They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Las Vegas

We drove to Las Vegas Friday, spent two nights in the Paris hotel, and drove back Sunday. We were there for Mike and Lori's wedding. Neither of us are big Las Vegas fans. Susan and I visited in 1980 when we she was pregnant with Mike. She had not been back. I went back 3 times for conventions and once with John on the way back from Berkeley.

We were concerned about the drive in that we had heard of problems getting through Hoover Dam and we had to get ready for a party in our room and the dinner we were having, as well as getting John and Agnieszka at the airport. We left at about 8:15 but forgot something and had to turn around at 35th Ave and I-10. Cost us about 30 minutes. The drive there was OK, not much traffic, the Joshua Trees were interesting, etc. The security checkpoint for northbound traffic through the dam is 9 miles south of the dam. I expected a bottleneck there and there was none, there were 3 cars ahead of us in line and we were just waved through. The dam itself was a little congested, but not bad. The only driving hassle was the Strip, where we had to travel from Tropicana to the Paris and it took nearly a half hour. We called John, who was just boarding at SFO, and told him to take a cab.

We parked in self-parking and hit the registration desk at about 2:30. We had called from the road and they told us that they had two connecting rooms for us. Checkin time, per the website, was 3:00. The nice lady at registration informed me that that was wrong, checkin was between 4 and 6 and it might be 6 before we got our two rooms. We argued a bit and I settled for two rooms near each other that we could have right away. Then they told us that we could not get a bellman or a cart at self parking and needed to come to the front for valet parking if we wanted help. So we drove around to the front, gave the cars and bags away, walked to the room where we had to call for our bags.

The rooms were very nice, not huge, but big enough that we did not ask to upgrade (which would have cost $45 x 2 nights x 2 rooms). The hotel was fine, actually, other than this checkin time bait and switch deal. The restaurants, both for the arranged meals, and just stopping in for food, were very good. The minestrone was wonderful.

After unpacking, we walked over to the Bellagio. Susan really liked the indoor garden and was impressed with the fancy shops. If we had to go to LV again for something and money was not an issue this might be the first choice as a place to stay.

My siblings stayed in Bally's, which was attached to the hotel by a walkway and was a little cheaper, with allegedly larger rooms but I didn't see one. It was close enough that if you had a function in one hotel you could stay in the other with no major inconvenience.

John and I walked to Bellagio and Caesar's Palace on Saturday morning. Later we walked with John and Agnieszka down to the Venetian. In the afternoon, Susan and I walked with Kaelyn over to Caesar's and walked through the beginnings of the Forum Shops.

Checking out on Sunday was no hassle, I went down about 8:30 and settled up. There was nobody in line. Then just before checkout time we called a bellman. The bags went down, we went to the front and presented claim tickets to a bellman and to the valet desk. A couple of tips later we had a loaded car, which we then deposited in self parking. After lunch we left, found a back way out of the parking structure which totally avoided the Strip and was very efficient. Bought gas on Tropicana and hit the freeway.

This time there was a big backup at the security checkpoint at the dam. And when we got through it there was a backup all the way to the dam. We lost about 30 minutes. The drive home was pretty boring. When we got to town and headed south on the 101 we ended up getting stuck in a detour that sent us west towards LA on I-10, which turned out to be closed between 83rd and 59th Avenues. We got off at something like 107th Ave., went south to Van Buren and took it, often at 25MPH through garden spots like "downtown" Avondale, until we rejoined I-10 at 59th Ave. This cost us another 30 minutes. It would have been worse if we had taken McDowell because I think that is where they were detouring I-10 traffic.

All in all, I just don't get Las Vegas. I know enough about it now to know where I would like to stay, etc., but I just can't imagine going there for anything other than family or work. Just not my kind of place, I guess.

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