The second weekend in October was circled for months. It was another trip to look forward to. Another “visit” from my parents to the West Coast. The word visit is used loosely since my folks’ flight wouldn’t make it all the way to Los Angeles; The plane would instead land in Las Vegas, where I would drive to meet them for a looong weekend on The Strip.

This would be my third Las Vegas rendezvous in the last eleven months. The first trip was a necessary detour en route from Arlington Heights when going west to Long Beach. I was able to meet my parents again when we overlapped in Las Vegas over Super Bowl weekend. Most of the details of those experiences are foggy. It is hard keeping up with the peer pressure of a long weekend bender and late nights on the casino floor. The drinks are free, after all.

Do you think we’ll get there by midnight?

Baby, we’re going to be up five hundy by midnight!

Vegas baby! Vegas!

The drive from Cerritos to Las Vegas was nearly as miserable as I recalled. It took nearly two hours to trek the first 80 miles when escaping Los Angeles. I coasted halfway to my favorite Panera in Barstow and recharged with some super fruit smoothie something-or-other. The soundtrack for the rest of the drive would switch from podcasts to some glorious combination of Arctic Monkeys, The Sounds, Kanye West, etc. There is no footage of car-singing or dancing, thankfully. All of the Lights in Primm were a tease, but I made it to THE LINQ in time for delicious pork enchiladas and grapefruit tequila cocktail(s).

Um… a malt Glen Garry for me and my friend here. And if you tell that bartender to go extra easy on the water, this 50 cent piece has your name on it.

Speaking of tequila (and scotch), plenty of libations were enjoyed by all during this trip. In a positive turn of events, I was the fifth wheel for this Thursday night, as the #roaming crew altered their ever-changing itinerary to meet 3/5 of the Garms Family in Las Vegas. We enjoyed dinner and the slots and a few table games before the clock eventually skipped past 2am and we stumbled back to our rooms before Friday morning’s competitive round of golf.

You know what you are? You’re like a big bear with claws and with fangs…big f*cking teeth, man.

Golf has not come easy lately, with frustrating rounds and too many big numbers. Casey looked to capitalize by keeping me out late and encouraging another (and another) whiskey cocktail. He ridiculed my driving and insisted we were going to be late and/or carsick on the first tee. We skated around Wildhorse with a friendly, active gallery and made it into the clubhouse bar to see a few innings of Cubs/Cardinals.

You better replace the pin, Chi-Chi. The natives look restless.

Day two of golf was slightly closer to the hotel and offered a few views of The Strip. We went off as a threesome before being paired up with a sweaty, disheveled local. He chatted up the tattoo’ed cart lady and scored three PBR tallboys each time she circled the group. Randall met up with us on the third hole and promptly made birdie, but the Pabst eventually caught up to him and he elected to not complete play on the 18th hole. We washed off the grass and sunburn and met with the rest of the crew to see the Cubs win Game Two over St. Louis.

IMG_3994 IMG_4026

There’s nothing wrong with letting the girls know that you’re money and that you want to party.

A party indeed! What began as a three-person Las Vegas get-together escalated to a fivesome when the Roaming Team adjusted their travel plans. But the biggest development of the weekend was Loaf and Peppers surprising Mom & Dad with their late night Friday arrival. We were a few beverages into the proceedings and energy was starting to wane, but the surprise hello were enough to nearly melt The Cromwell floor and keep the party going til the wee hours.

You take yourself out of the game, you start talking about puppy dogs and ice cream and of course it’s going to end up on the friendship tip.

So now I was the 7th Wheel for this trip. And I made previous plans to see My Morning Jacket at Brooklyn Bowl. We ate dinner there as a group before I entered the show. I posted up at a good spot and shielded my eyes from the flashing lights and canoodling couples nearby. The crowd was somewhat lame and unappreciative, but JACKET rocked the small venue with an interesting playlist combining old and new. Seeing a concert was a good reason to stay off the wagon for a few hours before rejoining the group for more hi jinx.

Hey! What’re you kicking me for? You want me to ask? All right, I’ll ask! Ma’am, where do the high school girls hang out in this town?

Cannot take Dad anywhere. Fortunately, much of his clever commentary was lost in translation with casino dealers, or perhaps was too soaked in Coors Light for passersby to comprehend what was said. We were all mischievous and tipsy and shared stories from previous Las Vegas misadventures. Thankfully we didn’t run into the dealer that Case had given turn-by-turn directions to our suburban home on a previous trip.

I’m the asshole is this place, right? I’m the asshole? I’m outta here! I’m not eating here… I wouldn’t eat here… I’d never eat here anyway!

The biggest improvement on this trip compared to others was how well we ate. Other Las Vegas experiences included McDonald’s by the pool or our first In-N-Out burger on Black Friday or questionable Japanese hibachi in the bowels of some casino. On this trip we indulged at Chayo, Mesa, and Secret Pizza, among others. Spending so much quality time as a family was the highlight of the trip…  Having extra time with each other around the dinner table rather than a blackjack table made Las Vegas more special.

Look at this, okay? I want you to remember this face, here. Okay? This is the guy behind the guy behind the guy.

We were able to capture this moment together while huddled around the table by sweet-talking the pit boss K into taking a blurry, fuzzy, past-due photo of the crew. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is for losers; After having this much fun with people I love and care for so much, its hard not to brag about a fantastic weekend together.



Flamingos are a type of wading bird in the family Phoenicopteridae. There are four flamingo species in the Americas and two species in Afro-Eurasia. Often, they are pink in color.

Flamingos often stand on one leg, the other leg tucked beneath the body. The reason for this behavior is not fully understood. Recent research indicates that standing on one leg may allow the birds to conserve more body heat, given that they spend a significant amount of time wading in cold water. However, the behavior also takes place in warm water. As well as standing in the water, flamingos may stamp their webbed feet in the mud to stir up food from the bottom.

Young flamingos hatch with greyish reddish plumage, but adults range from light pink to bright red due to aqueous bacteria and beta-Carotene obtained from their food supply. A well-fed, healthy flamingo is more vibrantly colored and thus a more desirable mate; a white or pale flamingo, however, is usually unhealthy or malnourished. Captive flamingos are a notable exception; many turn a pale pink as they are not fed carotene at levels comparable to the wild.

The pink or reddish color of flamingos comes from carotenoids in their diet of animal and plant plankton. These carotenoids are broken down into pigments by liver enzymes. The source of this varies by species, and affects the saturation of color. Flamingos whose sole diet is blue-green algae are darker in color compared to those who get it second-hand.

Flamingos are very social birds; they live in colonies whose population can number in the thousands. These large colonies are believed to serve three purposes for the flamingos: avoiding predators, maximizing food intake, and using scarce suitable nesting sites more efficiently. Before breeding, flamingo colonies split into breeding groups of between about 15 and 50 birds. Both males and females in these groups perform synchronized ritual displays. The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, then uttering calls while head-flagging, and then flapping their wings. The displays do not seem to be directed towards an individual but instead occur randomly. These displays stimulate “synchronous nesting” and help pair up those birds who do not already have mates.

Flamingos form strong pair bonds of one male and one female, although in larger colonies flamingos sometimes change mates, presumably because there are more mates to choose from. Flamingo pairs establish and defend nesting territories. They locate a suitable spot on the mudflat to build a nest (the spot is usually chosen by the female). It is during nest building that copulation usually occurs. Nest building is sometimes interrupted by another flamingo pair trying to commandeer the nesting site for their own use. Flamingos aggressively defend their nesting sites. Both the male and the female contribute to building the nest, and to defending the nest and egg.

For the first six days after the chicks hatch, the adults and chicks stay in the nesting sites. At around seven to twelve days old, the chicks begin to move out of their nests and explore their surroundings. When they are two weeks old, the chicks congregate in groups, called “microcrèches”, and their parents leave them alone. After a while, the microcrèches merge into “crèches” containing thousands of chicks. Chicks that do not stay in their crèches are vulnerable to predators.


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