If we were all watercolor pencils, we could create great art. Like colored pencils, everything we do leaves a mark, and we can correct most of our mistakes. The most important things in life are what is inside of us as we go through repeated sharpening to make us better throughout life, while submitting to, being held and guided by, the wisest hand of all. Then we create beautiful visions and realize our greatest dreams.

Recently, I joined a group of friends traveling to Las Vegas to see Cirque Du Soleil.  For years I had wanted to see more of  Cirque Du Soleil. I was also fascinated in the time share condo we rented for the week instead of separate hotel rooms. With friends going in the same direction as my ‘dream’, I was only too happy to become a ‘colored pencil’ in the hands of this well-established group as their newbie member.

Once we settled the lodging, air, and minivan, we turned our attention to the specific Cirque events to visit each night as a group.  Facebook was offering closed groups, so we created one and posted each show separately. Eager participants researched online. The plan was to see all of the shows, or as many as possible.  Candidates were Ka, O, Zumanity, Viva: Elvis, Love: the Beatles, and Mystere. Organized conversation flowed until we finalized advance reservations and were on our way!

Or were we? We agreed to meet at the local airport two hours before the late March flight, knowing the ticket counter closed 45 minutes before the flight. One couple was already there when I arrived.  I must say, I was not entirely intact.

I had, in fact, been under stress for some time wondering whether I would be able to keep my travel plans. Why? Well, despite a lifetime of good health, a swollen lump surfaced near my scapula a few weeks earlier, just as the late January “Snowpocalypse of 2011”  hit Michigan with over a foot of snow. Whoopee, right? Not really…it makes a better plot line for your worst nightmare. I had just paid unrecoverable travel expenses, so I waited quietly  to see if it went away, rather than spook family and friends.

For several weeks, doctors sent me from one inconclusive digital test to another, including ultrasound, biopsy, PET scan  and CT. In the end they decided to  ‘explore’, in other words, surgery. I could see myself trying to lift and roll a heavy case through the airports.  Worse – does there always have to be a worse? – they decided to combine two procedures into one more painful hospital visit, rescheduled even closer to my departure.

Without their support I never would have been able to go.  One was rooting hard for the trip to continue on schedule. The other encouraged me to stay in case treatment was needed. Had I listened exclusively to him I would have lost  funds, my friends’ good will, and precious memories. Instead, I listened to my positive thinking daughters encouragement.  “Hang in there, mom, you might be able to go.”  With support from them and my sister, I endured the tests, big scary words, and surgery with nothing more than a rash from the impatience and frustration. I made it!

Steri-stripped together with week-old stitches, my daughter drove me to the airport and waited to roll the big suitcase  while I dragged the smaller overhead case.  Eventually our disabled traveler arrived and claimed the group wheelchair. With cleverly disguised anxiety, we waited for our final friend to arrive with our boarding passes. A mere 20 minutes remained to shutdown by the time we checked luggage, passed security, and fled toward the gate. We were off!

It was great fun. After arriving in Las Vegas airport our ravenous fliers ate Polynesian Kiki burgers at the nearby Bachi Burger. We picked up a few basic groceries and tucked ourselves into the condo’s two bedrooms and living room for some much-needed sleep.

After a hot breakfast of omelets and juice on Monday morning, we  oriented ourselves and set out to explore architecture along the ‘Strip’. Our first stop was valet parking at MGM Grand.  After checking out the CSI Experience and Ka theater, we walked outside to the fascinating 3-story M&M store. Now, those little brightly coated chocolate M&M’s are my favorite treat.  I was careful to leave with only 3 bags of the peanut variety and a souvenir or two.

Next, we drove to the Tower for lunch on a platform revolving 360 degrees a hundred and sixty floors above Las Vegas.  Our cameras worked overtime as we ate one of the best sandwiches I have ever tasted. When we had rotated nearly a complete circle, we spotted the jump site approaching.  Yes, a roof to ground jump site.  Jumpers are anchored by a support line on either side, as they glide rapidly past the windows on the center line and a camera mounted on the outside line snaps a picture.  We were each determined to snap a live picture of the next jumper.  Problem was, the speed at which they descended.  I decided to select video on my iPhone and shoot a moving clip rather than risk snapping a speeding blob.  It worked.  In a split second it was over.  By holding my camera position near the window top, where I knew he would appear first, I caught him, panned downward, and followed as he disappeared toward the ground.

Then we slipped into valet parking at the Treasure Island casino, home of Mystere.  After claiming reserved evening tickets by the required one hour before showtime, we shopped the theater store and looked around for a quick dinner  before the show.  Kahunaville was next to the theatre.  We had a mere 30 minutes from the time we ordered several hors d’ oeuvres until we needed to claim our seats. The food arrived in the nick of time and proved to be a perfect meal before a performance.

By 6:40 pm we were seated for the 7 o’clock showing of Mystere. I was enthralled by my first Cirque Du Soleil performance in Las Vegas from the pre show  until the final moment. Even the comedy relief was great. We will now greet each other charmingly by squeaking “Poppa!” as a current inside joke. Later, we discovered that MGM sold Treasure Island in order to build the City Center at the Aria Resort. New owners reside on the top floor and maintain a proprietary stance on Mystere memorabilia.  It can be purchased only at the Mystere gift shop. Show costumes, music, characters, and acrobatics were magnifique! Even though Mystere is the longest running Cirque show in Las Vegas, it was my inaugural experience. And I was hooked!

The next morning was Tuesday.   We traipsed along with  our condo host to a timeshare sales event.  By the time we left, two of our members had converted, purchased, or otherwise increased their holdings in this versatile community. After some shopping, it was time to dress and find Viva Elvis, a new Cirque du Soleil resident show playing at ARIA Resort & Casino at the Las Vegas CityCenter. I had already decided that Aria architecture was my favorite. Ultra modern styling and reflective materials highlight its slightly out-of-kilter angularity, making it spectacular.  We ate dinner that evening at a Japanese restaurant for about $30. Since I was not very hungry, I chose a soup with chicken for only $8, saving a robust $22 for other fun.

Wednesday and Thursday were my two nights of alone time. To save a few hundred dollars I had decided to see only 4 of the 6 group shows. That was both blessing and mistake. I needed time to figure out how to operate my new camera and write, so it was helpful. But I missed seeing Ka. I now believe I would have enjoyed Ka the most.  Attempting to recoup my error, I bought a DVD about creating the show, and downloaded the soundtrack from iTunes once I reached home. I was beginning to act to like one of my fine watercolor pencils by now; I was culminating my dream by creating a fabulous set of memories and links to new creative experiences that would lead my particular brand of personal creativity into a visionary future.

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