TR 8/12-8/14

I flew Southwest to Vegas from El Paso on a non-stop flight Saturday August 12th. I had a row to myself. The flight left right on time and arrived a few minutes early. I went and caught the Alamo shuttle and off to the quicksilver Kiosk. My card wouldn't work so I had to go to a young lady working there, so no upgrade for me, I ended up with a Maroon Chevy Cavalier, pretty plain but it'll get me around.

I bypassed the strip as I approached Flamingo the traffic looked horrible, so I squirted over to Paradise, past the Hard Rock and headed to IP the back way coming in off of Koval. Saved a bunch of time this way. I checked in, and received a 4th floor Pool View Room. The room was O.K., nothing special, I really didn't have much of a view but I wasn't in the room much at all. The rate was $55 for a Sat. arrival. I was originally going to stay there Sunday and Monday at $39 but later moved, more on that later.

I headed down to Harrah's, stopped in at Casino Royale and tried my luck at Once Around Monopoly. I was on a budget trip, so I didn't want to go nuts right away, I quickly hit the bonus round and wouldn't you know it, I land on Boardwalk (with two hotels built) but was playing with 9 lines played and one Nickel per line. The machine was at around 1400 coins, I moved to another machine and played I lost the original $20. That was a sign of things to come unfortunately. When I hit the bonus round on the first machine (first by the door at Casino Royale, I had trouble building houses, the mouse function on the touch screen wasn't working, an arrow would pop up and would be off from where I was trying to put houses etc. It was very frustrating. Took forever to do all of this).

I was hungry so I headed to the Hard Rock and to Mr. Lucky's. I sat at the counter I had the steak & shrimp special that's not on the menu in front of a TV to watch the NFL preseason game. The meal was good as was the service, I left a $2 tip for the waiter. The guy next to me asked me how I knew about the steak and shrimp special (he was an off-duty cab driver, kind of nuts too). I told him I heard about it on this board. He couldn't get the concept, so I told him friends told me about it. He understood that. He argued with the waiter for like 20 minutes about which side is smoking and non-smoking and how the Hard Rock had changed it and the waiter was politely saying it hasn't changed, but if the guy next to you (me) didn't mind, he could smoke. To the guy's credit, he said that wouldn't be right but he just knew this was smoking, he had been coming in here 5 years etc....this went on for the whole meal practically. It was funny and the waiters were looking at me like, can you believe he won't drop this?

After eating I drove around and finally went over to the Orleans and joined the slot club, tried a few monopoly machines there with very little luck, I hit the bonus round two or three times. I was down about $100 on monopoly so I went and gave Blackjack a whirl and won $40 over about an hour or 90 minutes. That was fun, my first winning session. The Orelans is a nice clean casino, nice dealers, they had enough action without the tables being packed. There was a live band playing called Sneak Preview, I enjoyed their act. I went and dropped another $40 in Monopoly and split back to the mid-strip area. I walked over to Harrah's and there was quite a party going at the Carnival Bar in between Harrah's and Imperial Palace. Tom Jones had stopped by to watch the performer and he was all touched and kept introducing him (maybe two times, everyone applauded), then the performer said "Drinks for everyone on me" and he bought everyone Kamikaze's so the bartenders were standing on the bar, blowing whistles and pouring em' right into people's mouths while this guy kept performing. The performer's name was something Medley (Dave I think). He was pretty good. He had people dancing (Mambo #5) and everyone was enjoying himself or herself. People were out on their balconies at the IP looking down onto the goings on (I imagine it would be hard to sleep with this act going on so loud and late). He went until almost 3 a.m. noting that was about 45 minutes longer then usual, but said you don't stop when Tom Jones comes to see you.

I went to the IP and had the Prime Rib Sandwich in the Tea House ($4.25) and it was very good. I finally turned in around 4:30 a.m.

I woke up Sunday morning and started calling around to see if any hotels had any room at good rates. The Las Vegas Club downtown had $18 rooms, I had stayed there once before and they have nice rooms so I booked it. Packed up and moved downtown and checked in. It took like 3 minutes to check it. I was on the 6th floor of the new tower and the room was so much nicer the the Imperial Palace room. I had done the right thing, no doubt about it. I had a King Bed, a sofa, two chairs, floor to ceiling window with a view of the California and the Mountains. There was a vanity area, plus a sink outside the bathroom. On the strip this would easily be a $60 room on weekdays I'd think, maybe more.

So I went over to the Golden Gate for a shrimp Cocktail. I ate a lot of my meals at the Golden Gate. Very good food. I had their Ham and Eggs and hash browns late night special for $2.99. I went there after I found out that Binion's coffee shop was closed (I had read about it on here but inquired anyway). I asked and they said they serve the steak special (the late night one) upstairs in a 24-hour cafe but people around me told me it isn't what it used to be. I can't judge that, I didn't give it a try. I did try the LV Club late night steak and Eggs in the Dugout. It's $2.99 and not very good. It couldn't hold a candle to the food at the Golden Gate in the Bay City Diner. I like that place and really enjoyed my meals there.

As far as gambling downtown. I played blackjack at Binion's. I bought in for $40 and was down to seven bucks. Changed tables and worked that up to $75 which is very rare for me. I was on a hot streak like I hadn't seen before but every time I raised my bet I'd lose. I was winning 3 of 4 hands but the loss would come on my raised bets. So finally I quit raising them and stayed hot for awhile. But in a later session I lost if fairly quick. The dealer got hot on me and while most people played very well there on basic strategy, this one guy (a local no less) killed us when he didn't split aces against a six and the dealer made a hand. The guy at first base was furious because he had about $75 out there. I lost my $5 on a 20 and politely got up and left. I didn't want to stay around while the guy at first base chewed out the local. His face was turning red and everything.

So with most of my gambling money now depostied in the hands of the casinos, I decided for low stakes gambling at Sahara. I got hot initially while at a fairly fun table with a nice Austrian lady and a beach lover from Southern California. But everyone at this table had no clue about basic strategy and they were killing me. But for $1 blackjack, what can you do? I just roll with the punches. I was there to play, not gamble since I had pretty much lost what I had taken to lose. Over the PA system I kept hearing, "would the driver of a red cavalier, license plate # so and so please (inaudible)". After about the 4th time I thought to myself, my rental car is red...hmmmm, but I valet parked it and the guy parked it out in front there, can't be me....well about 15 minutes later I hear my name over the PA system to call the operator on the white courtesy phone. This no longer was a coincidence. I go out front and sure enough, there's security and people all around my rental car. This guy had tried to get his own truck out of valet and with the valet kid flagging him down, the guy swerved, almost hit the valet and rammed into my rental car. Lucky Me.

The people at Sahara were great. The guy had tried to get away, but they chased him down at Sahara and LV Boulevard. The valet said he was pissed because he nearly got hit, he wasn't going to let the guy get away. So they took pics, statements, this guys insurance, license, everything and said they might even have it on video. They let me use the phone in the valet office to call Alamo. I was on the phone for 90 minutes with them giving a report (which was stupid since Sahara had given me an incident # with all the affadavits, pics etc. the car rental company could use). But I had to do it to get another car. I finally leave and take the car up to Alamo (left headlight was out) and they gave me a new car after about a 30 minute wait. They did give me an upgrade because they said I had handled it so "well". The valet was telling me to give them the incident number and wash my hands of it and go have fun. He was nice, but I decided to cover my bases here.

I asked the valet how often this has happened and he said he can't ever remember it happening. Great, I do a rare thing in Vegas and it's not hitting the Megabucks but getting my car rammed in Valet while parked and inside gambling. I had lost $10 in about an hour of play at Sahara.

A little side story, I was wearing a blue shirt almost like the valet workers, so when I was in the office on the phone and they were off getting cars, a lot of people came up to the window wanting service. I got some nasty looks when I waved them towards the line outside. But I don't work there! This happened like 10 times in the 90 minutes. I got a laugh out of that. I needed a laugh. I spent roughly 3 hours dealing with this whole mess.

The next day I got up and didn't feel like playing any more so I called Southwest and moved my trip home up a day. I fooled around for about 4 hours, driving around and looking at areas off the strip as I'm considering moving to Vegas. I wanted to see what it was like off the "beaten path" and enjoyed that a lot more then I expected. I did notice that at every stop light it's like a drag race to get off the starter's line there. I'm not quite used to that but the Chevy Prizm had a little get up and go. After a little joyride and some lunch (regular old fast food), I headed to the airport for another on-timeSWA non-stop flight with my own row. It was a bit bumpy on both ends of the flight but the majority of it was smooth. We were up at 41,000 feet going around thunderstorms in AZ, beautiful towering clouds, very scenic. Have you ever noticed how quiet planes are on the trip back? Every one is quiet and asleep for the most part and this was a 2 p.m. flight. We landed in El Paso about 5 minutes early and was glad to be back after a quick trip. I just didn't have enough cash or luck to make the trip last any longer and I hate being in Vegas when short on funds. The funny thing is when I got back, I had about $130 in pocket and felt like that could last me 3 weeks here. In Vegas I feel like I don't have anything if I have $130.

So all in all it was a so-so trip. I did have a lot of fun but look forward to my next trip out there. Maybe I'll have a little more luck and I may not rent a car!

Final Impressions:

Imperial Palace-OK in a pinch, but I doubt I'll stay here again. Dreery rooms and I'm not picky. I couldn't wait to get off the property for the most part. Did very little gambling there. Good value on the Prime Rib Sandwich in the Tea House (late night, 11 p.m. on for $4.25). LV Club-Awesome value, especially for $18 a night, would still be a great value for $40. Didn't like the Dugout restraunt though.
Downtown-I prefer the strip but still had a lot of fun. Easier to casino hop.

Bay City Diner-It's in the Golden Gate and I really liked this old fashioned, no nonsense Diner. Prime Rib was like $6.95 or so. Great late night deals too, very tasty...great shrimp cocktail!

Binion's-Great Place to play blackjack still. Disappointing the coffee shop has closed, but I'm just as happy with the Bay City Diner.

The Orleans-Liked the Joint, was fun on a Saturday night with a good live act, good Blackjack too. I'd stay there if the rates were right, you'd need to rent a car perhaps though they said they have a shuttle to the strip.

Casino Royale-That smell is still there, not as bad as last time. I enjoyed the atmosphere there for low limit gaming but not for everyone.

Mandalay Bay-I liked it, didn't play their much, was out of money for the most part by the time I visited, so I pretty much went sight seeing. Young crowd, good live act near West Valet (I accidentally ended up there and think I missed a lot of the zoo). I recommend West Valet. I stumbled across it.

Rio-This place is CROWDED. Nice party atmosphere but have no burning ambition to go back but could be easily convinced to visit again. I'd like to try the VooDoo Lounge. I wasn't dressed quite appropriately to try it. (sneakers) Venetian-Beaufitul place, wax museum looked interesting. Not my style though I enjoyed touring the property.

Alamo Rental-My quicksilver card didn't work, found out how they treat you when one of their cars comes in banged up. Can't complain, was treated o.k. $25 a day for compact after taxes. Not a bad rate. While exchanging cars, The clerk told me horror stories about accidents involving Alamo vehicles (including one with a foreign family driving to grand canyon in an Alamo Van, they drove on the wrong side of the road and had a head-on with a semi and that was that. Sad). There was a line to get cars even at 2 a.m. The guy said it's surprisingly busy in the middle of the night there.

SW Airlines- A-plus as usual, I'll never go America West again unless everyone else folds up. All ontime flights on Southwest etc.

Hard Rock-Just ate there, good meal (the steak and shrimp special)

Harrah's-Carnival Bar outside is fun. I didn't gamble much here

That's it, Enjoy and I'll be lurking reading your trip reports until I save up and go back...Next time I'd like to have a bigger bankroll, but knew I was limited when going. Managed to have a good time all in all.