Nancy: AKA Poker Chic or PC. 11th trip to Las Vegas
Amanda: AKA the Endless Stomach or ES. Vegas Virgin and free porn hound
Reason: We get a vacation or someone gets buried in the backyard
Goal: fun, not just any fun but BIG FUN
"Let's stay up all night before our plane leaves" may be the dumbest string of words ever uttered in the English Language. The fact they were uttered by a 40 year old mother of 3 makes them even more ridiculous. However, utter them I did and Saturday night the 3rd of January, 2004 saw me not only speaking them but later eating them. So what? We were going to VEGAS and joy and happiness abounded. ES and I had decided the previous Saturday that we needed to get away for a couple days. She is engaged and had been having some pre-wedding stress, I am the mother of three and had been having some child related stress. So 2 inexpensive Southwest tickets and cheap reservation at the Riviera later we were raring to go.
I spent the week preceding the trip in my usual fashion, deciding what to pack. A self described clothes horse I had to have the perfect Vegas outfits, as usual I was to wear only a fraction of what I packed. Saturday night finally arrived as did ES who came over about 9pm so we could get a VERY early start to the airport to catch our 7am flight. At promptly 2:30am Jon, our insane airport transportation, arrived to take us to a 24 hour store and then to Denny's for breakfast before hauling our now tired selves to the airport.
We arrived at Detroit Metro at the unbearable hour of 4:30am only to learn that the kiosk for Southwest, that issues the ticket-less boarding passes does not open until 5am. Ok.. we can wait. At promptly 5:15 the kiosk comes online and issues my boarding pass without any hassles. Then ES tries to issue hers. A grinding noise ensues along with a message that the kiosk is down and to please see an agent. ES has not traveled a lot and is now in a very unhappy state believing she will be left behind. We get into a lengthy line and wait till 5:30 for an agent. Boarding passes in tow we head to security.
Problem 2. I sail through the line but ES is practically stripping naked. She failed the first time through the metal detector and the Security agent has told her that unless she passes this time she will not be flying today. ES is visibly upset and the guard is visibly being a jerk. No offer of wanding just "2 tries or you are out". After removing most of her clothing except for a T-shirt and pants (ES is very slender and wears a lot of layers to keep warm) she finally makes it through. Off to the gate.
ES and I settle in for a long flight. Everything is typically smooth and pleasant until we stop in Phoenix and THE CHILD FROM HELL" (TCFH) gets on the plane. A lap baby (don't people know what happens to lap babies in accidents? Can you say missile?) is now in front of us and is crawling on her uncaring mother, drooling over the seat onto ES and screaming at the top of her lungs in a very shrill, horrible voice. Every few minutes it's drool and scream, drool and scream. ES's leg is now visible soaking wet, not damp, wet. She has made some loud comments about people who don't care for their kids, but Mom is unconcerned and TCFH is apparently having the time of her life. This continues for the duration of the flight (someone serve me a Corona, quick).
I love the taxi in Las Vegas when you can first see the hotels at the south end of the strip. I have always been a big fan of the south end and prefer to stay there but I need to build a bridge and get over it because we are North End Girls this trip. Off the plane and onto the tram headed to the main terminal it hits me. I AM IN LAS VEGAS! There are no children with me and I am free for three whole days. WOOHOO!!!! Triumphantly I walk, with quarter in hand to the nearest slot machine and promptly lose it. Well this bodes well, not. Oh well, build a bridge and OFF TO THE HOTEL.
We grabbed a cab and asked the driver, very nice guy, to head up the strip. I am back! Check in at the Riviera is now relegated to machines rather than people. You just swipe your credit card and get whatever room the computer spits out. Yuck, king bed and smoking.. "Excuse me? Is there a human being here?" Yes there is "I am so disappointed in the machines, I can't tip a machine" (look innocent, bat eyes) "Would you like a room in one of the newer towers?" $20.00 trick later we are headed to the Monte Carlo Tower and a non smoking room with two double beds. This is better.
I was expecting a horrible nightmare of a room after some of the things I have read. To be honest I am rather well traveled and used to nice rooms so I am a snob about it but there was not much to complain about. Yes the Riviera is a little worn but it was $25.00 a night. It does not have to be great for $25.00 a night, thank you very much. The room and bathroom were very clean. We had a pool view (useless in January, but oh well). The room was all beiges and creams with nice tile in the bathroom and a shower that had amazing water pressure. The bathroom junk was just soap, shampoo and lotion. I only used the soap. No one complained that I stank so I assume it did the job it was intended to do.
ES and I were starving and not particular so we went to Kady's, which I had been told to avoid like plague. It was not horrible. It actually was OK. The waitress was nice and the service was prompt. I had a burger and Diet Coke and ES had a huge Chicken Salad Sandwich on a Croissant which she loved. Off to the Casino were I won $50.00 on craps right away (playing their match play coupon). I should have stopped there and taken a nap, but no, I have to go against my own advice and play slots.. Poop.. let's just leave it at that. The theme for the trip is PC plays table games she is up, PC plays slots she is behind. I vow here and now to never play slots again as long as I live (that and a nickel at the Ho will buy you a cup of coffee).
Off to take a quick nap, shower, change and head out for an evening of debauchery, or as close to it as I can convince ES to get.
We cab up to the Mirage where we decide to eat at Samba. I have never eaten there before but I will again. The food is wonderful, the atmosphere fun and interesting and the service impeccable. I was not a fan of the salad and will skip it next time but the all you can eat Rodizio is heavenly as are the fried plantains and the black beans and rice. I don't eat much at any one time but ES apparently does. This is one of life's crummy jokes. I am short, but pretty curvy and filled out. Not fat but no one is ever going to mistake me for a super model. I eat like a bird. ES, on the other hand, is very slender, about 100 lbs, and eats like a starving teamster. She had 5 plates of Rodizio!
I rolled ES out of Samba and into the, now chilly, Las Vegas night. Across the street to The Venetian we head. ES has never seen anything like The Venetian. Her jaw dropped and she may need surgery to pick it back up again. I love going to Vegas with virgins (Vegas Virgins, minds out of gutter here people). A quick trip to Sephora (have to hit Sephora) and we are off to Casino Royale for cheap craps. I did great at the craps table. Till ES came around. Apparently she is bad luck for me on table games and every time she was within 5 feet of me I 7'd out. I was joking about it with the stickman and 7 came up again. I looked at him with sadness in my eyes "she's behind me isn't she", stickman: "yep, we should hire her".. Funny guy. Still I was up for the night and starting to get tired so off to bed. Day 1 Summery:
Riviera is decent. I am not sure I would ever stay here for a romantic weekend but for a girls weekend it is perfect.
Casino Royale Craps are a hoot and I love the 100X odds.
ES is a cooler and is no longer allowed to gamble with me.
Free Booze-O-Meter 10. I am a happy girl
Win-O-Meter: 9 unless ES is standing behind me
6:30 am, off to play Blackjack downstairs. I am losing but the deck is now at about 70% penetration and there are mostly face cards left. I don't count but it was obvious. I knew it, the dealer knew it and she was not going to let me have a crack at that money. "Why don't you play at that table, you won't be alone" Me: "nope I am having fun". Her "no, really you should". At this point I could not justify staying at her table without tipping my hand so I picked up my chips and headed to the cage. Darn it. I am not a happy camper and I am not going to gamble at the Riviera ever again. The slots were tight for me and the dealers were not very much fun. If I am going to lose money then I want to have fun doing it. Off to the Peppermill for breakfast.
Yum. I love the Peppermill and will make it a point to eat there again. The food was good, the price was right and the Bloody Mary was tasty. Fortified we head to the South Strip to wander and sight see.
Hours later we played the Aladdin slot tournament (I only earned 4000 points) and chow down at the buffet. ES has decided that she is "Sticking it to the man" every time she eats her weight in food so she is busily pulling her hungry farmer act and eating huge plates after huge plate. I settle for Hummus and some really decent Tandouri Chicken for the bulk of my meal. I have eaten at the Aladdin Buffet many times and this time it was off. I don't know how to describe it because the food was good it was just not outstanding. I have also decided it is just like eating in a basement. Maybe it is because I am eating in a basement but when I eat I want a view or something to look at besides my food. I think this is my last time at the Aladdin Buffet unless something changes.
2 pm, the time I have been waiting for. The Excalibur's Poker class is starting and I am seated at the table happy as a clam. I am about to play live poker with real human beings, something I have wanted to do for years. The dealer is friendly but is concentrating on identifying a good poker hand.. well I know how to do that, it is when and how much to bet that confuses me. He tries to explain but it is lost on most of us. 2:30 and it's time to play with my money. Now I get it, and I get it quick. I think I should have just joined a live game rather than the class.
Ahhh, this is my game, no more messing with BJ, no more slots, no more roulette (I am not a big roulette player anyway) no Pai Gow, no more. I will not give up craps, but Poker and Craps are officially my games end of story. I turned my 50 bucks into a rack of $100.00 in three hours and had the best time doing it. I played a tight game and only played four hands, winning two of them. The last hand was sweet. I had the nuts, I knew I had the nuts and I knew no one else knew it. The guy across from me was playing a very loose game, as were most of the people there. We had been joined by a couple people who knew what they were about but for the most part it was beginners. I was very happy with the dealers, very happy with the crowd and feel of the room. It was a very enjoyable way to spend three hours and I wish I had been able to play longer (ES was hungry). I am officially hooked. I will be trekking to Greektown once a month from now on to play. If you want to try poker and have not played before go to the Excalibur. No sharks (lots of fish tho) and low stakes. A perfect place to start.
Back to the hotel to veg out. We ate at Kady's cause we were tired and they had a T-bone special for 9 bucks. It was not horrible. Up to the room, we packed and crashed early. I wanted to go out dancing but ES was broke. Day 2 Summery:
Poker, poker, poker. I am up and thrilled.
Free Booze-O-Meter 8
Win-O-Meter: 10. I am actually up because of Poker and a decent Craps Run
Day Three: Heading Home
We finished our packing, ate a quick breakfast, checked out, left out luggage with security and started walking up the strip. We wandered for hours ending up in Mandalay Bay. I am in love. I am going back in April and Mandalay Bay will be my hotel of choice. We visited the Shark Reef (I wanted to play poker again but ES was broke and didn't want to wander on her own) and I just have nothing but praise for the experience. I dive and so am a little bit jaded about aquatic zoos but the guides were knowledgeable and touching a sand shark and sting rays was wonderful fun.
Then off to Mandalay Bay's Buffet so ES can "Stick it to the man" one last time before our flight left. I love the Mandalay Bay Buffet. The room is sunny and warm, the selection is not endless but the food is good, with a variety of choices, all prepared well. Cheaper than the Aladdin with good atmosphere and HUGE glasses for your beverages it is a winner every time.
Back to the Riviera we have the cabby from hell. Twice he ran red lights on the Strip. In fairness he probably didn't see they were red cause he was too busy dialing his cell phone! I have never not tipped a cabby before. It is a thankless and impossible job that I would not wish on anyone (one of my best friends is a cabby) but this guy got stiffed. We told him we needed the downstairs entrance to the Riviera and he tried to make us get out on street level. If he had asked nicely I would have but I made him drive us where we wanted to go. I was in no mood to quibble. The ride was 12.25 and I made him give ES the 75 cents change. I gave what would have been his tip to the lady who took us to the airport.
We grabbed our bags, hailed another cab and it was "Goodbye Las Vegas" for four whole months (sniff whine).
The only hitch was Southwest cancelled our flight and we had to run like sprinters to make our connection in Phoenix. That and the guy behind us on the plane who spent most of the flight telling anyone who would listen how to gut a deer. I am not anti hunting by any means but he was really graphic and I was trying to digest my crackers, thank you very much. ES and I arrived home at midnight. I spent yesterday being grumpy and catching up on my sleep. Today is all back to normal. I miss Vegas.
Day three summery:
Shark Reef! Do it!
Free Booze-O-Meter 3
Fun-O-Meter: 5 (Hey I went home)
Win-O-Meter: I put 20 bucks in a 5 dollar slot, won 15 on my first pull and quit.
Free Booze-O-Meter: 6. I should have had more to drink.
Fun-o-Meter: 8. It was not Big Fun, but it was Fun. When I go in April I expect to have Jumbo Fun so it's all good.
Win-O-Meter: 7. As long as I stay away from slots I do well. I was supposed to go home broke, I went home with $150.00.
If I had not played slots I would have broken even. I never learn.
Best good thing: Poker
Best Food: Samba
Best Free Booze: It's all good