Las Vegas 2014

Vegas again!

18 January 2014

I’m in Vegas again for the first time in seven years! My highschool friend Amanda heard that William Shatner is doing a one night solo stage show so we are going on Monday night. I landed Saturday about 1pm, and we went to the new city center portion to Aria for Nutella brioche and some catchup chat, then shopping on the way to her house where I met her friend Vicki.

It was already late afternoon after the shopping, so we headed to Fremont Street for the evening, seeing the world’s largest golden nugget and the shark tank water slide at the Golden Nugget, dinner & drinks at kitschy decor Park on Fremont where I got to sit in a teal chair, classic arcade games at Insert Coins, and lots of people watching. Obviously our age is now a target demographic since the live bands on the outside stages were playing all 80s covers! 😉

I’d never seen Fremont Street which is why we went. I like all the lights of the classic Vegas casinos even though I can’t walk through them because of all the smoke. 😉 What is most impressive is the giant curved LED screen above the whole street that shows animation all the time, then a special show every hour. Very cool!

About 10:15 after the 10pm show we headed for the Strip because they knew a steampunk restaurant had opened at Mandalay Bay. We drove down Las Vegas Blvd to see the sights but it took a while in the traffic, so we got to Mandalay Bay right after last call for RX Boiler Room. No drinks or food for us but I took enough photos that I was satisfied. Their lab window looks a lot like my laboratory libations Halloween display, but putting brass goggles on a crystal skull bottle was pretty clever. 😉 Since Vicki had never seen the Mix bathroom with the view of the city we had to go up there too. 😉

We strolled through the shops where I found a jaunty angled mini top hat fascinator I couldn’t resist, walked through the Luxor since they removed a lot of the Egyptian themed decor from the casino floor, then finally home again for the night about 12:30am. Fun day and photos are below!

See all today’s photos by clicking the link below…


Vegas Day 2

19 January 2014

We had a leisurely breakfast and chat, including Lena the kitty thoroughly enjoying my attention, then Amanda and I headed to Caesars since she has a lifetime VIP parking pass from a previous customer service issue. We weren’t hungry for lunch quite yet, and neither of us are big spenders for brand name clothes or jewelry, but Amanda wanted me to try Vosges chocolates. I had a bacon milk bar a few years ago on our San Francisco chocolate walking tour, so I knew it was good stuff, but having samples of everything was awesome! We took advantage of their buy 5 get one free special and got the smoked almond bar, carrot chocolate bar and a couple bacon ones to share back home.

We strolled around more, left Caesars to walk outside in the sunshine, then Amanda saw that an alley that was under construction last weekend was already open so we checked out a couple small places, including another daiquiri to go slushie bar called Purple Zebra. The curved wall was all slushie machines, about half alcoholic and half non-alcoholic. We didn’t feel the need to try any since it wasn’t even noon yet. 😉

We crossed the street again back to the Caesars complex, entering through the fancy main entrance, but the moving walkway was stationary today. I still got a great view of the strip from halfway across!

By the time we got back inside to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill it was after 1pm, so we had no-longer-on-the-menu Black Widow Mojitos from the bar, then our table was ready. We opened our menus and they were still serving Sunday brunch at 1:30pm! Haha! We decided to share the famous tiger shrimp tamales, then ancho chili salmon entree, and chocolate cajita cake for dessert. It was a leisurely meal, very delicious, and plenty of food without overfilling ourselves. While we digested a bit before dessert, Amanda got a coffee, so I tried a Tokay/Tokaj, which I have read about in various Victorian literature but never had the chance to try. Definitely a golden dessert wine but not quite as sweet as my other white wine favorites, moscato, late harvest Riesling or ice wine. 😉

We finally left lunch almost 3pm, ready for a nap so we left through the hidden VIP parking doors next to Gucci, and we had to laugh, since there was Amanda’s Kia parked next to a Lexus and two Mercedes. One of these things is not like the other, indeed! 😉

I had stayed up too late and couldn’t sleep in because of the light and Amanda was also tired, so we napped for a bit before heading back out for our evening. We got to the Las Vegas Hilton by 7pm to pick up our free tickets for MO5AIC, since Amanda’s friend knows the beat boxer singer in the show. Nice to have connections! With tickets in hand and 45 minutes to spare, we shared a couple tasty appetizers at the Tatuado Cantina, and I had a huge blue coconut margarita. Glad Amanda knows the scoop that I could just take the glass with me across the casino into the show, so it lasted quite a while and was very tasty!

MO5AIC is a five-man a cappella singing group with an excellent beat boxer providing impressive percussion as well as singing too, and they have a fantastic show! All of them are extremely talented and great showmen, and the Shimmer Room venue is small enough that I don’t think anyone could have a bad seat. If the CDs they were selling after the show had any of my favorites on them I would have bought them, but they are also on iTunes so I will see if they have more selections there. I didn’t see that Amanda had gone over to thank our beat boxer host so I missed my chance to thank him since then he was mobbed by other fans, but I did get the chance to thank and congratulate the tall blond basso profundo on his fantastic voice and performance as I shook his hand. 😉

More chatting with Vicki and us after we got back, and I prepped the caramel cashew bacon bourbon bread pudding for our brunch tomorrow. We have all agreed to go hiking at Red Rock Canyon tomorrow only ten minutes away from Amanda’s house in hopes of offsetting our decadence. Then it’s William Shatner as our evening event…woohoo!

See all today’s photos by clicking the link below…


Vegas Day 3 – Shatner!

20 January 2014

We had a leisurely morning with all three of us enjoying not even half of my caramel cashew bacon bourbon bread pudding. Hooray for leftovers! By about 11 we were in the car to Red Rock Canyon, and got a lucky surprise that it was free entrance because of MLK Day holiday. Even better! The interpretive displays were new the past couple years, so I spent a while reading them and enjoying the metal sculptures of the desert flora and fauna, then we started our 2 mile hike. Amanda likes going backwards on this trail so the steeper part of the trail is quicker, then a gradual downhill slope all the way back. I was watching the loose rocks on the trail so I’m glad Amanda pointed out the fossil or i would have missed it. We took a break at the top to enjoy the view, and we got lucky to see a red-tailed hawk soaring around, even close enough above us for me to catch him on my iPhone!

We cleaned ourselves up at Amanda’s house, then we headed back to the Strip since I hadn’t seen The Cosmopolitan yet. It is one of the newest casino hotels, with giant HD video screens everywhere with all the same videos playing at the same time, touchscreen menu boards in the hallways, 3 story chandelier, giant shoes, and vintage Vegas photos in the upper lobby. The tapas restaurant Jaleo sounded the best and the were already open just before 5pm so that was a perfect meal that we shared again. We felt pretty proud about our moderation with such good food everywhere!

The Smith Center is across the train tracks from old downtown Vegas, and we got there plenty early around 6:15. The voicemail I got last week said we had to be there an hour ahead of show time to pick up our bracelets for the meet & greet after the show, so w didn’t want to be late for that! As long as you have or buy one of their souvenir plastic sippy cups with lids, they let you take your cocktail into the theatre which is nice. I introduced Amanda to Crown & 7, we hung out in the lobby for a bit, then we found our seats only eleven rows from the stage. I had decided that subtle Trek was best, so I was wearing an old plastic charm I had made at least 20 years ago. 😉

William Shatner was very entertaining, telling stories about his life I hadn’t heard before, and he even did a little of his beat poetry “singing” which didn’t disappoint. :) It was about 90 minutes no breaks, then we went up to the 5th floor and lined up for our autographs. The line attendants were nice and held our stuff while we each handed him a sticky note with our name that had been written by a line attendant, and as soon as he signed, the official photographer with tripod was ready for the quick photo. We worked it quickly so I went first, stayed on the other side so we had both of us in another photo, then Amanda by herself. The photos will be on in a day or two so we are looking forward to how they turned out. 😉 (Edit: the official photos are now below…yay!)

It was only about 10pm when we left the Smith Center so Amanda took me to see the Bellagio’s latest giant floral decorations, now Year of the Horse for Chinese New Year. By the time we wandered to the back by the world’s largest fondue fountain, we couldn’t resist each enjoying an ice cream cone. Yum!

Another fine evening, and one more day before I fly home tomorrow evening! :)

See all today’s photos by clicking the link below…


Last Day in Vegas

21 January 2014

This morning was leftover bread pudding for breakfast (yum!), packing, and saying goodbye to Lena the kitty. She never came and cuddle with me overnight – I had been warned she might try so I left my door open for her – but she enjoyed my petting thoroughly. :)

My friend Andy had recommended Lotus of Siam and Vicki had been there before so also recommended it. It’s well off the Strip so didn’t fit in the rest of my trip, but they have a lunch buffet so we thought that was good for my last afternoon today. Very tasty, and I watched to avoid hot peppers so I survived fine, even the spicy soup. Since this was the first meal we didn’t share everything, we all overate because it was so good. Darn! As we left we saw all the awards and articles that it is one of the top 50 restaurants in the USA…and lunch for all three of us was only $35! Wow!

We still had a few hours before I had to get to the airport, so we headed back to the Strip to see decor “that looks likes a Florida snowbird Jewish grandma exploded” per Amanda’s description. I have to say I agree. 😉
We entered through the Palazzo, saw Wynn and Encore, strolling past all the super-expensive shops (who buys all this stuff?!?), and ended up at the Parasol Down bar outside by the waterfall. There are scheduled night
shows with fountains and projection on water spray, but with the sun filtered by a cloudy sky today it was quite nice to sit there, sipping cocktails and chatting, at least until it started filling up around is with several smokers. By then out drinks were done, so we moved along back out to the car. They tried to have me try on some expensive super high platform wedges because they were teal, but they only had up to size 8 so I was spared. Amanda tried on some platform stiletto heels in hopes finally to be as tall as me, but she was still a couple inches short. Haha! They dropped me off at the airport with hugs and thanks all around.

I don’t find gambling fun, let alone can’t tolerate the smoky casinos, so I didn’t gamble at all in Las Vegas proper, just like my 2007 trip, but Grandma gave me cash to gamble for her. Amanda said the best odds were at the airport so I waited until my way home. Grandma likes watchin Wheel of Fortune every night so I thought that was appropriate. I put $5 in a 25-cent slot machine and got a spin thing right away and won more than I thought. I wasted many spins and when I saw it was still so high I cashed out at $22.50! I’ve never won gambling my own money, only with Grandma’s money. Haha! I also got TSA pre check so bypassed the long security line, but my flight was a little late, so I had plenty of waiting time. I got home with kitties fed by 9pm and will start laundry next. Huge thanks again to Amanda for such a fun weekend! :)

See all today’s photos by clicking the link below…