The One With All The Meat

At least that's how I'll remember this trip. In February of this year I was finally able to stop taking steroids after several years, and I began to lose weight, so I decided to try a modified Atkins plan for a while. I figured I'd continue the plan in Las Vegas, thus the title.

We never seem to get up early enough, or so it would seem. We arrived at Philadelphia International at 5:30 AM for our 8:10 flight, hoping to upgrade to first class, but that wasn't meant to be. America West shares space with Continental here, and today was the day ALL passengers on Continental's flights to Cleveland and Phoenix decided they didn't need to show up on time. There we stood for nearly 75 minutes while all us punctual folk had to let the late sleepers get priority check-in. During this time we were also reminded that AWA passengers were NOT permitted to use the quick check in kiosks either. Our first loss.

Upstairs to security, where the line was as long as ever, but seemed to move more quickly, perhaps because they really weren't scrutinizing id's. I however did not make it though without scrutiny. My new friend Marco had to feel my feet, thighs, and get a little too familiar with my crotch. When he asked me to undo my belt I asked if I should take my pants off too, and he just laughed. At least he seems to enjoy his work.

This was our first flight with AWA since 1997, and my opinion is pretty much unchanged. they're a good airline with decent service, but I really hate these Renaults that they fly. If there is a more uncomfortable long-range aircraft I haven't been on it. Our flight left on time and we actually arrived in Vegas one hour and ten minutes early, our first win. Today's theatrical selection was Pirates of the Caribbean. What an awful movie, it was like Fear and Loathing but with pirates.

I was amazed how quickly our baggage made it to the carousel, I don't think we'd been standing there more that a few minutes before it arrived. Hopped on the Dollar Shuttle and off to the lot. There were really a limited number of cars available. There were dozens of Suzuki SUV's, but I wanted no parts of those so we settled for one of the two Intrepids on the lot. The car was filthy inside with nearly 22,000 miles on it but it was more than adequate, and surprisingly it ran and rode well for an American car that gets beat to hell every day. Cost was 24.99 per day with the LVCVA code. Did I mention that it was HOT? I know it's the desert, but they actually broke high temperature records later in the week.

We headed out of the airport and within ten minutes we were pulling into the Rio for the two free nights offer I received in the mail. I never wanted to stay here but I didn't want to pass up the two free nights so I figured we'd give it a try. Asked for a room in the Masquerade tower, smoking or non-smoking which ever would get me a higher floor. When we returned to pick up our keys, we were assigned room 13384. Is Rio the only place in town that still uses actual keys? Why is it that a hotel that eliminates 10 floors due to Asian superstition feels the need to have a 13th floor?

The room was adequate, but pretty ragged. Someone had partially removed the infrared sensor mounted near the door that signals the thermostat to setback. They had also removed the batteries from it. The telephone didn't work right. If you called the front desk via the dedicated button, you were connected with the All American Bar and Grille. The TV system didn't work right either. We had limited channels and the in room computer for guest services and movies would just hang at boot-up. The door lock didn't work very well either. Sometimes you'd have to insert and remove the key five or six times before it would work. I would stay here again for free, but that's about it.

We went down to the casino to gamble a bit and needless to say the VP here is real garbage, but there are a few machines that aren't too bad. Our only complaint with the casino here was the decibel level that could best be described as disorienting. I mean it was just unbearable. Have they conducted a study that shows people gamble more when they can't carry on a conversation?

We played for a while with little success until it was time to head over to the Gold Coast, to meet up with Buddha and his wife Nancy. Some of you may remember Buddha from this boards earlier days. We were also waiting for Jack in Columbus, but were uncertain whether or not he was going to be there. We decided on the Monterey Room, what better place to start with the meat. I had the T-bone special and Suzy the burger, both were very good. We sat and talked for a while before taking a tour of the new and improved casino here. We hadn't been in here since the re-model, and boy what a difference. Buddha thanks again for lunch, and for the coupons. We enjoyed our mini meet and hope we can meet up with you guys again in March or April.

We headed back to the Rio to freshen up and head up to the Voo Doo lounge for the early evening views and What the Witch Doctor Ordered. We had this beverage before, but with three people. It may be a little too much for just two, but man, are they good. We hung around up there until it was getting dark and the lights were coming on, planning to take some pictures. Taking quality photos is really difficult after consuming that much alcohol, but we did manage a few nice shots somehow. Later we drove over to the Orleans for the fajita dinner at Don Miguel's, with a 241 coupon from Buddha. The food here is really good, and the Margaritas aren't too bad either, bill came to around $20 with two margaritas and tip, and we took half the food back to Rio with us.

After dinner I played Multistrike Poker for the first time. I was able to play a while, but my $20 disappeared quickly. Decided to head back to Rio and crash early. I say early but its now approaching 10:30 and we've been up since about 3 EST.

Tuesday begins with a return trip to the Orleans for their breakfast buffet, which at $5.95 is a real bargain but factor in a 241 coupon and its unbeatable. Thanks for the coupon Buddha! Seriously, this is a great breakfast for even the pickiest eaters. There must be at least six different kinds of potatoes alone, the fruit selection aint too shabby either.

After we ate we played some VP for a bit, though they've removed all the good pay tables, I still managed to quit a few bucks ahead. Next we're off down Tropicana to Albertson's to pick up some Diet Pepsi, water and snacks for the room. Over the years I've become seriously addicted to Phenylalanine, and can't live without it. Thanks to Dusty for the recommendation, it was nice to shop in a store and not get nailed for not having their card! We also had to stop at a beauty supply store (they're hard to miss) because this morning I realized I didn't bring my hairbrush, I brought the cat's by mistake. I wasn't happy, and I'm sure the cat wasn't happy either. Now it's time to check into MGM.

We received a mail offer for Sun-Thurs in October for $59.00 per night with an option for a Bungalow suite upgrade for another $20 per night. They would guarantee the upgrade if you did it at the time of booking. It also included $20 in slot play, two free buffets and a $75 spa credit. We ended up in room 28305 just a few doors down from the elevator with a great view. I know most folks hate this place, but it has always been our favorite.

After we explored a bit and noted all the changes since our last visit it was time to play. I'm not even sure were Suzy wandered off to but I settled in at a Multi-strike poker machine, and I do mean settled in. I played this game for at least 90 minutes on a modest investment, and was up and down dramatically until it happened. No I didn't get the sought after royal, but I did hit 4 deuces on the top line for an 8000 coin jackpot. Sadly it was only nickels, but still my wallet was $400 happier.

And now for more meat, tonight's dining selection will be the Big Apple Grill at
3051 N Rainbow Blvd, based on a review I'd read a few weeks ago. We opted for the 'super Combo for Two' which was two of everything on the menu for $36, including salad bar, chili, and great homemade lemonade. The salad bar was pretty typical but the homemade ranch dressing with chunks of garlic was great, the chili was pretty good too. Dinner also includes a shrimp cocktail that was pretty tasty. The technique used at Big Apple is a 'dry' barbeque with emphasis on the smoky flavor, sauce is also provided for those that require it. Everything was very good here but my favorite had to be the filet mignon kabobs, they melted in your mouth and were out of this world, for Suzy it was the chicken. The owner does the cooking here and was excited that us tourists ventured so far from the strip to sample his craft, he's an interesting character and I hope he succeeds. This is not a fancy place; in fact the décor could best be described as chaotic, with weird stuff everywhere. An odd note served with our slabs of meat, were wedges of grilled pineapple. Suzy wanted to try this for some reason, which is odd because she'll have nothing to do with any type of cooked fruit. No fruit pies, baked apple, cobbler, nothing. She did however really like the pineapple.

After dinner, we drove back to Rio to check out and from there we headed to the Riviera, to buy some cat toys from a store that as it turned out, is no longer there. Wandered around a bit and took some pictures before heading into the Ho. We were thirsty and decided to try the cheap margaritas here, .99 for regular and 1.99 for strawberry. I was surprised at how much alcohol really goes into them, and they really hit the spot. We played at the Ho for a while, I cashed out $30 ahead on a flip flop frogs game, and Suzy cashed out ahead on a 'hot line' slot that looked like a telephone. Did I mention how hot it was?

Headed back to MGM with a brief stop at Bellagio to catch a few fountain shows. As we walked through I was thinking to myself that I still really don't like this place at all, and have no desire to stay here, and I still really dislike those awnings over the slot carousels. Different flavors I guess, but when it comes right down to it, they're all just buildings built with the intent to relieve you of your hard earned cash. Afterwards we drove back to MGM and headed over to NYNY for a bit. I had a good run on a weak pay deuces wild machine with a couple wild royals and finally topped it off with 4 deuces. Twice in one day, I was amazed. After a losing poker streak Suzy opted for some SNL slots, which did nothing but vacuum the cash from her pocket. We ended the evening at MGM playing flip flop frogs, which have more lines than the norm, so playing these didn't last too long. Finished up with a $120 win on big bang piggy bankin machine before Suzy hit the majestic lions with no luck at all. I think MGM ruined these machines and the vibe around them by converting them to tito. They weren't paying out much and there weren't nearly as many people playing them as on previous visits, with good reason I suppose.

Wednesday started with breakfast at Mark Miller's Coyote Café, a bit of a tradition for us. A spicy chorizo burrito for me and breakfast burrito for Suzy. We were headed over to the Palms this morning to take advantage of double points, and to meet up with Buddha and Nancy again, and we accomplished both. Buddha was kind enough to give me a $10 free play coupon (thanks Buddha), which after a long time I was able to turn into a $70 profit. While we were there Suzy was able to hit 4 deuces, so we both were ahead here, this was a first for the Palms, our previous visits always ended with a loud sucking sound. Did I mention it was hot?

Parked at Harrah's, then over to Caesars and like everyone else, ignored the instructions being barked by some of the construction crew out front. It's been a few years since I've walked in the front door of this place, and the one notable difference is the black suspended ceiling is gone. In its place white stucco, which somehow makes the ceiling look even lower than previously. We wandered around a bit and Suzy found some Beverly Hillbilly's penny slots. She played for a bit and I decided I would too, with the seven ones I had in my pocket. It was interesting, and before too long I hit a 10,000 coin payout. I ended up walking away with $103, I guess that isn't too bad for pennies.

As we wandered through the Palace we came across the model depicting the completed Forum expansion, what an awkward looking thing. Caesars began as the class of Las Vegas, then added a few towers. Then they became the casino hotel with a mall attached. Then they added another tower and another mall and a birthday cake looking thing out front. Now they're adding another mall and another tower. So which is it, a casino with a mall attached or a couple of malls attached to a casino?

From here we wandered through the mall to the Endangered Species store to pick up a few gifts and out into the bright sun and heat. Stopped at the Roy memorial to sign a friends name to the giant cards they have there. She's a really big S&R fan, and was really upset by recent events. Walking past ti, its hard to not notice that new sign out front. It may not have looked so awful if they'd scaled it down a bit, but it's really ugly as it is.

We walked into Fashion Show, to check out the re-model, and it looks pretty much like any other mall with the exception of that giant thing out front. The football field sized food court boast a whopping four food establishments, none of which were appealing so we split an ice cream, a pretzel and a drink and were on our way. Did I mention it was hot? Took a few pictures of Wynn's joint, to me it looks like Mirage on steroids. That isn't a slam, I don't care for the guy, but I think just about everything has been done before and nothing looks too different. Again, they're just buildings designed to relieve you of you hard earned cash. But anyway the color and the bronze/gold glass remind me a lot of Mirage.

Back to MGM and a little slot play before our reservation at Mark Miller's Grill room. Poker was the game this time, and there is some weird stuff going on with pay-tables.
There are a few decent deuces games but only in the .10 cent denomination. .05 and .25 denominations were both awful. There is also a bank of eight jacks or better at the 1.00 level where 4 machines are 9/6 and the others are 7/5 I think. The weird thing is the crap pays were all in use while the 9/6 machines sat empty.

I'd always wanted to try the Grill Room since one trip several years ago. Our room was on a lower floor, 12 maybe, directly above the restaurant area. One day we went out and I left the fresh air vent open. When we returned our room was absolutely permeated with the smell of grilled meat. It smelled good, but only for a minute. We both had the California field greens with herb balsamic vinaigrette, tear drop tomatoes, garlic croutons, walnut encrusted goat cheese and chile pecans. I had the Cowboy steak which is a Black Angus rib chop served with barbecued black beans, red chile onion rings and blackened tomato chipotle sauce. Suzy had the free range chicken encrusted with spiced tortilla, served with chipotle caramelized onion mashed potatoes and toasted corn salsa.

My dinner was excellent, Suzy said hers was good, but she didn't notice a big difference between free range and regular chicken, like her relatives raise. The bill came to $95 with tip and three cocktails.

After dinner we played some slots. I was playing a triple double 5 times pay- Two coin quarter machine that just kept teasing me with all the 'big' pay symbols almost lining up. I ended up cashing out $20 ahead here before we moved on.

Tom Jones sucks! Well at least he's a wuss. Tom cancelled his last performance at MGM because he didn't feel well. This left us without a show this trip as it was too last minute to find anything else. Tom has pulled stuff like this before, usually the last shows in a string of performances. Two women in front of us to get refunds said that this was the third time he cancelled a show they were supposed to see, but noted one was when his mother was ill or died so they weren't holding that one against him. Once in Atlantic City, we were there just to gamble and the big talk around town was how he bailed on his show the night before. It was really funny to see him being walked up and down the boardwalk by two burly guys while Tom babbled non-stop. We wondered if they were attempting to sober him up or if they were just paid to walk him.

Left without entertainment, we were forced to gamble. I sat down at the same Multi-strike machine I'd played earlier while Suzy played Little Green Men JR - the only penny slot we could find in MGM. Here's one of those odd Vegas moments, Suzy was actually playing penny slots next to the wife of the guy I was playing Multi-strike next to at opposite ends of the casino.

The guy sitting on the other side of me was from southern Delaware (don't ask me how I know) he was playing Austin Powers DBVP. He convinced a friend of his to sit with him and play even though she insisted she didn't know how to play. A few minutes into her game she says, 'oh look at this, what should I do?' she was dealt 4 to a hearts royal and a ten of clubs. Her friend the poker wiz says 'I'd hold the pair of tens' and she did. Suzy was waiting on me and I was a little tired of sitting so I cashed out a little ahead. We then wandered over to NYNY to the same machines as before where I promptly lost $60. Back to MGM to get some coffee and wander around some more before going to bed.

Thursday began with the free buffets that came with our room package. I wouldn't pay the now 12 or 13 dollar price tag that comes with this buffet, but for free I'm there. The food is still good, it's just a little too expensive.

After our meal we walked over to Tropicana were I played a long while on a $20 before cashing out with it, then into the Legends Hall of Fame to check out any new inductees and to pick up a souvenir. Next we drove over to Paris to park and played a bit at Bally's on some bonus deuces machines that were good to me last year, but not so much this trip. I left there down $40. On the way through Paris Suzy spied a Cops and Donuts penny machine that she wanted to try. With a $20 investment and a ridiculous amount of bonus rounds, one where the cop ate so many donuts his shirt exploded, she cashed out $40 ahead. Again, with the pennies.

Did I mention it was hot? On the way to Aladdin, we noticed a number of people wearing sweatshirts, leather jackets and sweaters. Where are these delicate people from that 90 degrees is just too cold...the sun? Had to pick up a few remembrances of Aladdin before it disappeared, just to have something for our collection, and after that back to MGM for a brief rest.

For a lunchtime snack today we decided we'd try a Muffaleta from Jason's Deli on Maryland Parkway. We ordered a half and it was more than enough for a snack. It was alright, but for the enthusiast the bread was a little too soft, the olive salad had black olives in it, they used a bland tasting imported ham, and the sandwich was lightly toasted.
On the other hand their salads and cooked foods looked and smelled very good. I'd go back but I'd probably skip the Muffaleta.

From here we headed downtown for the evening. We played some nickel triple play deuces at MSS then walked down to 7-11 to pick up a few things. We walked around for a while before heading back for MSS's filet and scampi night at the buffet. The featured items here were very good. The scampi is served individually rather than in a vat under a heat lamp, and the filet was pretty good too.

After dinner we were off to Las Vegas Club for a while. I played big bang piggy bankin up to a $20 profit before moving to deuces wild where I eventually cashed out $60 ahead. We went outside to watch Loveshack for a while, and these guys are really good but I guess in this town you have to be. There were actually three performances going on simultaneously, with Louie Louie, and the guy with the fiddle drawing decent crowds too. Downtown seemed a little more crowded than previous trips, and a little less of the undesirable element too. Down at the far end of the canopy they were working on the upgrade and playing a football game on the canopy. I don't know what the resolution value of the picture was, but the picture was HUGE and crystal clear. It also seems like this upgrade will provide a little more shade beneath it.

Headed back to MGM stopped for gas on the way, our last night in town. The plan was to get to bed early tonight as we had a long day tomorrow, but that didn't happen. I returned to the Multi-strike machine and played for nearly two hours before cashing out $40 ahead, Suzy not so much with the poker. We then had another losing session with the not so majestic lions before we returned to that triple double machine I played previously. Now it was teasing me even more, with a few generous hits, and near misses. This happened before on a machine in this area that Suzy was playing, and it eventually rewarded her for her patience. It was going on 3 AM when I hit for $75, and decided to call it a night.

Well, this is it, our last morning in Vegas. I many of you say you hate to leave, but we're always ready to go home, even when were winning. I know its blasphemy but it's the truth. The reason we look miserable at the airport is because we're exhausted. Had breakfast at the Studio Café, the food was good here albeit a little pricey. Afterwards I played the five times triple double or whatever it was for a long time, but finally cashed out even. I hope its still there in April.

We returned the car, and were charged an extra hour at $10 per hour. Even though I pad the rental pick up time, because our flight was so early and we were a little late returning it I guess that's only fair. But hey, that's $240 per day at those rates!

We were at least able to score upgrades to FC on the way home, and the lunch they served was actually pretty good, but the movie was really bad. I think it was Hollywood Homicide. That ends another good trip. It was nice to be able to come home with some money, and that we were able to play so much without getting killed, especially since the record heat kept us indoors a little more than normal. Home again, looking forward to surgery in two weeks and a return to Las Vegas in March or April, but hey, who's counting? If anyone is interested I'll post a link to some photos once they're uploaded.

Random thoughts:

If the best clothes you can wear on an airplane are dirty sweatpants, beat up work-shoes and an 'if you run fast you die tired' tee shirt, something is wrong.

A wise old man told me that tito machines are great tool for keeping track of wins and losses, he was right.

Why would a family of 2 adults and three young children complete with strollers and car seats all need to be on the bus to the remote parking lot?

LAS is still the cleanest airport I've been in, PHL is a toilet.

Why do they advertise a bank of 'full pay' slots with each one having different pay tables for different denominations? (MSS)

It sure is fun to play when you're not losing, even if you're not hitting lottery sized jackpots.

Slip a cocktail waitress a 3-dollar tip, and she's your new best friend.

Cocktail service was great at most places.

HET officials, if your reading this we're NOT DEAF AND WOULD LIKE TO REMAIN THAT WAY.

It was a real treat to have flights depart on time, but I still miss National. I can't wait for Southwest to get here in May.

Spandex, belly shirts or midriff tops and hip huggers are not for everyone.

Who are the effing geniuses at MGM that decided to carve up the only casual restaurant at Studio Walk? I can understand wanting more foot traffic through there but is fine dining really an impulse buy when many require reservations?

It was great hearing Suicidal Tendencies, Depressed Commode, The Cult, THE THE, Ministry and others on the car radio again. 102.7 is a great station.

Stupid things heard in the casino,

Holy Shitt, they're lions in here!

Oh my god, look at the tigers (while approaching the lion habitat)

I put a hundred in, but now I've got all these nickels.