Vegas... epilogue

I hadn't planned on writing any more about my adventures in Vegas but my trip to the airport was just interesting enough I thought I'd do an epilogue.

I had a conference call with the folks back in Minneapolis at 7:30-9.  The next session which I would have attended didn't end until 11:45.  With a 1:40 flight I didn't think that gave me enough time to get to the airport and get through security.  It can be really bad here.

So after my call I found some breakfast, wasted a little time and headed for the airport.  The drive to the airport was completely uneventful, however when we got there, my cab driver got pulled over by a cop.  Apparently his ID was displayed incorrectly.  The driver tried to explain that it wasn't his ID, and he didn't know whose it was. I'm not sure that helped his case as if it wasn't his, where was his?  The nice officer told him to finish up with me and pull over.  I didn't wait to see what happened.

The line outside to check bags was really long so I decided to go inside. First class is a very nice thing.  The line to check my bag, were I not in first class, was really long.  The line for first class passengers was 6 people deep.  Nice.

The line for TSA pre-check was also very short.  My lucky day, maybe I should gamble?  I have to commend McCarran airport TSA.  They held to the pre-check rules.  There was a woman a few people in front of me in line.  She was not pre-check.  Apparently one of her traveling companions was and he thought that since she was "with him" she could go through that line as well.  Nope.  They sent her back through the other line.

So, again very early for my flight, I'm relaxing, if you can really do that, in the airport waiting for my flight.

Some airport observations:
Who buys a Coach purse in an airport?

Why do people talk on their cell phones in airport bathrooms (or any bathroom for that matter)?

Who thought manufacturing sparkly spandex was a good idea? And better yet, who thought buying it was?

Why did I go to Hoover Dam when I could have gone here?

The movie on the flight home was the new Star Wars movie so I watched that.  I highly recommend noise cancelling headphones if you don't already own them.

Lunch options were BBQ chicken sliders or shrimp over orzo. I took a risk and ordered the shrimp and orzo.  There was a chance they could have thought cilantro would be good in that dish.  I lucked out, no cilantro. The shrimp was actually pretty good and the orzo had a nice lemon flavor.

The soup this time tasted a bit like a tortilla soup, again, sans cilantro.

The cookie was a triple chocolate cookie.  I really didn't need to eat it but I did.  It was better than the "molasses" cookie on the way out.

The flight was almost completely uneventful, almost.  As we were on approach a man staggered into the first class section, really staggered.  The two attendants in the front asked him if he was OK.  He didn't seem to know where he was or what he wanted.  They tried to point him to the bathroom but he just stood there.  They continued to ask him if he was OK.  They escorted him back to his seat for landing. He wasn't obnoxious or belligerent, just very unsteady on his feet and didn't seem to know where he was or what he was doing. I don't know if he was just drunk or there was something wrong with him.  He appeared to be traveling alone.

Once we landed one of the guys in first class asked the attendants if they would need any help with him. The flight attendant said he wouldn't be going anywhere tonight, security would meet him at the plane.  And they did.

It was SO good to see Dave!  We stopped at the 5-8 for dinner before heading home.  The kids were very happy to see their mom!

I'm unpacked, laundry has started and Cider is curled up next to me on the couch being coaxed to eat by Dave.  Back to normal!

A cup of tea and then off to bed!  No construction noises tonight! 

Vegas... Day 5

After my mini-meltdown last night I figured I had to do something to make me feel better.  So this morning I started packing! It did make me feel a little better.  I still have a long day ahead of me and a few sessions tomorrow morning before I can catch a cab and head to the airport to head home.

I slept better last night but not great.  Wide awake at 1:18 this morning listening to the construction in the street down below.  Not sure when I fell asleep again.

I guess it's tradition now, here is this mornings sunrise.  Another cloudless day here.  It is supposed to be 77 degrees this afternoon!

And I got a nice shot of the Area 51 plane this morning.  I promise, last one!

I'm wearing "sensible" shoes (my Saucony's) today and I'm really feeling that blister.  It's about the size of a quarter.  Let's hope that doesn't decide to pop.

There were no really note worthy events or people in my sessions today.  The rooms weren't as full.  Maybe people were watching basketball or celebrating St. Patrick's Day out on the strip. I was a good girl, I endured the PowerPoint presentations.

I had a good long break over the lunch hour today and since I didn't want dried chicken again, I decided to go out to lunch.  I decided on Giada.  Considering how I'm feeling, I guessed by 6pm tonight I would just want to head up to my room and be done with the day.

Getting out in the air was just what I needed.  Remember, I've been stuck in conference rooms until 6 or 7 every night.  Sunshine and fresh air were just what the doctor ordered.

Giada is in the Cromwell which, based on the casinos I've walked through, is one of the classiest.  I didn't smell any smoke.  It was clean an tastefully (rather than gaudily) decorated.

I was led to the absolute perfect spot for me!  A table right near the big windows, which were open providing the perfect breeze, overlooking the strip.  I could have stayed right there all afternoon.

I haven't had lunch there before so I asked my waiter, Julian, what he recommended.  He had four recommendations, the Carbonara pizza, the Waldorf Panzanella Salad (which sounded amazing), the Lemon Pesto Grilled Cheese or the Lasagna.  I was split between the Waldorf Panzanella Salad and the Lemon Pesto Grilled Cheese.  I picked the grilled cheese and I opted to add Prosciutto di Parma to make it a grilled "ham and cheese."

I had a choice of a salad or "zucchini scapecce", I chose the zucchini.  What is scapecce?  Apparently it's a word made up by Giada meaning skinny curls of fried zucchini.  I Googled it and after pages and pages of posts about Giada's zucchini scapecce, I found one or two posts that referenced "zuchhini a'scapecce".  Based on those posts, the dish is sliced zucchini marinated in vinegar, mint and a little fresh chili pepper, which sounds delicious.

That, however is not Giada's definition. They were finely shredded pieces of zucchini that were breaded and fried.  Do I care?  No.  They were delicious. They didn't taste like zucchini, they were almost sweet, crispy but not hard like shoestring potatoes, and just enough salt!

But the sandwich, that was amazing.  The lemon pesto was divine, just enough lemon, not too much.  I'm not even sure what kind of cheese it was!  The lemon pesto with the salty prosciutto and the sweet heirloom tomato was, well, quite possibly the best "grilled ham and cheese" I have ever eaten.

I paired my lunch with a nice Italian chardonnay.  Like I said, I could have sat there all day. I know, wine during "work" hours. You sit in a windowless conference room for three days and tell me if you wouldn't like a drink at lunch.

To drag out my time at the table I decided to just look at the dessert menu.  Yea, right, I didn't just look.  Last time I was there I ordered the assorted cookies which came with two of those divine lemon ricotta cookies (which I now know how to make so I can get them at home), two chocolate chip cookies (I think mine are better) and two peanut butter and jelly cookies (also not my thing).  So this time I decided on the chocolate tiramisu.

It was delicious, perfectly creamy with just enough chocolate, not too much booze, ladyfingers that weren't all mushy, and it was the perfect size.  The only think missing was a spatula to scrape the cup clean!

It was so nice out I walked back, slowly, to the MGM. It is cold and snowing at home, I wanted to get a little vitamin D while I could.  Today is St. Patrick's Day.  There were a lot of drunk people dressed in green on the strip already.  Interesting people watching.

I really, really did not want to go back to the conference center.  It was SO beautiful out.  I had two sessions left, I could do this!

Neither session was really worth the time and by the time the last one ended, I was done, DONE.

The number of green-clad drunk people had multiplied in just those few hours and being in a crammed elevator with them really wasn't all that much fun.  Shocking I know.  So I decided dinner would be somewhere in the hotel. One of the only choices available (that wasn't a buffet or look up at the menu place) was Wolfgang Puck's restaurant, so that's where I went.

Nothing on the menu really sounded good to me.  I really wasn't that hungry after that big lunch, but I was hungry enough to know that in an hour or so I would be hungry and by then things would be even more crowded.

There was a burger on the menu. It was a prime burger with onion marmalade, Vermont cheddar, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles and it was served with fries.  Done. I'll add to my Vegas burger comparison.

The burger was good, as good as Gordon Ramsey's, better than Hubert Keller's.  The burger was better seasoned than Gordon Ramsey's, at least for my taste, lots of pepper on it.  It was juicy and flavorful.  The toppings were massive, kind of like at Burgr.  The onion marmalade gave it a little sweet flavor and also made it a fairly messy burger to eat.  The pickles on it were bread and butter pickles, not dill. I prefer dill but it didn't ruin the burger.

The fries were "skinny" fries like the ones at Keller's Burger Bar, but these were better.  They were hot, crispy and just had better flavor.  I'm guessing they are frying in something other than canola oil.  And, lucky me, regular old Heinz ketchup!  No "fancy" stuff like at Gordon Ramsey's.

So, in order of preference top to bottom I think I have to go Gordon Ramsey, Wolfgang Puck then Hubert Keller.  I don't need a burger for a very long time now.

I get to go home tomorrow!!!!!  I heard it snowed there today.  Not really looking forward to that but I am looking forward to seeing my hubby and my "kids" and sleeping somewhere where there is no road construction going on!

And I got to see the night shift fly off to Area 51!  I know, I know, but I only promised no more pictures.

Good-bye Vegas.

Vegas... Day 4

Even after taking my allergy meds I woke up three times, 1:30, 3:30 and 5.  Maybe ear plugs next?

Once again a beautiful sunrise.  I may have to amend my statement that the only thing Vegas has going for it is the restaurants. The sunrises have been pretty spectacular.

I opted for a "look down at the menu" breakfast today.  The special was Banana Cream Pie Pancakes.  No thanks.  I'll have oatmeal.

It was ok oatmeal but honestly I think I'll go back to my yogurt parfait and a banana.  The decaf was better at the little shop where I was picking up my "look up at the menu" breakfast anyway.  Look at the amount of cinnamon they give you!  I wonder how many people dump the whole thing in their oatmeal?  That's a LOT of cinnamon.

I did it!  I got it!  I was diligent this morning and watched for the Area 51 plane taxiing out.  It's a perfectly clear sky here today so the sun was right in my window.  This prevented any in-flight pictures, today at least. I know many, maybe all, of you reading this are thinking "what is the big deal with the Area 51 planes?"  I just think it's cool that a plane-load (maybe more) of people fly off to a "top secret" government installation to work and then get flown back at the end of the day.  Don't you wonder what they really do there?  I want to believe! (wink wink)

On my way into the convention center I saw someone dressed in a lime green suit!  It's not St. Patrick's Day yet.  Is he early?  Who owns a lime green suit?  I will see if I can snag a picture.

I did make it to lunch today and I guess I didn't miss anything yesterday.  Today's lunch was exactly the same as yesterdays, well almost, today was a dried out piece of chicken over unseasoned (I won't even give it under seasoned, there was no seasoning) risotto and vegetables.  I guess yesterday the dry piece of chicken was over couscous.

Dessert was an assortment of mini cupcakes.  To view the assortment you had to wander all the way through the vendor area again. 
Each flavor was on a different table. Someone asked one of the hotel people why they didn't put a few of each kind on each table. The response was they were given "specific instructions" not to do that.  Great for the vendors I guess.  I decided to try one of the carrot cake cupcakes.  The cream cheese frosting was better than I expected.  The little orange balls were crunchy and had an orange flavor.  The cupcake was terrible, one bite and I threw it away.  More room for Otto tonight!

Most of the sessions today were just mind-numbing death by PowerPoint, though in one, I swear one of the Housewives of Somewhere sat next to me.  She was dressed in hot pink stretch pants and a black top that belonged on the strip.  She had really long, meticulously manicured nails, BIG hair and LOTS of perfume.  Not your typical IT person that's for sure.

Never did get a picture of the guy in the green suit.  Maybe he'll wear it again tomorrow for St. Patty's day.

I got desperate about 2:30.  I risked a migraine and had a Diet Coke.

My last session ended at 6pm and my reservation for dinner was 7:15 so I opted for the monorail over walking the two miles to the Venetian.  I've never ridden the monorail before. I must say I prefer it over dodging drunk people for two miles down the strip and back!  More security....

Because I was riding the monorail, not walking the whole way, I wore my sandals.  That turned out to be a bad idea for a couple reasons.

It is about a 10 minute walk from where the Monorail drops off to Otto at the Venetian.  You would think I could handle that walk in my sandals (they have a nice wedge to them, not flats)

Well, I couldn't.  Not tonight anyway.  About half way there I twisted an ankle.  Good news is it wasn't bad.  I didn't fall, thank god. But I was very conscious about how I was walking after that.

I do like the Venetian.  I think it is one of the prettier hotels and it is the home to Otto.  

Dinner started with delicious house made bread with oil and vinegar.  Yummy.

I ordered a simple Margherita Pizza and a nice glass of wine.  It was perfect.  The buffalo mozzarella was so delicious!  I would have loved to sit there and enjoy another glass of wine, but I think I hit a wall today.  I just really wanted to get back to my room.

So I carefully walked back to the Monorail where I had to call Dave (luckily he was up late).  I just needed to talk to him. He's very good at killing the tears when they start.  I am VERY tired.  I haven't had a full night's sleep in three nights and I'm not confident tonight will be much better.  I am SO ready to go home and I have another day and a half to endure here.  I have a call with work back home at 7:30 tomorrow morning, then another full day of presentations.  Black helicopters come take me away!

Oh, and the sandals were a bad idea for another reason. I now have a whopper of a blister on the side of my foot!  Walking shoes from this point forward.

One more day and a wake up....

Vegas... Day 3

3:27AM.  That's when I was awakened to jack-hammering and the beep, beep, beep of a truck backing up.  That went on for about half an hour and about a half an hour after that I feel asleep and woke up to the alarm I set at 5:30.  I also woke up with a scratchy throat and congested.  Great... getting sick? No, it was all over the news how it's really bad allergy season here.  Allergies?  In the desert?!  Seriously?  At least I'm not sick.

I woke up and thought it was Wednesday.  Imagine my disappointment when I realized it was only Tuesday.

This is today's sunrise.  They are beautiful.  I thought the contrails looked pretty this morning.  And I looked up just in time to see the Area 51 plane fly past my window again!  I will catch it tomorrow!

I had meetings with folks back in Minneapolis starting at 8AM then down to the convention center where I sat in windowless rooms until 7PM.  Thought I was going to be done at 5, no such luck, so much for my reservation at Giada at 7 too.  Insert sad face here.

For those of you who think this is really fun and I'm just a complainer, here is one of the rooms I was in today (they all look the same!).  Look closely at this room (you can click on the picture to enlarge it).  See that door over on the left??  We weren't allowed to enter or leave through it.  We had to use a door that was behind me.  All of the tables butted up against the side walls so you had to go down the middle aisle to take a seat. I wonder what the fire marshal would think?  I am guessing they would allow us to use both doors in the event of a fire, though I still think only half of us would make it. I'm sitting near the door in all the rest of my sessions!

Want more excitement? This guy had his finger in his ear the entire hour and 15 minutes of this presentation.  Very distracting. I also got to sit between two heavy smokers and next to someone who chewed her nails the entire time at other sessions.  These are hour and 15 minute sessions folks.

Having to go through the vendor area did have its perks.  Yes I had to listen to pitches for things I have absolutely no influence over whether my employer would every buy, but I did get some swag, a really nice water bottle, a cloth to clean my computer screen, a bag into which I can put all my chargers and a light up blue "diamond" ring!  It's hard to see but it's there between the cloth and the water bottle!

My day finally ended at 6:45 after a session with one of the SAP experts I had hoped would be able to help me fix an issue we are having at work.  She sort of helped.  There was no one there who really knew about the system in which I have the issue, but this person pointed me in a good direction, I think.

I went back up to my room, washed my face, put on a new one and headed out to dinner.  Since I had to cancel my reservation at Giada, I thought I would walk over to Gordon Ramsey's Burgr and get my comparison over with.  It's not quite a mile walk from the hotel.

On the way there I passed two, count 'em two, 24 hour Walgreen's stores.  I planned on hitting one on the way home to see if they could hook me up with some of my allergy meds.

After asking for directions twice (I'm not proud) I finally found the restaurant. I have to note, Planet Hollywood has to be the smokiest of any of the casinos I've had to walk through.  The line at the restaurant wasn't too bad. I was seated in about 20 minutes.

I got a very cool seat right in front of the kitchen.  The place was hopping!

My server, Jay, suggested an appetizer because the burgers would probably take 25 minutes.  Good up-sell Jay! I didn't really need an appetizer, I could have waited the 25 minutes, but I missed lunch again today and the really bad cookie I had at 2pm had worn off so I ordered the hummus.  OH.MY.GOD this was the best hummus I think I've ever had.  I have to find his recipe. There was no way I could finish it and eat a burger but I put a dent in it.

I decided on the American Burger.  It was as close to the burger I had at Burger Bar, beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion, no bacon, crispy or otherwise.  I also ordered the "Just Fries" so I could compare them to Burger Bar. I don't know what I was thinking. There was no way I was eating all that food!

The burger was really good, I mean really good!  Yes better than Hubert Keller's.  It wasn't as big (not a bad thing) but it was juicier and had better flavor. I will say as good as mine, not sure I'll go better.  It's very hard to get better than Butternut Woods Grass-fed Highland beef!

The fries were better than Hubert Keller's too.  They were really good, obviously hand cut and skin on.  My only "beef" with the fries was the ketchup.  They came with two kinds, Chipotle Ketchup and Curry Ketchup.  I wasn't particularly fond of either.  I think I'm a purist when it comes to that condiment, plain old Heinz please. I probably could have asked for it, but I wasn't going to eat that many fries!

I sat next to a really fun "kid" (she was 24) whose mother was here at, of all things, an SAP conference (different from the one in which I am participating).  I shared my fries!  I think I ate 4 of them.  No way I was finishing them.

On the way home I popped into a Walgreen's.  YAY the pharmacy was open.  Double YAY he could fill my prescription.  I had to get a three month's supply but I didn't care.  In two days I'll be feeling human again!

Today I asked myself why a lot.  Why do people bring children to Vegas?  I've seen them from infants to tweens and teens.  Last night, around 9pm, walking back to the hotel from dinner I was behind three girls that could not have been more than 13 or 14.  They were walking the strip, no parents.  Why?  Why bring your 6 or 7 or 8 year old and walk them down the strip at night?  I just don't get that.

Why do people bring their dogs to the strip?  Really, why?

Why would you want to stand around and watch someone play a slot machine?

Why isn't it Friday?

Tomorrow is another full day of conference rooms but I should be done at 6PM instead of 7PM.  I have reservations at Otto at 7:15 and I'm not missing it.  I can't wait.  I'm going to get a pizza this time!

It's been a long day. I'm tired.  I'm going to take an allergy pill which will knock me out, hopefully between being tired and the pill I'll sleep through the construction tonight.

And... tomorrow is Wednesday!

When in Vegas... Day 2

I did not sleep well last night.  It's noisy on this side of the hotel and not just the airport.  The sound of the planes doesn't bother me.  It's the construction going on in the street below... all night. They were doing something that sounded like someone filling an ice bucket with ice.  At first I thought, how big is this bucket someone is filling, it's taking forever!  Then my brain woke up and I remembered I'm in a "room locked" room.  The ice machine is WAY down the hall, so it had to be something they were doing outside.  The good news is, I should sleep very well tonight!

As I write this it is 5:05AM.  I have been wide awake since 4:14AM. After trying to get back to sleep for a while, I decided to just give up and get up.  Unfortunately, like all Vegas hotels there is no coffee pot in the room so I can't even make coffee.  I think the Area 51 planes start flying about 6:30 so I have that to look forward to! Until then, I'll get some work done.

If I didn't mention (and the big picture of David Copperfield's head wasn't a clue) I'm at the MGM Grand this time. My room is not as nice as the ones I've had at Mandalay Bay and the Venetian, but it's definitely nicer than the Wynn.  I have a nice big couch and a nice ledge on which I can sit and watch traffic and the airport.

I did get a nice view of the sunrise and I was able to run down and find a little breakfast before my conference call.

So I'd like to say today started better than yesterday but not so much. We were missing a person on my early call so we didn't get as much done as we wanted to.  I went down to the conference center and my wireless on my work laptop wouldn't connect so I tried to reboot.  Long story sort computer wouldn't reboot.  So I huffed it back up to the room (remember LONG walk) so I could plug it in and call the "help" desk at home.  Once it was plugged in and hard booted, well it worked!  So I emailed a guru I know and asked what I could do to make it work down in the conference center.  He suggested pen and paper.  Nice.

By now I was too late for the morning session so I spent the morning working in my room.  The afternoon session wasn't much better and I wasn't getting anything out of it.  I had a late reservation for a tour of Hoover Dam.  I got lucky.  I could go early!

We were picked up in this weird back alley of the MGM by a very sweet man named Fern.  Fern was great.  He was only transporting us to the "big" bus for the tour and our tour guide Cathi.  Cathi, well, let's just say there was at least as much BS, ok more, in her spiel than there was fact.  At first I would think, that doesn't sound right.  Then I'd Google and find out how far off she was.  Then she tried talking to me about the military.  I had a hard time not laughing!

Her stories about Vegas and the Dam, if not terribly factual, were entertaining!  I will say she wasn't as funny as she thought she was though.  And the "dam(n)" jokes got really old really fast.

I was surprised, though I'm not sure why, about the security at the dam.  The tour bus was "searched" by a 100-year-old man who couldn't have fought back against my 5 year old black lab.  That was kind of a joke.  I hope they search the cars better.

Once inside you go through airport-like security.

My tour guide in the dam was fantastic!  He was a New Yorker with the accent and attitude, and significantly less BS than our bus guide.  He was great.

I won't bore you with too many pictures of the dam, but you can Google those!  The one I will point out is the one with all the white.  That is where the water line used to be!

I don't think I've seen that many fanny packs, selfie sticks and smokers in one place, well, ever.  And why do people bring their Ipads to take pictures???  Ok, I'm old, I use a camera but I do use my phone too.  Oh, and there was a guy in our group who seemed really confused when he couldn't get a cell signal in the bowels of the dam.  Really?

Really?  You have to be told this?

After the tour you can go outside and take pictures and go through the museum.  Both my mother and my husband will not be surprised to know I did not read every word on every placard like they would!

On our way back our tour guide showed us a house supposedly once owned by Frank Sinatra.  I haven't had time to Google the authenticity of this claim yet.  It's way back in this picture.

She also told us this house was owned by Desi Arnaz Jr.

We stopped at Ethyl M's chocolates on the way back. Our tour guide's story about this place and the origin of M&M's was something else!  It's not far from the airport, you can almost touch the planes as they fly over!

It took a long time in traffic to get back to the hotel so I really had to hoof it to dinner!

The bartender was the same woman who was there the last time I visited. Her name is Donna and she's great!  She's from Waukesha, WI, how could she not be great?

I told her I have had the pork before, and I make it at home so maybe I should try something else.  What did she suggest.  She started with the filet.  A 12 oz. filet that is pan seared and finished in the oven (just like I do at home!).  12 ounces?!  Really?  Too much.  Her second choice was the veal chop but it was bigger than the steak.  Ok... next was a chicken dish.  Unfortunately it was fully laced with Cilantro.  I explained my aversion to that particular herb and we were back at the pork!

She was nice enough to remove the items that would come in the bread basket that were laced with cilantro too!  This jalapeno bread was so good!  And I don't think it's just because I didn't get lunch and was hungry.  It was good!

As was the pork.

I didn't finish my pork.  That would have put dessert in jeopardy and I thought I deserved dessert.  Donna suggested the Banana Cream Pie.  Really?  Baby food pie?  I felt bad not having taken one of her suggestions for dinner so I asked her if it was really that good.  She assured me it was. 

Donna was right!  It wasn't your typical banana cream pie.  There was no crust.  The cream filling was over candied nuts that had the perfect bit of crunch and sweetness. On top of the nuts, cream filling and sliced bananas was the most delicious praline cookie!  It wasn't terribly sweet and I did almost finish it.

I sat at the bar and had so much fun with three people from Locktite Glue, in town for a Home Depot Convention.  They were a riot!

On the way back to the hotel I stopped at Hard Rock and found another Breast Cancer Awareness pin.

I resisted the Jimmy Choo's!

It's now 9pm (11pm to me... I'm not adjusted yet) and I'm pooped!  Meetings don't start until 8AM tomorrow, should be done at 5 then dinner at Giada!

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