Getting to Las Vegas

OK. A little breathing room and time to write. Considering this is a luxury hotel in the year 2003, I am astounded The Mirage (nor almost any other hotel in Las Vegas) doesn’t have high speed Internet access. I understand the reasoning, but can’t understand how no one has tried to gain this competitive advantage. As soon as one hotel gets high speed access, it will open a flood gate. So, I’m composing this off line and then will upload it. It’s not a big deal.

I can’t remember how many years we’ve been taking a summer vacation in Las Vegas. It’s more than 5 less than 10. We have stayed at The Mirage almost exclusively (early on we had stayed at Harrahs, last year a few days at Bellagio). The hot temperatures, averaging around 110F aren’t too bad. We do most of our real walking at night.

We’ve been saving USAirways miles to do this, charging everything from groceries to Steffie’s tuition! We had enough miles to fly First Class. This will probably be the last time because we’ve switched our credit card allegiance to Southwest, which has no first class, but gives trips with with less restrictions and lower mileage requirements.

The flights were fine. Helaine got us to the airport a few hours early and there was no hassle at security. She didn’t even have to remove her shoes (a recent history first).

Our first flight was Hartford to Philadelphia. As the plane approached the highest deck of clouds, there was a layer of haze. Probably an upper inversion there trapping some pollutants. Other than that, the sky was very nice and it was hot without haze at ground level.

The flight attendant announced our gate and the gates for continuing flights and we were literally across the hall. Of course we didn’t land at the gate that had been announced. We weren’t even on the same concourse! It was a schlep.

The flight to Las Vegas, on a 757, boarded on-time but left a half hour late. Lots of runway congestion and thunderstorms in the area. The back of the plane was full, First Class was nearly empty. That’s unusual in this day and age.

We briefly met a Connecticut couple, Darren and Michele, who were on their way to Vegas to get married (Bellagio, at the “Julia Roberts” stairs, reception in the Penthouse, 33 guests). We asked Gillian, the flight attendant (whose husband was the captain on the flight… how weird), if they were moving people up to first, would they move the pre-newlyweds? She said that had already been aranged, and a few minutes later they walked up.

We got to Las Vegas a bit after sunset. I had always wanted to fly in after dark and we sat on the right side of the plane hoping for a view. The hotels were there, but it wasn’t what I had pictured the view would be. Disappointment.

Bags came quickly on Carousel 13 and we were off to Dollar Car Rental. I have their Fast Pass, which costs nothing and really speeds up rentals, even if you only do it once or twice a year. Unfortunately, the price on the contract was not the price Helaine had printed from the confirmation. This happens every time and it’s never in our favor. It’s dificult to believe this is just bad luck. Though the rep wanted us to walk in and fix it, I figured it would happen quicker if we sat in the car blocking everyone else from getting out… and I was right. It was solved in 2-3 minutes.

As I mentioned earlier, we drove down Las Vegas Boulevard through pretty stiff traffic. But, how can you come to Las Vegas and not make that trip. Helaine said MGM looked bare without the Rick Springfield/EFX sign. She is a major Springfield fan. Maybe major doesn’t really capture her fervor.

There’s contruction going on at Caesers and it spoils the view as you approach The Mirage. It certainly isn’t very pretty as you walk by Caesers. I amamazed there is still room in front of the hotel to build. It boggles the mind to think how far set back this hotel originally was, back when I first came in 1975.

Traffic was bad enough that we saw two cops stop a car… and the cops were riding bikes!

Helaine had been comped to our week here, so she went to reception and the nice young (pretty) woman behind he counter said she had upgraded the room. We were on a floor without a number, just a letter, “B.” Truth is, it’s a very nice, though regular room. By naming a few floors by letter instead of number they have been given a special cache. They seem more special. But, they’re just like ther rooms below (which again, is very nice).

Our view is directly across the strip toward Harrahs, The Venetian and the new Steve Wynn hotel. We can see the volcano. Helaine watched a plane fly ‘through’ The Venetian.

I went downstairs to play poker.

I have been practicing using a computer program. Unlike the other games, poker pits you against others, and so you hope there are enough drugged out, drunk, out-of-towners, who think this is like the game they used to play in college. I played a fwe hours and lost three bucks. OK, I tipped the waitress and the dealer, so my gross was positive, but it was a net loss in my pocket.

I’m feeling more confident as a player. Poker is a game is restraint and reserve. These are not my strongest points. But, I’m practicing and trying hard.

Helaine played blackjack. She was with a nice Asian woman and a somewhat obnoxious man. He was bleeding money and playing stupid. Helaine thinks what other players do affect her… but she’s wrong. Mathematically each new card is just another random chance. But, I can’t convince her of that, hard as I try.

By 4:00 AM EDT (1:00 AM PDT) I was bushed and we went to bed.

By the way – – – I started “Live From New York” on the plane. It’s a really well done compilation of interviews with people involved with Saturday Night Live. Fascinating. A really compelling read and tough to put down. It might be over before the trip home begins.

Las Vegas – the journey

Just got in, so this will be brief (more details later). Flights were fine. Got into LAS about 20 minutes late and there was another plane using our gate (bastards). Dollar Car Rental screwed up our reservation… wrong price. Unbelievable how these random errors are NEVER in my favor. Got it fixed and drove through awful traffic to the Mirage. Could have taken Koval but we wanted to take in the Strip.

I love this place.

Dinner at Chili’s

We all (Helaine, and my folks) picked up Steffie in the Camry and Steffie drove us to Chili’s. I’m not sure who was more petirified, Steffie or Helaine. Stef did a great job though very self concious.

Good news Bad news

I went and picked my parents up at the airport. They’ll be watching Steffie. It was a good trip from West Palm Beach and an easy drive up and back from the airport.

Once I got home, Helaine wanted me to move some things in and out of our safe, including retrieving cash for the trip. I closed the safe, locked it, and then was told I had forgotten to put something in. When I came back, the safe wouldn’t open! It seems like the lever and bolt action are no longer connected. Oops. Luckily, it’s an e-ticket trip and I removed the cash.

Is this a good omen or bad?

Nice hair!

While packing my stuff (what will I leave home?) I was going through my desk drawer and came upon a 25 year old drivers license. Nice hair!

Car washing 101

On my way home from work, I stopped to wash the car. I’ve never had to wait to use the carwash at midnight, until tonight. Pictured, the car ahead of me.

I took my “Natural Disasters” quiz. I would have been faster, but I had to stop and write a note to the author of my textbook, questioning his ideas about flood control. Fifty two years old and I’m still a putz!

4th of July

It’s the 4th of July. I have to work on what is a hot and sticky day in Connecticut. There are a few thunderstorms on the radar, but not enough to really worry about. Helaine is packing. Twice, she’s had me get on the scale with a suitcase. Both were light (by airline limits that is). I haven’t done any packing yet. And, I still have a quiz to take to get ahead in my “Natural Disasters” class at Mississippi State.

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