This is part two of a series. Read part one of the August 2022 Las Vegas trip report

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Shockingly, perhaps, because I was in my all-time favorite city, I was a bit down after leaving Kathryn at the TSA checkpoint. Not shocking, on the other hand, because we had an amazing time. 

I went over to the baggage claim area to pretend like I’d just arrived and rekindle the joy of one’s first moments in Vegas. 

It helped a bit, but it still wasn’t the same. 

A depiction of the old Dunes Las Vegas resort sign in the tile floor of the Las Vegas international airport

I’m always too busy looking at the neon and slot machines to notice how cool the airport floors really are.

I’d lost a bit of mojo. It also didn’t help that I was already hearing rumblings that Kathryn’s flight would be seriously delayed. This was one of our big fears for our respective flights on the way back home. 

I can’t do much about flight delays, so I went on and headed for an Uber. 

For the second ride in a row, I was in a rather nice Tesla SUV. I’m not sure I get all the hype, but it was pretty lovely. 

I made my way to Planet Hollywood and realized that, if I didn’t eat now, I’d slip into skipping meals the rest of the trip. So I made my way to Earl of Sandwich and got a 1712, or something like that. Basically — their mainstay sandwich. We were really looking forward to Earl of Sandwich so I was disappointed to have it on my own. Honestly. it didn’t blow my mind, but I’ll withhold most of my thoughts as the experience could have been colored by my brief slump. 

An Earl of Sandwich in a hotel room overlooking the Bellagio fountains

Sorry for the crummy picture — though probably a pretty accurate depiction of my feelings. The view is lovely, though!

 

Back at the room I nibbled at it as I monitored Kathryn’s flight status, got my stuff organized, and prepared for a blast of an evening. 

I’d been looking forward to this moment for so long, but I was just a bit tired, honestly. 

And then… the room started having issues. 

The lock still wasn’t working and when I left to get some ice, I simply couldn’t get it to latch or lock at all. 

If I slammed it enough times and in just the right way, I could sometimes make it work. Kind of. 

I could always just rely on the bolt at night. Right? That part at least worked. But what if security noticed an open door all night and came and made me switch (this happens more often than you might think, actually) rooms at 2am?

Damn it. 

I just couldn’t talk myself into being okay with it from a fear of the unknown to the legitimate concern about safety. 

I called up the front desk. 

Crackle. 

Crackle, fuzz… 

Snap, Crackle, Pop. 

You get it. The phone sucked, no way would it work for a conversation. 

So I walked my happy ass down to the lobby and found a manager. And very politely (Ron White reference here for the two people that will get it) made my complaint heard. 

I really was polite, though. It’s just in my nature, first of all, but I also know these people can either work wonders or screw your whole trip. 

He was very attentive and informed me that it would be 15 minutes and maintenance would be right there. I almost, literally, replied, “Bullshit,” but I held my tongue. I knew it would likely be hours. But you know what? I’d try to have a bit of trust.

Back in the room the toilet had trouble flushing. It only gave me issues this one time, but I thought the problems were piling up fast. 

Why did I leave Cosmo?!?!? 

Oh, yeah… at least $1,000 in savings (seriously). 

15 minutes passed and no maintenance. I wasn’t surprised. I was listening to my favorite Vegas podcast and trying to get excited about the night. 

Time was passing. 

Energy drained. 

Okay… after 25 minutes I mixed a Vodka sprite and had half a glass (read: plastic cup). 

After 35 minutes, I decided I’d take a nap. You know what, my vacation, I can nap if I want to. I felt guilty about wasting time, but I was just sitting there anyway. 

I didn’t want to leave because I was worried I’d make it downtown and they’d force me to come all the way back and switch rooms in the middle of the fun. 

After a brief but refreshing nap, and an hour since I talked to the manager, I finished my drink and mixed another. 

I was much peppier. Nap was great. Drink was strong. Music was good. View was dreamy (and not just in the mirror, but out the window, too).

Halfway into that next drink I decided, “screw it. I was not going to spend all day and night waiting for maintenance.” 

I managed to get the door to lock and off I went to downtown Las Vegas!! The official destination? 

El Cortez.

5:30pm: El Cortez

It was pretty quiet for a Friday afternoon around 5:30 or so. I’ve got to say, as excited as I was to be there, El Cortez just wasn’t all that impressive when I first pulled up. 

I walked in the main entrance (or at least the one with the canopy) and recognized the carpet above all else  I took a quick glance around. 

The bar to my left was older and full of what I could just tell were regulars. I walked over and knew it was going to be hard to edge my way in. I walked around a bit more, not all that impressed, but appreciative of the history. 

I made my way into a small gift shop and bought a can of Blue Moon. 

Then I noticed an area where folks were playing actual coin slots! How cool. 

I wandered out of El Cortez to take some pictures and get inspiration for more Las Vegas souvenirs and such. 

I was closer to Container Park than I thought, so I wandered in. I was told I couldn’t take my beer, but I walked around the area for a minute and finished it, then took a walk through. 

6:00pm Container Park

The praying mantis thing was cool. 

The sign at the main entrance of Container Park in downtown Las Vegas

No outside open containers allowed in container park.

Inside, it really felt like a hip locals place. There was an incredible playground my son would love. Cool venue. Pretty neat place, but maybe not worth all the hype. 

I went back to El Cortez for a second try. I really wanted to love the place and to play some games. 

Back in through one of the iconic side doors that line the property. 

The outside of El Cortez in Las Vegas

Photo taken during Magic Hour. Perhaps I should have taken more advantage of this beautiful photo-taking time of day, but I had gambling to do!

As I meandered around, no slot really spoke to me. But I did notice that table game minimums were lower than anywhere I had seen on the strip. I passed a table with a couple of guys about my age — there were several open chairs and only a $15 minimum on roulette. 

Those were the most inviting prospects I’d seen on the trip so far. 

But by the time I realized that it seemed like a good opportunity to finally play an actual table game on this trip, I had walked past it. 

Without wanting to appear too eager, I did a short circle and walked back by. This time I slowed down and the loud (in a good way, not obnoxiously) leader of this group I’d later come to know shouted over at me, “Hey! Come on over and play!”

I was in. 

So, the last spot at the narrow end of the table, directly across from the wheel, I made myself a standing home. I handed over a crisp $100 bill and received 20 chips in return. I clarified with the dealer that I couldn’t split my $15 minimum amongst outside bets (red, black, etc.). I figured as much, but it would have been nice.  

Over the next 30-45 minutes I had a great time. Lots of nerves and ups and downs as I played $15 a hand on black, odds, and the middle line. 

There were two guys at first, but two of their friends joined shortly after. I found myself in the middle of a bachelor party. These guys, especially the leader, were ridiculously friendly. Like “Minnesota Nice,” but without the Minnesota.

I was ridiculously awkward.

But after drink service returned to me a(nother) vodka sprite, I got a bit more comfortable, I found myself having one hell of a time. 

We were all rooting for each other, laughing at jokes and I was playing odds instead of evens because that’s what these guys were doing (when betting outside) and how could I go against the table? Even if I had (I did at first), they’d still cheer if I won. 

No, seriously, early on I won on a bet that they all lost on they cheered for me. Wow.

I was down to $50 for a while. 

But that middle line pays 3 to 1, and boy, it came in handy a lot. 

I bet most hands, but stayed out a few to draw things out. 

I found myself with a $100 swing and up $50. For me, that’s pretty good. 

The guys — Josh, Jacob, Phil, and Reuben — were getting ready to move on and we all cashed out our chips after we got a new dealer and everyone lost on the first hand (so maybe I was up $65 before this). 

It was great and they even invited me to black jack and told me they’d yell after me if we ran into each other at Circa (where they were staying and where I was eventually headed) or on Fremont Street. 

Actually, they vowed to yell, “Lukey Bear!” but that’s an inside joke with my new friends. 

I pretty quickly made my way over to the cashier. I was thrilled. I was a winner. I had played my favorite table game — roulette — and not the imposter electronic version, either. 

Poker chips at the El Cortez in Las Vegas

With all this money, I should have asked security for an escort back to my hotel.

I met some Vegas friends. I only wish I had found a way to look them up later. Great times I’ll never forget.

Onward, I marched! Eyeing Kathryn’s flight status and knowing she should be at her connection relatively soon. 

7:20: Downtown Grand

I made the kind of lame walk over to Downtown Grand. This was a Matt Bridger inspired pick that I was excited for. 

I did get a cool pic of an El Cortez sign along the way (keep your eye on Instagram for that one). 

I also saw a really awesome view of the Stratosphere through the super-trendy and LA-vibe kind of streets. It was amazing. The camera failed to capture it properly. Hence no picture for you.

Entering Downtown Grand, I was a bit shocked at how small it was. 

It made El Cortez seem big and El Cortez is no such thing. 

It was a nice enough place, though. I saw the Art Bar that Bridger has shown on his blogs and found a machine with a plug for my phone that I could settle in for a while. It had a view of the small table game area — particularly one incredible game of craps that captured the attention of the whole casino. 

There was a large number of folks surrounding this table and, though I think it was a mish-mash of different groups, they had found a leader and come together to cheer each other on in a way I’d never seen before. 

Like a sports team pumping each other up  before running out of the locker room, every time the dice were about to be thrown, they’d do a huge, loud, chant. The leader would shout and everyone would reply. 

“Dealer?!”

“Hot!!” 

“Dice?!!”

“Hot!!!!” 

“Table?!!!”

“Hot!!!!!” 

“Players?!!!!”

“DAMN HOT!!!!” 

“HEY HEY HEY!!!” 

What a great start to the night. 

I spoke to Kathryn who had landed at her layover and was not having as much fun as myself. Gosh I felt bad for her. 

I left after a small, not really memorable, amount of gambling. 

7:50pm Fremont Street Experience

I was headed to Fremont street “proper” and could hear the bands already. 

I didn’t realize it, but my little adventure had killed a couple of hours already. The sun was setting, the good bands were playing and the place was pumping. It was out of control, really, 

I bought myself a gatorade at a store and enjoyed the scene for a while. 

After I ordered what seemed like a weak, but was actually sneakingly strong, vodka sprite from outside Binions, I continued on my stroll through the Fremont Street Experience. I caught a couple street shows (mostly unimpressive showgirls, actually. Any of the true performers or street magicians were surrounded by too many people to really enjoy) and also made it from one end all the way down to the Plaza. 

I was actually starting to lose time, and I had an aim towards the Mirage. So I wasn’t inspired to stop anywhere. I did stop in Binion’s for a second to catch a call with Kathryn but as I look back on it, I’m shocked I didn’t make it to Golden Nugget, Golden Gate, or anywhere else. 

Next time. 

Too bad they’re doing construction at the entrance of The Plaza, but the overhead lights are still there and the improvements will be worth it in the end. This is a good time to shout out the On the Corner of Main Street podcast. To my knowledge, it’s the only one actually produced by executives of a Las Vegas casino. You can hear execs other places, but this one gives you a really great inside scoop on the history of the town, current business dealings all over town, and the inner workings and future of the Plaza Las Vegas. 

Inside Plaza, it felt a bit like a “mall” at first, but I quickly stumbled upon the Brian Christopher area (full, by the way) and sat across from it at a Double Top Dollar machine (which paid out a bonus! Not sure if I was up or down, but no significant money was spent). 

The Brian Christopher Slots area at Plaza Las Vegas.

I don’t care if its in the airport, my new goal is for a gaming section or machine to be named after this blog.

I’m thoroughly impressed that Brian Christopher has made such a name and fortune for himself in this town. This blog is the humble beginnings of what I hope could be something similar.

I made my way through the casino, past the new Sand Dollar (kind of wanted to spend time there, but decisions had to be made) and towards where I had seen Pop Up Pizza. 

I heard this (and Sand Dollar) recommended by Scott Roeben, and I was feeling kind of in the mood for pizza, so I decided to give it a go. I had told myself I wanted to try a lot of good pizza and burgers on this trip. And over the next couple of days I would do that to some extent. 

It wasn’t too busy, but I was still worried it would take a minute. 

Ordered one slice of pepperoni and got myself situated in the seating area with a view of the casino. I was pleasantly surprised a table was available. 

I wasn’t there long when my order was called. 

This pizza. Let me tell you. Was some of the best pizza I’d ever had. This won’t be the only place I’ll try on this trip, but I’ll spoil it for you now, it was the best. 

The crust was foldable and loaded with toppings, and yet the bottom crust was also fairly thin and crispy. Yes, foldable and crispy. 

Amazing stuff. 

10/10, would highly recommend it. 

A sign advertising Pop Up Pizza in the Plaza Las Vegas

I forgot to get a decent picture of the pizza, so you’ll have to settle for this.

I wandered through the casino briefly, past the lobby to the other side to see what was there. A small food court with McDonalds, off-brand asian food of some sort, etc. Okay, fairly boring. 

Now, it was time for Circa. Time for the moment we’ve been waiting for. I didn’t get a chance to properly appreciate it when I came last fall with the guys. So here. we. go. 

8:45 pm Circa

I entered through the side just to the left if you’re looking at Fremont street from the Plaza. No line, quick ID check and I was in. 

I had a great time looking around and really taking my time admiring the gold finishes, AC from the floor, and of course, the huge sports book. 

I also walked around Mega Bar and then meandered up to the other levels. When I was with the guys last fall, I’m pretty sure we just stuck to the main floor. 

The second floor was almost a better gaming atmosphere. It was definitely quieter — the whole property seemed pretty chill, really. 

I saw 8 East, Saginaw’s Deli, and some other things on the second floor. I made my way to the gift shop and bought a super cool Gold chocolate bar. I’m always looking for good Vegas souvenirs or T-shirts while I’m in town, but I’m not impressed by much. I find myself trying to convince myself that I like something or spending forever weighing whether or not I should swipe my card. 

This was one of those instant classics. I saw it, grabbed it, bought it. And a beer. 

Funny how I can debate forever whether to spend $25 on a shirt I’ll wear three times a month for the next decade, but a $15 beer? That’s an instant yes. ;)

I pulled out my ID for the cashier but she said she didn’t need it — it’s a 21+ only resort anyways! Duh! That is pretty cool. 

It was getting pretty late and I had yet to gamble. I didn’t want to do much, but I wanted to do something. I was going to try and make it back for the 10pm Mirage fire show — my next to last opportunity of the trip (there was an 11pm show, too). 

But time was going fast. I spent some of it seeing Vegas Vickie in all her glory. Boy was there a lot of glory. 

The original Vegas Vickie neon sign inside of Circa Las Vegas

Behold the glory.

I saw Vegas Vickie’s bar. 

And I went back over to Mega Bar because I know Derek Stevens hangs out there and I really wanted to see him. I walked up and down the whole thing and he was nowhere to be found. I kind of ambled around a bit more and… 

No luck. 

As I turned to go back towards the main part of the casino, I was shocked. Walking somewhat briskly through the center of the building, towards Mega Bar, was Derek Stevens. I did an obvious double take and I’m pretty sure (or I’m dreaming) we made eye contact. 

He walked past Mega Bar and towards the side of the casino to sights unknown. Important business, I’m sure. 

But what a thrill. This was my second celebrity sighting of the trip and I was very happy. 

At this point, however, I knew there was no way I’d make it to the Mirage for the 10pm show. I decided to not rush it and just enjoy myself. 

These wasn’t a whole lot left to do, however, so I went back upstairs and decided to find a machine. Near an escalator that only goes from the first floor to the second (funny how Vegas works, yeah?) 

An art display of various neon arrows pointing to a Circa Las Vegas Logo

Have you even been to Circa if you don’t have a pic of this?

I found a kind of lonely bank of 88 Fortune machines. 

I sat there for a minute, put in $20 bucks and bet my standard $1.75 (or thereabouts). 

Instant win! 

I got a quick $50. 

Thanks, Circa, That’s all I needed to do today. I was a winner. And not just because I saw Derek Stevens. 

It took me a while from here to find the Uber pickup area. Turns out it’s in Garage Mahal, which was fine with me because I kind of wanted to know what it was all about anyways. 

A nice security guard pointed me in the correct direction and off I went. 

Passed another security guard and the crosswalk from the garage to Circa — keeping it 21+ ! 

The Uber pickup area and Garage itself was pretty dang nice. It was rather clean and not so… “garage-like,” I guess you’d say. I mean it wasn’t the most impressive thing in the world, but… it’s a parking garage in Las Vegas. 

I will say that it beat the hell out of the Bellagio or Mirage Uber pickup area. 

I was leaving downtown $100+ up. Good stuff!

10:20 PM: Home base — Planet Hollywood

I made it back to Planet Hollywood and it was busy. 

Oh yeah. For some unknown reason I made the terrible decision to go back to PH before Ubering again to the Mirage. I guess I wanted to rest for a second. 

I ended up on the phone with one of my buddies, Jake, who joined me last fall and calls Vegas a second home because the Air Force stations him there so often. (Get this: He actually gets to stay right off the strip sometimes (like easy walking distance) and gets to actually have a lot of fun! Not like those work trips your dad told you about where he only saw the hotel conference room). 

Anyways, running out of time for the second time and realizing this was my last chance without totally ruining tomorrow’s plans, I hustled downstairs for an Uber. 

Me and like 250 other people. 

Some event had let out (honestly, it looked like there had been a cheap prom for adults). 

I managed to get to an Uber and explained that I really wanted to get to the Mirage by 11pm. I totally understood that he could only do so much, but if he had any Vegas magic, I needed it now

I got to give it to this guy. He drove like the wind. 

Now, it could be the fact that he had his windows down the whole time, but he really did seem to fly. 

Down the Blvd we went. It was, again, so cool to get to take so many Ubers down the boulevard. As many times as I had been, I hadn’t really ever had trips right down the center of the action — I think because I always walked unless I was going super, super far. I even considered renting a limo to get this specific kind of experience. Turns out I didn’t need it!

Anyways… 

I wasn’t scheduled (according to the ETA on the Uber app) to get to the Mirage until 11:01. And the Uber drop-off is way far from the Volcano. 

I knew I’d miss it. 

But this. guy. drove. 

We were coming to the intersection by the Venetian and Mirage. With the open windows I could hear the crickets and frogs and other jungle animals noises from the Volcano. You know, the sounds that play when the show is about to begin. It was starting without me. 

Damn. 

He asked me, “You just want to see the fire show, right? Like you don’t care to go to the Casino itself?” 

“Yeah, I just wanted to make the show.” 

“Okay, I’m going to do something bad. When I stop the car in a second, get out as fast as you can.” 

The light turned green and he turned left toward the Mirage entrance. Then left some more. 

U-turn. Along with a bunch of other folks behind us. This was fairly common. 

But then, against the law (shhhh) he stopped on Las Vegas Blvd. I jumped out so fast and thanked him. Yelled that I’d compensate him properly (I did tip him $20) and ran for it. People were honking behind us. 

It was a true, total Las Vegas rule-breaking moment. 

My only regret is that I slammed his door on the way out. Total accident. 

11:01pm: Mirage Volcano Show

I ran to get the best view possible. The show was starting with the first few bursts of fire. 

From here, I don’t have any pics. I decided to focus on enjoying the show. 

It was great. I was out of breath. So almost a let-down after that adrenaline rush, but boy was I so glad I made it. 

And what a story!!!! 

After the show, I walked up towards the Mirage. 

I took some pics at the super cool Rhumbar sign. 

A cool vintage-style neon sign for Rhumbar at the Mirage Las Vegas

I was excited to explore the Mirage for what might be the last time. Though… I hear the transition is going to take quite a while and so chances are that I’ll be able to see it again. But you’ve always got to appreciate things when you can! 

I love the tropical feel as you approach the main entrance. The doors. The music. 

The smells. 

Pina Colada smell everywhere. 

Once inside, it reminded me, with all of the live vegetation and water, of being at the Opryland resort in Nashville. And that’s not a bad thing. 

I spent some time standing on the little bridge area near the water feature — just looking at the beautiful script font “Mirage” sign. 

Then I went in to pay my respects with my gambles.  

Honestly, I didn’t have a whole lot of luck at the Mirage. I don’t really remember any bonuses. I played Buffalo Gold Collection for a while. My notes say I ended up losing $52.  

A picture of the Mirage Las Vegas at night.

I walked around and checked out the gift shop. 

With my heart full of Mirage and my wallet a little lighter, I crossed to the other side. I had promised myself I’d make it to Casino Royale tonight. 

12:11am: Casino Royale

And so I did! 

Enjoyed one of the famous $3 beers. Good stuff! 

Saw the famous hot dog place in the back. I know folks love it, but I still don’t get the appeal. 

Casino Royale is pretty dark. It’s the dive bar of the strip for sure. But it’s a lot of fun. No table games, just a whole bunch of fun slots.

I know they had electronic Roulette at one point because I played it back when the $1 minimum meant it was the only way I could afford to play Roulette. $1 minimum pretty much guarantees I can walk out ahead, too. 

Anyways, I played at bank of machines along the wall where our back was turned towards the main center bar. 

A bank of slot machines as Casino Royale in Las Vegas

The aforementioned bank of slot machines.

There was a hilarious couple next to me. I sat there longer than I planned because the company was so much fun. 

In the end, I was up $30. I don’t really even remember what game I played — I think it was the Vegas themed Lock it Link. 

I cashed out at the cage at Casino Royale which is always fun. I remarked that I just had a small TITO for him (Ticket in, Ticket out). He said, “You must work in the industry. Nobody else uses that term!” To me… what a compliment!  

I moved on to Linq because I had another TITO in my pocket from earlier in the trip. 

I lost it’s value. And then I lost a bit more. Oh well. 

I made it back to Planet Hollywood and was generally ready to just go relax and wind down in the room. It was a great day. 

More tomorrow!!

Day 4: Saturday 

This was set to be my only full day on my own in Vegas. I was excited to make the most of it! 

I woke up feeling great. Happy to be in Vegas. Happy Kathryn had made it home safely (at 5am in Kansas City. Yikes!). 

10:30AM – RevIV (Cosmopolitan)

I had a 10:30am appointment to get an IV at REVIV at Cosmopolitan. I didn’t want to break this first appointment because I had one the next day as well. 

So I went over, even though I probably didn’t really need it. 

It was a pleasure, as always. Clean, highly professional medical staff in an almost spa-like environment. 

I had a private room with an incredible high-tech massage chair. 

This thing was great! I actually stayed a little past my IV finishing because I was enjoying it so much!! 

So, after about a 45 minute experience (UltraViv – $179 plus tip for an even $200), I was out and ready to rock! 

Honestly, and this isn’t the first time this has happened to me, but I think I felt worse after the treatment. 

It had me feeling jittery and just not so well. 

But I had brunch plans and I was so excited!! 

11:45am Guy Fieri’s (Linq)

By the time I got to Guy’s, I was really not feeling all that great. The place was packed, but I was able to sit at the bar in the exact spot I always imagined (far left side against the wall when you first make eye contact with the bar from the check-in area). 

I was greeted by the bar-back and I didn’t hesitate to ask for one of their famous bloody mary’s. I was definitely in need of one. He actually made it himself — I got the impression he was trying to impress the bartender / move into a new position. He was really excited about it. 

Guy’s has EPIC bloody mary’s. It’s part of what they’re known for. 

I wouldn’t say that this one was as amazing as I had hoped, but it was good. Very spicy. But I nibbled on the fixins on the glass and that was a lot of fun. It was helping me out a bit — though I wish it weren’t so spicy so I could drink it faster. 

A bloody mary at Guy Fieri's Las Vegas Kitchen and Bar

The built-in appetizer is always a bonus.

Last time, I wasn’t too impressed by the food. This time I ordered something different — going for what seemed like their “top of the line” burger. The main bartender (who seemed like a staple / long-time favorite… perhaps the same woman who served me last time) even complimented me on the choice. 

What I ordered: 

PRIME TIME AMERICAN KOBE BURGER 8 oz. american-style kobe beef, caramelized onion jam, smoked gouda cheese, cheddar cheese, onion straws, aged parmesan cheese, pickles + donkey sauce, on a garlic-buttered brioche bun. $24.99 

Prime Time American Kobe Burger at Guy Fieri's Las Vegas Kitchen and Bar

Get. In. My. Belly.

I loved it. 

Amazing. Stupendous. Excellent. I’m thrilled with my decision. 

Unfortunately, I still wasn’t feeling all that great. 

I left and as I wandered out through the closest exit, into the Vegas heat, I started to get the itch to make it to the Venetian at least once.

I passed Carnival Court on my right (I never did end up going there this trip), and walked on the outside of Harrah’s despite the heat. 

12:45 Venetian

I decided I wanted to go into the main entrance of the hotel on the lower level instead of taking the moving walkway right up to the second level with the grand canal shops. 

I admired the portico (all of them in Vegas are awesome, it seems) and the stunning lobby. The ceiling in between the main check-in area and the casino is one of the most gorgeous and most photographed locations in Vegas. 

I wandered around the casino a bit — saw Black Tap (also on my list of potential spots for this trip — though I didn’t make it this time). 

Then I took the escalators from the casino up to the main entrance of the Grand Canal shops. 

I wandered up here for a while, but I honestly wasn’t 100% into it and I started to feel like I was just doing it to do it. 

That’s not what you want. So I decided to head to the Uber pickup area to get on with the rest of my day. I had a first-time place to go. Actually, I had two first-time casinos to visit!

1:30pm Resorts World

I took an Uber to Resorts World and was dropped off at an entrance close to the food court. 

It was really cool to be experiencing a property for the first time. I’m trying to save a few so I can still do that occasionally. Though there aren’t many remaining (Just Excalibur and Mandalay Bay / Delano on the Strip). 

We passed a big construction area where I’m told they’re expanding and possibly creating a huge water park-like area with a wave pool. Should be neat. The pool area / day club sure seems awesome. 

Inside, I did get the “mall” feeling I’ve heard talked about a bit, but then I really just started to enjoy the place. I thought I would. 

The food court was quirky and unique. They had “street vendors” with widgets and art and snacks for sale. I went to the bathroom in that unexpectedly amazing party bathroom. Disco lights, neon, music. Weird and awesome. 

The center bar at the food court at Resorts World Las Vegas

I walked around the outside perimeter of the casino some more and saw a few familiar restaurants. I walked through the middle of the casino and really enjoyed the atmosphere. My eyes were open for the drink cart girls I’ve always heard about. No luck. 

I stopped and took at peak at Gatsby’s. I was really hoping it would be open, but no luck until 4pm. 

I walked passed the casino into the main “mall” type complex area and saw some interesting shops and restaurants. Nothing was very busy, unfortunately. 

Except the damn day club. 

Good lord. There were hundreds of young 20-somethings lined up in various queues with security sorting folks much like cattle. It was amazing. Actually it was almost shocking. 

It simultaneously made me want to go and join the scene and run as far away as possible. I definitely seemed old in comparison to this crowd. Where do they get all this party money, anyways? 

I tried the Amazon checkout experience. It’s a small shop with convenience store essentials. You scan a credit card or sign into an Amazon account before you go in and then you just pick up whatever you want and walk out. Supposedly your card is then charged properly. 

It was a pretty neat experience. I didn’t want to get charged incorrectly so I didn’t want to touch anything I wasn’t going to buy. But of course, I grabbed a water and then decided I’d rather have Gatorade. So (because everything is camera based) I really “exaggeratingly” put back the water and took a gatorade. 

There’s a negative with this whole thing (particularly because I used a credit card instead of Amazon) — I didn’t get a receipt and have no idea whether or not I was charged correctly. 

I spent some time marveling at the Stardust sign. 

The elephant parade and the boring elephant at Resorts World Las Vegas.

Quite a contrast between the Boring elephant and the detailed designs of the rest of those on parade.

I enjoyed the Elephant parade and giggled at the Boring elephant. After all the creative, brightly-painted elephants, the plain white one seemed kind of silly. But I also got the ironic statement of it all. What a perfect fit for The Boring Company. I applaud them at the end of the day. 

 

Saw and marveled and tried to figure out the squished Volkswagen. 

A red Volkswagon beatle "squished" by an artist into a perfect sphere at Resorts World Las Vegas.

What’s most fascinating to me is the fact that there seems to be no stress, damage, or wear marks of any kind!

Meandered through the casino and gazed at the huge bank of Buffalo machines. They weren’t the variety I preferred, so I managed not to gamble while at Resorts World. 

This place was nice and I really enjoyed the overall vibe. I could see Kathryn really enjoying the experience, too. 

I plan to be back. 

2:45pm Circus Circus

I left Resorts World through the entrance by the Stardust sign. It faces Las Vegas Blvd, for one, and it’s the best entrance I figured to get to my next destination. Plus, I’ve seen Steven from Not Leaving Las Vegas take this entrance during live streams like 100 times. I just had to do it. 

I had decided to walk to Circus Circus, which I thought I’d regret, but it wasn’t bad at all. 

A bit hot, yeah. But it was worth it to actually walk the path I’d seen so many people do on YouTube over the past couple of years. I got to see the police substation they built as part of Resorts World (yes, that sounds lame and it probably would be to most people). 

I passed the famous McDonald’s with all of the LED signs outside. 

And I made it to Slots of Fun. 

About now, the area and the people in particular, started to be what I’ve heard / you might expect. Lots of homeless. Lots of people who look like they might be. 

A few families with young kids who seemed like they’d made a horrible mistake.

I walked into Slots of Fun for a second. 

Okay, like 30 seconds. It was as boring as I expected. Actually more. It was like the inside of an old strip mall dollar tree, but with dark carpeting and old (NOT retro… just old) slot machines. 

I don’t get it. I don’t need to go back. 

So I made my way past the giant clown and into the famous Circus Circus. 

The Circus Circus sign in Las Vegas

Yes, it could use a paint job. Like really… that would go a long way. I heard they’re doing renovations at the property. That’s excellent, but I don’t think the budget’s big enough. 

I understand though… this place is not meant to cater to the Wynn crowd. 

Anyways… I made it inside and it wasn’t all that bad. The crowd during the day didn’t seem too bad, either. 

Sure, there were some families that looked like they were one minor argument away from a domestic violence horror story (I was in Vegas just a few days after some guy shot a few family members in a “play” dispute in their room at the Mirage, so it was on my mind), but I didn’t feel unsafe. Most of the time. 

I digress. The property has some soul for sure. The casino wasn’t impressive and wasn’t speaking to me, either. 

The best part was the working carousel with slots. That part was neat. 

The carousel of slot machines inside Circus Circus in Las Vegas Nevada

I made my way up to the midway and found myself uncomfortable. Not for safety of violence or theft — but it was just so packed. Kids everywhere. Families everywhere. Lots of games — arcade ones, carnival ones, kitschy prize-chasing ones. 

There were no acrobat performances going on when I was there. I think I just missed one and I wasn’t going to stick around for the next one. 

I wandered around some more and it really started to hit me just how busy this place was. 

Hell, why do I care if they renovate the place? They’re clearly drawing business — even if it is for literally $34 / night. 

This was fun. 

I was tired. 

Time to go rest. 

4PM Planet Hollywood

I took a nap back at Planet Hollywood. I had big plans for the night and I was fine with this. I had checked everything off my list and didn’t want to ruin the evening by forcing myself to do too much. 

My plan was to leave the room around 6pm with a cocktail or two in my system and then head over to… well it worked out to plan so I’ll just tell you what happened: 

Around 4:45 I stirred and checked the local listings. 

No shit, The Hangover was scheduled to start at 5pm local time. 

So wait. I could watch my favorite Vegas movie (Kathryn hates it, by the way) in Las Vegas while I got ready for the evening? HELL YES!

I jumped in the shower so that I’d be out by the time it started. 

I brought in my speaker and played some Dean Martin and other Vegas classics. 

When I emerged, the movie was just starting. 

Jackpot!

The Hangover movie playing on a TV in a Planet Hollywood hotel room in Las Vegas

5pm The Hangover (movie, lol)

I mixed a vodka sprite (actually, I must have run to get more ice, first). 

I kept looking outside at Vegas while I watched the movie. What a blessing to be here. 

When the first commercial came on, I played more Vegas music on my speaker and made slow progress towards ironing my clothes, cleaning up the room a bit, prepping my bag for the evening, and finishing my drink. 

Yes, I had a bag I was taking around with me. In lieu of a man purse or satchel, haha, I was just carrying around a Cosmo retail bag full of hand sanitizer, heartburn meds, sunglasses, a phone charger and battery, and myriad other things. 

This kept my pockets light and more organized and helped me have everything I needed while minimizing chances for theft. It worked out great. I was using a wallet for the first time in a while, too. Also great. Last time I found myself digging through pockets (even with a wallet clip) trying to sort through cash and cards and medicines and everything just to find my ID or players club card for the 10th time. 

Anyways, when I finished one of my Vegas songs, I paused it on my phone and unmuted the television. 

At that very instant the movie came back from commercials and started playing. 

This was going to be a good night! 

It did this through two more commercial breaks. Not intentionally. It just happened. Hopefully I wasn’t running through all my luck too early! 

Feeling much better, I mixed a drink for the road and headed towards the Bellagio fountains. 

6:00pm Out on the Town

I caught a fountain show, sipped a drink, and took some pictures of one of our Las Vegas shot glasses

A Las Vegas shot glass sits on the concrete wall between the sidewalk and the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas

Then, I headed through the Bellagio walkway towards Caesars and over to the Mojito hut. 

I have seen and wanted to stop at this place so many dang times. I was finally going to do it. 

The real reason I was here, though? It was right outside of Absinthe. 

I’ve wanted to go to Absinthe for SO long. It’s expensive and raunchy and I should have gone with the guys in the fall, but I wasn’t sure they wanted to spend all that money. 

Kathryn has zero interest (and after going I’m glad she didn’t). 

Anyways, the doors weren’t open yet (even though they should have been) and I had already planned on a mojito so I sat down at the bar where I could still see the entrance to the show area. 

They didn’t have just a classic Mojito on the list, but were happy to make one for me. 

A classic mojito at the Mojito Hut outside of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

It was pretty good. My mind wasn’t blown, but it was pretty good. 

I enjoyed it there for a while and then moved on. 

Some might find what I’m about to share shameful, and that’s their right, I don’t think it is in the context of Vegas (and my personal beliefs): 

The show gates were open, but I had one more thing to do. This was at a part of the Caesars property that, though I had been through a number of times before, usually gets skipped when just walking the strip. 

I had always heard about and seen vloggers visit the buddhist (at least I think that’s what it is) shrine, but I don’t remember seeing it myself.

I wanted to see it. But not to light an incense and say a prayer (though those are options and people do that regularly), but because they also have a nice little golden box off to the side that is filled with Caesars matchbooks. I don’t know that anywhere else in Vegas even has matchbooks anymore. 

I took three, threw them in my Cosmo man purse… and ran off. 

So there. I “stole” (free) matchbooks from a shrine of some sort. Sue me (please don’t). 

And away I went towards the Absinthe entrance. 

Now, this area is an outside courtyard surrounded by a big black fence that’s pretty much impossible to look through. I wanted to be there early and see what it was all about. 

The setup, though, as you’re about to read, is rather strange. 

I approached the gate and asked the guard, “I probably can’t bring this drink in can I?” (which, I know from sales training is literally the opposite way to persuade someone to give you what you want, but I really didn’t care / was chilling on vacation!).  

I was right. So I took another sip and threw away what was left. 

He looked in my Cosmo bag and let me in. 

Then, a woman just ahead checked my digital ticket. I was granted access! 

This area was small but quite cool. There were outside games like giant Jenga and a giant (fake?) tree with all kinds of LED lights strung in it. There were artistic sculptures and a DJ. There was a food truck bar and picnic tables. 

People play yard games in the courtyard outside of Absinthe in Las Vegas

There was not, however, a bathroom. 

And after I explored a bit, the drinks had caught up to me. I needed to find said restroom. 

I asked and was told that they were outside the gates, across the walkway (with Mojito hut in the middle) and underneath Hell’s Kitchen. 

So I made the usher / gatekeeper aware I was leaving with a polite smile and gesture and made my way over. 

I had never known this was here. It’s actually a fantastic pro tip for walking the strip. I will not forget it because it’s in kind of a deadzone (or so I thought) of bathrooms. 

Now, this was not the nicest bathroom. It reminded my of a not-so-nice mall, amusement park, or waterpark bathroom. It was concrete, echo-y, and fairly empty. But it served its purpose. 

I came back in and the guard wanted to check again. The ticket woman wanted to check again, but then realized I had been there. 

I wandered over to the food trick and ordered the specialty “absinthe” cocktail. I’ll post a picture here of what was in it, but I can’t say that I’d recommend it. It was fine to sip on, but definitely wasn’t my favorite. 

A menu signboard outside of the bar for Absinthe in Las Vegas

I’m not sure if it was the rhubarb I didn’t like or the absinthe. Someone here could tell me, but I didn’t like the licorice kind of taste I was getting. Is that what absinthe tastes like? 

It was time for the show so I made my way to the entrance of the tent. 

Another ticket check and the usher guided me in. Once inside the tent, I was passed to another usher who walked me around and to my seat in the back row. 

I chose this seat strategically and was thrilled with my decision. I had the back row and furthest seat towards an aisle that I found out would later be used by performers as they made their way from the backstage area on to the main stage 

I was soon joined by a young, fun-loving but respectful couple a few seats down to my left. The seats inbetween were left open. Woohoo! 

The row in front of me was mostly empty except for one other guy on his own. He was also fun and the three “groups” all chatted (if you count me as a group and the guy in front of me as a group). 

The guy in front of me has been reminding me of someone even since but I haven’t been able to figure it out. As I write this, I think I’ve identified the person in my mind. A male comedian and podcaster. Heck it might even have been the real guy. Problem is I don’t know how to look up who this is so…

Anyways, right before the show started the woman of the couple decided to hit the restroom and, being paranoid that I’d have to pee and leave the show, I ran out, too. 

Back out the gates and across the way. Absurd, really. 

Back in, this time ushers let me straight through. 

When I got to the tent I was told the show had started. I don’t think I missed much. 

7:00pm Absinthe

Guys. This show was amazing. It was terribly vulgar. TERRIBLY vulgar. 

But it was hilarious, imaginative, thrilling, and just an overall great experience. I was impressed by the performers, riled by the comedy, and made to blush (which I don’t do easily) by the humor despite the fact that I was sitting on my own. 

I found myself, more than once, saying out loud, “Oh my God!” at the vulgarity. 

Have I driven that point home yet? 

A performer swings from the ceiling during Absinthe in Las Vegas

This show is not for kids. In fact, I don’t even think it’s legal. 

This is the kind of show where they pick on the audience. And they don’t hold back. How various activist groups haven’t come for them yet, I don’t know. Maybe they have. 

Nobody was spared except those of us in the back row. Thank God. 

I was a bit surprised that there even were empty seats, but Saturdays have three shows and we were at the “early” one. 

I would go again. I hope to go again with my friends. 

8:30pm Post-show

After the show, I ran back out of the fenced area to catch another restroom break. I managed to come back in like I owned the place and the security guard didn’t seem to care (and probably recognized me by now). 

I thought about another drink, but I didn’t enjoy the first that much so I stayed away. 

An LED-lit tree in the private courtyard outside of Absinthe

Okay, now that I’m looking at pictures again, this tree is definitely fake.

I sat awhile and admired the LED-lit tree, the mix of people excited for their upcoming show, and the lively DJ and games. I was just thankful to be in Vegas and I was soaking in the fact that I was finally here again and had just experienced a show I’d always wanted to see. 

9:00pm Give to Caesars what is Caesars 

Now, since I had taken those free matchbooks, it was time to give back a little. 

Actually, this was always the time I had planned for Caesars. Honestly, it’s not a property I lust after that much. It’s usually a pain to get into and once you’re in the property, the only place that’s more confusing is Planet Hollywood. And actually, this place might be more confusing than Planet Hollywood, but still comes in second because it’s so huge. When you’re on as much land as Caesars and have developed over as many decades as Caesars, it’s totally understandable. Planet Hollywood has no excuse… don’t give me that, “It used to be Aladdin” crap. 

I digress. 

But I was excited to see the newly renovated Caesars entrance and do some gambling. I also had plans for a bite to eat which was badly needed. 

I hit an ATM right before I walked into the main portico and entrance area. $200 richer (or poorer), I made my way towards the main entrance. 

I paused there a bit to admire it. I walked over to where the famous Hangover scene was filmed (“some guys just can’t handle Vegas” — maybe I’ll make that a Las Vegas t-shirt.) I looked back over at The Flamingo. I remember taking a picture  with my mom once in front of the fountain at Caesars with the Flamingo in the background. What a great time. 

Finally, I stopped all the sappy stuff and made my way in. 

The renovated entrance was awesome. It was as gloriously over-stated as you might imagine. Gold, marble, and more gold. 

I bought a beer at the gift store and made my way in. 

I passed the table games that are parked near the entrance, I passed the Omnia nightclub area, and towards the food court I went. 

Finally, I found a 88 Fortunes-type game that seemed like it would pay out soon. You know, these are those games with the deceiving pots that fill more and more until they burst. I wasn’t judging my choice on those pots, I’m smarter than that (for now). I was judging on the progressive major that was maxed out. 

So I sat myself up and started playing. 

And playing. 

And playing. 

Drink service was good. Atmosphere was good. I was having fun. 

But I was losing. 

So, most wouldn’t consider this a bad loss, but tempted by the ever increasingly full pots, I played on until I had given $67. I had enjoyed some small ups and downs (and I mean small — one win was literally $0.02) and had a good time. 

But that was near my limit to give to Caesars that night because I had other plans. 

So I decided to take a break for dinner. 

10:00pm Bobby’s Burgers 

Bobby Flay has recently opened a number of these lower-impact (read: smaller footprint and lease) versions of Bobby’s Burger Palace which I believe failed outside of Aria / Waldorf Astoria. You can still see remnants of the shuttered location as you walk down Las Vegas Blvd. Seriously, it’s been vacant there for a number of years now. 

Anyways, it seemed intriguing and it made it on my short list (which most would consider to be a long list… I mean, come on, have you read this post? I can plan time to plan when it comes to Vegas) for this trip. It seemed liked something I could stomach (literally) after a long day of playing, and I knew there was a location at Caesars and the stars aligned. 

I was pleasantly surprised that the line wasn’t too long. The food court was plenty busy, but not overwhelming. 

I ordered Bobby’s classic Crunch Burger with the potato chips on top and Bobby’s sauce. 

I also got a side of Onion Rings. 

It came pretty quick (well, I was called to pick it up) and was fresh and hot. 

I had found a seat in the food court and I thought that it was great I didn’t have to hunt for that, either. 

I very much enjoyed the burger. It was fairly simple, but the chips were still crunchy. The meat was somewhat dense, but not in an off-putting kind of way. You could tell it was good quality and though it had some basic seasoning, Bobby let the meat do most of the talking. 

A cheeseburger, beer, and onion rings from Bobby's Burgers at Caesars Palace

The onion rings were a let down. 

The quality / crunch of the batter was great. The juiciness of the onion (no small little paper-thin pieces, here) was great. 

But the batter lacked flavor. It had a ton of black pepper, but it was like someone had forgot to add salt. I looked to the dipping sauce for relief, but though it was good on the burger, the bobby’s sauce was bland as a dip for the rings. 

Oh well. I was satisfied with my meal and I checked Bobby’s Burgers off the list while also ensuring I didn’t go all night without eating. That’s a win when I tend to be so easily distracted by the lights (and drinks) of Vegas. 

10:30pm Back to the Same Damn Machine

After Bobby’s, I was walking out of the casino and what would you know — a couple was leaving the machine I had just been on and they had yet to burst the pots or win the jackpot. 

Someone had just put more money in the machine for me and it didn’t cost me a dime.  

So I stopped again and put in another $30. Except this time I finally did it! 

I burst the pots! 

A $58 bonus later and I was thrilled to be leaving only $40 down. 

Goodbye Caesars!

11:00pm Final nighttime fountain show

On the way back towards my part of the strip, I caught a final nighttime fire show. Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance” for the win. 

I also got a whole bunch of blurry pics of when the fog appears on the water right before the fountain show. It doesn’t happen all of the time and it was particularly cool that night. My pics were not good so you’ll have to imagine. 

I had a quick pit stop at the room before heading back out, probably against my better judgment, to Cosmopolitan to enjoy my favorite gambling spot. 

A view of the Bellagio fountain show at night from a room at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas

I saw another fountain show while up there, but it’s not quite the same. 

12:00am Cosmopolitan

For the next several hours, I lived up my final night in Vegas by gambling in the Cosmopolitan. I’ve really taken to this place not just as an amazing hotel with some of the best hotel room views money can buy, but as a fun place to game. 

I played a number of games with various small bonuses and ups and downs. 

I played Gold Hills which was a kind of random choice for me. I played double top dollar, of course, and even found a Pinball machine that was a bit out of my comfort zone, but doable for an experience I always wanted to have. It was only $5 a press. 

Actually, before I started playing that Pinball game (thankfully) I realized it was a three credit minimum. So it was actually $15 a press. No thanks. 

But I spent most of my time on a Buffalo Revolution game I had discovered the night before. It was right behind some table games near the center of the casino. Up against a huge column, it kind of had its own space and a bit of privacy. 

I was drawn to this game because I love the Buffalo series of games (Collection being my favorite) and had a big bonus on the Revolution version during my last stay. 

That wasn’t the only reason, however. It also had a major that was significantly higher than others of its denomination. It was towering at $2,000+ while all the others were stuck around five, six, maybe eight hundred bucks. Could this be my first hand pay? 

The only problem with this machine was that it was directly under a vent and it was freezing. I mean, shivering cold freezing. 

The good part about that was I never had a problem finding it open ;) 

So I played this machine off and on (mostly on) for a couple of hours. Seriously. 

I was actually up a couple of hundred dollars up on it at one point. I gave most of it back, but boy was it fun. 

It didn’t hit today. 

Not even a single revolution bonus. I’d have to settle for a few line hits here and there. 

It was after 3:30am before I left.

Day 5: Sunday 

I slept until 10am, but woke up today feeling pretty bad. Like the opposite of the day prior, there was no doubt in my mind that I would not be canceling my IV appointment and would be scrambling down there as soon as possible. 

10:30am IV at RevIV 

Though I arrived on time again, this was the first time RevIV wasn’t ready for my appointment. I got checked in and wandered around cosmo for a bit, but it didn’t take too long. 

I ended up, instead of a small private room with awesome massage chairs, in the far end room meant to hold up to 8 people, I’d assume. The good part was that it had a great view of the strip. The bad part was that there was no massage chair! I had to lay down on a couch and just watch YouTube and TV on my phone. 

A large private room at an IV treatment center overlooking the Las Vegas strip

Ah, such tiny quibbles. Vegas Baby. 

I left this treatment feeling much, much better. I think I’m learning that I shouldn’t go if I feel okay, but I definitely should if I’m feeling crappy. Makes sense, right? Problem is that without a reservation you’d never get in so I always make one. Hmm… 

11:38am Buffalo Revolution

After my IV I headed straight down to my new favorite machine. The freezing air conditioning had kept folks away for me and the huge major was still unclaimed. And I played for about 15 minutes or so and finally won the bonus! 

This was it! I was going to win that major. I just had one of those feelings, you know? 

The waitress had impeccable timing. I ordered a beer. I planned to take it easy today (and I did, I promise!), but was ready to celebrate my new wealth in fashion. 

So I waited, with the bonus screen sitting there. 

And I waited. 

And no kidding, I waited 15 minutes for that dang drink to come. All the while staring at my first ever hand pay that was just a click away. I guess I could be patient for that. 

[Brief aside: A hand pay is a win on slots of (generally) more than $1,200. Instead of printing a ticket, an attendant will come and verify the win and you’ll be paid in cash or cheque. Depending on other factors (including the amount of the win) you may also be required to fill out paperwork for tax purposes.] 

With a drink in hand I clicked the button. 

I may post a video, but I’ll just tell you what happened. 

$9.80. I didn’t even win $10.

A $9.80 bonus win on Buffalo Revolution at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Frankly, I’m surprised nobody tried to rob me of all this cash on the way back to my room.

I went on to lose some more before finally giving up. 

Never again (until next time I’m in town).

12:30pm Pin-Up Pizza

I was really excited to try various pizzas on this trip. Of course, I never have as many opportunities as I’d like to try everything. I make a “want to do” list and then narrow that down into a priority list that’s still 10x longer than what is actually possible. 

But I made it to a second pizza shop. Pin-up Pizza outside of the Planet Hollywood. I had a heads up from a Say Hi to Matthew / Norma Geli Pizza video that the slices would be huge. 

And boy were they. Biggest slice I’d ever seen. Almost as long as my arm and it took up the whole table in the room that was meant for you to eat on / put your stuff on by the window. 

A slide of pepperoni pizza from Pin-Up Pizza sits on a side table in a room at the Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas

It was good. It was not as good as Pop-Up pizza (I know, easy to get the names confused). But it was good. 

I’d get it again, but I’m not dreaming about it at night. 

A brief aside on: The perks of booking an extra night

I then packed my room up so I could go out and just swing by at the last second to grab my bags before the airport. 

It’s definitely a splurge, but I love having a room booked an extra night so I can make the most of that last day without rushing to get out by 11am or not having a place to come crash if I need a nap, a quiet moment, or honestly even just a private bathroom or want to shower before the airport. 

2:30pm Luxor

I decided to make good on my itinerary “tradition” (it had only really happened once) of going to Luxor on the last day. 

I also decided to keep a very fun, theme: I’d only play games that were unique, novel, strange, or simply that I had never played before. 

You know, all those weird games you pass by and wonder, “who the heck plays those?!” 

This would turn out to be a very good decision. 

The final day can be a bummer for me. I’m sad that it’s over, tired from all the action, and also trying to milk every last second of Vegas out of my day. That usually results in a lot of time looking at the clock and calculating, “Okay, you have 138 minutes left until you have to go to the airport and leave your favorite city in the world. Now 133 minutes left…” 

That’s not great. 

I talk a lot more about this in my August 2022 Las Vegas Itinerary / Agenda post. 

But I think a combination of already having my next trip booked (and it not being too far out) and just a good swing of choices to be at Luxor and to play a certain type of games really paid off. 

Over the next couple of hours, I’d have some of of the most fun of the entire trip. 

I wandered around the hotel and saw the outside of the Titanic exhibit. I saw Diablo’s Cantina and peaked into the food court area. 

The outside of the Titanic exhibit at Luxor Las Vegas

I walked through the lobby area and pretended to come in the front door and be in aww of the magic that is Luxor. 

Then I started to play.

I didn’t keep a record of every game, but I believe the first was a Lightning Link game. I know, I know, that’s not very unique. But, my friend, this was the stupid Magic Pearl version. 

Yeah, the one with the dumb looking mermaid. 

And you better believe I got a bonus. Not only did I get a bonus, but I got a number ($15!) in the middle square! Lightning Link time! 

Now, I only went on to win another $1.50 from there, but when the bonus ended I was up $27.20 for the session. Not a bad start. 

I then played Megabucks. 

Boom! $33 bonus. I had played a couple of games and was still up $18. 

I played pinball without a bonus, but got a free (excluding tip) beer. So that’s a $8 win, right? Yes, Pinball is not novel to me, but that’s only because I’d seen Matt Bridger play it a million times. I’ve never managed to actually play it, though I had sat down at that $15 / press machine at Cosmo earlier in the trip. 

Next(ish), I played a Goldfish game I had seen folks really enjoying on social media lately. 

One really fun (but confusing at first!) $54 bonus later and I was still up $25 for the day. 

Next I found a interesting Gold Bags of Cash game (I’m kind of guessing at the name folks). Basically this looked like a really gaudy, off-brand Wheel of Fortune.

A slot machine at Luxor Las Vegas

But what was great was that I hit another bonus, and a free spin of the big wheel, pretty early on. And when I did, I had friends. 

A group of rowdy, middle-aged guys that looked like they had just gotten back from a fun day of golf were looking over my shoulder. I think I won the lowest spin amount (of course), and they booed and hissed for me. It was fun. 

They gathered around the machine next to me to play on their own. 

But when I got the bonus spin again just a few minutes later, they all ran over to watch! We had a great time. It really was a blast. 

4:15pm Cosmopolitan

I managed to leave Luxor after a couple of really fun hours gaming and looking around (but a lot of gaming for the money!) and I was up like $30. Now, again, I know these are all relatively small numbers, but I got to play a bunch of fun new games and made money doing it. That is a definite win. 

So I headed back to Cosmo because, traditionally on this trip, this had been the most fun place to play and is probably my favorite hotel and casino overall in Las Vegas. This place was made for the Millennial in me. 

I was hungry again, and that was good, so I decided I’d make it to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken after all! I lived in Nashville (the birth place of Hattie B’s and Hot Chicken in general) for 10 years and missed this establishment dearly.

Hattie B's Hot Chicken sits on a table outside of the Block 16 Food Hall at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

It was good. It wasn’t as great as I remember, but it was plenty good! I was happy with my decision and it was wise to get more food in my stomach before a long travel day. 

But then… 

I looked in my wallet to calculate how much money I had left in my budget (I was hoping to keep a lot of it on hand to go towards my next trip, if I could). That’s when I saw it… 

The Luxor TITO. 

Shit. 

Was I going to have to go back to Luxor to cash out my $130?

Thankfully, I remembered that I have another trip coming up within the range that the ticket remains valid. Whew! I’d just head to Luxor on my next trip (and hopefully have just as much fun!). 

My flight was at 9pm, so I needed to leave Planet Hollywood around 7pm. My time, sadly, was winding down. 

I played a few more games, walked around, and made it back to that same damn Buffalo revolution game.

There I was, shivering and pouring money into one last attempt to hit that $2,000 major that was STILL THERE! 

I played a while and hit a screen full of Buffalooooo! 

It wasn’t a bonus, but it was a “Massive Win!” And it was pretty great — nearly $100. Woohoo! 

I went on to play my favorite Top Dollar machine and go up and down on that for a while. Fun! 

In my heart, I kind of was wishing I had stayed at Luxor because I was on such a high there and I wasn’t having as much fun at Cosmo. But that could also be because my trip was winding down and that was a bit sad. 

Then, I went over to what would become my final game of the day. It’s unfortunate that this was my last one because, spoiler alert, it was kind of a bummer. 

I made a classic rookie mistake that was really embarrassing. 

I sat on the Vegas-themed Lightning Link game (my favorite one) near the high limit area. That should have been my first clue. The one I wanted to play on, near the hotel lobby, was taken. 

I hadn’t been playing long when two girls in their early 20’s sat near me and remarked, “Wow, I see you’re really going after that ten grand!” That should have been my second clue. Why was the major so high?! 

I knew I was on a 10 cent denomination slot. But I guess I got confused about the numbers or something. 

I got a small bonus at one point of $6.60. 

Turns out it was $66. 

And, oh yeah, I had spun down $70 of my winnings (even after the bonus) without even thinking. Yikes!!!! 

The girls next to me were filming some kind of slots video / influencer kind of deal. Now, I really appreciate all the Vegas content creators and I feel like I know them all — from those with a couple thousand subscribers to those with hundreds of thousands of subscribers. I did not know these girls. And, frankly, I found them annoying. 

Anyways… 

I was waiting on my last beer forever. Listening to these girls go on and on about nonsense. 

Waitress was taking sooooo long. Meanwhile, I was trying not to look too stupid or like I was taking advantage of drink service and completely stop spinning, but I had lost a bunch of money I didn’t intend to! 

I think another $30 in losses and my drink finally came. I cashed out. 

That’s an expensive last beer in Vegas, too. 

Wrapping up 

I’ll keep the rest of this relatively short as we’re at the point in the post where it’s basically the post-game interview with the players and coaches. Or the 5 minutes after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. 

It’s pretty much over and everyone’s ready to leave. 

Unfortunately, that last swing on the Lightning Link game was the last gamble of the trip. I headed back to my room to gather my things and took an extended look out the window. 

Left a tip for housekeeping and headed to my Uber. 

By the time I checked in for my flight I was already aware that it was delayed. I was prepared for a night like Kathryn’s, and I was not wrong. 

By the time I got to the gate, it was several hours delayed and it really only went downhill from there. 

Knowing that I had a room waiting for me just off the strip was a bit agonizing. I was begging them (in my head) to just cancel the flight so I could go back to my room and enjoy bonus time on the strip. 

Instead, I spent it wasting away at a closing airport. It was packed and I’m really shocked that everything closed around 10pm despite it literally being standing room only. 

Anyways. I killed some time at an airport restaurant. Jose Cuervo or something like that. It sucked. 

And not just because I had come from one of the culinary capitals of the world. I mean it really just kind of sucked. But it passed time. 

I didn’t even want to play any of the slot machines at the airport (though I considered it as I started to run out of things to keep myself sane) because I had such an amazing time on the trip that they just seemed lame at this point. I had gotten my fill. 

We finally boarded and I stayed awake the whole flight so I wouldn’t snore and embarrass myself. To their credit, my neighbors stayed awake as well. 

I pulled into my driveway at exactly 6:00am local time. 

Final thoughts

This was the most fulfilling Vegas trip I can remember. I wasn’t sad to leave. Maybe it’s because I have another trip coming up so soon (part of my strategy, if you recall my itinerary post). 

But it was also the perfect length and setup. 

I just have to reiterate — it’s the first vacation in a long time that I really, truly just came back so happy and content and fulfilled. It was amazing and I felt like I actually got what I needed. 

So yes, the setup with my wife there for a couple of days and then on my own for a couple of more was perfect. And I think I speak for both of us in this regard. She got plenty of “Vegas” and had a great time, but was ready to go home. 

I enjoyed her company immensely, but was ready for some freedom to explore at my own pace as well. 

Staying at two different hotels was great and made the split between the two parts of the trip even more distinct. I also think it helped me get over the brief loneliness / sadness of Kathryn leaving because it felt like a different trip. 

That may have also contributed to my fulfilled feeling on my return — It’s like I got two trips at the same time. 

I had a gone into this trip debating whether I’d “pledge my loyalty” to either Caesars or MGM. I had kind of decided that I did want to choose one by the end. Isolating my play a bit more will help with some comps, though it does suck a bit to only base my gambling decisions off of this. And I won’t let that happen completely. 

The decision? 

I’m an MGM man. 

First of all, I’m still madly in love with the Cosmopolitan. I did most of my gambling there by far with around $1,700 coin-in. I know, baby stuff to a lot of you. 

Cosmo still has their own Identity rewards program (and I even have a few small comps already! woo!), but that will eventually be merged with MGM so that’s a good reason to go with MGM. 

But, just in general, I liked the way the MGM properties were managed significantly more than Caesars. They seem nicer, newer, and most importantly — safer. 

The homeless and otherwise rowdy crazy crowd are much worse than I’ve ever seen it. And most of them seem to hangout around Caesars properties. 

MGM seems to have things buttoned-up. I’m not sure what they’re doing, but it’s working. 

All of the times I felt nervous with Kathryn or a bit sketched out myself? I was around Caesars properties. 

I thought it was sketchier at times than downtown Las Vegas (even the parts beyond the sanctioned Fremont Street Experience area). 

And I love the MGM properties like Aria, New-York New-York, and now Cosmopolitan (there are others, but those are my favorites). I do hate to be losing the Mirage.

Plus, I’ve generally heard that MGM gives better comps. 

Finally, the MyVegas app with MGM rewards is pretty great. 

Anyways, Caesars still has a lot of fun properties and I’ll be staying at one (The Flamingo) soon. So we’ll see how much I end up gambling there and if I get any comps to change my mind. 

But MGM it is. For now. 

Thanks for reading and Viva Las Vegas!