Friday, May 24, 2013

Stop One On The Yellowstone Experience: Las Vegas

Two weeks ago today, the RVFTLC family was in Las Vegas on our first stop on the Yellowstone Experience.
Let me explain something about our family road trips.
I do all the planning as far as stops, lodging and how we get from point A to point B. Mrs. RVFTLC does the driving. Which plays a part in the stop process. And on this road trip, we had not one but two dogs, Scout the Wonder Dog and Cashew the Little Guy. For Cashew, it was his first big adventure. And his first night in a hotel. And that also limits us in a way as to where we stay. Thank almighty God for La Quinta, the most pet-friendly hotel chain in the United States. And here is a tip. They do not charge anything additional for you having a pet. It is part of the rate.
Part of why we did a long weekend stop in Las Vegas was that we met our son there who is currently living, working and doing grad school in North Carolina. That was a lot of fun.
We spent Friday night having dinner across from our hotel at Gordon Biersch restaurant.
Yet there turned out to be a problem.
In registering, I did have to sign a pet agreement and provide a cell phone contact number.
I had my cell on vibrate and did not realize until after dinner that I had a call and a message.
It was the La Quinta front desk calling complaining about Cashew. That he was barking excessively.
Really? On a FRIDAY NIGHT IN LAS VEGAS?! I could not believe it. In the back of my mind, I did worry about that potential. So I told Mrs. RVFTLC and we went to the front desk when we got back. And I spoke to the attendant. She said that people complained that Cashew was barking excessively and "aggressively".
Again, really?! What does "aggressively" mean when said dog is behind a locked door?
We obligatory apologized and went to our room and had a talk with the Little Guy.
And I am proud to report that from then on, Cashew the Little Guy proved to be the best little traveller.
And sadly, this is probably the last big adventure for Scout the Wonder Dog.
Miss Scout, as we also call her, is 16 years old. And before our Yellowstone Experience, we took her to the vet because, to be blunt, she was not anything of her old self. The vet told us that her spine was giving out. She did not have much time left. But he said he could put her on two medications. And we said yes and she made the trip. She is such a little trooper.
So in a sense, there is a passing of the travelling dog baton from Scout to Cashew.
The next day, we had lunch at one of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants, Emeril's New Orleans Fish House.
Mrs. RVFTLC and I LOVE Emeril! BAM! his signature trademark yell from his days of dominance on the Food Network.
This meant to visit the famed Strip and the MGM Grand hotel.
I had never been to the MGM Grand in the times I have been to Las Vegas. This was a first. And to be honest, probably my last time. Unless it is for something that we did, like lunch. It was pretty much all that one thinks when thinking Las Vegas. Hottie gals walking around the hotel in their bikinis. Ripped, in more ways than one, dudes walking around in their swim trunks or board shorts.
And the booze flowing freely. All the superficiality that one can handle.
Now, why did we choose lunch over dinner? Please, look at the link above to the restaurant. Pretty pricey, doncha think? Hey, there is a reason Emeril is a wealthy celebrity chef! LOL! But it was a wonderful meal and a great way to celebrate Mother's Day, albeit a day early.
Well, that night was a parting of the ways.
Mrs. RVFTLC and our son went to a concert as part of her Mother's Day gift. One that I was mercifully given a reprieve to attend. For it was Elton John as he is performing at Ceaser's Palace these days.
Don't have total hate of Elton. Just not a pop music fan. And it is not like Mrs. RVFTLC would want to see something like, oh I don't know. Maybe Metallica? Anyhow, I went to something else. A minor league baseball game.
The local team is known as the Las Vegas 51s, the name in honor of the infamous Area 51 of sci-fi lore. They are the AAA farm team of the New York Mets. They were playing the Albuquerque Isotopes, the AAA farm team of the beloved Los Angeles Dodgers. Essentially, it was the Dodgers playing the Mets. The home games are at Cashman Field. Not a really exciting place in the sense that is was built in the late 1970s and before the era of Oriole Park at Camden Yards. And it is not around the corner for it is north of Downtown Las Vegas, the real Las Vegas. So I was dropped off and watched the 51s end up defeating the 'Topes, much like the parent Dodgers these days. After the game, I took a stroll through the Lower Slobovia that surrounds the ballpark and made it alive to Downtown.
To me, Downtown is what is left of the real Las Vegas. The Las Vegas of the mob running the town. It is still cool with the Golden Gate and the shrimp cocktail. Still a bargain at $2.99c. The Four Queens. The Fremont. Binion's. The Golden Nugget, the classiest of the casino hotels, and a new upscale rascal, the D. And just off the Downtown, the El Cortez. The sad thing is that a dive casino hotel I was introduced to, the Gold Spike, literally closed down but three weeks before we began out Yellowstone Experience. For a long time, it was where the penny slot machines ruled. And even the most upscale of places on the Strip now have them. But I think it kind of got hard to use as a huge selling point that every room has a private bath. In 2013, it would kind of sort of be expected.
But the vibe of Downtown is just a natural cool. Not like the Strip vibe which seems very contrived. I mean, where else can you see a Gene Simmons impersonator that had such an overhang of flab on him that he just, well it was just wrong! Yet it was real all the same.
I hung out there about an hour and made sure to have the shrimp cocktail at the GG. And no, I did not make the big killing I am always promising! LOL!
The next day we went on the dam tour.
The Hoover Dam tour that is.
It was very amazing. It is truly an awesome monument to American ingenuity. And it was built on time and under budget. It was weird to be inside the dam and seeing it up close. But again, it was very cool. And a great way to be in two states at once for it lies directly on the Arizona-Nevada state line. And there is a marker to indicate that. And yep, I made sure to stand in both states at once.
The rest of the day was down time and dinner later that night. And we said our goodbyes then as we would go our separate ways on Monday.
An observation about Las Vegas. Hell, several.
One, I have a thing about NOT calling cities by short version or nickname. Hence, I rarely if ever say "Vegas". Almost always Las Vegas. No 'Frisco for San Francisco from me. Maybe a San Fran at worst. And it is always New York City. There is a rest of a state by the same name, you know.
Two, there is something sort of sad about Las Vegas.
It is a city that owes its total existence to gambling. And while it can be fun, for many it is not fun. It is a serious addiction. For if only one can, as I joke, make that big killing. And if that does occur, the high does not diminish for the degenerate gambler will think that they can do even better. And thus fall on their sword. There just seems to be a very strong underclass that one does not even see in the Metro Los Angeles area. The homeless seem more dirty and out there mentally. And there is that underclass of degenerate gamblers that just can not get a handle on their problem. And I do not care how much advertising to try to keep the do-gooders off the casino's back, it is not enough. I am not Carrie Nation on gambling, but there really is for sure two Las Vegas. And there is the third, those that went thinking that they would live high off the hog and got hosed in the housing fiasco of the late 2000s. There are so many billboards promoting short sales, ways to try to refinance with government help and the like. It adds to the sadness that can be a resident of Las Vegas. And yet there is an alure. An allure that hearkens every five to ten years to go. Yet we will NEVER stay on the Strip. It is too crazy.
So, that is our experience in Las Vegas, stop one of the Yellowstone Experience.

Next stop, Orem, Utah. And yes, I would move there in a split second if they had a beach!

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