- We stayed at the Circus Circus. Not our style, but we weren't calling the shots on lodging, and it's hard to complain about free. Nic's mom apparently got a really good rate on the rooms, which were serviceable in a "no-frills" kind of way. To keep prices low, they strip out (or charge extra for) a lot of amenities: no in-room coffee, fridge/phone/safe for a surcharge, etc. A big disadvantage is that although it is on the Strip, it's way up at the north end, not really close to anything except the slightly nicer Riviera across the street (and the partially-built Echelon).
- Our first night (Friday), we walked to the Fashion Show mall and around a few of the closer casinos, and ended up having dinner at Rao's in Caesar's Palace because we were hungry and that's where we were. Decent food. My feet were incredibly sore at this point, and back in the room I discovered I'd worn holes in my socks from walking so much that day.
- Saturday was my comfier tennies and breakfast at the Nordstrom cafe in the Fashion Show after searching forever for a bakery Nic's mom thought was there. For the next several hours, we walked more ... eventually making our way to the Miracle Mile shops and Planet Hollywood, one of my favorite casinos. I was happy to sit down. My shins were surprisingly sore from all the walking.
- I don't usually play slots when in Vegas, but that's about all the gambling I did this time, and noticed that about 80% of the machines are now penny slots. Or at least you can set the credit denomination to a penny. A lot are tricky, though, requiring you to play multiples of 20 credits, etc. Even so, luck was more or less with me throughout the trip: I think I broke about even overall.
- We had tickets to the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show at the Mirage that night. Nic loved it, and I really didn't. I want to like every Cirque show I've seen, ever since first seeing them in the late 80s on PBS and hunting down the old shows on VHS, but I find the newer ones, although always technically flawless, to be extremely unfocused and centered more and more on providing an overwhelming visual spectacle rather than on the incredibly disciplined acrobatic displays that I like. The sound design for "Love" was excellent, but there was way too much happening at every given moment, and most of it was nonsensical theatricality rather than technical skill, with most of the performers doing their own thing independently of whatever else was occurring. Even the artistically choreographed pieces seemed a little clumsy and not really related to the music. Overall, I was disappointed.
- Sunday I treated Nic's mom to a very cold and windy round of golf at Las Vegas National, later joining up with Nic and her dad for some lazy slots at the Riviera. Her dad and I relaxed in the sports book there, which was surprisingly low-key compared with that of most of the casinos we'd visited so far, with March Madness going on. We treated them to dinner at Benihana in the Las Vegas Hilton, a favorite place of theirs. After a glass or two of wine back in their room, we said our goodbyes; their plan was to leave early the next morning.
- Monday, Nic and I slept in and rolled over to the Peppermill at Nic's suggestion. Loved it. As Nic put it, the place was like a Denny's on psychedelic steroids. HUGE portions of comfort breakfast food.
- On our own, we decided to spring for an all-day pass ($7 each) on the bus that goes up and down the Strip in favor of walking, and headed all the way south to Mandalay Bay (beautiful and unsmelly!) and worked our way back up, hitting the MGM Grand (which also didn't smell!) and the Monte Carlo (which smelled refreshingly floral!) before touring the properties at City Center. We stopped long enough to test the slots and grab a free cocktail at each before heading on.
- I'd stayed at the Vdara on my last trip and wanted to show Nic the Aria casino, which is incredible. We wandered through the Crystals mall and jumped on the tram to the Bellagio before touring the swankest place on the strip: the Cosmopolitan, which had just opened in December. So many cool things to see ... the multi-story central Chandelier bar, the several hundred antique sewing machines making up the front window of the Allsaints store, the Bond bar where we chilled for a bit. We finished the night with dinner at the Capital Grille a steakhouse on the top floor of the Fashion Show I wanted to check out. It was excellent, with huge portions and reasonable (for an a la carte steakhouse) prices. I definitely want to hit it again next time. Monday was my favorite day.
- Tuesday, after breakfast (at the Peppermill, again!) and some slots on our home turf, we packed up and headed home. It was actually sunnier in Portland when we got back.
Vegas Trip rundown
Exhibit 2, John Jenkinson as The Messenger.
Jackets of Awesome. Exhibit 1, Ryan Gosling in Drive.
Met a guy today with a Peace dollar to sell. Usually I don't arrange meetings for just one coin, but this one was a date I've been looking for…