Las Vegas Trip Report

June 12-15, 1998


Day Four - Monday, June 15, 1998


I woke up and Dan was gone.... So was his bathing suit so I assumed he was down in the pool or playing blackjack. I ate the last, crushed and melted remnants of what had once been Krispy Kreme donuts and went back to sleep. I woke up a little bit later and Dan's swimsuit was back, but he was gone again.

Vegas being an unusual place, I like to do the unusual. I had heard about "swim-up" blackjack, and I wanted to try it. I went down to the pool that morning with a $5 Tropicana chip left over from a previous Vegas visit.

But it was not to be. The swim-up blackjack table was not open. I sat by the pool for while reading a mountain bike magazine from Escape the City Streets, then I went for a swim, circumnavigating the huge swimming pool.

After the swim, the poolside blackjack was still not open. Screw it. If they don't have the table open when I want to play there, then I'm not playing it. I went upstairs and changed for blackjack in a more traditional setting.

The $5 Tropicana chip that I had sitting at home for four years was not a lucky one. I drew a hard 16 while the dealer showed a King. Tropicana does allow surrender, so I only lost half.

The first table was not kind to me. After buying in for $50 and betting $5 a hand, I was soon down to about $25. I moved to another table, lost another hand and had a bad feeling about it, so I moved again.

The third table was a charm. and I soon won back my losses. I didn't do well on double downs that morning. Every time I'd have 11, I doubled down and got a 2 or 3. At least at the last table the dealer busted and I won the last double down. I finished with $56.50, a full $1.50 up, counting the $5 chip I brought from home. - Dan

I took a shower, got dressed and started packing. I wasn't feeling too well, but I tend to get really exhausted and dehydrated on our Vegas trips, so it's nothing unusual for me to feel crappy on our last day in town. Dan arrived when I was almost done and he packed up the last of his clothes and stuff. He went down to the front desk with keys and checked us out. He met me back at the room and we hauled our luggage down to the car in the garage and said good-bye to the Tropicana.

Upon reflection, I would stay here again. I wasn't crazy about the gambling, but I didn't do very much of it at Tropicana. I liked the rooms and I loved the pool.. but the check in process was terrible. I've written a letter to hotel management to see if they have any response. How they handle the letter will probably determine whether or not I stay there again. I'm not greedy. I don't expect a comp or anything, but I do want my complaint to be acknowledged in some way.. even with a form letter to know they heard me.

Just a quick interruption here to let you all know that I did receive a letter from the Tropicana on June 30th. The letter contained a nice apology from the Hotel Manager as well as a generous invitation to come be their guest again at a reduced room rate. - Sonya

It was around 11am when we left Tropicana and headed to the Las Vegas Hilton. We parked with the valet and headed straight for the Star Trek Experience. They have moved the entrance far away.. you now go down the hall towards the garage instead of entering through the space quest casino area. I like that much better as it means less teenagers loitering in the casino area.

Dan bought us tickets while I went to the restroom. I did notice the mirrors having a hologram thing that showed a bunch of floating stuff and said something like "Weightlessness causes objects in purse to float away". But there wasn't any actual "talking" like someone here implied. It was cute.. but not worth the trip out there to see it.

We got in line and I was really disappointed. Like I said, I wasn't feeling well and I was really tired and cranky. The room is dark and the walkway is narrow. I wasn't happy about small, confined spaces and the line was moving way too slow. Along the left side of the walkway was an amazing timeline of the Star Trek history.. on the right were moon rocks, space stuff and paraphernalia from the show. Under normal circumstances, I think I could have spent a lot of time there, but I just wanted to get it over with. We came around a corner and it turned out that everyone was standing there looking at costumes and there was no line on the other side of the costumes, so Dan and I bypassed everyone and walked right up to the "entrance".

I do not want to give anything away here, but I have some comments to make. If you have not seen it.. go to the string of asterisks (***) to avoid any possible spoilers.

I thought this was one of the best done motion simulators I have done in Vegas.. or anywhere else. I kept thinking about the Search for the Obelisk at Luxor and how good it could have been if the employees were as enthusiastic as these employees were. They were REALLY into their jobs. I loved that. Now.. what I didn't love. I am not fond of small, confined, crowded spaces. I tend to get really claustrophobic and I am prone to panic attacks and have an anxiety disorder I periodically take medication for.

They put you in front of the door where they show you the video about safety warnings.. blah blah blah.. Then you go into the "pre-boarding area" that looks like any other "pre-boarding area" for any other motion simulator ride. Then there is an effect... the transporter effect that involves being in a small room that goes totally dark. Then a gust of wind. Then some strobe lights. I know I grabbed the shoulder of the woman in front of me, but I also believe that I reached back and managed to grab poor Dan by the genitals and I was not a happy camper. I am pretty sure I will stop shaking by the time our next trip to Vegas rolls around this fall.

This is only the beginning of the ride though. There is so much more that is a blur to me because of the fact I was freaking out. I really did enjoy it though. I think that the staff is to be commended for such a wonderful performance and for making it such a good time.

At the end, when the doors opened and the employee peeks into the simulator, we were all in hysterics. Dan was crying out, "What year is this? I just saw the Sands! I don't want to be in 1992 again!!!" much to the amusement of everyone in the ride with us. The employee never missed a beat. She didn't even crack a smile. She said, "What?" I repeated it.. "What year is this? We saw the Sands!" She felt my forehead and asked if I was allright and what I was doing there. We were all cracking up when we left near Quark's Bar. A good time was had by all!!

************* END OF SPOILER STUFF ****************

We walked past Quark's Bar because it looked like a place where I could get an overpriced sandwich. We did stop in the gift shop to consider buying Star Trek Coffee beans... oh.. and I was almost tempted enough to get a Q refrigerator magnet.. but we walked away empty handed.

They do have one of those "put your in a scene" things that was tempting. I loved the one where you could stand on the transporter.. or get your picture with the Borg. LOL!!

I was watching a bunch of people sign up for the "resistance to this credit card offer is futile" deal to get their free Borg sports bottle when I spotted my first Klingon and Ferengi. We didn't stick around because we live right down the street from Paramount's Great America and we can see Klingons there all the time.

We stopped in the Space Quest Casino to play a little bit on the Odessy machines. We lost the rest of our gambling budget in no time at all. Oh well. No big win for me this trip. We finished our drinks (coke and a Samuel Adams) and headed back to the valet. There was a guy there trying to pick up his car without a ticket. The amount of security involved was irritating to the guy without the ticket, but it made me feel good about the quality of security at the Valet.

Our car took awhile to get to us because of this confusion and the number of employees involved, but no longer than it takes in many other places. The car was HOT though, obviously parked outside in the sun.

We drove over to the Stardust. Dan has been wanting to see it and for whatever reason, he was under the impression there was some sort of gambling museum there. I'd never heard of it, but I was too tired to argue, so we were off.

We Valet parked at the Stardust.. just one guy and one tiny parking lot. He looked bored. I happen to share the same last name with a rather infamous, but not very well known criminal. He tried to trick me by asking if I was related to him and whether or not I knew who he was. I told him that not only did I know who he was.. I had visited the prison cell where he was held at one time. I think he was impressed with the fact that I am a fountain of worthless knowledge.

We wandered around the casino a bit. This place is apparently where old smokers go to die. I have never been in a casino, even downtown, where the smoke was thicker.. It was bad! Everyone was smoking. Very odd for this Californian to see.

We ended up not finding the museum, because there wasn't one. I resisted the urge to say "Told you so" and we went to the coffee shop for some lunch. Dan had a HUGE hamburger and I had a fruit plate that was pretty good considering we're in the middle of the desert.

We got the car from the Valet and headed to the Caesar's Forum Shops. We had some time to kill and we had been seeing ads for the Warren Miller 3D thing at the shops. I didn't like the haunted graveyard one we did a couple of trips ago, but Dan is an avid skier, so how could we resist.

We valet parked downtown and walked to the ticket booth in the middle of the mall, by the rotunda. They shaft you on the tickets. If you want to ride the ski ride, you have to buy a "double feature" ticket with the submarine ride and the ski ride. If you want to see one of the other two, you have to buy the triple or quadruple feature. RIP OFF!! We bought the double feature for $12 each.

We got there just as the doors were closing for the line I thought we should be in. We got into a full "room" and saw the submarine ride. The 3D effects are not as good as at the IMAX at Luxor.. but they are okay. It's fun, but not as good as the ride at Excalibur and pales in comparison to the Star Trek we had just come from.

The ski theme one was fun. It was filmed at Vail, Colorado and had a snowboarder versus a traditional skier. I think it could have been better, but it was still fun. Not $25 worth of fun, but....

After the second (ski) movie, the doors opened and they said, "double feature ticket holders please exit to the left." Now that's fine, except we were the only ones and we were seated on the right, next to a VERY large (in stature) group of people. There was no way through. I tried to go out to the right, but they wouldn't let me. I ended up having to squeeze myself between the second and first row doors and go out the front row, which has a bit more legroom. I'm sure everyone in the front row appreciated the close up view of my butt. I have a huge bruise on my leg from trying to get through.. Oh well. Whatever. I hate them.

Sonya likes this ride better than I do, which isn't saying much. The combination of the eye-straining 3D glasses, the fuzzy picture and the motion makes me a little nauseous. The ski movie was OK, but the execution fell short of the idea. I won't be back to this particular attraction again. - Dan

We got back upstairs just before 3pm and I asked Dan if we could see the Fountain Show considering we were so close and it was time. He said okay, even though he hated it the first time we saw it in 1995.

The ambiotronic statues offers the same cutting-edge technology as did the Mission to the Moon attraction at Disneyland during the 1960s - Dan

We got there just as it was starting and I had remembered it was cool... I was wrong. It was a "go forth and spend your money" type of thing.. but it is interesting to see it once. The most irritating part was some guy standing in the doorway of a shoe store there in the rotunda. He was clapping to music only he could hear and it was echoing over the music of the show at a totally different tempo. I was ready to beat him to death with one of his shoes before the show was over, but Dan managed to drag me away before I had the opportunity.

We went back to the nature company store to look for a gift for my niece, but we didn't find anything. We went into the children's store next door, but everything I liked was too expensive. We stopped in the Brookstone store to see if they have new cartridges for their sound machines. I got one for Christmas that I love, love, love!! They had one that was "travel sounds" that had of all things, airplanes and vacuums! Okay.. What some people find relaxing is strange. I got the ocean's sound one to go with my other one.

We headed back to the Valet to get our car. They always take forever to bring your car back for some reason. Maybe they have to park in the garage too. Oh well, it was nice to sit down for awhile.

We got the car and managed to get lost again looking for a back way out. I did find the delivery and employee entrance if anyone is interested. Once we found our way back out, we headed out the REAL back way on a quest to find the Orleans. I am a big fan of "Nawlins" and Dan thought this would be a place I really loved. I hadn't heard to much about it, but I was willing to check it out to kill an hour before we had to catch our plane.

We managed to find it okay (it's kind of hard to miss with it being so tall and all, but we were both pretty tired. ) We valet parked, just because it was habit at this point. We could have parked right in front probably if we had only tried. Oh well. We headed straight for the ice cream parlor place in front. Dan wanted an iced latte, but they didn't have one on the menu. He asked, "Can you make me a latte, but pour it over ice instead?" They seemed okay with that, so he was happy.

I can't believe a coffee concession located a few steps away from 115 degree heat for 6 months out of the year would not offer iced coffee drinks. The girl told me she wasn't supposed to make iced coffee drinks, but people asked for them all the time. - Dan

I joined the slot club and watched the poker room (poker area?) for a little bit. Then we sat down at some $0.05 deuces wild machines. We each put in $5.00 and after a few minutes, I was doing pretty well. I have no idea how to play deuces, but I managed pretty well. And, if a royal with deuces counts, I hit my first royal flush on a coin operated machine. It felt a little anticlimactic because I only won $6.25.

We moved to a bonus poker $0.05 machine and had a coke. Then it was time to cash out and head for the rental car place. First we stopped for gas at a Texaco the opposite way on Tropicana, total cost to fill the tank, $7.00

We pulled up at Alamo and the guy checked in our car. We headed into the little booth room and they asked Dan for his driver's license. Strange. Then the guy asked if Dan had an extension. He said that it was on the back and the guy said, "no... a new extension." Dan's birthday was on Saturday and apparently his driver's license had expired. OOPS!

No problem. The guy typed something into the computer and our bill printed out. $119.75 charged. We used 2000 True Blue miles and $119.75 coupon showed. Total rental car charge... NOTHING! YAY!

We hopped on the bus and headed for the airport. We got there, got our suitcase checked and went to the gate. We were much closer this time and we didn't get to take the wikki wikki bus.

We planted ourselves at the gate and Dan watched the news while I wrote in our journal. This flight was going from Las Vegas to Burbank and then on to San Jose. It was overbooked by about 15 people, so I was glad we got there early.

We had boarding passes 17 and 18, so we were on in the first group. We sat on the left side of the plane, because Dan wanted to see Victorville. (He lived there for about 8 years before I rescued him and made him move to the SF Bay Area to be with me ). We got our seats, got carryon stuff stowed away and our books out for the long flight. We flipped up the armrest between us and settled in for the two hours on this plane.

About half way to Burbank, I leaned forward and noticed that there was gum on my shirtsleeve on the shoulder. Some PIG had left their gum on the underside of the armrest, instead of throwing it out, putting it in their cup or even in the damned barf bag in the seat back pocket. In all the rustling around with Dan and I both trying to look out the window at the same time, I must have pressed up against it and it was on my shirt in two places. One on the shoulder and one more further down the sleeve.

I was so upset! That's just disgusting and it makes me really hate "people". Dan tried to get some of it with his napkin from his drink. He alerted the flight attendant and she brought some club soda and napkins and one of those handy-wipe things they give you at the casinos to clean your hands at the slot machines. Nothing really worked. We tried using ice, but it was really awkward and it was just getting wet, so we decided to ignore it until we got home and I could do something about it.

Laura (or Lori, we disagree about her name) the flight attendant, was really nice and was very apologetic about it, but still, I think it's unacceptable and I wrote a letter to Southwest. We fly them about 20 times a year on average and I think that, although we're not huge customers, we are loyal customers and deserve better than that. As with the letter to Tropicana, I'll let you know when/if I get a response.

We got to San Jose without further events and got our luggage and car. It was great to be back in cool, humid air again, but I'm ready to start planning our next trip. I've started summer term at school, but I'll be on summer break on August 14th. I wonder if I can get a hotel and airfare deal somewhere. Hmmmm...

I got a response from Southwest Airlines on June 30th. They apologized profusely for the gum on my seat and explained how the flight attendants try to clean up all the garbage between flights, but time is limited. They also explained how the fact they don't have a cleaning crew do the planes between flights allows them to keep more planes in the air, blah blah blah. They apologized again and sent me a very generous gift certificate. I was satisfied with their apology and the gift certificate and will fly with them again and again and again, I'm sure! - Sonya

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