Monday, February 26, 2007

Vegas baby!

A group of friends from Edmonton decided to plan a trip to Las Vegas for the end of February. So I thought I'd just hop on a plane from Kansas and join 'em. Believe it or not, but Edmonton to Vegas is about the same distance as Kansas to Vegas.

Anyway, there's an airline here called Allegiant Air which flies out of Topeka and Wichita directly to Vegas. But you can only do a Friday - Monday trip out of Topeka, so I drove two hours down to Wichita can left on a Wednesday, returning Saturday morning.

Little known fact: Unbeknowest to me until a week after my trip, the
movie "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" starring John Candy and Steve Martin has
the pair meet on a plane which was diverted from Chicago to Wichita!

The plane ride was most fun. The Kansan people sitting near me, and the whole plane for that matter, was in a party mood, so drinks were had. I told them I was from Canada, we talked about that, and laughed all the way.

As the plane flew over the rough terrain of Arizona, the excitement started to really kick in as I'm a VV -- Vegas Virgin and I had no idea what to expect other than what I saw on movies and TV. As you may know, the airport in Vegas is pretty close to The Strip, so the view flying by all the crazy buildings and hotels, especially New York New York was really cool.

As soon as you get out of your gate in Vegas, there are slot machines, just in case you didn't notice you were in Vegas.

As I waited for my bag, I couldn't help but notice two young clad women at the next carousel arguing. One got so pissed, she pushed her friend to the ground and continued swearing and ranting. The guy next to them didn't flinch, but I think he was enjoying the whole thing actually. As more ranting continued, security came by and eventually handcuffed them! It was then I knew security in Vegas was toit!

So I arrive before my friends at the Monte Carlo and had a nap in my room, then headed down to the hotel bar to have a rye and a burger. I called my friend in Edmonton to rub it in that I was in Vegas and to share in the excitement.

Finally, I hook up with one of the boys who arrived before the others, one "Gerelukstein" as we call him. His room was quite large for a single, but that's his style. Then we took to the Strip and I had my expert tour guide show me around.

Drinks here, drinks there, drinks wherever and whenever
As you know the best part of Vegas is that you can drink booze when and wherever you want. I saw very little police, but perhaps hotel security acts as the defacto cops anyway. Whenever we had to take a cab, I had to have a rye, just to soak in the novelty of it all. And you know when you just buy a drink at a bar and everyone then wants to head somewhere else, and you have to pound back your drink, so you get really drunk? Well, not in Vegas. Just bring the drink with you. Nice! And the uberbeauty from this Canuck is the rye in abundance was Canadian Club--the rye whisky that Al Capone used to smuggle.

To be continued...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Inner Quest

I found out that there's a lodge in KC that conducts its meetings a little differently, so my bud Chasmo and I decided to check it out.

So on Valentine's Day, I drove down to KC and we visited Inner Quest lodge, who are based on the Traditional Observance (T.O.) model. But we thought the meeting was at 6:30, when it started at 6, so we were a bit late. No worries, we were allowed in at the appropriate time.

The meeting had a couple presentations, followed by some Mozart and Enya, who I both like very much.

At this time of year, there was quite a bit of snow, but I knew the little PT Cruiser I was driving, just like at home, would be able to handle it.

Afterward, we went to an excellent Chinese restaurant and I talked with a Past Grand Master of Kansas. Then I had to scoot home.

That was my first visit to a T.O. style lodge. But the experience only made me miss my own lodge back home and my brethren there.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Nation called Kansas

I know I don't have a lot of Topeka stories et, but KC is a pretty cool city. I was still waiting to make some friends, so KC was my closest outlet for fun.

On the Friday I thought I'd visit Orient Lodge where they put on a 2nd degree and it was done very well. Afterward, I thought I'd try out that Irish pub and see if Rich Stevenson was there. Well, he was and he remembered my name and that I was from Alberta! During his break, he introduced me to two people we'll call Larry and Liz. We shared some beers, I met some more people, and it appeared that some future good times here were to be had.

After a few drinks, I asked Rich if he would mind if I played a few tunes and he said, "Sure, come on up!" So I played "Hasn't Hit Me Yet" from Blue Rodeo, some U2 "All I Want Is You" and Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline". The crowd seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. I now knew this was going to be my new home in Topeka.

The next day, I again headed to KC to meet up with a brother Mason we call "The Pontiff". We went out for Japanese food. Good stuff. Unfortunately afterward, Chasmo had to work, so Pont and I headed back to The Roxy where a really cool hippy band named Nation, was playing.

Well, like all of the music I've heard so far, Nation raised the bar even higher! They played all the classics--Jefferson Airplane, Steppenwolf, and more. But the song that literally made me feel the soul of rock in this state was when they played "Carry On Wayward Son" by the classic 70's prog rock band, Kansas! They nailed it. It was absolutely perfect. The vocal harmonies, the timing, and with a Hammond organ in the background fully rounded out the room. I was so impressed, I bought the organist a beer.

Oh, and guess which band is celebrating a 30 year anniversary? That's right ... Kansas! And guess what town they're from? Yeah... Topeka baby!

The waitress we deemed "The Evil One" as she continued to pimp shooters on us, was very nice. That night I really got to know The Pontiff and knew we'd be doing it again soon. All and all, a great night.