Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Surreal for the Holidays

Season of Miracles
With the 2015 Christmas and New Year holidays approaching at breakneck speed, J and L decided to visit with L's sister, Beth (she has been in our blogs before) and her husband Dean, just before Christmas in Las Vegas. It had to be before the festive day of the 25th itself since that is the date when local family and friends descend on the abode of the intrepid duo for a celebration of why Christmas is so special - lots of laughter, giving, and tons of food which everyone enjoys but later complain that the pounds magically appeared around the waist.
Laureen and Beth - being sisters

It is the season of magic - isn't it?

It was also the first holiday season without J's mother, Anne,  so we both decided to splurge a bit by staying at the Bellagio on Las Vegas Blvd. Anne would have loved the place - like her - lots of class.

View from 25066

The Resort was opened on October 15th, 1998 by the Mirage Resorts Corporation, owned by Steve Wynn at a cost of 1.6 billion dollars. The opening ceremony with dignitaries from around the world cost over 88 million dollars in celebration - that is a huge and expensive party!

Steve had done it right - immediately the fabulous resort was determined as a must stay by travelers the globe over. With 3,015 rooms on 36 floors - different towers house the rooms and each room tastefully decorated with grace and taste. Of course, there are plenty of upscale restaurants such as Lago, Jasmine, Picasso just to name a few), shops (Rolex, Fendi, Gucci, again just to name a few), theaters, musical venues, pools, fitness rooms, conference centers, and anything else a guest or organization would require or dream of. And yes, there are thousands of square feet of casino for those interested in bucking the tiger of the house (the tiger generally bites rather hard).

Nice hallway to the conference centers
Even the Penguins wear formal attire
What do you stuff in that stocking?
Through the years the Bellagio has been listed as one of the Leading Hotels in the World as well as the AAA Five Diamond Award 15 years in a row plus numerous other awards which would take an entire blog to write about. Combine all of the above with the famous Fountains of Bellagio, the Conservatory, Botanical Gardens and the Gallery of Fine Arts and it is easy why this resort was the one chosen by J and L. - now it should be understood, we do not work for Mr. Wynn as public relations but then . . .Steve, you know . . . J used the Wynn as a backdrop for his last novel Soft Target - sorry about blowing a lot of it up though (it was fiction okay).

Pg. 242 -  Wynn Explodes
A wonderful couple of days planned with family and fun in Vegas but which suddenly turned into something J and L had not imagined nor would have ever wanted to.


The evening of the 20th of December J and L dressed for a night on the town in their room on the 25th floor overlooking the fountains listening on channel 22 to the choreographed music to the waters below and smiled at each other. Looking sharp and relaxed it was time to hit the Strip for a drink, some shopping and a great and probably expensive dinner - that's just Vegas.

 Enjoy the moment.
Selfie or not - we were having fun

Walking across the bridge that stretches across Las Vegas Blvd. J and L snapped photos like the thousands of other explorers and visitors and stopped in at the Hexx on the east side of the boulevard for an adult beverage before heading into the Paris Hotel to wander and take in all the beautiful holiday decorations within the resort and picking up a few things here and there for family back home. Leaving the Paris Hotel and planning to walk leisurely about the Strip for an hour or so before dinner L wanted to walk the long way back in front of the Paris Hotel but J insisted they take the pedestrian bridge across Las Vegas Blvd. to Caesar's  Palace where there were some interesting sounding restaurants that may be worth inspecting - it was at this time that a police vehicle sped by below with red lights and sirens.

The ideal evening of fun and exploring stopped.

30 Minutes earlier
Where the Monster drove onto the sidewalk committing murder

From the walkway suspended over the boulevard J and L stood astonished, amazed and saddened by dozens and dozens of police units, ambulances and fire vehicles tearing down from all directions and stopping in front of the Paris Hotel.

Within minutes Las Vegas Boulevard was blocked off north and south in front of the Paris Hotel and the Bellagio and more emergency units were arriving by the second. L, through text messages tried to find out what was going on and Beth did her best with updates but since the scene was so fresh all accounts were fluid and sometimes contradictory - a drunk driver, an explosion, the Miss Universe was canceled because shots were fired, it was a gang related firefight in front of the Paris Hotel - and on and on went the updates from Beth and passerby's on the street.

No one knew what was happening except the authorities who kept showing up in record numbers.

Beautiful view, marred by tragedy

Of course, as J and L made their way slowly to the front of the Bellagio listening as best they could to all the rumors floating around about terrorists, gang violence and such one thing was clear - this evening had turned from celebration to mourning.

First Responders
The simple and terrible truth was that a thirty-two year old homeless woman (per the most recent news and police chatter) was upset at the world because of her failures and decided to take it out on a group of pedestrians in front of the Paris Hotel with her car. Those innocents were there celebrating one of the most cherished holidays in the world and she was there to bring misery - she did - killing one and injuring more than thirty who will probably survive the physical trauma but not the emotional.

This creature, this monster was a terrorist on this 20th of December - she may not plead a jihad against the civilized world but she did bring hours and hours of terror into a beautiful night in Las Vegas.

Evil was her name and she did it with her three year old daughter strapped into the back seat - how much more evil could she be?

After an hour or so J and L were able to make their way back to their room on the 25th floor of the Bellagio and look down on the flashing lights of dozens of emergency vehicles instead of the festive romp of fountains displaying holiday cheer.

A fancy and relaxing dinner forgotten - news viewing and window peering were the headlines of the rest of the evening.

As they sadly watched the action below a thought entered their minds - if L hadn't wanted to shop, if J hadn't insisted on walking across the bridge of the boulevard instead of walking in front of the Paris Hotel, this blog may have had a different ending.

There is always the dawning of a new day!
L had taken J's photo at the exact spot the monster had decided to drive her vehicle at thirty miles per hour into a group of tourists (and then back up and do it again) only thirty minutes earlier. And then, a turn to the left instead of the right would have put J and L in line with the demented woman's vehicle which struck the crowd of thirty plus only four minutes earlier - the time it took to walk there after leaving the Paris Hotel.

Surreal - yes! It is a magical time of the year - at least for these bloggers.

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