Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Traveling with the Lakers

OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. We didn't actually travel with the Lakers. But the team did play an exhibition game in Las Vegas last week and Tim’s station did broadcast its pre-game shows from there, so he had to go, too, to run the radio equipment. Plus there was the promise of attending a party with the team, so I tagged along.

Even though I’m not a big fan of today’s Las Vegas (we prefer the glory days when Frank and Dino ruled The Strip), we did manage to have fun. We stayed at the Luxor (you know, the giant glass pyramid that shoots a blue beam of light from its pointy top every night), because that’s where the shows were being broadcast. The hotel is now 15 years old and well past its prime, by Vegas standards. Still, our room (a huge 18th-floor suite the size of our house!) was comp’d because Tim was on the job, so who’s complaining.

We don’t gamble, but did wander around the casino in awe, ogling all the wacky new slot machine games: I Dream of Jeanie, That Girl, and even my beloved Star Trek, which I would have played except it was too damn complicated. I also schlepped next door to the Excalibur in hopes of finding some Arthurian artifact to admire, but the entire place was horrible—cliched, schlocky and stinking of cigarettes, like all the other casinos in Vegas. If there was a real King Arthur, I'm sure he’d be spinning in his grave at the thought.

The highlight of the trip was visiting the Atomic Testing Museum, a fascinating little place chockfull of exhibits about the nuclear bomb tests that took place in the Nevada desert in the 1950s/60s. My fave was the display of cereal boxes, comicbooks, etc., celebrating the “atomic age” of the period. I also loved the Ground Zero Theater, which looks like the inside of a bomb shelter. I won’t say more, in case you ever go, but be prepared to be “blown away!” Tim was working, so I went to the museum with my cousin Linda (yes, she of the famous Awkward Family Vacation photo), who now lives in the Vegas area. It was great catching up with her again.

Meanwhile, back at the Luxor, Tim and I hurriedly got ready for the big Laker party at the Mirage. The invitation said to dress “business casual,” so I wore my longish black “Lucy dress” with white polka dots. The party was very crowded with mostly male radio sponsors and women wearing short, slinky cocktail dresses. (We apparently were the only ones who got the memo about “business casual” attire!) We saved our appetites for what we thought would be a big spread, but instead were greeted by pasta, chicken wings and tiny wrapped hot dogs. Luckily it was impossible to hear my stomach growling for all the loud, pounding rap music being blasted at our heads. Yikes, I felt old!

After mingling a bit, we decided to stand over to the side so we could watch the crowd. Occasionally we’d see a tall head emerge from the rest and Tim would tell me which Laker it belonged to.

We were just about ready to leave, when suddenly there was a hubbub to our right. “The Laker coach is standing right behind me!” Tim whispered.

Sure enough, not only was Phil Jackson joining the party, but so were several Lakers, including Ron Artest, one of the most popular players on the team. At first, no one noticed them, but soon we were surrounded as people started madly taking pictures. No doubt we’re probably on lots of people’s Facebook pages this week!

Starving, we left in search of food as soon as the flurry died down. Our great Laker adventure was now officially over.

We drove back to L.A. the next day.

Cute dress, but not cocktail attire!

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