Before you die, spend at least one New Years Eve of your life in Las Vegas.
I impulsively decided to gallivant with some friends in Vegas for New Years Eve. It was absolutely brilliant. A lot of people will complain about the traffic, the crowds and the surprisingly chilly desert weather but all these inconveniences are very minor compared to how much fun you can have.
Just bring good company, some of your favorite alcohol and a sense of adventure. You will definitely have some great memories or at least a digital camera full of memories if your's is too impaired from the booze.
There's a certain magic to the experience. For me, it was the ambiance of lights and music at Surrender night club inside Encore combined with the nostalgia from all the prior New Years Eve experiences I've had. There's something about watching the fire works go off directly above you and your friends in a half drunken haze when the clock hits midnight that makes you realize your life is happening right now. The Red Bull and vodka also helped.
As for hang overs, yes, like the movie about hang overs in Vegas, you will have to deal with that. Fortunately, Las Vegas has a few different solutions to nurse you back to health. From spas to entertainment, there is bound to be something to make you feel better. I was pretty hungry the next day and glad there was an abundant availability of one of those solutions, food. I could have opted for the awesome $35.00 24-hour buffet pass available at Caesar's Palace and Rio. Instead I decided to go for the famous, as seen on Man v. Food, B3 Burrito Challenge.
There is nothing like smothering away your hang over with a six pound burrito. The Nascar Cafe at the Sahara offers a free if completed in 90 minutes, giant burrito. You get the typical challenge t-shirt and picture on the wall if you win. But the real draw to this, at least for competitive eaters, is the staggering amount of people to fail this challenge and the very few to have actually completed it. About 30 successful attempts in over 5000 loses.
Joey Chestnut currently has the fastest time, putting away this thing in a mere 6 minutes. There was no chance in Hell I'd complete it at that time, but like always I had to give it my best shot. I came into this very hungry and excited to finally be attempting the burrito that so many have talked about. Would this be my first eating challenge failure?
Pictures of this are one thing but to actually hold this in your hands is a totally different experience. It was easily over eight pounds, it felt like cradling a human baby. A baby you would soon lovingly devour with the ferocity and vigor Saturn would be proud of. I dove right in with my bare hands, no utensils for me today.
I started off well, eating more than half of it in about eight minutes. I had mixed feelings about the taste. I liked the amount of shredded beef loaded into this thing, it was very satisfying to consume that much meat. Though I could have done without the excessive amount of jalapeños and gratuitous nacho cheese sauce poured on top. Taste really matters, as it compounds in your mouth after the fifth or sixth pound. Your tongue becomes so over stimulated that it does a very poor job of distinguishing between flavors.
I severely slowed down when I got to the last 10% of the burrito. I already had 17 minutes on the clock by that point and then the "food wall" kicked my ass. I was disgruntled, happy in the respect that I finally found a true challenge but intimidated at the notion of actually failing. The crowd watching was very encouraging and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint them. I nearly reversed it in my last few bites, but I finished it. 27 minutes and 52 seconds later, I scored another shirt for the growing collection and my insides felt like trash.
Here's video of the action:
Lastly, my New Years tour of Vegas would end with some sightseeing and a bit of reflection. I walked around the strip with my friends, prospected future eating challenges and realized another year was over. 2010 was done and we're in an entirely new decade. Oh the possibilities. We needed to see something epic to start off the year.
Despite my innumerable trips to Las Vegas, I never bothered to drive the 30 miles to check out this behemoth. I'm glad my company really wanted to see Hoover Dam, it was worth the ridiculous traffic to see. I find my most satisfying adventures are those with the greatest challenges. With a big burrito eaten and a big dam visited, I hope 2011 will be a big year for me.