Loss for Words

What can I say?  It would be hard to come up with something exciting and worthwhile to do and see in Las Vegas after hearing of this tragedy that has affected all of us, one way or another.

So many of us have attended a concert, sporting event or party,  either on Fremont Street, UNLV, T-Mobile Arena or some other venue there and probably have never even given it a second thought about a sniper taking out so many innocent people.

The people who get he biggest thanks and standing ovation should be the police, fire and ambulance personnel that had to respond to this situation.  While others ran away, they all ran toward it, especially the police.  There were others and I apologize for not acknowledging the countless people who put themselves in harms way to protect others.

I will make this entry short and just hope and pray for quick healing, physically, mentally and spiritually for everyone involved.

FAMILY FUN IN LAS VEGAS PT. 2

Sticking with the Bellagio, it is probably the one of the few hotel casinos that could provide family entertainment and still be inexpensive to do.

Besides the fountains out front, there is also the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.  It is something to see!  Located right off the hotel lobby check in desk, it has plants and flowers, real and faux, designed to look like  animals, other plants, and objects, depending on the theme.

The theme will change almost every other month if not sooner to keep in line with the season.  You have Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Chinese New Year, Summer, etc.   You could drop in almost every month to see something different.

Tip:  Because this is free and in a convenient location, it gets very crowded in the early evening.  Taking pictures can be a challenge as there are so many people, but most are courteous to stop to let you snap your memories.  Later in the evening and late night will have a smaller crowd.

And to top it off with a dessert and something else to look at in awe, there is “the world’s largest chocolate fountain” in Jean-Philippe Patisserie located in the Spa Tower of the Bellagio.

You could watch as a continuous flow of light, medium and dark liquid chocolate flows from the upper level down to the lower levels.  All of which prompts you to turn around and buy an ice cream cone or piece of chocolate candy from the adjoining store.

TSA Upgrade for Screening; Leaving Las Vegas

All of us that travel by flying have to endure the TSA line.  One of the most despised federal agencies  has devised a way to help speed up the screening process.  One way is the TSA Pre-Check which I have taken advantage of and I feel that it was money well spent.  Just this past May, we were able to leapfrog a very long at LAX to make our Southwest flight to Phoenix.

TSA has installed conveyor belt type of bag screening process at McCarren International, O’Hare International, John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, and Los Angeles International Airports. 

At Terminal 3, passengers on Hawaiian Airlines and other airlines will see a new system in place that :

  • Stainless steel countertops designed specifically to enable several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously;
  • Automated conveyor belts that move bins into the X-ray machine tunnel and return the bins to the front of the security checkpoint;
  • Automatic diversion of any carry-on bag that may contain a prohibited item; this diversion to a separate location allows other bins containing other travelers’ belongings to continue through the screening process uninterrupted;
  • Bins that are 25 percent larger than a typical bin and are able to hold a roll-aboard bag;
  • Unique Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that are attached to each bin, allowing for additional accountability of a traveler’s carry-on property as they move throughout the security screening process;
  • Cameras that capture photographic images of the contents of each bin and are linked side-by-side to the X-ray image of a carry-on bag’s contents.

 

source:  https://www.tsa.gov/news/releases/2017/08/31/automated-screening-lanes-come-security-checkpoint-terminal-3-las-vegas

Will this speed things up?  Not sure yet as this was just debuted at McCarren International on Aug. 31, 2017.

Fading (or gone) icons Part 2

Time is undefeated and it will move on.  Nothing stays the same, sadly.   Another icon of Las Vegas has been the neon.  Hard to imagine Downtown Las Vegas or the Strip without neon.  Nowadays, the “neon” is actually a gigantic LED TV screen.  It looks sharp and can be updated with a few keyboard entries and a click of a mouse.  Neon itself is a dying art and there is not much of it left.  If you take a walk down the Fremont Street Experience, you will find several old neon signs still up, even though they have nothing to do with the business below or within the building.

You can still see the famous “Vegas Vic” the neon cowboy but his sidekick (companion?) Vegas Vickie was removed back in June 2017 as well as the Las Vegas Club sign to make room for the renovations coming to Fremont Street.  According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, she is supposed to be restored and put back up for all to see in another location, but no one seems to know where.

Fading (or gone) icons part 1

If someone is asked to name something symbolic of Las Vegas, what usually comes to mind?  Gambling, shopping, eating, partying, hot, etc. But what about symbols?  There would be cards, dice, roulette wheel, money, but there are some that have faded away.

It’s hard to imagine that something as iconic as a showgirl almost doesn’t exist.  Bally’s was the last casino to feature a show with showgirls and it shut down Jubilee! on February 11, 2016.  The tall, leggy girls with the skimpy costumes and tall headpieces are hard to forget.

I still remember how I would watch the old “Vega$” with Robert Urich as Dan Tanna, private eye.  Seems like every casino had an act with showgirls in them.  Of course, Dan was always in the Desert Inn.

It didn’t happened overnight, but as early as 2001, there was were only two shows left in Las Vegas that featured the iconic showgirls; Jubilee! and Best of the Folies-Bergère that closed out at the Tropicana.  What lead to it’s demise?  Shows such as Blue Man Group, Cirque De Solei, Legends in Concert and other Hollywood style productions that are more flashy and have more of the “wow”factor.

You can still find “showgirls” on the Strip and the Fremont Street Experience, but I have to protest that the buskers on Fremont Street and the Strip are NOT showgirls but simply girls dressing up to panhandle money.

Family fun in Las Vegas Part 1

Whew! I realize it’s been a while since I been on here and I apologize.  I recently found out my sister-in-law and her husband are coming up to their 10th wedding anniversary and they want to celebrate it in….Las Vegas!!  They won’t be able to do the stuff they were able to do 10 years ago, now that they have 3 boys ages 6 and 3 (twins).  So I would imagine the fine dining, clubbing, gambling etc. is probably going to be a lot less than when they were first married.

Twenty years ago, Las Vegas tried to re-brand itself as a family vacation destination which ushered in the amusement parks, strip shows such as the Pirates at Treasure Island, lions in a glass cage at MGM,  it worked to the point that families were drawn to Las Vegas and they were spending, but not in the casinos.  The gaming was not doing as well as projected because families were not hanging around casinos because they had children who weren’t allowed into gaming areas.

I won’t be able to list every thing on this entry or even this site, but there are MANY things to do that are family friendly and don’t involve gambling, drinking and staying out all night.

I will begin by looking at the Strip.  If you walk up and down the Strip, (which can be sometimes faster than driving it), you could stop to watch the volcano eruption at the Mirage or the dancing waters in front of the Bellagio.  On Monday-Thursday the volcano only erupts at 8:00pm and 9:00pm but on Friday-Sunday, there is a 10:00pm eruption.

The fountains at Bellagio are a little bit more complicated so I posted them here:

Monday – Friday  3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  show every 1/2 hour

8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. show every 15 minutes

Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays  12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.   every half  hour

8:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.   show every 15 minutes

*Schedule may vary

**Shows are subject to cancellation due to high winds

 

Events in Las Vegas

The activity and action from the Strip seems to be really heating up lately, in a good way.  With the addition of the new T-Mobile Arena behind New York New York Hotel and Casino, it seems like everyone and everything is being booked there.  Just looking at the upcoming schedule of concerts alone are; Barbara Streisand, Drake, Gwen Stefani, George Strait, Slipknot.

Some of the sporting events listed are; USA Basketball, UFC 202, LA Kings vs Colorado Avalance, and Los Angeles Lakers!

If you go to the T-Mobile Arena site, it is very user friendly and lists events, directions and parking, how to book the arena, seating configurations and even a link for a newsletter.

Not too far in the future should be a pretty spectacular domed stadium for the soon to be Las Vegas Raiders.  I read that Tom Hanks is a die hard Raiders fan and he stated that he can’t imagine the Raiders playing in a domed stadium, in the desert, on artificial turf, not far from a Roman palace, Egyptian pyramid and the Eiffel Tower!!  Some things are going take getting used to.

Omiyage or gifts to bring back home

When visiting Las Vegas, those of us from the 50th State always seems like we have to bring something back for others; neighbors who watched your house while your gone, co-workers who had to put up with you being gone…again, friends and relatives just because.

One of the most popular items to be brought back from Las Vegas is beef jerky.  Yes the flavorful snack that was originated to keep meat from spoiling and has evolved to 100’s of flavors.  My favorite to bring back is one that is soft and sweet, like teriyaki.  Everyone has their favorite; spicy, mild, natural, hot, hard etc.

If your staying Downtown Las Vegas, there are at least four businesses to shop at within walking distance of each other.  The most convenient one is 808 Vegas located in the California Hotel which has the beef jerky and other snacks, one of my other favorites is the cinnamon bagel chips!  If shopping here, check to see if they will deliver to your room.  I heard they deliver to the California Hotel, Main Street, and Fremont.  Not sure about the other downtown hotels.

Just off of Fremont Street on 3rd Street, close to the Four Queens and the D is The Beef Jerky Store .  Same location for over 20 years and probably the one with the largest selection.  The walls are lined with beef jerky selections and other snacks!  Iso peanuts, arare, lemon peel, dried scallops, li hing worms, too many to mention and it bore you to death.  Their webpage even allows for online shopping in case you don’t see a trip coming up in the near future and no one you know is headed that way.

The next most popular location seems to be Las Vegas Jerkys, located on the third floor of the Plaza Hotel and Casino at the top of Fremont Street.  Their shop is pretty low key, nothing fancy but a wide selection.

If you wander further east on Fremont Street into Neonopolis, you will find Beef Jerky Neonopolis, on the ground floor, right next door to Ultimate Sportscards and Memorabilia .  This is the shop Jeremy, the sports memorabilia expert featured on History Channel‘s Pawn Stars owns.  The selection in this store is very expansive too, but super similar products to the Beef Jerky Store.  One of the lady’s that works at Beef Jerky Neonopolis used to be at the Beef Jerky Store, but when you ask them, it seems like she tries to down play it.

One of my friend’s commented to her about the Beef Jerky Store having expanding into this location and he was immediately shut down with “No, we opened this place.  We are not an expansion of them”.  Looks like family dramas.

Didn’t stop me from buying many bags of flavorful beef jerky, candies, nuts and other treats to take home back for the family, neighbors and co-workers.

Reality TV in Sin City 2017

I guess it’s no secret that I like to watch reality TV shows.  From the History Channel shows like Pawn Stars, Counting Cars,  A&E Channel Flipping Vegas as well as HGTV’s Fixer-Upper and Flip or Flop.

By now, there’s all sorts of chatter/rumors/talk about the future of “Flip or Flop” and it’s stars Tarek and Christina.  I’m not here to judge or to give my opinion as to what happened and what should happen.  While watching re-run of “Flip or Flop“, I see a commercial for a new show on HGTV called “Flip or Flop Vegas“.  I don’t know much at this time, but I would imagine that the costs for these homes would be lower than the Los Angeles/Orange County area, but I’m pretty sure that there won’t be too much put into landscaping as the Las Vegas Water District is always encouraging residents and businesses to go with low maintenance and drought resistant landscaping.

I know is going to happen is that I will start watching this new show and I’m going to want to jump on the next Hawaiian Airlines flight to Las Vegas!

Top Golf at the MGM; First time golf experience

On my last trip to Las Vegas, my friend Brian wanted to check out the Top Golf at the Mgm Grand.  I remember seeing it on my trip in October, but I never got around to checking out, most likely because I don’t golf.

Best way to enter, drive north on Koval Lane from Tropicana Boulevard and you will see the towering building on the left.  They have an open parking lot, valet parking and shuttle buses from the area hotels that drop off right in front.  We made the mistake of parking in the MGM Grand parking garage and walking!.  It is over a mile walk through the parking garage, through the hotel lobby, through the casino and past the shops.  Then, you exit out to a couple of pools, past the convention center then you will find it.

Once we got in, I was surprised to find that it was inexpensive to play.  There was a five dollar initial charge for a membership and $45 an hour, no matter how large the party.  We given a bay that had three couches, a coffee table, and table service for food or drinks.  The hostess explained to us how the system works;  you enter in the type of program you want, ie just practice hitting, competition, etc.  Enter in the names of the participants and the screen will guide you when to begin.

You wave your club in front of a sensor and the golf ball is spit out at you.  Each ball is microchipped so when you hit it, the distance and spot where it lands are all recorded.  Comes in real handy when someone’s competitive nature kicks in.

Overall, it is a fun experience, especially for someone like me who has never hit a golf ball in their life.   Will definitely be back again and I was told by the employees there that there are plans for a Top Golf here in Hawaii!