Thursday, February 28, 2013

Las Vegas and Death Valley: Las Vegas Day 4

Our last day in Las Vegas, time seems to go by so quickly here.  This morning we decided that we would head over to Caesar's Palace which is right across the street from Harrah's.

The easiest way to get into Caesar's from where we crossed the street is the long walk through the forums shops.  Caesar's is a massive property so no matter where you go, it's a walk.

The entrance to the forum shops.
The walk through the shops.
The entrance into Caesar's hotel and casino.
We spent some time gambling, which followed last night's trend except Val did even better and I did even worse.  It looks like it's going to be that kind of trip for me.  Soon we were getting hungry and spotted Gordon Ramsay's Pub and Grill which has recently opened, but unfortunately it was closed for lunch because the staff was going through some sort of training.  We were disappointed as the menu looked very good. 

After lunch we left Caesar's and headed across the street to the Flamingo and then down the street to the Quad again.  After that it was back to Harrah's and up to the room to rest our tired feet.  I used the time to buy some Internet time and update the blog.  We went down to the casino early this evening as we wanted to get to bed early since we head to Death Valley tomorrow morning. 

Our trip to the casino proved fruitful mainly thanks to Harrah's.  There was a promotion going on for our visit which gave us $300 in free slot play so we decided to use it on a $5 machine.  After going through the first $200 winning nothing, we were happily surprised to hit for $600.  We had to play out the rest of the free play and then we split the $600 between us.  This allowed me to break even for the day which meant I would go home with at least some of my gambling money.  As for Val, it just increased her win for the day and even though she still lost overall on the trip, it means she will take most of her money home with her.  We always expect to lose everything, so anything we bring home seems like a win to us.

After our surprise win at the $5 machine we decided to have dinner at the buffet and call it a night.  As usual it has been a great trip and time has flown by.  We are looking forward to meeting up with Michael and Mikie at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley tomorrow and to start exploring Death Valley.  It will be quite a contrast between the masses of people in Las Vegas and the isolation of Death Valley.

Las Vegas and Death Valley: Las Vegas Day 3

After sleeping in again, we decided we would hop on the monorail and head down to Ballys and the Paris.  We were able to get a closer look at the construction of the Linq Project from the monorail and it is really a massive project.

The back half of the site of the Linq Project.
A closer and better view of the towers for the High Roller observation wheel.
The monorail arrives and it's time to head for the Paris.
We walked around a bit and had lunch at the café at the Paris.  The Paris café is much nicer than the one at Harrah’s and we had a very good lunch.  From there we decided to get back on the monorail and head down to the MGM Grand.  The MGM Grand is a huge place so we did a lot of walking.  Val did excellent gambling while I had a terrible day.  In fact I finally just quit and watched her win to preserve what money I had left.  Finally around four, she decided to head to Harrah’s so it was back to the monorail for the trip back.  At Harrah’s it was back to the room to cleanup and relax a bit before we headed out for the evening.

As usual, we spent most of the evening gambling, again with mixed results.  Unfortunately for me, this meant Val had a very good night and I did terrible.  Only a fortuitous win at the end of the night saved me from a complete disaster.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow.  We kind of let time get away from us so dinner tonight was a late meal at KGB Burger, the gourmet burger restaurant at Harrahs's which is pretty good.  After that we returned to the room for the night.  Tomorrow is our last day in Las Vegas before we head to Death Valley.

Las Vegas and Death Valley: Las Vegas Day 2

We slept in this morning and then decided to walk down to the Flamingo to see how they were coming along on The Linq Project which is being built between The Quad (formerly the Imperial Palace) and the Flamingo.  The focal point of the Linq is a huge “Observation” wheel called the High Roller at the rear of the properties which will be accessed through an area of shopping and restaurants.   

Conceptualized picture of the Linq Project
The project has come a long way since we were here in September, but has a long way to go.  The most noticeable changes are the construction of the large towers for the observation wheel 

The towers and frame for the High Roller
and the rebranding of the Imperial Palace to the Quad with a major facelift both front and on the side nearest Harrah’s.  

The new facade of The Quad
The rebranding of the Imperial Palace to the Quad.
Caesars Entertainment owns all those hotels and I believe the intent is to link them all together with Linq project.

Once at the Flamingo, we decided to have an early lunch as we had reservations at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Harrah’s for dinner and wanted to make sure we had an appetite.  Ruth’s Chris is a national upscale steakhouse chain and opened just a month ago in Harrah’s replacing the steakhouse called The Range.  After lunch we walked around the Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo. It's a very nice spot in the middle of all the hotel wings.  

We tried our luck gambling at the Flamingo with mixed results and then headed off to see what had changed at The Quad.  It turned out, most of the changes were outside as the casino was still pretty dumpy and looked about the same except for some areas being closed off.  We gambled a little with Val doing pretty well, watched the “dealertainers” perform and headed back to Harrah’s.  A little more gambling and then it was back to the room to relax and get ready for my birthday dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Our meal at Ruth’s Chris turned out to be very nice, the restaurant overlooks the Strip and has a very nice, modern décor.  Our dinner was excellent, but we were a little disappointed in the steak.  We had the porterhouse for two and it was very good, but with Ruth’s Chris reputation, we expected a bit more.  They surprised us with a great dessert which was a gift for my birthday so all in all, a wonderful evening.  We will be dining there again in the future.

We finished dinner around nine and spent the rest of the evening in the casino with mixed gambling results.  We didn’t lose all of our daily gambling allotment, but we certainly didn’t come out ahead for the day.  It was off to bed around midnight, the end of a great birthday for me.

Las Vegas and Death Valley: Las Vegas Day 1

We left Tehachapi around 9:00 and headed east on Highway 58 towards Barstow and I-15.  Traffic was very light on both 58 and I-15 so we were in Las Vegas by 1:00.  As usual we are staying at Harrah's which, as I’ve said before, is not one of the best hotels in town, but the location is great and it is fine with us.  We checked in, but our room wasn’t ready so we checked our bags and had an uninspiring lunch at the café and then did some gambling until our room was ready around 3:00.  We were happily surprised to see we were comped a nice suite on the 32nd floor.  I told them we were here for my birthday so maybe that helped get us a nice room.

We spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and relaxing and then decided to go down to the casino for the evening.  Before we went, I wanted to take a shower and while I was in the shower Val decorated the room with balloons and a birthday banner, a nice surprise.  Our gambling was up and down all evening and we ended up losing most of our daily gambling allotment, but we had a lot of fun and we were on our way to bed by 11:30.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Las Vegas and Death Valley

Time to hit the road again, this time for a short trip to Las Vegas and Death Valley.  I told Val I would like to spend my birthday in Las Vegas and we talked to our friends Michael and Mikie (they went with us on our White Rim Road trip) about a trip to Death Valley so we decided to combine the two.  So Val and I will be spending the first four days in Las Vegas and then Michael and Mikie will join us at the Furnace Creek Inn in Death Valley.

As usual, when we head east, we get a jump on the trip by making the quick drive to Tehachapi to make the drive to Las Vegas shorter and give us more time on our first day.  We left home just after noon and were in Tehachapi just before three.  After checking in and getting situated we headed out for an early dinner at the Red House BBQ.  As I have mentioned before, this is a bonus for staying in Tehachapi as they have excellent BBQ.  To be honest, our ribs today were not up to there usual standards, but they were still good.  Val and I both got sides of Mac & Cheese and coleslaw and they were both very good.  The Mac & Cheese is really tasty.
The Red House BBQ
We ate early because the Academy Awards are on tonight and we wanted to watch the show tonight which starts at 5:30.  This year we managed to see all the nominated films and most of the best actor / actress nominee films so we are interested in the results.

I'm not sure whether I will have an Internet connection the rest of the trip so I may end up having to report on this trip when we get home, we'll see what happens.  Stay tuned.