Monday, March 19, 2012

Food !

Good but Expensive
It would have cost $15.00 a day to have a refrigerator in our room for the two weeks. We could have ordered one from Sears for what we would have spent. We spoke to someone staying in another hotel that included a fridge. It was full of those little drinks and snacks, but he wanted to put his own food in it, so he took things out to make room – didn't use them, just took them out to make room. He was charged for every item he removed. So, if you come to Las Vegas, you are probably going to be sampling some of the many eateries in the city.

A delicious Hot Dog
There are an amazing number of restaurants in Las Vegas. In general, there are two bits of useful information I can give you about them. The food is excellent. The prices are high.

We really have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. We really have not had a meal that we could complain about. From hot dogs at a fast food place (Nathan's), to authentic Brazilian beef barbecue, at Pampas, the food has always been among the best we have had. We were taken to a Barbecue restaurant while in Santos Brazil, where the beef is seasoned with nothing but course salt and brought to your table on a spit and chunks carved right at your table so we knew what to expect, and the beef at Pampas, was almost as good as the original.

I have been trying, during all my travels to sample calamari from every place I go, looking for a sample that can match the calamari I can get at our local tavern The Mic Mac. I tried two samples here in Las Vegas, and although the Mic Mac still has the best calamari, the Las Vegas varieties were almost as good; cooked properly, and spiced just right.

Even the Buffets were good
Even the little places are good. We went out for lunch one day to a little bar and grill in the Luxor resort called the T & T . This was just a small bar in the main lobby area of the Luxor Casino, but the chicken wing appetizer I ordered was, I believe among the best wings I have ever had; big, meaty, and spicy enough to make them interesting without hurting.

Even the chain restaurants seem to put a bit of extra effort to stay ahead of the competition. I have always wanted to try one of B. B. King's Barbecue restaurants, and we found one in the Mirage Hotel & Casino. We went to listen to a Blues group that was going to be playing, but the NCAA basketball tournament seemed to be more important to most patrons, so we had to wait for the game to finish, but the wait was worth it, and the ribs I had were almost as good as my own, and the music was very entertaining. Regis reports that her chicken burger was also excellent.
There are so many restaurants it is hard to choose. We often based our choices on discounts and coupons we had, but sometimes we found places just by wandering around. One day while looking for tickets to a show, we found that the restaurant we were aiming for was VERY busy, but next door was a very interesting Italian place where we found that I actually had a choice of two pizzas I could eat (Not an easy thing when you are lactose intolerant). This restaurant, Lombardi"s Romagna Mia had friendly staff, and the pizza was excellent.

Great Place downtown at Freemont St. 
Although there are plenty of places to eat right on the strip, there are also some excellent places requiring a bit of a walk away from the neon world of the casinos and resorts. One example is the Alexis Gardens Restaurant in the Alexis Park Hotel. This is a small resort hotel a couple of blocks off the strip that we had an Entertainment Book coupon for. It was definitely worth the walk, the food was excellent, and the atmosphere was wonderful. It was nice to be away from the crowds and lights of the big casinos and enjoy a nice quiet meal. I had a Blackened Texas Redfish that was amazing.

Now you do have to check the reviews of the restaurants, and my famous “Trip Planner” is great for this. She really wanted to try one of Emeril Lagasee's restaurants. We dropped into his Stadium Sports Bar for lunch one day and enjoyed it, so we made reservations at his Seafood Restaurant next door in the MGM Grand. When we read the reviews however we had second thoughts, There was not one good review. Everyone agreed that the service was good, but the food just was not up to standards. Then when we met a gentleman who actually worked at MGM and agreed that we should go elsewhere, we decide to cancel that meal.

$9.00 Beer at a Bar?
So the good news is that you will probably enjoy any meal you have in Las Vegas. We found that everything was delicious, and the service was always friendly and helpful. The bad news is that if you eat on the strip it is going to be expensive. Main courses can be as high as $60 to $70 at most “good” restaurants in the casinos on the strip. Oh, BTW, you may have to pay extra for sides. Even when you find a place with decent prices on the food, don't be surprised by the price of the things you don't think about. Often the juice or coffee to go with your bargain breakfast will cost a couple of dollars more than you are used to. Don't expect to get a beer for under $7.00 at most casino bars or eateries unless you have a “Big Spender” card. I paid as much as $9.00 for a beer at one place. Don't expect to always see the prices either. If the beer prices are not on the menu, ask, or you may be surprised when the bill comes. Many restaurants and bars have “Happy Hours”, where prices on food and drinks are much better, but a beer will still usually cost you $5.00.

So when in Las Vegas, expect to eat very well. You can get anything you want, and it will probably be very good, but if you eat on the strip, expect to take a hit on the credit card.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Homeless Signs

Pedestrian Walkways
Las Vegas is famous for the “strip”, Las Vegas Blvd, running north/south through the city with casinos and hotels lining both sides. The roadway is constantly full of vehicles and the sidewalks are a steady stream of people. In order to keep all those potential gamblers safe, Las Vegas has constructed an excellent series of pedestrian overpasses and escalators.

As you walk across the street on these overpasses they provide an excellent view up and down the strip. They also give a great place for the homeless to sit and solicit money. As with the casinos, the competition is fierce, so the hand lettered signs are a great source of entertainment.

You will notice I have no pictures of the homeless, because they insist you pay them to take their picture, and I will not give them money. I did throw my loose change into the buckets of a group of people who were collecting money for the homeless, but these folks were actually dressed in a uniform, so they were either legit, or a very good scam.

The Mirage
There were lots of simple “Homeless, Please help, God Bless”, but there were lots of more interesting ones. We noticed one guy who had written, “WHY LIE, I WANT BEER!”, this must have worked because I noticed one of the “PLEASE HELP, GOD BLESS!” changed his sign to the same thing.

The TV ceiling at Freemont
“IF I HAD 10 BUCKS, I WOULDN’T BE HERE.” This guy was either lying or his sign wasn’t working, because he seemed to be always be here.

How about, “NEED BEER, NEED CIGARETTES, NEED LEFTOVERS”.  I only saw this one for a while, so perhaps they got their beer, cigarettes, and leftovers and are happy now.

One young girl sat looking very pathetic, had a sign saying “TOO PROUD TO PROSTITUTE”. I only saw her once, so either her sign worked, or she changed her mind. The same thing with the couple with the “JUST WANT TO GET TO CALI”. I only saw it once, so they must be in California now.

There are a few homeless with a bit more ambition, and move a bit more into busking over begging, playing guitars or squeeze-boxes. One outfit consisted of two homeless, and a big white dog dressed in scarf, and fancy sunglasses with a big sign “HE AIN'T NOTHING BUT A  HOUND DOG”. of course Elvis was playing from a blaster.

And, my favorite, “PLEASE HELP ME AND MY PUSSY”. Oh, don’t worry, she really did have a cute little cat on a leash.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Gambling? Yes it does go on in Vegas.

They're Giving Me $200.00?
My Blogs on this Las Vegas trip really would not be complete without writing something about gambling. It is after all what Las Vegas is really all about. Make no mistake about it, you can come to Las Vegas and have a great time without throwing away a quarter on gambling, but the town was built on gambling, and gambling continues to support its growth. The dream of hitting it lucky is alive and well.

We have spent exactly five $1 bills in the “Machines”, and for two of those it took us a while to loose all of it. We could have walked away with almost $1.75, but we insisted on playing on until it was all gone. We have met others with the same attitude, but we have also overheard quite a few discussions about how much was lost. Funny how I never heard any about how much was won?

You are certainly encouraged to spend your money on gambling. It is hard to miss the huge sign outside the Tropicana Resort telling you that “The First $200.00 is on us.” If you sign up for the 'Trop Plus Player's Club” the casino will give you back the first $200.00 you lose. Here's how it works. You give them $200.00 and they give you a Trop Plus Card worth $200.00 that you can use to play any game in the casino. When you lose your first $200.00 they will refill you card with another $200.00. There was always a lineup to sing up for this deal. I wonder how many people lose that first $200, realize 'Oh, perhaps playing the slots is not the way to get rich', and then take their refilled card and cash out? As you walk through the many casinos, you do hear people cheering when they win, but I've only seen one person yell “YEAAAAA!!!!”, and then push that “Cash Out” button, the normal reaction is to leave the winning in the machine and just keep playing.

Playing the Tables
I watched a guy playing on the Roulette wheel. He had a stack of probably 20 chips on “red”, and red hit so he doubled his chips. He didn't even take those chips back to the stack he had in front of him, he just distributed them around the table. That seems to be the predominant strategy in play; you always use your winnings to try to win more. He didn't, in fact in short order he was back to pulling chips from the stack in front of him.

We came up in the elevator one evening and overheard two women talking. One said “Oh, I really don't know how much I've lost. I know I had $900.00. I'm assuming that “I had” means she doesn't have it any more, so if her math skills are so weak that 900 – 900 = 0 is not the answer, then $900.00 was only a fraction of what she actually lost.

We are not on a very strict schedule normally, so we sleep until we wake up, normally around 8:00 or 8:30, but the day of the Sprint Cup race we wanted to be there early, so we were up at 6:00, and were on the bus by 7:00 to get to the track. As we came through the casino (You always have to go through the casino to get anywhere), there were already people up putting money into the machines. Now I say they got up early to play, but it is Las Vegas . . . . . they may have been there since the night previous.

Sports Betting Area
I've seen the video gambling machines in taverns and other places, I've been to the casinos on cruise ships, and I've visited casinos in other places, but I have not seen the sports betting before. Every casino has an area where they have huge TV screens playing any important sporting event 24 hours a day, and banks of betting stations where you can place bets.There are always people in these parts of the casino, but when a major sporting event hits, they are crowded. We discovered that this area was a good shortcut to get out of the hotel and onto the strip, but when a major College basketball tournament started, the area was suddenly so crowded you had to pick your way through; they were even sitting on the steps leading to the exit. There were guys sitting everywhere with tablets full of stats, handwritten notes and newspaper clippings. There was a lot of serious gambling going on.

This week, Las Vegas is crazier than usual. It is Spring Break for a large group of American universities, and although I thought that Florida was the big Spring Break destination, it is obvious that Las Vegas is also a popular spot. The streets and the casinos are flooded with young people here for a good time. I notice that most casinos have special Spring Break promotions running just to entertain the college students. The Tropicana for example features a March Mania Mega Stack Poker Tournament. I wonder who this is aimed at? I hope it is only the students here on their “Family Money”, but I suspect that some hard earned, student minimum wage university savings or even some student loan money gets gambled away over the week.

As for us, we are not really doing our share of the expected gambling.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dress For Success - Las Vegas

Go For the Fashionable ones

We went to a show called “Las Vegas, The Show”, and the MC commented on how the dress code of Vegas has changed, and he missed the suits, tuxedos, and formal wear. Walking around the strip after dark you can’t help but notice that he certainly has a point.

There is a definite gender inequality in dressing for an evening out in Las Vegas. I brought my nice linen suit, but it hasn’t left the closet. It seems acceptable for men to wear whatever you want, but definitely it is not necessary for the male in Las Vegas to get dressed up. Jeans & a T-shirt, shorts, sweat pants & shirt, all good. If you feel you want to “dress up” a bit, wear a button shirt. What ever you do, do not wear a suit; everyone will think you work at the casino, or are one of the “condo salesmen”.

Now the Las Vegas female  can wear jeans & t-shirt, but she will definitely be underdressed by Las Vegas standards. If you want to be noticed here, you need to bring, those outfits you thought you’d never wear. My careful observations (made from behind my mirrored ’gangsta’ sunglasses so Regis didn’t notice) is as follows;

Shoes - HIGH! The heels can’t be too high. Those platform shoes you thought you’d never have to wobble around on again, they’ll fit right in here. Don’t worry if you gave them to a charity, every shoe store in Vegas has plenty of outrageous styles that you can take home and never wear again.

Go for the comfortable ones!
Dresses - The rule seems to be that you take your dress size and subtract 2 sizes. Everything has to fit so that every curve is clear. Don’t worry about body type; the size 4’s dress exactly like the size 24’s. I saw three very large girls dressed in skin-tight thigh-high dresses, and 6" heels, laughing and having the time of their lives. My first reaction was OMG!, but then I thought, ’They are having fun and enjoying themselves under the ’what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’ principle, so good for them!

Skirt length - Simple, there is no such thing as too short, seriously. The same thing goes for shorts.

The general principle seems to be that if a female wants to get noticed in Las Vegas, you have to go to fashion extremes. The wilder the outfit the better.

You get the picture, well actually I’m afraid I don’t have any really good pictures for this post, Regis might have caught me doing that . . .

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Doing the "Buffet"

The Excalibur Casino
The food in Las Vegas is fabulous! It is expensive, but very good. We have yet to find meal that we did not enjoy. However, when you are here for 14 days, meals add up, so we were happy to take advice from my niece who visited Las Vegas in the summer, and was on an even tighter budget than we are. One of her recommendations was the buffet at the Luxor, and we discovered they had a special “all day - two hotel” deal; breakfast, lunch and supper for less than you would normally spend on just supper.

We just got back from breakfast, and I certainly got a lesson in how to maximize your “buffet experience”.

Sitting across from us was a table of six “middle-aging” ladies. Do you know the expression “dressed to the nines” . . . Well they were working on ten? I always thought leopards and zebras were natural enemies. These ladies made them work together; leopard jacket and zebra handbag. They all had enough “bling” on to short out any metal detector, their hair was tossed & flossed to perfection, and their eye shadow looked installed by roller. And . . . They all had huge “designer” handbags. No husbands in sight, so this was either a “ladies holiday”, or the men were busy losing some money already this morning.
Or all you can carry away.

I noticed one of them return to the table with a full sized dinner plate piled with sweets, then another sat down with the same sized helping. Ok, I admit it, I’m nosy, this peeked my interest. I could feel a blog coming on . . .

I found out what the “designer” bags were for. The bags opened, zip lock plastic bags were extracted, and the plates of sweets disappeared. They didn’t eat one; the entire plateful went into the purse. Another of the party then returned with four bananas. Yup, into the purse wrapped in napkins. Then, back to the buffet for more. Into the handbag. All six women loaded their bags with food. One then picked up the bowl of little cream packets, and half of that disappeared. They were not even being secretive about it; it looked like they thought this was perfectly acceptable.

When they were finally ready to leave, I saw one slip the waiter they had all been flirting with two dollars; it must have been her turn to tip. . . .

So that was my lesson in buffet dining.

NASCAR Tools of the Trade

Just a few of the tires
I did not know what to expect when I went to the NASCAR event in Las Vegas, especially around the Neon Garage Pit Pass I bought. The map showed that I could go to an area that had the team garages around it. There were windows that you could look in and see what was going on in the garages, and the drivers could open part of the window to sign autographs. I enjoy watching the crews working on the cars as much as watching the race, so I wasn't sure that being able to look through a window would exactly cut it.

Body Repair tools
I discovered that indeed you can only look into the garages through a window, but there are actually three windows including two that allow you to look from above giving a very good view of garage action. After watching this for a while I started wandering the area, and discovered that was actually allowed to go out onto the area behind pit road. During practice this put you in position to see the cars coming and going from the garage. Then on race day, I found the pits road again open, but because there were no cars on the track, we were allowed to wander up and down the actual pit area. The Sprint Cup teams were preparing for the race, and although the cars were mostly still in the garage stalls, the crews were out here making everything was ready for the race.

Gluing the lugs in
The track officials do a good job here, allowing fans to see what goes on and to let them get as close to the action as possible without compromising the safety of teams, drivers, and fans. It is good to allow the fans to walk up and down the pit areas and see what goes on. It makes they more interested and promotes the sport. It would have been easier to just keep these area closed, so that people did not have to be moved away when the race starts, and I'm sure that some of the teams would rather be able to get ready without a crowd of people wandering by, but the organizers obviously realize that keeping fans excited and interested is a big part of the sport.

Room for everyone
What a nut!
Each team has a “Pit Box” that is a large tool box/trailer on wheels with all the tools, and other things needed during the race. Most have an area on top for the crew chief to sit and direct the action, and they all have active satellite feeds to the major networks covering the race so they can get those nice close-up of the cars that their spotters can't see. In addition they have laptops and computers to monitor the cars and the race. Behind this there were rows and rows of tires all lined up and ready to go. In most pits there was a crew member glueing a set of lug-nuts into each wheel so that four tires could be removed and new ones installed in 14 seconds.

Now this was interesting. This is what I like to see. Some folks say that NASCAR is boring because the cars just go round and round in circles, but there is much more to it than that. A walk through the pit area and you see all the activity and planning that allows these cars to do all that boring circling of the track. When you see all the tools and tricks involved in the preparing and maintaining these temperamental beasts (The cars, not the drivers . . . . ), you get the complete picture and can really appreciate the sport of NASCAR.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Town that runs on Service

Las Vegas is a town that runs on service. People go there to have fun, and the city is built around finding as many ways to have fun as possible. In just one of the many guides available I found:

     - you want big production shows, there’s  14 of them.

     - you want comedy, you have 16 choices.

     - you want magic, 11 different shows.

     - there are 14 concert and tribute shows.

     - into the more ’adult’ entertainment, you can choose from 14.

Everyone wants to get you into their show, restaurant, hotel or casino, and there is lots of competition, all within reasonable walking distance.

As a result, providing good service is important, and we have been amazed at the level of service we have found. Everyone was friendly, cheerful, knowledgeable, and helpful. Every person waiting on us was excellent. They were all so pleasant, and seemed to be genuinely happy to be waiting on us. It really was very nice service every time.

We were walking around the Luxor, and decided to stop form a drink at the Starbucks. I bought a bottled pop, and asked if I could have a plastic glass so we could share it. “Would you like me to put ice in the glass for you?” I was asked. And then I was offered a top for the glass. And, this was all with a smile.

I came out from the room yesterday, and someone had trashed the lobby area outside our room. Tables were turned over and chairs were all thrown around; obviously someone was upset about their losings, or perhaps the amount of shopping bags that came back after they were losing money. Someone was mad. I stopped a hotel staff wearing an extensive tool belt, and he said he would go right up to look at it. Then later in the evening, the same staff member was walking by, and he stopped and thanked me again. Now that is service with a smile!

The wait staff in restaurants have been amazing, I really have never had service like we have had here in Las Vegas. Now, we are certainly paying for service, but that is not always the case. I have often had bad service at premium prices, but not in Vegas . . . .

Let's hope it continues . . .

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good Ol' Boys Tellin' Tales

Las Vegas Motor Speedway
I was sitting on the bus going to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Friday's practice and qualifying sessions, and I discovered I was sitting with another Canadian living in Vancouver, who used to live in Shubenacadie Nova Scotia. We got to talking about racing in the Maritimes and I told him about racing Formula Fords at Atlantic Motorsport Park, and how much fun I had working on and building the car. He asked me about driving, and I said that I actually preferred building the cars to driving them. At this point another fellow across the aisle spoke up and said he knew a friend who felt the same, and proceed to rely this story.

His friend was a dedicated crew member of one of the major NASCAR teams in the early 70's, and had been crewing for years and years. He had always said that some day he wanted to actually drive the car he spent so much time building. Finally one weekend they were practicing or testing at Talladega Speedway. The driver (I forget his name – sorry) came in after a day of testing and announced “This car is perfect, it handles perfectly, it goes like stink, and makes more power than I can use; don't change a thing.”

He pulled off his racing suit and handed it to the crew member, “Here,” he said “This is your chance. You've done such a good job tuning this thing, I want you to drive it. You always said you wanted to drive the car; this is your chance; get in!”. Apparently this was not any official NASCAR event, because even in those early days, you had to have a special licence to drive a race car, but because this was just testing they could do it.

In the Pits
Apparently he took the car out and was amazed at how bad it drove. After a couple of laps he pulled in and complained, “I thought you said this thing was set up well . . . it's impossible to drive, it's darting all over the place, shakes like crazy, and the engine is backfiring!”

The driver leaned in the window, and laughed, “You only got it up to 140, it's always a bitch to hang onto until you get up to about 160, smooths right out then though. Get back out there and step on the gas.”

The crew member did this and, hanging on for dear life he pushed it faster and faster, and sure enough it reached a point that it did indeed smooth out, ran straight, true and the engine started to sing. He was however scared stiff, and was gripping the wheel with white knuckles. Then he noticed another car rapidly overtaking. The car pulled out and flashed by on the outside like he was barely moving. As the other driver was alongside his hand came to the window and flicked a cigarette butt out. He was driving with one hand while smoking and doing close to 200 mph.

He said this convinced his friend that it was best to leave the driving to the actual NASCAR drivers, and he went back to building the cars. Never asked to drive again.

I don't know if this story is true, could just be some of us 'Good ol boys” tellin tales, but it's still kind of funny.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Las Vegas - The Slow Tour

Tourists in Las Vegas
The last time we were in Las Vegas we did the entire “strip” in a couple of hours, seeing as much as we could in a very short time. This time we have 10 days to explore, so we can go slower. There are approximately 30 casinos and resorts within walking distance of our hotel, and today we managed to see exactly three. Oh, for those who do not know us; this was without putting $1.00 into any gambling. The slow tour of Las Vegas!

If you've been here you know this, but the BIG casinos are not big, they are HUGE, sometimes taking up entire city blocks. We decided to visit four of them today and take our time and really explore them to see what they had to offer. We started after breakfast (10:00) and continued until 5:00 when we came back to watch the NASCAR Parade of Haulers (Y'all know what that is . . right?), and we only managed to get through three casinos. Each Casino or resort is based on a theme, but ultimately they are all the same. There is a large central casino area, which in every case is on the main floor and in the centre of the complex. Around the casino are various restaurants and bars. Every casino has a huge attached hotel complex, sometimes two, and normally have a very complex and exotic swimming pool area. The bigger resorts also include a slightly separate shopping area. Some are massive malls, some just host a couple of outlets. The shopping is usually as far away from the casino as possible.

Mandalay Bay Resort
A note on the shopping areas. Don't look for any bargains; all extreme high end clothing, jewelry shops, shoes and purses and other high end shops; no sales, no “Outlet” shops. I think this is carefully thought out. The spouse who is gambling and loosing lots of money starts to annoy the “Non-gambling” spouse who goes shopping feeling entitled to spend an equal amount of “guilt free” money – no need of discount shops here! As well, the casinos and shops are well separated so that neither spouse can easily check on how much money is exiting the wallets and purses until it is TOO late.

We started at the massive Mandalay Bay Casino & Resort. The theme here is a Caribbean Island Resort. It has over 3300 hotel rooms and 135,000 sq ft of gaming space. It also has an 11 acre pool area and a 100,000 sq ft ballroom. This resort is at the extreme end of the actual “Strip” and is actually pretty quiet, because it does not get the huge walk-by crowds constantly streaming by the rest of the strip. To compensate for its remote location, there is a fast efficient elevated tram connecting it to two other resorts closer to the main strip. Although opened in 1999, this resort was updated and renovated in 2003, and looks and feels crisp and new. There is a very large shopping centre attached, as well as a huge convention centre. From outside the entire resort glistens in gold from actual gold leaf on every window. This resort hosts a huge shark aquarium where you can actually “Swim with the sharks”. I suspect the sharks call this “feeding time”.
The Luxor Casino & Resort

Next we took the tram to the Luxor, and big resort shaped like a pyramid and named after a city in Egypt. It is the second largest resort in Las Vegas with over 4000 hotel rooms and 120,000 sq ft gaming area. It also has the Luxor Sky Beam, the strongest beam of light in the world with 42.3 billion candlepower. Another interesting feature of this resort is 440 suite rooms on the inside slope of the pyramid walls. Although bigger, this resort does not seem a spectacular as the Mandalay Bay, but it has one of the best buffet restaurants in the city, and is actually a good deal in a city where few bargains exist especially in eating.
Excalibur Casino

Our last stop of the day was the Excalibur, with almost 4,000 rooms and 100,000 sq ft gaming area. As the name suggests this resort is based on a Medieval theme, and is designed to look like a massive castle. Although not actually as big, the casino area of the Excalibur seemed the largest to us. This is the last resort on the Mandalay Bay Tram system. This resort also has a huge buffet similar to the excellent one at the Luxor. This was the only resort that I actually got lost in, and we exited the wrong side and had to turn around and find the other end – not an easy task in these massive complexes.

Well, three down, only 27 to go.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Back To Las Vegas

Welcome to Vegas
Las Vegas was never a place I really wanted to visit. I just figured that we are not gamblers so why go to Vegas?

New York?
During our RV trip this summer we wanted to see the Grand Canyon and this put Las Vegas conveniently on the route, so we booked a campsite at Circus Circus, and had an overnight in Vegas. It was a bit of a rush, but if you read the blog entry on Las Vegas you will remember that although it was a rushed visit, we enjoyed ourselves and decided that a return visit to “Sin City” might be in order.

Kurt Bush is in Town
My wonderful “Travel Planner” decided that it was time that I finally actually got to see a NASCAR race and since Las Vegas hosts both the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup races in March, we could see Las Vegas at a more leisurely pace and I could get to spend a weekend watching NASCAR in person instead of just on the TV. She found a fabulous deal on flight and two weeks at the Tropicana for less than the cheapest rates for the flights or the resort, and we were booked for a March Break in Las Vegas.

We arrived late in the evening, so decided to let others braver soles enjoy the Las Vegas Night Life, and waited until we had a good night sleep to start exploring. The Tropicana is at one end of the famous Las Vegas Strip. You look out one side of the hotel and see the airport and the desert beyond, but the other side (Our room faced this way) looked out onto Las Vegas Blvd. So we were able to see something of what we could expect. There was a resort that looked like a giant castle on one side, the MGM Grand was shining in green chrome on the other, and straight ahead was the Statue of Liberty with New York; New York behind it.

It was cold cloudy and windy when we arrived, but the morning dawned with clearing skies, but once outside the hotel it was still cold and windy, and we retreated to don extra layers – so much for escaping the cold up north.

We walked down one side of the 'Strip” and back the other, just getting he feel of the place. We will go back later to really explore some of the casinos and resorts. The newer casinos are at this end of the boulevard, and the further you go towards “Downtown” the older the hotels get. The problem is though, they can't go much further this way, because the airport is here, but you can see how huge tracks of land have been cleared of buildings back down the other end and are waiting for bigger and fancier places to go up. You can't help wonder however, how far can it go. How many gigantic hotel complexes can they build before they reach the saturation point. There is one huge new building down the other end that looks like construction has stopped, and rust is forming on the steel. Perhaps the tipping point has already been reached.