You all know how it is. You get back from one trip to Las Vegas and begin planning the next. In fact, you're already doing some mental formulation on the plane trip home.
This one all began a couple of months after our last in late April of this year. I was just surfing (with intent) the Southwest web page and saw two available seats on their $200.00 RT non-stop from Manchester. The great beauty of it is the arrival at McCarren before 10:30 AM. So I parlayed that with three nights at Luxor for $90 per. Room and flight for under $700.00. So far so good. Hadn't stayed at Luxor before, but had played there a little. I think, architecturally, it's one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, but then I am fascinated by ancient Egypt. Everthing I saw there looked pretty accurate to this amatuer eye, except maybe for the Mayan style pyramid on the second floor. But perhaps this was an attempt to re-create the "step pyramid" at Saqquara.
So arriving at the hotel around 11:00 AM we check our bags at the door, fully expecting a wait until 1:30 (officially it's 3:00 PM) to check in. Taking a chance I go up to a very nice lady at the desk to confirm check in time. Now, I must say that when I travel to Las Vegas I prefer to dress with a little style. If you feel comfortable in jeans and an old shirt I won't begrudge you that comfort. However I saw very few people who really looked good in jeans and especially fewer men who did so. They looked more like field hands, who had just come in from chopping cotton, than people spending time in some rather upscale surroundings. So approaching the desk and confirming my rez in my best unassuming Bob DiNiro aura, I hear, "Oh, I can check you in now if you like sir. By the way, I can offer you a mini suite for just $50.00 dollars more". Now I know a value when I see one and take it. I ask for a room high up facing the Strip and and am handed keys for room 15-318 in the East Tower. Wonderful woman.
East Tower elevators are just a short distance from the main lobby and better still, our room, on the fifteenth floor, was a mere twenty-five steps from the elevator lobby. The suite was large, new, and clean, witt a 25" TV in both the living room and bed room. The view out the ceiling to floor windows was of Excalibur, Tropicana, and MGM, with the Strat in the distance and the mountains to the east and north. The large bathroom, in all beige marble, had dual sinks and a lighted make-up mirror in one section and a seperate shower and jetted soaking tub in the other. The ammenities were generous with two different soaps, bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion, and shower caps in little pyramidal shaped boxes. All were double portions.
After getting unpacked and cleaned up a bit, we hit the casino for a while. Doing OK, but losing more than winning on VP, with my wife playing the reels. Couldn't find an open seat in $5.00 BJ, so stayed with the machines. Had a few comp drinks and went upstairs to change and headed over to Mandalay Bay around 4:00 for the dinner buffet. Prior to heading to the buffet we walked south along the Strip to take a look at a little piece of Vegas history that will soon be no more. The Glass Pool Motel, with it's above ground, portholed pool, is closed up and slated for the wrecking ball. It has gone from the glamorous to the shady in its long existence and was one of the old joints, along with the El Rancho and Benny's Flamingo, which knew if you positioned the temptation of blue water within sight of all those motorists who had just crossed the Mojave in the days prior to cars with AC, they'd pull off and register with you just to be able to take a dip of the pool. Glad I got to see it.
Though the Mandaly's buffet was good for just over $23.00 per, that evening I had a revelation. Other than an occassional breakfast perhaps, I don't think I'll ever do another Vegas buffet. This may seem sacreligeous to many of you, but I just am tired of the lines, confusion, and needful feeling that you HAVE TO eat like a pig to get your money's worth. And then you walk out feeling like shit for the next hour cuz there's so much pressure on your diaphragm you can hardly breathe. There are smarter dining options, as satisfying, for less money, all over town.
After time for a little gambling at Manadalay to get the points on The One Club card built up again, it's 1:00 AM on the east coast, therefore time for bed.
Up early the next morning and heading to Krispy Kreme on the second floor of Excalibur. No Krispy Kremes in NH yet, so the pilgrimage to KK is a must. At the Excal they make them fresh and everyone in line received a free hot glazed donut. Five donuts (three for me, two for her), and large coffee later and we're ready to take on the world Vegas style. BTW, I've been on a strict low-carb diet and have dropped 35 pounds since August 1, but Vegas was to be a treat of 72+ hours of culinary debauchery. I wasn't disappointed in my performance.
We bounced around the Excalibur, NYNY, and MGM casinos. At the latter we picked up our Players Club cards and started building on them. Again, the gods of chance seemed to be elsewhere. Around lunch time we picked up tix for Rita Rudner's show that evening. A light snack and back to the room a quick nap.
Rita Rudner is a funny lady and did 90 minutes well worth the price of the ticket. The room was a sell out even on Monday night. After the show, dinner at Gonzalez y Gonzalez at NYNY. If you like good Mex food, go there. Returned to Luxor, played a little, negotiated a little (this time my demeanor was Andy Garcia), and got comped for Blue Man Group the next night. I ain't never bringing blue-jeans to Vegas! BTW, for you Elvis fans; he felt about the same way in regards to that particular piece of apparel and you never saw him wearing them except in certain movie roles.
The next day was my homage day to Glitter Gulch, a thing I do each time I go to LV. Besides, my wife likes to explore the tacky downtown stores. I like to play at Mermaids. Real kitschy. We had breakfast at Magnolia's Veranda (Four Queens), which, along with the coffee shop downstairs at Binion's, is top notch for the first meal of the day. There was a parade along 4th Street that morning for Veterans' Day, but I hadn't come to Vegas to watch a parade. However, even at Mermaids, where I've done well in the past, I could catch a break that day. Back down the Strip to Bellagio for lunch at Olive's around 1:00 PM. Excellent, but a little pricey.
Headed down to Tropicana, signed up for their card, got some good coupons and took in the Casino Legends Hall of Fame museum. For Vegas history addicts like me, its well worth the time, and free with one of the coupons. Played VP the requisite 30 minutes, won a little and claimed a very nice free Tropicana t-shirt souvenier for my wife. Then back to the hotel to clean up and change.
Blue Man Group is... Well, you're going to really enjoy it, or you'll be very confused and not like it at all. I suspect it appeals to those who just go with it, giving into it at the most simple and base level of emotion and feeling. The dominance of percussion throughout the show is a part of it. You feel it more than understand it. A re-occuring visual theme during the show is the double helix DNA strand. I felt it was a message they were trying to convey.
After the show, we taxied up to the Forum Shops at Ceasar's for dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Almost all reviews for this place I've read were positive, almost gushing. They were right. Huge entrees, a Heineken and Pina Colada in a very large glass, and two pieces of cheesecake (chocolate rasberry truffle and key lime if you have to know) and the bill came to a modest $70.00. The shops, especially FAO Schwartz (three grandkids) were impressive and my wife is already planning our next stay for Ceasar's.
Back out to the Strip and turned south on foot. Enjoyed the Bellagio fountains choreographed to Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain", and then back to Luxor. She was tired and I saw her to the elevator and then headed back to the casino to give it one more try. I was down to my last 'buck ten' in my wallet and really didn't want to have to hit the ATM. I put the ten spot in a double-double VP machine and played a half hour, up and down on that. Still no luck. I headed to the cashier and changed the hundred with a couple of fives included. I normally don't play the modern video machines, but I saw won which caught my eye with a western gun-fighter scenario. I think it was called "Bandita". Best of all it was in a quiet corner near the security desk and it was only a nickle machine. So I put in one of the fives for 100 credits and began to play. My luck began to change and is soon had over 550 coins credit. I pushed payout and got a receipt for around $30.00 bucks. I began to get up to go to the cashiers' cage and noted I had two one dollar bills in my wallet. I fed them in for forty credits and pushed the nine lines time two coins option. The machine went beserk. It gave me 15 free games and began to self-play them. I seemed to hit on every third spin. When it was over I had 3000 coins credit. I cashed out for a total of just over $200.00.
Breakfast at the Pyramid Cafe and shopping at the Galleria for momentos the next morning was very enjoyable thanks to that last bit of late luck. After a take in of the Tutankhamun Tomb museum (well worth the five bucks) we grabbed a taxi back to the airport for the 2:20 flight home.
I NEVER EXPECT to win in Vegas, but after all, even when gambling you're just buying entertainment and escape. The trip was, in that respect, very enjoyable and successful. I actually came home with more money than I had expected. Anyway like it has been said with humor, Las Vegas is Spanish for "probably not".
Next May I think.