This collection of entries is from the Category "Las Vegas".
Saturday, June 10, 2006
We went over to B&B's after the game today and jumped on the internet and gots us some plane tickets.
Due to various money and health issues, the four of us haven't been to Las Vegas together for 3 years.
Well, now that Barry has his staples out from his liver transplant surgery and has been cleared by the doctors, here we are booking airfare just 24 days later to go to Las Vegas in September for their 25th Anniversary.
Amazing, and we're giddy that we get to go again, as a "team"!
Saturday, January 14, 2006
This was a long day. We were pretty well packed and ready to go since we were in the room less than 18 hours when the wakeup call came at 6:15am. We didn't want to leave the room - it was the best room we've had - by far - throughout our visits to Las Vegas. The bed was phenomenal as well. I did a video checkout, but the bill never got sent to our fax machine before we left. The sprint to the Hertz drop-off at McCarran was easy and the bus to departures was half empty and prompt. United/Ted check-in wasn't bad either, as was security and the shuttle to the D Gates. Waiting for departure was rough just because my legs twitched and hurt.
We were delayed in leaving by about 20 minutes - and, according to the pilot, it was due to a "medical situation" at the gate. We have no idea what he was talking about. The flight was uneventful as both Carol & I slept on and off all the way in. It was a sunny day and cool and actually a bit refreshing (if not "bracing"). Baggage Claim - no issues. We rode the "peoplemover" to Remote Parking with a guy I knew years ago at a former job - he was the head of HR for a while, then the head of Training for the company. We briefly chatted about people we knew and parted ways at the end of the ride.
Again, nothing unusual at the parking lot or the drive home. We stopped at Pompei to pickup dinner since it was almost 4pm and we hadn't eaten all day. The "kidlettes" (a.k.a. Indy & Chip, the bunnies) seemed to like the fact we were finally home.
The time at home felt... "milky" and just passed in a haze.
We were home. The trip was over. The time had passed. It's over.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Jay and the Deli
We got up with the sun and started getting ready to leave. I popped downstairs to the "food court" at the Luxor (and I use the term loosely) to get Egg McMuffins and Krispy Kremes to make it through the morning. We eventually got packed, worked our way downstairs and checked-out. We made our way to the back of the casino and out to the parking garage. It was getting late, so I attempted to get Carol to the Mandalay Convention Center - too bad I never found the entrance. It was getting later and Carol was getting more and more frustrated at my rare inability to find the entrance. I finally gave up, drove into the Mandalay parking garage, and dumped her off at valet parking for the hotel - which used to be the entrance to the "restaurant row" right outside Rumjungle. (I found out later that I was exactly where I thought I was even though the signage had changed)
I drove back up to the Fashion Show Mall, still again. This time, though, I wanted to go across the street to the Wynn. I wanted to see what it was like outside the property and how the entrance looked. First thing I noticed (other than what I saw the other night - the sign moves) was these great waterfalls that you can't see from the street. They were really tall and were just outside of the Esplanade entrance to the property. The Esplanade is not unlike the shopping area the brings you into the Bellagio. Same concept, just outfitted to Wynn specs.
This time around I found more places within the property - like the Buffet (Champagne and Bloody Mary brunch. I was able to get a picture or two of a hole on the golf course by walking through the Country Club Steakhouse. The lake that we saw at night looks different during the day (gee, no lighting effects. Duh.) It's still amazing how all of these things are hidden from the "great unwashed" in the street.
I took a chance and drove to our next hotel to get registered for the evening: The Venetian. OH. MY. GOD. What a room. And it's just like all the others in the hotel - all suites. In fact, the living area is a two-step down from the sleeping area of the suite. We did spend an extra few bucks on getting a view - this meant 31st floor and facing the Strip. Well, it didn't face the central strip - we had a view of the Mirage right across the street (handy for tonight), Treasure Island, the Fashion Show Mall and the Wynn. (Oh, and a big construction space next door that I think is going to be The Palazzo). This wasn't a bad view at all from this height. What a room. We're going to get spoiled. Too bad is a bit expensive.
After taking pictures of the room and the view outside, as well as getting the luggage and things moved into the room, I had to take the car to get "gassed-up" (i.e. replace the gas that was used before returning it to the rental company). Since I only have a Mobil gas card, I tried to find one nearby. Nope. I wound-up at a 76 south of the strip paying cash. oh well.
Got the phone call from Carol and I swung over to Mandalay to pick her up. I took her back to the Venetian and right to the room to show it to her, because I know she would love it (she did). We went back downstairs to the Grand Canal Food Court to grab a late lunch/early dinner knowing that we'd have to find food later tonight.
Afterward, we split up - she went back to the room, I had pictures I wanted to take at Paris and Aladdin before the sun set.
I should have drove over there. It would have been faster.
Instead, I walked out to Las Vegas Boulevard, and went south, passing Casino Royale, to Harrah's, where I walked the entire depth of the casino and out the back to go to the Las Vegas Monorail stop. I took the Monorail to the Paris/Bally's stop. Through the stop is directly behind Paris, I had forgotten that the stop actually services Bally's, and I had to walk through the god-awful Bally's shopping area below the hotel, then up into the casino and then into the shopping area of Paris and then through the entire Paris property to get to Las Vegas Boulevard. And by the time I got there, the sun has already started to sunk behind the buildings and mountains to the west. Crap.
This damn Las Vegas Monorail - though a great idea - is doomed to fail because it only services the backs of the properties. Who the hell wants to walk through an entire property to get to an overpriced monorail (cost me $9 for a round trip ticket) - just to have to do it again at your destination? And they want to expand it to the airport? Could you imagine doing this whole trip with luggage?
I grabbed whatever exterior shots I could of Paris before I lost the sun. I didn't care about the exterior of the Aladdin. I went inside to check it out - it's in a transition this year to become the Planet Hollywood Casino and Hotel. It used to have a large airy feeling with a tall ceiling over the casino. They've managed to kill that by chopping-up the place with full floor to ceiling walls, walling off... what? Can't tell. Looks like hell.
There were workers outside laying Red Carpet on the stairs - tomorrow Mayor Oscar Goodman was doing something with the Miss America contestants (yes, Miss America will not be in Atlantic City this year - it's at the Aladdin. Go figure.)
I had gone down to Paris because I wanted to show how they screwed -up a nice piece of land next to that great fountain they have outside. They've added a new restaurant - Ah Sin - that has outdoor seating that goes up to - and a little bit around - the fountain. I don't like it. I just love the area at the fountain, and they just kind of hosed that.
I retraced my steps back to the Venetian and soaked my now ravaged feet and legs and hell, my body, too, in the tub in the great bathroom. It was a valiant attempt, but I was just too sore and twitching too much - only drugs could knock that down.
Eventually 8 o'clock rolled around and we got dressed and walked across the street to the Mirage.
We have tickets to see Jay Leno, one of the very few performers doing something in town this week. It fit our budget and actually sounded like it could be fun. He was in the Danny Gans theater (who also was not performing - I think he's out for shoulder surgery). We waited in a long line to get some drinks before we went in. Theater was nice and was a nice size - one level, not too big). Jay actually had an opening act - a country music guy Derek Sholl. Good music with funny, cleaver lyrics. He did a little over half an hour, then Jay came out and did an hour and a half (this after flying up from L.A. after taping his Friday night show). He was actually a lot better than we had thought. It was like the Tonight Show, but not. He could talk about things - for a while - that he couldn't really talk about on air. And never swearing once in the act. Refreshing. Good stories, good jokes about a wide range of topics, whether current events (more like what he would do on the show) or things about cars and family. A very good show.
On the way out, we hit the Carnegie Deli and got one corned beef on rye to share (and a piece of cheesecake). We took it back to the Venetian and ate it in our hotel room around midnight - not a great idea if you want to sleep well to travel the next day. DAMN that sandwich was HUGE.. GOOD, but huge.
But, this it it. Our last night in Las Vegas. Tomorrow, it's back home to the grind.
Boy, I wished B&B were here this week. I can only wish that we will all do this together like we used to.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Paris at night
After Carol left for the day, I wanted to go just a bit north, so I took the tram to Excalibur. God, I hate this hotel/casino. I hate the theme, I hate the way it looks. I walked across the ped bridge to New York New York and went down to the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard. NYNY has made a permanent memorial area of display cases that hold rotating items that were left right at this spot back in 2001. For some reason, many Americans felt the need to memorialize and remember anyone involved in the events of 9-11 and they picked this spot, at the foot of the Statue of Liberty, to leave notes, letters, drawings, paintings, Fire Department t-shirts and patches back in 2001. NYNY saved all of the material and now displays some of the items in permanent glass cases. It's something that needs to be seen. It's not big, but it somehow feels important.
I went inside and walked around the faux-cityscape floor of the casino. I was getting hungry so I stopped at Jodi Maroni's Sausage Kingdom. Great Polish sausage, but they don't have a friggin' clue on how to make a Chicago Style Hot Dog.
I walked back across the street and took the tram to Mandalay Bay and walked to the convention center, put on my fake persona (Carol had, ummmm, found a badge laying on the ground during booth setup so I was able to get in to the show). I went over to Carol's booth, hung out there for a while and Carol went on break for lunch. We found a table in the snack area of the convention center and carol relaxed as much as she could.
We split up after the break and I drove to one of our favorite casino's: Hard Rock. The place hardly changes year-to-year, and this year is no exception. I just love the look of the place (the use of hard wood everywhere) the music, the vibe... oh, yeah, and the cocktail waitress outfits...
I drove around a while afterward. I drove back to Green Valley Ranch and realized they were building a new parking garage and it screwed-up the current drive to the main hotel entrance. Found an actual rush hour traffic problem on I-215 by Green Valley due to construction.
I figured-out the main traffic problem that we've been hitting daily on the Strip - almost doesn't matter what time of day it is, though it's much worse in the evening. The strip northbound is at a standstill between the M&M's Store and Harmon Avenue. One reason is due to the extreme right lane having to merge into another lane. But the real culprit is at Harmon itself, just about killing the right lane: it's the pedestrian traffic crossing Harmon - it's slow and at times extensive, stopping any traffic try to make a right turn eastbound on Harmon. the whole block or two could delay your travels up to half an hour.
I briefly saw the Las Vegas Premium Outlets and the World Market Center during my tour around town. Anyway, I headed back to the Luxor and waited for Carol.
Carol has been wanting me to have a nice sit-down dinner this week, so tonight we drove over to Paris. We walked up without reservations to Mon Ami Gabi and got a very nice table for two overlooking the the strip and the fountains at Bellagio. The food here is always great and the atmosphere is as well. And - if you're close to the doors or actually sitting under the heaters al fresco on the patio - you have the entertainment of the music and fountains from across the street.
By the time we finished dinner, it was definitely dark, so we did something that Carol has never done - we went upstairs to the top of the Eiffel Tower to see the view of Las Vegas at night. The winds were about 10-12 mph (according to a wind gage I found near the elevator upstairs). this is really the only way to see Las Vegas at night - forget the Stratosphere. It may be taller, but it's too far north of the central strip area. Carol was really tired from the show, so she stayed upstairs to watch one Bellagio fountain show and she went back to the casino to sit down. I stayed upstairs for almost another half hour taking all kinds of pictures from up there. Eventually, I felt I had to get going to get Carol home. I went down and found her sitting at some slots - she couldn't find an open blackjack table (with the correct minimums) for her to play.
We slowly walked to the car and drove back home. The show closes tomorrow and we're staying an extra day - but at a different hotel - which means packing. Tomorrow, not tonight. We're too messed-up to attempt to do this tonight. We'd fall asleep gathering stuff.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Venetian Taxi Service
I was up and out the door at 6:05 am, still fully dark (the sun doesn't come up for almost an hour here in the valley), As I drove up Las Vegas Boulevard, it looks like there was a crunched-up bicycle and an ambulance (and Metro Police, of course) in front of O'Shea's - no idea what happened.
I drove Sahara and then out to Boulder Highway. I saw three squad cars parked along the side of the road at the Walden Motel, so I parked in their parking lot and joined the handful of very cold people, sipping on the hot coffee's in the dark, just talking and waiting.
I met this woman from Chicago (I'm a target with my White Sox jacket and hat) who claims she was on Jenny Jones as a Karaoke Queen, and that she just moved out here a year or two ago and how great Elvis Night's were at the White Sox games. We actually talked about that for quite a while and how she would dress-up and really get into it (she used to date an impersonator) and picked-up the nickname of Elvisa. We met another woman, a native American by the name of White Dog. There's quite a collection of humanity out here in this small group of people.
Now, what the hell were we doing all together?
Well, if I went to a brand new casino (South Coast) and if I shutdown an old casino (Boardwalk) there's only one more thing to do with a casino.
At 7am, just a few blocks north of us, the Castaways Casino (formerly the Showboat) was being imploded. I've never been to an implosion and didn't know what to expect. The only thing I planned for was to have the sun - when it finally rose - to be behind me (even Channel 8 here got that wrong, so you just see something like a silhouette). Well, they pushed the plunger at 7:5am (5 minutes late) and - though the explosions were startling - that sucker dropped within seconds and was just... gone (except) for the cloud of dust. We shared our goodbye's and I took off for home, getting there at 7:35 hoping to share the video with Carol, but she was already gone for the day. I mean, implosions just need to be shared.
Time to go back out and start my picture taking. I took exteriors at the Luxor and then drove to the Bellagio - my favorite parking place for access to the mid-strip. Had an embarrassing experience - I accidentally set off the car alarm as I was fumbling with my keys just as I entered the Bellagio. Glad I decided to go back to the garage to see if that was my car making the noise (it was). The Bellagio Conservatory was closed and being converted for Chinese New Year coming up. I took shots of some of the restaurant exteriors and then went outside to get shots of the hotel exterior. The sun today is being weird - there's a lot of high-level cirrus clouds that are filtering the sun, so it's not a crisp light. As I walked out front along the "lake", I noticed still another ambulance and police in front of the entrance to Paris - another accident, perhaps one with a cab.
Walked over to Caesars - they were working on the fountains out front, but there appears to be a huge fountain right in front of the building that i don't remember before. I was upset to see that there was no Ice Skating going on out front like last year. Of course, it's warmer this year, so I'm not sure if that's why there's no ice. Inside, there's not much new (I don't remember the registration area looking like that). The Forum Shops are always huge and there's always something a little different as stores move around and come and go. I needed some water after all of this, so I bought a bottle from a kiosk... obviously a problem with the refrigeration unit, because as I was drinking that great, cold water I realized that there was ice in it! Refreshing!
Time to eat. I walked back to Bellagio and drove to In-N-Out Burger. The place was so packed, I ate outside at a table, which was actually the correct choice on a somewhat sunny day. Got a Double-Double and coke and just watched the world go by... until I saw a guy, sitting with a girl a couple of tables away, reach down and - one handed - picked-up a pigeon and held it up to the girl. She wasn't pleased about it so he put the bird down. Six of their friends came out of the "restaurant" (can you really call a fast food place a "restaurant"?) and the girl immediately starts telling them when the guy did. Sure enough, the guy walks up to another pigeon and picks it up and holds it up to his friends. Just a weird little piece of life.
Since I was in the area, I drove over to Rio to see what's new over there. I saw a new game - Rapid Roulette. It's a live, standalone roulette wheel surrounded with sit-down video terminals. People make their own bets on the video screens instead of on a felt layout. Saw my first "bevertainer" - as I was entering the main casino, Shania Twain's "I feel Like a Woman" started-up and a cocktail waitress took a small stage in the middle of some slots and danced along. Nice, but eh?
Had to go back to the Fashion Show mall to go to LensCrafters to get my glasses adjusted - the damn nut on the right lens keeps loosening. I love the way these frames look, I hate the maintenance headache they've become.
went back to the Luxor about mid-afternoon to wait for Carol. After the show today, they are all going to dinner at Delmonico's at The Venetian and I was volunteered for Taxi duty. I didn't mind at all, but the traffic on the strip has been getting a little "hinky" around Harmon. I got them there only a few minutes late. After I dumped them off, I parked the car in the Venetian garage and decided to shoot evening exteriors tonight. I walked across to the Mirage, down to Caesars, across to Flamingo and back to The Venetian, taking up most of the evening. I hung around the Venetian for a while, thinking they would be getting out soon - wrong. I gave up and went back to the Luxor. Just as I was opening the door to our room, the cell for rang. They just got out. Sorry, I'm staying in - the girls took a cab home. We're all exhausted - I could imagine how the girls felt.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
End the day with Jack-In-the-Box Tacos
Carol had to go register and actually setup the booth for the show, so she was out of the room by 7am. The local morning news shows were showing police activity at the Gold Coast - some guy robbed one of the cashiers and when he went running through the parking lot he shot at a security guy, hitting him in the leg. The robber got away. (They showed videotape later in the day - the guy shot at the security guy 3 times - you can actually see the muzzle-flash on the tape).
I was busy working on a finger problem this morning - for some reason, my left ring finger is a little swollen, discolored and a bit sensitive just to the left of my fingernail. It's almost like the nail is growing into the skin. I'm cutting and digging and I can't see anything (though there was a little puss that came up - *eewwwww*) Carol has me looking for Neosporin and hydrogen peroxide to clean this up.
Since we closed a casino yesterday, I thought I should go to visit the most recently opened one - the South Coast. It's miles down Las Vegas Boulevard. In fact, I think Las Vegas Boulevard further south of the casino goes down to 1 lane in each direction.
The casino is Brand New - it opened on December 22 (after opening ceremony fireworks set the roof on fire! No major damage was done) It's nice and roomy - and even though it's in the middle of nowhere, there were quite a few people there. In fact, the largest line I've seen on this trip so far was at the buffet at this place (I heard a worker pass by saying "what the hell are they still doing here? haven't they figured out that it's crap?") Checked-out the brand-spanking-new 64 lane bowling center (all VERY new Brunswick equipment). Another big highlight that wasn't completed yet - an equestrian center.
I made my way all the way back up Ls Vegas Boulevard to the Mirage to pickup our tickets to Jay Leno this Friday. I was getting thirsty again so I actually went to the Bonanza General Store, up at Sahara and the Strip. It had to be one of the most armed and secured general store I've seen in this town. Not only did I grab a Coke, but i grabbed band-aids and Neosporin! I sat in the car & doctored-up my finger. Now it hurts a hell of a lot more now that I put the damn band-aid on.
I have something planned for tomorrow morning, so I had to drive along Boulder Highway to "scope out" some possible locations to take pictures. As i was passing Boulder Station, there was another huge police action going on. there were cops, ambulances, TV cameras. Found out later that some guy shot a guy he knew at a bus stop - at Boulder Station (something about allegedly molesting his daughter).
I was getting tired and needed to crash, so I went back to the Luxor - only to find the room not made at 2 in the afternoon. So, I walked over to Mandalay Bay and went into their Convention Center to get an idea of how the show that Carol is exhibiting at was laid out. Note to PPAI: your signage SUCKS. Enough of that - I walked back to the room. Now and hour later, the room was done. I nursed my finger some more and took a nap. Carol was exhausted when she came back after the setup, so she soaked in the tub (quite deep and formfitting and very nice, apparently). She didn't want to go out for dinner, so we made this little side bet - who would get their food first. She ordered room service. I jumped into the car and drive down the street to Jack in the Box to get 6 regular tacos (only $3.20!). I stopped in the store on the first floor and got a Michelob Lite (available here in aluminum bottles), and then I ran into Carol's co-worker Teri near the elevators. Well, let's just say by the time I got to the room, room service has already came and carol had finished eating! Well, I still had my tacos and beer to drown my sorrows...
Monday, January 09, 2006
Carol had to go to the Mandalay Convention Center to oversee the startup of the booth area for her company at this week's trade show (the real reason we're in Las Vegas - she's here for work, I'm here because it's cheap for us!)
She was there for only a few hours, so we met-up and drove to the Boardwalk casino on the strip. This place is very small and old. There's only one reason to come here today - it's closing forever at noon and will be demolished to make way for MGM-Mirage's master project for the property between Bellagio an Monte Carlo. The parking garage was pretty empty, but people were still walking their luggage to their cars having stayed for the last night at Boardwalk. The pit was open, with only 2 blackjack tables and one craps table operating. The Race & Sports book looked like it closed days before. This place is so small, this is probably the only place on the strip (or many other places) were the they use half-sized craps tables (it's basically half a craps table). Employees came in and signed farewell messages on some of the walls. TV crews were interviewing people, and MGM-Mirage itself was there to document the shutdown. I walked around, took pictures inside and out (Carol wont go outside because of the signature piece outside on the building - a huge, friggin' clown face).
We went back to Fashion Show Mall to grab a quick lunch at the Food Court, bought some cheap binoculars at Sharper Image (hey, I forgot to pack ours and i just gotta watch operations at McCarran!), and bought some cologne at Nordstrom (Armani Mania - I ran out).
I was exhausted and had to go back the Luxor for a nap. Carol went to the free 2pm Hold 'Em Poker lessons here. 2˝ hours later, I was up and Carol was back having lost her shirt. She loved the experience, but realized that she pays attention to her cards exclusively to the action happening on and around the table.
Dinner was at Cravings Buffet at the Mirage. There are a lot of changes happening inside at the Mirage. New bar areas around the central "jungle", new restaurants (including a real Carnegie Deli - probably the only one that had a hostess stand in front of it), a newer look to the casino (with new signage), gorgeous new High Limit areas (like we would be able to play in there) and a huge nightclub opening this weekend called Jet ("3 rooms, 3 Sounds").
There's something that's been pissing me off on this vacation - the amount of children here, almost all running out of control - through casinos, through restaurants. They don't belong in this town, let alone actually in the casinos. It's wrong. I bring this up because of a family of 6 at Cravings, where there was one of the girls (2-3 y.o.) was running and screemin through the restaurant, without the parents trying to control her (then there was the time where the mother went to one of the stations to get something to eat, the young girl was doing her run/scream, the toddler is crying her eyes out while being held by dad who was on a cell phone and walking around the table area - this one event cleared-out everyone sitting within 2 tables of them - until dad had to run after the 2 year old who by now was dishing out food for herself at the salad station)
Great dinner at Cravings, though. I highly recommend it (dinner buffet $45 for 2 plus tax) WIDE selections of food.
After the Mirage it was time to visit the new gem of town - the Wynn. (Yes, named after Steve Wynn, the man that built the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio - to name a few).
WOW doesn't sum it up. Can't. It's unbelievable. Better than Bellagio (his last resort). Richer, lusher. And, as we walked around the casino, I stopped to take a picture of one of the restaurants (the Chinese "Red 8"), there came Steve Wynn himself, alone, on a cell oohing, dressed absolutely impeccably. Wow - our Brush With Greatness™
for the trip. This man - for a period of time - shaped the gaming and hotel industry of Las Vegas itself.
Carol was pretty exhausted by then, so we went back to the Luxor and crashed for the evening.
There's one thing that makes or breaks your feelings on your hotel room, whether it's a good room or not:
The shower. Specifically, the shower head, both the coverage/spray pattern and even more importantly - the water pressure.
Yep! We got a good one! Refreshing!
Side note - odd. The mirror in our bathroom refuses to fog. Does it have something to do with desert humidity in a 19th story hotel bathroom?
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Up way before sunrise. Another day without a single cloud in the sky. Carol - in order to satisfy her addiction - went downstairs and got a coffee for her and Krispee Kremes for us. CBS Sunday Morning is on awfully early out here. After wards, we walked over to Mandalay Bay for a real experience this morning - we went to the House of Blues for the Gospel Brunch! It was setup with long tables with brown paper on them and it felt like a church social. The food, mostly southern in style, was really good.
Then, behind the closed curtain, the music started. I was taken aback by the show/performances only because I expected Gospel Music. What I didn't expect was an entire Gospel Sunday-Morning Experience. This is definitely an event that must be experienced. (The host was Sandra Alexander with Sharon Smith & the New Vision band)
We decided we better walk-off breakfast so we went to the Fashion Show Mall. I hadn't been there in years, and now it's huge! We walked around there for a few hours, got something to drink and headed back to the hotel.
We had a room on the 9th floor facing east, which meant we faced McCarran Airport - my favorite view (I can turn on my hand-held scanner and watch airport operations), but the majority of the view was taken-up with the butt-end of the sphinx in front of the hotel. Carol wanted to give me a little gift and worked on getting our room changed for one on a higher floor. Unfortunately, we're exhausted. We never really unpacked, so we were ready for the move. We didn't expect it would be multiple moves because the room wasn't ready. So now, many hours later, we're on the 19th floor of the East Tower. I have a different feel of the Luxor now. These rooms are nicer and are showing less wear than the rooms in the pyramid. It's quieter. The bathroom has a deep bathtub and a separate shower stall. We're happier here.
Carol went down to the deli to grab some sandwiches for dinner - we're just too exhausted. We're not catching up on any sleep. Another early turn-in...
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Trying to be cheap
So the $2 20-oz bottle of Pepsi from the vending machine down the hall pissed us off, so we went to Walgreen's on the Strip and bought our soda for much cheaper ($1.29) and snacks for the week. Actually, we went to a 7-11 first that is also on the strip in a place we've never seen before but they just didn't have the selection we wanted.
Afterward, we went to the MGM Grand. Carol hadn't been there for a few years, so I wanted to show her the new restaurants along the Studio Walk all look wonderful (and ranging from a little pricey to "Oh-My-God!")
But we couldn't find anyplace to eat. We didn't want extravagant and we weren't dressed for some of the places, so we went to the Studio Café where a Reuben (me) and Eggs Benedict (Carol) cost $45. Whoa.
Back to the hotel and crash for the night. Carol's been snoozing for a while and I'm turning-in right now. 'Night!
Finding the Sun
Got up at 4:15 this morning, finished packing, showered, dressed, drove to O'Hare to catch Ted 1485 to Las Vegas. Upgraded the seats to Economy Plus just to get the extra 5 inches of legroom. Worth every penny. Still couldn't open the laptop due to idiot in front of me reclining in my lap. Saw Just Like Heaven as the movie westbound. Got to Vegas on time to be met with 47 degrees and sunny and not a cloud in the sky. FELT GREAT.
I FOUND THE SUN.
Went to Hertz Gold and had a Ford 500 waiting for me (much nicer car than I thought it would be), complete with the Neverlost system. We drove to Green Valley Ranch in Henderson (the subject property of The Travel Channel show American Casino) to have the Feast buffet. More expensive than I thought but really worth the money. Would definitely go back. Walked across the street to walk around The District. Got in the car and drove to the Luxor, where we checked-in and crashed. Crashed hard. Enjoying the downtime - already a long day, with hours yet to go.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
You'll never catch me doing this
I just can't imagine riding this thing... only to have it stop...
There's this new ride on the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas called Insanity that just opened on March 10. If I remember, it seats 8, and you get strapped into a seat and get extended 64 feet away from the tower, hanging 906 feet over Las Vegas Boulevard, while the ride spins, while the arm extends so that you almost face directly downward.
Now if that's not enough, let's take a look at this ride this morning, as in 1am this morning. An 18 year-old girl and her 11 year-old cousin get on the ride (i won't ask what an 11 year-old doing up at 1 am in Vegas). The ride starts up, the arm moves to dangle the passengers over the Strip.
The winds kick up. In the middle of the 3-minute ride, the ride shuts down.
Now, it's supposed to do that, which can't be any consolation to the kids 900 feet in the air, looking down, with winds up to 61 mph. And it's NOT a malfunction. It automatically goes into pause mode when the winds kick up. The sustained wind speeds were 50 mph.
And the kids - with the machine in "pause mode" hung out there not for 3 minutes, but 80 minutes.
The machine never did restart - they sent a worker out onto the arm - IN THE WIND - to attach a chain and pull the ride back into the platform.
Sorry. Pass. Not me. Ever. I saw the opening of the ride on a Saturday Today show on March 12th and there is just no way in hell you'd get me near that thing, especially now that I know about "pause mode".
Monday, January 10, 2005
I hate the first few days of a time change. Our bodies are still on Central Time out here. It's pitch black outside, but we're up at 5am - because at 7am back home we've showered and had breakfast already.
Don't know what we're doing today. There's no water on the window, so maybe it'll start to dry-up. Carol's getting into the shower and is going downstairs to hit the tables.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
It turns out that the Luxor has high speed Internet connections in the rooms. Cost: $10.99 for 24 hours of access. Looks like I'll be connected after all! Unfortunately, I'm having some FTP problems to one of my boxes, so I won't be able to "embellish" my entries. (Update: Crap. I lost the server itself and I can't get at it remotely - no more live webcam shots. Oh no! We can't watch Indy & Chip while we're gone! We can't see them get fed when my sister Diane comes over! Maybe I can get her to go upstairs and reboot a machine...)
Well, after some napping, we went next door to Mandalay Bay and had a quick dinner at Red White and Blue. Didn't feel like anything extravagant.
Haven't gambled yet. Well, throwing money into a Wheel of Fortune machine on the way back doesn't really count - I never sat down.
Looks like it's raining like hell outside - I can tell by the amount of water flowing down the pyramid windows.
A very wet Vegas
Well, nothing much to report other than we're here in Las Vegas.
We flew out on Ted and I would highly recommend flying them. Yes, they're cheap, yes, you don't get a lot of amenities (hell, on our flight today we had no food even tough we were supposed to be able to purchase snacks). We left pretty much on time around 7am and immediately climbed into a cloud deck. The clouds were with us almost all the way across the country. We had some pretty good headwinds and even a bit of turbulence over the mountains. We landed about 10-15 minutes late.
But we're back in Las Vegas. We grabbed the Hertz shuttle and got a car from the #1 Gold members pavilion. When we landed, the sun was out. By the time we walked to the car, it was drizzling. We drove to Bellagio and carol treated me to the Champagne brunch buffet, which is one of our favorites in town (though I didn't enjoy the champagne this time around).
After brunch we walked through the casino and the shops and went outside to walk to Caesars across the street. The drizzle was getting a bit heavier. We went to Caesars for two things 1) see the expansion to the Forum Shops (and WOW! very impressive as well as all of the new restaurants! and who would believe circular escalators!) and 2) pickup our tickets for a show Thursday night.
Yes we're going to see a show, one that is actually pretty critically acclaimed.
We got 9th row Center tickets for Celine Dion. Say what you will about her (we're not fans of hers), but the production of the show itself is supposed to be OUT OF THIS WORLD.
By the time we were ready to get back to the car (still parked at Bellagio), the rain was really starting to come down. The travel down Las Vegas Boulevard in the car was tricky - the right-hand lane was flooded most of the way.
Carol went through registration at Luxor and got us a room on the 18th floor. As we were walking to our assigned "inclinator", we were greeted by the fire alarm going off (for no reason). We get upstairs to find out that our room was LEAKING from all of the rain outside, so we had to change rooms - down one floor.
We're both exhausted - Carol has been napping on the bed making all kinds or snoring noises. I'm watching the air traffic at McCarran Airport - right across the street. We need to rest and find some place simple for dinner.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
So Carol calls me from work to have me make her airline reservations to Las Vegas. I guess the company decided that since we were going out there earlier and I had already made my reservations, that Carol could do her's and she'd get reimbursed.
So, I go back to Ted and book the same flights as I did yesterday. In fact, I even get her the seat next to me on both flights.
Yesterday, my airfare was $193.20. Today her airfare was $178.20. $15 cheaper. (I wish mine was the cheaper one since she's the one getting reimbursed!)
Monday, November 15, 2004
Carol came home tonight and told me to book a flight to Las Vegas in January. She's going to a trade show there again this year (just like back in January), but this year I can finally go with.
I haven't been to Las Vegas since I started writing this blog. Carol and I have gone once or twice a year every year from 1994 until a week after 9/11. Once I started having employment issues with the I.T. market in Chicago, we had to curtail our vacations. I miss that town.
The trade show itself is at Manadalay Bay, but since her company is paying for the lodging, they're staying next door at Luxor (we've stayed there a couple of times before).
I found a great airfare on Ted (my first time flying with them).
Finally, something to look forward too...
Friday, May 28, 2004
Greg Raymer wins 2004 World Series of Poker
Greg Raymer just won the 2004 World Series of Poker at Binion's Horseshoe (now owned by Harah's - who saved the event from oblivion). He won Five Million Dollars. From PokerPages.com:
David Williams eliminated in 2nd by Greg Raymer.
Hand #113, Williams's button. Williams made it $300,000, and Raymer called. The flop came 5s 4d 2d. Raymer checked, Williams bet $500,000, Raymer raised to $1.6 million, and Williams called instantly. The turn came 2h. Raymer bet $2.5 million, and Williams called instantly. The river came 2c. Raymer moved all in, and Williams called instantly. Williams showed Ah 4s, Raymer showed 8d 8c.
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Here's the prize breakdowns:
New World Series of Poker Champion for 2004 is Greg Raymer from Stonington, CT who beat 2755 players and takes home 5 Million Dollars first place
David Williams eliminated in 2nd by Greg Raymer Prize Money $3,500,000
Josh Arieh eliminated in 3rd by Greg Raymer Prize money $2,500,000
Dan Harrington eliminated in 4th by David Williams Prize money $1,500,000
Glenn Hughes eliminated in 5th by Greg Raymer Prize money $1,100,000
Al Krux is eliminated in 6th by Greg Raymer Prize Money $800,000
Matt Dean is eliminated in 7th by David Williams Prize Money $675,000
Mattias Andersson is eliminated in 8th by Greg Raymer Prize Money $575,000
Michael McClain eliminated in 9th by Greg Raymer Prize Money $470,400
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Tuesday, January 21, 2003
I'm getting that itch...
Last week on the Travel Channel was another Vegas Week. The Travel Channel goes to Las Vegas every couple of months to shoot things there, and I swear that what they're doing is just shooting items for the network and not for any specific show. the only reason I say this is because I keep seeing the same footage in different shows, so either it's the same producer or they're sharing the footage. At any rate, I miss going there. Because of the unemployment situation, we haven't been to Las Vegas since 2001 and for us, that's the longest we've been away from that town since the two of us started going in 1994. I just miss the travel. I miss the excitement of that town. I don't have to gamble there - I could always just go to a riverboat around here if I just wanted to gamble. I just like the town, I can't help it. Sometimes I feel like it's calling me back (sort of like the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor's Authority commercials, with the guy that sounds like Don Rickles on the phone.. "Vegas calling...").
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Trading Spaces Las Vegas Live Reveal
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This was a normal Trading Spaces episode, taking place in Henderson, sort of a suburb of Las Vegas, but the twist was dubbed the Las Vegas Live Reveal. This how was heavily hyped for the Live Reveal, prompting commercials featuring dance numbers and appearances from each of the cast members. The homeowners fortunately live across the street from each other, making the Day Zero setup for the crew a little easier. Now, remember, only the Reveal would be live. Usually, shooting a typical episode produces about 20 hours of footage that is edited usually six weeks later. Day Zero was Wednesday, shooting was Thursday and Friday, leaving Friday night and Saturday for editing the show before it was broadcast at 7pm locally. The neighbors spent Friday night in Vegas somewhere, isolated from the other neighbors, cast, and crew so the reveal tonight would be a surprise. Stephen and Caysi, the Green Team with Hildi did their neighbor's family room, while Jeff and Kim, the Red Team with Doug did their neighbor's bedroom. (Tonight's carpenter: Amy Wynn Pastor.) Well, a few Las Vegas celebrities stopped by (including an Elvis impersonator) and the live reveals went off on time without a technical hitch. The rooms, I thought, were just OK, and when the reveals were done, it just seemed like any other Trading Spaces show, not really worthy of the effort to produce a live reveal.
(Now, if any of you saw the episode before the "live one" (from Austin, TX), Hildi struck again by putting-up over 4,000 wine labels (from a Texas winery) on the walls of a kitchen of an associate pastor at Morning Star Christian Church, doesn't drink or want alcohol in his home, so within hours of the big "reveal," the labels were steamed off the walls. The next day, the damaged wallpaper had to be torn down and the kitchen painted. This story is here in the Austin American-Statesman)
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Thursday, November 07, 2002
So long, National
Our Favorite Airline to Las Vegas™, National Airlines, shut down last night. We've traveled a few times with them and absolutely loved their service. It's niche was serving Las Vegas. They flew only 757's and the cabins were always clean and well kept. We had great meals on their flights when they first started up. Like so many other airlines, they discontinued meal service slowly, then altogether. The crews were great as well. The airline started on May 27, 1999 and filed for bankruptcy December 6, 2000. When 9/11 hit, it just killed the carrier. They filed for a loan with the Air Transportation Safety Board, but got rejected and that just about sealed the deal. We're going to miss the airline.
Friday, September 27, 2002
Friday, August 16, 2002
Bringing Down the House
Some of you may know that I love Las Vegas. This will be the first year since 1994 that I haven't been able to get there (you know, the unemployment thing...). I'm sure that my friend Barry would love this article in Wired Magazine about going to Vegas with the infamous MIT Blackjack Team. Oh, another odd little thing I like about Las Vegas? Right on Industrial Road and Tropicana - In-N-Out Burger. They just opened their 166th store in Inglewood CA.
Saturday, April 27, 2002
Trouble in Laughlin
A little digression... last September Carol & I along with our Friends Barry & Buffy were in Las Vegas for our annual (or last year - our semi-annual) trip. After spending 4 days at the Rio, we were off driving about 80 miles to a little town called Laughlin (population 8,000) on the Colorado River, next to Bullhead City Arizona. It's a very small gambling town. We stayed at Harrah's, right on the river, where we had tickets to see Patricia Yearwood at the amphitheater. Well, it was hot. Our room faced an asphalt parking lot. We found the rooms small, almost motel-like. The air conditioning just couldn't keep up with the heat. Then we find out that the amphitheater is outside and it was 105°. Well, after being really spoiled in a Rio suite for 4 nights, we decide that we're not going to stay in Laughlin the second night and we make reservations back at Rio. We also return our Yearwood tickets (the concert was oversold, so they were happy to get them back). We just didn't enjoy being in Laughlin - I guess it wasn't our "style". We're out of there at 8:30 in the morning and are back in our rooms at the Rio by 10:30.
Flash forward to today.
At 2:15 am this morning, 3 people were killed and 13 others injured when members of Hell's Angels and The Mongols started fighting in the Harrah's Laughlin casino, escalating into gunfire. The gangs were in town for the 20th annual "River Run," an event which annually draws 50,000 to 80,000 motorcycle enthusiasts. Police, who said it was the worst shooting incident in the history of Nevada casinos, actually locked-down the town while they searched for possible combatants. Las Vegas SWAT even went room-to-room in the hotel itself.
Saturday, March 09, 2002
Pay per view
Barry & Buffy just left. We had a great evening with them, just sitting around and talking. Carol made a great pasta dinner, and we did our first Pay Per View movie ever (either DirecTV or cable) - Rush Hour 2. Fun movie. The four of us were in Las Vegas a year ago Monday, and they were still finishing shooting at the Desert Inn - which was transformed into the Red Dragon Hotel & Casino for the film. Just seems a short time between shooting it and watching it on Pay-Per-View. Spent a lot of time on the IMDb trying to figure out who was in what movie. The house was making a ton of noise because of the wind. Had a big candle wax problem - had one of those big 3-wick jobs sitting on top of one of my Bose speakers break open an pour hot wax down the front. Crap. I have no idea how to get this wax of the speaker material.
Speaking of Las Vegas, B&B are leaving for a short vacation on the 30th. They're staying at Harrah's and flying Our Favorite Airline to Las Vegas™, National. I am so jealous and envious! We've been going to Vegas together every year (sometimes, twice a year) for a while now (since May '97) and it just feels weird not going with them. I mean, we'd go together, but it's really my fault - I don't have a job, so we don't have any money. Crap. Well, I hope they have a good time. Seriously. And I hope that they won't feel guilty about doing things there just because we're not with them. We talked a bit about this, and I know they, too, feel weird about us not being there with them, but they should have a good time on their own. We'll be there together again... someday...