The funny thing about trying to chronologically order all these trips I’ve taken is going through my memories and being surprised by what I remember and what I don’t remember. Why do I remember so much about what I ate while I was there?
I suppose that this is the trip that I remember the most. I went with my friend Ryan for my thirtieth birthday during the first week of 1996. We stayed at Treasure Island. When we got to the hotel we ran into my sister’s friend, Tammy, and her husband. Ryan and Tammy knew each other and liked to hang around together. It made it easier for me to be there without feeling as if I had to act as a tour director for my traveling companion.
Treasure Island was awesome back then. The pirate theme was so over-the-top — like a drunken Disneyland with slot machines. The location was great, too, because we could spend hours and hours playing one-dollar blackjack at O’Shea’s right across the street. I also remember that the dumpy Imperial Palace had a little casino area that practically spilled out onto the sidewalk with nickel Bally Game Maker machines. I got on a good run and probably played for four hours on a dollar or two.
We got a coupon book for booking our package vacation, and there was a two-for-one buffet coupon at Maxim. I remember that because it was the first time I ever visited a custom omelette station at a buffet. I remember those awful blue drinks that came in the crystal skull mugs at Treasure Island because Ryan spilled his all over a blackjack table while him and Tammy were getting hosed. I also remember going downtown to see the Freemont Street Experience for the first time and also stopping in The Topless Girls of Glitter Gulch, a seedy bar with some seriously ugly strippers. This was also the trip where I discovered that you could buy booze in convenience stores. We bought a jug of awful wine and drank the whole thing before going out one night.
However, the best part of the entire trip was getting asked for I.D. on my thirtieth birthday. Nothing could beat that. I still think it might have been the best birthday I ever had.