Thursday, August 09, 2001

Lunch at the Palm

The next morning we got up and took a cab to the Imperial Palace. The Imperial Palace houses the Auto Collection, which Christina really wanted to see. The guidebook said that admission was $7, or free with a coupon from the casino. Seeing this, I think, "Why would the casino give us a coupon? Let's pay the $7." Christina, on the other hand, thinks, "Where can we get the free coupons?" So she -- get this -- asks people. And gets the free coupons. Huh. Well, live and learn.

So we spent an hour or so looking at some really cool cars. My favorite, I think, was the popemobile. Certain cars were less impressive -- ooh, it's a Chevy Impala. Ooh, this car was owned by Tom Jones. Or Elvis. OK, that is pretty cool. Elvis' Caddy. Best of all, the cars were all for sale (this is Vegas, after all), so we could dream about hitting it big and driving home in one cool ride. Sadly, that didn't happen, so I don't have to worry about where to park the popemobile. (In case you're wondering what the pope is doing these days w/o the popemobile, this was a specially modified Land Rover solely used for his visit to England.)

I'm going to get all sorts of hits from people searching for "popemobile" now, aren't I?

After that, it was across the street to Caesars Palace for lunch. We had a lot of trouble getting into Caesars Palace. No, not the dress code (this is Las Vegas). Rather, all the construction that they have going on. After a while, we made our way in and through the casino (the number one rule of Vegas is that you have to go through the casino to get anywhere) to the Forum, their set of shops. I'm not sure who comes to Las Vegas to go shopping -- people with too much money, I guess. Which describes Las Vegas' favorite visitors in general.

We headed to The Palm. Now, I've eaten better food -- I ate better food elsewhere on this trip -- but I'm not sure I've eaten in a restaurant with better service. The staff was very attentive, but they made us feel very welcome. Usually, I would say "nice restaurant" + "good service" = "me feeling uncomfortable." But these guys were great, and served the most ridiculously large quantities of food imaginable. I couldn't even finish my giant hamburger, and I wasn't hungry for the next 20-odd hours. An offhand remark by Christina about her birthday led to the staff bringing out a slice of cheesecake with a candle on it and singing "Happy Birthday". All in all, a great time, and perhaps the highlight of the day for me.

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Casa Grande Pictures

I've posted some pictures from my trip to Casa Grande National Monument.

They're available in a Yahoo! Photos album.

Tuesday, August 07, 2001

New York, New York

Well, I'm back and starting to recover after a few fun-filled days in Las Vegas for Martin and Jeanene's wedding. I actually cut myself off from e-mail and the Web for 4 days, so I'll try to post recaps in the upcoming days.

The flight out on Wednesday was thankfully uneventful. I fell asleep for most of it, while Christina watched Shrek. (The only event of note was something I failed to realize until the next day -- I left the Las Vegas guide I had checked out from the library in the pocket of the seat in front of me.) We got there more or less on time just before midnight, which enabled me to wish Christina a Happy Birthday while we were waiting at the baggage carousel.

After collecting our bags, we hopped into a cab to the Excalibur, our hotel. My guidebook says that Excalibur not only is designed for kids, but seems "to be both designed and assembled by children." I think that's overly harsh. The medieval theme is cute, if a bit grating after a while. And I've had far worse experiences in Holiday Inns. Moreover, the price was very nice, especially compared to what the neighboring hotels/casinos/resorts/whatever were charging.

After checking in, we were hungry. Christina tends not to eat much before flying, and I hadn't had a lot that day myself. So at 1 in the morning (4 Eastern Time), we headed to one of the few restaurants the guide recommended that was still open -- America in the New York, New York casino/hotel. We walked on a bridge across the street separating the two establishments.

The NY, NY casino looks pretty interesting from the outside. The "building" consists of the Manhattan skyline squashed together, with the Statue of Liberty (wearing an ESPN SportsZone jersey during our visit) thrown in for good measure. We headed straight for America, which in and of itself is rather visually compelling. It has a huge (90 ft by 20 ft) 3D map of the US hanging up over the restaurant. Fittingly for Christina's birthday, we sat under Texas. (She was born there.) They were running a crab legs & steak special, for which we both eagerly opted. The food was pretty good (much better than I remembed from America in Union Station), and the service was somnewhat indifferent. The highlight of the meal for me was the 32 oz. raspberry margarita...or rather the souvenir cup it came in (for only $4 extra). This plastic container is in the shape of the Statue of Liberty. It's so tacky. It's so Vegas. Perfect.

Having filled our stomachs, we headed back to the Excalibur to rest up for the day of celebration to come.