July 14, 2011


Some things change and other don't. Some changes are welcomed and others are dreaded. I'm a glass half full kinda girl so let's talk of those changes I was happy to see.

Mom has come over the hump from Pahrump for a visit. She suggested we go to Casa Don Juan for dinner last night. Who could argue with that? We all had carnitas, the plate for two took care of Frank and I, and mom had a few tacos a la carte. We also threw in a pork tamale for good measure. Our feast was delicious, as always. But they switched up their salsa and guacamole... for the better. Both were down right tasty. The salsa was chunky and it had a nice kick. The guacamole was fresh and wonderfully seasoned, it even had chunks of avocado. Which is how I prefer it. Everything about our meal was top notch, including the service. I hope this is the new standard. I will be thrilled.

After dinner, we drove down to Fremont Street. Mom cashed in two comped nights at Las Vegas Club. We eventually met her over there, but first we had to find a place to park. It proves to be a difficult task when we drive the Avalanche. The Plaza charges $5 to park, so we only fork over the cash when we run out of options. They are working on the exterior now, by the way. I can't wait to see what the F'bleau Plaza looks like (for anyone who might not know, Plaza picked up decor for its remodel for a steal from the defunct Fountainbleau project), but I digress. We thought we'd park at Binion's but the garage was full. On a Wednesday night? Really? We learned we were too big Golden Nugget's garage along with Vegas Club's. We just made the cut over at the California. They offer free parking with validation, too.

It was the first time ever parking in their garage. We were taken aback how nice the garage elevator was, nicer than the hotel elevators at the Plaza (at least, during my last stay). We entered the casino and it was bright and it smelled of new carpeting. It was nothing like what I remembered. It's been a couple years since I've stepped foot inside the California. Last time I choked on smoke so thick, I doubted I'd ever return, but here I was, and I liked what I saw. The carpet was indeed new. It was soft and squishy. The rear of the casino was really comfortable. As we approached the front, it became more familiar... worn out filthy carpet that reeks of cigarettes, the casino in the bordello glow from the red florescent light above, ahh, this is the California I recall. Fortunately, it was being sectioned off for repairs and more lipstick. It, too, should be fresher and more appealing in the near future. It's not only the Plaza that's gotten a much needed sprucing.

We walked over to Las Vegas Club. It's the same as it's been the last year or two. I think the addition of the Bingo room and Jerky shop have been the latest changes. This wasn't a bad thing. Occasionally, you can take comfort in those things that stay the same. We did just that.

We had loads of fun playing quarter slots with actual quarters. We ran around the casino, dropping in the max coin hoping for the jackpot. We had no large wins, but we were able to collect a cup full of coins to help offset our losses (lost in the newer sparkly slots). We walked by the bank of old quarter keno machines, y'know the ones with a pen? I like keno it's the one game that doesn't routinely rob me. I've never played these old machines, usually they're taken. This was my chance. Frank played along, too. Mom even joined in for a short bit before getting bored. I ended up winning $35 when a few of my numbers rolled in. I took that as my sign to cash out and soon the quarters plinked out of the machine. I love that sound, the sound of winning. Sure, TITO keeps your hands clean - trust me, this germaphobe appreciates them - and they avoid those lengthy hopper fills and other nonsense, but winning is just not as fun with those. For little wins, anyway. I hope there are always a few casinos around, like Vegas Club that hold onto that little blast from the past. As much as I enjoy changes, I take pleasure in those few things that stay the same.

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