Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yes I've Been Remiss In Posting - So Sue Me

Sooo....after that boring ass conference, I went to Vegas. Here's the trip report I wrote for several boards I belong to. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 1 – Monday, September 5 – MGM Grand

Thursday, 9/1
After an entire month of extreme over-preparation, this was trip #3 for my middle sister (A) and myself and our other sister (C) joined us this time for her first Vegas experience. Our first trip was July of last year and this was already our second trip this year (it’s a sickness, I tell you). We left at 3:45 PM on US Air out of Philly – we were supposedly due into Vegas at 5:56. We decided to eat before we got on the plane as none of us really felt the need to order an $8 salad until we actually got where we were going. This was C’s first time on a plane so we let her have the window seat so she could see – or get scared. Our flight left the gate about 20 minutes late due to some radar thingie that had to be replaced. Then there was a line for take-off. Then there was an 80-knot headwind somewhere over Kansas City. Needless to say, we got to Vegas an hour late. I love 6 hours in coach. Really I do.

After hobbling off the plane and popping our ears, our annoyance quickly dissipated after seeing the Strip upon landing and seeing slot machines. Not much action since US Air always lands in the bastard terminal. Hopped the tram to the main terminal and then the perma-grin hit. Thanks to the advice of people on various Vegas boards, we checked in at MGM at the airport. In and out in under 10 minutes w/extra room keys, the promised room with a view, and no questions asked. We’d booked Presidential Limo as we had with our last trip. Even though we were an hour late, our driver was cheerfully waiting (thanks everyone who recommended Kathy R.). Got our luggage w/no problem (we always bring our toiletries in our carry-ons – lesson learned the hard way after my luggage got lost when I was going to Mexico) and we were off in the limo. Got our champagne and roses and when Kathy heard it was C’s first time in Vegas she suggested a trip from Wynn up to MGM. As the champagne in empty stomachs and being in Vegas again were doing their magic, anything she suggested would’ve been met with a stupid grin and an enthusiastic “YEAH!” So C got a GREAT first impression (better than A and myself as we stayed at Sahara and took the Airport Shuttle…. but I digress) and had the camera out the window the whole time. Kathy got pics of us in the limo and outside the limo at the hotel.

Now I know MGM is big, but damn…that’s BIG. We breezed past the massive lines of people at check-in and went straight to the 20th floor and to our room (you know – after a 5 minute walk). Our room was in great shape and was a corner room with a view all the way down the strip. We could see the fountains and past them down to the LV Hilton. Went down for a quick dinner at Rainforest (we always have to go there once a trip – no I don’t know why), added MGM slot cards that A and myself didn’t pick up – last July – to what we have started calling our “nerd chains”, and hit the floor. Since our bodies swore it was after midnight, we all went up to “take a nap”, which leads us to…Friday.

Friday, 9/2
This was our “official” reason for being here. A’s 25th birthday. We were up and out of our room by 8 (hungry…so…hungry). We’ve always missed these fabulous buffets people keep mentioning, so we decided to take our hungry behinds to the Paris buffet (that’s one thing off the list). Things are a little fuzzy, but I’m pretty sure we took the monorail (A hates to walk – plus it was C’s first time so…). I now see why you all like the Paris buffet. I love food, I love to eat, and I’m greedy. That combined with that buffet meant I didn’t eat ‘til dinner and I wasn’t even hungry then. Between coffee and crepes and smoked salmon and pastries, dear God I was in heaven.

The rest of the day we wandered around adding on to our nerd chains, feeding money into slots without blinking, and drinking at inappropriate times of the day. We had reservations for A’s birthday dinner for 5 at Mesa Grill. I know people said it was overrated, but we enjoyed ourselves, dammit, so there. The service was great (loved the switching out of white napkins for black since we were all in black slacks), the atmosphere was great, we loved our waiters (we had a team of three we nicknamed Robert, Vasquez and Sterling), appreciated the manager stopping by (nicknamed him Esteban), and the food was excellent. I ended up with the tiger shrimp and roasted garlic tamale, lamb porterhouse and some dessert involving poppyseed cake with some sort of creamy goodness inside. A decided to be “adventurous” and got fried squash blossoms w/ricotta, salmon and something involving chocolate. C evilly decided on grilled scallops, rabbit (yes she ate Thumper), and chocolate ice cream that had cayenne pepper in it (and it was GOOD).

After playing more slots at Caesar’s, visiting the Elton John store (C has a thing for him), and catching a cab back to MGM, we changed and headed off to a 10:30 Thunder From Down Under show (those who have read my TR’s before should know to expect this – those who haven’t – welcome to my world – it’s in every TR – get used to it). Moving on to Saturday.

Saturday, 9/3
We started out the day by standing in the hot @$$ sun at Tix 4 Tonite (I think that’s the one – fuzzies are intruding again) past the Hawaiian Marketplace – that line was still shorter than the ½ price place at the Coke bottle. We got half price tickets for the Star Trek Experience (C is a serious Trekker, though she cannot claim a Star Trek convention) and for the American Storm show at Riviera (never actually thought I’d set foot in that place – just never had the urge – and A hates the lights).

We went took monorail to the Hilton to do the Star Trek thing. I can honestly say I enjoyed it – though I think not paying half price would have been a rip off, since we got to see both experiences at the half price price instead of one. After the experiences and after C got her pics done in the captain’s chair and the Borg regeneration chamber (I know, I know, I have no control over her) we went to lunch at Quark’s bar. We’d been there on our last trip (but not the experiences) and wanted to try the Warp Core Breach – and since there were three of us, we figured that would give us a better chance of walking out of there under our own power. Quark’s turned out to be a blast. We took pictures of C with the various characters walking around – Ferengi, Klingons and one very hysterically funny Borg. After some food and one very large drink later (still trying to figure out how they put dry ice in a drink legally) we went back to our hotel to get ready for a night of both American Storm at 7:30 and another Thunder show at 10:30 – both of which I’ll spare you the details.

Sunday, 9/4
More sightseeing and casino hopping. Since this was C’s first trip, we had to take the time to visit properties so she could drink it all in. So this trip we got less done than previous trips. Plus this was a short trip. We ended our last night with an extremely large NY style pizza from some place on the bottom floor of MGM (found by accident when we got off the monorail at a different stairway – perhaps one really SHOULD read the brochure). At 12:01, I was downstairs at the business center printing out “A” passes for my first experience with Southwest for the return trip home the next day.

Monday, 9/5
Our last day. Checked the bill, it was fine, did express check-out, once again avoiding the lines. Left our baggage with the bell desk and went to the Forum Shops for some last minute shopping/drooling. My other self loves Pucci and Cavalli and tends to stand in those stores with a dazed look then walk out. We went from Caesar’s to Aladdin to get our free margaritas that came w/signing up for the slot club (we don’t go there a lot but free is always good). We got back to MGM as slowly as possible and then cabbed it over to the airport. Got in the “A” line for our 1:30 flight on Southwest and headed off on our indirect flight home. Landed in Chicago w/an hour or so layover and got on the final leg of our flight back to Philly. Due to an extremely funny mantendant on our second Southwest flight, I now find Southwest maybe not so bad after all. We got in to Philly at 11 PM half an hour early and immediately started plans for the next trip in January. We need rest after the holidays, you know.

Random Thoughts:
The mountain view always makes me happy. As does 100+ยบ heat with no humidity. I hate crowds but when the other me comes out she does alright. I’m glad to have gotten some things off my list – Paris buffet, Mesa Grill, Star Trek Experience. But others are always added on. I missed going to the fountains and didn’t make it to Wynn. Didn’t get to the Bellagio or Aladdin buffets. Nor did we get to our old favorite, the Mandalay buffet (A has a thing for their Mongolian beef – I’m just greedy). Wanted to make it to In-n-Out, Fatburger and the Burger Bar and didn’t do that either (you notice I’m mentioning a lot of food here – see told you I’m greedy). The time share people are getting innovative – they sic hot young men on the females now. We got caught and I ended up telling someone I would be 25 maybe in a couple of months (I’m 28) (I see I need to add a timeshare lie – er – story to my repertoire – I already have a fake boyfriend story on hand). I still haven’t made it downtown or even off-Strip. I am officially in love with the ever so monstrous MGM (so what if it takes an hour to get anywhere). Kudos again to Presidential Limo and Kathy. And even kudos to Southwest. As always I need to return – now.

As soon as C finishes with the captions to the pictures, I’ll post the link, but I wanted to get this down before the fuzziness completely took over.