Tim's Travel Blog, Part 4
August 07, 2012
I hit the highway as the desert sun was rising. I was full of anticipation and excitement and a sense of reckless abandon. Because I was on no particular schedule, it didn't matter what time I arrived in Vegas, just as long as I was able to get checked into my first hotel room before midnight. However, when you go two full days without showering and spend that 48+ hours hiking in the desert and covering your skin with bug spray and sunscreen, you really want to get clean as quick as possible.
As always, I love the approach into my Mecca in the Mojave as I like to call it. I saw the towering spire of the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino from many miles away, and soon the shimmering windows on the dozens of strip resorts came into view. And of course, I had to have just the right soundtrack as I made my drive in on the highway. This consists of music by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, of course. Oh, how I wish I'd been alive to see those guys perform with Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and the other guy whose name I always forget, at the Sands.
The first blog I ever wrote for the Library was about Las Vegas and why I like it so much, so I won't rewrite it all here. But suffice it to say, this was another unforgettable trip. I was fortunate to stay in two great hotels. The first hotel was the Gold Coast, which is a small, off-strip hotel next to the much larger Rio. The amenities here are simple, but the rooms are clean and comfy. As a gambler, I really enjoy the gaming conditions in the casino. I stayed here for two nights, enjoyed some time at the pool, and lost a few dollars at the craps tables. The next hotel I stayed at was the Aria, which is located in City Center on the Strip. Electronic everything in the rooms! They gave me a high floor with a strip view because I told them I was staying there over my birthday.
Vegas has changed so much over the years, and yet so much is the same. For all the fancy restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping, it is still the place for gambling. I love craps and blackjack, and I even play the slots and video poker. My gambling exploits were less than stellar on this trip until my final night. I was at a blackjack table at New York, New York. I was down about $50 in 10 minutes. So, I was disappointed and getting depressed as I was realizing I may leave Vegas down a chunk of money for this trip. I hate leaving on a down note, so I decided to buy into the craps table for $100. Lady luck herself stopped by the table and really kissed the dice. I was on fire! After about an hour, I was staring at stacks of green and black chips in front of me. I had made some new friends... and when it was my turn to roll the dice, I made some very well dressed Asian tourists a whole lot of money. But then things changed. I am starting to believe in the concept of the "cooler"... a seemingly innocent casino patron who is actually employed by the casino to "cool down" a hot table. The cooler at this particular casino was in the form of a nice enough lady who seemed to be friendly, but she talked my ear off to the point where I cashed in my chips and left. All in all, I was still up quite a bit of money, but I had given a lot back. Oh well. It was a truly wonderful night ,and at about 4:30 in the morning, I made my back to Aria... with a smile on my face and a fatter wallet. And it was now officially my birthday! I got a few hours' sleep, checked out, and made my way back to Kansas City and my wonderful family and friends.
Stay tuned for the story of my August trip to a cabin in Colorado!