jamesq: (An actual picture of me.)
[personal profile] jamesq
I decided to go to Las Vegas for my birthday. Or, more accurately, I decided to go see Postmodern Jukebox in concert in Vegas. The point of the trip was the concert, and I could have gone to another city (Chicago, say) just as easily. However, it had been a few years since I'd been to Las Vegas, and there were a few things I wanted to checkout aside from PMJ.

I booked a vacation package through Westjet that included decent flights (November 24th morning outbound and November 27th Evening inbound), and a room at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. I opted to upgrade my room to a one bedroom terrace, which was surprisingly inexpensive. For some reason, rooms have always been cheap in Vegas around my birthday (or as the Yanks call it, Thanksgiving).

Fun Fact, the Cosmopolitan does not have a 4th, 13th, of 40-49th floor. because superstition.
(My home away from home)

I normally don't need much in the way of a room. My requirements are basically a comfortable bed and a place to throw my stuff. However, one of the reasons why I choose a one bedroom suite was to entice my friends to come join me. If someone took me up on that, they'd have been able to skip the hotel room costs and just used a cot in the sitting area of the suite. No one took me up on that offer, though I'm confident several people thought seriously about it. Time and money did not line up though.

Almost all of City Centre is behind my tower - thats a lot of walking.
(The view south from my suite)

All that said, I really liked the room I got, even by myself, and I'd seriously consider getting it again in the future. The room was comfortable, roomy, had a nice soaker tub (allowing me to have my first bath in ages - fun fact, I have never had a bath in the house I've owned for twelve years), and the balcony was a nice treat. Just sitting outside enjoying a drink in the evening was a plus.

I could not see the fountains, unless I leaned over far enough to become a statistic.
(The view north from my suite)

Food

So I'm on Weight Watchers, and I've actually been following the program and losing weight. I decided that, while I wasn't going to be slavish to the program while I was away, I was going to go into the trip with a plan:

  1. My WW "week" ends on Thursday night and begins on Friday morning, So save all my bonus points from the week before for Thursday, and use all my bonus points for the next week right at the beginning, sticking within my daily points with no bonus after I return.
  2. Skip breakfast, since I was just going to sleep in anyway.
  3. No buffets.
  4. Two really good meals each day, from decent restaurants. If salad is a side option, choose it. As a wise woman once told me, salad may not be food, but it does help push the food through.
  5. One beer and one cocktails each day. I'm be by myself, so there's no reason to get drunk.
  6. No snacking between meals. I tend to pound back chocolates, treats, popcorn if I let myself.
As you can see, I wasn't a nightmare of deprivation. I figured while I wouldn't lose any weight, I wasn't going to gain any either.

I lost two pounds. And I wasn't hungry at all - I ate really well. So, some highlights:

  • Thursday lunch: The Earl of Sandwich's Holiday Turkey sandwich. It was American Thanksgiving after all. Plus I love that sandwich and only ever get to an EofS when I'm in Vegas.
  • Thursday supper: Holsteins at the Cosmopolitan. I had the Rising Sun burger. They also give free popcorn, which is one of those little flourishes that I love. Alas, I did not have one of their boozy milkshakes, which I imagine is one of those things you're supposed to do. Next time I'm there with a friend, we'll split one.
  • Friday lunch: Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan. The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Sandwich. A really good take on one of the basics.
  • Friday supper: China Poblano at the Cosmopolitan. I opted for the tasting menu, which included a wide variety of the their menu. This was the best meal I had the whole trip. Highly recommended.
  • Saturday lunch: California Pizza Kitchen at the Park. These guys tried to kill me with kindness. First, they had that effusive service that I've noticed a lot of American restaurants have. Next, they had just opened, so they were trying to impress me. That meant free appetizers (bread/oil/vinegar, white corn guacamole and chips), that I didn't ask for in addition to the pizza (Sicilian) that was too big for me to finish. It worked, I recommended them on Facebook, and I'll recommend them to you, if you're in a social mood and in the neighbourhood.
  • Saturday supper: Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock. Ribs. Very messy ribs.
  • Sunday Lunch: Left over pizza.
  • Sunday Supper: I returned to Holsteins for ahi sliders and a (non-alcoholic) milkshake.
  • Sunday's missed opportunity: I should have grabbed the fried rice from China Poblano for my flight home. I was going to, but changed my mind at the last minute. Naturally, there was no food service on my flight (it was bumpy enough that the pilot wouldn't let the flight attendants get out of their seats for an hour), and a guy two rows ahead of me had fried rice. Kicked myself there.
Pretty much everything I had was delicious. Holsteins is no better or worse than the other upscale burger joints. China Poblano was the stand out of all my meals.

Shows

I go to Vegas for the shows, and as I mentioned above, I went to see Postmodern Jukebox. That was on Saturday night. First, The Joint at the Hard Rock is a decent venue, and I had excellent seats, at least until the retired linebacker sat directly in front of me. This is probably some kind of seat karma since, I look like Shrek, and I've probably disturbed many a person's view in my lifetime. Mostly I just moved my head to the side, which no doubt caused a cascade of similar motions behind me.

And the show? It was a blast and I'm glad I went. The personal highlight was me white boy dancing to their version of My Heart Will Go On. Of note, I'm probably the only person - who is not a Celine Dion fan - that still loves that song. Don't judge me.



Mykal Kilgore, who sings the above version was the show's emcee. Scott Bradlee was there too, even though he doesn't really tour with the band. Best of all, Puddles made an appearance, and played Royals.

Stage full of talent.
(Postmodern Jukebox, during their encore)

Thursday night I went to see Pin Up with Claire Sinclair. I'm not sure how popular this show was, but I easily got half-price tickets (making the VIP section a mere $35), and the venue was maybe half full. I had a four-person table to myself about ten feet from the stage. Still, it was Thanksgiving Thursday, so I have no idea if that means more or less people than average.

The show was decent enough, but it's certainly no better than the other showgirl shows I've seen in Vegas (Jubilee, Fantasy, Crazy Horse Paris). Claire is certainly an attractive woman, and the four dancers were really good, but I think the show really belonged to Natalie, the singer. She's got a great set of pipes, and is certainly multi-talented. I wonder if she resents that she's holding up the show, and Ms. Sinclair gets top billing. Rounding out the show is the male side, one dancer, who does all the heavy lifting (literally), and a four piece band who played some fun retro tunes. There is no nudity - the closest is Claire in pasties and a thong - mostly the dancers are dressed in skimpy fashions from the forties to sixties, which is really the shows selling point. Note also, that Claire is only in about half the numbers. If you're looking for a more modern look, go see Fantasy. That said, I liked Pin Up, but I knew what I was getting before I paid for the ticket.

If you want some music, burlesque, singing, in an inexpensive venue, consider Pin Up. Join the Stratosphere's players club for half-off tickets first though.

Friday night I saw Jim Jefferies, the comic. If you've seen anything by him, it's probably his gun control routine. If you've seen anything more of him, you'll know he's ridiculously offensive. His last two shows are on Netflix. Check 'em out. But be aware, he's a little like a living Cards Against Humanity game - you will be offended. A lot of people walked out of the show.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it (right up until he went after Canadians - which I'll admit was spot on), and I think we got good value for our money. It's supposed to be a 90 minute show, but he was a wee bit drunk, and ended up going an hour over. I think the Mirage staff were a little pissed. He did a solid 30 minutes on the election/Trump, and it was really some stuff that I needed to hear. Politically, the world is still fucked - but it's nice to hear about it and laugh, rather than the huge amount of anger/frustration/worry I'd been having until then.

Miscellaneous

Went to the North Outlet mall and bought some clothing. This replaced the crappy clothing I deliberately abandoned in my hotel room.

I checked out the High Roller. That was fun, but try to get cheap tickets. It's basically a half an hour, once around, on a giant Ferris wheel, with a great view of the strip. I was there during the golden hour, so we got to see the sun set and the lights come on. Not a bad time to see it. I think, if I'm ever in Vegas with a big group again, we should try to do this and all get on the same car.

Going... up
(Before entering)

they should really simulcast the music over the PA system, rather than have us listen to the guy on the video
(View of the Bellagio fountains)

The benefit of riding during the golden hour
(Sunset from high above Las Vegas)

It lights up purr-ty
(after exiting)

I did a lot of gambling on this trip. First, because I enjoy it, and also because I collect chips. I checked out about seven casinos I'd never been to before. Luck was with me this time - I bet in the neighbourhood of $600 total (basically I staked $150/day), and overall I won $1100. Easily the best streak of good luck I've ever had. This paid for all my shows and meals.

Let the chips fall where they may
(A fraction of my winnings)

Conclusion

This was a good trip. It wasn't perfect - I could have stood with either a travelling companion and/or a bedroom companion, but that was not to be. It was a damn sight better than my last solo trip.

So why was this time better than that other time? I was just as alone, I did more-or-less the same things. The difference was that I wasn't sick as a dog, and not being sick as a dog, being alone wasn't triggering. I like not being triggered into a depression when I'm supposed to be having a good time. I came anticipating a good time, had a good time, and left happy and sated. That's the sign of a good vacation.

They do not care if you are a robot, they only care if your money is good.

So my burn out is gone, but I won't be back until I convince someone to go with me. That's been my habit the last few years: solo, group, solo, group... etc. I might drive down next summer. Take three weeks to go down to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, then back up the coast to Vancouver. Still very preliminary, but seems worth doing.
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