Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Las Vegas Trip Report, Day 2

On Saturday morning, I ordered room service and brought up some crepes from downstairs for breakfast. Without the kids there, we would have probably gone to a buffet, but we did not want to chance a meltdown from either Russell or Punky. We were on the 30th floor of Paris, and the kids enjoyed the view from there as we ate breakfast.

The view from our hotel room at Paris Las Vegas Posted by Picasa

Since we liked the Bellagio so much, we decided to visit again and hopefully catch the fountain show. Conveniently, the Bellagio is just across the street from Paris. When we arrived at 9AM, we found out that the fountain show did not start until noon. So after viewing the Conservatory in the daylight, we took a cab to the Mandalay Bay hotel to check out the aquarium.

On day two in Las Vegas, we set out again for the Bellagio Posted by Picasa

The Paris Las Vegas included many realistic architectural details such as this Parisian water fountain Posted by Picasa

The Bellagio Conservatory's Chinese New Year's display was even more impressive during the day Posted by Picasa

Russell enjoyed looking at the yellow flowers in particular Posted by Picasa

Chinese red lanterns were everywhere, including at this Bellagio display Posted by Picasa

Our cab driver was a Serbian who had fled Bosnia during the civil war in the 1990s. He had a few choice words for Bill Clinton (a "killer of Serbs") and I agreed with him. At the Mandalay Bay, we grabbed some coffee and then headed over to the "Shark Reef" aquarium.

While Punky cried most of the time--I think he was getting sick--Russell enjoyed the aquarium immensely. He was interested in virtually every display, especially the large and colorful salt-water fish. We spent about an hour at "Shark Reef" and had to pry Russell away from the displays. He didn't want to leave. After lunch at the "Noodle Shop", the hotel's Chinese restaurant, we headed back to the hotel to meet with Jenny's cousins and future brother-in-law, both of whom just happened to be in town at the same time.

At Mandalay Bay's "Shark Reef" aquarium, Russell was entralled by the displays of colorful tropical fish Posted by Picasa

Russell checks out the jellyfish in the circular tank Posted by Picasa

After some pizza and take-out from downstairs, Jenny and her Mom left for the concert at the MGM Grand while I stayed in the hotel with the kids. We watched videos, read some books and played "Superman" most of the time. My strategy was to get them tired quickly so I could get some rest. But they ended up going to sleep at nearly 10PM. Jenny and her Mom returned from the concert, which they loved, over 4 hours later. I was pretty tired, but decided to go down and gamble once more. After all, I may not get this opportunity again for a while, I thought to myself.

Back at the hotel room, Russell attempts to show Punky his new fish souvenir Posted by Picasa

Punky and Russell read before their bedtime Posted by Picasa

I found an open craps table and quickly won $80. Then, I got greedy and proceeded to watch my bankroll dwindle until I had lost $140 (down $60 at that point). I decided to leave the table after crapping out myself, and then I headed over to the penny slots to play "Reel 'Em In". This session lasted nearly an hour, where I won a 1500 coin ($15) jackpot that brought me to the point where I was down less than $3 on the slots that night. I decided to call it quits and head back to the room. It was 1AM, and we were going to leave the hotel in less than 6 hours. For the trip, I was down $57.44 overall. Not bad.

I did manage to win a $15.00 jackpot on "Reel 'Em In" before calling it a night Posted by Picasa

On my second night at the casino, I only managed to reach one bonus round on the "Reel 'Em In" slot machine (as indicated by the three fishing lures) Posted by Picasa

Our flight home was pure torture. Since the flights were free (Jenny's frequent flyer miles), United forced us to stop over in LA on the way back. This meant carrying our stuff on and off the airplane twice, in addition to extending our trip to nearly 6 hours in the air and at the airport.

The lessons of our trip are as follows:

1) Quit gambling while you are ahead
2) Don't take young kids to Las Vegas
3) Play the penny slots
4) The Chinese restaurants at the casinos are overpriced--eat at the buffets
5) Don't fly United Airlines

On the flight home from Las Vegas, Russell poops out Posted by Picasa

The excitement of Las Vegas was also too much for Punky to handle Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 30, 2006

Las Vegas Trip Report, Day 1

It was our first trip to Las Vegas in nearly two years, and the first for Punky. Jenny and her mom were going to see a concert by Hong Kong star Paula Tsui on Saturday night, leaving me to babysit the boys. I was really looking forward to doing a little gambling at night when the Fabulous Brewster Boys were asleep.

For Russell, air travel gives him the opportunity to catch up on his reading Posted by Picasa

At the airport, Punky contemplates his first trip to Las Vegas (technically his second, with his first trip taking place as a 4-week-old fetus) Posted by Picasa

We stayed at the Paris Las Vegas, a nice hotel where we had stayed two years earlier with my parents. Centrally located on the Strip, we could take either the monorail, walk, or go on a short cab ride to every hotel on our itinerary. The boys were well-behaved that first night, when we visted the MGM Grand for dinner and then stopped by the Bellagio to check out the Conservatory (indoor gardens).

At the Paris Las Vegas hotel, Russell could hardly contain his excitement while Punky seems less than enthusiastic Posted by Picasa

Punky signs off at the family's plan to visit the MGM Grand and then the Bellagio Posted by Picasa

On the monorail to the MGM Grand, Russell checks out the Las Vegas showguide with his grandmother Posted by Picasa

At the MGM Grand Wok, Russell decides what to order while Punky spoons his brother Posted by Picasa

It was Chinese New Year, so the casinos were packed with Asian gamblers testing their luck in the new year, the Year of the Dog. Every casino we visited had decorated with a Chinese theme, in particular the high-limit salon areas. We were pleasantly surprised to see the Chinese theme carry over to the Bellagio Conservatory. Russell is on a flower kick, so he really enjoyed seeing the displays of Chinese characters and a giant dog.

Russell and his grandmother visit the Chinese New Year's display at the Bellagio Conservatory Posted by Picasa

Russell stands in front of a Chinese boy made of flowers Posted by Picasa

Russell to Punky:"What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!" Posted by Picasa

Punky seemed out of it from the start--at dinnertime, he hardly ate anything at the Golden Wok, MGM's Chinese restaurant. Russell was more enthusiastic about everything, especially the gardens at Bellagio. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the fountain show. Jenny and her mom wanted to get to sleep early that night.

After a long day of travel and casino-hopping, Punky and Russell take a hot bath Posted by Picasa

I was pretty tired myself from all that walking. I headed out to Bally's, which is connected to Paris. For some time, I looked for an open spot at a $10 craps table, but nothing opened up. Finally, I looked around for a "Reel 'Em In" slot machine, a favorite of my parents from two years ago. At the back of the casino, there was a row of new "Reel 'Em In" machines in the penny slot area. I sat down and gambled away for about 30 minutes. During that time, I hit several bonus "fishing" rounds, and I ended the evening up $5.76. Take the money and run, I thought.

I ended up playing this penny slot version of the "Reel 'Em In: Big Bass Bucks" machine at Bally's Posted by Picasa

In the bonus round of "Reel 'Em In", I ended up winning $8.10, which pushed my winnings into positive territory ($5.76 to be exact) Posted by Picasa