The hubs and I got out of town recently to a “hot spot” (divine high 80’s leaving behind low 50’s) where we had only been once in our lives — Las Vegas. Eight years ago, for our 30th wedding anniversary, our two kids — Megan then 23 and Matt 21 — saved money for over a year to send us on a trip we would never forget. They bought our airline tickets, four nights at New York New York, dinner at Emeril Lagasse’s restaurant, and tickets to Mystere’ Cirque Du Soleil. We do not come from wealth and they were not wealthy … it was a sacrifice of hard earned money that took them sacrifice and discipline, and consequently a trip I will always cherish because of that. We’ve heard of many changes in Vegas since then and got to see firsthand some of those changes. There were new hotels and shopping centers — The Cosmopolitan, Aria, The Crystals, Wynne, and Encore built nontraditional of the other intricate hotels of stone and statues, made more streamlined with lots of modern colored glass, metal, and strange architectural angles. One interesting building, called the Harmon Hotel, is right in the hub of The Strip and is eclipse in shape. It’s about 5 years old and completely unfinished on the inside after inspectors found structural defects that halted any construction of the inside and capping the outside at half it’s original height. We were told it’s a $500 million dollar mistake. To go along with this next picture of the Harmon Hotel is an example of what is everywhere in Vegas … large plastic sheeting that is fused with heat to hotels everywhere advertising their mainline attractions. All I can say is whoever invented this product and application has got to be a multi-millionaire today because it’s everywhere! I hope the process of removing it is equally as efficient. Yikes.

There were many more escalators and walk over bridges making travel down The Strip much easier and never did they have more than one musician per bridge playing for tips. The city buses called the Deuce and SDX were newer, cleaner and got you to places much faster … and we didn’t see the drugged out people or card schemers on them that we did our last trip. Actually, we saw very few beggars anywhere as well. Still, my first stop after getting off a bus or transit was to a bathroom to wash my hands. Just sayin’.

Our hotel, The Monte Carlo, was right next to New York New York (which is still my favorite btw … must be the memories.)

The gaming industry is not about to die any time soon as the young people flocked the casinos at night and particularly the weekend. Oh my, I doubt I have ever seen so many young girls in such short form fitting dresses and ultra high heels as I did that weekend — and I am not speakers of hookers, of which I never saw any (that I knew of). I am talking of the college age crowd that were everywhere! And if you’ve ever been to Vegas and know the amount of walking required, high heels are not the smartest option. Our bus driver said the last two years in Vegas had been banner years for profit and with all the young people, I see more profitable years ahead for them. I personally helped them as well, leaving behind $50 of the $150 I took to gamble with for four days. Gambling was not our main destination … all the sights to see and shows were.

We booked at the Monte Carlo through Southwest Vacations and received two free (we only had to spend $800 to get it, but you get the idea) dinner show tickets for the first night. We had choices but ended up at a rather cheesy — (remember I said free) — show called Tournament of the Kings. Our dinner was actually pretty good even if we did have to eat it with our hands. Cornish game hen, roasted whole red potatoes, broccoli spears, and a biscuit was the menu. We cheered for the King of Austria as he fought and jousted his way into our hearts … because … well … because we had to … that was our seating section. Only pre-show photos were allowed so this is my token picture of the wizard walking around greeting his minions.

On Day 2 we had an amazing dinner at Bally’s Steakhouse where The Rat Pack (and friends) frequented “back in the day” not to mention all the stars of today. Now, not to sound snooty, we sat in a booth both Dean Martin’ and Tiger Woods sat at often. Impressed? Well you should be! 😉 We knew nothing of the restaurant going in, but needing to eat before catching the shuttle to the Rio, we saw it, read the menu, and because of time constraints, went for it. Turns out our waiter started there when he was 18 at the hey day of The Rat Pack and now 40 years later at 58, he is still there today! (Yes, he shared many regrets of that choice.) Anyway, not only did we have a fabulous meal in every way, we were entertained too! Only in Vegas! We caught our shuttle to the Rio to see ML Live: A Tribute to Michael Jackson. Now, it’s probably important to know that Mike and I loved Michael Jackson songs, and brought our kids up singing his songs as well. His life and troubles aside, the guy can sing and dance like few others, so this show was an early eye catcher when booking our shows. I carried my “big” camera out this one night only … the other times only carrying my little point and shoot or my cell phone. This camera is my back-up camera, a semi-professional Pentax K-5, one that I rarely use since purchasing my Canon 5D Mark II. Was I impressed! Using only available light and no flash, I set the ISO to either 6400 or 12800 (yes that’s correct) and below are pictures straight out of the camera. I share this only because I am considering selling my entire back up collection of Pentax body and Pentax lenses to purchase one additional Canon body so that I have the same backup as my main camera. It’s just so much easier using one camera than running two different operating systems, especially at a wedding when you have to be ready for anything. If you are interested, or know of someone who might be, just give me a call or shoot me an e-mail. Now, more on MJ … or should I say Michael Firestone who was impressive in his singing, dancing, and stage presence. He did an awesome job.

This was pre-show and certainly shows what our nation has become … people unable to communicate unless it’s by using their technology.

Our third night had us buying a 24-hour bus pass to go to Freemont Street in the older part of Vegas … again where many of the Rat Pack used to entertain. Our show was to see Gordie Brown at the Golden Nugget whom we saw eight years ago as well. Gordie is a comedic voice impersonator who takes a famous song, sings it in the artist’s voice, but adding his own comedic lyrics to the music. He’s a very funny guy and knows how to entertain a crowd. His act has disappointedly become a bit sexual in nature since last seeing him. (I think Vegas got to him.) Our bus driver told us all the action happens on Freemont Street between 10-2 am so not to leave before that. On that advice we got out at 9:45.

I just took some random photos, some that may be familiar to you, but mostly just stuff that caught my attention. It’s sad that vacations are too soon over and often forgotten. We came back home to the same cold weather and same routine, but with new memories but less money. If only the kids would have paid for it.


With love to my hubby for another wonderful trip with him by my side. You make a great travel partner … let’s do it again sometime, shall we? 🙂

Mike Mouser - April 22, 2013 - 5:56 PM

We shall indeed!!!!!

Megan - April 22, 2013 - 9:26 PM

Such AWESOME pictures…feel like I don’t need to visit Vegas b/c I just did and feel like I need to visit just so I can see it all in person.

Fun to hear all the details about your trip. But…you didn’t get ONE pic of you or your man!?!? What’s up with that!!!???

Kathy G - April 23, 2013 - 5:58 PM

I know just where that chocolate fountain is, because having been in Vegas for the one and only time years ago, I was visually attracted to take pictures of the same kind of stuff. I think some of the best stuff in Vegas is free to look at and that includes the architecture. Next time you go, though, you are going to have to tell me first so I can have you bring me something. And what I’m thinking of you may already have.

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