On a normal year I spend the first weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament in Las Vegas. I traditionally travel alone but upon landing west, am greeted by a group of guys that I grew up with in Niagara Falls, NY. Now what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but specifics withheld, the three days are usually filled with lots of sports, casino chips and the occasional alcoholic beverage (read: bottle).
However, 2016 would prove to not be a normal year. I’m 30 and most of the fellas in my group are at least a year or two older than me. They also all live back in Western New York. So while I’m still single and relatively care-free, my boys are now proposing, closing on houses, having kids or taking care of their young ones.
And this year, essentially all of those things happened at once, creating the perfect storm to cancel our annual Vegas excursion.
But, I’ve grown so accustomed hanging with the guys for March Madness, and we’re so used to seeing each other that we quickly decided something had to serve as a placeholder for Vegas until 2017. With a founding trip member and their wife was expecting a baby that weekend it was decided that we’d rent out a suite in North Buffalo, set-up three TVs, stock up the kitchen and bar and enjoy all of the Cinderella stories and buzzer beaters we could handle.
Perhaps keeping with the Vegas spirit, not many details of this trip will be publicized either; however I documented a modicum of it on Instagram. The fun began after an all-nighter Wednesday night, with a first-class Delta flight to the 716.
Of course I represented for my Syracuse Orange – who advanced to the Sweet 16 after thumping both Dayton and Middle Tennessee State.
And when in Rome… well, you know. On Thursday’s menu: La Nova pizza and char-grilled barbecue hot chicken wings.
Friday’s menu: Breakfast pizza from La Nova (highly recommend) along with spicy Bloody Marys that lasted until our early dinner: a huge fish fry with the fixings from WNY-staple Wegmans.
On Friday night, the trip’s itinerary took a turn: snow and rain were projected to hit New York on Sunday, the day I was supposed to fly back. I’ve become all-too-familiar with delays in-and-out of the tri-state area. In the interest of not spending all day Sunday at the airport or getting stranded in Niagara Falls, I proactively called Delta to have my flight bumped earlier. The airline was not as accommodating as they should have been but they did switch me to a Saturday flight.
That plane departed at 5:45 am. I found this out at about 1 am. So, I did what anyone else on vacation would do: I called my buddy Shawn who was working downtown at a nightclub, took a cab to meet him with my luggage in tow, hung out, grabbed food at Elmwood Taco and Subs (ETS!) and then Shawn drove me to Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Sure my weekend wasn’t spent in Vegas, but most importantly it was spent with my friends. And besides, with the eating, drinking and sleeping habits that ensued, I don’t think my body could tell the difference anyways.