It's so nice to leave on time.
In the middle of winter, it's a crap shoot as to what the weather in San Antonio AND in Las Vegas will be like, and you never know when they might delay a flight or even close down the airport, so mom and I were happy to leave on time.
Wednesday, January 15th
Mom and I left on her "makeup trip" after work. I left early to pick her up, and we got back to the airport with 2 hours left before our flight, so we obviously had plenty of time to spare. You would think that the 7th largest city in the U.S. would have a busier airport, but we really don't. There was no security line at 4:30 in the afternoon, and hardly anybody in the airport.
|A wing and the moon.|
There was also no line to check in at 7:30 p.m. This might be the perfect time to land in Vegas! I had booked a room under mom's name, and then got an e-mail offer for 3 free nights and 2 free Jersey Boys tickets from Caesars Total Rewards for myself, so I jumped on that. I should have canceled mom's room but I forgot to, so we had 2 rooms down the hall from each other on the 10th floor, Mardi Gras tower - me in 1000 at the end of the hall, and mom just past the middle in 1036. All was good with a partial Strip view, and NO CONSTRUCTION!!!! (Yay!) After my Flamingo construction hatred in October, I was happy to be facing the Strip, even if it was only partially.
|View to the left|
|View to the right|
|It's a Scorpion!|
After photos were taken, we headed back to Harrah's around 11 p.m. I finally got a seat at the Twilight Zone slots! They were...interesting. I don't think I quite figured out the bonuses and the different options you have, like more frequent payouts for less money, or less frequent payouts for big money, and just found them more confusing than entertaining. Well, I can say I tried them. We both headed to bed around 1 a.m., because we'd both been unable to sleep the night before. (Vegas anticipation!)
Thursday, January 16th
|The Linq is almost ready...|
I'd never had the MGM Grand buffet before, and it was pretty darn good. Our breakfast value was $17.25 each per our table ticket, so I'm sure the champagne breakfast is a bit higher value.
I get small samples of food on the buffets I try so that I don't over-stuff myself and I can try more things. Here's what I tried over the course of an hour and a half:
Steak and eggs - good
Ham and cheese frittatta - not good. Bechamel sauce?!?
Eggs benedict - good
Ham and cheese quiche - very good
Cheesy eggs - good
Bacon - very crispy! Just the way I like it!
Potato cheese bite - okay, but mom loved hers. She said they were like "cheesy, cheesy, cheesy hushpuppies".
Breakfast flauta - good - filled with bacon and eggs and fried.
Pesto pasta - I failed to find the pesto - bland
Crab sushi - pretty good for a buffet
Cheesy grits - very yummy!
Chorizo hash - very good and spicy
Cinnamon roll French toast - this was delicious. I had seconds.
Bread pudding - my favorite buffet dessert. Very good!
Mom tried their double chocolate cake but said it was too dry.
|These are horrible buffet photos, I think. :(|
They had tons of petite desserts, but we had seriously eaten too much, so we didn't partake of anything else. Their coffee was also very good, and I appreciate it when they leave a carafe so that you can serve yourself instead of depending on a waitperson to refill for you.
|Bread pudding and my free mimosa. Thanks, mom!|
|Advertising while you wash in MGM Grand - interesting...|
We ended up walking back to Planet Hollywood. I was a bit worried about mom and her hip, but she made it like a trooper. I told her that the next time we try to do any walking like that we are taking a few rest breaks. Since breaking her hip in September, she can't move quite as fast as she did before, and she needs to remember that. (I know you're reading this, Mom - you know it's true!)
Planet Hollywood also has a love/hate relationship with me. When I stayed there with Hayley a couple of years ago, I managed to do pretty well. When I visited in October, I played the same Hangover slot for close to an hour and came out ahead. This time I tried Wizard of Oz (damn Ruby Slippers!), The Godfather and Hangover. They all hate me. Time to move on to Paris.
|The Cabaret faux front.|
|I love the Paris lobby.|
Dinner on the patio at Mon Ami Gabi - what can I say? It's one of the things we like to do. I'd made a reservation through OpenTable, and we asked for patio seating when we walked up. We got a nice table along the railing, although with the bit of chill in the air it might have been better to sit back against the glass, under the heaters. Still, it was nice, and we did plenty of people-watching, including a group that was apparently filming some sort of reality bit right next to our table.
We decided to share our meals and got Gabi's Fish and Frites and the Steak Classique and Frites to split. I also got a half carafe of "sanfria", which equaled about 2 glasses of yummy, fruity goodness for me, and mom had wine. I could do that sort of thing all the time...
|A great dinner view.|
|Jersey Boys theater|
|The end of the show.|
|Destruction before construction.|
|The Boardwalk to the Linq-and to O'Sheas|
|There it is!|
|Inside O'Shea's - that's about it...|
Nighttime gambling at Harrah's to see how much damage we could do on our Total Rewards points and off to bed some time after 1 a.m. again.
Friday, January 17th
|Day view - get up, get up, get up!|
Green beans in wine sauce - delicious!
Chinese vegetables - good
Sui mai - extremely yummy!
Shrimp Pad Thai - not warm, and just okay
Salumi - I had pancetta this time, very good
Pork dumpling - I could eat these forever
Tater tot casserole - very tasty!
Frittatta - not a fan at all! It had hard edges, and a sauce that did not match. Bleh!
Papas con chorizo - good flavor
Margherita pizza - nice crust, very flavorful
Crab Benedict - uhhhh...where's the crab? No likey.
Shrimp and grits - possibly the best Southern food EVER! Very good, with more of a roux/creole sauce than the version I had at the Wynn Jazz Brunch, which is still my favorite version.
I also had the bread pudding again - delish! I also had a bite of cheesecake with blueberries, which was very cheesy-tasting and not to my liking at all. Mom had a chocolate lava cake that I tried last time and loved, and a chocolate chip cookie filled with melted chocolate. What's not to love there? Next time we go to Bacchanal, I want to go later in the day - I saw some mini hot dogs as we were leaving that were so cute! I wanna try some new stuff...
|Random tree outside Bacchanal Buffet|
|I played machines in 2 casinos and never got a bonus.|
|The ice rink at Caesars Palace is starting to melt a bit...|
After photos, I had to go back and try my Phantom of the Opera slots again. The Phantom was NOT nice to me on this trip at all, yet I still found myself returning to him again and again. (I blame it all on Gerald Butler; he has that appeal and probably makes me do things I wouldn't do otherwise.) I found that they took out the Hitchcock slots in Bellagio, and I think this was the last MLife property that still had them, unless I missed them somewhere in The Mirage. But I didn't walk through all the slot areas in The Mirage on Saturday. Anyway, mom and I both had blah experiences at Bellagio, so we decided enough was enough and it was time to return to Total Rewards casinos, since we get full comps there.
We wandered around The Quad for a bit before we went back to Harrah's. The plan was to change for dinner, get a cab to Ellis Island, and try out some of their slots and take a look around before we met Eddie and Pam for dinner at 6 p.m.
The traffic was bad! Three conventions in town, including the Shot Show, meant horrible traffic, especially anywhere behind the Strip. Because of the limited access to Flamingo and Harrah's due to the ongoing Linq construction, it takes forever to get out of the properties and onto Koval.
We'd never been to Ellis island before, and it is definitely a locals' casino. We signed up for slot cards and both got $10 in free play. We had about 2 hours before we were supposed to meet Eddie and Pam, and I managed to only spend $10 of my own money during that time, which is surprising. Ghostbusters, Monopoly Grand Hotel, and KISS slots I've never played (or seen) before - I was able to keep on playing. Mom did not and ended up watching me play for awhile. I also found something I didn't think they still had in Vegas - a cigarette machine. I had to take a picture.
|Old school Ellis Island|
I was determined to try the Steak Special, and mom and I both ended up ordering it with the steak cooked 'medium'. Given the fact that the steak was so thick I think we should have ordered them 'medium well'. It was a pretty good steak, and the green beans and baked potato were both very good. Eddie had the 50/50 burger (half Angus beef and half bacon, topped with 2 strips of bacon and pepper jack cheese), and Pam ordered the fish and chips. They absolutely loved the restaurant and plan to bring some of their friends back to try it out, too. I want to try something different next time, but I think it's definitely worth it. Mom picked up the tab, which she said came to about $47 for the four of us with wine, a beer, and two sodas. Still a very good deal, and we spent about 2 hours there, just chatting and enjoying good company.
|My Ellis Island IPA beer. It's beer. I drank a beer. Well, mostly...|
|Eddie and Pam fighting over the 50/50 burger|
Back at Harrah's for the night, we went up and changed into comfy gambling clothes (you know there IS such a thing, so don't doubt it) and headed down for our last night in Vegas. I played Lobstermania2 and hit the light and middle progressive pots for $25 and $115, but I managed to spend lots of money otherwise. I also played Wolf Run 2, which I hadn't seen before, and did pretty well on it for quite a long time before I finally gave all of that back, too. That's why they call it gambling. I finally lost all of my money and went up to the room around 12:30. Mom said she played video poker until almost 2:00 a.m. before she gave up and went up to bed. She didn't lose as much as I did.
Saturday, January 18th
Going home day for our short trip. We both packed up and went to breakfast in Harrah's cafe', and got to play a little bit of live Keno to boot. No winners. I have only been successful at live Keno a couple of times, but I love it when I win on a $1 bet for my birthday numbers because that's a 'free' $42 while I'm enjoying breakfast.
After breakfast we checked out and checked our bags for later, and headed over to The Mirage. I love the feel of this casino, but I don't typically do very well there at all. Mom and I played Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers side-by-side, but we ran through $20 quickly and didn't hit a single thing. She tried Deal or No Deal while I played Elvis, which let me play for a bit and hit several bonuses, but it was also a bust.
Back to Harrah's. I proceeded to play the Hangover slots and get $20 up to $80, then lost it all after I took a potty break and fed the machine several more $20 bills. Why? Why do I do that? I need to WALK AWAY FROM HANGOVER SLOTS, but I just can't do it. Damn addicting machines! I checked on mom, who was doing slightly better, then decided I would stick with an old favorite until we left for the airport: Gold Fish. I managed to play for an hour and a half on $20 and cash that out at the end before we picked up our bags. See? That was common sense. I just didn't have a lot of it during this trip.
Our taxi driver to the airport was crazy! He did several illegal turns, dodged in and out of traffic, but he got us there whole and he was actually funny. I appreciate cabbies who don't bitch about everything, and who talk just enough, instead of asking a thousand questions or being completely silent or on the phone the entire time. I gave him a good tip because he was entertaining, and his driving reminded me of...me. :)
*** Maxi dresses on anyone bigger than a size 6-really, it's not flattering. I hate them.
*** "Little" does NOT have to be the key word in "Little Black Dress". Leave something to the imagination, or at least cover your business.
***Leave your family drama at home. Nobody wants to see or hear you arguing or yelling and screaming in a hotel, on the Strip, or in a restaurant. You just look like an idiot. If you can't travel together civilly, then DON'T travel together.
It was another BIG losing trip for me, and mom's first losing trip in about 4 trips, but does that mean anything? Absolutely not! Our next trip is booked for mom's birthday, March 25-29. It's time to start looking for my next freebies to redeem from myVegas rewards, and see if anything interesting pops up in my e-mails that I can't resist.
Viva Las Vegas!