(The, uh, less coherent part is here
I wasn't sure whether renting a car in Las Vegas was really a good idea, but I would absolutely do it again - besides, I still want to go out to Red Rocks (or whatever that place is called) and we didn't get around to it this trip. We had a little bit of trouble parking at the Golden Nugget, which makes sense since it's downtown and it was Friday night and there were a lot of people at Fremont Street. And I had a bit of trouble navigating here and there but it's not like you can't see the landmarks from most places in Vegas. Parking turned out to be free just about everywhere, which I didn't expect. (The Golden Nugget does charge, but not for guests; noplace we parked on the Strip did.)
We got in so late Friday night so we didn't do anything except go to the hotel and check in and collapse. The Golden Nugget is nicely remodeled, and they're in the process of building another tower - which I certainly hope will include more parking, since we had to go from bottom to top to bottom of the parking garage twice before we found a space. I was happy to see that downtown looks just like it did nearly 25 years ago when I first came to Las Vegas, although frankly I think more places than the Nugget could stand to do some remodeling. (All I care about preserving is the exterior, really.) My sister Paula and her boyfriend Dave were already there when we got there, but they had been walking around all day and had gone up to their room by the time we finally arrived.
When we finally saw them at breakfast Paula was flashing that ring around - it's a big wide ring and I wasn't immediately sure if it was intended to be an engagement ring, but it was. They had already been talking about marriage in December when I was there so I wasn't terribly shocked. Dave is a nice guy and seems much more grounded than most people she's dated, so it's not like I disapprove. They haven't known each other all that long, but as I said yesterday, she's doesn't seem to be any hurry about things, anyway.
They had already been to a lot of different casinos, but Paula said she hadn't been to Paris so that was where we went. I've been there enough times that I had stopped thinking a lot about it looking different from other casinos, but it does, and she loved it. It's true that every other casino does look pretty much alike, as far as the actual casino goes. We wandered around and gambled a bit, and then we went up the Eiffel Tower. I was the only one who had done it before. (Paula has been to Paris, the real one, a couple of times, but didn't go up the real tower, either - she said the lines were too long.) Rob had some pretty serious vertigo on the way up, just like I did the first time. It didn't bother me so much the second time. Everybody was ok once we got up to the top, though, even though we could feel it swaying, which I don't remember noticing the first time. I sure wouldn't want to go up there on a windy day!
After that we walked down to Margaritaville and had late lunch/early dinner - it was about 3:00 by then. We had to wait in line for a good while but we goofed around in the gift shop, which was a fairly interesting place even if you're not a Parrothead. (I really wanted to buy a t-shirt that said "Yes I am a pirate" - don't ask me why that appealed to me so much, but it did - except that I really don't wear t-shirts so it would be a big waste of money, and I wasted enough money gambling that I didn't have much budget left for junk.) The food was pretty good and the drinks were better. The place was hopping and noisy but it was fun.
That reminds me that I can't really say I saw much sign of a recession, overall - although I'm sure most people were paying considerably less for their hotel rooms than they would have a year or two ago, and of course that's having a big impact on the casinos' bottom lines. But people were sure eating and gambling and buying stuff like crazy, as far as I could tell.
The other place we went before we went back downtown was the Rio, where none of us had been before. And it wasn't all that impressive, except for having the cheesiest cocktail-waitress outfits, by far. (And some of them climbed up on podiums and danced, from time to time, too, so I guess they were doubling as sort of go-go dancers, as well as waitresses.) There were sure a lot of people there, though.
That was enough walking that I was starting to have blisters on my feet, by then, so we went back to the hotel and regrouped. I put some neosporin on the blisters and changed shoes, and that gave me enough of a second wind that we were able to go down and see the light show on Fremont and wander in & out of a couple of the casinos down there. I had thought I would want my coat down there after dark but I hardly ended up wearing it at all. It really didn't feel that cold. We did win a little money gambling, Rob and I both did. (He ended up about $100 up for the weekend and I was probably nearly that much down, overall, so hopefully we came out even, or a bit better.)
So that was Saturday, and I've already talked a good bit about Sunday. The only thing I didn't mention was that we were still on the kick of checking out off-Strip casinos, so we did go spend some time at the Palms Sunday before we left. We liked it better than the Rio. It seemed a bit more upscale (although it had just about the most penny slots I've ever seen anywhere) - and it has a movie theater inside, which is something I don't think I've seen anywhere else.
It didn't seem like we walked as much as we did on the last couple of trips to Vegas, but I'm still exhausted today. Actually I just don't think it's possible to go there without walking a lot - unless maybe you're a star and can have your limo pull right up at the front door. (And even then, it's still an awful long way across some of the casinos!) Even with driving ourselves around, well, they don't put the self-parking anywhere convenient, that's for sure!