Rewind to a couple of Fridays ago: I was set to meet six friends for a low key happy hour, The Ale House was the decided-upon locale. Here is the somewhat accurate rundown of events that followed (names have been changed to protect the innocent):
6:05 - Meet Joe at the Ale House, Chris shows up about 10 minutes later
6:15 - Chris makes the comment "Hey, there's cheap flights to Vegas, who wants to go?" Sarah shows up shortly thereafter.
6:25 - Vegas discussion continues. Sarah doesn't have her kids this weekend and had a long week at the law offices. Seems extremely excited about the Vegas idea. Gets her iPad out to search flights.
6:45 - Second round of drinks ordered. Vegas discussion continues, five tickets are found via iPad for a United flight later that night. Joe goes to call wife and attempt to obtain an unprecedented hall pass. I check on the other two happy hour attendees who have yet to show up.
7:00 - Joe amazingly gets a "sounds like fun, go for it" from what is obviously the coolest wife on the planet. I confirm, our sixth friend is out, but Rachel replies "Vegas? Yeah, cool. I'm in." Original Vegas flight option is no longer available...Sarah continues searching for options.
7:20 - A 9:30 United flight is identified. Five tickets - including a leg room upgrade from Chris (he's taller than me). Group relays their full names and dates of birth to Sarah who is booking the flight on Travelocity via her iPad. Rachel is unsuccessfully looking for a parking spot at the Ale House. Factual note: Chris is the oldest in the group.
7:45 - All we need to do is hit the "confirm purchase" button when Chris chimes in, "We're about ready to drop quite a bit of money on a flight to spend 11 hours in Vegas. We could go up to Blackhawk and tear it up for that amount of money. Should we think about this?" Which is extremely ironic considering Chris goes to Vegas an average of 10 times per year. Group laughs mockingly at Chris while each orders another round. Flight confirmed. Chris calls Planet Hollywood to obtain comped room, "just in case" and orders a limo to pick us up (yes, that's how often he is there).
8:00 - Quick stop at home to let the dog out, quick call to friend to ask to let dog out in the morning. Carpool with the two sober members of the group driving to DIA while listening to a montage of Frank Sinatra, Motley Crue and Lil Wayne (we were a bit giddy by now and "making it rain" as best we could).
8:30 - Arrive at DIA with nothing but the shirts on our backs, IDs and ATM cards. Quick race to see if Chris' Clear card is actually quicker than going through the short security line. It wasn't. Hop the train for the B Gates, while 3 members stopped by McDonald's and Steak Escape for a horrifically awful meal. Rachel and I opted out of the cuisine.
9:30 - Wheels up. Due to extended legroom, group decides to have a "sitting flutter kick" contest to see who can go the longest without stopping. Chris orders drinks from flight attendant - two per person. Flight attendant loves our story, provides 10 drinks for $25. First big win of the night.
9:45 - Important pact is made: If you win what your flight cost, you get to keep it. Anything above that is split amongst the group equally. Sort of like socialism without all of the oppression.
10:15 (MST) - Rachel wins flutter kick contest.
10:30 (PST) - Wheels down. Several "Hangover" and "Swingers" quotes thrown out, limo guy with a sign with Chris' name on it briefly attempts to run the other way.
10:50 - Arrive at Planet Hollywood. Scope out the scene, get "free" bracelets to comp cover charge at a club that was opening that night. Go to said club for overpriced drinks, watch funny people dance and obtain bottle service while techno music plays. Gambling itch sets in...
11:15 - Joe and Chris are not hungry so they head straight to the blackjack table with Sarah. Rachel and Jim head to P.F. Chang's for a superior meal to McDonald's or Steak Escape.
Midnight - Jim meets up with Chris and Joe at blackjack table. Chris and Joe started out slowly, but were beginning to win a little. Jim takes Third Base at the table. Sarah comes back with cigars.
12:05 - 4:00 - Group is up - particularly Chris and Joe, but I was a few hundred up as well. Free drinks, funny comments including waving "buh-bye" to the dealer every time she had to hit a 12-16, splits, double downs...we were on a roll. Rachel sits down after a while and wins a few hands. Seriously, this never happens in Vegas.
4:00 - Chris is up BIG, but Joe is up even bigger. I was up pretty big, but ended on a flat note and am now just up "well." Rachel decides to "check out" the hotel room for a 30 minute nap. I make an ill-advised trip to the craps table to try to get back to "pretty big" before cashing out. End up dropping a third of my winnings. Lesson: Kenny Rogers is always right.
4:30 - Group cashes out. Jim sees a yellow chip for the first time. All totaled we were able to pay for everything but essentially one flight. No kidding: four flights, the limo, the legroom (bad choice, if you ask me) and breakfast for everyone at the Bellagio.
5:30 - Head to McCarran Airport with full stomaches and happy, but exhausted faces. Lots of laughs about dealers, bad bets, funny characters and no sleep. Group crashes hard on the plane.
9:30 - Wheels down, 15.5 hours after we met for an innocent happy hour in Denver. Jim, Chris, Sarah and Rachel all head home to sleep. Joe goes to coach his daughter's soccer game. Hats off to Joe.
Moral of the story: Do something spontaneous...it might just be a ton of fun. Or in the words of Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try."