Monday, November 25, 2002 - Las Vegas, Nevada
I slept reasonably well, woke early, got up about 8 a.m., watched the Treasure Island channel on television, then watched the House of Commons on C-SPAN. (No, I cannot explain why, but it was interesting, in spite of my difficulty in understanding spoken British English.)
As I left the room to go downstairs, I told the maid that I did not need the room cleaned but that I could use some soap, which she provided. Even though I keep my "valuables" with me at all times, I prefer limiting the number of people who go in and out of my room while I'm not there.
I drove over to The Palms Casino Resort, on Flamingo Road just west of the Barbary Coast and the Rio.
The Palms, new at the time, had received some notoriety as the home of MTV's "The Real World - Las Vegas." I got a Club Palms players card, cashed a check and got some breakfast.
I spent a little time at a quarter machine and managed to accumulate 180 points since they award triple points on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The place was nice but I wanted to move along. I'm sure I'll visit again.
I drove downtown and parked at the Main Street Station parking garage at about noon. It was cold and windy outside. I found a quarter machine and changed my financial position somewhat, the took a walk down Main Street for a couple blocks to the Golden Gate Casino Hotel for their 99 cent shrimp cocktail, served in a sundae glass, as recommended in an article written for a Dallas newspaper syndicate. The writer said it's one of the few places in Las Vegas where 99 cent shrimp cocktails still exist.
It was sad. I had to stand in line for an inordinately long period of time while the staffed futzed around with sandwich orders. Meanwhile, glasses of shrimp were sitting at the ready, but I had to wait for the incompetent staff to get to them. Shrimp cocktail and a carton of milk came to $2.98, entirely not worth the wait. Your mileage may vary.
Though it was the middle of the day, I decided to walk down the Fremont Street Experience to see what they had to offer. What they have is tiny little open air rat-holes with employees handing out coupons for half-hourly drawings to get you in the "door," hoping you'll squander your cash while waiting for a half-hour to go by. I hope that didn't sound too harsh.
It was very windy and I had enjoyed about as much as I could stand. I walked back to the car and drove to the Stratosphere Tower Hotel & Casino about 2 p.m.
I have stayed at the Stratosphere a few times, although not lately. I like to go in every so often and use my player card so that they will keep sending offers, which they do.
I found a very friendly half-dollar machine which allowed me to improve my financial position (by $10) in only 20 minutes!
My next stop was down at the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, where security folks needed to check the trunk of the car before letting me enter. I parked on the 3rd level and walked (quite a ways) into the casino.
I had been told back at Treasure Island that my new MGM-Mirage card was good at Bellagio, so I inserted the card into a slot machine and got a message saying I had 70 points. Hmmm.
The machine wasn't very friendly, so I went outside to the cab and valet parking area to call my brother on the cellular phone. I left a message and waited for a return call. Meanwhile, I watched some children throwing coins into the fountain. Then five young French men threw coins into the fountain. I found a penny that someone had dropped and threw it into the fountain.
Then I watched some Asian tourists taking pictures of a Bellagio limousine. When the driver invited them to take a photograph with the door open, they jumped at the chance. The pictures that resulted probably looked like they had arrived at the hotel by limo. The young couple then had one of their party take their photograph with the limousine driver included. It was a nice touch.
My brother called back and explained why I hadn't been able to reach him the day before. Everything was okay. I left Bellagio and headed back to Treasure Island. Boy, is there a lot of traffic on The Strip!
I stopped at the Cashier cage to cash a check and was told that one "can cash $1000 in checks in the Las Vegas area in fourteen days." I'm not sure whose rules those are, but I was nowhere near a thousand smackers.
I got back to the room a little before 5 p.m. and found a note that they tried to service my room at 2:31 p.m. but honored my "privacy" sign. (Doesn't 2:30 in the afternoon seem like it's awfully late in the day to be cleaning rooms?)
In checking nearby rooms, and talking to a hotel employee, I discovered that Room 11 and Room 50 on each floor are three-room suites and Room 38 is a smaller suite. While getting ice, I happened to see the folks in Room 27050, asked if they liked the room, and they were kind enough to give me the grand tour! There is a huge bedroom, a large living room and two large bathrooms, one with a hot tub. It was very nice. It would be good for no more than two persons, however.
A little later I realized that I had left my little plastic camera in the car, so I walked to the garage to get it. While doing so, my friend John called on the cel-phone, and we talked while I walked through the hotel's shopping area, to the garage (got the camera), back through the casino and outdoors near Buccaneer Bay. I was surprised that Sprint PCS has such good coverage inside the hotel.
This time I stood slightly around the corner (Skull Point, I believe) and watched the crew of HMS Brittania prepare for the 5:30 p.m. battle. Little did they know that they would lose yet again (oops! you did know that the British lose every time, didn't you?). Then I watched the battle while walking (slowly), then from near the front of the pirate ship. Each place one stands results in a slightly different view of the action. If you go, try to see it more than once, from different spots, but get there early because it's standing room only and the good places get taken early.
I made the command decision to have dinner at the hotel, so I wandered into Kahunaville. It looked like it might be interesting or exciting or both. There was no line, a momentary wait for the hostess, and I was seated near a wall of water, where I was told there was a show every 20 minutes.
I read the menu and chose a club sandwich, but I didn't want the fries with it. I asked my server, Marchelle, if I could have cottage cheese or fruit, something healthier, instead. She said she would ask.
While she was gone, the next water show began. The water was synchonized with the music and colored lights. It was relatively low-key but interesting and kept me from noticing the passage of time.
The club sandwich came, and between the server and the chef, a decision had been made to serve pieces of (healthy) fresh fruit. That was very nice of them. The sandwich and fruit were very good and filled me up.
The bill was just under $13 and I left a $5 tip for lack of ones, but didn't feel too bad about it because the service was excellent.
I walked upstairs and took the tram to The Mirage, walked through the casino and across the street to Harrah's, gambled a little, improved my financial position slightly, walked down to Paris Las Vegas, walked down the cobblestone streets past the little shops, walked to Bally's, walked across the street to see the water show in front of Bellagio, then back to The Mirage, through the casino and took the tram back to Treasure Island.
All the while I saw plenty of Asian tourists taking pictures of themselves, others, buildings and everything imaginable. I also saw plenty of Hispanic individuals standing on the sidewalks, handing out business cards and flyers advertising various adult services, but handing them only to males.
I skipped the 8:30 p.m. pirate battle and went into the "high limit slots" area, where I tried my hand at $5 slots, but only for a few minutes. I quit before I lost too much.
I found a half-dollar machine, got lucky and hit "five times pay," "triple bar," and "triple bar," which paid 150 coins. I didn't stay there long but quit while I was ahead. (Actually doubled my money.)
At various times while watching the pirate battle, I tried to locate my room from the ground, but could not. The architect did a great job of making the outside of the building look completely different from what the inside made you think the outside looked like (huh?).
So I went up to my room, put one of the lamps up against the window, then went back down to street level to see if I could find it. Aha! They made it hard to determine which floor is which, since one window does not equal one floor. So much for excitement for tonight.
I got back to the room about 9 p.m., replaced the lamp, closed the sheers and the curtains, and it was quite dark in the room. As long as it was dark, I figured I might as well take a shower and go to bed.
Tuesday, November 26, 2002 - Las Vegas, Nevada
I didn't sleep as well as the previous night. I just can't get comfortable. Perhaps it's the pillows, which are just too big. I far prefer a thin pillow. Plus all of the previous day's walking had caused some discomfort in my right knee. Or, it could have been the club sandwich and fresh fruit at Kahunaville.
My throat felt kind of rough, a phenomenon I chalk up to the fact that there is smoke in the air everywhere, except in my own room.
I got up at 7:45 a.m. and opened the curtains to bright sunshine. My view was to the north and east and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful!
I watched CNN while dressing and combing, then went downstairs about 9:15 a.m. I'd been walking by a certain slot machine with a "cigar" theme, so I stopped to see if it was friendly or not, and it was not. Then I found a one dollar Blackjack slot machine and tried it, since I could proceed at my own pace and not have to worry about pressure from the dealer and other players. I started with $20 and ended with $30, so that was a minor success.
I watched some folks playing Roulette, but there are so many things to know and so many rules to follow that the action is too fast for me.
I walked to the parking garage and drove south on Interstate 15 to Tropicana Avenue, just west of Polaris, where I stopped at McDonald's for some breakfast. Right next door is Desert Motorsports, selling Honda, Suzuki and Kawasaki motorcycles of all sizes, plus four-wheel all-terrain vehicles and even watercraft. Even though I 'splained to the young salesman that I was just visiting from out of town, he still wanted to sell me a motorcycle; told me "you can ship your car back" to San Jose. I guess you have to give him a "T" for trying.
I drove north on Polaris for a few blocks and parked at Amateur Electronic Supply (between Tompkins and Naples) to take a quick look around. I picked up a brochure on a radio I've been thinking about (TH-F6A) and asked the current price. While there, I realized that I had left my cellular phone back at the hotel. I decided to "let it go."
Back out to the freeway, I drove southbound I-15, eastbound I-215, took Exit 3 (Green Valley Road), and parked at the Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson, part of the Station Casinos family.
It's a big, beautiful place, and it wasn't very crowded when I was there. They have a food court which includes a Fatburger and other vendors. I wandered around the place and gambled a little, changing my financial position very slightly.
Back on the road, I stopped at the "Henderson Harley-Davidson Shop" on Sunset Road, but when I parked, I noticed that the word "shop" had been blacked out. This place used to be a satellite store of Las Vegas Harley-Davidson, but now that the word "shop" is gone, it could be that it's now "Henderson Harley-Davidson," owned by someone else. Anyway, it's a small shop with just a few motorcycles on display, a small collection of clothing, a parts counter and an (unknown size) service department.
I continued west on Sunset Road, stopped at a Smith's Food and Drug for fluids, then at a Wherehouse store, where I found the TV Guide CD for which I had been searching.
I returned to the Treasure Island parking garage, took my stuff back to the room, picked up my cellular phone, and went back downstairs to Guest Services. I had seen that they offered room tours and wanted to confirm that this offer was still good. It was, and I set my alarm so that I could be there at the right time.
I gambled a little, including a Black Jack machine, and didn't do nearly as well as I had earlier. As there were few people in the casino, I talked to an employee at a Roulette wheel and tried to learn some rules on the fly. Suffice to say that for me, this is a good way to lose money fast. I would far rather stand and watch others play.
I took a few minutes in the High Rollers area, as I had been lucky there once before, but not this time.
I got to Guest Services just before 3 p.m. and picked up some floorplan literature. After some standing and waiting, then more standing and waiting, an employee named John took me on a tour of three different suites on different floors. Each suite was quite nice, and quite expensive as well.
I was kind of looking for the type of suite where several people could stay; for example a family of three or four or five adults; but they didn't seem to have anything like that.
I got back to my room about 3:40 p.m., made some notes, then went back downstairs to the Cashier's cage and changed smaller bills to larger bills for less bulky carrying. Next stop was the Treasure Island Buffet. Dinner was $12.99 (it came to $13.93 with tax) which I charged to the room.
I had some cream of asparagus soup (too much pepper flavor), salad, prime rib, bread pudding, spaghetti, corn muffin, and lemonade, with a little tiny piece of cheesecake for dessert. It was excellent!
I found a quarter machine that provided me with virtually no wins, changing my financial position, then went back up to my room a little after 5 p.m. All the walking I had been doing had taken a toll on my right knee, which was quite sore.
I caught up with CNN, then took a shower, then watched Larry King Live with Johnny Cash, then some comedies, closed the curtain and went to bed about 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002 - Las Vegas, Nevada
I slept pretty well, got up to the alarm at 6:00 a.m., dressed and packed to CNN, then went downstairs about 6:20 a.m. The sore knee was really giving me a problem, so in an effort to minimize walking, I decided to limp to the parking garage and drive to the front desk to check out.
Because of security concerns, one cannot simply park one's car at the curb and go inside, one must leave the keys with the guy in the tall hat. I'm sorry if I didn't tip him for holding my keys for 2 minutes. Had he been more polite about it, I might have made a different decision.
Checkout itself was relatively painless, I was outta there at 6:40 a.m. and got onto southbound Interstate 15.
The Nevada Department of Transportation has been working on widening the freeway to three lanes in each direction, and they have completed several miles, with several more miles to go.
I drove back into California, past Baker and Barstow, and refueled at Kramer Junction (CA 58 and U.S. 395) shortly after 9:00 a.m.
I stopped at Wendy's in Mojave after noting what appeared to be highway contruction off to the north side of Highway 58, north of the community. It appears that they may be building a bypass, but from the looks of things, it will be a few years before it's finished.
I rolled into the Bakersfield area about 10:30 a.m. and stopped at Thorp's Harley-Davidson, where I found some Holiday 2001 CDs on the bargain table, but nothing else I needed.
Just north of Bakersfield, I stopped for a CA Highway 65 sign, then encountered some fog on the way north. I took Road 264 to CA Highway 63 in the Tulare area for another photo, then continued north on CA Highway 99.
I called Al in Fresno on the cellular phone and he gave directions to take Fresno Street east to P Street, where I met with him, gave him some photographs from our breakfast a few days prior, and picked up some saddlebags that were destined for Preacher, near Salinas.
I continued north on Hy 99, then west on Hy 152, through Los Banos and over Pacheco Pass, then turned south on CA Highway 156, past Hollister and San Juan Bautista, then south on U.S. Highway 101 toward Salinas.
I found Preacher's in Prunedale, delivered the saddlebags, returned north on Hy 101, fueled in Gilroy, then continued through Morgan Hill, northbound on Monterey Highway and northbound CA Highway 85.
After stops at the credit union (deposit), photo processing place (drop off), bank (deposit), post office (pick up), grocery store and photo processing place again (pick up pictures), I made it home just before 6 p.m., 1313 miles for the trip.