Saturday, March 24, 2012

Two Gals In Vegas

The Players:

Tropigirl- 40something, hardworking, hard saving, happy wife and pug mama.
Armed with $500 spending money.

 JudyRumCake-Retired, non-drinking,non-smoking, happy wife, mother of 3,
 and grandmother of 6.
Armed with $500 spending money.

Yeah, that's right Vegas, look out 'cause here we come!!
This is my 7th trip to Las Vegas.
My trips seem to follow a certain order: losing, winning, losing, winning.....this trip is due to be a winning one, and I can't wait! 

Monday, March 19th
We arrive in Vegas at 11 am and head for Ballys.

 We're able to check in to our south tower room immediately.  It's small, clean and comfortable.  We don't have the big fountain view we had last time (we're on the opposite side of the hall) but, we have a great view of Bally's, Caesars Palace, Bill's, Flamingo, and on down to the Mirage. 
It doesn't take us long to unpack & freshen up and we head immediately back downstairs to get started working over those slot machines.
We play for a bit (no wins yet) then head to Le Burger Brasserie for lunch.
This is one of our favorite places for lunch!  We share a philly cheese french dip, the onion ring tower and a strawberry shake.


This pleases my mom.  :)

Bellies full, we head out to continue our slot play.  We walk through to Paris and wander around a bit.  My mom is disappointed that there no longer seem to be any of the community size Reel em' In machines.  Her second favorite is monopoly, and so far we haven't seen many of those either.  We continue our slot quest and play at Bill's, Flamingo and O'Shea's.  (We do take a walk through the new Margaritaville casino, but, frankly, the only thing I liked about it was this cool sign.)

  We then slot all the way back to Ballys for regrouping and strategy planning. (Nap)

Once refreshed, we retrace our previous gambling path.  Still no wins.  It's in the Flamingo that mom discovers the Goldfish slots.  It only takes a couple fun bonus rounds to officially get her hooked.
So far, I've been getting no love at all from the slots.  I decide to try every slot strategy I can think of.  
I play machines that don't have a large payout showing 
I play machines that do have a large payout showing.
I play slots that  are familiar to me.
I play slots that are new to me.

I play slots that are located right next to the door.
I play slots deep inside the casinos.
I play penny slots.
Quarter slots.
Dollar slots.
It's as if none of the slots even realize that I'm due for a winning trip.
All the while, mom continues to feed the Goldfish.

By now it's getting late, and we're hungry again. 
We wander over to the Tropical Breeze in Flamingo.
We share the turkey club wrap, and, in order to avoid the $5 extra plate charge, a cup of french onion soup.  The soup was disappointing, but, the wrap was both wonderful and huge.
Full and tired, we head back to Bally's.  It's all we can do to cram a few more dollars into their machines before going back to our room and falling into bed weak and weary at 1 am.
Tuesday, March 20th

We're up at 5 am.  An hour later, we're ready for our day, and head straight for Bellagio.  This is a beautiful property, and has 3 of our favorite things in Vegas:
The fountains, the conservatory, and Jean Phillipe Patisserie.
The conservatory's spring display is stunning, and we spend nearly and hour here before heading to JP for breakfast.
Afterward, we do a little window shopping at the stores in Ballys.
At this point we separate.  I go to get in line at the Tix4Tonight booth (Phantom) and mom goes to the room to plan the rest of our day. (Nap)
I get to Bill's right at 10 am and the Tix line is "why oh why didn't I plan this better?" long.  I pass on Bill's and walk to O'Shea's.  Their line is only slightly shorter.  (Now, ordinarily, I would buy tickets for something I wanted ahead of time, but, before the trip, we just weren't sure if we were willing to part with $73 of our trip allowance.)
So, here I am, in line, in the cold (it's about 50 degrees) barely moving, and decide right then and there that from now on, I buy any tickets I want ahead of time.  No show is worth this.  (Standing in a long line in the cold apparently makes me a little cranky)
Before going to the room, I stop at a little deli/bakery in the Ballys/Paris walkway and buy a couple of desserts that look like they came from JP.
They're beautiful!
An hour and a half later, I'm back in the room and join my mom in the day planning.
At 4 pm, we take a cab to the Venetian, donate a few $$ feeding their Goldfish, then go for dinner at the Grand Lux.
Spinach/artichoke dip with chips, salsa, and sour cream.
We also have a cup (each) of the creamy chicken & mushroom soup.
Whoa-I'm glad we only ordered the cup.  This is a LOT of food!
But, ooooohhhh is it good!
Finally, it's time for the show.
I expected this theater to be beautiful.  (It was)
I expected this show to be beautiful.  (It was)
I expected to enjoy this show.  (I did)
I did NOT expect to be crying like a baby at the end.
(I was)
Wow.  I would sooooo stand in a long, cold line to see this again.  

We begin the long, rambling, gamble walk back to our room.
Before I left home, my girlfriend (KJ) gave me $20 to play on whatever struck my fancy.   I decided to play it at O'Sheas because she won't be back to Vegas until September, and by then, this casino will be gone.
 (I guess there's no need to replace all those burned out bulbs)

 I wander around the casino a bit, until I feel a good vibe coming from a Monopoly machine.  In goes the $20.
Bet, spin, nothing.
Bet, spin, nothing.
Bet, spin, nothing.
I cash out with $10 left and find a multi-reel machine.
In goes the $10.

   Bet, spin, nothing.
    Bet, spin, nothing.
Geeeeeeezzzzz....not even with other people's  money can I win!!!!

 In both Flamingo and Ballys, I don't win much, but, I do hit some fun bonuses.
I don't mind losing so much if I'm at least having fun while I'm doing it.  Maybe the machines are finally coming around.  
I mean, after all, I am due for a winning trip.
Finally, we give up and go to our room to enjoy our beautiful desserts.
*Note to self--do not leave beautiful desserts in a stuffy hotel room all day.
We spooned the melted puddles into our mouths (still delicious by the way) and crawled into bed just after midnight.
Wednesday, March 21st

We're up again at 5 am and the first thing we do is head back to Bellagio's conservatory to take some more pictures.  I just love it here early in the morning.  It makes for some dark pictures, but, it's just so peaceful this time of day.  I wish I could somehow capture the beautiful fragrance as well.

   Satisfied that we've got enough photos, we decide to donate some $$ to Bellagio's slots.  Mom goes off to feed the Goldfish, and I find a Monopoly machine.  I put in $5 and almost instantly hit a bonus round.  I play a little more and hit another bonus round, then another.  Woo Hoo! I'm up to a whole $40!
Ok, Ok, it's not much, but, it's the best I've gotten so far and I'm keeping it!
We leave and walk down to the Mirage.  
My first trip to Vegas was in 2002 and my favorite casino that we visited (and I think we visited them all) was the Mirage, in all it's tropical glory.
I remembered there was a little tropical looking bar just off the hotel lobby, and I always wanted to make the time to go back there some day and have a drink.
Today (a mere 10 years later) is that day.

It was a small moment, but, it was a happy one!
I think we may have played a slot or two here, but, I don't really want to talk about it.
Next stop, TI.  We came here specifically to shop at the Cirque store, but, when we arrived they hadn't opened yet.  It was 9:30 am and we assumed they opened at 10 am, so, we decided to wait.  And, what better way to wait than to play the slots?  Mom went fish feeding, and I walked around looking for any type of machine that had a spinning bonus wheel.

I managed to hit a couple bonus rounds and turned my $5 in $10.  
By now, I consider that a big win, and cash out.
We walked back to the Cirque store.  Still not open.  I finally found someone to ask, and learned that they don't open until Noon.  Oh, there's no way my luck will let me gamble another 2 hours here, and we're getting hungry, so, we decide to save the shopping for another time.
Once outside we cross the street and head for Imperial Palace and the ever popular Hash House A Go-Go.

I just had a check-up last month and my doctor was extremely impressed with my low cholesterol, so I feel safe in ordering the sage chicken benedict.  I mean, what can a pile of fried mashed potatoes topped with biscuits topped with scrambled eggs topped with a fried chicken breast topped with fried cheese topped with chipoltle sauce hurt?  Oh, there was also some fresh tomato and spinach in there, PLUS we ordered a side of fresh fruit, so, I think that makes it all ok.   


We spent the rest of our morning (and our morning's allowance) gambling our way back to Ballys where we mentally prepared ourselves for our trip into downtown. (Nap)

Up to this point we've had no significant luck on the slots, but, we've had a lot of fun trying.  In fact, we've been having a lot of fun in general.


It's around 4 pm when we hop the Deuce for downtown.  My mom and I are the last two passengers to board.  This bus is PACKED!!  All the passengers that were already standing, holding the rail, had to squish themselves even closer together to make room for us.  I looked down to see that I was squished up against Little Elvis.  (Cool)  Mom was busy making sure her bus pass got tucked safely into her pocket and wasn't hanging on to the rail when the bus started, so she very nearly fell.  Or, she would have, had the bus not been so packed.  I was asking her if she was ok, when I realized Little Elvis had his hand placed firmly up in the small of her back propping her up.  I smiled and told mom not to worry, Elvis had her back.  To which Little Elvis responded (in perfect imitation, I might add) "I gotcha momma"

You've just not fully experienced the joys of public transportation until you've taken the Deuce into downtown Las Vegas, packed beyond (I'm sure) it's legal limit, with Little Elvis holding up your momma.

Once downtown, we start the gambling.  We've come here with high hopes.  Everyone knows the slots here are friendlier than the slots on the strip.
(I'm sure these slots know I'm due for a winning trip and have just been waiting for me to show up)  We had only played in one or two casinos when I asked my mom if she wanted to gamble up one side of Fremont, then down the other, or if she just wanted to head straight for Mermaids.  Without hesitation, she answered "Mermaids!" 

Mermaids casino has been my moms favorite since our last visit.  Not only does she love the coin in machines, but, on our last visit, she won $80 on a Monopoly machine.  She does a quick walk through to see if she can find any Goldfish.  No luck.  So, she plants herself at a Monopoly machine while I wander around to see what looks good.  The first machine I play is the Elvis 3-reel quarter slot.

I know Elvis won't let me down.

Elvis let me down.

We leave after a while and wander in and out of various casinos, basically donating our money.  We decide that maybe we should find something to eat.
Originally, our plan had been to have a nice dinner downtown, but, after the monster meal we had earlier at Hash House, neither of us is "big meal" hungry.  All we want is a snack.  I find a food cart on the sidewalk selling hot, soft, pretzels.  One of my favorites.  My mom heads into Golden Nugget in search of french fries, while I stay outside and get a pretzel, a side of gooey artificial cheese, and a soda.  

Fine dining at it's best.

After I've finished my gourmet meal, I head back into Mermaids.  Once there, I walk up to the bar and get a giant pina colada.  (If I'm going to lose all my money, I'm going to feel good while I do it.)  Drink in one hand, $$ in the other, I play until I turn a $5 bill into $10 worth of nickels.

Winner!  Winner! 

I cash in my jackpot, and we hit a few more casinos, donating a few more dollars along the way.  We also go back into the Golden Nugget and buy a few beautiful truffles at the Chocolate Box.  (If you've never had these, I highly recommend them.)  We head back into Mermaids one last time before taking the bus back to the strip.  Once I started playing, I realized I had a problem.

I just finished a foot and a half of pina colada.

I needed to use the restroom.

I'm in Mermaids.

Now, I've never personally used the restrooms here, but, I've heard the stories, and for those that have used these restrooms, you know why this is a problem.  I could go to another casino, but, laziness prevails.  I go find the ladies room.  When I got there, there were already a few other women in line.  They all looked as nervous as I felt. Everyone was just waiting their turn, while looking nervously at their surroundings.  I suppose if dirty, wadded up paper towels thrown all over, sticky floors, and wall to wall graffiti don't bother you, you'll be ok.

But, seriously, there really needs to be a sign put up that reads, 
"After flushing, run like hell to avoid splashback."
(I'd say, "Stop-Drop-And Roll", but, not even if I were on fire would I roll on these floors.)  I must have had one worried look on my face as I ran out because the next woman in line laughed as she saw me and gave me a love pat on the arm.  We're all in this together, I guess.

My mom and I stepped out of Mermaids exactly as the light show started and my previous trauma faded as I sang along to American Pie.

We've successfully burned through our downtown allowance, but, we had fun doing it.


Once back on the strip, my mom want to spend some time gambling in Flamingo.  (She seems to have had the best luck on the Goldfish machines here.  She thinks they like her.  I'm not jealous.)  We also went back to the Tropical Breeze and shared another turkey club wrap.  It was every bit as good as the one we had the other night, but, this time we're just too tired to fully enjoy it.

Vegas has worn us out.

Back in our room, we schedule a 4 am wake up call and flop into bed at midnight.


Thursday, March 22nd

The phone rings promptly at 4 am.
I'm up.  I'm up.  I'm up.
 Our eyes are bloodshot, our throats are scratchy, and our feet and legs ache.
We must have had a really good time.

I'm ready to go a few minutes ahead of my mom, so, at 5:30 am, I go down to the lobby and check us out.  While I wait for mom to join me, I decide to poke a last $5 into a Goldfish machine.  I play up to $10 and cash out.
Take THAT Vegas!

Once we're checked in at the airport, we sit down and reexamine the events of the last few days.  We each arrived in Vegas with $500.  We ate (a lot), we gambled (a lot) and we saw a beautiful show.  Somehow, at the end of it all, we each still have $100 left.

That's a win, right?

I also manage to make it home with a handful of seedlings.

I'll plant these  young starts in my piggy bank and continue to feed them until they grow green and leafy, then, use them for my next vacation.

(My next trip is due to be a winning one!)

About Me

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From the time I was in grade school, I knew I wanted to travel to tropical destinations. I grew up loving blue oceans, palm trees, tropical flowers, and anything coconut scented. Finally, at age 34, I managed to take my first tropical trip. (Bahamas) I was hooked! Since then, every spare penny has been saved for the next vacation... every spare moment has been spent planning the next vacation... and the moments after that have been spent talking about and documenting that vacation. To date, I have been to Hawaii 8 times, the Bahamas 4 times, Las Vegas 6 times, New York (right after Sept 11th) Alaska and the Baja Penninsula. I decided to start this blog to document all my continuing adventures....let's hope there are many!