This winter, three couples loaded up a mini-van with drinks and goodies to eat along the way and headed for Vegas!
After getting good nights sleep at our condo, we struck out for adventure. One key tip on having an economy vacation is to ask the locals for help. So Jerry asked one of the workers the best bet for a reasonable meal. He told us to check out the "Ellis Island Casino" located just a few blocks away. We found this to be a goldmine with steak and egg breakfast and steak dinners for under $5.00. In fact the helpings were so huge, my wife and I usually split a plate. The quality of the steaks was top notch, tender, flavorful without the hint of tenderizer. So we hit this place several times during our stay.
With our stomachs full, we hit the road for adventure. We were amazed at the Disneyland like atmosphere with sights and places to behold. Over 33 magnificent hotels were here complete with flashing lights everywhere and incredible attractions gracing the strip.
We found an amazing Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace featuring 250 classic cars that span more than a century. Cars ranged from, $10,000 to 5 Million Dollars.
After working our way through several casinos, we spent a lot ot time at the Bellagio, where a tremendous holiday exhibit blew our minds. We came back later in the evening to see the fabulous water display with huge dancing waters timed to various songs, changing every 15 minutes.
Another nicety is to have friends living in Vegas. We enjoyed our visit with friends who moved to Vegas from Kansas City, Larry and Marcella Ischum. They showed us their lovely home with a mountain view (not to be found in KC) and took us out to dinner at Nora's Italian Restaurant and family owned Restoria with fantastic food made from scratch. Our group started off the meal with a large Antipasto salad, which we all shared. Our choice was the rigatoni special was loaded with meatballs, pasta, onions and green peppers. We all tried something different and everyone was overwhelmed. A huge bowl of garlic toast disappeared fast.
The next few days, we tried to hit the new hotels on the strip, marveling at the theme park or circus atmosphere. We hopped from Mandalay Bay, to Luxor, to Excalibur to New York-New York and many more.
There are 3 types of shows you can see in Vegas. The most expensive of course are big names like Wayne Newton and Selene Dione. Tickets run around $100 for these type shows. Then you can find middle type shows like Legends (featuring 4 or 5 imitators). Then there are free shows advertised everywhere. The only catch at most is a 2-drink minimum. These are single artists, comedians, imitators and singers.
Our big show was "We Will Rock You" at Paris Las Vegas in their Le Theatre Des Arts. This big rock musical is based on the music of Queen and Ben Elton. Who can forget the classics "We Are The Champions" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" Outside the theater was a huge statue of Freddie Mercury of Queen fame.
Our middle of the road show was "The American Superstars at the Stratosphere" hotel. Our friends' Timeshare "The Summer Bay Resort" provided the show tickets and a free buffet and ride to the top of the Stratosphere. The show was excellent with 5 acts imitating Elvis, Michael Jackson, Brittany Spears complete with showgirls. The best act was Michael Jackson who was much better looking and could dance and sing like nothing I have seen before.
After a great buffet and show, we took the high-speed elevator to the top and had a great picture taken of our group overlooking the city. The ride up was over 100 floors and the elevator was so smooth, you could hardly tell it was moving. The various rides were shut down because of the cold and winds, so we were content to enjoy the view and watch the live radio broadcast above the city.
The el cheepo act was a free concert we won listening to a local one act comedian pitching his show at the resort's breakfast get together for all the guests. This was Larry G. Jones (man of 1002 voices) who performed in the Comedy Zone Showroom. He had a nice crowd and provided an entertaining show.
We were in for one more free dinner, courtesy of a pilot friend of the Jenickes' daughter Janelle who works for United Airlines. This was a pilot who lived in a plush house in Henderson, a gaited community. Outside his pad was a beautiful landscaped yard, complete with hot tub and plenty of decoration in a huge pool and relaxation area. Best of all was a fantastic view of the mountains. We feasted on barbequed chicken legs, salad, casseroles of all types and a huge chocolate cake for dessert. This was great to have a home cooked meal on vacation.
Jerry clued us in on another bargain where you could get a foot long hotdog and a beer. This also helped the budget.
On another day we explored Caesars Palace and were amazed at how big it has been expanded. Our daughter gave us a $25 gift certificate she won for a lunch at Bertolinis in the Forum shop area. We split some of their specialty pizzas and a chopped salad that was divine.
Back on the trek we hit more casinos, stopping to gamble on the slots, and then headed downtown.
These casinos were older and didn't have quite the glitz of the newer casinos on the strip, but never the less were interesting. A huge dome stretching several blocks boasted continual laser shows which popped on with stereo sound every few minutes in the evening. We visited Binions Horseshoe Casino, Four Queens, and the Golden Nugget.
We looked up an old friend Nellie Norris who hailed from Branson and now performs as part of a 3-cowgirl act called "The Honky Tonk Cowgirls" at Binions Horseshoe Casino. All three were very talented and represented a blonde, redhead, and brunette belting out lively country songs. This drew huge attention from the crowd in for the national rodeo.
After catching the Pirate show the last night, I turned in while some of our party ventured out to hit the slots one more time. Next morning we were off going the Northern route back and enjoyed some more breathtaking mountain scenery. We stopped in Brekenridge, Colorad to stay with the Jenicke's daughter, husband and son. After a scenic drive around the town, we headed for home. The snow was gently falling on this beautiful town at the base of the mountains.