes, etc. We looked in a couple shops here, and I bought a small cat statuette. We also agreed we'd have to drag Summer back there, because there were plenty of statues with jackal motifs. Then we went upstairs and walked through the King Tut museum, which contained a recreation of the rooms of Tut's tomb. We were right in the heart of the Luxor pyramid. You could see all the rooms above us, and the elevators that moved diagonally. We tried to ride one, but they're key-operated. We got a snack before we left.
After that we went to Mandalay Bay, which was also very nice and very new. We basically strolled through the whole casino until we got the Shark Reef, which we decided to come back to if Summer was interested. The place looks gorgeous, but by then my feet just hurt. We ended up heading outside despite the heat and walking past the front of the Mandalay and the Luxor. There was a lot of really nice statuary out front, and I got plenty of pictures. Then we went back to the Tropicana and boarded a shuttle to the Fashion Show Mall. We walked around the mall for a while, then went outside to Treasure Island. We thought about staying around for the free Sirens show outside the TI, but ended up leaving instead. Probably a good thing, because it started to rain as we got on the Mall shuttle, and when we returned to the hotel it was pouring.
We had dinner at a place called the Broiler, which had large portions and was pretty nice. At some point I left Alexandria and Mooncat to their own devices and went to the Con Suite. Lynati and Aaron Wheeler were helping with a lot of the work for my game show panel Monday morning, and we still had a LOT to do, so we agreed I should come by that night before the Gathering began. As it happened, Lynati spent most of the night working on the registration packets, so I just sat in on a discussion with Greg Weisman and some other people, and we talked about things like comic books and "why the Batman Begins movie sucked". (And now Greg knows my name :D).
I think Ellen Stolfa dropped by our hotel room at one point, and we talked for a bit. Then I went to bed.
"I've been looking for you!"