Monday, December 21, 2009

Vegas: Part Deux

After the hell of the first night we got up a little late.  Too late for breakfast anyway.  We decided to go to Red Rock Canyon.  First off we had no idea how to get there, so we had to ask the concierge for directions.  Than we had to find the interstate.  That was fun in of itself.  We had to go South on 215, but 215 is East/West.  When we went to get on 215, we realized it wasn't the 215 we wanted.  Theres a County Road 215 and an Interstate 215.  Well, we got on the County Road one and drove for awhile before we got off as no roadsigns were helping.  So we turned around and found I215 with no problem, and we were off to where we wanted to go.  

Red Rock Canyon has a very nice view.  Its a mountainous desert area, and pretty barren.  There are quite a few Joshua Trees, cacti and a whole lot of shrubs.  I was a bit dismayed with the lack of cow skeletons in the dirt, which would complete the classic desert imagery.  As we were driving you couldn't tell how close the mountains were.  Were they really close, or perhaps several miles off still?  As we travelled west the sun was behind us, and shadows covered the craggy mountains.  A majestic sight to behold.  The shadowed areas of the mountains were a great contrast to the lighted areas.  

The Red Rock Canyon itself is neat.  Portions of the mountains are colored red.  The area used to be a lake millions of years ago.  As the tectonic plates moved, some of the rock was buried, and the lake drained.  Further seismic activity brought the buried rock into open air, which then over the years oxidized.  Literally, the Red Rock Canyon is made of rusted rock.

After sightseeing at the canyon, we went to the Red Rock Canyon Resort and Casino.  Yes, in Las Vegas, even the National Conservation Areas have casinos.  Not really.  The Casino is not on the National Conservation Area property, its just kind of a "last stop" before going to the area.  Anywho, Red Rock Casino is a newer casino, owned by Station Casinos.  It's a nice place, but honestly I don't see many people staying there.  Its so far out from the strip.  But I guess people that don't want to be touristy might like it.  We only really went there for the buffet, which was awesome.  Not many lunch buffets have a sushi, which Red Rock had a nice selection of.  I'm not a big sushi fan, but there was wasabi, which I love.  The Mexican area was also awesome.  They had fajita mixes which I never saw at other casino buffets.  Not like just a soft taco shell and regular taco mixings, they really had sauteed peppers and onion mixed with chicken of beef.  The dessert selection was very nice as well.  Sorbets, cakes, cookies, and other baked items.  

After lunch we signed up for the Players Club since you get free slot play.  Didn't turn out to be much, $3.00, but hey, free money if you win.  The way free slot play works out:  The free slot play is a dollar amount, but its not physical money.  You get a card, not unlike a keycard or credit card, and you put the card in a slot machine.  After following the instructions on screen (usually enter a PIN number), the money on the card acts like you put money in the machine.  Thing is, you can't cashout the money on the card, you have to play the money on the card.  Once you play out the money on the card, you can cashout and whatever you get is what you won.  

After losing our money to the one-armed bandit we went shopping.  Bought some stuff at Fry's Electronics, and went to the outdoor outlet mall and got some stuff there too.  I think we walked a bit on the strip too, but not completely sure.  

For dinner we went to the Orleans Buffet.  Players Club members get a two dollar discount on buffet prices, so we had to sign up for that.  Also got $5.00 free slot play.  Added Bonus!  We didn't use that that night since we had plans already.  The Orleans Buffet has always been one of our favorite buffets.  There's about seven different sections for different types of food.  And the desert section is fairly large with a lot to choose from.  Key items at this buffet:  Machaca (Mexican pulled beef), Gumbo (Not a big fan, but apparently its really good here), and any of the desserts.  This year they had gelato, which makes the buffet that much better in my opinion.

After dinner we went downtown.  We always park at the Golden Nugget, which doesn't mean anything in itself.  The Golden Nugget is a 4-Diamond rated hotel in downtown Las Vegas.  Its a gaudy hotel.  I dunno, its nice an all, but I really don't like gold.  Its so tacky.  Everything about this hotel is golden.  We gambled some at Fremont Hotel and Fitzgerald's and maybe Binion's.  But the real reason we came downtown was for the Fremont Street Experience.  Downtown Las Vegas is on Fremont Street, its just a pedestrian street, no cars can drive along it.  Over the length of the street is a giant canopy made of roughly 12 million LED lights.  The lights are programmed for light shows.  The light shows are always really cool.  This yea we saw one dedicated to the band Queen, which is awesome, cause Queen is my favorite band of all time.  They played We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions.  After that there was a Generic Christmas themed one, Frank Sinatra singing a Christmas carol I can't remember which.  The Experience plays once every hour.  The second Experience was dedicated to Kiss.  I'm not a big Kiss fan, but it was pretty cool.

After gambling and watching the Experience, we went back to the hotel and went to sleep.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Just got back from a five day trip to Fabulous Las Vegas (pictures forthcoming, which means they'll never get posted...).  It was a lot of fun.  When we finally got there...  The flight we took was kind of retarded.  We go from Tampa to Minneapolis which is 1300 miles, and then from Minneapolis to Las Vegas, another 1300 miles.  Its probably only 1500 miles from Tampa to Las Vegas directly.  But Northwest Airlines was significantly cheaper, even when paying for luggage, than Southwest Airlines (who we usually use).  Plus on NWA you get to choose your seat, instead of having a free for all on seating like SW.  Anywho the flight to Minneapolis went smoothly, hell, I think we were even ahead of schedule.  But upon disembarking the airplane, thats when the nightmare began.  

Once we got into Minneapolis we had to switch planes, and we had to find where the plane was.  Fortunately it was just two gates over from where we landed.  The plane was already there too.  All seemed good.  Boarding for the flight would be about a half hour from when we got off the first plane.  So we had sometime to relax/stretch before boarding.  About ten minutes prior to boarding the lady at our kiosk makes an announcement:  The plane needs to undergo maintenance and an update will be given in roughly 30-45 minutes.  At first we were kind of pissed, but it was only a half hour, who cares?  We look out the window and see that there is a maintenance crew working on the left engine.  The update came, something along the lines of, we're waiting to see if we get an okay to use the same plane or get a new one.  That didn't sound good.  About 20-30 minutes later we're boarding that plane.  It takes forever to board, but we do, and everything seems normal.  Well, apart from the smell of jetfuel...  Anyways, we get an okay and the plane starts taxi-ing towards the tarmac.  Then the plane sits there for another twenty minutes, before the pilot goes on the intercom and tells us that the plane cannot go on.  I really do believe we might have died that day if we actually took off.  

So now we go back to the terminal, and wait another twenty minutes to find out what our new plane is.  Its all the way at another gate.  We were at Gate G 18 and had to go to F 13.  Ooh.  F.  As in Failure.  And 13, the unlucky number.  Great.  Also the walk from G to F was like a mile.  When we finally get there there are a few announcements by the lady at the kiosk, which went along the lines of "we don't know what the fuck is going on" and "you'll all get compensated."  Compensation sounds good.  I was hoping for free alcoholic drinks on the plane, but now.  Eventually, probably about 45 minutes later we board the plane.  The compensation was a 25 dollars off your next flight voucher.  Woop-de-fucking-doo.  Once boarded we sit there.  And sit there.  And sit there.  Fortunately there was nothing wrong with the plane this time.  I'm not entirely sure what happened, but basically we had the same crew from the defected plane, but for some reason we needed a new co-pilot.  I'm guessing the original pilot had to stay with the original plane or something.  Well the new co-pilot was already on a plane that landed in Gate G, so he had to walk all the way to Gate F.  Thats explains the first twenty minutes of waiting.  About 40 minutes later the pilot explains that the new co-pilot was already on a plane, but all the terminals were full, so his plane had to sit on the tarmac for 25 minutes before a terminal opened up.  After that announcement, the co-pilot finally arrives and everything goes according to plan.  So after about 6 hours we finally get to take off.  And no free drinks.  Damn.  Well, once we got off the plane we got another voucher, this time for 100 dollars.  We were supposed to arrive in Las Vegas at 1pm, but instead we got there at like 7pm.  Killed the whole night.

After getting the rental car (a Kia Spectra, nice car) from Alamo we checked in at the hotel, which ironically is called THEhotel.  THEhotel is owned by MGM Mirage and is basically the all-suite tower of Mandalay Bay. It even has its own lobby.  The hotel is really nice, and I must say, dressed in t-shirt and shorts, I felt very underclassed.  The employees were all nicely dressed and such.  The lobby was decorated with natural stones, like a one million year old quartz sandstone and a 500,000 year old quartz crystal.

After we checked in, we didn't even go to the room, since we were starving, so we just went to The Orleans and ate at Fuddrucker's which is an awesome burger joint.  And then we just went back to the hotel and slept.  The whole day was pretty much wasted from the airlines screwing up.

The room was great.  Instead of typical hotel rooms where there are just one room and a bathroom, THEhotel has two rooms and two bathrooms.  In the entryway theres the bathroom, nothing special, just a toilet and a sink.  The first room is the living room area.  The couch was kind of uncomfortable to sit in.  There was a chair, which was kind of "meh, chair."  And there was a desk with a really nice office chair.  The desk had stationary and a drawing pad, which I thought was pretty nice.  Finally there is the wet bar.  All the stuff in the wet bar you have to pay for, but there is some interesting stuff in it.  For instance, the "Love Box" which contains condoms and such. The second room is the bedroom.  We got two beds, but I slept in the couch in the living area, which although uncomfortable to sit in, it was actually pretty comfortable to sleep on.  I'm sure the beds were nice though. There is plenty of room for clothes in the cabinets and dressers.  The master bathroom is in the bedroom area.  The bathroom is huge.  The bath and shower are separate, and the sink area had a lot of cabinet space too.  The toilet room is just that, a separate room with a toilet in the bathroom.  However the plumbing sucked.  The toilets are really weak, and I swore it wouldn't be able to flush toilet paper.  Each major room has a flatscreen TV in it.  Even the bathroom.