On The Road by Judy @ 4:55 PM

Part 6: MGM Grand (redux)

Tuesday got off to a late start, but I did manage to squeeze a little gambling and a cup of coffee in before noon. When #1 Son got up, he looked out the window and said, It’s really raining hard, Mom. You’re going to get wet going down to MGM Grand.

I dithered about whether to do the focus group or not. But… $50 is $50 and I’m not so wealthy that it isn’t a meaningful sum of cash. I was due down there at 2:15, so I started out about 1:00. I decided to be “smart” and take the monorail so I wouldn’t have to walk so far. I knew the closest monorail stop was a Bally’s. For some reason I thought that I had to walk up to the corner and take the people-mover conveyor belt thingy into the casino. By the time I walked up the street, I was soaked. And, once in the casino, I realized that I could have walked through Paris and gotten there virtually dry.

And my foot really hurt, now. I could tell it was starting to blister on the bottom.

Since it was raining there were quite a few people waiting for the monorail, but I managed to get on to the second train that came. At MGM Grand, I hobbled down to Television City for the focus group. We were asked to watch snips from several shows that were simulcast on both HD-TV and regular TV and notice the differences. Then we were led to a room where we were asked lots of questions about how much we would be willing to pay for on-demand TV shows (zero, in my case), if we would pay $7 to see a movie 0n-demand with no commercials and available for 24 hours (no, since I currently pay around $3), if we would rather have $1500 cash or $2500 in electronic equipment (probably cash), and what equipment were we planning on buying in the next year (none). There was some debate about whether my computer counted like a Tivo, since I do have cable running to it and can record TV shows for later viewing.

After receiving my hard-earned (hardly earned?) $50, I hobbled out to the monorail station. The line for the monorail was now all the way out to the casino. I waited for a long, long, time. I would have risked the rain and walked, but by now my foot was killing me and the blister on the bottom felt like it was the size of Mt. Hood. So I waited. Back at Bally’s, I turned left and walked through Paris. I only got a little wet between Paris and the Aladdin. I bought some band-aids and hobbled upstairs to tape my foot up. I told #1 Son that I had to have some different shoes, so we needed to go shopping. I was also pretty hungry, as I hadn’t eaten. The litter in the room announced that #1 Son had gone for take-out sushi, but there wasn’t even a crumb left.

Part 7: The Aladdin (redux)

While in the room, I called Aladdin engineering and told them that I was having problems with the mouse, that I’d called Sprint, and that nobody had ever come by or called. The guy I talked to said that he’d call me back right away. I never heard from him.

The Desert Passage mall at The Aladdin has 104 shops. It’s not quite as upscale as The Forum at Caesar’s or the mall at Paris, but there are a lot of cool shops to look in. There was, of course, a shoe store. And they had shoes in European sizing, which fit me much better than American sizes. I bought two pairs — a pair of red casual shoes and a pair of black dress shoes — and wore the red ones out of the store. My foot started to feel better immediately, as did my spirit. There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes. Mama used to say that when you’re down you should go buy a new hat to lift your spirit. I look sucky in hats, so I buy shoes. 😀

We also stopped in a souvenir shop to buy umbrellas and gifts for some of #1 Son ‘s friends. He picked up a t-shirt and two souvenir lighters. We also ate passable but totally uninspired enchiladas at a Mexican restaurant that also boasted (go figure) bad coffee.

It was still raining. It rained hard enough to overflow the Bellagio fountain.

After shopping we hung around the room (mom with foot propped up) until it was time to hobble down to The Flamingo for:

Part 8: George Wallace at The Flamingo

Finally a good show! Both George Wallace and the comedian who did the warm up were hysterically funny. We were sitting right by the stage, so #1 Son got teased about his hair. 😉 I thought of it as turnabout’s fair play since last year I was teased soundly by the magician at V.

On the way back to The Aladdin, it was still raining like crazy. But, we were dry under our umbrellas. We turned in right after the show because we had to get up early for:

Part 9: Hummer Gold Rish Adventure Tour

Last year we took a Hummer tour to the Grand Canyon and it was lots of fun. So this year I booked the Hummer Gold Rush Adventure Tour, that takes you out to a gold mine and a ghost town. We had to be out at the pick-up point at 8:00 AM in order to catch the Hummer for the tour. The Hummer showed up about 8:20, and the driver said that the tour had to be cancelled.

Water and deserts don’t mix. The electricity at the mine and the ghost town was out and the roads were closed because of flash floods.

We were offered $10 off on the Valley Of Fire tour, but since I happen to know that tour is quite a bit less than $10 off of the gold mine tour price, I declined. Instead we trooped back in to the concierge desk to get a refund and find out if any other tours were still open. Well, said the nice lady at the concierge desk. I could probably book you on:

Part 10: Annie Bananie’s Wild West Vally Of Fire & Lake Mead tour

OK. It’s a hokey name meant to grap the attention of Japanese tourists. But, hey… what the heck. It was either Annie Bananie or boredom.

While the concierge lady got our tour booked, I took the opportunity to discuss with the manager the situation with our mouse. She not only promised to have it fixed by the time we got back, but also comped our internet usage. 🙂

For the tour, we were picked up by “Sierra Sam” in a 12-seat mini-van. Sam was a Texan who’d been doing the tour for many years, and he was a hoot. He had a story about everything, including the Las Vegas sign. I don’t know how many stories were tall tales, but he was entertaining. Along the way to Lake Meade he told us about the rock formations, the history of Las Vegas and pointed out the homes of famous people. Our first stop was at an area of rock formations where we got out and took pictures. We were up high enough to get some great views of the valley.

From there we travelled to Lake Meade. I was surprised to see that in many place there was dirt and gravel on the pavement where the water from flash floods had gone over the road. Many of the normally-dry gullies now contained fast-running streams. Sam said he couldn’t recall seeing it quite like that ever before.

At Lake Meade we ate lunch at a little restaurant. Food was good. Coffee was bad. It was too windy and cold to walk around much. But we did look out over the lake for a bit before retreating to the van.

Our next stop was Roger’s Spring. We looked at it from the van but didn’t get out because Sam had heard some of the roads ahead were bad and more bad weather was coming. He wanted to make sure we saw the Valley of Fire before the bad weather hit again.

window on the desert

We stopped at several spots in The Valley Of Fire, including the Visitor’s Center.

One stop was at some stone cabins built in the ’30’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps There are petroglyphs on the rocks behind the cabins. This picture was taken looking out of the window of the middle cabin. (click on the pic to embiggen)

As you can see, there was a great view, but the accomodations left something to be desired. The room is about 10′ x 10′, with a small fireplace and chimney in the corner opposite the door. The floor is dirt. There is no door or window. I doubt that anyone leaves a chocolate on your pillow. But, if you climb down the rocks in front of the cabins, there’s a pool and the swimming looked good.

Our last stop was at an arch formation. While there, it started to rain, and then hail. I was glad we’d seen everything because it was obviously time to call it quits.

All-in-all, the tour was a lot of fun. Sam was an awesome guide and the sights were well worth seeing. I’d recommend the tour to anyone. I’d even take it again myself. (But next year I’d really like to do the ghost town and gold mine!)

Sam dropped us off at The Aladdin in the afternoon. I was sorry to learn from him that the Aladdin is closing and will reopen as Planet Hollywood. I would have stayed at the Aladdin again. But Planet Hollywood… uh… no.

Part 11: The Aladdin (finale)
We debated where to eat dinner, and finally decided on Tremezzo, an Italian place in The Aladdin. #1 Son ordered a cup of coffee. Might as well give it one more shot. he said.

His coffee came in a French press. It smelled divine. I’ll have one of those, too. I told the waiter. Finally! Decent coffee!

After dinner it was pretty much just a little TV and then bed. We had to get up at 4:30 AM [groan] in order to get to the airport by 6:00, to catch an 8:00 AM flight. I always allow extra time for the trip back, because we always, always get stuck somewhere (usually in security).

Part 12: Homeward Bound

And we did get stuck in security. Not me this time, but #1 Son. At least the TSA in Las Vegas asked my permission before searching him. That was refreshing.

They confiscated one of the lighters that #1 Son had bought (just one of the pair, even though they were the same). And not because he had too many lighters (which he did), but because that one was deemed to be a “torch lighter,” whatever the heck that is. They also confiscated the 2″ pair of scissors that was in the little sewing kit I bought in the Aladdin sundries shop so that #1 Son could sew a button on his coat. The little scissors that could barely cut thread were deemed too dangerous.

The TSA offered to let us mail the lighter and the scissors back to ourselves for (get this) $8.00 apiece. That’s nuts. I could drop the scissors in a letter with a regular stamp and mail it at postage rates. We declined.

#1 Son was sorry to lose the lighter. But he bought another one at the gift shop in the terminal while we were waiting for our plane to board.

The ride to PDX was uneventful. Getting the car out of the parking lot was expensive, since we had to park in the garage. The fur kids were glad to see us when we picked them up. Captain Kidd had finally started eating a little Gerber turkey, Phoebe was happy since the staff had learned she likes to be scratched, and Moo Cow was queen of the world once the staff moved her into what she consideres “her room” (she whined and moaned until they did). And we were all glad to be back home.

Pics will be up on Mommymonster when I get around to it, which may not be any time soon.

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