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June 28, 2005: Sisters Weekend - Part 1

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My older sister picked me up, and after a quick stop to pick up something for lunch, we were off to the airport. I figure we started the weekend off to a good foot by finding something to be impressed with in the airport bathroom. My sister had never seen motion-activated paper towel dispensers before, and I'd never seen motion activated soap dispensers. At the rate they're going, the next time I hit the bathroom in the airport I will not be surprised at all to have the garbage can wheel itself over to me at the wave of a hand so I don't have to put out any more effort than necessary.

The flight was full, but when I did the online check-in for us Friday morning I managed to get us both aisle seats, so at least we weren't crammed against a window, or in between two strangers. We were, however, unfortunate enough to be seated in front of a trio of men who were likely our age, if not slightly younger, but who shared the combined maturity of your average 13 year old (although that might be an insult to 13-year-olds everywhere, come to think of it). They were all rather crude and coarse, and every conversation was liberally sprinkled with 'f-ing this' and 'f-ing that. But one of them, whom we dubbed Red Shirt (because that's what he was wearing), felt the need to have this sort of conversation with his buddies at the top of his lungs. The entire front half of the plane was subjected to a lengthy discussion on whether or not there was the lovely conversation about why his taller friend might not fit into the airline bathroom (but he could pee on the floor because that's what carpet cleaner is for!), and then the whole discussion - all at shouting volume - as to whether one of his seat companions had 'banged' a 'chick' in all the rooms of some large house. By the time the plane had landed there were a lot of people muttering comments under our breath about him.

But luckily we left Red Shirt behind at the airport, meeting my little sister (who�d flown in from Seattle) as soon as we landed, and headed off to get our rental car. The strip is visible (or at least the backside is) as soon as you drive away from the car rental parking lots, and we goggled appropriately at the sheer excess of the casinos the instant we turned onto the strip. New York, New York stands out as the most impressive, just from the size.

Our hotel � the Excalibur � was easy to spot although we had to circle once to figure out parking. But once inside we checked in, got our tickets for the night's dinner, dumped our bags in our room, and headed back downstairs to wander.

None of us are big gamblers, so we pretty much bypassed the slot machines and game tables for most of the weekend, and what gambling we did do was relegated to the occasional nickel or quarter slot here and there. However, we noticed that there was a midway with games, so we decided to go see if we could win some toys for my sisters� kids. I spotted the goofy stuffed dragons the second we entered the midway and so we all took turns trying to smack stuffed witches into cauldrons. Turns out my older sister had the best knack for that particular game, so eventually we just paid for her turns and let her win the dragons. She also had the knack for the bowling game, where we scored a stuffed pink and glittery unicorn for my niece. Luckily my little sister and I were finally able to return the favor in a third game, and won little stuffed giraffes and zebras for her boys.

One of the reasons we decided to stay at the Excalibur was that they had a jousting tournament dinner theater, and we got tickets for that for the first night we were there. The reviews online for the tournament had been mixed, but luckily we didn�t pay attention to the naysayers, because it turned out to be a lot of fun. We were randomly assigned to sections, and it turns out we ended up in the Dragon section (which made me happy because I like dragons). This, however, meant that we were actually cheering for the bad guy, although I think that turned out to be more fun than just cheering for one of the other, regular jousters, because *our* knight did cool things with fire and came with his own stage fog and special effects.

The food wasn�t bad, but then one doesn�t go to this sort of thing for the food. The entertainment was colorful and flashy and well done, and for three women on their own for a weekend, the inclusion of several men in leather pants and not much else (I�m not entirely sure why they were there, but we didn�t really care) was certainly an added bonus. We cheered for our knight until we were hoarse, even though we knew that, at least in stage productions, bad guys will always lose. By the end of the evening we were simultaneously exhausted and wired from all the activity, and it was the perfect beginning to our weekend.

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