May 18, 2011

Behind the Scenes at Plaza

You'd think time might have slowed a bit now that Amy and Nicky are back in Chicago, but that's not the case. I'm not quite sure how I've gotten to today, but here I am. I know I am tired, allergies have been kicking my ass. It's all because of these endless winds. Enough already, Mother Nature. I get it, you like to blow A LOT. But can you do it elsewhere? Las Vegas has had about all that it can take, but I digress. Besides feeling crummy and worn down, I miss Nicky's laughter and sharing that joy with my sister. Frank and I keeping busy working old routines back into daily life and we've been getting out a good bit.

Saturday night, Amy & Nicky were headed back home to Chicago, my mom returned to Pahrump and that left Frank and I all alone. It was time to get back to being us. We went downtown to check out StrEATS. It's monthly food and musical festival put on by El Cortez and the area food trucks. We were out of town for its debut in April so we were happy we could check out its second run.

Downtown was happening on Saturday, because it was also Helldorado. I was aware, and planned to catch the fireworks, but I completely forgot about it's parade and carnival. This made parking a nightmare. Traffic was no better, since many streets were closed for the parade. After winding a ways from the El Cortez, we found our way over to the Plaza. I knew they'd have parking because it's been a ghost town since the hotel has closed for renovations. Plus, most people shy away from the $5 fee.

We parked in the garage and we secured a front spot on the first level. It was funny to see after seeing the EL Cortez overflow garage at capacity. We took the third floor access door rather than the elevator to the casino. It's a route Frank and I learned to use back when we lived at the Plaza when we first settled in Las Vegas. At first it looked no different than it used to, then, we turned the corner and the convention halls are now being used for storage. There were hundreds of old mattresses piled high up to ceiling. We were careful not to get too close, since we heard those tales of bed bugs. We pressed on, Bingo was dim, the Jerky store had been long closed, we approached the halls leading to the North Tower elevators and a cool breeze struck us. As we neared the rooms we got a look at them, all bare, completely stripped and windows open. A few had construction material piled inside. Several rooms had "Do Not Disturb" signs hanging from the doorknobs, the one fixture that had not yet been removed. I appreciated the humor of it. We made our way to the elevators and I wondered if they were even in service. Frank pressed the down button and moments later, "Ding!" I guess they do work. We rode down, odd noises creaked the whole way down. I began to wonder once again, if they were actually in order. They must have been since we arrived safely to casino level.

Here, construction was well in progress. Plastic hung from floor to ceiling to trap dust. It seemed there was no way out. That when we spotted security. There is one guard that keeps tabs on the areas being renovated probably to assist those "lost" like us. He was surprised to see us, and was curious how we had gotten there. We played dumb and let him lead us through the back of the house, through the kitchens and out in the main casino. I wish I could've snapped photos along the way to share, but I didn't want cause any trouble. I didn't see any renovated hotel rooms, only the lobby was pretty well complete. The area from check in all the way to the back corners where the arcade and food court were retiled, upholstered and painted. It looked beautiful. We asked when the hotel would be re-opening we were told August 17. I look forward to it and I certainly hope Firefly returns.

The marquee at the parking garage entrance reads "New hotel rooms, finally. Thank you, Fountainbleu". At least something good can come of that defunct project. The Plaza certainly needed sprucing. I'm anxious to see her sparkle.

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