Have you seen this?

April 30, 2010
This must be the densest "Top 100" I've ever seen!

Portfolio.com's Fun Cities

Las Vegas was 26th on the list. Detroit and Cleveland ranked higher. How is that possible? I must be missing the fun in this Cleveland tourism video



C'mon, Las Vegas ranked 44 in food? Really?

Let's compare ranks, Cleveland? 18. Detroit? 25. Seriously, how can that be??

Eating to fly free

This week I share details of our meal at Andre's and the other fun ways we celebrated our 6th anniversary, check it out: Vegas Values: An Evening at Monte Carlo.

The photos of our meal did not come out well, see?






It was much too dark in our booth. The main source of light came from a sconce behind me. Don't let the photos fool you, consider these bad photos of good food. First is the crab with mint amuse bouche, followed by the duck and lamb. I've posted photos of the soup and carpaccio, last September, during restaurant week.

A few days after our meal I received an email from Southwest Airlines asking me how my dinner was at Andre's? I didn't realize it was a part of their Dining Rewards Program. It's a pretty great way to earn free reward credits to a free flight. There are a handful of local places we regularly dine as well as a few places on the strip. There are restaurant listings nationwide so check out listings near you. It's really simple to earn credits, you just input your credit card number and anytime it's used, the balance charged goes to work to accumulate credits, it's roughly .25 credit for every $100 spent. I figure every bit helps! I might just eat my way to a free flight.

If you're not a rapid rewards member, there is a refer a friend program going until May 15, 2010. Drop me an email and I'll send a link.

Kitchen messes

April 29, 2010
Sunday before we headed out for Wheeler Pass, I packed a picnic lunch. I put a few cans of pop in the freezer to chill while I made sandwiches. Only I forgot about them. I didn't remember until we got home about 10 hours later. I was unpacking the truck and it hit me... Pop! Freezer! Aw, dammit!

I went in the house and slowly opened the freezer door. Little crystals of diet coke fell to the floor like snowflakes and then the mess was revealed.







It could have been worse, only two of the three cans actually exploded. Still, I did not want to clean the mess so I simply wiped the floor and decided to deal with the freezer on Monday.

I was dreading cleaning it, but much to my surprise, my super sweet husband took care of it for me. I am one lucky girl.

It got me thinking about the biggest kitchen messes I've encountered, two of my top 5 didn't even happen in the kitchen.

1. We lived at the Plaza for a couple weeks after relocating to Vegas while waiting for our condo to close. I had shopped and left diet 7-up in the car. In summer, it seems harmless enough, but 100+ temps outside makes for insanely hot temps inside the car. Pop boils and bursts, just like when it freezes. I never knew that. I had leather interior, it was soaked in 7-up, the stickiness never fully came out and the citrus scent never completely faded. To make matters worse, or more embarrassing, anyway. I brought the remaining case of pop into the Plaza I planned to bring it up to the room, but the cool air from the A/C caused the hot cans to erupt. As I walked across the casino, it was "ping" "oosh" as each can blew out. Such a mess!

2. I don't recall how this one even happened. I only remember my mom dropping a can of Pepsi and it exploded in the entry way at the condo. Pop shot all over the walls and ceiling. Pop and builder's paint don't go together so well. Those drip marks stayed put until I painted the place. It took sealant and primer to cover those spots.

3. The Spaghetti Sauce Incident. At the condo, I dropped a jar of Prego on the tile floor. It shattered and sprayed sauce everywhere. Dinner was late that night. Thankfully, it happened at the condo and not the house. With the white on white kitchen I have now, it would look like a crime scene.

4. This would have to be my forgotten pop in the freezer.

5. And lastly, I had just finished cleaning the kitchen - vacuumed and mopped the floors. I went to make cupcakes, I tried to open the package by pulling at apart the seam. Not so smart, it ripped and cake mix poofed everywhere. Sigh. Time to grab the vacuum.

How about you? Got a bad kitchen mess story?

Wildhorses on Wheeler Pass

April 28, 2010
We begin the trail in Cold Creek, which is a couple exits after the Mt. Charleston exit, and end in Pahrump on Basin which leads you into the heart of town. You can see the trail marked on the map, Wheeler Pass Road.




We spotted wild horses pretty quick. Only a couple at first, but they later joined the rest of the herd. There were seven we saw.






The mare is nursing the foal in the upper left.




Willow Creek (run off from melting snow)
















As we neared the peak many patches of snow remained. We had to drive through a large one to get to the top.









We relaxed at the peak, enjoyed the views and peace. We had a picnic lunch and then played in the snow.


Wind gusts make you look like the stay puft marshmallow man.


Snowball fight!










After our fun in the snow. We packed up the truck and headed down the mountain. We were in Pahrump in no time.

Wheeler Pass is always a great time. It's a great retreat from the heat in the summer and spring is great for seeing the snow, the creek flow and the wildhorses. We were lucky to see seven this time. Three was the most we spotted on past trips.

Some luck, at last

April 27, 2010
I suck, I never made it here yesterday. I did have a fun-filled weekend with detail and photos to share. Let's get right to it, shall we?

Saturday, I was out in Pahrump with my mom. I gave her a hand with a couple things around the house, and I visited with all the animals. Ducklings, goslings and chicks are due any day. The chicks have to cook a little a longer, they're kept in an incubator. Not all of her chickens are great moms, so she decided to give incubating a whirl. So far, so good. The chicks are growing right on schedule. She showed me how they move inside their shells. It's wild, check it out.


She came along with me back to Vegas, we had plans to run Wheeler Pass on Sunday. It also gave us time to celebrate her birthday. We had dinner at Casa Don Juan. It was delicious as always. It was mom's first time there, she enjoyed it, too.

After dinner, we went down to Fremont Street. First stop was Main Street Station. We hadn't been in there for years. Not much has changed, which is a very good thing. It was nice not to see a pleasure pit and carnival games. Just old fashioned games, in the most literal sense. Haven't seen coin in slots and vp since we were in Laughlin. They had fullpay VP and plenty of it. That's always nice, but I still didn't win a thing, but Frank made $60. We left there and headed to Plaza, that's where my mom wanted to go... for the goldfish game.

Frank played blackjack while we played slots, I made $60 on an old favorite, Turkey Shoot. Frank made $175 or so at the tables. Mom played on freeplay. She wanted to continue with her fishy game, so we told her we'd be around. We played a triple diamond $1 slot because we were reminiscing about our wedding day, we won $260! Sweet! Frank was on fire. Rather than push our luck, we went to Aqua Lounge, we had a couple beers and enjoyed the live band. They had a wind machine, too. Watch out Zowie Bowie, har. It must make this guitarist play better. See?


After awhile, we left to find my mom. She was still playing slots. I gave Frank my ticket to play, he lost it. And that was the end of his luck.

Next, we went to Golden Gate. My mom wanted to play some Elvis slot there, but it's been taken off the floor. Frank lost $60 there, too. Mom had no luck. I didn't play. After that we went back home. We had birthday cupcakes at 1am, we're such rockstars.

Music 'n stuff

April 23, 2010
How about I share a bunch of randomness this Friday?

First, my favorite Italian deli has opened a second location... this one is close to home, it's actually a trattoria, but the deli will be coming soon. Can you say, dangerous? Thankfully, I've managed ok with an In-N-Out and Fuddruckers nearby, I should do ok, but you never know. This might just do me in. Anyway, you can read all about it in this week's article, Vegas Values: Bellissimo!

Second, our deposit for Al Cielo has been sent off to Mexico. Our December trip is offically booked. I cannot wait until I'm relaxing in the hammock with a cerveza listening to the ocean waves crash on the beach. I'm also looking forward to days spent in the water while letting the waves toss me about. Oh and the food. Yeah, I'm excited.

Third, I've been totally into this band, Dirty Heads. They are touring with Sublime with Rome. No Vegas dates, bummer. But there is a small show next month, we're going. I think they could blow up, I definitely want to see them before they do. I hate the ridiculous ticket prices for the big shows on the strip. I've skipped a number of shows because of sticker shock. So, this show will be a nice treat.

There are two other shows were toying with going to see, Steve Miller Band and Pepper. I can get tickets cheaper at the box offices than by phone or online. We might just get tickets for both shows.

Fourth, my mom is considering a move to Tennessee. She might be flying to Nashville soon to see what's available. I imagine it'll be a bit of a change, but she can afford more for less out there. She'd be closer to Mike and Amy. I could fly out and visit her, friends, and Bob in Louisville, KY. They'd all be fairly close.

Lastly, we went to Town Square last night to catch a movie, Hot Tub Time Machine. I thought it was terrible. Not sure how so many people loved it. To each their own. Beforehand, we had dinner at Bar Louie. We hadn't been there yet, figured we'd check it out.

We ordered a couple beers and turkey melt sliders to start. The bun was good, but the turkey was salty. I wasn't a fan.


Frank ordered the Angry Louie: sriracha, pepper jack and grilled jalapeno.


I had the Louie: grilled onions, provolone and giardiniera.


My burger was a bit better than Frank's. They were pretty good, but we were both left wishing we had went to Yard House instead. Now we know.

NHRA

April 22, 2010
Sunday we went to the Strip at the Speedway for NHRA. We went last fall and had a great time. This year was great fun, too. Although it was a bit different. All qualifying races took place the days before so Sunday's races were full-throttle. It was cool to see top speeds, but there were far less races. I'll prefer to go on Saturdays for future NHRA races. We don't follow NHRA so whoever wins is lost on us, we're just there to smell the burnt rubber and racing fuel, and feel the heat and rumble as the cars blow past us.


Everytime the In-N-Out car raced we craved a double-double.


Looks like it might lose...


But the In-N-Out car won! That race anyway. They lost later in the day.


Stock might not have the speed of top-fuel or funny cars, but I still love to see 'em race.




Back to the big dogs...


This was the race of the day, battle of the Force's. Ashley lost.



After the races, we grabbed a bite... no, not In-N-Out. We got a stuffed pizza at Amore. It's been months since we had been there. Props to us for showing restraint. It's tough to stay away from thay ooey gooey goodness.

Then, we returned home and soaked in the hot tub. My body ached from pulling weeds the day before. Frank suggested margaritas, he made two pitchers... we drank, we laughed, we relaxed. It was perfect end to a great weekend.

An evening at Monte Carlo

April 21, 2010
Saturday, I couldn't put off yard work any longer; I tackled the front yard. I cut the grass, pulled weeds and trimmed the palms and trees. I cleaned that all up and then raked pine needles and dead leaves from the side of the house and out of the flower beds. I was stiff later and my hammys, good grief, they ached for two days. I'm out of shape. That ought to teach me not to be a lazy slug - I gave up on exercising over the winter. I never even got to the backyard, the front was too much of a project. Time ran out, I had to clean up, shower and get ready for our night out.

We parked at Monte Carlo, first time using that CityCenter/Bellagio shared garage. It was nice. We grabbed the Frank Caliendo show tickets from the box office and then walked over to Andre's. We dined there before last year during Restaurant Week. This experience was just as delicious. Further details to come in a LLV article.

After dinner we planned to get drinks. We were given a coupon for 2-for-1 cocktails at Brand. We stopped in, but they didn't have anything special on tap. They specialize in cocktails. We passed. We tried the Pub, next, but there was no happy hour going on. We settled at the casino bar near the box office. They had Dos Equis on tap, we each put $5 into the slots to get the beers comped. Too bad we didn't have any luck on recouping our money. We passed time until the doors to the showroom opened.

We took our seats and waited for the Theater to fill. We teased hoping it'd be a larger audience than Dirty Minds. Before Frank Caliendo comes out there is an opening act and prior to that the live band kept us entertained while waiting for the show to begin. They were good, I'd pay a cover to watch them perform. The show was fun. Frank Caliendo has his impressions down.

After the show, we went to The Pub. They wanted us to pay $5 cover, no breaks for locals. Only for MGM/Mirage hotel guests. She told us to keep keys when friends' stay and then they turned us away, so we walked over to the hotel lobby and got blank room keys and went back. "We're hotel guests!", we said. She had a good laugh, and gave us our bands for entry. Pointless, really. It was happy hour so we were able to get 2-for-1 drinks. We had a few rounds and watched Zowie Bowie perform. Now that I know not to take them seriously the cheesefest is pretty amusing. At midnight they called a 15 min break. It was more like 40 minutes. We bailed when they took the stage. Happy hour ended at midnight. They only got us for one beer at regular price, $9 for Frank's Widmer. We closed out our tab and hit the restroom on our way out.

This is where I encountered what must be a regular occurrence, but it was the first I ever witnessed it. I'm in my stall and I hear. ARRRF! Come from the stall nearby. Then, I hear the automatic flush... swish... followed by... EWWW! Those flushes are powerful I know that can spray from a distance. I can't imagine what it'd be like while praying to the porcelain gods.

It was amusing and one instance were self flushing toilets wouldn't be preferred.

Twilight Zone

April 20, 2010
Friday night we went O'sheas to see Dirty Mind. It's a new show, it bills itself as a "very adult variety show". How can that be bad? We had free tickets why not check it out?

We had time to kill beforehand, so we went to the back bar. We couldn't get served, we waited 10 min and gave up. There were 4 bartenders. It was busy, but service was also crummy.

Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo...

We went up to the show. That's when the weirdness began. I must have missed the words of caution: “You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

First, they give you little cards that ask personal/sexual questions. You jot your response down, it also asks for you name and DOB. We're told to fold it in fourths so the number on the card is showing outward. We must remember our number. They're all collected and we assume they'll be part of the show. They stressed how important audience participation was... we all get seated, about 15 of us. Yes, 15. Officially the smallest show ever. That's laughable enough.

The first guy is a mind reader, Luke Jermay. Except he wasn't able to read the minds of the first two girls he questioned. It was a riot. More so the audience hecklers than anything. The next few acts were mildly entertaining. They were nervous and many mistakes were made. After 3, we wondered when the "dirty mind" aspect would begin. It never happened. The show ended on a weak note. None of us thought it was over. We all sat there when the lights came on, the bouncer guy had to come and tell us show is over. Unreal. When we asked the girl about our cards, she played dumb... what cards?

Apparently the joke was on us. I bet the crew has a great time reading those cards. My card asked about 3 celebritys - spelled just like that by the way, if I had a dollar for every spelling mistake I found, I'd be a rich woman - I found sexually attractive. My picks were Josh Duhamel, Carmen Electra, and Julian McMahon.

After the show we hit the strip. We walked from O'sheas to Treasure Island. Saw a lot of seedy shit. Hookers are norm, but there was no discretion 11:30 on Friday night. We also saw a number of shady characters making deals, selling drugs and god knows what else. We went to Mirage to check out BB Kings new joint. There was $5 cover, we reluctantly paid it. Got seated and were brought menus. Beers are served in a souvenir glass, but there is no mention of price. I can only imagine how much they must be. We never ordered. We sat for ten minutes menus down without service. There was live music. Not jazzy, old pop music from early 90's or so. There is no reason to pay $10 for live music, overpay for beers and tolerate shitty service. We left. Frank asked the cashier at the door for our cover back. She was a bit snotty when saying, "we're you seated where there are servers?" "Uh, yeah, the hostess sat us and gave us food and drink menus". Silverware was on the tables. I doubt it was serve yourself. She got her manager. He apologized offered to buy us drinks and invited us to stay. No thanks.

We got our money back and walked over to Treasure Island. I hadn't been over there since Phil Ruffin took it over. I knew Gilley's opened so we thought we might stop in and have a look. Gilley's is fairly large with outdoor strip-side dining. The bar was packed with cowboys. There was a line to get in, we'll pass. When we first entered TI I noticed the strong air freshner. It stunk. Worse than Venetian's. I hoped it'd ease up once I made it past the entrance, but it never happened. Instead, I started gasping for air. I couldn't breath. We dashed to the nearest exit. Entered the crowds waiting for the Siren Show. We stopped before wrestling through the crowds to catch my breath, Treasure Island nearly killed me.

We crossed over to Venetian, didn't stop in there. Any more fragrance I just might be done for... we went into Casino Royale. We hadn't been in there since last summer. They've moved the food court and spruced it up a bit. I like the changes. It felt roomier. We grabbed a seat at the bar, and got service. Imagine that. The bartender also told us about the $1 Michelob, two please. Ahhh! We were parched, they hit the spot. We enjoyed our beer and good tunes that played. Then, headed back to O'sheas, walking past IP's Rockhouse was tough. The crowd was packed tight on the sidewalk, dancing and singing to Lady Gaga and Ke$ha. Apparently, it's Las Vegas' cheapest club. Who knew?

I'm Vegas' biggest fan, but I didn't not like what I saw Friday night. Shady characters and shitty service. I certainly hope this is not the new norm and it was just bad whacky, Twilight Zone-kinda night.

Despite it all we still left laughing. Frank and I come across places that are odd we call those experiences la-la-landish. While pulling the t-tops off the TA I told Frank I felt like we went to the otherside of the tracks in la-la-land. Gotta give major props to Casino Royale, shockingly they were the diamond in the rough on Friday night.

San Diego: Gaslamp II

April 19, 2010
Let's wrap up San Diego, shall we...

After filling up on Italian eats and resting back at the hotel. We headed out to the Gaslamp for one last night out on the town. We planned to check out a bar with live bands called Stage, but they were closed at 8pm. Despite all indicators saying they were open. Good news was another bar I was interested in happened to be located right next door. It is the Tipsy Crow. It's basically a 3-in-1 place with a bar, lounge and club.

It was Sunday so only the bar was open. Rather than happy hour they have this promotion called the drink exchange. It works just like the stock market, prices are based on demand. For example, when I ordered my first Stella it was $3.75, by the time we left it was $4.25. If you don't mind switching beers & cocktails I suppose you could totally work it to your advantage.





The bar had oversized games like chess, checkers and connect four. We passed on them all to play Shuffleboard. It's the one bar game I'm good at, naturally, I love to play. We played three games best of the three was the champion. Yes, that would be me. A group sat at the connect four table, so we had no reason to hang around. We checked back at Stage and caught them opening the doors. They said they would be open, but no one seemed to know when bands would take the stage. We opted to return later.

Next stop was the Shout House, the dueling piano bar. No cover on Sundays. We ordered drinks and took a seat near the stage. We had a couple rounds and enjoyed singing along to the tunes. One bit, had the room going... something about Lucille... You bitch! You slut! You whore! Good fun. The riot of the night was a girl celebrating her 21st birthday. They brought her on stage and had her sit on the piano, they sang her a song and then brought out a Blowjob Shot. They set it up so she had to take from one of the guys legs.




It was too funny. Made me want to bring my sister there to celebrate her 21st in August. She'd kill me, she doesn't even like to have "Happy Birthday" sung to her. As a kid, we mortified her by telling the restaurant it was her birthday. They brought her dessert and sang, she was in tears. I don't think she's forgiven us to this day.

Anyway, we grew hungry so it was time to head to La Puerta, we couldn't resist getting another fill of tasty Mexican food. This time we also sampled their Cadillac Margarita with Cazadores Anejo, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, and a float of Grand Marnier. It was sweeter than I prefer, but still tasty. Again, we snacked on their delicious chips and salsa.


Frank had the California burrito which was good, but Los Panchos is better.


I had Tacos Al Pastor. Fabuloso!


It was another great meal. From there we went back to Stage and caught a band mid-set. Not sure what their name was but we enjoyed the show. They wrapped and then we were off to find another bar, but it was a race against last call. We didn't make the cut off. We did find one club open, we thought we'd give it a try, but at 15 bucks each, not a chance. Instead, we accepted that last calls suck and went back to the hotel.

Monday came and time was winding down, one last trip to Con Pane Bakery and we were on the road headed home, back to the land of no last call. Just one more reminder that there is no place quite like home.

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