We had been planning to visit and get married in Las Vegas. Because we had such a great time a year ago when we visited Lady Gaga there and told that story…But the COVID-19 virus hit the world. Did we give up on our plans? NO!
So, let me tell you a fun story, with a little humor, but at the same time how we kept our distance to keep and others safe.
We needed to get to the airport even though all residents were ordered to “shelter in place”. So we hired black ops crew to shuttle to the airport and avoid any potential checkpoints or barriers.
As you can guess, the airport was operating at 5% capacity. It made security a breeze. We got extra “random checks” when going through TSA pre-check. Not sure if they were suspicious we were even travelling during the lockdown or they were real bored as there were no other travelers.
So were everyone hiding out? In the airline club lounges. It was amazing to see how the crew continuously swept through the entire lounge wiping and cleaning all surfaces. Thanks to Delta for letting us hide out from the infected zombies out in the main terminal.
The next challenge was how to actually to Las Vegas. Huge numbers of flights were cancelled, delayed or re-routed for one reason: one or more of the flight controllers were infected with COVID-19 and the entire radar control tower was evacuated and shut down. They had to move to the emergency tower which could only manage 80% incoming flights in McCarren airport.
As a result, if you actually arrive in Las Vegas and rent a car, you pretty much get the rental car shuttle as personal chauffeur. The buses were all lined up to take single passengers to the rental center.
But if you DO rent a car, it is pretty amazing the choices you can pick at < $50 rental fee! Pretty much your only option anyways since taxis, Uber and Lyft are all shut down too.
Hertz was very reasonable and also made it easy when our flights were cancelled to come back to Seattle to easily extend the rental by an extra day at low cost. Being in the Hertz President’s Club has its perks sometimes!
Now, despite Vegas being shut down, there is a lot of traffic and it still takes a long time to get around. It is not as desolate on the roads compared to the sidewalks in front of the casinos.
It turns out that a rental car is a critical asset in Las Vegas for more than one reason. If all the public offices and marriage license bureaus are all closed for 30+ days, how can you actually get a marriage license? Answer: You road trip across the mountains! For being the end of March, it was quite cold and drove through the snowy mountains. Good thing I chose an AWD SUV!
We refused to give up and found a very old town in Nevada called Goldfield which is based on a very very old mining town and only has a population of 280 people.
Yet, it is the country seat for Esmeralda county in Nevada, and one of the functions is to issue marriage licenses.
It has a lot of history and it is not open to public, but if you have the right connection, you can get a marriage license issued! The history and relics in this city hall/courthouse/sheriff office are quite amazing to stay the least.
On the way back, of course we had to visit Area 51 and have lunch with the aliens. We were being stealthy with this secret mission to get married in Las Vegas when no marriages were publicly allowed…so sneaking into Area 51 seemed almost second class to our primary mission this weekend.
Now, if all the weddings are cancelled at the famous chapels in Las Vegas, what do you do? The hotels, casinos, resorts are all shut down. Answer: Find a great home on Airbnb! They are all HEAVILY discounted.
The one downside is that despite all the roads being crowded and full…the grocery store shelves are EMPTY. If you rent a house and need food, you pretty much need to use DoorDash if you want a full meal.
At Smiths grocery:
- Eggs? Nope.
- Milk? Nope.
- Meat? Nope.
- Chicken nuggets? Nope.
- Cereal? Nope.
Discount on some French Perrier Jouet champagne? Yep! We have sustenance for Vegas!
Of course, I went for a run the morning of my birthday and wedding to check out what would an abandoned strip look/feel like. I think this article really descried it well.
It was deserted, but the police were in place every 100 meters or so. I asked them if they were getting ready for the zombie invasion to flood the streets and that is why they were present. They answered “There are always zombies here…” . Enough said.
I was only ale to find one other on the strip this morning near the Wynn…we unfortunately violated the social distance rule when taking this selfie though.
For dinner food on the second night, we went to Whole Foods to see what we might be able to find. They had a long line outside to limit the number of customers. The good thing is they had eggs, water, meat and even a birthday/wedding cake to take home! It reminded me of the line I saw outside the gun store this morning when I was running back to the Airbnb house. There were so many customers at the gun store, they had to wait until to get inside because of the crowd.
I also found there was only one open hotel/resort on the strip today. They were open and even had a taxi waiting for customers. Is that a surprise?
Now, on to the wedding plans!
and then find a dedicated bridal seamstress like Bridal Elegance that will open up the store, just for you to have a dress. The Armenians know how to make a lady feel special!
And even if all the wedding chapels are shutdown or locked out, you can go mobile! We connected with the Vegas Mobile Minister and staged our own private wedding,
The result? Yep, we were officially married in Las Vegas, Nevada when they were banned and locked down. We never gave up and there is always a way to accomplish a mission and still be socially distant from everyone!
We celebrated in the wonderful backyard pool and sauna! Had a wonderful day and evening. Now, what is next?
The challenge is now to get out of Las Vegas if we locked down and trapped? Do we rent an RV and go into Mad Max mode?
Delta airlines has been very helpful and accommodating despite all the challenges. When we got to the (very) quiet airport, we outnumbered the agents at the check-in desk.
We found out why so many flights were being cancelled. Because the tower had been infected with COVID-19, they reverted to VFR rules only and most airlines will not fly the big jets with VFR only. So…we needed to book a flight out using the smaller Embraer jets which can fly using visual rules.
It was nice that The Club in the Las Vegas airport was open! We had the place to ourselves which was much better than waiting in the unknown terminal full of walking zombies…
Even though one airline kicked us off (long story) because one of us coughed…Delta took care of us and found us a way home.
The choices for a drink to recover from all that turmoil and challenge was quite limited, but you never look at a gift horse in the mouth right? 🙂
What an adventure!