Thursday – Sunday — Oct 13-16, 2016 — Viva Las Vegas!

I love Vegas.

For about three days!

Gambling, shopping, shows, great food, sleaze, noise, crowds. It has everything.

We went out on the 13th to celebrate David’s sister and my birthdays by getting together with family (all of her boys came), having some great meals (Todd English’s Olives and Michael Mina), and seeing Elton John.

We flew out into strong head winds, which meant that it took over five hours to get there. The flight we booked was originally all coach, but at the last-minute it was changed to equipment that had biz class. Unfortunately, we were unawares, so the only nod to comfort was “Main Cabin Extra” seats, which gave us a few inches more leg room. Service consisted of the flight attendant checking with us just after take off and just before landing. No food, no drinks, nada. About the only time we saw a flight attendant was when one went down the aisle with a garbage bag asking for trash. Oh well, we got there, but, no matter what it cost, biz class is worth it, at least at our age in our condition.

Town car met us and took us to Caesars. Automated check-in was a breeze, and our room was terrific, large and well equipped. The only complaint was with the shower fixtures. For some reason, hotels have eschewed regular hot/cold fixtures in favor of trendy things that require a one hour course to learn how to operate. Couple this with no shower head, just a small spray nozzle to (understandably) cut down on water usage, and showers were a bit of a chore.

Enough complaining.

We took a snooze as we had been up since 0430, and got little rest on our flight, and then headed down to the Lobby Bar to meet Katherine and Tom. A glass of wine and much conversation, and then it was off to Bellagio and Todd English’s Olives for dinner. Nice dinner, and nice menu. They were out of the first chard we ordered, so David went with Ramey, which is reliably excellent. The food was very good, and the service okay. A roving photographer came to the table offering to take souvenir photos of the four of us. Tom told her that we were celebrating Katherine and my birthdays, which meant we would never get rid of her. David told her that he and Tom were not our husbands, so photos were not a good idea. She was shaken, but plunged ahead with her sales pitch. David upped the ante by saying that he was the pastor of my church, and if the photos got out, it would ruin his career. Snap, snap. She went ahead with the photos, and we went ahead with our meal. The photos actually were pretty good, so we now have a souvenir of our meal.

Friday was dialysis day. We Met Katherine and Tom for a light lunch, then headed off to the center. All went well, and I actually got out early. We headed straight to Bellagio, as we had Dinner reservations at Michael Mina. During our stroll over to the Petrossian Caviar and Champagne bar we stopped at a slot machine, pooled our money (a whopping $20 each) and actually walked away up about $40. Petrossian had a nice table, so we sat and ordered two flutes of Nicholas Feuillatte, one of David’s favorite Champagnes. Just as our drinks were served, we spotted Katherine and Tom in the lobby and motioned them over.  We shared a glass of wine and some conversation, then headed to Mina. The meal started with kirs and a cocktail for Tom, then it was on to some serious dining. Mina is one of the best restaurants in Vegas, especially for seafood.

I passed on a starter, as I had my sights set on the signature plat – lobster pot pie (it contains an entire lobster.) David and Tom went with Turbot, which is seldom seen on US menus, and Katherine a tuna medallion dish. Everything was superb, including the Pahlmeyer chardonnay that David ordered. David and Tom helped out with the last morsels of the pot pie, then we meandered back to Caesars. Tomorrow the boys arrive, so we figured we would need sleep.

We headed off to breakfast, while Katherine kept tabs on the status of Andy, Tim, and Matt. Andy & Robyn, and Tim and Alexis arrived and the eight of us headed off to the Lobby Bar for bloody Marys and catching up on everything. In short order, Matt and Donna showed up and we were complete. Robyn, Alexis, Donna and I headed off for some time on the slots while the guys talked sports, or whatever. I won a bit – nothing major, but enough to make it fun. With ten of us, the next order of business was where we could eat before going to see the Elton John show. We settled on Carmines, near the show venue, and then everyone headed off on their individual paths until we got together again for dinner.

We met at Carmines at 5:30, after a 200-mile stroll through the Forum Shoppes at Caesars, an endless maze of high-end shops: watches, jewelry, clothing, the works. We were seated at a big round table, while our manic server explained the menu, which was family style. There is no printed menu, just a number of them on the walls, conveniently located a mile or so from your table so that you can only see them with the aid of the Palomar telescope. Nevertheless, we settled on pasta with clams, pasta with marinara, veal saltimbocca, chicken with sausage, eggplant parm, and two salads. It actually was pretty good and we made a pretty good dent in it. We ordered a couple of bottles of Rodney Strong Chalk Hill chard, and a couple of Montepulciano. After finding out that our party was a double-birthday group, one of our servers serenaded us with O sole mio. Lots of laughs, then off to the concert.

We found our seats, which were pretty nice, and – at exactly 7:30pm, Elton appeared on stage and kicked things off. The music and presentations were terrific. The audience was on its feet most the night. Elton was chatty and very personable, and kept things moving along. About the only downer was that there were only two encore songs, but – overall – it was a great show. We exited and headed for the photo tables – we had our photos taken when we arrived, all wearing Eltonesque glasses, boas, etc., – and the photos were great.

It was now time for an after dinner drink, so we headed for Fizz, next door to the theatre. It’s owned in part by Elton, and is a typical high-end nightclub with officious folks at the door deciding who (whom?) to let in. Tim went up to officious #1, who recognized him from TV, movies, whatever, and made a bee line to see where he could seat the 10 of us. He came back with the offer of a private room, but the price was a minimum of $50 per person with each drink a hefty $25 minimum. It took us about 30 seconds to decide not to accept, so we meandered down the corridors of the Forum Shoppes looking for somewhere that suited our tastes. I stopped at a slot that looked appealing, and in short order had won over $120. together with our Bellagio winnings, a tidy $160, plus $40 David had won while I was at dialysis. We ended up at a 24-hour café just off the lobby, which only had a few folks seated. We took a table for 10 outside, and spent an hour or so talking and laughing before turning in.

For us, it would be an early evening and an early departure.

The wake up call roused us at 0530, and by 0615 we were ready to leave. Everything went smoothly, and the TSA PreChek line got us through all the hassle in a few seconds. We stopped in at the new American Express Centurion Club on our departure concourse for a Bloody Mary and some fruit. Then it was off to our gate to wait for the flight.

I sauntered up to a Wheel of Fortune slot to spend a few dollars before leaving, and it immediately paid off. A few minutes later it paid again, and then it went on a roll awarding me 80 free games! When I was done, I had won almost $70, so cashed in and got ready for the flight. Not a bad way to leave Vegas, up well over $300 net.

The flight was smooth and fast. The winds that delayed us going out helped us going back, and before we knew it, we were descending into Miami. The only issue was that we landed at the furthest gate from baggage claim, so had to walk about 30 minutes to get there. After all of the walking in the Forum Shoppes, our backs were pretty stiff. Fortunately, the town car was close by, so we were on our way home in just a few minutes.

Lucy was all wiggys and crying when we arrived. What a wonderful welcome. We were pretty exhausted, so I declined David’s offer to take me out for a birthday dinner and had him cook me a hot dog instead. A glass of wine, and then it was off to bed early.

A great weekend. Wonderful food, great times with family, and the Elton John concert. All-in-all, not a bad way to spend a birthday weekend.








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