I had nice solo trip. My objective was to take a lot more pictures; use the 2004 LVA POV; see Lance Burton; and participate in Mac King's Telephone Party to set a new Guinness World Record.

Travel: Traffic was very light on a Saturday morning during the drive from San Diego. I tried the 215 thru Riverside, because it was a little shorter than going on the 15, but I didn't like the two lane freeway to Riverside.

Hotel: I got a good deal through Private Arrangements at the Golden Nugget. I got three nights (Sat, Sun, Mon) including four Spa passes, and six drink coupons for $125 total including tax. I got the top floor (22) in the South Tower and had a nice view because it had snowed and rained a couple of days before. The room is very nice for the price.

I really enjoyed using the Spa passes (They were worth $15 each). I would go in the morning for a shower in their Swedish shower (it has four vertical rows of shower nozzles in addition to the normal shower head), and enjoy their steam room, sauna, and Jacuzzi. Then, I would shave and use their toiletries to get all freshened up for the day. They offer free juices, fruits, and bagged nuts.

Gambling: I came out about $90 ahead gambling at blackjack and video poker. Of that, I won about $100 with the LVA coupons. I won about 80% of the coupons.

Normally, I would also get the Casino Perks Gambling Book, but it is really paltry now. I was disappointed that neither the Casino Perks or LVA had the Golden Gate 2-1 blackjack, or Plaza $25 Match Plays anymore.

I wasn't certain that the POV would arrive before I left on 1/3 morning. I called Las Vegas Advisor and told them to hold it for me to pick up on 1/5. I was surprised to get it in the mail on 1-2. I was lucky that it didn't arrive after I left.

I saw the Bikini Dealers at the Rio. They had the worst BJ rules that I have ever seen. Single deck BJ pays even money, and double down only on 10, 11. There were only young guys playing. I had assumed that it would be mainly dirty old men. I guess they were more interested in the view than the rules. One guy was betting $200 a hand and got about 5 BJ while I watched. He lost $500 just for the view.

I did most of my blackjack at the Horseshoe in the morning. I like the rules and the dealers. I had one -$50 session and two sessions where I was down about $80 and fought myself back up to +$50. I heard that it was closed down about two days after I left. I feel sorry for the dealers.

Food: I had the Bellagio Gourmet Feast on Saturday. It isn't as good of a deal as before. They have raised their prices to $36.95 and eliminated the free champagne. I was disappointed that they didn't have Beef Wellington or smoked sturgeon. The King Crab isn't as impressive as before. They had a lot of small skinny pieces. I noticed that there weren't many people taking advantage of bypassing the line by eating at the bar. At most, there were 5 people for 12 seats. I saw one couple walk up to the seating hostess, say they wanted to sit at the bar and she signaled them thru. This is a photo of the menu.

http://community.webshots.com/photo/110695408/110936789GaPJQW

I had the Paris Breakfast Buffet on Monday. I got there at 10:50 AM so I can pay the breakfast price (12.95) and get both the breakfast and lunch menus. The line was very long. It took me 35 minutes to get seated. I was debating whether to try to get a line pass from the slot booth. If I got turned down, I would miss the 11:30 cutoff time for breakfast prices. I had to rush to get my favorite breakfast items such as vol au vent (chicken and mushrooms in a pastry shell). They still have the shish ka bobs, and cheese raclette for lunch. When I got out, there was no line. I guess everyone was trying to get the lunch for the breakfast price. FYI, slot card club members can get a 10% discount on the buffet lunch (17.95) Mon-Thurs.

I tried the Stage Deli in Las Vegas for the first time. I ate at the original in NYC about 15 years ago and still remembered how good their pastrami sandwiches were. I got a combo of chicken soup with noodles, a side and a half pastrami for $8.50. The soup was delicious. The pastrami was good, but it wasn't as great as I remembered it. My memory may have made it better than it actually was.

Late Sunday night, I went to Ellis Island to try their 4.95 steak special. They clean their kitchen every other Sunday night and had a limited menu with no steaks. For Tuesday, I had a choice of the Ellis Island special or the Palms Restaurant Filet Mignon Businessman's Lunch. Since it would be my last nice meal before I started my post Holiday diet, I opted for the Filet Mignon. I was really glad that I did. The salad came with a blue cheese dressing with about a ½ cup of crumbled blue cheese. The filet was on top of grilled mushrooms and they must have used three potatoes for the hash browns. It also included tea or coffee.

Entertainment

I am an amateur magician and wanted to see Lance Burton for a long time. Since I was solo, I thought that I would have a good chance at getting one of the high roller seats if I waited until ½ hr before the show. Sure enough, I got a seat three rows back about 5 seats off of center. I was about 15 feet away while he was doing his sleight of hand and I could really appreciate his skill.

He had several really good tricks and his presentation and flow was very good. He is one of the best that I have seen. His assistants were very pretty and he had several good tricks using members of the audience.

They recently raised the price to $74. I enjoyed the show, but I wouldn't pay that price again.

Pictures

I really enjoy taking pictures in Vegas. There are so many good subjects. I like to take night shots and to do panoramic pictures. I make panoramic pictures by stitching several shots together. That way I can get shots that you can't get by using a conventional lens. I use a Sony F717 with 5 mega pixels. When viewing the pictures, try clicking on the full size link; then putting the cursor on the picture to get the brown blow up box and click on the box to see the full resolution.

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas Display

http://community.webshots.com/album/110081291uiBBWn

The Conservatory is my favorite for taking pictures. In 2003, they were changing the display less frequently, but making the exhibits much more elaborate. I went there three times to get shots with different lighting conditions.

Las Vegas Welcome Sign

http://community.webshots.com/album/110081163GqHihZ

It had snowed and rained a few days previously, and the weather conditions were perfect for out door shots. I went at 3:30 PM to get the right lighting. I found a small parking lot on the west side of sign on Las Vegas Blvd that was ideal for parking. I also include a night shot that I took last year.

Mandalay Bay Shark Reef

http://community.webshots.com/album/110093358AygqoQ

It usually is pretty dead in Vegas between New Year's and CES. I was surprised that I had to wait ½ hr in line to get in ($14.95). It is a pretty small exhibit for the price. I enjoyed the sharks and the jelly fish. My camera had a problem getting the right focusing thru the Plexiglas. They were advertising a lot about having a hammerhead shark. I didn't think it was very impressive. It is only 6 ft long.

Stratosphere Tower

http://community.webshots.com/album/110529852GWiNYe

This is my third attempt to get night shots from the Tower. Previously, Security stopped me from bringing a tripod to get good time exposures, and then the second time, I accidentally erased my pictures. I used a gallon Ziplok bag filled with 3 pounds of rice as a sand bag to steady my camera. I told people that I was going to a wedding with the rice. It costs more in 2004. The Tower Admission is now $9 and the senior discount is only $3 for a cost of $6. Last year, it was $4 for seniors. It is a lot easier to go to the secondary ticket booth rather than the main one because you avoid going thru the shops. Facing the main cashier, go to the right about 50 yds; go up the escalator and you are at the ticket booth. The line seems to be a lot shorter there also. The night I went, the secondary booth closed at midnight.

Golden Nugget Exhibit

http://community.webshots.com/album/110152253uqnuQy

When I am showing Downtown to people, I like bringing them to this exhibit. It is just off the main lobby at the Golden Nugget.

Miscellaneous Shots

http://community.webshots.com/album/110695408bzImxr

Here are some shots of the living statue at the Paris, the TI sign, Margarita Ville, and nite shots of the Paris.

Concluding Remarks

I used to regularly go in the dead period between New Year's and the Consumer Electronics Show because of the great hotel deals and the lack of crowds. There are a lot more people nowadays in that period.

It is harder to use a POV at the beginning of the year. Almost regularly, the dealer would have the pit boss OK it after talking to other people.

I am really disappointed in how bad the Casino Perks has gotten in a year.

I got to do a lot more things because I was solo. I don't think that I would have used so many coupons if I had someone with me. Also, I was free to take a lot more photographs. Photography can be time consuming and boring for a companion. I may not have gone to the Mac King Telephone Party with a companion because it took 2 hrs of valuable Vegas time.










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