Road Trip, Day 4 – Detours, Drinks, and Dining

My, my how time flies. Day 3 of our trip was kind of rolled into day 2 of my Road Trip blog entries, touring the southern casinos on the strip like Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur as well as losing the guys in M & M world. Yesterday was a pool day, relaxing and relatively uneventful except for some minor sunburn and some very tipsy ladies at the pool providing entertainment for all. I make it a policy never to do writing at the pool it’s usually the one and only day I get to relax on vacation. Now that we’re all caught up, onward-ho!

One of the ceilings at the VenetianToday we toured some of the pricier casinos on the strip. We began our excursion at the Venetian, one of my favorites for over-the-top impersonation of a real location (complete with canals and gondoliers). After parking the car we immediately went to Harrah’s, one of the older casinos on the strip (we saved the Venetian for last, because that’s where we parked, of course). I wanted to try Paula Deen’s new restaurant so we headed to Harrah’s. It wasn’t until we stopped and asked for directions then double-checked information on the web via my smartphone that we realized that there were other Harrah’s besides the one in Vegas, which doesn’t have a new Paula Deen restaurant. Who knew? Not me. I guess I haven’t been far enough south yet. Plan B then, right-o? Plan B became the buffet at the Mirage, but not before we got ourselves lost outside somewhere in no man’s land on the long side of Ceasar’s Palace.

It started out innocently enough; we were at the shops at the forum and followed a hallway to a door going outside.

H&M at The Shops at the Forum at Ceasar's Palace, can you pick out the real people? Hint, they are not floating in mid-air.

We ended up in a parking lot and my hubby just thought we’d walk down a little ways and go around the corner to the front of the building. You know, just a little detour. Of course nothing in Vegas is what it seems. After what seemed like miles of walking and several staff back doors to which we could not gain admittance, we finally lucked out and came across a public door which led us down another hallway and back to the shops at the forum. The entire time we were walking outside, the Mirage was mere steps away, mocking us with its singing birds in its heavily treed gardens from the other side of a great wall. In hindsight, if you have to hold the door open, deciding whether you really want to be on the outside of it before you let it close and lock –  you probably shouldn’t be going out that door if you’re not an employee of the casino. I’m just sayin’. Please, learn from my hubby.

After we finally arrived at the Mirage we found we weren’t all that hungry yet (probably due to the harrowing detour adventure). So we sat in the Sports Bar and had a couple of much needed drinks. Now this seems innocuous enough but anyone who has visited the Las Vegas strip south of Circus Circus knows that casino drinks and food can get quite pricey, especially in casino restaurants and bars. Our couple of drinks each at the Sports Bar cost us a pretty penny. Sure you can get coupon books and stuff, but sometimes you get stuck with a stiff bill anyway. I already knew the buffet was, by far, not the cheapest in town, but this was why we had saved up for this trip for a year. Now that the boys (and by boys I mean my hubby and my son) were sufficiently buzzed we headed to the buffet.

The buffet at the Mirage is quite probably my most favorite place in Vegas to dine. I try to eat pretty clean most of the time, but we’ve found that doing our own cooking in our condo is not conducive to the run-around-like-a-chicken-with-it’s-head-cut-off kind of vacations we take. So we end up eating at local restaurants or worse, casino restaurants or buffets. After a couple days of this my body is literally screaming for fresh veggies, fruits, and other good stuff. The buffet at the Mirage is one of the few places I’ve found on strip that has fresh food such as this. Not just a salad bar with some cantaloupe, honeydew, salad greens and your choice of three dressings, but custom mixed salads from fresh ingredients you choose, a raw bar, a small sushi bar, meats such as truffle roasted chicken and prime rib, and international selections. I love this buffet so much I could eat there every day. I’ve also noticed that other casinos have followed the Mirage’s example and changed to somewhat of the same format. However, no one comes close to the Mirage’s buffet although I haven’t tried newer places like Aria. I guess that’s a testament to how well the Mirage’s buffet works. I’m not going to kid you, it’s not cheap. Dinner is around $30 USD per person, but more worth it than any other buffet and most restaurants on the strip.

Once we finished our late dinner we headed back to the Venetian, tooled around the shops and casino then headed down south to the condo at the Grandview. Hubby and son went across the street to play poker and blackjack at South Pointe while I stayed behind at the condo to do some writing. You have probably noticed by now that I don’t talk a lot about gambling. I’m not much of a gambler and I’m perfectly content to let the guys go do their thing and stay at the condo and write or wander. I’ve gambled one time so far, on an Aliens slot machine and it gobbled up $15 in a matter of seconds. I know that’s not a lot of money, but I really detest feeding my money straight to a one-armed-bandit. There was one machine at the Luxor that would pay me every time I played it. My hubby would sit me down in front of it when he was running low on craps funds, but I haven’t been very lucky this trip and I haven’t been to that particular machine. There’s more to do in Vegas than gambling, there really is!

Day 6, we leave for L.A. We’re doing and overnight side trip for our son (an aspiring movie editor) to see the town and check out a studio on a tour. He’s never been to a city this big and he’s never seen an ocean so this should prove to be a very interesting side trip indeed. The water may be a little cold, but it’s supposed to be in the upper 70’s so the weather should be good. I’m looking forward to seeing my son’s reaction to the ocean after growing up landlocked in Colorado. I was 40 before I saw an ocean and although I love the mountains and they are in my blood, and I couldn’t dream of living without them, the ocean proved itself quite powerful too. Stay tuned…

Do you have a favorite vacation destination? What makes it your favorite? If you could travel to any destination in the world where would it be and why?

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