Sunday, August 30, 2009

What a trip - Vegas and the Inland Empire

It's been quite the week. If you've followed my Twitter feed, you know I've been all over Vegas and southern California's Inland Empire. Here's the details.

I drove up to Bellingham (about 130 miles each way) to catch an Allegiant Air flight to Vegas. For a total price of $232, I got one round trip ticket, a room at El Cortez, and one additional companion ticket for free. It would have been more expensive to get two tickets without the El Cortez room, so I considered that to be a throw-away room.

My good friends Bill and Becca had already flown down to Vegas earlier in the day from SeaTac, and Becca had checked us into our hotel room at Planet Hollywood, at $54 a night, including a free bottle of booze per night, $25 buffet credit, and $40 in freeplay. The $20 trick failed -- the desk clerk told them "We don't do that; that's why we're still in business." Jerk.

Kim and I, however, were stuck at the Bellingham airport, because lightning had kept our plane grounded in Vegas. Fortunately, I had my laptop with me, so 90 minutes after our scheduled departure time, and learning that our plane had just left Vegas to pick us up, I ordered a pizza from Dominos, getting an evil look from my hungry cohorts in the waiting area.

The plane finally arrived, and after an uneventful flight, and after not getting longhauled by the cabbie, we arrived at P-Ho, woke up Becca at 2:30 AM to get our key, and checked into room 2764. Excellent. It's the Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey themed room. For our first date, Kim and I (and several dozen people from local BBSes) had seen Excellent Adventure, so this seemed pleasingly appropriate. But tonight.. zzzzz..

The next morning, I let Kim sleep in while I went down to the P-Ho Starbucks to chat with Bill and Becca. From there, we wandered over to Bill's Gambling Hall and Badly Painted Awning Emporium to check out the Tix4Tonight booth and see what's worth seeing. The line was too long, so after winning $5 from R2D2, I went back to the P-Ho to wake up Kim while B&B continued on to the Forum Shops to get an iPhone charging cable.

We met up again at the [begin Thurston Howell voice] Belahhhgio [/end voice] and I won $85 at the table games, then lost $20 on the slots. We wandered the conservatory, then headed over to the Flamingo, where Kim and I promptly lost $100 at 3 Card Poker. On the advice of a caller to the FiveHundyByMidnight podcast, we went back to the Bellahhhgio and got a table on the patio at Olives at 2:30. Lunch prices, and you still get the fountain show at 3:00 and 3:30. We got the fountain show, all right -- the finale of the 3:00 show drifted heavy droplets across our table. It. Was. Awesome. As was the food. I'd highly recommend this.

From there, we hopped a cab to Sahara, where the four of us looked forward to cheap poker against bad players. Unfortunately, only 3 seats were open (Kim playes slots instead), and worse, the bad players don't seem to hang out at Sahara at 4:00 on Monday afternoons. Lost $9. We took a cab back to the P-Ho to freshen up for dinner, and I'm pretty sure I got longhauled after the driver talked me into taking Koval instead of the Strip due to construction on Harmon.

We grabbed another cab to Mandalay Bay and had dinner at Strip Steak. My steak was good, but not spectacular. Bill, however, is a scotch snob, and was very pleased with the flight of scotch that he ordered. After dinner, we wandered through the Luxor and up to MGM, where Bill and I played the plastic ponies of Sigma Derby ("the stupidest thing I've ever done with $5" he said; I ended up ahead 50¢), and then played for a couple hours in their poker room. I ended down $17 there, and began wondering where my poker skills have disappeared to. Meanwhile, the women wandered back to the P-Ho, picking up drink mixers on the way and grabbing our free bottles of booze.

Late. Time for bed. Tuesday's gonna be busy.

We're up in time for 10:00 breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi, which was good, as usual. We do a slow wander up the stripm ending up at the Mirage tram and riding into TI, where Bill plays blackjack, and Kim and I lose another $100 at 3 Card Poker. The women decide to head back to the P-Ho for a nap, and after I lose $40 at the blackjack tables, Bill and I take the Deuce downtown.

We first stop in at Binion's, where Bill and I sign into a $2/$4 limit game, I lose $29, and Bill makes the best checkraise ever. That's a story for him to tell.

Then, we head to the El Cortez to check out my free room. To my surprise, I get a room upgrade and a $25 dining credit. Checking in with Bill and with no luggage, I suspect the clerk thinks I'm gay. *snicker.* NTTAWWT. The room turns out to be nicer than I expected, kind of a shabby Holiday Inn quality, but yeah, I could see staying here. We then head to Fitzgerald's, where I hit quad 3's on Double Bonus video poker for $20, then lose $10 of it on the slots.

On the way back to the bus, we call the wives, and pick up tickets to Fab Four Live. This was a fun show, worth the half price tickets, but probably not for full price. We then went to Margaritaville and watched the volcano blow, twice, and then wandered up to Caesars and rode the spiral escalators. Then, back to P-Ho for the nightly booze line. Holly Madison and her doggy were in line behind me. Either she's an attention seeker, or even the headlining star of the casino's headline show doesn't get celebrity treatment at Planet Holly.

We head up to Bill and Becca's room, drink a little, then head to bed.

We use our buffet credits at Spice Market for breakfast (very good), then bid Bill and Becca goodbye. Kim heads to the pool to do some sunning, and I use the $40 freeplay coupons at slots and roulette, ending up ahead $71. As I'm doing this, I get a tweet from @LuxorLV: "How many Twitterers do we have in Las Vegas right now? If I were to say meet me at Luxor at 2 pm for a free gift how many of u would come?" I show up at 2:00 and get a Dexter DVD and $10 match play (which I turn into $8 cash).

I meet up with Kim again at 3:00, after waiting in the 103° shadeless heat for the Deuce, across from Luxor (the tram between Luxor and Excalibur was down). We wander down to the Flamingo and check out Nathan Burton's show. Fun, and I figured that with the free buffet included, it'd be well worth the $20 ticket. It is alone worth the $20. The buffet, we'll learn tomorrow, is a negative on the balance sheet.

We've got a bunch of downtown coupons to use, and Kim wants to see the Binion's $1,000,000, so we hop the bus downtown again. I try to impress her with the El Cortez coffee shop (my $25 credit covers the $24.92 bill), the slots at Binions (I lose $6 with a match play), and free tickets to Kevin Burke's show at Fitzgerald's, but she mostly spends the time downtown coughing from all the cigarette smoke. Eventually, we escape downtown (though I did see a few minutes of the Fremont Street light show), and head back to the P-Ho.

We stop for a kiss in front of the Bellahhhgio fountains, grab our fourth and final bottle of booze, Kim heads to bed, and I head to the poker room. Over the next three hours, I win $55, watch three hookers get escorted out, and see a parade of nightclub-bound women wander past with necklines so low that one of them actually popped out. Ahh, Vegas. It pays to play tables late at night, where everyone else is drinking.

It's our last half-day there. We walked up to Coke and M&M world to get a few gifts, and it's so dang hot we take the bus back to the Flamingo for a brunch buffet. Big mistake. At free, it's way overpriced. The ribs are like chunks of lumber slathered in BBQ paste. The waffles are like styrofoam. The drinks take 10 minutes to arrive. And the swarming flies remind us that just outside the window is a moat of flamingo poo. Big mistake. Should've followed FiveHundy's advice. (And table service? It's telling that we forgot the small bag of gifts on the table, wandered around the flamingo exhibit for 20 minutes, then made it out to Margaritaville before realizing we'd left it behind. When I went to pick it up, the table was untouched.)

We check out, catch a cab from P-Ho to the airport, and have an uneventful flight and drive home, giving me 12 hours before I have to be in a meeting in southern California.

My flight to the Ontario airport was uneventful, and I made it to my 11 AM meeting 30 minutes early. My work went quick and trouble-free, so I grabbed a late lunch at In-N-Out, then headed to the San Manuel casino for some $2/$4 poker. After several hours of play, and frustratingly down $77, I hit the road and made it to my hotel in Palm Springs just before dark. Grabbed dinner, surfed the web, and went to bed.

Saturday morning, I drove to the Agua Caliente casino, played the $3/$6 limit game, and lost my $100 buy-in in just over an hour. I'm still holding onto overcards too long (I've gotta learn to fold AK when the flop comes 579). I'm playing the right starting hands; it's my aggression that's losing me money when I miss the flop, or when someone playing an unexpected hand catches up. I'm grumpy.

To cool down before my flight, I drive towards the mountain that seems to be planted right at the edge of town. When I get there, I'm surprised. Yup. There's a mountain here. Looks like a near-vertical wall. And there's no town that direction. Google's topo maps show why -- less than 7 miles away is San Jacinto Peak at 10,804 feet. I'm at about 520. There's a trail here, but there's no telling where it leads. I should've looked for a geocache (there's one 100 feet from where I parked), but it was 104°, and that's too warm to do anything. I grabbed lunch at Taco Del Mar instead, used the airport's free wi-fi to post the start of the Tri-Cities cache machine page, and had an uneventful flight home.

Exhausted? Heck, yeah. Did I have fun? Heck, yeah. Would I do it again? Once I learn to play poker, heck, yeah.

1 comment:

Andy said...