Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Food, Fun, & Fur (Day 2 in Las Vegas)

As I said at the end of yesterday's post, I got up at 6:15 in the morning. Las Vegas time, baby!

I didn't do much during the day while Amy and Paul were at work. I worked on the trip report, watched very little TV. Amy came home for lunch, and we made soup and sandwiches, which was *lovely*. The best thing about this trip is that I have tons and tons of time to talk to Amy. We talk about everything. TV, books, hair, clothes, hummingbirds -- OH! Amy has a *pair* of hummingbirds that have already come back from Mexico!!!! Seriously!!!! I watched them fighting over the nectar while I drank my first cup of coffee yesterday. Very cool!!!

Anyway, this trip means that I'm finally getting to really just spend tons of time with Amy. We talk on the phone every day and email several times a day, but it is so much better to actually see her in person. Also, out here ... well, this is really selfish of me, but when she comes home for a visit, the kids are so glad to see her that they keep interrupting us when we talk. Isn't that awful? I get jealous of my own children.

And while I'm here, the only person who interrupts is... nobody. Cool!!!!

So we had lunch, and then Amy went back to work. I revised my trip report (it took five or six edits to get it juuuuuuuust right, and I bet I still have typos in it), and then I felt really sleepy. I laid down for a nap, set my cell phone to wake me in 40 minutes, and went to sleep.

An hour and thirty-five minutes later, I woke up in a complete panic, sure that Amy was home and that I had overslept. I could *hear* her downstairs!!!! I was already running down the stairs to apologize when I realized -- no, that's not Amy. That's her African grey Noah, who does Amy perfectly. "Helloooooo! Noah's a good boooooyyyyyyyy! Hey, Paul? [Paul's voice: Yeah, hon?] Noah's a good booooooyyyyyy!"

Duh. I felt very stuppid. It was now 3:45, so I spent the last of my afternoon getting ready for our evening out. We discussed many, many places to eat dinner. I finally talked to Wesley at some point, but not long enough. I was so conscious of the minutes I was using up on my cell phone. Bluh.

Amy came home first, and we got ready. Then Paul came home, and he was already ready. We tripped merrily out to the PT Cruiser and headed for fun, fun, fun.

First stop: The drug store! I forgot mascara, hair clips, Sudafed, Advil, and I forget what else. I made myself a list. Amy and I ran around like crazy people in the drug store, grabbing stuff off the shelves, and then ran to a skidding stop at the cash register. The clerk was a very nice girl, really friendly. $30+ bucks for my purchases -- ugh! Note to you: Don't forget your basics!

Back to the PT Cruiser, and we listened to a radio show called Phil Landry something on the XM Radio. It was hilarious. He fakes calls. He plays all the characters. Then callers call in and talk about how crazy/stupid/nutty/unhinged the "guest" is. It amazes me that he can do all that and sound credible enough for anyone to believe that the "guest" is a different person -- but he totally gets away with it.

I was trying to figure out how we were getting to the Strip -- I'm going to have to drive there by myself Monday, after all -- and the next thing I knew, we were there. I am never gonna learn the roads around here. We came in the back way, hoping to park at TI (Treasure Island, but they want to get away from their pirate roots, so they just call it TI and the show out front no longer has swashbuckling pirates, it has Sirens. We call it The Tramps at TI, the T&A of TI, etc. Rife with parody possibilities) but we missed the valet station and had to loop around the Mirage to get back to TI. We had decided to park at TI, eat there, walk to the Mirage to see the volcano, and then walk to the Wynn for our show.

I haven't said much about it, but the Strip's light shows and signs are even more glitzy, glamourous, and impressive than they used to be. Now instead of neon and flashing lightbulbs, the savvy casinos are using video walls. They're stunning. The one at the Wynn is particularly stunning -- a veritable tower of solid video wall with the coolest band of metal that slides silently up and down the length of the video wall. They have programmed amazing effects using that band to erase one picture and replace it with another. When the band is all the way at the bottom, they play commercials for the resort's shows and attractions. A-mazing.

The sign at TI is the gigantic letters with video walls inside. Thursday when we arrived, the letters were just changing colors. Last night, they were showing videos inside the letters. A person could get whiplash trying to see all the things being shown on various video walls.

The line at valet parking for TI was pretty long, so Paul dropped us off and we went in search of the new buffet, a restaurant named Dishes. There was no line, so we stepped back into the casino to wait for Paul. While we were standing there chatting, a dollar bill flew out of Amy's pocket and begged to be thrown away, so I ... plopped it into a slot machine and played out the four coins. I won three "coins" (really just three more spins), and then then dollar was effectively gone. Hey, man, I gambled!!!!!! I lost!!!!!!! It's VEGAS!!!!!!! That dollar lasted all of, oh, I think 48.98201 seconds! Pretty good for your entertainment budget, huh?

Paul joined us and we got in line, paid, and were whisked into the buffet.

OK. Now. Buffets and Las Vegas. You know they're there, right? Well, they still are. However, they're not as cheap as they used to be. I remember the one at the Rio with great fondness. Dishes at TI has been open about a year, and it gets good reviews. And deservedly so. I went back for seconds, thirds, and made two trips to the dessert bar. My first dish was a Chinese chicken salad, made fresh just for me at the salad station. Shredded greens, fresh cooked chicken, almonds, mandarin oranges, fried noodles, and some kind of gingery-soy-saucey dressing. YUMMMMMM.

I seriously thought about going back for more, but I decided to get something else. The next stop was the barbecue station. I had a flank steak that was absolutely delicious -- tender, juicy, very rare in the middle, with a tangy, peppery crust that was just to die for. New roasted potatoes with leeks and a little squash were very good, and some Chinese dumplings that were so good, I really thought I should get more. I also had barbecue ribs, but the sauce was very, very sweet. Yuck. Not my thing at all. I had one bite and stopped fooling with the ribs. I rounded out that plate with a little pile of cold, boiled, deveined shrimp.

Next stop: the pasta station, where things were being dramatic. Amy recommended the tortellini, so that's what I ordered. The chef started with white wine in a pan, added sun-dried tomatoes, and then set the thing on fire. At that point, the guy behind me exclaimed, "What did YOU order??? I want THAT!" Then the chef added pesto, drained a little basket of cheese tortellini, and tossed the whole thing around in the pan.

To accompany this, I got the Caribbean grilled salmon, which Paul recommended.

One word: SUBLIME. Amy and Paul were both right on with their recommendations. The pasta was savory and substantial; the salmon was outrageously flaky, tender, tasty, and perfectly seared. There is no way you could salmon like that on a traditional hot-lamp buffet.

So far, the Dishes buffet at TI was well worth the price. The restaurant was not crowded. (I thought I recognized some of the people associated with Ranger Inks there, but I could be mistaken.) Then I hit the dessert station.

I started with a plate of a macaroon (hard and inedible), a tiny pineapple-upside-down cake (moist and tart-sweet), and a chocolate covered strawberry that tasted just like a real strawberry and dark chocolate. Best chocolate-covered strawberry I've had in *years*. But as I had been getting my first dish of dessert, I spied little chocolate souffles. So when I finished the first round, I sat there and tried to decide if I could eat any more, much less a whole dessert.

Fortunately, I decided to go back for that chocolate souffle, and I am SO glad I did. OMG. Y'all. It was a molten chocolate souffle. It wasn't just fabulous. It wasn't just rich and chocolatey. It was HEAVEN. The first bite was ecstasy. The second bite was exuberant. The third bite was delightful. By that time, I was so full it hurt. That tiny chocolate souffle was so rich, I almost gave my last bite away. I should have taken a picture of it. I want to remember that souffle forever. It was light and fluffy and soooooo deceitful. I forced myself to take that last, agonizing bite. Thank heaven!!!!! It was worth the pain. What a magnificent dessert!!!!

So the buffet at TI isn't just a good deal. It's a *bargain*. Go. Go. If you have a chance, GO.

Thrilled with our dining experience, laughing and talking, we made our way out of TI and headed over to the Mirage to catch a volcano show. We got there around 8:35, and the sign said the volcano erupts every 60 minutes. There was no one waiting out front to see it, but we hoped that it hadn't just erupted at 8:30 and that we would only have to wait 25 minutes.

We laughed and talked. A couple came over and asked me to take their picture in front of the waterfall, and I complied, then Paul took a picture of me and Amy. We had a great time waiting. Around 8:50, there was a rumble under the water, so we knew that the volcano would, indeed, erupt at 9:00. We turned around and continued talking and laughing. The rumbles grew more intense, and jungle noises became louder -- monkeys and birds hooting and chattering -- and people gathered behind us to watch the volcano.

Paul pointed out technical stuff -- pilot lights and speakers and stuff. Paul is handy that way. I find that sort of thing cool.

The volcano finally erupted at 9:00 on the dot, and it was very impressive with lots of rumbling, water shooting into the air, flames and balls of flame scattering hither and yon. I laughed out loud with delight. It's like fireworks without fireworks. We applauded, and then turned around to discover this HUGE crowd behind us, and everyone turned and started going every which way.

In one step, I was separated from Amy and Paul, and I will confess to a small amount of concern that I would get lost completely. I am 39 years old and no shrinking violet. So I shook off my trepidation and pushed my way through a crowd of drunks to catch up.

Now we started collecting something that I can't mention. I would love to mention it. But the beneficiary of our collecting efforts reads this blog, and it would spoil the surprise. However, it made us giggle like mad as we walked past TI, over two pedestrian bridges, and on to the magnificent Wynn.

By now it was 9:25, and our show was going to start at 10:00. So we needed to get to the theatres in some pretty great haste, which meant bypassing the Big Giant Head entirely.

Furthermore, on Thursday night when I was exhausted and weak from my day of sneezing and my near-brush with death by flaming jet fuel, Amy cruelly and forcefully brainwashed me until I capitulated and agreed to go see "La Reve" on another night. (There's a two-for-one deal for Las Vegas residents that only lasts until Feb. 7th.) We looked at my schedule and picked Sunday or Wednesday night to see that show.

We walked past those magnificent shops again. This time I noticed Manolo Blahnik. No comment. I want, I want. But no. Those shoes are not practical. But they're gorgeous. I just want a pair to mount on the wall. That's how gorgeous they are.

At the box office, I stayed outside and chatted with some older dude while Amy and Paul went to see about tickets to "La Reve." Older Dude had just seen "Avenue Q" -- his sister and brother-in-law were in town, and he was taking them to a different show every night. What a great guy! When you live in Las Vegas, you're always going to get houseguests! I asked him how he liked "Avenue Q," and he allowed that the humor was too youthful for his taste. Hmmmmm.

On our way to the theatre, we passed a woman with one of the character puppets from the show. They take those puppets out into the casino to promote the show. (I'm not sure why, because once we were seated, it looked like a full house. So it's not like you can drop your last $500 at a blackjack table, see a puppet, and buy a ticket right then for the next show. Or then again, maybe you can.)

Amy took my picture with the puppet who turned out to be Kate Monster once I saw the show.

We had excellent, fabulous, incredible, amazing seats about halfway up and in the center of the house.

As I've already said, "Avenue Q" is billed as an adult Sesame Street, and the creators of the show worked with that fine piece on public television for years. Having been in theatre most of my life and knowing how actors and theatre people's brains work, I'm sure that this show was a very normal progression from children's television to "Avenue Q." It's FILTHY. It is not just adult -- it's dirty. Of course, it's the juxtaposition of cuddly, cute puppets against their completely raunchy lyrics that makes it so funny. If you are easily offended, don't go see it. Otherwise, go. And be prepared to laugh until you cry. We guffawed through the whole show.

The great thing about this show is -- it's theatre. It is not typical Las Vegas spectacle -- it's an actual play with actual music. The technical aspects are fabulous. I highly recommend Avenue Q.

Another amazing bit of info is that the theatre emptied in about a minute. Casinos are excellent traffic flow managers -- they want you to get out of the auditorium and back to the gaming tables. Hoo-rah. I've never seen a theatre empty that quickly in my life.

Seconds later, Amy bought the CD original cast recording of the musical numbers, which includes such songs as "It Sucks to be Me" and "The Internet is for Porn." Actually, if you are curious, you can Google some amateur videos on the Internet for that last song. It's hilarious. And shocking and outrageous. And, to finish my "Producers" quote, I loved every minute of it.

(That's not entirely accurate -- there were a couple of scenes that shocked even me. Still, it's a great show.)

We stopped by the gift shop, and then lingered in the hallway to the trams. I noticed that the designer situated a large picture of a poppy that appears to sprout from an actual vase on a table beneath it. You have to be standing in just the right spot to see the full effect, so I pulled Amy and then Paul to stand in just the right spot, and we giggled over the idea that the security guys were probably watching us and saying, "Hey, someone just found the poppy vase."

Details like that are *plentiful* at the Wynn. It's ... Well, I overused the word "gorgeous" in yesterday's post. But... yeah, gotta say it. It's gorgeous. The carpets are custom-made to emulate the decorative tile floors, and the ceilings have plaster re-creations of the same patterns. That's just too perfect for words.

We left the Wynn, a little bit sad to be leaving. The streets and sidewalks were much quieter now, and most of the revelers left outside were drinking as they walked -- or should I say, as they stumbled? In no time at all, we were back at TI. As I passed Tangerine and electronic dance music pulsated, I thought of Krisi for about the 80th time and our trips to PI. Las Vegas is one, big, more expensive PI.

The trip home was fast, and actually, this time the trip made more sense in terms of directions and interstates. Once here, we all plopped on the couch and queued up the Dancing With the Stars results show. I thought it was very interestingly done, with clips about the dancers' backstage rituals, and interviews with the judges. They didn't mention Bruno's foul mouth, and the right person FINALLY got the boot. WHEW!!!!!

And after that, I remember very little. I dashed off a quick note to Wesley, and crashed.

Las Vegas *rocks*.


At 28/1/06 6:56 PM, Blogger Gwyn Calvetti said...

You are having way more fun than is legal, even in Vegas. I've never heard of that show. It sounds like it could tempt me to actually go to Vegas myself.

And WHERE are the photos of Amy's hummingbirds, darn it?!

At 28/1/06 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bay, sounds like you are having a BLAST. Remember that we expect a full report on everything that you see in the trade show too! My DH is there this weekend, went for a guys trip with a blackjack buddy.

At 29/1/06 12:50 AM, Blogger Bay in TN said...

Gwyn, I had never heard of "Avenue Q," either, but they swear it was a "big hit" on Broadway. I guess "big hit" doesn't necessarily mean "The Producers". It also won at least one Tony award. (The one I'm sure about was for Best Book in 2004 -- but I think it got some other Tonys.)

It is really, really shockingly filthy. I'm just warnin' you. Is all.

And yes, I *am* having a blast here!!!!

At 29/1/06 3:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bay, I'm so glad you're having a great time. Can we convince you to go back to TI to go to Tangerine to watch the Sirens? The men come up on the Tangerine side, and they are *fun* to watch sliding up and down the masts of their ship. ;)

See you soon!

At 22/2/07 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great site » » »


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