Monthly Archives: November 2016

Last Night in Vegas

Tonight is our last night in Vegas. We fly out in the morning.

As usual we had a blast. Won enough money to pay for everything. Does it get better?

So, tonight we had a luxurious dinner at a restaurant inside MGM Grand called Craftsteak. We had never heard of the restaurant but had walked by it innumerable times while we were here and decided we had to try it. Man, are we glad we did.

Apparently, the guy who owns it is a big deal in food circles. Appears on the television show “Top Chef”. We didn’t know any of that. Location, location, location…

This might have been the best meal out I have ever experienced. Great service, incredible food, wonderful atmosphere — once you are inside the restaurant there is no clue that you are inside a hotel casino. It’s truly a top-notch experience.

So, with an incredible meal and great wine in our bodies, Peggy and I began reflecting on the trip to Las Vegas. We talked about all the great things we experienced on this trip, some of which I have chronicled for you in previous posts.

Then, in vino veritas, she said, “We have to talk about your ankle.”

I was expecting a slightly more romantic subject and was more than a little taken aback.

“You did great with the brace and there wasn’t one thing we wanted to do that we couldn’t do. But it just looks terrible when you walk. If it flops with a brace on it, what’s going to happen down the road?”

Of course, as usual, she’s right. No more discussion necessary. The night returned to its regularly scheduled programming.

We’ve had a great time, and it was a fair test.

When we get home I will call the doctor and see what we need to do to schedule the surgery.

Damn

Enjoying dinner at Craftsteak. You know, before she dropped the bomb…

Olivia

Olivia Newton-John. When I was a kid all you had to say was “Olivia” and everyone knew who you were talking about. She was a one-namer in the 70s.

I’m glad I got to see her perform tonight before she became a one-namer in her 70s.

I said previously that one of the interesting things about Vegas around the holidays is that the headliners are not always performing between Thanksgiving and New Years. Peggy had expressed an interest in seeing Donny & Marie while we were in Vegas (don’t judge). When we looked for tickets we discovered that they were not appearing but that Olivia would be appearing instead.

That’s a no-brainer. Peggy is a huge “Grease” fan, so I did not have to coerce her. I was a teenage boy in Olivia’s heyday, so definitely I did not have to be convinced.

I have a memory from when I was about eleven or twelve years old — so I don’t know if it is accurate or apocryphal — of Olivia winning a Grammy award for “Best Country Vocal” and thinking she was nominated because she was from another country. I have followed her since at least 1973 and, like most young boys, was smitten.

She put on a show! She sang every song that we remembered and were hoping to hear. It was inspiring to hear her speak of the challenges she has faced in her life, and it was wonderful to see her looking like she was having fun on stage.

When you see a star from your childhood it is a celebration of memories. Accepting that Olivia is 68 means embracing that I am now 54. Tonight, 2016 became 1978 for just a little while. And it was a lot of fun.

Black Friday

It’s Black Friday today, but it’s hard to tell in Las Vegas.

Everything looks like it always looks. There were people up until all hours of the night, but they weren’t waiting in line. We even went to the retail areas today and it all just looked like Las Vegas.

Today we went in search of the best Christmas decorations. I have a Fitbit, and it says we walked a little over ten miles on this quest. I’m going to be honest — it feels like more. At least the ankle seems to be holding up OK in the brace. Well, not according to Peggy. She was walking behind me as I was walking up a staircase and I thought she was going to be ill. Peggy’s grandmother used to say (typically when criticizing the way someone was dressed), “Oh, to see ourselves as others see us.” Judging from Peggy’s reaction to my ankle I would say that sometimes it is better not to see what others see.

What we did see was Las Vegas in all its Christmas glory. Perfect weather outside — I wore shorts all day — and beautiful decorations inside.

We sat at an outdoor cafĂ© at Paris and watched the Bellagio waters while we ate. We went to the Venetian and the Palazzo and walked along their “canals”. We found the best Christmas decorations at the Wynn, but all of it was beautiful. We even found an incredible free live music show on the way back to MGM and sat and enjoyed the music for more than an hour.

I think we are going to change the name to Golden Friday for this year…

Walking in a winter wonderland…
…in shorts! But the brace looks nice, especially next to Peggy’s jacket on the floor.

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’ve had a great day here in Las Vegas. Celebrating a holiday like Thanksgiving away from your family is always a little odd, but we celebrated with my son and his wife on Tuesday before we left. This also frees them to spend Thanksgiving with her family and makes us look very magnanimous. Wins all around.

Hopefully we will have some wins while we are here, too. We got a huge one tonight as LSU beat Texas A&M. We watched the game while eating a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner in one of the hotel restaurants. Absolutely the best of both worlds.

We walked all over the city today in the perfect weather. Found my favorite slot game and won $300 in about twenty minutes. I was smart enough to quit. Had a couple of great meals. After the LSU game ended we walked down to the Bellagio and watched the dancing waters. All the required Vegas stuff.

I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families. Tomorrow the Christmas decoration season begins in earnest, so I’m going to bed now.

 

The MGM lion outside on a gorgeous day
Celebrating the Tigers victory. Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

Loving Las Vegas

I really like Las Vegas.

I’m not much of a gambler, so that’s not the attraction. We come back every year and I never get tired of it.

I think part of it is that Las Vegas is continually updating. Don’t like that old hotel casino? Blow it up and put up another one. I guess technically they blow it down and not up, but you get the idea. Each time in Vegas you see something that wasn’t there the last time.

We try to come each year around Peggy’s birthday. Sometimes we hit it right on the nose and sometimes we are a few days (or weeks) off. I wrote a post earlier about how we really don’t get too uptight about celebrating big events on the exact day as long as we get the chance to celebrate together. Peggy’s birthday is at the end of November, so sometimes we are competing with Thanksgiving if we try to hit the real date. This year we are in Las Vegas for Thanksgiving but staying for several days after. That’s good — I prefer coming after Thanksgiving so we can be sure that the Christmas decorations are up. Vegas goes all out for Christmas, and the decorations are spectacular!

Another reason this is a great time to be in Las Vegas is the weather. We have been snowed on, we have had 85 degree days, but usually the weather this time of year is just about perfect.

Really, the only problem with coming this time of year is that many of the resident acts want to be with their families over the holidays, so several of the iconic performers are “dark” during this period. This has led to us seeing some very interesting shows that were not what we were expecting to see. And loving it.

Three years ago Peggy turned 50 while we were here, and Justin Timberlake just happened to be in Las Vegas on tour on her birthday. That was an unexpected surprise and an amazing show. The next night we saw Shania Twain at the Celine Dion theater in Caesar’s Palace. Let’s just say it probably would have been more fair to Shania if we had seen her before Justin.

So, who is it going to be this year?

I promise to keep you posted as soon as I know…

Hanging out at MGM tonight

Nome, Alaska

Since I started my blog I have received a couple of questions about Nome, Alaska…

To be clear, I am not, nor have I ever been, from Nome, Alaska.

I was in a great band as a teenager. Really good. Played three or four nights a week all around Louisiana and East Texas. Every night the members of the band were introduced to the audience.

One night my brother introduced me as being from Nome, Alaska. It was funny to those of us who knew better. And it stuck.

It has become a kind of talisman for good luck during a performance. A “break a leg,” of sorts.

When I had not created a “Who am I?” page for the blog my wife took it into her own hands and created the page. I have not changed it and I have no plans to do so.

I was born in New Orleans, have lived in Baton Rouge, LA; Jackson, MS; Slidell, LA; Garland, TX; Waco, TX; Plano, TX; San Antonio, TX; Katy, TX; Austin, TX and Helotes, TX. Nowhere north of the Dallas area — and nowhere close to Nome, Alaska.

But I am still Jeffrey Skaggs from Nome, Alaska.

An unsafe tendoncy

Well, we are two weeks out from Rockgate and the news is not good. X-rays and MRIs are done and the little ankle that could is starting to look like it just can’t. Because of a freakin’ rock…

Other than wanting to slap the doctor for insinuating I don’t really need two ankles to live my active lifestyle, I’m now in the process of figuring out what to do. When I originally hurt the ankle the pain and swelling was tremendous. We (which, of course, means Peggy) kept it elevated and iced it regularly the first night. When I got up on Monday morning, the swelling was still there but the pain was gone. Turns out that was not a good sign.

The MRI revealed that I severed both tendons on the outside of my ankle. It doesn’t hurt because after the initial shock, damage to tendons doesn’t cause pain. I just have no lateral stability in my ankle. The doctor gave me a very sexy brace to wear but the only way to potentially fix the problem is surgery. I really hate that word. Potentially.

I know what you’re thinking — “sucks for you, Jeff.” I’m sorry if it isn’t riveting theater, but it is my leg. Go for a little empathy here and feel it along with me.

What I thought was a knot on my ankle is actually the two tendons kind of rolled up in a little ball. Kind of like a rubber band when it snaps back after breaking. Sweet.

I don’t want to have surgery. I’m 54 years old and I really don’t want to screw with it. But I am also only 54 years old and I need to have two working ankles. And my wife is hot and I really want to be able to chase her around.

Peggy and I are going to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks to celebrate her birthday. I’m going to take my brace and we’re going to walk our butts off (like we do every time we go to Vegas) and see how it goes. If I can make it there…