Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Vegas Report

The Vegas report. Yeah, sorry, it's long... I'm too lazy to break it up right now.

Thursday, Sept. 4th – We’re Low High Rollers (or is it High Low Rollers?)!!!!!

Uneventful flight. Was unhappy since I thought upgrades to Economy Plus (on United) got the bag fee waved, but either I misread at the time or they changed that. Why don't you just raise the darned ticket fee by $15? Everyone was checking bags anyway, and I have to imagine the extra fees to process all the credit transactions makes some kind of dent. $20 tip at check in (it's all over the 'net, it's no longer a trick, people) and some friendly conversation with the check in clerk at the Flamingo was a huge success - 27th floor, near the elevators. Strip view, looking right at Caesars. And because of the 27th floor, no damned advertisement covering the window. AND a fridge and coffee maker? We're high rollers?!?!

Headed out for some lunch…. Looked at Paris to see if there was anything that sounded good, but we ended up back at the Flamingo at the coffee shop. I had a chicken wrap and the hubby had a Reuben. Both good, but not cheap. In fact, looking at the room service menu later, it was all stuff off the room service menu for the discount of exactly one penny. Next time, I might just do the room service, just to avoid the very bored looking and sounding Keno girl walking around trying to get people to play.

Went back to the room. On the way, spotted a dude on a bike delivering new cards to the porn slappers, and wondered if that was the “promotion” up from being a regular, street, porn slapper. In the room. spent some time Watching clouds. One cloud, turned into two clouds. Turned back to one cloud, then back to two clouds. A nice vacation activity.

For the afternoon gambling I was running close to even, hubby went to the 3-card table and was looking for me about 20 minutes later. Not good. Dinner at Trader Vics - mai tais, two orders of duck tacos (one for each of us), calamari (not as good as the last time, about 30 seconds overcooked) and crab rangoon that have ruined me for life, I don't think I can go back to the regular take-out ones after those. Blue crab, creamed cheese and it seemed like a touch of siracha chile sauce. Then got a fee mai tai when the bartender mixed the wrong drink for a table (hey… those things are ten bucks a pop! Major score!).

Back to the casino to dump in some more money. Then, I actually got a 4-OAK (that’s Four Of A Kind to you non-Vegas lingo peeps) draw on a 50 play double bonus machine... never pressed four buttons and "draw" so carefully in my life, or "cash out" so quickly. Score!!! I actually WON at the Flamingo! That never happens! Evening gambling was slightly profitable for the hubby. He actually had a $500 chip mixed among the other chips when he walked away from the table. Headed out for a couple of drinks at the outside "Miller Chill" bar. Marveled at the new aluminum bottles and had a round of "Why didn't I think of that?" which also included the new light-up backboards for the porn slappers. Started a community game of "spot the hooker" with some younger dudes out there. I went to the ladies and returned to see hubby talking to a very attractive brunette. Turns out, it was her 21st birthday and hubby was buying her and her boyfriend a shot. Her boyfriend looked like he'd about had it with 30-something dudes buying his girlfriend drinks (then tell her not to announce she's just turned 21 at every bar she walks up to??) Hubby buying drinks for a 21 year old and her boyfriend. Headed back to the room after that.

Friday, Sept. 5th – Can Anyone get our order right?

Woke up at 7am (what's the deal with all the helicopters? Oh, a stabbing at Bally's. Loverly.) and decided to break in the new Chucks (not a good idea) by heading to Venetian to the Bouchon Bakery for pastries. Other than the usual sights of crews working cleanup on every part of the strip and your early riser exercise nuts and degenerate all-night gamblers, highlights of the walk included seeing all the Meeting of homeless guys (seriously… Vegas has the cleanest, most un-crazy homeless people I’d ever seen in my life) and a pimp & ho argument outside Harrahs.

At the Bouchon Bakery, picked up 4 pastries and a large coffee for $20. No more expensive than the Java Coast stuff, and a zillion times better. Hey Keller - can't ya market this one to every casino on the strip? Please??? Wonderful danish (same as served at Bouchon) – it’s almost like a little cheesecake that they bake in puff pastry and then top with a cream cheese pastry cream, and the flakiest damned croissant ever. I tried to get a picture of the carnage from when I was done with it, but my camera went wonky this entire weekend and I don’t know if it’s even on there, or if my data cable is just messed up. But in any case – damned good. It was one of those croissants that when you just pick it up, the delicate pastry starts to shard and fly everywhere and it’s an outright mess when you take a bite, but it would be worth it even if I had to vacuum the floor. Seriously… if you’re ever in Vegas, wander into the Venetian, follow the signs to the Blue Man Theater and get some pastries. Even if you never eat at the French Laundry or Bouchon or Per Se or buy any of Thomas Keller’s cookbooks and attempt your own versions…. A visit the to bakery gives you an idea of what a culinary genius that Thomas Keller is. A simple cheese Danish as an outright culinary experience.

Lolligagged in the room for a bit, and discovered we had no shaving cream, so we went off to Walgreens and Fatburger (even though the shaving cream in the hotel gift shop is probably about the same price as at Walgreens, but we’ll take any excuse to be by Fatburger). "Meh" for Fatburger this time around... orders were entered right but apparently the grill people decided hubby really DID want cheese on his burger, and I wanted raw and not the grilled onions I asked for. Hot weather, but enough strolls thru casinos to keep from overheating. Another "meh" on the Bellagio conservatory. The town... seemed a little empty. Much more like Thursday crowds than Friday. Strolled thru Mag mile shops. Where'd the ornament store go? If it's still there, I missed it!

We’d left $10 and a note for the maid for more towels and pillows. Came back to a zillion pillows, a zillion towels, and some of our toiletries artfully arranged along with.... mouthwash. Mouthwash, people! We're running with the high rollers now! Spent some time in the room, watching the moutains. Moutains don’t move like clouds, but they’re still fun to watch. Reading for the trip for both of us was Bourdain – Bobby Gold Stories and Gone Bamboo (we switched books when we were done). Both good “vacation” reads in my humble opinion. Short chapters, just trashy enough to be a page turner, and I love crime & mob stuff. For dinner we had a hotdog craving so we headed over to the Fashion Show mall to hit the Nathans. Spotted some attractive ladies outside the new Palazzo sports book (need to find a new word for empty to describe how empty that place was). At Nathan’s ordered two sodas, two dogs with grilled onions and bacon cheese fries to split. We're served two dogs with raw onions. We mention it, gal behind the counter first says "oh, we don't have grilled onions" and when I say I just would have like to have been told that upfront, she then starts to say "well, if you want to wait I can grill some up". Confusing. Eat our hotdogs (after I picked all the onions off mine) then walked the mall a little but they didn’t have the book or the Vans that the hubby was looking for. Headed back to the casino. Hubby was doing very well at his three card table when I checked on him, but gave most of it back, I was doing so-so at video poker but at least having fun. Good cocktail service since the Strip was DEAD. Seriously, never seen it so empty on a Friday night.

Saturday , Sept. 6th – Sunburn and $25 Burgers

Woke up, putzed around a bit. Ate the leftover day-old blueberry muffin from the previous day’s trip to the Bouchon Bakery. It was still the best damned muffin I ever ate, even in it’s day-old state. Eventually hit the pool. It may have been empty in the casino but I think everyone in the hotel was at the pool. Got some sun (burn, actually, but it’s already fading), floated around a bit, then headed back to the room to clean up and lolligag some more. I did head down to the casino shop to pick up a pair of sandals I’ve had my eye on for about a year. My love affair with Onex shoes started in Vegas…. When the hubsy and I decided to get hitched, I did have an “emergency” white dress packed. But I didn’t have white shoes to go with it. I don’t think I owned a pair of white dress shoes. I headed to one of the shops at Mandalay and found a pair of white Onex sandals, and when I put them on, I swear I could have run to Treasure Island and back, even after days of Vegas walking. My feet were so happy. I’ve since invested in some black dress sandals, but there was still a leopard print pair calling my name. I needed to own them. I went down and bought them. And even though my feet were hurtin’ by this point in time…. I could have run all the way to Sahara in those sandals. Worth every penny. Other women can take their $500 Minolos that hurt their feet, I’ll happily live with my comfy yet cute $100 Onex shoes. Eventually, we headed over to Ballys/Paris and the burger joint.

We each ended up building $25 burgers - beef, caramelized onions and foie gras for us both (and I also tacked on brie). Very good. Not a huge slice of foie, but just enough to add some melty fatty foie goodness to the burger with the bonus being bites of foie. If you’ve never had foie… it is liver, so it’s mildly liver-sausage-ish, but it’s much more subtle than your standard liver sausage. Yum. Burgers were so good, in fact, that the hubby, Mr. I Put Ketchup On My Ketchup, did not put ketchup on it. Had a coupon for a free desert from when we checked in, so we split the beneigts. Meh. On the way back, saw actual real live Vegas CSI people outside Ballys (even though they already caught the suspect in the stabbing by then). Rested in the room, not really hungry for dinner, but hungry for gambling! Not as lucky for either of us to start off, but cocktail service was good since the casino was oddly empty. Slightly buzzed, we decide we should eat something.... back to Trader Vics for some yummy fried goodness! Each got out own crab rangoon, split duck tacos and calamari (way better, not overcooked this time).

Back to the room, grabbed some more cash and hubby took me down to an actual, real, live blackjack table. I know the rules, just never done a table before. Didn't start out well, had a couple of up spurts, but played it all away and had a good time. Sat with some lovely ladies from New Orleans who mentioned they got here right after Gustav, and were headed back on Monday just in time to deal with Ike. But they were happy and good natured and a lot of fun to play with. I actually wasn’t doing too badly and we had a really good, fun, dealer when a dealer switch came…. I don’t subscribe to my husband’s belief in “coolers” – dealers who always manage to totally bust a table – but this chick cleaned everyone out pretty quickly. Five dealer blackjacks in a row. Cleaned me out and made a dent to everyone else. But it was a fun table… had some California guys at the table for awhile, first an LA guy who was a smoker (my response of “Hey, you’re from LA, you’re not allowed to smoke!” started a somewhat animated but all in agreement conversation including some former smokers on the right to let people just do it or let owners of places decide) and some Northern Cali boys, one with loooong dreads who was so nice that even after he stepped off the table, he hung around to joke around with us (and actually went to hunt down the cocktail waitress that abandoned the table). While I was still at the blackjack table the hubby decided to hit the three card table, so I told him I'd be at the bar which was, very oddly, VERY empty. Usually you’d need to beat people off with a stick to get a seat at a poker machine at midnight on a Saturday. Even the bartended said it was odd to not have people standing three deep at midnight on a Saturday. Played, drank a couple Blue Moons, then headed out to the outside bar for a couple beers and a photo op of the hubby with some parked cop cars.

Sunday, Sept. 7th – Are you ready for some football?

Duh duh duh duh duh duuuuuh... football time! Up early, got some room service and putzed around the room for the first round of games as the hubby kept checking his fantasy stats. We finally cleaned up and headed down to the casino. The hubby started out in Bugsy's Caberet where they had a bunch of TVs with different game feeds going. Oddly, there was a "no outside food or drink" rule even though there was no food being served, and only one cocktail waitress that seemed to be coming once in a blue moon. I stayed for a few minutes before the drunken frat boys were totally getting on my nerves, then left the hubby with the already drunken frat boys and went to find the poker machine with my name on it and get a bloody mary.

Sat down, plunked in $20 and waited for the cocktail waitress to come around taking orders. While delivering drinks she asked me - twice - if I'd ordered some girly drink that she had. I said no, but to come by when she was taking orders. Another $40 later I was still bloody mary-less and cranky. The hubby came by, said there was no smoking in the caberet, so we both headed off to find open seats at the Garden Bar. I got my bloody mary, the hubby just sat, and we watched the second round of games from there. Did take a trip to the casino shop to get a totally awesome ornament of the Vegas sign. When I first spotted it, I thought it was $26 (and I do believe I was at least a smidge tipsy then)
. Picked it up… um… it’s $46. Bought it anyway, it’s awesome, and what the heck… it was a winning trip! After the Browns had lost, dashing the hubby's hopes of a big win off his bet on them, we headed off to find dinner. Hubby wanted to try the kobe burger at Le Burger. I got the "Le Mer" - salmon burger with a lemon aioli. Very tasty. Hubby was not impressed with the kobe burger, likely due to the couple of pieces of gristle in his burger. Service this time was also less than stellar, with both our orders of fries going missing. I think the lack of people just had everyone in one of those lulls - when you're not busy and your
brain is just not totally there.

After dinner it was back to the casino. Hubby found his three card table and I returned to the slow bleed, water torture-like activity that is JoB at the Flamingo. Wasn't doing too badly and cocktail service was spot on, at least. Hubby eventually came over, unable to take all the chips outta his pocket and proudly showed off the win from a $50 bet at the three card poker table where he finally got a royal flush. He was happy!

I cashed out, we had a couple of beers at the outside bar, and then it was back to the room to pack up as much as we could and enjoy the last night of the Vegas lights.

Monday, Sept. 8th – Home again, home again

I'd never seen the airport as dead as it was. WOW. We were through security in about ten minutes flat. Slightly bumpy (big storms in the Chicago area, the pilot warned us well ahead of time, and for a few tense moments we thought we might have to land in Rockford and refuel before heading to Chicago, but we were waved thru) but uneventful plane ride, and then the unwelcome whack when we walked outside and found it was like 60 degrees and raining. It was about 82 degrees when we left the hotel in the morning. Sigh. Got a cab, came home to my garden, which is looking pretty sad right now. I think we got rain while we were gone (more than we had to deal with on our arrival back home) so I don’t know if my mother in law actually came by to water/pick anything. About 50 split cherry tomatoes, my basil plant was outta control and needed some sever pinching off. I know my Wall-O-Waters gave us tomatoes early… but I think we may be nearing the end of the crop. Picked a couple off my patio plant, a red one off my beefsteak plant. Ordered a pizza for dinner – from a new place right around us. Sadly, we may be done with the place that was trying to take over our old pizza place, because this one was damned near spot on. Perfect crust. Well cooked toppings (the hubby likes a “garbage pizza” with green peppers, onions, mushrooms, sausage and pepperoni. I only like the pepperoni, green peppers and onions if they are well cooked and beyond the “crunch” – or in the case of pepperoni, greasy – stage).

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Sounds like someone had fun, even with all the misadventures. But, you've got to admit: sometimes those are our favorite memories.