(Again, some pics mine, borrowed a couple from others, contact me if you want them down)
I woke up Saturday in fine shape, really. A mild headache, a little tired, but nothing I couldn't shake off with minimal effort. It was early again, though -- even trying to sleep in I was up before 7 and out and about well before 8. Still, I had gotten a solid five hours of sleep, a fine achievement for the weekend :).
We had a scheduled brunch with the WoW Guild at 11, so I just headed over to Krispy Kreme for coffee and conversation. Sure enough, I met Russ there and we chatted about video games and life for a bit before others started filtering in. Before long, we had a couple tables full of people waking up and multiple conversations going on (as tends to happen in big groups). Some people ate, but I held out -- I wanted to get my money's worth out of the buffet!
At 11, we got our big raid group together (I cannot tell you how many "raid" jokes went on during this trip) and went from one end of the casino to the other before packing into taxis and cars for the trip to the Rio for their buffet. Unfortunately, instead of seating all 23 of us (I think it was 23) at one table, we got split into 3 that were fairly separated. It worked out okay, though; we were all friends :). I ended up at RH's table so people were constantly coming by to chat with him. Also, with wait staff constantly refilling champagne glasses, the drinking began.
The buffet was actually very good; I was in a huge breakfast mood so I filled up on breakfast stuff, and then realized I had only seen HALF the buffet and there was all this other stuff I wanted to try. I tried to squeeze some in but goddamn was I full. So I snacked a bit here and there and sipped cheap champagne as people complained about the lack of L60 tanks and warlocks, and discussed Onyxia strategy (over my slowly-getting-drunk head). People rotated from table to table and we pretty much just mooched free champagne and talked WoW for a couple hours.
The slightly buzzed trip back to Excalibur led to a relaxed afternoon. We sat by the same old quiet always-abandoned-during-the-day Minstrel's Lounge and people smoked cigarettes and talked about their families and other serious real-life topics. I skipped out instead of boring them with my own sad tales of woe and went shopping instead. I figured I had to buy Jess something. I also won 15 bucks in a slot machine after putting in a dollar (I probably put 3 bucks into random slot machines during the trip as I walked by and they caught my eye -- generally just the progressive ones with huge jackpots), and got depressed at the lack of cool things to buy Jess. Everything was either completely cheesy or wicked expensive -- and I didn't want to go either way. With her birthday and related expenses coming up, it wasn't the time to buy anything costly.
I ended up buying a jigsaw puzzle with a medieval knight/lady theme, which is kind of cool because we always do puzzles when we travel and it sort of keyed into the whole "you aren't with me but I'm thinking of you" vibe :). Also bought her a very nice artsy card.
At 5, we met for a drink (or, you know, four) to our friends who couldn't make it. Not just couldn't make it, but couldn't make it because they are serving overseas. One of them in particular has stayed in touch while he does his tour of duty in Iraq. His squad does all sorts of highly dangerous and visible stuff like giving kids vaccinations and disarming IEDs. They've lost 4 people in the past few months, out of like 50. So the vets and former .mils in the group talked a little about what it means to serve, we read the local newspapers' stories on the 4 people who died in that guy's platoon, and we toasted them all. Ice and Jan sipped from a scotch in his honor. Very somber but solid event, with many people in attendance. Drew a lot of stares from passersby, obviously.
This took much longer than it sounds like it would have, since almost everybody wanted in on this but took time getting there. Add that to "gotta run to get my camera" type delays and we didn't get done until after 6.
After that, some of the people went off to play craps but I just sat and chatted with some people and sipped a couple beers. With less than an hour before our big dinner, I said I was bored and wanted to pass time and suggested just sitting at a nickel slots for a bit. Tara joined me, but nobody else seemed too interested.
Of course, I won 30 bucks right off the bat at that, so we bailed rather than risk any of it. I cashed in the money and we all went our separate ways to get ready for the big party.
Side note: if you think a lot of drinking was going on, you're right. I didn't dip in as heavy as some people did, but I was pretty well buzzed from about noon to midnight, Saturday. I was "smart," though, and kept finding and drinking water the whole time.
At 7 we met in a banquet hall for the big party. Basically this was like the sort of room you'd have a wedding reception in, but sized for only 50 instead of a couple hundred. We had a buffet, a cash bar, and a dance floor. We had our own band (The Bacon Boys ... Bacon being an anagram for ABCon) made up of 3 Basiners (there's actually a fourth in the band who couldn't make it at the last minute, resulting in them renting some kind of drum beat machine, which worked out fine even though we missed Terry).
The food at this event was average, but there was a bar and there was live music, and we had fun. The band members all wore kilts and were funny as hell -- the sort of thing that I guess you'd have to be there and be a part of it to understand. Various guest singers popped up -- TPJ sang his wife a ballad because she puts up with all our (and his) shit, Mouse sang all the female parts of various songs, and Alan (who I play WoW with every Tuesday) guest-guitarred and sang on one song.
After a few songs, the band reminded us that this wasn't a concert, so a few of the ladies started dancing. Most of us hung back, but the girls finally got tired of being the only ones dancing and started pressuring people to go up. Once there was a somewhat mixed crowd I finally let myself get pulled in, and had an amazing time the rest of the night dancing like an idiot. It seemed like my arrival on the dance floor broke some sort of odd balance, because from then on the floor was always full.
At midnight, we capped off the party with a huge line of drunken people kick-dancing to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" while singing along at the top of their lungs.
It was no-shit awesome. Everybody was getting along (mostly, heh -- but what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, and that includes the good gossip), we were all pretty buzzed, the music had us in a great mood, and it was just great.
By 12:30, people were finally done taking pictures and were heading off in various directions. I was wired, but I could have fallen asleep. Instead, I got talked into playing poker. I ended up at a 2-6 table with RH and Zofox, and once again made forty bucks before giving up for the night around 2:30. It was much less stressful the second time, but there was one really rough hand where I folded pocket kings after spending 20 bucks to see the flop and not getting any of it (flop was AJ4 -- and the only guy who stayed in with me bet $12 to start [it was a kill pot, stakes doubled]). General consensus the next day was that I had done the right thing, hard as it was to do. Heck, it wasn't that hard to fold -- I was up and wanted to quit that way.
(Summary for those keeping score: 100$ won playing poker, $80 in the casino, $20 in a casual game. I got silly lucky, but the only reason I managed to not get a big head about it is that I know enough to know how little actual skill I was employing, and was in the presence of people who won 5x that amount on the trip against much stiffer competition).
I had stopped drinking when the party ended, and drank water all the time while playing poker. So when I stumbled off to bed I was just exhausted, not drunk. And when I woke up, 3 hours later, I wasn't really hung over as much as just dead with exhaustion and bodily protest. The rest of the day went by way too fast, and I was at the airport by noon. The rest of the story is pretty dull (airport delays, long drives home, etc) so I won't bother with it. Let's leave the story with me winning money at poker, ok? :)
I had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. Can't wait till ABCon VI in Chicago!