August 2nd, 2004



The drive to Vegas was great.  Chuck and I had a great conversation.  He seems to know everybody who is anybody in the cartooning world.  He had stories about cartoonists from Bill Watterson to the guy who does Ziggy.  The drive certainly didn't feel 5 hours long.  I'm looking forward to making this jaunt more.

I was still rather tired by the time I knocked on Alison's front door.  It was more like 12:15 AM than 11:00 PM when I got there.  I was surprised to see Zach standing there instead of Alison and felt even more sheepish when he said blearily, "Alison couldn't handle it and went upstairs to sleep."    He showed me the guest bedroom and staggered upstairs to sleep.
I should have been exhausted.  I hadn't slept very well the night before,  I had a full day of work and then a five hour drive to Las Vegas.  I should have closed my eyes and died on the mattress.  Instead,  I doodled for a bit,  read a book and finally around 2:30 fell asleep.

Around 6:30 I heard someone close my door (I guess to spare me the noise,)  and at 7:00 I pulled myeslf out of bed.

How wonderful to see Alison!  Her little family was around the kitchen table and it was fun to go and join them. 

There is always the 30 second assessment which always happens when you haven't seen somebody for a long time.  Looks like she's back to blonde (looks better) she looks really tired, still bone thin... okay, we're caught up.  I'm sure she did the same thing to me but was polite enough not to mention anything.  (My hair DID eventually get discussed though. ;))

Highlight:  Her little girl was running around in a full fledged Mickey Mouse costume.  I was greatly amused.

Later, pulling out some paper,  I doodled her some pictures and won her over.  It's my thing. ;)

Alison had the itinerary all planned out so around 9:00 we headed to a casino to play...hahah!  Bingo.  I haven't played Bingo since I was on the mission...and even then *I* didn't play it...I just helped old people play.  This was fun.  We had a good chat (though in retrospect, with everyone else quiet and concentrating on the numbers being called, we were probably plenty obnoxious.)  I can't belive how seriously some people take this game.  I had mission flashbacks.  "This is NO JOKE BINGO!"

Hightlight:  I loved talking to the little old Bingo ladies.  We bought our cards and they wished us good luck. 
"Do you really mean that?" I asked, "Or do they make you say it?"
They laughed and said that they wished EVERYBODY luck...but they liked to play too and so they appreciated it when others wished them good luck.  It was fun.

They also had free doughnuts and coffee/water/hot chocolate.  Against my better judgment I had a doughtnut and regretted it for most of the afternoon.  Owowowow.
So that was fun.

Later in the day we went to the Luxor thinking that is where the Madame Tussauds exhibit was.  It wasn't.
So, got to have the experience of driving down the I swear, .2 miles per hour.  Ordinarily I wouldn't mind, being an avid people watcher...but it's another thing entirely when you have to "pee like a racehorse."  It didn't help when we passed the Bellagio and Alison said, "Hey!  Look at the fountains!"  GAAAH.  I felt like I was going to mold her OS bar with my fingerprints I was gripping it so tightly.  We were inching along so slowly too that I was considering hopping OUT of the car,  racing into a casino, finding a bathroom and then racing back out to the strip to find just how far ahead Alison's car would be.  Wound up NOT doing it...but dang,  I was CLOSE.

It was quite an adventure finally getting to the Venetian where the exhibit actually WAS, racing around trying to find a BATHROOM...then trying to find the EXHIBIT.

Highlight: Finally finding a bathroom, only to have a security guard standing in front guarding the door.  Apparently a person of import was in there.  Dude,  I wouldn't have cared if Julia Roberts or the Queen of England  was in there taking a wiz...I could have clocked the guy, and screw any celebrity that thinks they are too special to pee with everyone else.

Now...I have heard that most Hollywood actors are short but it's another thing entirely to stand in front of them and asses them.  Patrick Stewart, a commanding presence does NOT have.  Jodie Foster is delightly small and petite.  Awww...lookit little double Oscar winnder you. 
I can't believe the degree of detail.  Dude...down to hand inserted armpit hair on Shaquille O'Neal.  That's got to be a suck job.

We then strolled down the strip back to the fountains in front of the Bellagio and dang, if that wasn't impressive.  It is this enormous fountain and on every half hour they put on a show that is choreographed with various pieces of Italian music.  It really is breathtaking.  And screamed more than a couple of million dollars.  Really, really wow.

Highlight: Quipping that the next song was going to be something from the 3 Tenors, even singing a bit of it...and having the next piece played...the song I had guessed.  Go ME.

We then people watched for a fair bit.  I pointed out different types of walks...the things to look for, how differently people move...the girls who move like guys and what the tells are.  It was fun.

Alison and I were both getting a bit beat but she then humored me and let me go and see...


WOW.  I tell you.  WOW.  It was just...numbing.  I loved looking at them, from a distance...from up close...(and wow, was he liberal with his paint!)  It was such a balm to my soul amid all of the outrageously expensive fake glitz that is Las Vegas.  I loved seeing how from a distance things would leap into focus that weren't actually there.  I loved seeing his 2 studies of Notre Dame with various lighting.  I loved seeing his water lilies.  I loved seeing his haystacks in sunset with the flaming halos about them.  Yay for art.  Really.  Yay.

I also loved buying Pistachio gellato there.  I've never had real gellato before.  Boy...that stuff is DENSE.  It's like if Play-Do made ice cream.  Except for not being salty and room temperature.

It was a good day.  I played with her little girl for a bit and introduced her to the Aunt Jeanette Roller Coaster Ride.  (Always an enormous hit.) I told Alison later I felt like I was cheating on my niece and nephews.

Quick Aside:  About gambling:  I don't understand the appeal though I know for many people it is there.  As I told Alison,  I would rather go kyacking for a week.  She agreed.

We watched a bit of Finding Nemo  (I had the DVD in my laptop and ye gods, Alison had NEVER SEEN IT.) and then went to bed.


We went to feed the ducks at a State Park.  It was a lot of fun and again, her little girl is a hoot and a half.  She looks a LOT like Tabitha from Bewitched...and it was really cute seeing her run around all the green in her pink dress.  Interesting color combination but it works.  I also enjoyed that the state park was next to a shooting range.  Feed the ducks and hear the pops from over the way.  Quack, quack, BLAM!!!

Highlight: Watching Alison pay the 6 dollar entrance fee entirely in small change.  HAH!  I am so easily amused.

Church:  Zach stayed home with their little boy so it was a girls day out.  Alison had given her lesson a cursory glance the night before (Being Kind,) and one of the stories was the Good Samaritan.  I doodled out a quick 1 page comic book of it during sacrament and finished it up by the time Primary started. 

Highlight: Watching the music coordinator try to lead the music.  How bout maybe trying to learn the words and actions before teaching, hmmm?  Okay,  so I sound really mean...but she was making a popcorn ball with her hands while the popcorn was just starting to pop.  (It's a Mormon me.)  And she kept messing up the "Do as I'm Doing."  Like it's THAT hard!

Alison's class is really really cute.  We had a good time.  I had them act out the story of the Good Samaritan.  It was funny.  "Who wants to be the robbers?"  (all the little boys hands shoot up!  HAHA!!)

We also spent a lot of time teaching the song:

I want to be kind to everyone
For that is right you see
So I say to myself, remember this:
Kindness beings with ME!

Very, very cute.

It was a good day and I was sad when Chuck called telling me he was on his way. 

Now, I knew we were going back in a truck...but WOW.  He wasn't kidding.  His truck was totally loaded up and his youngest boy was wedged in the back.  It was going to be a cramped ride home.

I swapped with Max for the back for about 300 miles and dozed a bit in the back.  If it were just an inch or so more WIDE It would have been a lot more bearable.  Still in all, we made it home around 2:00 AM.  I helped Chuck unpack all of his furniture and stuff...he took me home and I tumbled into bed around 3:00 AM.  And woke up at 7:00.  I'm still getting ready for my big crash...but all things considered I'm doing pretty well.

Epilogue:  It was wonderful to see someone that I am convinced I am going to be friends with for the rest of my life.  It always feels like no time has really passed when we hang out no matter what has happened to either of us in the interim.  I'm going to have to go see her more often this year because who knows where I will be for the next.
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