Monday, October 26, 2009


“Hooker, it is 6:30 in the morning!”

That was the response I got from Josh the next day when I texted him asking if they were up and going yet. I love the time change going west. We’re up, going, and on the way before most of the city is even considering being awake. And for the record, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Vegas does, in fact, sleep. Apparently, so does my brother-in-law. And for the record, I was more like 9:45, so there.

Roused, dressed, and working our way down to their room, Trina and I plotted the day. We figured we’d ride the monorail all the way south to the MGM, which was only about three stops away just to show Sarah the strip, then all the way north to the Sahara and walk back eating and gambling at will. Of course, that would be easier if the two slugs in our company were AWAKE! Oh well. Cracking the blinds a bit and letting the room flood with the early morning light should do the trick! And do the trick it did. A little abrupt perhaps, but we need to capitalize on the day.

The troops were rallied, even if dragging. Josh was muttering about just having gotten to sleep, and Sarah said something proclaiming her love for hot dogs (it was Big Hot Dog day, after all). Then in a puzzled and sleepy voice, she felt the need to qualify that statement saying that her previous proclamation made her sound like a huge whore.

We rode the monorail the entire length of the strip as planned, which if you’ve never done, was actually kind of fun. It’s a cheap, quick way to get your bearings and see where you want to go. But getting off at the Sahara, and walking through the second northern-most casino on the strip made me wonder how much longer this place could stay in business? The only think farther north is the Stratosphere, and it gets a little dicey. Then moving back south, you don’t have anything until the Riviera and Circus Circus, both of which can’t possibly have a lot of staying power left, then a decent little walk until you hit Wynn. But if you’ve made it to Circus Circus, you’re right next to Slots-of-Fun, home of the Big Hot Dog. 9:30 a.m. in Vegas? Doesn’t matter a lick! The Big Hot Dog never disappoints.

We continued to Encore and then Wynn to enjoy another Vegas staple, drinks at Parasol Down. Of course, it’s still just before 10, so we looked like a handful of raging alcoholics lined up to enjoy cocktails out on the patio. What the hell? It’s vacation. We sat in the quiet serenity of the waterfall nestled in the hustle of the most exciting city in the world, and enjoyed our drinks. Parasol Down will be a staple of Vegas excursions for years to come.

Cruising through Treasure Island we came to the Mirage. I had never gambled there, hell I hadn’t even set foot in it since I was 14, and something compelled me to want to play cards there. We found a good table, and settled in. I know this is a silly point of fact, but they’re one of the places on the strip that serves Coke, not Pepsi. Determined not to make the same mistake from the night before, I requested a double Captain’s and Coke, and was off to the races. It wasn’t until about four shoes in that I realized “wow, these things are going down really smoothly!” At that point, it was too late, and I was a mess. Thank God Josh was there to help me find the girls, and after staggering through the Venetian, just for the hell of it, we made it back to Harrah’s for some quality pool time…or so I was told.

That night we decided to atone for the previous night’s culinary transgressions, and have a nice dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. The sun was setting behind the Bellagio across the street while we ate a lovely halibut and watched the dancing waters. We had a party of six, as one of Josh’s friends from work and his girlfriend met us for dinner, and the waiter made the critical error of not only charging us gratuity on the bill, but didn’t bother to mention it. Rookie. Oh well, enjoy your 17 ½ percent tip. Too bad you would’ve gotten 20 easily.

After a successful session at Flamingo, Josh up $150 and me up about $70, we decided it was time for Josh to put up or shut up. He’d been talking for weeks about wanting to get a tattoo in Vegas. No one was surprised that he wanted one, but after winning the cash that night, and deciding that the winnings would pay for his ink, Trina decided that it was time to walk right down to Vince Neil Ink and he would get it that night. He got just a shade gun shy, then adopted the trip motto, “What the hell?” The Son of Jurell cemented his legacy with a Superman S on his right triceps. Another few minutes of gambling at Harrah’s paved the way for bed, and the end of the day.

Our last full day was deemed “food day”. For three trips now, Trina and I had been wanting to go to ‘witchcraft, Tom Colicchio’s sandwich shop in the MGM Grand. We just beat the lunch rush to have a steak and egg sandwich and a roast beef sandwich with some chips and iced tea…for $28?! Are you kidding me? Damn…that’s an expensive sandwich. This is just- (one bite later)… I’m gonna need about 3 more to go please. Yeah, it was just that good.

The girls took their leave to go to the spa for a massage, and Josh and I walked around trying to find some good table mojo, walking here, there and everywhere. He won a little, I lost a little, and then I had a watershed moment. With plenty of cash left in my pocket, all budgeted for, and a whole day to do whatever I wanted, I just didn’t want to gamble anymore? I had my fill, and that was that. Josh agreed, and we hit the pool, joined by the girls once they finished their massages.

That night led to culinary indulgence. Dressed sharp and looking good, we took a cab down to Mandalay Bay to another Vegas staple, Red Square. Not knowing what to order and not really being all that into mixed drinks or martinis, Josh told me to “just order whatever”. A Russkie followed, and with one nearly tear-jerking sip, he proclaimed it “the best drink he’d ever had”.

Dinner called.

Across the strip was Craftsteak, another Tom Colicchio masterpiece. This was his fine-dining, flagship restaurant. Yellowtail Hamachi, filet with scallops, salmon, chicken, amazing. Served in cast-iron pans, and attended to as though it was going to be our last meals, every single thing was better then the next. Our sides of Yukon Gold potato puree and mushroom risotto came in beautiful copper pots to maintain heat and be eaten at our leisure. No one spoke. We all sat reverently and ate what we could only describe as the best meal any of us had ever eaten. We’ve been lucky enough to eat in some very impressive places. Not a single one could measure up. It was worth every single cent. I’d do it all again and never think twice.

We didn’t want to call it a night so early, but we were all so full and satisfied, nothing else could have made it all any better. We took strolled the monorail to get back to the hotel for the night. We’d done everything the right way, and now it was time to pack it in, and call it a trip. The next morning would come all too soon.

Vegas is an every changing thing. If there’s something you see, like, want to do, whatever, you better do it. There are no guarantees that whatever interested you will be there when you come back the next time. Therefore, it’s always a learning experience, too. Here’s what we came up with; generally three full days is plenty. You’re all Vegas-ed out at the end of that third day, no matter if it was a win, lose, or draw. But, we arrived at that conclusion after a bunch of off-season visits. When there’s a pool to lounge at and relax, four full days is by no means out of the question.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great writing on this one. Love, Me

7:16 PM  

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