Double or Nothing is the story of how two friends hit it big in the dot com era, and then went on to purchase the legendary Golden Nugget Casino. Written by Tom Breitling in a casual, informal style, their story deals with the ups and downs of a fourteen year period that in some ways mirror my own experiences over the last 15 years (although in my case without the vast riches that went along with the story).
We arrived back from Vegas late last night, and have spent most of today recuperating (I for one have been going through the internet with a fine toothed comb, catching up on a week’s worth of tech, comic, and wrestling related news). We ran out for groceries, and then saw Old School before picking up the guinea pig at the pig sitters.
But Vegas baby, Vegas. Man how I love that city of lights.
On Sunday, we left here at 7:00 in the morning, and braved a pretty bad snow storm on the way to the airport. At the airport we were told our 10:00am flight was delayed until 11:00. At 10:30 we boarded our plane, and were told that something on the plane was busted, and it was going to take an hour to fix it. An hour later we were told that we would need to go through de-icing before departure, and that would take another 20 minutes to make it to the de-icing bay. We finally took off around 12:30. The flight took 5 and a half hours, but we gained 3 hours (going from Eastern time to Western time), which meant we landed around 3:30. We got our luggage and started looking for our shuttle. Let me just say right now, no shuttle in the world is worth it! What a sucky experience that was, as literally dozens of cabs passed us, we waited as the perfectly blue, incredibly warm Vegas day passed us by. We eventually got our shuttle and arrived at our hotel, the Luxor, at about 5:30. By the time we checked in it was 6:00, and we were starving (since our bodies were telling us it was about 9:00 our time). We called our friends Karen and Craig, and went to the Rio for dinner.
First, our rooms, Karen and Craig were staying in the Luxor as well, and when we called them, they were just getting back to the hotel. They were staying on the 10th floor of the Pyramid, the same floor we stayed on, pretty much around the corner from us. The rooms were pretty nice, with a great big king sized bed, and a really nice bathroom. Our room had a great view of the Excalibur, and we could see the sun rise in the reflections off the towers.
At the Rio, we went to the buffet, which has a really cool concept. It’s kind of like a food court where you only pay once. They had a salad bar, Sushi, a stand with hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, and milk shakes, another stand with fish and various brown foods, a stand with your standard prime rib, corned beef, turkey, gravy, beans, potatoes, etc, a teppanaki grill, your standard “hot buffet line”, and a stand that had Mexican food. Then for dessert they had every type of cake and pie you can imagine. It was excellent. Back at our hotel, we decided we wanted a margarita, so we grabbed Margarita’s at Salsa, and went for a brief walk. We checked out New York, New York, the MGM Grand, and then headed back to our hotel when we found out the Monorail (that goes all the way to the Venetian) is under construction until 2004, so we played the slots in our hotel for a couple of hours.
Monday was just dumb. First off, we discovered that Sunday would probably be the best weather of the time we were there, and we missed 80% of it. It started raining Monday morning, and showered off and on all day. We walked all the way to the Ventian, which is a huge walk, and stopped in many of the shops along the way. I found an awesome place that hand rolled cigars (but I didn’t get any due to the whole “no kissing a cigar faced boy” rule that Charlene has…and who can blame her?). We also stopped in the Desert passage of the Alladin, which has an amazing rain storm every hour. We checked out the Gondola’s at the Venetian, and headed over to Ceasar’s and saw the moving statues, and then watched the fountain show at the Bellagio.
After all of that (with liberal amounts of shopping throughout), we headed back to the hotel for a break, stopping on the way for Coke floats at the Coke World store. After a brief break, we went to the restraunt in our hotel, and headed out to Freemont Street. On Freemont I got in one of a couple rounds of craps, and went up $50.00 in a few minutes. I took my winnings and ran the heck out of there. Sadly I went to Binions Horseshoe, where I lost $20.00, and then I went back to the Golden Nuggett, and won the $20.00 back. Overall, I was up on the night, and I had quite a few cocktails in the process. By that point though, we were totally exhausted, so we headed back to our hotel.
On Tuesday, Char and I rented a PT Cruiser and decided to go driving since it was pouring rain. We headed to the outlet mall, and bought some clothes and souveniers. After lunch, we headed out to the Hoover Dam, it was a really nice drive (despite the weather), and was good just to get off our feet. After seeing what we could of the Dam, we went to the Bellagio and saw the Andy Warhol exhibit. By that time it was around 8:00 local time, and we were starving, so we headed off to find a restaraunt. We found just what we were looking for in Paris and had an amazing steak dinner. Afterwards there were some buskers in the courtyard singing, so we stuck around and checked that out, before heading back to our hotel. After parking the car, we headed over to the Excalibur for some ice cream, and took it back to our room.
Wednesday morning we went for a drive down the strip and took some more pictures (including a great shot of the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign). We went for breakfast at a place called Carrows, which Rich, Ryan and I had gone to pretty much every morning because it was: close, fast, cheap, friendly, and good. This time it was close relatively cheap, and good, but fast or friendly it was not. The waitresses were having some kind of feud, the manager had lost control, and it took almost an hour from the time we walked in until we walked out (and the eating portion of our meal took no more than ten minutes). We dropped the car off, and went over to Mandalay Bay to see Shark Reef. It was amazing. There are something like 100 sharks in there, a bunch of sea turtles, a ton of jellyfish, some manta rays, crocodiles, pirannah, and more. The coolest part was the petting pool where you could reach in and pet a manta ray. They just swam around, waiting for people to touch their backs. If you didn’t touch them, they’d hover near where you were waiting to be pet. They’re really squishy and soft feeling, but really cool. Next we headed back to the Alladin, where Charlene wanted to shop and I wanted to play Craps. I quickly went up about $75.00, but I learned a very valuable lesson…when you have rules, don’t freaking break them! My rules were, only bet on the pass or come lines. Always bet odds on 6 and 8, and don’t get greedy. When I was up with a nice little stack of chips, I started betting on six and eight, throwing money down on craps bets, tossing out a couple of hards…and it all vanished so quickly when the dice went cold. Had I just walked away, I would have been up a nice tidy sum.
That night we went for margaritas, before seeing the Blue Man Group in our hotel, what an amazing show. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s interactive, intimate, and absolutely hilarious. They don’t say a word of dialogue, but it’s both incredibly funny, and incredibly smart. When we go to Chicago, we’re going to try to get tickets there too. It was the most expensive thing we did in Vegas, but by far the most fun.
Thursday morning we woke up, had some breakfast, and headed to the airport. Of course it was raining again, but our flight went well (it only took 3 and a half hours to return, plus of course the 3 hours we lose travelling from west to east, which meant we got home around 8:00 or so.
All in all, it was a blast of a trip, and I would love to go back again. I didn’t have one headache while in Vegas, but after a day back here my head has started to pound…stupid barometric pressure and various allergin’s!
We leave in about seven hours for Las Vegas…I totally need a vacation, and I can’t think of any place better than the adult Disney Land!
We’ll be back late Thursday, and what stories I’ll have to tell then!