Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas at Caesar's

We went to San Francisco to visit the boys last month over Thanksgiving, so for the Christmas holiday we just decided to stay here in Vegas. Since it’s just the two of us we thought that we would do something a little different – since over 30,000,000 visitors come to Vegas during the course of a year we figured we could play tourist too. A few years ago we did Christmas Eve at the Venetian, this year we did the far south end of the strip, and we spent two nights at The Hotel in Mandalay Bay. After the National Finals Rodeo is finished and the cowboys go home December is rather a slow month for tourists and the room rates drop really low.

Las Vegas is not really a town for kids, several years ago a number of resorts tried catering to children; the MGM was made up like a movie set, with Wizard of Oz characters roaming around, the Excalibur was built to look like a castle, Circus Circus aimed at the younger crowd with circus acts and a big arcade and Treasure Island was made up to look like a pirate fortress, with big game room, skeleton decorations and the big pirate battle out front with ships shooting at each other in the lake on the Strip. The resorts realized that filling the rooms with families and creating things for the kids to do did not directly relate to an increase in income. Parents tend not to gamble and drink while here with their children, and those are two areas that bring significant revenue into resorts. So over the years the kid themed stuff has been disappearing. Treasure Island is now renamed TI, with all the pirate stuff taken down. The ships still battle out front, but instead of pirates one ship has been painted white and is the habitat of the scantily clad Sirens, who defeat the bad guys in the black ship every evening. MGM dropped the movie themes, and right now is rebuilding the front entrance again. Excalibur still looks for families, but then it’s hard to rebrand a fairy tale castle into something else, and Circus Circus built the Adventure Dome out back, filled with amusement park rides, so you can still do some things with children. There used to be a big water park across from Circus Circus, but that was replaced with condos.

When we stayed at the Venetian on Christmas Eve a number of years ago (before the downturn) the occupancy rate was under 20%, so walking the canals and restaurants was an isolated experience. The Hotel had a 100% occupancy rate on the eve eve and over 90% on Christmas Eve itself, so things were rather crowded. But we booked early and got pretty cheap rates. It looked like there were a lot of families with multiple kids. All of the rooms are suites, with one large sitting room and a separate bedroom, so with the door between closed there was some isolation and room for two or three fold out beds for the kids, so it is more family adaptable than the single big rooms at the Venetian. It looks like The Hotel (yes, that’s the name) caters to travelers from the Pacific Rim, with many people speaking Japanese, Chinese, Hindu or Korean.

On Christmas Eve we wandered down the Strip to look at the decorations in some of the other hotels. Caesar’s Palace did have some decorations up, and the shopping center was rather crowded. Out front it was rather cold (at least for Vegas) but sunny, with one of the hotel towers shading the front drive from the low winter sun

Inside they did decorate the statues for the holidays

It wasn’t decorated for Christmas, but the ceiling over the card tables in the casino still looked nice

Wandering through the casino to the shopping center we passed a restaurant known by the Brits

The transition to the Forum Shops is rather dramatic

I always liked the ceilings of this area, they used to cycle between day, sunset, night, sunrise every twenty minutes, but now the lights are set for evening, I guess the lighting changes confused people

About halfway down one of the main halls is a large fountain, with the statues periodically coming to life and putting on a little play

There is a grand entrance at the end furthest from the casino, the way people walking down the Strip from the north usually enter

I’m still impressed by the circular escalators

No, didn’t buy anything there, just walked around. It was rather crowded, with a lot of people in the shops purchasing stuff.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

December in Vegas

December has been busy with holiday things. We started out on Saturday 1 December joining in for the annual Great Santa Run, which supports Opportunity Village. There were over 10,000 Santas (part of the registration fee includes an outfit, complete with beard)

On Thursday 12 December we went and wandered around the Venetian. They were fully decorated for Christmas. Out front was a big tree.

They had performers dancing and posing with the crowds.

Down on the front canals an ice skating rink was set up. It was cold (about 42f – 5c) and more people were skating than riding in the gondolas.

Walking around the canal shops inside I rather liked this store display

Being 12/12/12 there were a lot of weddings in Las Vegas – as opposed to the normal 200 or so there were over 7,000 marriage licenses issued for that day. I like to take photographs of brides I find walking around the Strip and the casinos, I usually come across one or two each time we go wander the Strip, but that night I saw ten in the Venetian alone! This one was posing for her photographer on the canal.

Besides the casino wedding chapel the white gondola on the inside canal (up on the second floor, above the casino) is a popular wedding spot. I guess it is rather romantic.

The Palazzo connects to the Venetian, their lobby had some decorations.

Walking from the casino to the lobby we came across these cowboys – December is the Nationals Final Rodeo held here in town, and we get thousands of cowboys in town to watch and compete.

The passage that connects the Venetian to the Palazzo has a big fountain and pool area, which is usually decorated for each season.

Next to the waterfall we saw another bride posing for pictures.

It was an enjoyable walk that day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Almost Christmas

Almost Christmas – yea! I like this time of year, people seem to be more pleasant in stores, not as many complaints or nastiness and a lot of happy music playing in the stores. Unfortunately some stores have been repeating the same music since early September so I’m about done in on the Little Drummer Boy, but only a week more and we’ll be back to old Moody Blues on the Musak. Here in town all of the casinos have holiday displays – some more than others, and quite a few Chanukah menorahs around as well. I’m trying to get photos of the bigger ones, have to post soon.

Most casinos do more fancy stuff for Chinese New Year than Christmas, as that holiday brings over more big money gamblers than the December holidays, which are more family oriented. The only event during December that brings in the crowds is the National Finals Rodeo and associated Cowboy Christmas events. There have been a lot of fancy boots and big hats around town the past few weeks, but that’s over and all the horses have gone home.

We did have quite a crowd in town just for the marathon, but not as large a gambling partying group as the cowboys. Our Rock and Roll Marathon was run on Sunday December 2nd this year, it started in late afternoon into the dark early evening, with runners getting to go up and down Las Vegas Boulevard past all of the fancy resorts and enjoy the lights. As usual, this event is more of a big party than a dedicated sporting exercise. There were professional runners going after prize money and reputation, but most participants were here to have fun, enjoy the sights and the bands, and have a good time. There were quite a lot of runners dressed as Elvis – for some reason he is more popular now than when he was alive, with quite a few other costumes, superheros and appearances as well. We had a run through wedding chapel where thirty couples were married during the race. Over 7,000 runners did the full marathon and more than 25,000 doing the half. Winning time was a runner from Kenya with a time of 2:32, a lot faster than I could ever do it. A few years ago the course was different, mainly running through neighborhoods instead of the current commercial areas, and starting early in the morning. It passed closed to our house, and we would walk down the street to cheer people on and help out at the water stations. If you are a runner consider coming out next year and joining in.

We’ve spent a few Christmas Eves staying in the fancy hotels. Occupancy rates for that night are usually under 20%, so the rates are pretty cheap. You can get quite a fancy suite for under $100, which raises up to around $1000 the next week for New Years Eve. NYE is usually sold out way in advance, with the Strip closed down for a giant party and fireworks from most casino rooftops. That night we stay home.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December in Vegas

The middle of December is a busy time in Las Vegas. The month started off with us participating in another Great Santa Run on a Saturday morning. The weather was nice, sunny with not much of a breeze and fairly warm. We don’t run at the Santa Run – most of the participants do a leisurely stroll around the one mile course. Some people do attempt the 5k run, but usually the rest of us get in their way and some get really frustrated at the crowds. Geez, if you want to run don’t do it at a fun thing like this. Everyone gets a Santa suit to wear, so it is strange being surrounded by over 10,000 Santas in red suits and beards. Some people wear similar outfits, and a lot of people decorate strollers and dress up their kids and dogs. This year a bunch of food trucks were out in the assembly parking lot, so food and drink was available. Gourmet food trucks have become popular in Vegas, with followers eagerly seeking their favorites. Later the NASCAR Champions drove their cars down the Strip before running at the speedway.

The next day was another running of our annual Rock and Roll Marathon. Last year it interfered with the cowboys in town for the rodeo, this year it was a year ahead of rodeo start to avoid that. The marathon started at 3:30 pm, with runners in a half marathon starting at 4:30 so as not to interfere with the fast guys. There were over 7,000 in the full and 25,000 in the half, so it was quite a crowd. Both routes started down at the south end of the Strip in front of Mandalay Bay, ran up Las Vegas Boulevard to Fremont Street, wound around downtown a bit and back down to end in front of the Mirage. There was a run through wedding chapel, with 30 couples getting hitched, multiple Elvi and lots of people in costumes. With the early winter sunset the course gave everyone two views of the big resorts, one in daylight and one after dark with all of the lights on. I used to say neon lights, but now almost everything has converted over to LEDs, with large screen video displays replacing all of the lovely old neon signs. And I do mean large screens – picture a high def TV over 100 meters across, sometimes in multiples across the front of a casino, all flashing with patterns alternating with videos of people inside having a good time.

The rest of the month is devoted to cowboys - the following week the South Point Casino hosted the World Series of Team Roping finals (still going on now), with over $6,000,000 in prize money, the top guys getting $1.75 million – some reward for all of that hard work. The National Finals Rodeo has most of its events over at the Thomas and Mack center on the University campus near the airport. There is a big Cowboy Christmas event at the Sands and the Convention Center.

The big resorts are catering to the cowboy crowd as well, with a lot of country and western entertainment available. Unfortunately Garth Brooks finished up his stay at the Wynn early, closing out after three years of shows, but Shania Twain started her multiyear events over at Caesar’s Palace (I hear it is rather impressive, from her entry on a flying motorcycle to riding in on a horse), and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw are at the Venetian.

The Miss Universe competition will be held at Planet Hollywood mid month, and December will end with our big New Year’s Eve party in every resort and out on the Strip. Best place to be besides Times Square, and a lot warmer too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another step in the kitchen remodel

On Saturday we hooked up our trailer to the car and drove down to Ikea in Los Angeles – about a 520 mile round trip. This trip we picked up all of the cabinets for our kitchen remodel:

I didn't realize how heavy that pressboard stuff is. The pile is ten feet deep, five wide and about three high and probably weighs around a ton. It really was a load for the car. But we made it home, and now I will have many happy hours with little tools and screws putting everything together. Still have to take down the ceiling and install new lights, and also a larger window. Should be nice when done (whenever that

Friday, December 07, 2012

Weddings in Vegas

Nevada used to be the divorce capitol of America, mainly due to the short residency requirements before being able to apply for a divorce. Movie stars used to come from Hollywood, stay at a dude ranch for a few weeks to qualify for residency, and then file for divorce from their mates. As laws in other states changed the emphasis on divorce shifted over to quick marriages. You can hit the courthouse to get a marriage license without any residency requirements, then go to a wedding chapel and get married right after arriving here. Hopefully you will not be drunk at the time and regret it a few hours later after sobering up, but we’re not all Brittany Spears now, are we?

Las Vegas has a lot of wedding chapels, both stand alone and in almost every large casino and resort. Last weekend was our annual Rock and Roll marathon, where they even had a run through chapel which handled over twenty couples on their way through. A few weeks ago a new large Denny’s restaurant opened up on Fremont Street in Neonopolis, and besides pancakes they also have their own wedding chapel. I don’t know how many people would brag that they were married in Denny’s, but it is possible.

Fremont Street also has a zip cord ride down under the canopy, which will soon change. They are constructing a 100 foot high slot machine (30 meters) which will flash lights, spin dials, and then shoot people out onto a new longer zip line that runs the length of Fremont Street past all of the big old casinos and down under the lighted canopy. This is right next door to the Heart Attack Grill which offers some of the biggest, greasiest burgers in the world. And yes, somebody actually had a heart attack while eating there this year.

In addition to a chapel wedding (with or without Elvis, or driving through, or inside) there are several other places that you can get married at. We now have a chapel in a van, which will drive out to whatever location you desire and marry you out of the back door – the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is a popular location for this service. You can get married under water, (yes, out here in the desert) in the salt water aquarium at the Silverton Casino, on a pirate ship in front of TI (I had photos of one of those weddings I witnessed a few years ago), while skydiving (well, actually in the plane just before you jump), on a roller coaster while zipping past the Statue of Liberty in front of New York New York (so nice they named it twice), by helicopter down at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or up on top of the 1,148 foot tall Stratosphere tower either inside a chapel on the 103rd floor or up on a private balcony overlooking the Strip on the 112th floor. If you don’t like standing still up there you can opt for a ceremony on one of the roof top rides up there, for a really big thrill.

So come on out to Vegas and get married, or renew your vows. Sorry, Nevada hasn’t approved same sex marriages yet, but hopefully that will soon come.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Local places: HK Star vs Lazy Joe

A few weeks ago I overheard someone at work discussing the meal he had the night before – it was clams in a black bean sauce, and I was much impressed by his descriptions of the ‘Scent of the sea’ and the delicate sauce and how dramatically he described his sensations while eating. I later asked him where the restaurant was, and was surprised to find it was a Chinese seafood place very close to my house: HK Star Seafood Restaurant at 3400 South Jones, near Spring Mountain.

I don’t really like seafood, but my wife does, and figured a Chinese place would most likely have additional items that I might enjoy, so that night we went down there. The restaurant is in a strip mall full of other Asian places, and takes up four normal storefront places. It looks like a typical low cost Chinese place, with simple tables and chairs and bright signs for an assortment of Asian beers. At the back were several fish tanks filled with live fish, shrimp and lobsters. We were the only Caucasian faces in the place, and when they sat us (the tables were pre set with teacups, plates, small rice bowls and chopsticks) we were immediately given forks, a sign that they knew how adept we probably were. The menu is quite large, running at over thirty pages. There were sections for chicken, beef, fish, vegetables, noodles, lobster, shrimp, sparrow, duck, frogs and a number of other items.

At my suggestion she did try the clams in black bean sauce, while I had a chicken noodle dish. The food was served in the typical family style, a large pot of hot tea was brought out, then a big rice pot, and the two dishes on large platters that we both could serve ourselves from. When served like this we usually end up taking half of each dish home, and thus get two meals out of one order. However, the clam dish evidently lived up to Bob’s description and B ended up finishing the entire plate. I did take half of my noodles home. Total cost for the two dishes, the free rice and hot tea and our drinks was $23. B evidently liked the black bean sauce, we’ve been back two times since and she ordered the chicken in black bean sauce and last week the beef in black bean sauce. Next time she says she’ll try the oyster sauce, her usual very favorite style that she enjoyed in San Diego but hasn’t found a Vegas place yet that makes it well.

So we’ve been to HK Star three times, and the last two times have each brought half of the order home for next day meals. Once when we were there half the place was screened off for a group that came on three tour busses. Usually there are about 200 people in the place, a lot of family groups with grandparents and kids, but service is fast and the food also comes out quite quickly. We haven’t tried any of the lobster dishes yet, but they do bring out a live lobster for you to approve prior to cooking. One meal the table next to us had a soup that was filled with chicken parts – the woman was really enjoying the chicken feet, munching on four or five before complaining about not enough feet in the soup and being brought more. I can see us going back quite a few more times (but not for the chicken foot soup).

Last week we felt like something lighter before Thanksgiving and ended up at a fish and chips place I read about: Lazy Joe’s Fish and Chips at 7835 South Rainbow. We usually hit one of the many Irish pubs for fish and chips, but since I read a good review thought this might differ. Like HK this place is in a strip mall, but only took up one narrow spot. There were about a dozen people eating there, and Joe himself sat us down. We both ordered the typical cod and chips, opting for two pieces of fish and the seasoned chips, and two drinks. Total order: $26. There is a counter down the center of the place, with deep fryers behind so we could see our food being prepared.

When delivered the fish pieces looked rather small (compared to what we usually had at the pubs) in nice rectangular shapes. The breading looked good, but the first bite was a challenge: the fish was so hard and rubbery that I couldn’t bit off any. We used the supplied plastic knives to cut off small pieces, but chewing was reminiscent of those hard yellow pencil erasers with a fishy taste. After one bite, and a try at the overcooked fries, my wife asked why, and rather than complain in front of the happy crowd we asked for to-go boxes, loaded up and took off for HK. My wife suggested giving the fish to some homeless people, but I thought having it would be worse than having nothing (yes, that bad) and we deposited the boxes in the first dumpster we came across. Back at HK Star it was the beef in black bean sauce for her and Kung Pao chicken for me, total bill $23, with enough for another meal taken home.

End result: Skip Lazy Joe’s and go right to HK Star. Cheaper, more food, and MUCH better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Three turkey things:
1. Mmm – turkey sandwiches.
2. To get Thanksgiving dinner with the kids and they do the cooking.
3. To come home safely and get to make our own turkey dinner, with the leftovers all for me. (B doesn’t like leftovers much, she would rather new).
4. Did I say how much I like the leftovers from Turkey day? Sandwiches, dressing with gravy, smashed potatoes with gravy, mmmm.

Monday, November 19, 2012


Well, the group from Sweden is gone and the house is rather quiet. I wrote about visiting the Excalibur show, here are the boys practicing their swordsmanship.

A storm system from the west blew through last week, bringing brief showers and higher humidity, along with high clouds that looked rather pleasant at sunset.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Political talk

Driving in to work today I was listening to NPR on the radio (yes, I am a paying member) and heard an extensive interview with a politician. The interview lasted for over ten minutes, and I was very impressed in how, during the full time period and with many questions, the politician did not provide one single straight answer, made no commitments and no firm statements. No one will be able to play back that interview in a year and say ‘but you said . . .’.

It doesn’t matter what party, probably every senator would be able to participate in an hour long ‘debate’ and never make a commitment, or even say something that would remotely sound like they agree or disagree with a specific point. This morning it was a Republican senator, he was asked about if the commitment to increase revenue meant that he would accept tax hikes on the rich his response, starting with ‘That was a very good question’ moved on to discuss how revenue could be increased in a variety of ways and proceeded through three minutes of talking about the attitude of the electorate and ending up saying absolutely nothing. Very well done senator, I am glad that you are typical of our representatives in Washington and still wonder how anything is ever accomplished.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tournament of Kings review

Well, the visiting Swedes have left, flying out from Las Vegas on a very ragged return journey, having to sit in airport in San Francisco and Hanford, Germany for many hours waiting for connecting flights. It was rather busy (and noisy) in our house, with three boys 8,8 and 10, nice to be back to the quiet dull life we have become accustomed to.

We’ve been investigating things to do in Vegas for visiting kids. The list is not very extensive, Las Vegas was an adult town, and then tried to be a kid’s town and the casinos realized they weren’t making money off of kids so it’s back to an adult play place. We took them to Red Rock where the kids climbed the rocks; to the Circus Circus Adventure Dome for a day of rides (Circus Circus and the Excalibur still have big kids sections); the park down the street from our house and finally Friday we made it to the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur. That was a big hit.

Locals get a 20% discount, but even with that it was still $60 apiece (which includes food and drinks). Entrance to the arena is down under the casino floor in the Excalibur, in the middle of the arcade. Very convenient, so as you wait to get in the kids get to spend more money playing games and winning prizes. All seats are assigned, so there is no reason to rush in to get a special place. Everyone sits at long tables facing a long dirt covered arena; there are only five tiered rows, and almost every seat is good. The people in front are down low enough so even standing they still don’t block your view.

After being seated people come by with pitchers of soda, and also try to sell alcoholic beverages to the adults and fancy light up swords and flowing headpieces to everyone. The show started on time, with a magician and a fool wandering into the arena to acquaint everyone with the rules, and lead us in some practice cheers and demonstrating the proper method of following along. This got people into the mood for the rest of the show, and was not too much of a distraction while the food was being served. There are no utensils; you got a large mug of tomato soup and a plate with a whole small chicken, a few red potatoes and a broccoli stalk. Desert was a fancy apple pop tart type thingie. The meal wasn’t bad – not great, but OK. The price was less than a Cirque show and there was something to eat.

As you were eating the main cast came out, eight knights on horseback were introduced, with each one representing a different seating area of the arena and you were lead to cheer for the one that matched the area you were sitting in. Then the King came and discussed what was happening and lead everyone in a few toasts – Huzzah! There were women dancers and scattered around the arena were a bunch of large guys in tights, bare chested. They were all very muscular, could have fit in for the Thunder from Down Under show and provided something for the women to look at. A bad guy appeared, and after a few minutes the fighting began.

It was all very energetic – the horses galloping fast and lances breaking and swords being swung. From the noise it was evident that there was contact – and there were sparks thrown off by the swords – impressive! The actors were very energetic, with a lot of falls, rolling around and jumping. Everyone was encouraged to cheer for their champion, with the bad guy coming out at the end for a very dramatic final scene, with fireworks and big flames and loud explosions. The boys really enjoyed it – they didn’t have to understand any English, there were loud noises and big guys swinging swords and riding horses, and everyone got to stand up and yell and scream and make lots of noise. I was more surprised that I actually liked it.

Final recommendation: yes, go see the Tournament of Kings. Not for the food (though we all did eat it) but for the excitement of horses and fighting and noise. Not as technical as the Cirque shows, but a little less expensive and very enjoyable.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It’s Thursday and our friends from Sweden have been with us for almost a week. It’s mom C and three boys, a ten year old and eight year old twins. It is nice to have visitors but oh my it is also so nice to have a quiet house. We are just not used to the noise and excitement three boys bring, along with the crying because whenever there is more than one somebody is always getting picked on.

I’ve tried to make an assortment of American meals, but at that age they would much rather just have what they are used to. So far Maccy’s has been the stop of choice, though two out of three liked KFC original recipe. They are used to wings from MacDonald’s, and were surprised to find ours only had McNuggets.

Even though English is pretty universal in Sweden, evidently being in English class and learning the language are two different things, as there is no understanding, and unfortunately no effort being made to learn anything. We put on Nick TV, which is also shown in Sweden (I thought Sponge Bob was annoying, but didn’t realize the Swedish voice dubber could make it even more so) and the first comment to mom was how do we make the language be Swedish (over there several subchannels are broadcast in an assortment of languages, over here it’s just English or Spanish in Vegas). But they watch it anyway.

Yesterday they all went to Red Rock and climbed, it’s impressive how high and fast boys can get up those rocks. Tonight it’s pizza, and we get to see if American pizza measures up, they’ll probably just want plain cheese, but I’ll get an ‘everything’ for me and see if any of them go for it. Saturday will be the AdventureDome at Circus Circus for a day of rides. The AdventureDome turns into the Halloween Fright Dome at 7pm, but you’ve got to be older to get into that.

We got them Halloween costumes and they can try American doorbell ringing on Wednesday. The group isn’t into sweets, so we’ll see what they do with their takings. We live in an area with no street lights or sidewalks, so B will drive the group over a mile or so to a more traditional neighborhood for their wanderings. With the lack of lights we usually only get three or four groups of kids on Halloween, guess the pickings are better in more dense neighborhoods.

Even though it is cold for us they have been in the pool almost every day. It’s been a cool week, with temps in the mid 70’s, next week supposed to warm up to mid 80’s, but the water is still too cold for locals. As last time, they say the water is warmer than anything they’ve been in in Sweden. I like the pool when water temp is around 92.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A few weeks ago I was bouncing around links saved and came across one for something I ordered a while ago - the most marvelous cupcakes in town from Pick Your Poison. It's been a while, so I emailed the girls and ordered two dozen to use as dessert for some friends we were having over. Fortunately some were left by the time they arrived.

There are Lemon Drop, Cup O' Joe, Mimosa and PB&J. All marvelous.

The exciting news is that we are having a group over this weekend, and I've already ordered three dozen more for Friday delivery. Hope some are left.

Monday, October 22, 2012

E Friday (back on Monday)

Haven’t put up much of granddaughter E recently, how about a few? (formerly known as E Fridays, oh well):

She does like to read. We encourage by purchasing lots of books.

But everyone has morning hair

It does end up well in the end

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dr Who

Oh, spoilers, with Amy and Rory dead (yes, sorry about that) the Doctor is due to pick up a new companion for the Christmas special. It looks like Neil Gaimen has been scheduled to write another episode. My two favorite episodes are the first Angels show and the episode Neil wrote: The Doctor's Wife. Here are some of the best quotes from that episode:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


We were cleaning out the garage last weekend and came across three of these guys.

About an inch long, but not something we have seen in the ten years we've been here. B doesn't appreciate their arrival, and our bug man says they ignore most insecticides. Oh well, looks like it will be more frequent cleanups and searches.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time spent

Las Vegas is a big city, but we still do not have all of the things that you might find in larger cities. One of the things we are missing is a branch of a very large store that is found all over the world. Evidently they looked at Vegas for expansion and the statistics showed we had a very low percentage of college graduates in the general population, which seems to indicate the purchasing preferences would not be in favor of large sales. So a few weeks ago I hitched up the trailer and we drove down to Los Angeles for s shopping trip. We left early in the morning, and due to spending a lot more time wandering around we did not get back until well after dark, having put almost exactly 500 miles on the car. I ended up with another weekend of work:

I’m sure most of you are familiar with those items, ending up with a little pile of them after tearing apart boxes. There are a lot more, but that is what I left on the counter. The work involved following multi page diagrams like this:

We now have new furniture scattered around. And one sample of what our kitchen will become. After almost ten years in this house we are finally getting around to redoing the kitchen. The house was built in the late 60’s, and the kitchen appliances and cabinets have never been changed, so it is time. We were about to start on the kitchen several years ago, and were just a few days from placing a $20,000 order for cabinets when I was called into HR at the Sands one afternoon and along with 3,00 others given a long vacation. Everything is now planned out, and while looking at the model kitchens we decided on a major change; instead of the ‘traditional’ wood cabinets I wanted we decided to go with gloss white, with stainless steel for the island. Our garage is not filling up, we have the ovens, cooktop and microwave there, and the sink and big stainless exhaust hood out in the shed. Cabinets and a new big window are being ordered, and work will commence in early November (after our European guests leave).

Besides working I also like to play. Yes, computer games usually but I also build little model train things. Traditionally model train layouts are built in the basement, but since so few Las Vegas houses have basements there are very few built in layouts out here. I joined a group that builds small table sized pieces individually, and then we get together once in a while to join them up and make a big layout. Last weekend a dozen of us got together in my back yard and played trains:

It’s called N Scale, a ratio of 160:1 in size compared to real trains. Each train car is about four inches long. The getting together and playing is fun, as is the sitting alone and making the modules. I do the major work, and B is great at details.

Let’s end up with something I haven’t shared in a while: our granddaughter E is still a poser:

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


One of the laws that started making Las Vegas popular sixty years ago was a Nevada divorce law, permitting divorces by petition of one party as long as they were residents for at least one month, which was much less restrictive than the rest of the country. Reno was a bigger city than Las Vegas at the time, and was the first to actively promote application of the new law. Advertisements in California brought people in to stay for a month at local dude ranches, get divorced and go home. It wasn’t long before some large residence ranches were built around Las Vegas to pull in the Southern California crowd, and a number of Hollywood movie stars came to stay, ride horses and be entertained while waiting for their month to roll by. Floyd Lamb State Park is made up of one of these ranches, a bit northeast of town; you can still see most of the buildings, and the small lakes that were put in. It is now a popular fishing spot, and kids like chasing the peacocks.

I don’t know when Vegas shifted from being a divorce spot to becoming a place to get married, but we now have dozens of wedding chapels scattered around. Almost every big casino/resort has it’s own wedding chapel, and now there is a chapel in a truck that will drive to whatever location you want. For $99 they will marry you at any location in town, recent photos show the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is a popular location. The price includes a minister and wedding photos. You still have to go downtown to the clerk’s office and get your own marriage license, but that’s standard for all the chapels.

In June one of Vegas’ biggest weddings was held. Steve Wynn’s last wedding was an impressive affair, but not like the Ackerman wedding, held at the new Smith Center near downtown. Costing over $1,000,000 the food, flowers and entertainment was rather spectacular. So far the marriage has lasted longer than Brittany’s, and no, I wasn’t invited, but I would rather be married by Elvis and save the bucks.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

I like IMDB

One of my most visited web sites is That stands for Internet Movie DataBase, and they have listings for almost every American movie and television show that I have ever looked for. We usually go to it when watching a movie or tv show and wonder ‘who is that actor, didn’t we see him in . . .’, which leads to imdb for the show we are watching, then down to the character being played and so over to the actor, which leads to the actor record and a list of things they appeared in, and so on and so on, which can consume quite a while. Sometimes that leads to YouTube to look for clips from other shows, and on to other actors.

I like looking for the British actors when watching the BBC, the comedies on PBS or the sci-fi imports. There seems to be a lot smaller pool of actors, and they all seem to bounce around on the same circle of shows. Look up a comedian and the will have been on Mitchell and Webb and Peep Show, anyone could have been on A Touch of Frost or Casanova or Summer Wine. If they are older then there is another list of shows – just look up Are You Being Served, and follow almost any of the cast – they’ll have a list of hundreds of shows they have been on. The newer ones should have a Doctor Who in there somewhere.

There seem to be a lot more American actors, and it’s rare to see any new ones with a very long list. But again find an older one and you’ll almost always find Love, American Style and Route 66 and Ben Casey and Medical Center and Mission: Impossible and Ironside and of course the Love Boat. Just looking up Elizabeth Ashley, who has a bunch. The newer actors either have a ton of movies listed, or else they are mainly TV, and would include things like NCIS and CSI and Cold Case and Law and Order.

Just heard of something going around town that I was not familiar with – a friend was talking about yelling at her neighbor’s kid for walking around with two apples, a red one and a green one, going all ‘loc up their face’. She said the two apples were to keep things straight, one for the spice and one for the bud. (got it?). Evidently you can purchase some type of salt mixture called spice that when smoked is supposed to give you a high. That’s smoked in a red apple, as the apple gives some additional sweetness. The illegal stuff (the bud) goes into the green apple. I didn’t know you made pipes out of apples. If you mixed them together then you hallucinated. Boy, am I out of touch.

Monday, October 01, 2012


Sitting here reading my favorite blogs, yes, I click down that list over on the right side periodically. Those are the people that I like to read, and I do revise it at times. Unfortunately it is usually revised downwards instead of with additions. I try to be sure my links point to people that post periodically, as I do like to go over and read their stuff, but when someone doesn’t post for six months then I usually comment out the link. When I edit the list and comment out a new one I usually grab the commented out ones and try them again, with hopes of some returning.

I’m sitting here listening to Neil Gaiman read Neverwhere on my iPhone. Still using my old model 2, waiting on the 5 that I ordered. B’s came in already, and I’m jealous. (I want a white one, Apple is not shipping white ones yet) But the audio books will not play any faster on the new ones.

October – one of the best months for weather. The mornings are cool and the afternoons warm, still very sunny (as always) without the top heat of summer. (22c morning, 38c afternoon today). We are preparing for some out of country visitors coming for a stay of several weeks at the end of the month; haven’t seen the group in quite a while, and while we will be going from a quiet house to a full noisy one we are looking forward to the visit.

We are also finally getting around to remaking our kitchen. Our house was built in the late 60’s and the kitchen has not been changed. Most of the appliances are ready to be replaced and we will be taking out a wall to open it up to the family room, in addition to new cabinets, countertops, floor and lighting. Also replacing the window with a much bigger one to make it a lot brighter (as if we need that in Vegas). Plans were to start in September, but with the crowd coming we will be delayed until mid November. Starting to fill up the garage with parts, picked up a sample cabinet a few weeks ago, and will be ordering the rest, so everything should be on hand when we are ready to start. I’ll have to remember the before and after photos.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Three things for Thursday

1. I spent an exciting week in training class, learning about Scheduling and Cost Control. Didn’t know what to expect, but I did pretty good at it as most of the hard stuff was math which I like, and am good at sticking numbers in formulas.

2. To sit at my desk and work on a Thursday afternoon and realize to me it’s really Friday and I have a long weekend free. (We work four ten hour days here and get Friday off).

3. To read blogs that I have on my list and are interesting, and get to share in the joy of some people that I have never met, but I can still picture the smiles on their faces.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

OK, I didn't remind you this morning, but I hope you all realize that it was Talk Like A Pirate Day today, and acted inappropriately.

And look - the new teaser for the Hobbit movie is out - very amazing at the
Hobbit Site

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wicked pirates

Sumer is going away, and it’s starting to cool off here in Vegas. Looking at the range of temperatures we can expect it runs from 96 today through 98,99,95,96,95,95. Nothing with a one in front of it. I remember living back in upstate New York when having a one as the first digit sometimes meant that it was the only digit. I would much rather have a one with two digits after it than with no other digits associated with it.

We spent several pleasant hours yesterday morning trimming the trees out front. B did the small stuff but it’s up to me to haul out the saws and ladder to get the bigger ones. When we moved in nine years ago we pulled out all of the grass around the house and converted to desert landscaping. Part of that was putting in quite a few low water requirement trees along with a lot of bushes, so that we might have a shady enjoyable lot rather than just rocks and gravel that so many houses in Vegas favor for landscaping. Some of the trees did well, some required replacement, but those that are in are now large enough to require saws for shaping rather than the large clippers we were able to use in smaller days. About a mile down the road from our place is a large Catholic church that has a very well done side yard, we liked it so much we tried to model ours on that, and now that we can walk under the trees and have full shade down one side it seems we have done quite well in that regard.

Last Thursday evening we went to see the traveling tour of Wicked at the new Smith Center. It was over two hours of very enjoyable singing, with the familiar OZ background twisted just a bit. A very nicely done production that I would recommend to anyone. The Smith Center is our new performing arts space near downtown, in a large area that used to be the train yards but now is becoming a nice mix of things. The large theater holds just about 2,000 people, and was built in the new style of vertical seating. Rather than spread everyone out on a huge floor there are many levels rising high. Along the sides are three levels of box seating and in the rear are two levels of balconies. Due to the popularity of the show I was only able to obtain two of the cheap seats way in the back in the upper balcony. This space had about twenty rows of seats and was built at about a 45 degree angle, so that all of the seats have a nice view of the stage without looking through the heads in front of you. Each row is raised above the one ahead, so that my toes were about at the top of the seat in front. We could see the entire stage very well, unfortunately it required binoculars to get a good view of faces. Watching the girls all dressed up in tight short skirts and tall heels try to walk down the steep steps was very amusing, but I was unable to turn around all night due to the seats of the row behind being at about eye level, them being filled with said girls in short (and I do mean short) skirts and mostly my wife sitting next to me.

I have been in a new job for about six months and am having changes. As a programmer I usually work on short term projects, which does involve changing jobs quite often. Most people comment on my long resume and poor ability to stay at a job for very long, but most of the programmers I know do similar things so I am surprised when prospective places mention that. An interview usually goes along the line of ‘we are looking at people that are willing to make a long term commitment, and you don’t seem to last very long at places’, and then go on to say the project should last from six to nine months, would I have any problem with that? I had one friend that stayed in one job for over ten years, then found he could not get a new job because he was viewed as being stale (in computer programming everyone wants you to be up-to-date in the latest technologies). But my change here is moving from being a contractor to being a full time employee. Some places do that, as it is easier to tell a contractor to move on than an employee that doesn’t fit in, and then if they like you an offer of a permanent position is made. I will have to get a security clearance which requires a six month background check, so I’ve alerted all of my neighbors and friends to be ready for the men in black to come calling. I like the work, and we are on four ten hour days (to get the American ‘standard’ 40 hour work week) so I get every Friday off, for a nice long weekend., and the people are pleasant. The work is also different, with only half emphasis on programming the other half on guidance and management, so I am looking forward to those changes.

Arggg, just a reminder that Wednesday is the official Talk Like A Pirate Day, so prepare yourself.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Doctor is back

The new Dr. Who series started up on BBC last Saturday. I almost missed that first episode, as we haven't been watching TV very much recently, and for some reason have been skipping that channel - perhaps it's because we have grown tired of reruns of three guys driving cars. Anyway, the Asylum of the Daleks was a really good episode. There are a number of British blogs that I usually read - Lisa over there on the right usually talks about the Doctor, but she hasn't mentioned him in a while. I've been watching Dr. Who for quite a while, having caught an episode on PBS probably 30 years ago and really like the current series.
The Doctor always has a companion, and I was surprised to read that his new companion was introduced on this show. Spoiler if you are a Doctor fan, but it's the noisy girl that ended up being the main character - you can read about her over on The Guardian site. I like Moffat's comment that she is the only one he's found that can keep up with Matt Smith. She is a fast talker.
Anyway, another month where I can look forward to watching the Doctor on Saturday nights! Yea!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Three things 1. Warm water in the swimming pool, to float in and watch the sunset and bats come out in the darkening sky. 2. Clouds over the mountains in the distance and the sound of distant thunder, and then heavy rain on the metal roof. 3. The smell of dust in the air from the unexpected rain.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

end of summer, big wheels

Still warm here, due to be 38c today (101f) but thunderstorms due for the next few days. We had a lot of rain last week – a full 1.58 inches (about 4cm) which might not seem like a lot, but it broke a few records and doubled our recorded rainfall for the year so far. Yes, it is dry here in the desert. There is still some new construction going on down at the Strip. Not just one but two big wheels are being built by competing firms. Caesar’s is building the Linq on the center Strip, by the Imperial Palace across from Caesar’s Palace. It is a redo of an older area (well, 20 years is old here in Vegas) rebuilding several restaurants and putting in a 550 foot tall big observation wheel, similar to the London Eye. A second one is being built by a private firm further south, across from Mandalay Bay. That one will be about the same size, but not attached to a casino but rather a new shopping complex is being constructed with the wheel at the center. Each location is spending around $500,000,000 on their wheels and surrounding buildings. We finally got the pool cover fixed on our swimming pool – it’s an automated cover that is really good at keeping the pool clean and the water warm. One of the ropes that pulls the cover closed broke a few months ago and we have been having a hard time getting it fixed. There is only one company in town that can repair this brand of cover, and they seemed exceptionally busy. Well, we finally found out that they were having employee problems, and the manufacturer pulled their franchise and contacted a company up in Utah to handle things. They sent a bunch of employees down to work on all off the built up problems, and somebody came out last Friday and did the repair. With the cover on only one week the water warmed up eight degrees, and it now sits at a comfy 92f (33.3c) which is just where we like it. And it will keep the water warmer longer – so it should be pretty nice swimming come the end of October (when visitors are due out from cold country)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer rain

It’s early afternoon and raining! Las Vegas just gets an average of three inches (8 cm) of rain a year, which normally comes from just a few thunderstorms that blow through rather quickly, drop a half inch of rain in ten minutes then move off over the valley. Today there is continuous cloud cover, and it’s been drizzling fairly steadily for the past three hours – something that I’ve only seen once before in the ten years we have been here. B’s already called to report roof leaks, so it looks like a new big expense in the near future. Nice, but I’d rather have the thunderstorms come and go and be back to sunshine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I’ve been show writing here, waiting for photos and a big story to post, but Terri started blogging Tweets, and I figured if she can put up a sentence at a time I could also, so at least there would be movement here. Or more than a sentence. At our last doctor visit she was concerned with our blood oxygen levels, so she ordered a minor oxygen test, which involved us sleeping with one of those finger clips on all night. Still concerned, we end up with a full sleep study, where we went last Thursday night. Hooked up with about thirty wires and clips and bands and tubes it felt like I didn’t sleep at all, but evidently enough, B is OK but it looks like I’ll be back to sleeping with a CPAP machine. Uncomfortable, but at least I sleep well; better than being fuzzy all day from poor sleep. Unfortunately they want me back for another night of testing, this time with a machine. Oh well, wired again. Having to use Chrome at work for postings, looks like it pulls out the paragraph and line breaks. Sorry for the run together stuff.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Summer and new shows

It’s the middle of the summer, and it’s finally warmed up. July was relatively warm for us, didn’t hit 115f (46c) even once, when we usually have five or so days up there. August is usually our wettest month, though that isn’t saying much because the average rainfall for August (according to the National Weather Service) is 0.55 inches (1.4 cm), but it seemed we had a lot of thunderstorms in July and quite a few days where the highs were only around 98. So far this year, since January 1, we’ve had only 0.66 inches of rain, down from our normal of 2.6, so it looks like we are suffering from the same drought that the rest of the country has. But the forecast for the next five days or so indicates temperatures over 112 (45c) so I can enjoy some more sun time. This is coupled with a humidity of 4%, so when you get wet it dries off rather quickly. Yea statistics on line! It looks like Vegas is getting back to being a country entertainment town. Two years ago Garth Brooks got a regular gig over at the Wynn, and is still doing quite well. Last year it was announced that ShaniaTwain would be in the rotation at Caesar’s with Celine and Elton John, her shows starting this coming December. Now that ‘Country’s Golden Couple’ Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will have a ten week forty show run over at the Venetian – tickets from $95 to $295 – with a possibility of more, but they are planning a regular summer tour so they won’t be exclusive here. The Venetian has lost all of it’s major shows. The Blue Men will be moving to the Monte Carlo in a few months, the Jersey Boys have already moved over to Paris and the Phantom of the Opera will just close down at the end of the year. This leaves three big theaters open, with no announcements yet as to what will be replacing them. Tim and Faith will be in the small 1,800 seat theater, not in any of the big rooms. All of the Cirque du Soleil shows (except for Elvis) are doing fine. Elvis will be replaced by Zarkana, and a new Michael Jackson themed show will be opening at Mandalay Bay to replace the lost Lion King. We’ve seen most of the Cirque shows (well, all of them except for Elvis) and I would recommend them to anyone, especially my favorite ‘O’ at the Bellagio and Bobbie’s favorite Ka at MGM. One tip for Cirque shows: don’t sit close to the stage. Too much goes on all over the stage, from the extreme edges into the center that you miss too much if you are close up; get a seat farther back so you can see it all. At O I like the very last row – the seats rise up at a steep angle from the stage, and at the back you are high enough to look down into the pool and see what is going on underwater, something you can’t see down in front where you are eye level with the stage. And the Ka stage is so huge that you have to be back to just gather it all in. We’ll probably be back at Mystere next, the first Cirque show to open and it’s still here, as they have a local’s Tuesday two-for-one ticket special, and I’m basically cheap. Well, it’s still over a hundred dollars for us at that rate. Most of the Cirque shows do special pricing for locals, usually during the slow winter times.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Summer is coming

It’s warmed up here in Vegas. While Australia and New Zealand heads into winter we are enjoying the warm weather. We have already had several days of over 40c, anticipating a hot July and August when the temperatures really get high. Two organizations are building big ‘observation wheels’ on the Strip – one at the south end across from Mandalay Bay and one mid strip being built by Caesars, which has blown up a parking garage and closed down Fitzgerald’s Casino prior to tearing that down to make room. Both of these wheels will be over 150 meters (500 feet) tall and have big observation cars. So you can take your big margarita filled plastic guitar and look down on the Strip while enjoying your stay. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts recently opened, so we now have a very nice venue for concerts and events. The Broadway musical Wicked is scheduled for next month, and the symphony orchestra has already performed several times, and the ballet is scheduled. Opening night was mainly country performers including Willie Nelson, not sure why the dichotomy but the newspapers reported that a gentleman named Fred Smith loves country music and for some reason the board of directors approved that opening entertainment. In addition to the big concert hall there are several smaller rooms that are being used several times a week for smaller more intimate performances. Casinos are mainly aimed at older people with money (the over 21 crowd) but Las Vegas also tries to attract the younger crowd. Last year the Electric Daisy Carnival moved here from Los Angeles, and it appears to be a popular event. It is running for three days this weekend, with crowds of around 150,000 expected each day. It looks like a fun place to be

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Spring fixup

It’s springtime, which leads to work around the house. The weather is warming up and it will be time to swim soon, so the pool has been opened from its winter sleep and cleaned up. We think the pool was installed around 1990, we’ve been in the house ten years and found some blueprints with that date and are assuming the pool was put in at the same time. The equipment is starting to wear out, last summer I replaced the pump and yesterday I replaced the filter. Used to have a diatomaceous earth filter but I never could get the hang of how much stuff to put in and the correct cleaning cycle so I went with a cartridge filter. Of course the new filter is a different size than the old, so it took some time to cut out the old pipes and put in new piping, but everything is working now.

The water temp is only 21c, but today it was sunny and 30c, working its way up there. With the pool cover on we should have the water up to the 32c (90f) temperature I like for swimming by the end of May. So if you are in the area come on over for a dip.

B also wanted to change around the front room. We got a new carpet (I put in hardwood floors out there about seven years ago) for the sitting area, and are doing new drapes, so B picked out some new wall colors to go with the carpet and has been painting. I finally got the crown molding she wanted and put it up today.

It looks pretty good out there. Now to see what else she wants to change.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Not much Monday

We had a nice weekend, it was sunny and warm (temps around mid 70's (around 25c)), with more of the same today. Seems like Spring. Last week there were a few clouds

Sorry, haven't posted any photos of my granddaughter in a while and I missed on Friday again.

This is a 'why not!!!' look, we see it often

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Venetian Christmas

Still working on my Christmas photos. After walking through the Palazzo we wandered into the adjoining Venetian, walking through the shops by the canal up on the second floor. (yes, the canal is above the casino, I keep waiting for it to leak onto the gamblers).

Not many decorations, just holly and red bows scattered around.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mirage fish

Walking through the Mirage atrium we looked up to see a school of flying fish

And snowflakes. Well, it is winter and there have to be snowflakes somewhere, so Vegas snowflakes.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Venetian skating

Not many people ride the gondolas outside of the Venetian in the winter, it's just too cold, but the ones inside are still being used in where it's warm. This year they put a plastic skating rink on top of the water and rented skates - something to do on the Strip that's a little different.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Palazzo Christmas

The Palazzo is one of the newer resort/hotels in Las Vegas. That’s a hard sentence to write as almost everything in Vegas is new – anything that starts to get dusty gets blown up and replaced. City Center and the Cosmopolitan have been constructed since the Palazzo opened.

The Palazzo is owned by the Sands Corporation, which also owns the Venetian Resort and the Sands Expo/Convention Center in addition to other resorts in Macao, Singapore and other places across the US. Each property is set up as a separate company and run reasonably independently but reporting back up line. The Venetian, Palazzo and Sands Expo are all located together about mid strip, on the corner of Spring Valley and Las Vegas Boulevard. You can walk between them, but employees of one cannot participate in activities of the others. Combined the Venetian and the Palazzo hotels have over 7,000 rooms, making it the largest hotel in the world for number of rooms (oh, wait, just looked and a new hotel in Moscow has 300 more rooms, so it’s only second now). The Venetian in Macao is rated the largest hotel in the world based on square footage (almost 1,000,000 sq. meters). The Sands Expo is the second largest center in Las Vegas, at 110,000 sq. meters. I worked at the Expo for 2 ½ years and really liked being there.

Mr. Sheldon Adelson is the founder to the Sands Corporation, current CEO and largest stockholder, and because of his holdings is rated as the eight richest person in the world with a net worth of over $21,500,000,000 – that’s twenty one BILLION dollars (depending on stock prices). He is a long time Republican, and when President Bush came to Vegas he stayed at the Venetian (I did a write-up on that day, and how it took employees over an hour to get into the employee parking garage because of the security checks and car searches). Currently he is backing Newt Gingrich for president, he and his wife both donated $5,000,000 each to the super pac supporting Newt, with promises of another $100,000,000 if Newt gets the nomination. Mr. Adelson is also a devout Jew, and makes trips and donations to many organizations in Israel. When the Republican Caucus was held a few weeks ago it was on a Saturday, and the local Jewish organizations petitioned for a special evening caucus so that those that observe the Sabbath on Saturday would be able to participate. Supposedly Mr. Adelson was not involved in that request, but strangely enough the evening caucus was held at the Adelson Center and he and his wife attended.

I think the Palazzo is the prettiest property in Las Vegas. The lobby and entry is very impressive, and the waterfall area between the Palazzo and the Venetian is just magnificent. In addition to the large casinos there is a very big shopping center upstairs, and Venetian gondolas ply the canals up on the second floor between the shops in addition to being out in front of the building on the Strip. The Sands Expo has huge halls and the Venetian Meeting Tower has rather impressive ballrooms and smaller meeting rooms.

There are a lot of fancy restaurants and bars between the properties, with the Bouchon Restaurant being my favorite place for breakfast – I would highly recommend going there if you ever make it to Vegas. The Tao and Lavo nightclubs are very well attended and usually are written up for the movie stars and musicians that attend. The Canyon Ranch Spa on the second floor is rated as one of the best Spas in the world. Unlike other Strip resorts the Palazzo/Venetian/Sands complex fills all of the property area, so the swimming pools are located on the roof of the shopping area rather than down on ground level. There are a lot of pools scattered around, with a nice small one in the middle of the old Venetian tower and some really big ones in the main central area.

All rooms at the Palazzo and Venetian are considered suites, with separate sitting areas and very large bathrooms. We spent one Christmas Eve at the Venetian – usually the cheap rooms start at $179, prices going up if there are big conventions and on weekends, with a basic room rate around $500 on busy nights. There are larger suites and penthouse rooms as well if you are a high roller or big spender. But when traffic is slow the Venetian offers locals specials, and Christmas Eve filled the properties to only 10% of capacity, so it was a $79 night (plus the fortune we spent at the restaurants). Most nights the two hotels are usually over 90% capacity.

Gee, I sound like a commercial for that place, don’t I? (no, not getting paid unfortunately). Back to the Christmas photos. This is what the Palazzo lobby looked like back in December.

The central statue also was decorated.

And the other side of the lobby was celebrating Chanukah, I think it was the only place in the city with blue lights and a menorah.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Palazzo Christmas

Still on Christmas, this is what the Palazzo central courtyard looked like for the season

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wynn Christmas

Finally got around to pulling photos off my camera and getting them down to size. Here are some shots of the Wynn Christmas decorations.