AUF WIEDERSEHEN TEXAS, HELLO LAS VEGAS

On December 6, Marie and I boarded Virgin America for Las Vegas. We had a 7:30 P.M flight.  Virgin only offers two non-stop flights per day out of Love Field in Dallas and one of those was at 6:00 A.M.  Both of my sisters and my husband understand that the early morning doesn’t work for me and Marie didn’t even suggest it.  In fact Marie likes to be in control, but so far she hasn’t been successful with my sleeping habit.  So she decided she needed to come to my house in Iola a couple of days early and make sure I was packed and ready.  She and her husband Chuck drove down and spent the night.  The next day we drove to Mansfield and spent the night before our flight in order to make it to the airport on time.  (Really, like I could be late for a flight to Las Vegas. Ha!)

We had some lunch at Stephen Pyle’s restaurant, Sky Canyon which happens to be at the airport.  Marie had the BBQ sandwich with a very different take on potato salad.  Dianne had the Honey Battered Fried chicken.  It was pretty good for airport food.

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We got to our seats and got comfortable and ordered our beverages on the screen on the back of the seats in front of us. If you haven’t flown Virgin before, you would love it.  Love me some Virgin.  Um Airlines. The seats are soft comfortable leather with more leg room than most other planes.  Satellite TV on the screen in front of you, along with movies on demand, Netflix, games, and GPS plane tracking.  The time flies by and before you know it, you’re landing in Vegas.  Virgin America offers lots of special discounts and we were able to fly round trip for $186.

We had three nights at Caesar’s Palace comped and two free nights at Wynn. We took a taxi to Caesar’s and checked in.  We were staying in Octavius tower which was about a 3 mile walk from the registration desk. Over the years, Caesar’s has morphed into a huge complex of hotel towers.  As always the rooms are beautiful with great beds, large bathrooms with walk-in showers and spa tubs.  We could see the fountains of Bellagio from our room.  It’s always a special experience staying at Caesar’s Palace, plus Bravo on the television.  The Christmas decorations were gorgeous, so festive.  Of course, I guess the proper words would be holiday decorations, but it looked like Christmas to us.

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We walked the 3 mile hallway back down to the casino. I went straight to the Elton John machines hoping to have the same luck I had in Tunica, Mississippi.  Elton did sing to me several times, but didn’t give me much money.   Marie was looking for Witches Riches but it was not where it was last time we were there.  She and I just tried to unwind and wait for bedtime which came sooner rather than later.

Monday morning Marie got up early and went downstairs for yogurt and coffee and brought it back upstairs. Caesar’s has a Keurig in the room but you have to buy the k-cups from the hotel if you want any.  One would think this would be one of the perks of Diamond Status.  I bet next time we have our own k-cups with us.

Total Rewards has a program where you can start earning credits in November and December for next year. We knew we wanted to concentrate our gambling at a Total Rewards property for the first three days.  Since Caesar’s slots seemed very tight to us, we walked across the street to Harrah’s and the Linq (the old Imperial Palace).  Things are changing all the time in Vegas – The Rivera is gone so Crazy Girls has moved to Planet Hollywood.  New casinos are going up all of the time and the restaurants and clubs are very high end.

Marie went to the Linq for a while and then on to Harrah’s. I stayed at the Linq the whole time we weren’t at Caesars.  I find the machines looser than Caesar’s and I didn’t feel like walking to Harrah’s even though it is a short walk.  I played at first on a Mississippi Stud poker table and lost my $100 buy-in quick.  Marie still wasn’t back from Harrah’s so I played a few slots.  I then went to a quarter five-coin video poker machine and quickly hit $400 with four ace’s one hand and four two’s another hand.  Of course I didn’t hold onto it long.  Marie made her way back and we decided to walk over to Harrah’s to the Diamond Lounge since the Linq didn’t have one.  When we got to the Diamond Lounge, there was a line waiting to get in.  Apparently it was at full capacity and someone had to leave before another could come in.  We both wanted Chinese food, but the Asian restaurant at Harrah’s was no longer there.  We walked back to the Linq to see what was there and saw they had a Mexican restaurant named Chayo Mexican kitchen.  It was fantastic with tableside-made Guacamole.

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I had Carne Asada which came with wonderfully seasoned beans and rice.  Marie had flautitas with beef fajita meat which she said were very good.  They were more like a quesadilla than a flauta.  The margaritas were too, two good or maybe three good.

The Rodeo was in town and the cowboys and cowgirls were everywhere.  As Texas girls, we can tell a real cowboy/cowgirl from a Drugstore one.  We saw so many Stetsons and starched Wrangler jeans but no George Strait.  We were looking for him, but apparently he had other plans.

Feeling good we went back to Caesar’s and played for awhile. It was fun, but it seems it’s so hard to win on slots at Caesar’s.  I guess with so much expansion, they have to pay for it somehow.  Still, the vibes of just being in Vegas and staying at Caesar’s has no comparison.  I’m sure someone wins there on occasion, but it wasn’t us.  When we got back to Caesar’s, I decided to play Texas Holdem in the poker room.  I had never played poker at Caesar’s before, only Bellagio and Venetian, and I really wanted to try it.  I took a seat at a 1-3 no-limit table.

I noticed a really handsome young guy across the room with coal black hair. He happened to be from Germany.   It was hard not to notice him as he kept getting out of his seat and leaving the room.  Plus did I mention that he was handsome.  I don’t know what that was about but before long he took a vacated seat at my table.  He sat down 2 seats to my left and I was sitting to the right of the dealer.  I hadn’t been having very good hands until then and all of a sudden I started getting high pairs.  I did have a pair of 4’s before that, but not much else.  The dealer dealt me a pair of ace’s so I limped in with a raised bet of $20.  The new guy raised to $40 and several matched the bet.  When it got to me I raised another $20 so I had $60 in the pot.  On the flop were 8, J, 10.  Next came a 4 and I thought “where are my 4’s when I needed them”.  The young guy bet $40 more and I raised him another $20.  Then the dealer turned over the river card and it was an ace.  I figured I had it so I went all in and the kid went all in and he had a pair of kings.  Man was he mad.  I made the mistake of saying sorry and he started yelling and cursing about the “effing” cards, dealer, table, me being “effing” sorry and everyone else at the table.  It continued on until the dealer threatened to make him leave.  I beat him with a pair of queen’s, jack’s and eight’s and a full house.  It’s funny how things can turn around like that.  He said in a German accent that it was his first day in Las Vegas and never had he seen any cards fall like these.  With that he got up and left.  As he got up, an Asian guy yelled Heil Hitler and a man at another table yelled Auf Weidersehen.  It was pretty funny.  I ended up $250 ahead and went to my room, looking over my shoulder all the way.

On Tuesday we ate at Caesar’s Bacchanal Buffet for lunch. We generally aren’t crazy about buffets, but the Bacchanal is exceptional.  The food is presented so beautifully with single serving dishes where possible.  It all tastes so good.

After lunch we decided to check out the Wynn, another of our favorite casinos.  Love the casino and the hotel was beautifully decorated for Christmas. We love the fact that it was so much easier to navigate the casino and hotel without needing a golf cart or scooter to get to your room.   Marie was having a blast on DaVinci diamonds, Bombay, Jackpot 7’s and Coyote Moon.  Several years ago Marie won $1500 on Jackpot 7’s and is still trying to do it again.  It was not to be this time.  I played Triple Time Progressive, Ellen, Pink Diamond, Willie Wonka, Video Poker, and many more.  No big wins for either of us, but we were having fun.  Marie did put $5 in Coyote Moon, pressed the play button for 40 cents and hit over $29.00.  That is enough to thrill her.

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We took a taxi back to Caesar’s around 6:30.  We had reservations at the Homestead Steakhouse in Caesar’s.  But first we wanted to check out Caesars Diamond Lounge.  It is a very nice large room with a nice arrangement of fruit, cheeses, appetizers and desserts.  The wait staff are there to serve you and we were treated very well.

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After a lovely experience at the Diamond Lounge, we headed toward the Steakhouse.  We wanted to use one of our $100 Diamond gift certificates.  We shared everything and had some wine so we were able to only go $20 over on our bill.  We had filet mignon, baked potato, and a salad.   It was all delicious.  Keep in mind the days of the $4.99 steak and eggs are over.

 

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On Wednesday we got up and left to check into the Wynn. The rooms at the Wynn are beautiful with remote controlled lights and drapes and a luxurious bathroom with TV.  We were given a room with a view of the golf course straight ahead and the strip to our left.

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No Bravo television, but we managed, although it would have been nice to keep up with the housewives.  One of the good points to staying at the Wynn is that you exit the elevator and go straight into the casino.  No dodging salespeople hawking moisturizers and time shares.

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At the elevators, they always have beautiful arrangements of flowers.  Marie decided to pose in front of them.

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We decided to go ahead and eat for the day. It was 2:00 and we figured it would hold us for the rest of the day.  Marie had two buffets comped for the Wynn so we went.  The Wynn buffet is almost as good as the Bacchanal but not presented as attractively.  The desserts are beautiful and for the dinner buffet, there are unlimited crab legs split longwise and so the meat is so easy to get to.  Lunch time crab claws are served.

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After lunch Marie went to play slots and I thought I would see if my luck would hold in the Wynn poker room. It was a pretty normal table if you count out the guy who was trying to look like David Hasselhoff or the only other woman at the table who had watched too many poker tournaments on television.  She kept flipping her chips onto the table when she betted and her cards when she folded.  I’m guessing she was a local because she had her own no calorie sweetener for her hot tea, a Tupperware container of salad, and raw carrots.  At first I was a little intimidated that she would take my money, but I ended up leaving with $550.  Plus “April” turned out to be very nice.

On Thursday, we had dinner reservations at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill. We had eaten there once before and loved it.  It was just as good as before.  We were using our other $100 Diamond club certificate so we were watching what we ordered.  We shared Sophie’s Chopped Salad with crispy tortillas, kidney beans and garbanzo beans and greens and cream of pumpkin soup.  We each ordered spicy lobster tacos and shared Bobby’s horseradish twice baked potato.  Then we shared the Banana Cream Pie for dessert.  With wine, we came out about the same as the Homestead Steakhouse.

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What turned out to be so fun about our dinner was that besides the fact that we were seated at the exact same table as before, two gentlemen were seated at the table next to us. There was about 18 inches between our tables and we could hear their conversation and they could hear ours.  Terry Hicky and Bill Burk were from Illinois and I’m guessing they were on a sales trip.

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It was their first trip to Mesa Grill and were trying to decide what to order.  So first Bill ordered a prickly pear margarita.  He took a sip and said it was really good.  We thought about the one I had ordered at the airport in Dallas that was so sour I couldn’t drink it and had the waitress take it back.  Marie and I were talking about it and Bill handed his drink over to us and insisted we taste it.  Marie was more hesitant to try it than I was, but we both did.  It tasted like 100% tequila, and Bill proceeded to drink the whole thing. So we figured if we had drunk after Bill we could at least have a conversation with them.  They were really funny, especially Bill.  Terry was more restrained.  Both were funny and nice and after hearing about my poker successes, they left to go to their hotel and play.  So then we proceeded to carry on a conversation with the couple to the left of me.  Mesa Grill is one of those places where even though it has an intimate feel of a fine restaurant, it also has a friendly atmosphere where there is no rush to hurry up and eat and leave.  We would definitely go back again.

Friday morning we had to get up and head out to the airport. We were ready to go home.  It seemed we had packed a ten day trip into a five day trip.  We had a blast, laughed a lot, contributed to the Las Vegas economy, and met some interesting people.  Our next trip to Vegas is in April, but we are making a quick trip to the Artesian Hotel and Casino in Sulphur, Oklahoma.  It is a gorgeous hotel and spa, lovely rooms, and small casino.  We will probably try to swing by Winstar casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma on the way home.  One last whirlwind trip before Christmas.  Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year.  May all your casino adventures be successful.

 

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