Sunday, May 27, 2007
Leaving Las Vegas
It was a crazy idea to begin with, and one that had a lot of risk attached to it: Sharon and I were going to take a vacation and leave Hallie with Aunt Laura and the cousins and Grammy, who would watch her during the day when Aunt Laura and Uncle Bryan were off in school teaching and the big cousins were off in school learning and the little cousins were off in daycare playing. Somehow, we had lulled ourselves into believing that Hallie would not only be fine, but that the break would do her good, too.
Our friends were impressed---they hadn't even left their full term babies for a week for a vacation before said babies were a year old. In some cases, they waited until the kids were off to college before vacationing. Not us: we were intrepid. Plus, we really needed the break.
Needless to say, we STILL really need the break. Our seven days of debauchery in Vegas became a two-day whirlwind tour. Thankfully, we did manage to jam a lot in during those two days and thankfully almost none of this involved gambling. It was bad enough to lose the cost of the vacation itself; we really weren't there long enough to recoup gambling debts in the long run. (For the record, I lost 15 dollars on slots and roulette; Sharon won 10 dollars at blackjack).
From the start, things were a bit dicey (so to speak) with this vacation. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 8 am. We got to the airport in plenty of time and were not concerned about having to rush; indeed, we were more concerned that Josh, Nancie, and Ethan would make their flight since they left their house later than they should have and their plane took off a half hour ahead of our scheduled departure. Indeed, the morning had a bit of an Amazing Race quality to it---we were neck and neck on 95 and arrived at the parking valet within minutes of one another, raced each other back to the airport to check in, etc. Josh and Nancie made their plane -- but only just. We were thrilled to hear this.
Less thrilling was the fact that our plane had mechanical difficulties. We waited and waited and then they announced that the plane needed a part that had to be flown in from Atlanta and that we would take off at 12:30pm at the latest. Since this was Air Tran and since we're talking about contemporary US flying practices, where snack foods and comfort items have been replaced by multiple stopovers (I guess so you can buy your own food) that take you in directions that make no sense to anyone but the airline, we were supposed to fly through Atlanta to Vegas. A delay meant that we'd miss our connection, the airline could not promise to get us on the next connecting flight out, and that would have gotten us into Vegas at 9pm, instead of noon. As it turns out, time was more of the essence than we had thought, but even without that hindsight, missing an entire day seemed wrong. Air Tran was less than cooperative in terms of trying to get us on another flight (READ: they were awful to deal with and miserable and I will try to avoid them, especially since now we have to wrangle a refund out of them). To make a long story short, we ended up cancelling that flight (with a promise of a full refund, not a refund of 100 dollars to person, which is what they now have given me!) and we rebooked a direct flight on Southwest, which was a pleasure to fly. Our new time of arrival: 2pm. We were still going to lose the amazing race, but at least not as badly as we thought!
However, before we could make our way over to the Southwest gates (and pass through terminal after terminal, while singing the Royskopp tune from the Geico Caveman Commercial, we had to retrieve our bags from Air Tran.
This was no easy feat. The counterperson at the gate had taken our baggage claims (and all other information linking us to the flight. The counterperson told us to go down to the baggage claim and that our bags would be there in fifteen minutes. We raced around the airport while singing the Royskopp tune and actually believed our bags would be there waiting for us. We were so, so wrong. We waited and waited: no bags. We went to the very helpful Air Tran baggage claim worker (the only worker we found helpful, as it turns out) and she looked us up. It was as if we were had never existed---computer records on us vanished. Our identities as erstwhile potential Air Tran passengers vaporized. There was no us, there were no bags. We began to panic. We had checked most everything (at least I was wearing shorts!) and our new flight took off in an hour and a half and no one that the baggage claim lady called was willing to help. Others got their bags, but not us.
Our stress level was mounting.
Fortunately, before I could bust a major vein in my body, the baggage claim lady found someone willing to go out there and get our bags and retrieve them. Fifteen more minutes passed, but at least we had our bags.
The Amazing Race could resume. We careened our way through the airport, lugging heavy bags and wheely suitcases (remember: we had packed for seven days. For me, this means seven days of pool reading material and not just shorts and shirts and the like. Sharon, alas, ended up lugging the reading material bag. My apologies!) Amazingly, the security line was short and cooperative and we made it to the gate with a few minutes to spare. Of course, we had "C" tickets, so we got crappy seats, but at least we were on our way.
We arrived in Vegas to this lovely lush skyline:
This was my first time in Vegas, and as a former New Yorker who loves Europe, I am happy to report that I was not in the least offended by the post modern nature of this town. Indeed, I found it intriguing: who could have imagined building an oasis in the middle of the desert that serves as a timecapsule for our conception of "culture" (Roman Palazzos, the Eiffel Tower, the NY skyline), danger (pirates, wild tigers and lions and bears, OH MY!), and decadence and excess (bachelor parties with shots, frat house life at its finest, gambling and free booze) and mixes them all together in a kitschy way that actually works. Yes, it's fake, but in the most fun possible sense.
Then again, what the hell do I know: I only spent 60 hours in Vegas and the last five were panic filled. But I get ahead of our story.
Anyway, we were pleased to find that Treasure Island's rooms were spacious and comfy (though I'd have loved more time in this bed):
And after dropping our stuff, even though we suffered (and still do) from a chronic lack of sleep, we began to take in the excitement of our vacation. Dinner was spent at Kahunaville---a Hawai'in themed tiki bar type place with pretty decent food and a raucous evening environment. This is Sharon partying at the bar on Wednesday night:
And here's one of Josh doing a "bottle shot." He also danced with a lovely bride-to-be while very pregnant Nancie was upstairs with their 18 month old, Ethan. Way to go, Josh! (Actually, Josh was very well behaved and really, what happens in Vegas does need to stay in Vegas):
In addition to time by the lovely pool, the four of us plus Ethan had breakfast in Paris; saw some lions and tigers resting in their oh so contrived habitats, ate an In-N-Out burger (Sharon likes Five Guys burgers better but prefers the fries at In-N-Out), went to a couple of cheesy casinos, and visited a nature preserve at Flamingo:
It was beautiful, albeit quite hot, out and everyone, including the turtles, enjoyed basking in the sun:
We were thrilled to see a family of ducks. Notice there are two little ducklings in the picture; a third had swum off and was enjoying its newfound independence:
Looking at the little ducklings really made us miss Hallie. We were calling home all the time to see how she was and managed to skype with her once. She had a runny nose but we were aware of no other problems so we continued to enjoy our time in Vegas.
Here's a picture of us at the nature preserve that proves that we actually did manage to get to Vegas:
And here's a nice shot of Nancie, Josh, and Ethan. We hope that we can manage to take a family vacation with Hallie and stage this sort of shot at some time in the future:
But, as it turns out, all was not well in the land of New Jersey. Hallie was actually getting pretty sick and had been snuffly, vomiting, and unable or unwilling to eat since at least some time on Tuesday. Aunt Laura performed feats of heroism that involved staying up all night and feeding Hallie around the clock to make up for the fact that she ate a whole 1.5 ounces on Wednesday during the day, but by some time on Thursday, the situation had taken a turn for the worse. Aunt Laura let us know what was up in the middle of the day on Thursday, and we kept the communication channels open, but while we were out enjoying dinner at a wonderful Thai restaurant (Lotus of Siam, I believe it is called) off the beaten track (in a strip mall, actually, and apparently in an Asian area of Vegas because the other things in the mall were two other Asian restaurants, an Asian massage parlor and a karaoke bar), Hallie was melting down.
This ended up being the last site we took in while in Vegas. It's a picture of the stratosphere taken from a 7-11 parking lot (where we stopped to buy milk for Ethan and Karina, who had just arrived in town with Mark and Vanessa):
Mark, Vanessa, and Karina were only able to join us for a few days, but were very excited about it. The prospect of hanging out and partying in Vegas literally had Karina dancing on the table.
They should not have been so excited. As soon as they got there, while we were getting them a bite to eat in the deli, we got a call from Aunt Laura. Hallie was running a fever, was unable to eat, was getting dehydrated and was miserable. They had not told us this earlier, but she had been impossible to put down the night before and had to be driven all over town for hours. She slept fitfully in her carseat. She was no longer our happy sweet girl who never cries, but a sick little baby who was inconsolable.
We asked them to take her to CHOP in Philly, which is about 45 minutes to an hour away. It was three am in NJ and Aunt Laura needed to be up for a fieldtrip with her first grade class in the morning, Jan couldn't make the drive to Philadelphia and offered to take Hallie to Shore Memorial--a hospital that is not known for its high standard of pediatric care even if some CHOP doctors rotate through there. This wasn't okay with us, so we called my best friend, Aunt Renee, who got into the car with her partner, Kim, and they drove to pick up Hallie and Jan and Jan's car and drive them all to CHOP. Meanwhile, Vanessa got on the phone with Southwest Airlines and rebooked us (SWest was great--a note from CHOP was all they needed to waive any rebooking fees) and we packed up all of our stuff. Josh drove us to the airport at 4am for our 6am flight and by 4pm the next day, we were back in Philly.
Sharon did get some artsy shots in from the airplane, but it was not the same as taking pictures in Vegas:
By the time we got back home, Hallie had been released from the hospital. Her diagnosis was an acute Upper Respiratory Infection, but it was viral so antibiotics wouldn't be of any use. We just needed to keep her hydrated, get as much food into her as possible and wait it out.
As it turns out, there was little in the way of waiting it out at home. She was relatively okay on Saturday, but by Sunday had gotten worse. She was possibly working on an ear infection. And on top of everything else, she started to have diarrhea. Did I also mention she was teething? This conglomerate of symptoms had us at her pediatrician's office on Monday. Monday was also a day of chronic vomiting: we put food in her and she projectile vomited it back at us. This went on until Tuesday, and she was clearly getting sicker. To make a long story short, on Tuesday evening we ended up back in the ER, where Hallie conveniently bumped us ahead of about 25 other sick kids (most with similar symptoms) by vomiting three times in the short span of time we were awaiting a room. Her inability to keep down even 5 ml of pedialyte administered by syringe combined with no wet diapers and lots of runny poop ended up getting her hospitalized and on an IV in the extended care unit. It was there that we learned the trick of cutting her formula (pediasure) with pedialyte to help keep it down and using chocolate syrup as the base through which to administer her zantac and prilosec. This is Hallie with her hershey's syrup moustache:
To make what is now an excruciating long story only somewhat shorter, we were finally sprung from the EDECU at CHOP on Thursday afternoon. Hallie did OK on Friday, managed to projectile vomit directly at me twice and pee on me once before 9am yesterday, and is seeming to be on the mend. She even was back to her playful smiley self by yesterday afternoon:
Yesterday, our friend Kat came to help out with Hallie and assist her moms in getting the house in order (it was a total mess since we dropped our bags and ran, and had tons of laundry to do and things to organize). Here, Hallie is happily hanging out with Kat, and if you look really closely, you'll see that Hallie is pointing to her very first two teeth.
Later on, I'll try to get a shot of the scars said teeth have left on my finger!
Anyway, this post is certainly long enough, so I will end here. Let's hope for a less dramatic week ahead. Happy Memorial Day everyone!
Posted by abby at 8:27 AM