Whoever said what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, is obviously not a newspaper columnist.
My husband and a buddy usually hit Vegas via Laughlin, Nevada, for an annual guys getaway. This year his friend jetted to Maui, so Derek asked me if I’d like to go.
The folks at Don Laughlin’s Riverside Resort Hotel and Casino sweetened the deal by offering us a buy-one, get-one-free deal for airline travel and resort stay. On Thursday we drove to Lewiston to catch a chartered flight aboard Laughlin’s Sun Country Airlines.
A couple of hours later, we landed in Bullhead City, Arizona, where a resort bus met us and drove us across the Colorado River to Laughlin.
Crossing three states, two time zones, and one river makes you hungry. After checking in, we stretched our legs along the Riverwalk in pursuit of dinner.
“Look! A cat!” Derek said, pointing toward a nearby garbage can.
As the varmint dashed across the sidewalk in front of us, we saw it wasn’t a kitty, it was a raccoon. He joined his wife and kid under the palm trees and agreeably posed for photos.
A different kind of wildlife awaited us in Vegas the following day. We rented a car and made the 90-minute drive to spend the day on Fremont Street.
Located in the original town site of Las Vegas, Fremont Street is the historic center of the city featuring a five-block stretch of enclosed casinos, shops, bars and restaurants.
Derek prepped me for the visit.
“There’s all kinds of street performers and vendors,” he explained. “Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact, or they’ll try to sell you something or hustle you for tips.”
Of course, I immediately forgot his words when we entered the glittery, bustling avenue. A friendly lady greeted us and asked if we were celebrating our anniversary.
Derek tugged at my hand and kept walking, but I didn’t want to be rude. That’s how I got suckered into a long sales pitch for tickets to a show we didn’t want to see.
“I told you,” he said. “Just keep walking.”
Lesson learned. When a well-muscled shirtless man wearing snug-fitting camo pants asked if I wanted a hug, I only paused for a second.
“He said it’s OK,” the fellow assured, pointing to Derek.
“I get all the hugs I need,” I replied, without breaking my stride. Much.
A visit to the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, aka the Mob Museum, was next on our list.
It proved a fascinating, albeit gruesome jaunt through gangster history. We learned about the Kefauver hearings in the historic courtroom where one was actually held. The hearings led by Tennessee Sen. Estes Kefauver confirmed the existence of a national crime syndicate and revealed lax enforcement.
Other museum highlights included cocktails in an underground speakeasy, and an opportunity to “electrocute” my husband in a replica electric chair.
Then it was on to dinner at the Heart Attack Grill, a restaurant that celebrates gluttony by offering unlimited free burgers to anyone weighing over 350 lbs.
Waitresses dressed as nurses deliver wine via IV poles and tubing, and if you don’t clean your plate they deliver spankings with a paddle. Seriously.
Derek warned me about that. But what he didn’t tell me is that you have to wear a hospital gown to eat, and there’s a ginormous public weigh-in spot that broadcasts your weight for all visitors along Fremont Street to see.
Within minutes, we witnessed five spankings. Those nurses pack a wallop. I ordered the smallest burger possible and ate every bite. I haven’t been so focused on cleaning my plate since I was a kid and threatened with an early bedtime if I left any peas on my plate.
As night fell, we enjoyed free live music and the Viva Vision light show. The light show video screen is 1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide and suspended 90 feet above Fremont Street’s pedestrian mall.
It was amazing! But all that glitz and glitter made me pine for some natural beauty. A morning boat cruise along the Colorado River was just the ticket.
The cruise aboard the USS Riverside took us along Laughlin’s Riverwalk all the way to Davis Dam and offered great historical perspective about this portion of Nevada.
Did I mention it was 84 degrees in Laughlin on Saturday? That called for some serious sunbathing at the resort’s adult-only pool. We alternated from poolside lounges to comfy river-view couches, soaking up the sun we knew would be in short supply in Spokane.
And of course we played the slots, but we’re hardly high rollers. We set aside a certain amount of cash for entertainment and don’t spend any more than what we bring.
Derek led me to a machine he knew I’d love – the OMG! Kittens. I quickly found out the OMG! stands for the $40 I quickly dropped just to see adorable kittens speed past me and meow.
Luck wasn’t a lady that night, and it was a little disconcerting to see people my mother’s age still going strong at midnight when, exhausted, we headed for our room.
It was a lovely getaway, but by Sunday we were ready to return. After all, we already hit the jackpot with our own OMG! Kittens and they were waiting for us at home.