Las Vegas 2012

12VegasBanner.pngLas Vegas | Photos | Videos

December 14-17, 2012
Las Vegas NV

December 14
Photo Album

I hadn’t been on a ‘real’ vacation in some time. I’d been on plenty of extended weekend trips, but to actually go on vacation was something I hadn’t really done since my cruise in 2009. I wanted to take at least one more trip before the year ended, and had considered Chicago in October, but that didn’t happen due to a host of different reasons.

Some time around October I decided to go to Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas, and figured I’d also visit a couple of parks in the L.A. area whilst out there. So on Friday, December 14, my brother took me to CLT to catch my flight out west. I got thru security fairly easily and headed to Starbucks for breakfast. Around 11 AM my flight was off, with a stop in Cleveland. Eventually, I ended up on Pacific time, and arrived in Vegas around 2 PM.

I had used Orbitz to reserve a rental car. I got an insane deal with EZ Rental Car, but every review online was not good. So I took the bus over to the new McCarran rental car center, and within just a couple of minutes, I was walking out to my little red not Corvette Chevy. I had no complains, save for the fact that I didn’t realize they put a $200 hold on your account, but whatever. For $68, I got a great rate and no issues with the car.

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Las Vegas 2007 Day 5

LV075Banner.pngStratosphere Tower | Fremont Street | Photos |Videos

December 5-6, 2007
Las Vegas NV

Waking up Thursday was rough. We slept in quite a bit. But once we were all up and ready, the three of us headed down the strip with no particular plan as of yet until I suggested Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, so that’s where we went. Little did we know how far we’d need to walk. And the weather was back to being cool, and none of us brought a jacket. Hard Rock was off the strip. It was very nice & modern, with a very rock atmosphere and memorabilia everywhere.

We headed to the casino’s diner, Mr. Lucky’s 24/7, where Jon and I ordered our first cheap steak of the trip, the Gambler’s Special for $7.77. Larry had BBQ chicken pizza, but I’m just not much on BBQ and pizza together. We watched some of the Rodeo that was going on elsewhere in the city on TV. Today many British guys had started to arrive, along with more cowboys, as the undefeated British heavy weight champ was going up against the undefeated U.S. champ the MGM Grand the nite after we were leaving. That, along with the movie premier of ‘Jumper’ at Luxor the evening we were leaving meant we were hitting Vegas in the middle of a lot of big events.

We walked back to the strip, which was quite a long journey, and headed thru the Miracle Mile Shops again before walking into Paris. Actually, we were planning to take the bus to Circus Circus as Larry wanted to go to the Adventuredome, but the bus was taking FOR EVER so we decided to spend time at Paris at the shops. We also took a few minutes to make sure we checked in for our flights so we could get in the ‘A’ boarding group. While we were back outside waiting for the bus which, again, was taking FOR EVER, Larry’s wife called. He said he was going to take this call and walk back towards the hotel and that he’d catch a bus and meet up with us later. When we finally did get a bus to stop that we could board that wasn’t full, we took to the Stratosphere, which took FOR EVER because it was so crowded and the busses on this side of the strip were running so far behind.

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Las Vegas 2007 Day 4

LV074Banner.pngRed Square| Photos | Videos

December 4, 2007
Las Vegas NV

I woke up later than Larry and Jon on Wednesday morning. They had headed to Caesars Palace and met up with Corey and Nathan as I slept in. Once I finally did get up I called Larry’s phone to see where they were and made plans to meet up. After getting up, taking my shower and getting ready I headed out by myself. Caesars wasn’t a terribly long walk so I took the tram to Excalibur and headed thru New York, New York, toying with the idea of riding The Roller Coaster, then opting out of it. I stopped at CVS for a bottle of water and then headed to Caesars Palace.

Once inside it took a while to find the guys. I did get a decent glimpse of the Forum Shops, though, which were very nice. Once we met up we headed down the strip, once again stopping at Bellagio’s shops and then to Planet Hollywood to eat. The Spice Market Buffet was voted the best buffet in Las Vegas for 2007 and had got nothing but rave reviews so I was excited to try it out. It lived up to the hype for sure. The food was great. There was plenty of sea food, plenty of Middle Eastern & Mediterranean inspired foods, Asian food, and more. We sat at our table after we finished eating and talked for quite some time and talked.

After we left we walked thru the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. This was quite large with modern shops and plenty to do. We did some window shopping, hit up a few stores, and eventually made our way to Sharper Image, where a few of us tried out some of the massage chairs. Once I was finished, Jon and I decided to head down the mall, he was going to a shoe store and I needed a bathroom break. I was supposed to meet Jon at the shoe store but I couldn’t find it, so I sat for a while in the mall hoping someone would walk by as my phone had died at that point, Jon didn’t have his, and I don’t know Larry’s number by memory.

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Las Vegas 2007 Day 3

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December 3, 2007
Las Vegas NV

Larry had mentioned that Nathan & Corey were going to spend Tuesday at Red Rock Canyon. So on Tuesday morning we  met up with them to hike in the Canyon for the day. At first I opted out, but then decided to go ahead and go. My feet hurt and I didn’t feel like more walking, but I ended up going with the others. It took a while, but the boys finally arrived to pick us up, stopping at Carl’s Jr. for something to eat as I was starving.

Getting to Red Rock was an adventure, but once we arrived it was worth having decided to go. We spent a few hours hiking up the rocks and in the canyon, taking pictures, and even spending time relaxing on the rocks. I never did anything too hard, but I did some really basic rock climbing up a few small rock faces. Larry, Corey, and Nathan were a bit more adventurous. Corey had brought rock climbing gear, but left it at the room. We did watch other groups climb up some of the cliffs, though. We found some really interesting parts of the canyon to explore and take pictures of. The day was cool but not cold. The sun, however, was severely bright.

At one point we all climbed up to a point on the rocks and sat and watched over the canyon. Larry took some video, and we all just lay around and did some people watching. Even though we spent quite a few hours at Red Rock Canyon, and I really enjoyed going, there isn’t much to type about other than we walked, sat, climbed, walked, sat, climbed, and then we road the entire loop around to get out of the National Park. Once we were finished I told Corey that I was thirsty, and the guys that didn’t eat in the morning were getting hungry.

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Las Vegas 2007 Day 2

Star Trek The Experience | Photos | Videos

December 2, 2007
Las Vegas NV

Sleep is wonderful when you’re exhausted. Even with the exhaustion, we pressed on Sunday and actually got a lot accomplished. Jon was so out of it, though, that it took till Monday for him to really get a feel for Vegas. He woke up early and got ready and I heard him go out the door just as I really woke up. Since Larry was still sleeping I decided I’d take my shower, get ready, and go have breakfast in the hotel. It was 7:30 AM and even though I’m not a morning person I was still on EST, so it was really 10:30 AM to my body. One great thing about Vegas is that because it is so dry, when you take a shower  when you step out, all of the humidity has dried up and you dry off quick.

I headed down to the Luxor’s 24 hour diner for some breakfast. The food was great, and in large portions, but I spent way too much for breakfast and got way too much food. For once in my life, I left a lot that I didn’t finish. I even had coffee this morning, which was very rare for me. Once I finished with breakfast I walked thru the casino and watched the early morning gamblers. I was sitting in a rather out of the way place when a guy walked by and looked at me like he knew me before walking off. It took both of us a second to realize who the other was, as I yelled at Jon as he was walking away.

We hung out watching roulette for a bit before we headed back to the room. Larry had finally got up but he had different plans. We were going to hit up Star Trek: The Experience, but Larry decided to sit it out. First we walked over to New York, New York with plans to ride The Roller Coaster, but upon arrival we saw it did not open until 11 AM and it was only 9:30. I never did get to ride it on that trip, but oh well. So we headed across the street ready for the ginormous trek thru the MGM Grand yet again to the monorail. After arriving at the Hilton we were greeted with a closed attraction. How come nothing opens up before 11 AM but gambling and restaurants in Las Vegas?!? Anyways, we walked thru the space themed casino, walked thru the Hilton Shops, walked thru the main casino, and then headed to the bar at the space themed casino for a drink before opening. Then promptly at 11 AM they opened the shops at Star Trek. The attractions opened at 11:30, with the first ride at noon.

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Las Vegas 2007 Day 1

LV071Banner-2.pngPhotos | Videos

December 1, 2007
Las Vegas NV

On Saturday December 1, my parents drove me to Charleston WV to meet Larry & Stephanie, and from there we left and drove to Elkins. One of Steph’s friends was along for the ride as well. Jon drove his new car to meet up with us in Elkins. From there we drove to Charles Town, where Jon’s brother lived. We watched WVU get soundly beaten in football as we stayed there for the nite, although I don’t think any of us got much sleep. As we were leaving the next morning, I made sure to grab my wallet, and I saw an extra key on the table by the couch that looked like the extra key I keep in my wallet, so I put it back in the side pocket where it belonged. I did, however, manage to leave my tooth brush RW’s house.

We drove to Dulles, checked our bags, and ate breakfast all before the sun rose. I’m not a morning person, but we booked a flight at 8:15 AM EST so that we could have a full first day in Las Vegas. At approximately 8 AM we were boarding the plane. This was our first time flying Southwest, and thankfully we got in the ‘A’ boarding group. The flight seemed longer than it should have at over 5 ½ hours. But we were on a plane going to Las Vegas, and everyone was in a party mood. Just before 11 AM WCT we landed at McCarran. Having watched Ratrace numerous times on DVD, I knew that this airport had slot machines. And that was what you were greeted with as soon as you stepped off the plane and into the terminal.

McCarran had a very Vegas feel to it, with shiny surfaces, slots, and neon lights. I was surprised at how quickly we got our baggage and how close the taxi line was to the baggage claim, which was good because I WAY over packed for this trip. But in line for the Taxi this annoying older guy kept trying to cut me off from my group by getting in between me and the other 2 . Finally I outsmarted him and ended up in between Larry & Jon. So we got our cab and were off to our hotel. It was a sunny day, but colder than it looked outside.

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Las Vegas & Maroon V Honda Civid Tour 2005

2013 Honda Civic Tour Presents Headliner Maroon 5

Las Vegas 2005

Waking up Friday morning, Jamaal and I got ready with plans to head over to Stratosphere with the gang to see if we could get a ride on Insanity since it was closed the night before. We’d had the breakfast buffet at our hotel the day before, but no such luck today. We rode over by Stratosphere but, after talking to Bill, decided we weren’t going to wait till the rides opened later in the day as we had plans to go to a concert that evening in Hollywood, so we left Las Vegas.

I wanted to get a picture of the billboards on the way back that said, “What happens in Vegas” & “Dosen’t get past this billboard” but we went by too quickly.

Speed was fun for the 2 rides, the food we had was great, Manhattan Express wasn’t the worst, and High Roller Sucked. The other rides (that were running) on the Strat were fun even if we didn’t get to ride Insanity.  And Star Trek: The Experience was awesome.

But now it was time for coaster credit #106. We headed towards Prime, which is about 40 minutes outside of Vegas, on the NV/CA border.Buffalo Bills was interesting.The casino was nicely themed, and the Log ride looked like fun but we only got tickets for Desperado, even passing up what would be our 3rd S&S tower.

DesperadoIt could be slightly rough, yes. But the trains were prettier than those on Magnum. The station is inside by the casino. Jamaal and I were in front seat with two other guys in the very back. We waited for a few minutes and then were dispatched. You go down a dip and then start up the lift that takes you outside. The first drop was great, just a bit rough at the bottom, but still fun. The subsequent bunny hops were filled with airtime, and both of us liked the ride, which circles the outside of the casino. I’d rate it above average. Another hypercoaster in the books. Another former record breaker ridden.

We were already 40 minutes past Vegas and our drive back from here wasn’t bad. Eventually we stopped at a gas station in a little settlement in the middle of the desert where we had stopped on the way to Vegas. I don’t think the temps ever got below 80 the couple days we were there.

Though I may have wanted to do more sightseeing, once we arrived in Hollywood it was already around 4pm, with a concert at 8:15. After parking at the bottom of the hill we rode the tram up to CityWalk. We had dinner at Panda Express and did some shopping. It was getting much cooler than Las Vegas had been. We really didn’t have a lot of time before getting in line for the concert.

Las Vegas 2005

Universal Amphitheater was a nice venue. We made it to our seats, which were a welcome to my tired legs. We still didn’t know who the opening act was, then someone told us-Phantom Planet, the guys that sangthe theme song for ‘The OC’. Plus we found out this was the opening nite of the tour.

Phantom Planet was great. They had a fairly long. It’s always refreshing to hear a good *Live* band. During intermission we went for a potty break, and I spotted someone I walked by that looked familiar. I knew I recognized this person. At the top of the stairs, I mentioned it to Jamaal, and coming back down the stairs, he was like “oh my, it is him”, our first celeb sighting…Ian Ziering from 90210. We had better seats than he did.

The lights went down and Maroon 5 came out to screaming fans. They did the songs off of their album and some new songs as well. Another refreshingly good live band. The lights went down and stayed until the encore. Then they went into my favorite Maroon V song, and I knew the end was near. I really love She will be Loved, and the audience went wild for that one as well.

After that, Adam Levine mentioned that the drummer had been off the tour due to injury and they had a back up drummer. But since it was L.A. and this was their hometown, Adam took the drums as the Drummer came out to play guitar and sing 2 songs. Their rendition of “Seven Nation Army” by White Strips, and then “Highway to Hell”, which just happens to be a song about being on tour.

They would be performing in Morgantown a few weeks later, but I wouldn’t be able to go. One interesting tidbit: The lead singer from Phantom Planet actually sat with his girl friend and family right behind us for the entirety of Maroon 5’s set. Great nite. Then it was a late arrival at Days Inn in Buena Park. We met up with Tim Danner who was also staying there that nite for a few minutes before bed. 

Some years later, after meeting a friend’s wife, we found out that we were both at the same Maroon V concert, her in the pit just in front of us. Disney was right, it really is a small world. Jamaal and I were tired, and we had to get up early for Exclusive Ride Time at Knott’s Winter Coaster Solace the next morning, so we headed to bed.

Winter Coaster Solace 2005

Las Vegas 2005

Las Vegas Part 2 2005


Las Vegas 2005

On Thursday we had plans to do several different attractions around Las Vegas. We met up with the gang, which were now joined by Tina and Bill, who had arrived this morning from Los Angeles, as well as Rob, our Las Vegas native, for an all day pass on Speed. We only took 2 spins, which was still cheaper than one ride on Manhattan Express.

Speed The Ride-You have to travel thru the Nascar Café to get there, but once you’re in the station very little NASCAR is actually seen. The launch into the over banked left hand turn was great. Then it goes into a loop, thru more LIMs, another turn to the left, and up a large spike. The kickback at the highest point was great. Then you do it all again with a deceleration at the LIMs instead of a kicker launch. I really liked Speed, and after it was all done, we rode it again. This time I sat with Jeff in the front seat. Even with the OTSRs, this was nothing like Joker’s Jinx with ‘em. This was a better start to coasting in Vegas!

Apparently we were a few drinks behind everyone else with those 99¢ margaritas, but Jamaal and I decided to play it sober for now. The gang re-grouped and headed down the street towards the Adventuredome indoor theme park at Circus Circus. Circus Circus is an older property, and it shows. I was going to book two nights for us there, but I’m glad I didn’t. Actually, the inside didn’t look as bad, and I hear their steak restaurant is one of the best in vegas. But we were there for one reason and one reason only: Canyon Blaster.

We made our way through the casino and around to Adventuredome. The first ride we saw was their newly installed Chance Slingshot Tower. I had rode one in Myrtle Beach and loved it, but I was only willing to part with enough cash for the main coaster here. We walked around Adventuredome, which is very pink. Adventuredome is an indoor amusement park with a huge faux mountain in the middle and several rides, mostly Chance Rides, scattered about. I would like to spent a few hours there at some point in the future. Eventually we all got to a ticket booth and went to the coaster station. 

Adventuredome 2005

Canyon BlasterThis was one of the smoother Arrow loopers I’d ever ridden. I think that being indoors helps, not being subject to the elements, with less of a chance of rust or fading paint, all of which could affect the ride. Everything in the Adventuredome was very clean and well kept. This was the first time I’d been on an Arrow coaster with their later rolling stock. It was very comfy, even if they didn’t look very Arrow-esq. The ride wasn’t very different from any other Arrow loops-crew. You have a first drop into loops and a turn into corkscrews, then a helix before you’re done.

The other kiddie credit was not open and I wasn’t in the mood for any flat rides so we wandered around while some of the crew played DDR, and eventually left. Some of them still had to get that Manhattan Express credit but since Jamaal, Jeff and Myself had it we went to do the other geeky thing I’m into-Star Trek.

For years I’d wanted to go to Vegas just to visit Star Trek: The Experience  I mean, this was Star Trek Mecca! At the time, while I still enjoyed Trek, I wasn’t quite as huge a fan. This was something I wasn’t going to leave Vegas without doing. We made our way to the Hilton, passed thru the ‘futuristic’ themed casino (which just happens to have one of Travel Channel’s “World’s Best Bathrooms”, and yes we visited), and then I saw it. 

Voyager, the Enterprise, a Klingon Bird of Prey. I was super excited. So we bought our all day passes to both ‘Klingon Encounter’ & ‘BORG Invasion 4D’ and headed thru the ‘History of the Future’ museum. I filmed the whole thing. I even got to talk very briefly with a severely tall Klingon. Eventually, we made it to the queue of ‘Klingon Encounters’, the original attraction. The wait wasn’t very long.

Star Trek The Experience 2005

Klingon Encounter-I didn’t know the storyline until I got there. You’re met by an attraction host and the intro has you lined up ready to head into the attraction. But something goes wrong and you’re transported onto the Enterprise D. The transporter effect was brilliant. You’re rushed to the bridge of the Enterprise for a briefing, where you find out that someone in the group is an ancestor of someone important in the future, and a rogue Klingon has went back in time to change the future. The next major scene is in a turbo lift where, again, they use special effects that were very well done. Finally you’re taken to a shuttle craft where the simulator part of the attraction begins. I’m not a huge motion sim fan, but this was the best one I’d been on. As you exit, there was a newscast playing on the screens that gave an ‘update’ about a UFO landing in Vegas.

You exit thru retail shops and Quark’s bar on the Promenade. Then it was back around to do BORG Invasion. Back thru the museum and into the other queue. This time the wait was even less. We were all eventually led into the first room for our pre-show and briefing.

BORG Invasion 4D-This one was even better. The pre-show features the Doctor from Voyager telling you why you are there. This time you are on a space station. Then something happens, and the station is under attack from the BORG. As you’re moved through the space station, the BORG start to attack the ‘staff’ of the space station, assimilating them. This was more like a walk through haunted house style of attraction. At the end of it all ended up in a large theater that used practical effects to make it feel as if you’re in a different kind of vessel, with 3D and practical effects putting you in the action. Because I used to wear glasses, the 3D glasses on most attractions didn’t work well for me. These worked like a charm. I really enjoyed it.

Star Trek The Experience 2005

Afterwards we were back on the Promenade, where I picked up some stuff. Then we decided to have a drink at Quark’s Bar. I had a Warp Core Breach. It was quite large and Jeff had to help me finish it after he drank his Mind Meld. We called the group and met up eventually at the Bellagio after riding the Monorail from the Hilton to Bally’s. They had been watching the fountains for quite some time now. We stayed and watched a full run of the fountains as well before heading off to Fremont St.

Bill and Tina went ahead to the Stratosphere and the six of us went to see the Fremont Street Experience. After getting to Fremont St. we went into the Mermaids Casino to get some food (deep fried Oreos, yum!) and cheap mixed drinks. Fremont St. is the original strip in Las Vegas. Binion’s Horseshoe, the Golden Nugget, that famous neon Cowboy and Cowgirl. All are found on Fremont St. It is also home to the Fremont Street Experience, with Viva Vision as the centerpiece, a large LED canopy.

The Fremont St. Experience was the world’s largest television. It’s actually a large canopy over Fremont St. that stretches from one end to the other, over 5 football fields long. Viva Vision is the series of shows between 6 and 9 minutes long that are shown at the top of every hour. Once a busy street in Downtown Las Vegas, most of the area is closed to vehicles now and is a shopping, eating, and gambling venue. I found it to be very clean and entertaining, with live music and a fun atmosphere.

At the top of the hour, however, Fremont St. gets very different. The things that Vegas is most known for, the Neon lights on the casinos, all go off at once, as the large overhead screen comes on. We were about to witness ‘The Drop’, a psychedelic underwater techno music show. Jamaal took video of the 8 minute show. There are a few different shows.

After that Jamaal and I headed to the Stratosphere Tower, as did Dawn who was dropping off Kristin and Jeff. We all eventually met up with Tina and Bill at the top. The nite could have been a lot different…

Las Vegas 2005

Once we get to the top we find that Insanity, the new ride at the top of the tower, was closed. The person selling tickets had told us that the ride was open and operating. This was, after all, opening nite. Tina and Bill almost made it on before it closed down. What do you do when you have a building over a 1000 feet tall standing in the desert where the wind is always blowing and you’re looking for a new thrill ride? Build Insanity, of course, which can’t operate in winds over 25 mph. Insanity never ran again that nite, and we stayed till closing. Oh well, at least it wasn’t a total loss. There were three other rides at the top of the tower.

So instead of riding Insanity we boarded their other new ride, a see-saw with an attitude: Xscream.

Xscream-Scariest. Flat-ride. Ever. Hands down! We got on close to the back. I didn’t have my glasses on, but could still see well enough. The platform you stand on lowers, and you’re sitting there being held in by a lap bar dangling 900 feet in the air. Did I ever mention I’m afraid of heights? Whew. Very scary. They run a few programs on the ride, all equally as bad. I swore I’d never ride again, but I ended up riding 2 more times after this (screaming like a girl the whole time) and even once in the front row.

After Xscream we headed farther up the tower for another coaster credit.

High RollerThis had the worst ops I’d ever seen in my life. They tried to fill the train and since the top of the tower wasn’t busy, we waited. And waited. And waited. Then they realize that the guy sitting in the front seat of the coaster was too big to ride the coaster. So they all look at him, then they go inside to discuss it. For about five minutes. Then they come back and tell him he can’t ride. Then they wait till a few more people arrive. Quite a while later. I know we sat in that car a good twenty minutes before the ops finally decided to send the train around. It goes around the circuit twice, but one would have been enough. Not very fun, actually rather boring. And it was rough.

Jeff and Kristin finally made it to the top and we all rode Big Shot. 

Big Shot-Even sans glasses (darn me for forgetting my strap), I could see a lot of the city. Big Shot was more fun than scary, especially now that I realize that I like S&S towers much better than Intamin as you’re not held at the top before dropping. A couple good bounces, and air at the top made this a really fun ride. 

More rides on both Xscream and Big Shot followed. We had a last ride on Big Shot before the tower closed for the evening. Then we all parted ways for the nite. The plan was for Jamaal and I to go to ‘Ra’, a club at the Luxor but it was too late and I was too tired. So I went back to the room to sleep as Jamaal ventured out to wander around and shop. We got up fairly early the next morning to leave.

Hollywood & Maroon 5

Las Vegas 2005

Las Vegas Part 1 2005


Las Vegas 2005

We woke up Wednesday morning a bit later than we had planned. We’d wanted to go explore Hollywood that morning, but once we woke up and got ready Jamaal had a different idea. We had seen a huge shoe store on the way to Disneyland the day before and he definitely wanted to stop by before we left Anaheim, but first we had to go to Downtown Disney for a few souvenirs, so we checked out and made our way back to the Disneyland Resort.

There was a 15-minute parking area for dropping off/picking up and since we were picking up stuff from the gift shops I figured we’d just park there since it was just a run in, run out kinda deal.

Once we arrived at Downtown Disney we stopped into the first store and picked up a few shot glasses, magnets, and key chains. There were some Mickey gloves for sale but I wasn’t spending $17 for them this time, so I got the one thing I was determined to get for my first trip to Disney: Mouse Ears. I got the traditional Disneyland Mouse Ears as I’d been wanting a pair for ever. After we finished shopping Jamaal took a picture of me by a fountain and we were back to the car in about 20 minutes.

After getting back to the car we headed to the shoe store, after stopping once again at Carl’s Jr. and Jamaal suggested leaving early for Las Vegas. I thought about it for a second and gave in. More time in Vegas was fine by me. I’d hoped that since we’d be in Hollywood Friday maybe we could head to Venice Beach and get photos of the Hollywood sign.

We shopped for shoes and then asked for the best directions to Vegas, then it we were off. The drive was just at 3 ½ hours out in the desert. We gassed up and got more food for the drive at Quiznos and Starbucks on the outskirts of Los Angeles on the advice of the guys at the shoe store. Then it was off on the most beautiful drive ever. The snow capped mountains and desert terrain was stunning. Traffic moved swiftly, rarely reaching below 90mph for us. We passed by Calico Ghost town and then into the desert. It was beautiful. We came through Primm where Buffalo Bill’s is located, getting some decent views of Desperado. We arrived in Vegas at around 5:30 PM. Traffic was getting congested closer to the city, but it wasn’t far to our hotel. The Excalibur was right off of the exit, and very easy to find.

Las Vegas 2005

I had heard mixed but mostly negative reviews of the Excalibur. “Enjoy all the Kids”, “Its a bit run down”, etc. But in reality, Excalibur was nice, clean, and convenient, located just across from New York New York, and just beside Luxor and Mandalay Bay. We checked in (no screaming kids yet, this was March after all) and made our way up to our room with the luggage. By this point, the sun had set, and we were ready for a nite on the town. First things first, there was a coaster staring at me from across the street. It had a mean grimace and I wanted to get it and it’s bad reputation out of the way. So we made our way over the walkway above the freeway and into the NYNY Hotel and Casino.

But more importantly, we walked first right into the Coyote Ugly bar there. They were having a two for one special so I bought an overpriced Long Island Iced Tea and gave the other to Jamaal. We wondered around NYNY a bit before finding the station to Manhattan Express. Once there, I couldn’t believe the almost $20 price tag (for one ride, mind you) they were charging for a Togo…

But it was a one-time thing, so we paid and made our way to the front of the train.

Manhattan ExpressThe chain lift was smooth. Actually, the ride wasn’t the roughest coaster I’d ridden or ever ride. The only thing keeping me from a re-ride is the price. You go up the lift (over 200’) and then hit a fairly short drop, back up, and then its inversion time. The loop was decent, but I really did enjoy the Twist and Dive. We need more of these some day, please. The trains are cool to look at, but the restraints were weird and uncomfortable. Ah well, another credit down, and I’ll not have to do it again on this trip.

So we went back to the Coyote Ugly bar. It was expensive, so I let Jamaal get himself something to drink. The greatest thing about Las Vegas is the fact that you can have alcohol whilst walking down the street there. So we did. We walked to the MGM Grand and made a left towards Paris, Bellagio, and Cesar’s Palace. The strip was magnificent. We walked and looked around quite a bit. Once we got to Bellagio we crossed over to the other side of the street towards Paris and Bally’s. I would like to have gone to the top of the Eiffel Tower but we didn’t.

Las Vegas 2005

We walked into the Barbary Coast. We walked up to the information/concierge desk and asked where the closest bar is. The gentleman at the desk asked if we wanted the closest located bar or the closest ‘bar/venue’. We asked for the closest located bar and he pointed their main bar out AND gave us each 2 for one drink tickets. Score!

Normally I try to tip well because I’ve been reliant on tips. But our bar didn’t seem to want to wait on us. He got us our first BOGO drinks and then never came back to us. I left a decent tip, but I guess he didn’t want any more money. In fact, he wouldn’t even come by to pick up the tip. Sine we didn’t get any other service from the bar. Since we sat there so long waiting on our drinks, I picked up my tip and walked off, as the bartender wouldn’t come back to our side of the bar even when we tried to motion for him. His loss.

Instead, we saw a Roulette table. So we went to sit down. But before I finished pulling out my seat, a very nice waitress came and took our drink order. I got an Absolut and Jamaal got another Long Island. She got a good tip. We sat and watched at the roulette table, asking questions about how to play while getting a couple of drinks from our waitress.

But enough was enough and I had called Dawn Marie once we got to Vegas to set up a dinner date with her, Danny, Kristin and Jeff. We went back out to the strip to do some more wandering around. The group was staying at the Stardust so we took a cab. Then the six of us headed out to a Las Vegas classic, The Peppermill, which was basically an overpriced Denny’s with a bar. But the inside of it looked like cheesy Vegas lounge. I guess it kind of was. And I loved it.

Dinner was okay food wise. We headed back to the Stardust with the gang, and then Jamaal and I headed out. I was getting ready to get a cab but Jamaal said “We can walk it, it isn’t far”. The Luxor is not close to the Stardust. An argument ensued while we started to walk to the other end of the strip to the Excalibur. I knew this wasn’t a close walk. Eventually we got separated and both took cabs back to the room to sleep.

Las Vegas Part 2

Las Vegas 2005