Trip Report 12/5/03 to 12/08/03

My trip started at 5:30 am Friday the fifth when my travel buddy called from Chicago, she had just gotten out of the hospital, was very sick and was unable to make the trip. What a way to start out a vacation.. Not wanting to get down I went on with my day.

I flew out of Des Moines at approx 4pm on Friday, arrived shortly after 5pm vegas time. I flew Allegiant air, I was very impressed, great service, happy faces and cracking a lot of jokes and they spent a lot of time just talking to the customers, joking with them, etc. I will use their service again. Incredible flying into vegas at night.

The trip from the plane to the Luxor went very smooth. I was in and checked in by 5:30. Amazing as my flight wasn’t due to arrive until 5:35. I decided not to do the $20 trick as since it was only me I didn’t really care about any upgrades. I got a great room, with a decent view in the pyramid, 12th floor, right by the elevator and ice machine. It was incredibly quiet, I didn’t ever hear a noise outside my room. The room was great, large, very clean, my only complaint was that I could never get the room cool enough. I guess I’m just always hot. Plus coming from 6 inches and snow and 20 degrees to high 60’s probably had something to do with it.

I left my bags in the room, did the touristy thing by attaching my camera to my hip and headed out the door. First real look at the strip and my jaw just dropped. I had visions in my head and I’ve seen it on tv and movies many times, however nothing prepares you for just how huge this place really is. Amazing. I think next time I’ll stay at NY NY, I took plenty of pictures of that alone.

I read plenty of times how to wear comfortable shoes (check) and not to walk the whole way, take a bus (no check). But, being the idiot I am, I took off walking, thinking I wanted to start my night off checking out the watershow at the Bellagio and the pirate show at TI. I was disappointed to see they got rid of their old sign at TI, it was classic before. A little Frank to open the watershow was just what the doctor ordered. It drew quite a crowd, and rightfully so. I then journeyed down to Treasure Island, grabbed some nachos at the café and watched the 8pm show. It was entertaining, drew a huge crowd, and I was amazed at how many strollers and kids were there. I saw some kids at the café inside who just stared out at their parents playing the slot machines, like they were in a living hell.

Back to the journey, I decided to walk to the Stratosphere, I laugh now at my ignorance, just because you can see something, doesn’t mean it’s close. LOL. I stopped off a the Sahara to check out the casino and get a nascar souvenier for my brother in law who loves watching cars turn left thousands of times an hour. Put in $1 in a quarter slot and won $20, not much of a gambler, I just wanted to take it all in. I then journeyed to the door of the strasoshere and decided to head back to the westward ho, to attempt to eat one of those 1.49 ¾ pound hot dogs. Wow, that was an adventure. Not bad though. It was something to tide me over.. Had a .99 margarita and decided to check out a little black jack action. Played for about a half hour, got sick of the smoke hanging overhead and while I’m not much of a gambler, there was just something about that place that made me want to run out screaming. The tables were in bad shape, the cushion on the table no longer was attached and there was a big bubble in it. Plus the dealers shirt was almost grey from being worn and washed too much. The shirt was grey, I’m sure it started white. You’d think a casino would take a little more pride in the way their employees looked. Well, walked out up 20 bucks ahead and stopped by slots of fun, quickly turned around and walked out of that place, I’m not a slots guy and that place was way too packed for my liking.

My feet were screaming at this point so I decided to catch the bus back to the casino, by this time it was after midnight and I was a little tired from the trip and lack of sleep the night before because of the phone call about my friend. I got off the bus and decided to head over to the Tropicana because of some coupons I had, signed up for their players club and decided to use the coupon, free 15 dollars when you bet 10 bucks and win. Won the hand, played out the winnings for about 20 minutes and headed back to my room. I knew Saturday would be a full day.

Saturday I woke up pretty early, my body still on central time. I decided to do a little more sight seeing/picture taking. Did a little more walking, a little more picture taking and finally made my way to the stratosphere. I decided to eat at their buffet. It was very good, a breakfast/lunch mix. I picked up my tickets to the viva las vegas show and had a little bit of time so I checked out their shops. The show was pretty good, I mean free shows are the best right? It had some variety, a little dancing, comedy, singing and magic. The show ended at 3:15 and I had tickets for the 4pm Rick Thomas show at the Tropicana at the complete other end of the strip. So I jumped on the next bus and made it right at 4pm. The show had started before I got in there so I found a seat quietly and watched the show. You can get coupons for his show and I’m telling you, it was a great deal at only 15 bucks. He did a great job getting the whole audience into the show. Great value, I’ll definitely check it out when I go back again.

This show ended about 5:15 and I had to run over to the luxor, drop off my things and be back downstairs by 5:45 to catch my ride from look tours to go on my helicopter ride of the strip at night. Ok, here’s the deal, my receipt for the helicopter tour said I had 24 hours to cancel any reservations without any fee. When I got into the Luxor Friday night I called look tours about 10 minutes to 6. Since my tour was at 6pm I had over 24 hours, I called the # on the reservation sheet and was told that I needed to call another number. I called the other number and the gentleman who answered was incredibly rude and refused to give me a refund saying his clock said it was after 6. For this reason when I called just a few mintues later to book a hoover dam tour, I took another company. Anyway, the experience of the night helicopter ride was a blast, It was a lot of fun and a great view. Unfortunately I couldn’t figure out how to turn off my flash so my pictures didn’t turn out too well, but all in all it was worth it.

I got back to the Luxor around 8pm and jumped on a bus to Fremont street. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. I had always wanted to visit this area and it didn’t’ disappoint. The lights/music show was a lot of fun, and the whole atmosphere was a big party atmosphere, lots of families there just out having a good time, checking out the Christmas tree, etc. Checked out 4 Queens, the Golden Nugget, Binions, all were a lot of fun, just to walk through. They aren’t obsessed by the glamour that some of the strip casinos put off. Had a few of the yard margaritas and got my picture taken with some strippers from Glitter Gulch. No, I didn’t go in, but couldn’t pass up the photo op. Headed back at a decent hour as I had to be up and on a bus by 7:30 the next morning.

Sunday morning I awoke to the sounds of my alarm and wake up call. Took a quick shower and headed down to the north entrance awaiting my bus. Right on time, the showtime tours bus showed up to pick me up and take me to the hoover dam. It was a cheap trip, less than 20 dollars and probably the best deal I had in Vegas. It was a luxury motorcoach trip and 2 hours at Hoover Dam. The driver was just great, telling us jokes and telling us some history of Las Vegas and Boulder City. I enjoyed the whole trip, took plenty of pictures and bought some souveniers at the gift shop. On the way back we were shown some celebrity houses and given a little more inside dirt on vegas. I highly recommend Showtime tours and I cannot for the life of me remember the drivers name but he was a short, stocky Irishman with an obvious accent.

The rest of Sunday was spent at Bellagio, and walking around. I did make another trip to Tropicana to use my coupon for blackjack and won 50 bucks in about 10 minutes of work. I was on an amazing roll there, seemed like I won 4 out of every 5 hands. Made my biggest mistake of the trip later that eveing, eating at the Surf buffet at the boardwalk casino. The food was barely edible, the only decent entrée was bbq chicken and even that was not that great. I made my way back to the Luxor and spent the rest of the night there. I had lost back to back days at the sportsbook and decided with an early flight time I better not bet on the NBA games that evening. Made a $50 4 way parlay bet Saturday on college football, damn sooners cost me a $650payday. Sunday made a $20 4 way parlay and lost because of the stinking Chiefs, always hated them, should have gone with my heart J.

The trip back Monday was smooth, the only bummers was the big guy next to me who decided he couldn’t sit in his chair without his elbows into my area and too much cloud cover to see the Grand Canyon. Overall this trip exceeded expectations and with a healthy travel buddy I hope to return this march or april. Sorry to the people at the meet on Sunday, I really wanted to make it but the trip to the hoover dam interfered and I would have never made it on time....