Monday, December 29, 2008

Surviving the Lights of Vegas - Part 2

In our last thrilling episode, we continued our obsession with snow in Portland, which led us to venture down south toward Las Vegas, the land of cheap buffets and slot machines everywhere. We had come up with the idea back in August, which seemed like a great thought, but after knowing what weather was here, well, we got on the plane anyway. We now continue with our regularly scheduled blog entry.

Friday, December 19th - The plane ride was rather uneventful during the first three quarters, as it was filling up with snacks, reading airline magazines full of products and services that I would imagine nobody needs, but somehow they can advertise for them. Sky Mall is one huge magazine of crap that nobody needs, but somebody thought would be a good idea to create. Alaska had also changed their beverage service to Jones brand, as they indicated they wanted a more "natural" soda. It's not bad, actually, and now I'm seeing it everywhere as they just became the soda vendor at the Rose Garden here.

As we start to descend to Las Vegas, we had heard that Vegas had issues with snow and ice there, but the airport was open so we weren't concerned. Until we turned around over the city, and saw the entire town covered in a white glimmer of snow. Normally, the glitz comes from the neon, but in this case, Sin City was officially Snow City, and it didn't look quite right. I suppose our packing plan of having some winter and some warmer clothes was a good idea.

After picking up our bags, we found the MGM Grand check in desk, which was right at the airport. Yes, we were able to check into our room about 10 feet from baggage claim. Ok, you can play slots while picking up your bag at points, so I'm not surprised here except that why don't more hotels do this? We got our rooms, caught our shuttle to the hotel, and within a half an hour, we were looking at the chilly Strip. Only 37 degrees at 5 Pm. Maybe we didn't get far enough from the cold.

Girl and I found our room, and just chilled for a bit inside the room, getting to know the room specifics. The rooms all have an electronic safe, so I got to figure out a combination to look up our valuables, and any monies we might win while there. Well, it's the thought anyway, but soon after this, we are in search of food. We find the MGM Grand Buffet, and so decide to give it a try. And let's just say that when they call it a Grand Buffet, they aren't kidding. It was amazingly huge, and it had so many different food options. After powering through food from two different trips, we settle down to gamble a bit with some margaritas. It doesn't take too many losses and the effect of the booze to put us up to our room, although it certainly seemed like we were there for a while. But since there's no clocks on the casino floor, you can lose track of space and time. I'd also spent some time in the sports book area, placing bets on my beloved Trail Blazers and West Ham to do well in their respective leagues, although the odds certainly weren't what I expected. The Trail Blazers to win the NBA at 8 to 1 odds?

Well, if we get to bed around midnight, we'll be ready to go the next morning.

Saturday, December 20th - We had thought this time of year, things would be mellow around Vegas, or as mellow as this place gets. We couldn't have been more wrong, as the annual Las Vegas bowl game was happening here later that night. Arizona, who hadn't been to a bowl since Clinton was in office, was facing BYU. It seemed odd that BYU would want to be here, but the fact that Donny and Marie were playing at the Flamingo meant there was something for them to do here. Plus, they'd been here the 3 previous years, so apparently there must be something here for them. We'd encountered some of their fans the previous night, but we were serenaded early Saturday morning to some of them running about, banging doors about in the hotel. I love people...

We end up waking up a bit late after dealing with the traveling stress and being woken up early, so we don't get out of the room until about noon. That's normal around here, but probably not the going to bed early thing from the previous night. Well, hey, it's vacation and we'll do what we want. We decided to head to the Luxor for their buffet that afternoon, and so we walk from MGM to New York, New York then Excalibur. I have to say that New York, New York is an impressive casino from the outside, but inside, it looks a lot like any other casino. Excalibur looked very old school casino inside, and it was by far the most packed during the afternoon. And the Luxor has the cool vibe to it, and yes, they advertise the cheapest and best buffet, and they weren't kidding. Since it was Saturday, they served champagne brunch, and so girl and her mom didn't disappoint in drinking a bit. I felt a bit parched, so I stuck with water until later. But again, massive eating was abound. We took our time walking back, playing a few machines here and there, and we found a bar that had frosty big drinks for sale, so we drank a bit on our way back. Ok, we drank a lot, and tried to take in a few sights. As we got back to MGM, girl's shoes were giving her trouble, so we sat and watched the action at Lion Country Safari for a bit.

The lion habitat at MGM seems rather cruel, as you have lions under glass, but apparently they stay there only 10 hours per week, and they stay with the same pride and handlers, so they build a relationship with everyone. And while they look rather large and menacing, they basically acted like big cats during dinner time, playing with their food and water, and getting praise from the helpers. It was interesting to note the similarities between our cats during feeding time and the lions, although our cats won't snap your arm in half with their bite. Well, that I know of. We ventured up to our room, and didn't intend on napping, but we soon found ourselves down for a couple of hours, waking up in time to watch the end of the bowl game and Arizona's victory. Thinking that things might get a little insane later that night, we head to the food court to get some pizza and drinks later, and then head into our room for another early night. Well, we did gamble a little bit, but again, we were in our room before midnight. Hmmmmm, maybe there is a theme here? Girl's mom did get to see David Hasslehoff, though, as he was passing through the casino. He had sung the national anthem at the bowl game that night, and was staying at the MGM, we think. Apparently, he's really tall and has a rather large entourage.

Sunday, December 21st - Morning came with us being serenaded again, but not by Arizona fans, but by some kids who were told to play in the hall before breakfast. Ok, it's 8 am and they are signing, laughing, and knocking on doors until a front desk employee comes up later to scold them and have them return to their room. Ok, another bad start to the morning, and we also had some issues with the hot water in our bathroom. It was bad enough the ventilation in the room caused the shower curtain to blow into you while in the tub, but then apparently everyone decided to take 2 hour showers to kill the hot water. Needless to say, it was a rough start, but the champagne brunch at MGM made up for it. More good food, more alcohol, great dessert. Geez, I feel like I've put on about 20 pounds.

We decided to head north towards the Bellagio today, to check out the fountains. Plus, there might be some shopping to do about here, so we stopped into the M and M World store. And it was absolutely insane. People in every direction, grabbing stuff from the shelves, talking at the top of their lungs. Apparently, consumerism turns some people into idiots, and so after 20 minutes of this, we run from the place screaming. As we walk north, we see the casino construction of the new City Center areas, plus the new Wynn casino Endeavor. The economy might be struggling, but casinos are doing Ok, and building and expanding to keep one step ahead of the competitors. It reminded me of Portland, who for a while seemed to have everything here under construction.

We soon got to the Bellagio, and saw their wonderful Christmas display, which was very popular and people filled. This led us to try and find some quiet machines to play for a bit until the fountain show later. It was fun, until girl's mom tried to cash out on her machine, and it couldn't produce a ticket. So it took us 30 minutes to track someone down to collect our pay. The fountains came on right at 5, played for one song, and then it was done. Hmm, the economy affecting water shows? Well, we wandered back to catch a cab back to MGM, and decide on what's up for later.

Girl and I soon head to Walgreen's to load up on some snack food that isn't overpriced, and while it was a nice diversion, I also had a bit of tunnel vision going on, so I wasn't the most communicative person. Sometimes, in my desire to do well and keep on top of things, I focus too much and don't always say as much as I should. Thankfully, it was a good conversation with girl, and we got things settled, because I don't want her to feel like she can't talk to me. And if she does, I should respond with more than a grunt or passing gas...

We decided on Sunday to try and stay up as late as we could, first loading up our big drink cups from last night at Fat Tuesday, and seeing how many casinos we could hit until they hit back...Well, I can safely say, we did a pretty good job of hitting them. So good, that the trip deserves it's own entry. So, tune in next time for stories of drunken wandering around the Strip, and food at 4 AM. Talk to you all next time.

Next Time - So this is what 4 AM looks like, and wait, we've been here before, but why are we still here?

No comments: