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As a Sailor Once Said, Ain't That a Kick in the Head TR 25-30 May
“As a Sailor Once Said, Ain’t that a Kick in the Head?”
I know that is an incorrect lyric quote - but it fits so well! I was hearing this song all week in my head.
This report took 15 pages and 8 hours to write. Hope you like ‘em long!
Well I just got back at 8:30pm Friday night. It is now Saturday morning and my luggage still has not made it home. I’m patiently waiting for a call from the airlines. Fortunately that is the only bad thing about this trip. So here we go…
It had been a year since my last trip and I needed a break. My lovely bride now lets me go to Vegas solo since she has developed an acute fear of flying based on a very turbulent return trip from Vegas two years ago. My host had secured my five nights comped and would review my play at the end of my stay to determine food, drink, etc. I ordered up an Orleans limo pickup at $57 just so I could arrive in style!
I flew American Airlines as usual and this time paid extra to get the flights I wanted. My flight was from Pensacola, FL to Vegas via Dallas/Fort Worth. Price was $450 round trip as compared to $250 for the same flight 18 months ago.
Sunday, 25 May
Bride dropped me at the PCOLA airport via Waffle House at 5:00am. Departed PCOLA at 6:30am and arrived in Vegas at 10:10am. My book of choice this flight - On the Beach by Nevil Shute. It’s a depressing tale of the end of the world, but I like that sort of stuff. They made it into a film in 1959 and again in 2000. Both are pretty good if you care to check them out.
This was the smoothest flight I’ve ever experienced with no delays . As I was debarking in Dallas the flight attendant and I chatted it up and it turned out she was a Vegas nut like myself. She said she was always looking for new bargains or attractions so I told her about the Ellis Island steak special and she vowed to try it on her next trip.
I always ask if there are upgrades available and when I approached the counter in Dallas the nice lady said “sure, but since you aren’t a platinum/gold/whatever member the cost will be $800”. Hmmm, let me think about that for a second - NO! We shared a good laugh over that as it was obvious I wasn’t spending 800 bucks for a couple of free bloody mary’s and some cocktail peanuts!
Arrived in Vegas 10 minutes early. D concourse so bolted to the shuttle and baggage. I started walking at a quick pace towards the escalators, passing up twentysomethings like I was a younger man myself. This only seems to happen in Vegas. My energy level upon arrival is at a peak like no other time or place.
My limo driver was waiting in baggage by the carousel. I knew him from a previous trip and we talked about some of the changes in Vegas since last year. I asked if he thought there were less visitors and he said there were less visitors and, more importantly, less conventions. That latter part is bad news for all the service folks.
The driver had to be back at the airport in 30 minutes to pick up another passenger, so we flew the back roads of Vegas at an almost alarming speed. I didn’t time it but I think he had me from the closing of the trunk of the limo to the front of the Orleans in about 12 minutes. Tipped him and rolled my bag into the Orleans at about 10:30am.
There was no one in line at the registration desk - my second win of the trip considering we landed 10 minutes early. Don’t get your hopes up skippy, I told myself. Check in was smooth and I was rolling the bag into my room about 10:45am.
I was assigned room 1510, nearly all the way at the end of the looong hallway. It was fine with me since I had asked for and received a strip view with no 20 dollar trick required. I was very pleased as this is my third stay at Orleans and my first time with a strip view. And what a strip view it is. You can see the entire expanse of the strip from Mandalay Bay all the way to the Stratosphere. The view is not quite as impressive at night, as the lights of the strip are, of course, behind the building you’re looking at. A link to the photos I took will appear at the end of this report (if, of course, my luggage ever returns to me!).
I unpacked and got things settled, then ironed all my shirts, slacks, and underwear. Then I watched TV for a few hours to just unwind. COME ON! You know I bolted from that room faster than a speeding bullet!
My Waffle House breakfast had long since dissipated and I wanted something light since my plan was to dine sumptuously at Canal Street that evening. This was to be my only day completely on my own as Duck and Homersimpson969 (Homer from now on) were arriving later.
I decided on Big Al’s Oyster bar for a light lunch. I sat at the bar and ordered up the Manhattan clam chowder. I normally get New England style but wanted to give it a try. It was a huge bowl and came with a selection of warm breads that were very tasty. I didn’t finish as there was just too much and I wanted to save my appetite for later.
After lunch I strolled the casino taking in all the changes. Sazios, the Italian restaurant is closed. The players club is being renovated and is now temporarily in a new location across from TGI Fridays. I got a new card and headed out to make my fortune.
I should mention that I normally bring about $2,000 to gamble with. In honor of our nation’s stimulus check I only brought $1,200. I like the idea that Mr. Bush was paying for my vacation. Thanks Mr. President!.
I also only brought about 200 with me at a time and left the rest of my bankroll up in the safe. I also left all my credit cards and ATM cards in the safe. A sure way to make me think twice about taking more out since I had to hike back to the room each time my bankroll was depleted.
I sat down at the Crawfish bar to begin my VP play. I play 99 percent VP, and 1 percent slots or table games. I played no table games this trip - they always seemed too crowded. My first session went pretty well. I played that machine for about 45 minutes while enjoying the first of many Crown Royals. There is nothing like your first moments in Vegas. To me, my vacation starts after my keister has hit the stool, the first drink is placed in front of you, and I’ve started playing. Ah!
My style of play is pretty different from most. I employ what I call the “Double-Round-de-Round” method. I play all the VP games with a few exceptions. I play two hands in each game. If I win on the second hand I keep going. If I lose I move to the next game. Does this work? Who knows? What it does do is slow down my rate of play, and on a losing session that stretches my bankroll. Works for me.
Well I nailed four 3’s on DDB in that first session for $100. So that made me pretty happy. On my next couple of runs I hit four Aces on DB VP at the Sports Bar for $200. So within an hour I was already up over $300! By the way, if you are not familiar with VP acronyms, this link explains it all - http://members.cox.net/vpfree/Gloss.htm.
Feeling flush, I decided to take the shuttle from Orleans to Bill’s (formerly Barbary Coast). The weather in Vegas this whole week was fantastic. On Sunday the high was around 76 degrees. In fact, it was in the high 70’s or low 80’s nearly all week. A stark contrast to the high 90’s and low 100’s I experienced last Memorial Day week in 07, and much better than the previous week. Another win!
Arriving at Bills, I could quickly see the Strip was packed. I walked into Bill’s and decided I would work my way north, trying some VP in each joint. I made the mistake of sitting at the margarita bar and after I got my bottle of water and started playing the bartender warned me that it might get a little hectic. Boy, was he right! Not only did people keep bellying up for 99 cent margaritas (which are served in cups about the size of a Dixie cup), but the buttons on the machine I was playing were so sticky I had to mash the hell out of them to get them to work. I was almost relieved when my buy in disappeared and I could get out of there.
Straying off my plan I passed up Flamingo because I simply don’t like it. It just gives me a bad vibe, not sure why. I walked through O’Sheas but didn’t play. I completely missed the entrance to the IP - it’s so small now that it’s just is that easy to miss. I remember a time when it was much grander.
I walked through Harrah’s and took up residence at the VP bar near the north entrance. I used to have a good time here. The pay tables are horrendous and my $20 didn’t last long enough to finish a cigarette. That’s value for you, eh? I had one of my first great hits on a $2 DDB VP machine back in 2000. I was playing one coin at a time and hit Aces with a kicker for $800. Those memories are gone forever.
I decided to explore Harrah’s and made my way around the perimeter front to back. I decided to give VP one more try on a slant top and had the same results. That’s it, I’m outta here!
I finally found the entrance to the IP and slithered in. I hadn’t stepped foot in the IP since my first trip to Vegas in 2000. It looked like not much had changed. As I walked by the registration desk I noted the stark difference from my Orleans check in. There must have been 200 people trying to check in or out at 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Relieved I wasn’t standing in that line I headed for the VP bar.
When I sat in the barstool I noticed it seemed rather narrow. Now I’m not svelte at 215 lbs, but I’m not Chris Farley either (good thing too, he’s dead!). I had to cram my a$$ into this stool. I wonder why they make them so narrow? I ordered a bottle of water (wait, what’s this? Sailor ordering water? More on that later) and again watched my $20 dissipate in less than 5 minutes. This is really not good.
I walked past the dealertainers who were actually pretty scary looking. Bad likenesses of Alice Cooper and Madonna. They looked less than excited to be dealing blackjack in those hideous costumes.
I decided to walk over to Bally’s to see if I could find the back entrance that would put me close to Ellis Island. I had planned to finally try the $6.95 steak special later in the week. When I passed the registration desk it was worse than the IP. A sea of unhappy people I was glad not to be a part of.
I explored the bowels of the Bally’s but could never find an exit that was not marked “Emergency Exit - Alarm Will Sound!”. So I trekked back to the front entrance (quite a hike if you’ve ever done it) and toyed with the idea of going to the Bellagio to check out the conservatory. With all the crowds I determined a Strip visit was better conceived later in the week, so I headed back over to Bill’s to wait for the shuttle via the pedestrian bridge.
As I crossed the bridge this Goth chick and her two Goth boyfriends walked past me in the opposite direction. Then the Goth chick ran past me and squeezed the a$$ of this 50 something year old guy walking hand in hand with his wife! She laughed and giggled and ran back to her Goth pals who were also laughing like hell. The 50 something guy and his wife looked back at these cretins like they were all from the planet Uranus and I felt the same way. Only in Vegas, I guess.
The shuttle got me back to Orleans around 4pm and I was pleased as punch to be back. The strip experience had left a bad taste in my mouth and I felt much better about the vibe at the Orleans. It’s my age bracket, I guess. As soon as I sat down at the Crawfish bar and ordered up a Crown Royal I hit four 4’s immediately which made me feel my decision to return was completely right!
I played and played as is my usual style and around 6pm I was feeling the need for some fancy vittles. I checked with Canal Street and there were plenty of tables so the maitre d put me up front where I could watch the customers or potential customers check out the menu and try to figure out if the place was too fancy for them. It was pretty fun to watch.
I order the chopped salad, a small filet, baked potato and ice water. Ok, about the water. I learned several years ago that staying hydrated in Vegas is critical and I learned it the hard way. So for a week before my trip I was pumping the H2O into me daily. When I got to Vegas I tried to remember to drink lots of water and mix bottled water into my drinking routine. Believe me, it works. The only drawback is more frequent trips to the restroom but at least you know your body is hydrated when that’s happening.
The meal was good but not great. I envisioned the chopped salad being, well, chopped, but it was only leafy greens and other salad fare. Ho-hum. My steak was good enough but I’ve had better at the Prime Rib Loft which isn’t saying much for Canal Street. My potato was, well, a potato. I left there sorry I hadn’t chosen the PRL over Canal Street.
I went back to playing right after dinner and ended up at the Crawfish bar right in front of the entrance to the concert hall. Air Supply was playing and I could hear every song clearly. When I told Homer this later he said “sorry to hear that!”. Obviously not a big Air Supply fan - well, neither am I but I did enjoy hearing “All out of Love” as my machine ran all out of love for me. But that was ok, it had been a great first day in Vegas, I was playing on house money, and all is right with the world.
It was only midnight, but I wanted to get up early and check out Palazzo. My internal clock was screaming for sleep, so I headed up to the room. Well, as is normally the case on my first night, I tossed and turned but I think I fell asleep somewhere around 1:30am.
Monday, 26 May
I gave up trying to sleep at 5:00am. I had been awake since 2:30 am. An hours sleep - how will I function? Got cleaned up and headed down to the casino. Ordered up some coffee and water at the Alligator bar. I have to ask the age-old question; why do Vegas casinos serve coffee in the same glasses they serve cold drinks? All they do is wrap a piece of Styrofoam around the glass to keep patrons from burning their fingers. I asked this question to a number of bartenders and they had no answer other than “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. Every other casino outside of Vegas I’ve visited serves coffee in real coffee cups. A mystery that I hope one day will be solved.
Homer had gotten in late the previous evening, so I called him at a ridiculous 6:10am. He was awake with the same problem I had; can’t sleep! But he had just gotten in at 1am so he wanted to try and get more rest. He promised to call when he was ready to roll.
I was free to do my early morning strip crawl so I grabbed a cab and said “Palazzo please!”. The driver was very friendly and we talked about the fall off of tourists and the like. Trip was short and only $12.00 Gave the cabbie $15 and walked into Palazzo for the fist time.
I have to say the entrance was impressive. Very tall ceilings and over sized art-deco decorations. It gave me the feeling of a 1930s hotel on steroids. I made my way back to the casino. I always check out the VP bars and Palazzo’s were $1 minimum - no quarters! Tried to get a player’s card but the player’s club would not open until 8am. When I spotted the Grand Lux I knew what I had to do - eat breakfast!
I sat at the bar, a wood encrusted emporium that looked very inviting, and ordered the standard breakfast, eggs, hash browns, sourdough toast and a choice of ham, bacon or…apple chicken sausage. I had to try that! The food took awhile to come out but it was, in Grand Lux fashion, massive. Three eggs, a mountain of hash browns, a basket of sourdough toast, and four long links of apple chicken sausage for $7.95. I had to write down the name of the sausage to remember it. These were delicious! For the most part I bypassed the rest of the meal to ensure I could savor all the ACS (yes, a new acronym is born!). Full as a tick, I waddled out to check out the rest of the Palazzo.
The Palazzo casino is nothing remarkable. A little like Wynn but a whole lot smaller. Realizing I’ll probably never get invited to stay at this joint at my rate of play I decided to head over to Venetian. Before that though I had to make a pit stop. The massive water hydration was catching up with me. Now, the Palazzo rest rooms are very nice - fancy digs.
On my way out of Palazzo I found a beautiful waterfall. I didn’t bring my camera with me so unfortunately I couldn’t take a photo. There are lots of them out there though so just Google it and you will find many.
I wound my way through the shops and restaurants, got turned around and then had to ask directions to get to Venetian. Once I got to Venetian I tried to get a player’s card but the club was still closed. A floor worker rescued me and just phoned the high limit room and had them punch me out a card. She told me that if you are ever in a casino that doesn’t have a 24 hour player’s club, just go to the high limit room and ask for one. Great tip and I’m glad I can share it with you.
I looked for a VP bar and finally found a circular one in the center of the casino. I was checking out the pay tables when I felt that someone might be watching me. I looked to my left and there was a very attractive young lady smiling at me. She was wearing an evening gown and looking very chic. Uh oh. I know what that means. But it was 8am. What is a hooker doing looking for business at the V at this ungodly hour? I didn’t stop to think about that. I made a b-line to exit stage right.
I decided I needed to use my player’s card so I sat at a quarter double diamond machine to run a $20 through. This is the worst machine I ever played. Not a cherry to be had. Suddenly, I got that feeling again. I looked to my left and there she is again! Walking past me with a great big smile. This must have been a tough night for her. I guess fuel prices are affecting everyone! I was happy when I ran out of credits and could get the hell out of there.
Yes, I’m a faithful husband. I know it probably would have been fun to chat her up but that’s just not my thing. I just felt sorry she hadn’t made her quota and was at the point where she’d want a roll in the hay with a fifty-something like me. I was relieved to get out of there, but not before I had to check out the Venetian’s rest room. Hydration, is there anything it can’t do?
I exited the V by the main entrance and walked down to Las Vegas Blvd. I crossed over to the Mirage. I was looking forward to checking it out without a big crowd. My observation about the Mirage is that it has a cool vibe but it’s very dark, but that’s part of the vibe I guess. I made a full perimeter circle around the joint and could barely recognize it from when I was here the first time in 2000. The Mirage has a warm place in my heart as I got my first Royal Flush here back in July of 2000. I found the VP bar next to the sports book and found my original seat at the far left side of the bar. The machines are quite different now. They are still quarters but to hit the progressive you have to play 10, not 5, credits. So in reality it is actually a 50 cent machine.
For old times sake I sat down and plunked in a $20. I ordered bloody mary mix over ice and a bottle of water which the bartender thought odd. “No booze?” he asked. No, I replied, I’m trying to keep it light since it’s only 8:30am! The mix tasted great over ice, like having a bloody mary without the kick. I played 5 credits on the machine and as the pattern continue on the strip, no hits.
I left the bar with drink and bottle of water in hand. I spotted a Shockwave Four-of-a-Kind (4OAK) Multi-game machine and decided to give it a try. I love this game - if you get a 4OAK you get 10 spins and if you hit another 4OAK it pays the same as a Royal - 1000 credits. The pattern continued and I could only finish my boozeless bloody mary before the credits ran out. Sigh. Oh, the bathrooms are pretty nice here. The stalls have paintings in them! Keep drinking that water, Sailor.
I exited Mirage at the south entrance and crossed the street to the Forum Shops. I took the spiral escalator to the third level, realized I’d screwed up and went back down to the second level, and made may way into the mall. I walked through the nearly deserted mall checking out the shops. Nothing here I need or want. The restroom was closed for cleaning so the nice attendant directed me to the family restroom. Very nice!
Walked through Caesar’s and tried to do a perimeter check but my dogs were barking. I decided to finally make my visit to Bellagio so I exited Caesar’s and crossed the pedestrian bridge to Bellagio. I’d been told but had never found the 25 cent VP bar so I started my search in earnest. Of course, I had to get a players card first. I’d brought every player’s card I had and of course left them back in the room so I needed a new one.
I stopped at the VP bar closes to the front entrance. It was $1 minimum but I needed more water. I played one credit at a time and the bartender was very friendly. He was trying to get me to have a ‘real’ drink too but I was pacing myself. Homer called and he was ready to go and wanted to have lunch at Orleans. I explained I was at Bellagio and he said he’d meet me there. I had about 45 minutes so I went in search of the 25 cent VP bar.
Before that I had to check out the nice Bellagio rest rooms. These are some of the finest pit stops in Vegas, in my humble opinion (IMHO).
I found the 25 cent VP bar towards the back of the casino in front of a restaurant. Sorry, but I’m getting really bad about remembering the names of these bars. The only one at Bellagio I’m familiar with is the Fontana bar. Well, I had my first and only win on the Strip today. Hit four 8’s for 250 credits. There was no bartender on this side so I had to settle for a sip of my water to celebrate.
There is an old slant-top slot that I love to play called Triple-Triple Diamond. I found it and for the first time it did not produce a win. I would have given it another shot but just then Homer called. He was waiting by the conservatory so I headed over to meet him.
I had purposely not checked out the conservatory since I knew Homer would want to. Now, Homer and I met last Memorial Day week and enjoyed each other’s company. So we decided it would be fun to hang out some this trip as well. We both enjoy sightseeing but have different tastes in gambling and nightlife. It’s all good because we do some stuff together then go off on separate junkets on our own.
We checked out the conservatory which was ok. I guess after so many visits I’m getting biased. The Christmas display is what always seems to impress me the most. On our way out to the parking garage Homer called my attention to the City Center model in a glass enclosed case. It is very impressive and Bellagio will be dwarfed by it’s presence. The construction is well underway and it will be something to see when it is completed.
We headed out in Homer’s rented Ford Edge. This is a nice looking vehicle but Homer hated it and I could see why. The stupid plastic gear shift would not engage in reverse unless you fiddled with it every time. Very frustrating. We turned right onto LVB and Homer stopped at a Walgreen’s, or CVS, not sure which. He needed a wrist brace for his ailing wrist. None to be found so I grabbed a water and off we went to visit Rampart and Suncoast. We signed up for a card at Rampart and I got a free t-shirt and Homer opted for the ball cap. Homer was off to play his ACG match plays and I tried VP at the bar. The pattern continued and it ate my money. This is getting frustrating! Before we left I of course had to utilize the rest room - not as nice as Bellagio IMHO.
We slipped next door to Suncoast where our Orleans cards can be used. Homer again went to play blackjack and I hit the very nice VP bar. The pay tables here are mostly full pay. I played a lot of Bonus Deluxe as the pay tables were 9/6. This is the first and only time I saw that. Well, pay tables are only good if you hit quality hands. I didn’t. I figured this must be a sign that I can only win at Orleans. What are you going to do? Oh, the Suncoast rest rooms are just so-so.
Homer was staying at Red Rock and wanted to go back so he could try to find a medical supply store or some place where he could get a wrist brace. Well, we took the long route. Homer thought RR was close but wasn’t sure. We trekked back almost all the way to the strip to get on Charleston and when we finally made it to the intersection before RR I looked to the right and saw the condos that were just beyond Suncoast. Yep, we’d made an 18 mile trip when we could have just gone straight, turned right, and been to RR in about 5 minutes. Live and learn.
Homer showed me his room and it was definitely beautiful. He had a pool view and we spent a little time checking out the talent of which there was plenty! I took some photos and if my luggage ever shows up I’ll post some pictures.
The fridge and amenities that are displayed are all touch sensitive. Homer was warned about this when he checked in. So when he was in the bathroom I rattled the fridge and picked up every one of the amenities. That will surely be a funny joke when he checks out. No, of course I didn’t do that. Homer is a good friend who I appreciate that he thinks enough of me to take me along on these junkets around Vegas. I kept my evil thoughts suppressed. Oh, the bathroom in the RR room was very nice!
We both wanted to finally try the Ellis Island steak special so we headed over that way. There was a small line to get a number so I waited and grabbed one. Homer had a ACG or POV all you can drink in an hour coupon so we bellied up to the bar and played a bit. I stuck with keno knowing that the pattern of losing would continue. This at least kept me playing longer. We both had an amber lager and it was very good. Homer pounded down two but I just nursed mine - I didn’t want to suppress my appetite!
Oh, the Ellis Island restrooms are pretty nasty. I had to visit twice.
We had to wait about 30 minutes to get a table. They give you a number and tell you to listen to the PA. You can’t hear the PA at the bar so be warned. I kept going back to check and almost lost our table by waiting too long.
We both ordered the steak special and Homer ordered potato skins as an appetizer. I thought this was too much but I, of course, sampled them. These were great potato skins with lots of cheese and bacon and a little greasy. My salad was excellent and the steak and baked potato were delicious. The steak was just as good or better than the filet I had at Canal Street the night before.
We left stuffed and I paid the tab to thank Homer for driving me around. Homer dropped me at Orleans and I wanted to play hard as Orleans was giving 6x points on Memorial Day. During the course of the evening Duck called me and we met up for a chat. I also met Duck last year and he and I and Homer became good friends. We caught up and I think Duck wanted to hit the strip but it had been a long day already and I wanted to see if I could put some extra points on my card.
Well I played and played and, as usual, the Orleans gave me the wins I could not find outside the confines of my favorite place. It must be a message. I think Duck stopped back by at some point and we shot the bull for awhile. I was back on a full Crown Royal diet after a long day of water hydration, so it’s hard to recall.
Aces and various quads brought me back to even for the trip, so I called it a night at very unusual, reasonable 1am. I must be getting old. I used to pull all nighters, sleep for 3 hours, then do it all over again the next day. Oh, to be young again.
Tuesday, 27 May (Meet Day)
I awoke at 4am. Damn! Only three hours sleep. I think my body is rejecting this normally comfortable Orleans mattress. We just bought a new pillow top mattress a couple of months ago and I’m hooked on it. Plus the pillows at the Orleans seem like wafers compared to my nice comfy pillow at home. I forced myself to stay in bed until 6am, then gave up and got ready for the day.
I had breakfast at the Courtyard Café. I ordered the House Skillet which was a mountain of scrambled eggs over ham, onions, peppers and potatoes. It was way too much and seemed much more greasy than the last time I tried it. I ate only a fourth of it and had to leave the rest behind. Quitter! I kept a Zantac in my wallet the whole trip out of fear of acid indigestion but I never needed it.
I played a little VP and had some coffee at the sports bar but nothing interesting materialized. I then went to the Cineplex and checked the time for the new Indiana Jones movie. Both Homer and Duck wanted to see this film and I hadn’t been to a theater in years. It takes a real movie event for me to go to a theater these days and this was one of them.
After that I started what was to become a morning tradition. I bought an iced coffee (we New Englanders love our iced coffee!) and bought a keno ticket for 10 games. Now I’ve read that lots of people seem to hit on this game but I never do. When I bought my ticket the lady said “wait, I want to use the other cashier’s machine because she is lucky!”. Ok by me so she printed my ticket and I looked for a place to play nearby so I could watch the results of the next 10 games.
I planted myself at a nickel 3 play progressive VP machine. This machine paid progressive jackpots on each line for a Royal, and another progressive for getting a Royal on all three lines. I played the JOB version since it was the only game that paid 10 credits for two pair. I figured my $20 would last longer there. Well this machine was pretty friendly and kept my credits close to even for quite awhile. Then I was dealt two cards to the Royal and whaddaya know, it filled in on the third line with the progressive paying $369! Woo Hoo! - my first Royal of the trip.
My credits were hovering around 7,999 which is close to $400. I wanted to try and get over that hump for an even amount but the machine just toyed with me. There were still lots of keno games to go before my run was through so I just kept hammering away at it. The cocktail waitress came by and started me on a long run of Absolute bloody mary’s and bottled water. I was having a great time!
As I was still trying to get over the 8,000 credit point I pulled up four cards to the Royal in the same suit (hearts) as before. I was shocked to see it come up again on the third line, this time for a $200 win as the progressive counter had been set back to $200 after my previous win. My total was now over $600 and I cashed out faster than a jackrabbit on a date (yeah, I’ve used that line before, but I like it!).
My keno ticket hadn’t fared as well as my 3 play machine did, but I cashed in my ticket and told the cashier, you were right about the lucky machine, only it’s over there - and pointed to my new, favorite VP machine. I left my keno ticket winnings as a tip and headed off to the room to stash my winnings in the safe.
I took only $200 with me and slow rolled it the rest of the day winning and losing here and there. I met up with Duck later and he was headed to the strip but I was tired of it and wanted to stay and play. When he got back he said the strip was dead now that all the Memorial day vacationers had gone home.
I called Homer and he was checking out of Red Rock and heading over to Orleans to check in for the rest of his stay. We were all going to a meet I had set up at the Mardi Gras lounge at 4pm, and decided after that we’d do a downtown run. We had no set plans for dinner but figured we could find someplace downtown later.
Meet time arrived and I showed up about a half hour early. I plunked myself at the bar and no sooner had I started sipping a Crown Royal and playing VP when Wirragirl tapped me on the shoulder and we greeted each other for the first time. We chatted and had a great time getting to know each other. I have been to England a few times and used have an aunt and uncle that lived in Newcastle Upon Tyne 3 - and coincidently that is where Wirragirl lived. Small world.
I gave Wirragirl a few tips on playing VP since she had never played before. As rookie luck would have it she caught four 2’s and four 4’s in quick succession. Those gambling gods know how to get a hook into you, don’t they?
People started trickling in, and in and in. I had figured 30 potential attendees and eventually over 21 people showed up. The attendees were as I recollect: Wirragirl, HomerSimpson969, Duck, Trawnajack, Rhonda, OakleyToronto, Frankthewebmaster, Marjam and hubby Jim, Gooseylucy, Joeboxer and spouse, Pebbles and hubby, IndyJayBird and friend, LvElvisfan and several friends, one of which was a very impressive Elvis Impersonator, and Countyrkidd. Sorry if I missed anyone but I tried to take good notes.
This was by far the most fun meet I’ve ever attended. Everyone was getting along well and having a great time. The alcohol was flowing and people got louder and louder as time went by. LvElvisfan’s friend who was an Elvis impersonator favored us with an acapella version of “A Little Less Conversation”. He was outstanding and I hope he does well in future endeavors. The other folks in the lounge stared as he sand. They must have thought it was a new lounge act. We all applauded him at the end, including the non-meet attendees. He was that good.
Most meets I’ve been to last about an hour or so. Two and half hours later Homer, Duck and I were starving but felt compelled to stay awhile longer since it was ‘my’ meet! Finally the hungries got to us and I made my apologies and said my goodbyes. I got a load of grief from all the gals for bailing but my stomach was telling me it was time to go.
Thanks to Wirragirl for the British ball cap and flags and drink. Thanks to everyone who showed up and a special thanks to Rhonda who really pushed this with everyone to attend. It was great meeting all of you and I now have a whole list of new friends who I look forward to seeing in Vegas again and again in the future.
We invited Trawnajack to join us for dinner. Since we were so hungry and Duck had 2 for 1 coupons, we decided to eat at Don Miguel’s which never disappoints. This time was no exception. We all had the 2 for 1 chicken fajitas and they were excellent. We shared great conversation and stuffed ourselves to the gills. I highly recommend Don Miguel’s.
After dinner we parted ways with Trawnajack who was headed back to Caesar’s to “earn his keep”. I know the feeling! Duck, Homer and I jumped in the Ford Edge with optional transmission and headed downtown. We parked at MSS’s parking garage on the first level and avoided the world’s slowest, smallest elevator.
The goal of this visit was to put a check in the box by visiting the El Cortez. We walked the length of Freemont street and then crossed over to the ‘scary’ part by Neonopolis. This area has been cleaned up considerably, is well lit, and has security folks stationed at various points. It appears the plan is to extend Freemont street for the tourists - not sure how this will pan out.
We made it to El Cortez without getting mugged. Took a walk through the joint but I didn’t find it very impressive. Homer and I got player’s cards but we never put a nickel in any of the machines. We headed back towards MSS and caught a light show with a Queen theme, one of the songs was We are the Champions. It was a pretty good light show compared to others I’ve seen and none of us had seen it so it must be fairly new. While I stood watching the show and looking up, it occurred to me that this was an ideal pickpocket situation. I quickly stuffed my wallet in my front pocket! I can just imagine pickpockets staking out the tourists during the shows.
After that it was back to the MSS garage and back to Orleans. I don’t think any of us was feeling the vibe of downtown that night. I would have liked to hit the Boar’s Head bar for some VP, but I know the guys weren’t into it so I passed on that idea.
Back at Orleans we went our separate ways and I hit the VP hard again. I been steadily losing all day but it seemed nighttime at the Orleans was always good to me. I played a lot at the Crawfish bar as the bartenders, especially Jeff, were very attentive. I love it when I’ve been at the Orleans a couple of days and the bartenders figure out my routine. Jeff broke the code first and by now was checking on me every ten minutes or so and recharging my flask. Good times.
Duck and I ran into each other at some point during the evening and he reported that the gals were still ‘meeting’ at 9pm in the Mardi Gras lounge and were apparently pretty smashed. I hoped they all had designated drivers!
I kept bouncing around to the Mardi Gras bar, Sports bar, Brendan’s, the bar by the poker room (does this bar have a name? I can’t seem to find one) and the Alligator bar. It was getting late and it looked like I was going to pull an all nighter. I hadn’t done this yet but the gambling was going well and I had nowhere to be the next morning. According to Duck the weather prediction was 35 MPH winds. Because of this we decided it would be a good day to go see the Indiana Jones flick.
About 3am I stopped playing my round-de-round method and played straight DDB VP. I hit the aces with a kicker for $500 - the biggest single hit of the trip. This put me in the plus column again so I played a bit more and ended up heading back to the room about 4:30am. Good times!
Wednesday, 28 May
I was up by 8:30am. At least I’d gotten four hours sleep for a change. How will my old body make it on such little sleep?
My morning routine was solidified today. I got an iced coffee from Seattle’s Best and made some keno wagers, then headed to the 3 play nickel VP machines. My luck was not anything like the day before but I was enjoying the low rolling fun. Duck called to say he was having breakfast with Homer at the Courtyard Café and I decided to join them since I hadn’t had a thing to eat since Don Miguel’s yesterday.
The Courtyard Café was packed. In fact, Orleans was very busy the entire time I was there. Not annoyingly packed, but noticeably. It’s probably the reason I never played any roulette or blackjack the whole trip. I just hate a full table. Duck was sitting at a two seater table so we asked for a four seat table since Homer was on his way. The staff gladly accommodated us.
All the steak and eggs and bacon were beginning to catch up to me so I decided to play it smart. I ordered a fruit cup and a toasted bagel. This is just what I needed and it really hit the spot. Homer had the same House Skillet I had the day before and Duck had a burger. He said it was just ok.
We went our separate ways for awhile as the Indiana Jones movie started in about 45 minutes. We met up at the theater and got our tickets. We all felt like popcorn was mandatory but we were all too full from breakfast so we just went in the theater. The seats in the Orleans theaters are very comfortable. The previews started and I’ve never seen as many previews before a movie in my life. It went at least 40 minutes!
Finally the movie started and it was great fun. While the 1989 Indy film with Sean Connery was probably the best, this was a close second in my book. It was also great to see Karen Allen return and watch her spar with Harrison Ford. I won’t give away the ending but it was pretty satisfying. I doubt there will be another due to Ford’s age, but he did a great job keeping up with the youngsters in this movie.
Duck was meeting a friend later that afternoon so Homer and I put our heads together to come up with another jaunt. I was running low on crap at home so I wanted to get some souvenirs. Homer suggested the Bonanza gift shop (the largest souvenir shop in Vegas!) and I concurred. After all, he was driving. First, we had the hungries and I had never had In-n-Out burger so Homer suggested that.
I stood in the line and got the full experience of ordering one of about three options. I got a single combo, Homer got a double, and I took care of the tab to thank Homer for the transportation. With the price of gas I figure I probably made out in the bargain.
Homer told me not to have high expectations, but the food was fine. Great burger, excellent seasoned fries. Not much more you could ask for in a low cost meal.
After In-n-Out we headed to the Bonanza souvenir shop. There was plenty of stuff to be had. I picked out a t-shirt and top for the bride, a couple of 2009 calendars for only 3 bucks apiece, one for work and one for home. I also found a cheezy Vegas sign in a bubble for my office. It is sure to pi$$ of my co-workers. Good times!
We passed by Polly the motion activated insulting parrot. She asked for a BJ and I don’t mean blackjack. Too funny. Homer picked up a few things as well and we were off.
Next stop was the Forum shops. Homer wanted to pick up something for his neighbors who were babysitting his pets. He parked in the garage at a spot he was sure was miles from the store he wanted to go to. As it turned out the entrance to the mall was just steps away from where he wanted to go.
Neither of us had ever been to South Point, so we pointed the Edge towards the I-15 and headed out. I was really impressed with Homer’s navigational skills and sense of direction. He always seemed to know how to get to where we were going, except for that one fopaux between Suncoast and Red Rock!
South Point is a beautiful property. We went to get players card but it seems I signed up online years ago. No free crap anyway and we had cornered the market on free crap at the Bonanza. We sat at the beautiful VP bar and played some video blackjack. Homer had a beer and I had my only frozen drink of the trip. It was a good choice, a frozen margarita with a lime slice perfectly balanced on the rim. This was a well made drink, and it was smooth all the way to the end. No frozen dead end half way through like some drinks.
Of course I couldn’t win a thing. I think Homer cashed out a couple of bucks a head. Oh well.
We were thinking of visiting the Silverton, but Homer had tickets to O at the Bellagio so we gave it a pass and headed back to the Orleans. I was on my own for the evening.
While I was playing some VP at the Crawfish bar Duck showed up and asked if I had eaten dinner yet. I hadn’t so we discussed options. He had a 2 for 1 coupon for the Orleans or Gold Coast buffet. I’m not a buffet person but I couldn’t think of anything better so I opted to join him. We grabbed the shuttle down to the strip and then back to the Gold Coast.
At only $6.50 apiece with the 2/1 coupon, I must say the Gold Coast buffet was excellent, although I only ate two choices. I saw that they had Mongolian BBQ and I rarely get to try this so I loaded up a plate with veggies and the like and handed it to the chef. He hooked me up well with beef and cooked it to perfection. I added a couple of pieces of General Cho’s chicken and stuffed myself. Duck had a variety of things but I was concentrating on my MBBQ.
I realized I hadn’t eaten a desert the whole trip so went on a search. I settle on a single slice of watermelon as I was feeling a bit full. Duck had his eye on a piece of triple chocolate cake. I asked for a tiny bite and I must say it was chocolately delicious. Another bite or two and I would have been bouncing off the walls from a sugar high.
After dinner we decided to check out the Rio and try to catch a show in the sky. We hoofed it over there and it was really not far. We weaved our way through the casino and found out that the show only runs Thursday through Sunday now. Bummer. On our way back to the Gold Coast we caught one of the Bevertainers dancing on the stage. It was really quite surreal but the lady was quite attractive and easy on the eyes. Duck videotaped the whole routine!
We missed the shuttle back to Orleans by seconds and the next one didn’t show up for over 30 minutes. Duck could tell I was getting hot. I hate waiting for anything. When the next shuttle arrived there were only three seats available and two people in front of me. I looked at Duck and he graciously let me take the last seat. Thanks Duck!
Back at Orleans I had the most unusual VP session ever. I was playing DDB VP and caught 3 fives which filled in the fourth five on the next deal. Then the machine dealt me a straight. On the next hand it dealt me 3 fives again in the same position, then filled in again! I’m sure stranger things have happened but not to me.
Duck showed up about a half hour later and recounted how screwed up the shuttles were that night. Apparently they did not expect the crowds that were boarding the shuttle and didn’t have enough to accommodate that many people.
Duck was off to bed and I was off to VP marathon land again. Duck and Homer told me they always knew where to find me as I always ended up at the Crawfish or Alligator bars. Yeah, I’m an easy read! My luck turned sour and I started to lose so I chucked it in at about 2am. Reasonable by my standards.
Thursday, 29 May
I can’t believe this is my last full day. This trip has been a lot of fun, but I’m not as awestruck as I have been on previous trips. I guess I’m getting used to Vegas. I guess that’s not so bad.
I was up and out by 8am. I repeated my now morning ritual of getting an iced coffee from Seattle’s Best, then placing a keno wager, then watching the games proceed from the three play nickel VP machines. My luck was on a downturn, but I lost slowly. I think I played every machine on the bank of three plays with zero luck. By now I was into my own bankroll, but I felt ok about it. I’ve had trips where I was more than a grand in the hole by this point. At least I knew I had cash to play with all day.
Homer called, or I called him, I can’t remember. Duck had flown out this morning, so we had said our goodbyes the night before. Homer was having breakfast at the Courtyard Café and he was surprised I hadn’t eaten already. I joined him and we both had the eggs benedict. I always try to have this at least once a trip and this time they were the best I’ve ever had. I nearly cleaned my plate which is highly unusual for me.
We left satisfied and as we had discussed earlier in the trip we headed out to the Atomic Testing museum. This is a highly unusual Vegas attraction. Admission was $12 so we thought that was reasonable. We spent about 90 minutes perusing the displays. The best part for me were the old 1950’s ads about what to do after a nuclear attack. If you’ve ever seen the movie the Atomic Café you know what I mean. One vintage piece went like this; grandma is in the living room. Boom! The window blows in. Dad comes in and tells grandma to calm down. Mom comes in and is all worried about junior who is out playing. Should we go find him? No, says dad, he’ll find his way home by himself. Dad tells mom to start boiling water. Junior shows up all banged up and dad makes him go lie down. Should we call a doctor, asks mom? No, says dad, the doctor is probably busy with more important things? Huh? And on it goes with the doctor finally showing up and telling mom and dad junior may not survive. It was hilarious!
There were other vintage films about whether you could recover from radiation poisoning. Amazing how ignorant we were back then about the affects of radiation. I bought a souvenir shot glass at the gift shop and I’ll always remember this great visit when I look at it in the future.
Neither one of us were up for more exploring so we headed back to the Orleans. I packed up most of my stuff so I wouldn’t have much to do the next morning then hit the machines again. I was actually only down a couple of hundred and kept the gambling low playing lots of video keno. I hit my numbers quite often in Biloxi but never in Vegas. It’s a mystery to me as to why.
Homer had recounted his O show earlier in the day. He had planned to eat at Emeril’s at MGM after the show, but it was late so he ate at the Bellagio buffet. He always likes to eat at Emeril’s once a trip so he planned to go that evening. I was up for it as I had always wanted to eat there but hadn’t had the chance to date. We parked at MGM’s garage and walked the maze that is MGM and made our way to Emeril’s. Homer could not get a reservation so we took a chance for a seat at the bar. No problem and I’m more comfortable there anyway without a big group.
Homer ordered a beer and I ordered my first Manhattan of the trip. I always try to have at least one. These turned out to be 13 bucks a pop. Wow.
We both ordered the BBQ shrimp for an appetizer. Homer ordered Sea Bass I believe and I got some shrimp and rice dish, I forget the name. Everything was outstanding and very tasty. I think this is the most expensive meal I ever ordered for just me. The bill came to $95 with tip. It didn’t help that I’d had two Manhattans at $13 a pop!
Back at Orleans it was last chance gamble time. I grabbed a full $500 to take down to the casino. What the heck, I was still in pretty good shape. I stopped by the host office and checked my comps. My host said all could be comped except the limo which was $57 but if I gambled a little more she could probably comp that as well and to check back at 8am Friday. If I gamble a bit more? She don’t know me vewwy well, do she? It was balls to the wall night and I was planning to have some fun!
I checked my play at the player’s club. Got $60 cash back and they pay you right there - no more check to take to the cashier’s cage. Good idea. My play had bumped up my card level to Safire from Ruby. The next level is Emerald. Not sure what that will do for me but I’ll keep my eye on the offers.
I played and played. Jess at the Crawfish bar kept me in Crown Royals and I had a great time, although I couldn’t hit a 4OAK to save my life. Sometime during the evening, or it may have been the night before, some guy of Russian persuasion started talking insultingly to everyone around him. I was two seats down so I had a buffer between me and this cretin. He kept asking dumb questions. When the guy between us got up and left for the restroom it was my turn. The guy asks me who was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase. Do you remember? Well I certainly didn’t and told him I didn’t know. He kept mumbling the whole time and then he really pi$$ed me off. He asked me, “Are there any good or nice Americans?” I stopped playing, set down my drink and turned to the guy. I said “Well I think there are”. Russia boy responded with “I can’t find any” and looked me dead in the eye.
Now you don’t tell a 31 year navy veteran something like that. I thought about it for a minute and decided that unless I wanted to get 86’s from Orleans I better hold my tongue. So I bit my lip and cashed out and moved to the other side of the bar. Probably a good idea cause even drunk, this guy could have easily kicked my a$$.
Jess came around and we talked about what an a$$bite this guy was. He was giving everyone crap including the bartenders but never quite crossed the line to get tossed. Hours later I returned to the Crawfish bar and Jess and another bartender came up and told me how this guy got 86’d just moments ago. Apparently the guy between me and this jerk was being friendly and chatting him up. When the jerk went to the restroom he left his credits on his VP machine and friendly guy grabbed his TITO and ran. When jerk got back he started screaming “American stole from me!” “American stole from me!”. He wouldn’t calm down and kept screaming expletives about Americans. Well it didn’t take long for American security guys to toss him out on his ear!
Now I’m not in favor of stealing from anyone and I think that this guy that stole his TITO is the worst kind of ba$tard, but it didn’t really bother me that the anti-American jerk got his in the end. End of rant.
**NEWS FLASH - the doorbell just rang and my luggage is back and safe and sound. A little worse for wear but all the contents are in tact. Thank God I didn’t lost all the great crap I bought at the souvenir shop!**
The rest of the evening was pretty much anti-climactic, but I did have some eventful hits. After losing almost everything I had brought down I stuck a Benjamin in the same VP machine that saved my a$$ on the last trip. I played 50 cent Bonus Poker Deluxe and hit a few 4OAKs that replenished my bankroll. Hit the hay at 1:30am even for the day. Still only down $300 for the trip. Amazing.
Friday, 25 May
Reality shows its face - time to go home. But the funs not quite over yet. I arranged for a 12:40pm flight this time so I didn’t have to scramble to get to the airport like I usually do. I slept till about 7am and out the door shortly thereafter. For the last time I repeated my favorite morning routine which will probably be a habit from now on; iced coffee, keno, 3 play nickel VP. No luck but great, low rolling fun.
Since I had gotten over my hatred of buffets at Gold Coast, I decided to give Orleans buffet a shot for breakfast. I wasn’t starving, but I knew it would be my last chance to eat in Vegas. I ate a big plate of sliced grapefruit, orange slices and melon. Lord knows my body needed that. I couldn’t resist an omelet so I asked for a small one, yeah, sure… There was corned beef hash available so I had to have some. I didn’t overstuff and I have to say it was pretty tasty.
Next stop was to check with my host. My previous nights play was enough to warrant full comps all around. Zero balance at checkout. I was now down about $400 so I was delighted that the trip had been free less airfare. Well worth it to pay $400 for all the perks I had enjoyed the last five days.
Made a last trip to the room, packed up and headed for the lobby to check out. There was a small problem with the bill as my host hadn’t zeroed out my account yet. A quick call fixed all that and I was off to the cab line (not enough play to warrant another free limo ride this time).
I walked up to the cab stand and told the driver “I bet you can’t guess where I want to go”. “The bus stop?” he replied. That set the tone for the ride. Great guy. No tunnel. $12.50 fare to the airport. He even turned off the meter when we got stuck in traffic at the terminal. Nice guy.
Crowds were bad at the airport but I got checked in quickly. With two hours to spare I got a bottle of water and checked out the slots. I know airport slots suck but I found a Triple-Triple Diamond machine way in the back of D concourse and this puppy played me on $20 for 45 minutes. Had lots of little hits and had it up to $50 and one time but it took it all back in the end. I wasn’t upset about that at all.
Trip back was smooth with no delays. The only negative was my bag being lost but as I noted earlier it arrived back the next day.
- Homer and Duck are great people. We don’t always share the same interests but there are enough things we like to do together that make them great company. We never have a problem if someone wants to go their separate way. Great to see you all again guys and look forward to more Vegas fun in the future.
- All the folks I met and the meet were terrific. I never planned for the meet to be so much fun and I have new found friends who I hope to see again many times in the future.
- Rhonda is bubbly!
- I put a lot of checks in the box this trip, Palazzo, Ellis Island, Rampart, Suncoast, South Point, Bonanza gift shop, Forum Shops, Fashion Show mall. Not all were planned but all were fun.
- I took things a lot easier this trip and benefited for it. I’m sorry I couldn’t sleep but at least I wasn’t pushing too hard to make the lack of sleep a deprivation to my well being.
- Hydration is critical. Plus you get to see so many new restrooms.
That’s it! If you got this far thanks for reading this novel. Photos can be seen here:
I don’t know when my next trip will be. I owe the bride a cruise or whatever she wants to do which is usually Biloxi. It’s her call. I hope to make it back in December again if I can afford to get away. If not, I think I can wait till next May.
Until then - keep posting those trip reports!
Last edited by sailor53; 05-31-2008 at 03:24 PM.
Re: As a Sailor Once Said, Ain't That a Kick in the Head TR 25-30 May
Sailor, wonderfully detailed trip report. Too bad the Misses stayed home. I'm sure you missed her with her hand out.
Re: As a Sailor Once Said, Ain't That a Kick in the Head TR 25-30 May
Wow, it took a long time for anyone to reply to this trip report. The bride will have her chance. We're headed to Vegas 14-19 Dec and she's sucking it up and flying against her fear. More to follow!
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