Vegas Vacation Recap and Other Items of Note

Back from Vegas!

I flew to Las Vegas via Minneapolis on Monday the 4th; the rest of my party arrived in The Happiest Place on Earth the day before. I prefer to fly Delta Air Lines. Because I was gone for a full week, I checked a bag for the first time since 2008 (I had to pull the NWA tag off the handle). Funny thing — although I had a four-hour layover at MSP, I got a call from Delta telling me my bag arrived at an earlier flight.

The first day consisted mostly of low-key events. After Tony, Jen and Emilie picked me up from McCarran, they dumped me off at Bally’s, where I checked in then hoofed it over to Bellagio. We had a quick lunch, did some gaming at Aria and Monte Carlo, then enjoyed a hilariously disastrous dinner at Prime at Bellagio. The dinner itself was awesome but there was a mix-up on the restaurant’s part regarding¬† $750 comp (we were told we had one, but when the bill came the manager said “oops” we meant a different table). After that, some drinking at Yellowtail at Bellagio.

Tuesday started with the fabulous brunch buffet at Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan, followed by a podcasting session with our executive casino host. Most of the day is spent doing light gambling and drinking — Jen won $1k on a royal flush at video poker at the bar at Bellagio — punctuated by a tasty dinner at Sinatra at Encore. We gambled a bit at Bally’s, Paris and¬†Wynn but that evening featured a high degree of general crabbiness so we called it a night early. Emilie had to bow out even earlier because she flew out early the next morning.

Wednesday, I checked into Caesar’s Palace then we did our Marathon Day of Gambling at Bally’s (and Diane was working, but she didn’t remember me so now she’s dead to me). The goal was to get Jason “diamond in a day” status with Caesar’s Entertainment. We failed miserably — quarter VP will do that — but I did manage to have just shy of $15k run through under my Total Rewards card that day. Not bad. Dinner that night was at BLT Burger at Mirage, where we met two of Tony’s lawyer friends from Lansing who were in town at the same time.

Thursday was fun: After a farewell breakfast for Joe at Cafe Bellagio, Tony, Jen and I drove to Mandalay Bay to see the shark aquarium and buy Davidoff cigars, then we drove to Red Rock Canyon national park and did the 23-mile driving loop through the park. We made frequent stops to take pictures and climb upon the rocks, and if I end up headed back this autumn I may take a full day at Red Rock Canyon to hike the various trails. From there we went to Red Rock Casino — a lovely destination — then I got dumped off at Caesar’s while Tony and Jen left the Bellagio and checked into Golden Nugget downtown. I used the remainder of my evening to sit for a few hours at the Casa Fuente cigar bar at the Forum Shops, enjoying a Fuente orange label and sipping Auchentoshan and an Old Cuban while reading the news.

On Friday I sat off the gaming floor of Caesar’s and completed my annual performance review. I must say, self-evaluations are more fun with a huge breakfast, a Bloody Mary and slot machines in the background. I left Caesar’s and checked into the Cabana Suites at El Cortez. I met Tony and Jen for lunch at Binion’s Cafe then we strolled Freemont Street before deciding to tour the Mob Museum. After drinks at The Long Bar at The D, we cruised more casinos downtown then settled down for dinner at Oscar’s at Plaza. From there we toured a few more casinos then settled down for drinks at Insert Coins, a lovely video-game bar.

Saturday revealed the extent to which Vegas is great for a three-night stay. We were all fairly exhausted, so after we met for a late breakfast at Hash House A Go-Go — of course, I was up way earlier than Tony and Jen so I not only did some writing but also spent an hour or so cruising the gift shops on Fremont and even did the oxygen bar — Tony and I did some podcasting at Golden Nugget and we just sorta chilled. Ended up spending a few hours at Bar 47 at Golden Nugget, then dinner at Red Sushi. We spent a long time at the Chicago Brewing Company cigar lounge at Four Queens: I put $20 in the video poker terminal and cashed out for $70 three hours later, having consumed my weight in premium microbrews that were comped because we were playing full coin. After a quick greasy pizza run — in which I sat down with the wrong woman — we retired for the evening.

Sunday was Departure Day. Tony and Jen picked me up, then we drove to McCarran. We were on different concourses, so I had a light breakfast alone and did a bit of writing. Had a very brief layover in Minneapolis, then got back to Grand Rapids a bit early that evening — enough time to catch the season premiere of True Blood.

Excellent trip. Only catch: For longer visits, we need to do a better job of pacing ourselves so we don’t burn out so quickly. You can only eat and drink so much without sleeping before everything crashes home.

A few other quick hits —

  • The FCC has now granted my callsign: KD8SOI. I’ve already received my license in the mail.
  • Installed a 12,000-BTU window air conditioner yesterday. Despite the temperatures hovering above 90, the interior of my apartment remained comfortably cool. I couldn’t turn the inside into an icebox, but the A/C unit will keep me from sweltering during the mini heatwave predicted for early next week.
  • I’ve been asked to become a co-facilitator for NAHQ’s ambulatory care special-interest group.
  • Looks like I’ll be in San Diego instead of Italy next month. Too much has popped up that requires me to attend the 2012 Joint Statistical Meetings instead of the hoped-for Italy vacation.
  • Had an interesting end-of-the-fiscal-year celebration last Thursday: Our department director took all of her teams out for an afternoon of mandatory bowling at The Clique. “A good time was had by all.”
  • A few weeks ago I welcomed my mother and grandmother over for dinner (salmon, asparagus, rice) and hoofed it to Lansing for dinner and drinks with The Gang for Tony’s birthday.
  • I’ve been working for the last six weeks or so on a special project for Demand Media, as a featured writer for eHow Tech. I get assigned several articles per week at a significantly higher than average per-piece rate, working directly with DM staff and a single assigned copy editor. Interesting experience.

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