Here is the happenings from our fabulous weekend in Vegas, as written by the Mr. I was warned that lest he never write a post again, I wasn't allowed to change anything. So, you've been warned (wink).
Here is the lowdown on everything Vegas. First, the drive is not as bad as everyone sold me on. Uh, there’s lots of desert. I’m pretty used to that. As soon as you cross into Nevada, there’s a hotel/casino offering $.99 shrimp cocktail and $29 helicopter rides. Unfortunately, Lori refused both. We did however find a gem of an establishment in Eat at Joe’s BBQ in Wikieup. We had a monstrous meat platter (theme of the weekend) with beef brisket, pulled pork, ribs, chicken wings, home-made sausage, and a jalapeno wrapped in bacon and stuffed with crab and cream cheese (Did you get that? Bacon, cream cheese, AND crab!). This place was so tasty that we stopped again 2 days later on the drive home so Lori could have more brisket. The waitress, or as Lori called her, Mrs. Joe, was super-friendly and the restroom was spotless. Couldn’t have asked for more. It also happened to be the cheapest meal we had all weekend, and probably one of the best.
Alright, so we get to the strip on a Friday at 3pm. Bad idea. It was pretty congested and added about a half an hour onto our arrival time. To make matters worse, I drove right past the valet at the Mirage so we had to make the circle of infamy back around. What, you didn’t think we’d valet the ‘04 Envoy? Think again. When we headed indoors, I immediately realized that Las Vegas must be the last place in the U.S. where it’s still cool to smoke. I imagine that smoking is still pretty popular in small Midwest type towns where teenage pregnancy is rampant and ladies look twice their age starting at 30, but in sprawling Metropolises, I think smoking is pretty taboo. Anyway, it made me think I’d pay a premium to stay at a non-smoking place. Does one of those exist? If not, does someone want to lend me a few hundred mil to build one? We get to the room, and, well, you don’t need to know what happened next. Anyway, roughly 4 minutes later I was ready to explore the town, Lori was ready for a nap. Needless to say, nap won out.
(us before leaving the hotel room. Camera was set on auto, don't judge)
We had dinner reservations for 7 with the Kascaks at Carnevino, which I believe translates to Meatwine? Doesn’t sound too appetizing, but it was Mario Batali’s restaurant and I was definitely interested as a meatatarian. The Kascaks are a blast. It’d had been about 6 or 7 years since we’d seen Aunt DeeDee and Uncle Paul, but we made up for lost time fast swapping stories about the fam and what we’ve been up to over the last few years. Anyway, Aunt DeeDee looks fantastic. In fact, I’m certain I could pass her off as my younger sister and no one would bat an eye. Uncle Paul is about the most fun that can legally be had. He tells great stories, does spot on impressions of “Papa,” and I think he truly gets offended if you try to pick up the tab around him, which is good because dinner was expensive. It was LITERALLY (now the most overused word in the English language) a few $20s away from my first mortgage payment. We had some cured meats as an appetizer, some pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe, broccoli and cauliflower in vinaigrette, brussels sprouts with pancetta, steamed spinach, Lori and I shared a ribeye, and the Kascaks the porterhouse. For dessert, we shared a Rum Chocolate Trifle and a Warm Dark Chocolate Cake.
(just the bones from the two steaks)
And it was…okay. I’m glad Aunt DeeDee said this before me, as I didn’t want to appear ungrateful since they picked up the check, but for the price paid, this should have been the best meal I’ve ever had. It didn’t even crack the top 3 on our trip, which were Carnegie’s Deli inside The Mirage (best pastrami I’ve ever had), the aforementioned Eat at Joe’s BBQ, and, for finer dining, Table 10 (Emeril’s Restaurant inside the Palazzo). However, the company more than made up for it. For her birthday, we gave Aunt DeeDee a full 2 minutes of enjoyment at the blackjack table. We walked around the Palazzo and the Venetian and saw the gondolas, where DeeDee and Paul got married, and spent some time at a Piano Bar where the highlights included Uncle Paul’s shockingly accurate rendition of California Love by 2Pac and Dr. Dre, a sighting of the DoubleMint twins, who, by the way, have NOT aged well, a piano interpretation of both the Black Eyed Peas and Nine Inch Nails, the rudest cocktail waitress in the world, who also happened to be a magician (i.e. they were all out of oranges and mint, but she later managed to make some appear out of nowhere), and, lastly, the cutest couple with a 2 foot height difference I’ve ever seen (she had to be 6’ and he was maybe 4’6”). Don’t let the cynicism fool you, this was some of the best fun we had on our whole trip just taking it all in and hearing the running commentary from Uncle Paul and catching up with Aunt DeeDee while she tried to keep him in line.
Saturday was our day to walk the strip. We first met up with the Kascaks for some brunch at Carnegie’s, the pastrami is worth a second mention, then headed out to face the world.
They took us around and gave us a beginner’s guide to where to hang out, then bid us farewell as it was their anniversary and I’m sure they had some things not appropriate to discuss to attend to in addition to tickets to Jersey Boys that night.
We walked the entire strip, but here were the highlights. We stood in line for 45 minutes to get M&Ms “personalized,” meaning they had letters stamped on the back. So, for $20 and 45 minutes of our time, we received $1 worth of M&Ms with the letters J & T on the back and IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT! I mean, come on, where else but America can you be so narcissistic that you’ll pay 10 times the retail value for some M&Ms just so you can get your name on the back?
I love this country…We also found that our favorite store in Hawaii has locations in Vegas! Wait, I can get Maui Caramacs in just a 4 hours drive from my house? Sign me up! Let’s see, we paid $30 for an elevator ride in the Paris Hotel, but I did learn some interesting things about a man named Eiffel on our way to the top. I’m not a fan of elevators to begin with and paying for a ride in one sounded like sadomasochistic behavior, but I gave it a shot.
For dinner, we ate at Table 10, again worth a second mention. The pork tenderloin with sweet potatoes and pecans, as well as the crab cake and gumbo might amount to my favorite meal found in one place.
Well, that’s it. Vegas in 2 days with my trooper of a wife in 4 inch heels pretty much the whole weekend was pretty phenomenal. There’s a lot of other occurrences that I’m sure I am either forgetting or leaving out as they are not blog appropriate. Did I mention how awesome the Kascaks were? Lori made it a point to keep this in my mind so we can hang out with them more often. Thanks for everything Aunt DeeDee and Uncle Paul!