We'd never been there. We'd heard about it. We'd seen it on TV. We'd seen it in movies. Friends talked about going there. They also talked of drunkenness and debauchery and...well...we don't do drunken and debaucher all that well. Steve's a gambler though and I'm a sucker for a buffet, especially a 24 hour all you can eat buffet so we packed our bags and hit the road on a Friday afternoon.
Had the entire trip been based solely on the 8 hours from the time we left my apartment it would have been a catastrophe. First, it took 2 hours to go the first 50 miles. Second, there was a lightning storm and torrential rains for the last 50 miles (in the desert...at night). Finally, there was the Tropicana and the Island Buffet.
These were not our rooms. No...we were on the garden level...in the original 1957 section...the section built before there was really a Las Vegas at all. You could tell. We had air conditioning, though. It was also simple to use. Off or on - those were the choices. Later this would prove for interesting nights in which Steve and I would, unknown to the other, get up and either turn on or turn off the air conditioning. We did not let our accommodations deter us though.
We went instead to the Island Buffet. Oh, the buffet...the sweet nourishment...the promise of succulent prime rib and various fattening desserts. Oh, the Islands Buffet...the rotting ruins of the late night foodstuffs...the dried and pasty prime rib...the flat soda...the mealy, floury bread...the simple pasty pastries...the indigestion.
Fortunately, Saturday was better. We started with the MGM Grand breakfast buffet...excellent. We finished with the Tournament of Kings cornish hen meal at the Excalibur. There were some tense moments as Steve realized the wait staff would not be bringing him silverware. There was also the moment when our knight, the King of Ireland, had his throat slit by the Dark Knight, but then again he did jump up and throw himself in the way of King Arthur's son, oh, and the soup was good.
Sunday morning was the buffet at the Luxor...by far the best...highly recommended, especially the champagne brunch also they served bacon that tasted mysteriously like the Farmer John brand. Steve and I bet on our first pro football games...both of us did this successfully and feel that now we are ready to make it a full time occupation.
We ended our night at New York New York Casino and the Cirque du Soleil show called Zumanity. Actually we ended the night at a food court eating Wendy's triple burgers and Del Taco burritos, but before that we went to the show. There we saw topless women, cod piece wearing men and a series of performances that oscillated between funny and strange. I preferred the funny (the at-home breast augmentation kit that consisted of two ziploc bags, a bottle of scotch and tape) to the strange (a naked women apparently undertaken a little erotic asphyxiation while dangling from the ceiling).
Between all of that we gambled. I am not a gambler. I like to watch Kenny Rogers in The Gambler and I like to watch the World Series of Poker on ESPN, but I spent three days trying to talk myself into at least one game of blackjack and I couldn't do it. I just couldn't put $10 down on one roll of the dice, flip of the cards or whatever else it was. I preferred penny slots. With $20 and a Super Jackpot Party penny slot machine in front of me I'm a happy man for an hour.
I also liked Monopoly and Jackpot Deluxe but it was usually 25 cents every time I pushed that button and I just can't handle that kind of expense. At 5 cents I started sweating and getting twitchy.
Following the penny slot strategy I barely lost any money. In fact, I broke even on Sunday and made $2 on Monday. Unfortunately, it took me about $100 and two days to figure out the beauty of the penny slot machine.
Now we know. We've been there. We know which places are nice and which are not. We know that there are hundreds of men handing out pictures of naked women that want to meet us (at $49 a meeting it would seem). We've picked out our favorite hotel casinos (The Luxor for me and New York New York for Steve).
The Tropicana grew on us and the traffic going home was easy. I don't know that I'm in any hurry to go back, but there it is, just over the mountains and a few hours away.