Las Vegas Trip Report

October 12-15, 1997

Day Three - Tuesday, October 14, 1997

Good morning Birthday Girl! Today I turned 30. I started off the day by cashing a handful of traveler's checks and writing 10/14/67 as the date on all of them by accident.

We grabbed Danishes and coffee for breakfast at the snack bar in Golden Nugget and headed off to the Mirage. We parked in their garage and worked our way through the casino to S&R's Secret Garden. The one thing I hate about the Mirage is how impossible it is to get from one side of the casino to the other. I don't ever really get lost, but I end up having to meander through there forever. I think the only casino worse is MGM. But I was deadset on going to the Secret Garden this trip.

It really is money well spent. I loved seeing the dolphins and playing with them was an added treat. Once you get into the garden part, you really do get up close and personal with the animals. Most were sleeping when we were there, but Gilda, the African Elephant was wandering around and came up to sniff the crowd once or twice.

Dan and I do not agree about the weird phone like handsets that they give you. When you get to an exhibit, you enter the numbers on the sign (like 55) and it plays a recording about the exhibit. I really enjoyed the personal stories of S&R and the information about the animals. Dan felt they were stupid and just another thing to carry around.

After Mirage, we went to Ceasars to see the new Forum Shops. I really love the atmosphere of this place. It just feels good to walk around in there. We had just missed the fountain/statue show. I love this show and put it way up on my scale of favorite free things in Vegas. Dan doesn't like it and I knew there was no way I'd get him to wait around for it, so we moved on with me secretly hoping we'd catch it on our way back.

Next stop.. FAO Schwartz! We really had a good time there. I always am surprised by what I find in that store. My 4-yr. old nephew is currently obsessed with the plight of the manatee in Florida and I actually found a stuffed manatee! He's going to love it.

We were carrying the camera so took a bunch of pictures in the Star Wars area, my personal favorite is my pouting and clinging onto Han Solo encased in carbon. We were laughing and drawing a lot of attention, so we decided to change floors before we got in trouble.

I was surprised that I liked the Barbie section. I'm not a big fan of Barbie, but some of the collector dolls and the clothes are really something to see. I never thought I'd see a $1000 Barbie! I also got a bit lost in the Madame Alexander section. I used to have a bunch of those dolls when I was a girl and to see how much they are worth now makes me feel ill. I can't believe I played with them in the sandbox!

Now that I was queasy, we left FAO. We made our way up to the Atlantis show. What a crowd! Frankly, I thought the show was weak. Pretty tame compared to other shows in town (Of course, there is some stiff competition with the Pirate Battle!). The aquarium was pretty, but I was getting very tired and we still had to pick up some CD's at Virgin.

By this time it was well after 3pm and I had been going all day on a danish. Dan volunteered to run back to Mirage and get the car. We agreed he'd pick me up at the valet. Did you know there are 3 valets at Ceasars? We didn't.

I spent 30 minutes at the main entrance (near the check in) and another 20 walking back and forth between the front and the Omnimax valets. We had dinner reservations at Stratosphere at 6pm. At 5:00, I decided not to wait any longer. I grabbed a taxi and headed back downtown.

I arrived back at Golden Nugget at 5:15 and started getting dressed. Dan arrived about 5:50 and changed immediately while I called Stratosphere. I left a message with reservations saying we were on our way and we headed out.

We got to the valet parking at Stratosphere at 6:00 exactly. Then we had to do that long walk through the shopping area. I wasn't about to rush as I was in heels, so Dan had to drag me through there. We got to the elevators and up to the restaurant without trouble.

We were seated immediately at a table. I don't know how to describe it.. other than to say the "second row" of tables. There are tables for 4 next to the windows.. then an aisle and tables for 2. Then there is another level slightly higher with booths for 4. We were in the section of tables for 2. The restaurant is very nice and the staff is very courteous. Everything came quickly and correct.

How do you describe the atmosphere of the restaurant? Well, it's dark, but it just makes the view out the window that much better. I have a terrible fear of heights, so I am glad we didn't get a table by the window, but I didn't want the booth either. The view is excellent no matter where you sit and the restaurant revolves slowly, turning 360-degrees over the course of an hour (I believe).

The staff is very friendly and our waitress was excellent. She was always right there with the next course and the support staff was always right there with water refills and to take empty plates. I was impressed.

Because this was a special occasion, we got our picture taken by the camera lady who comes around to bother you at all the nice restaurants in Vegas. A couple of the pictures turned out nice and we paid an outrageous sum ($45) for 2-8X10's and 2-wallets. At least we got 4 different poses. In the rush I had forgotten my camera at the hotel and I had to have a momento of our dinner.

We had a calamari appetizer (although their appetizer special of shrimp scampi sounded good). For our main course, I had the Tequila Lime shrimp, which is 6-7 shrimp, cooked in tequila and lime, served on a bed of linguine with a cream sauce. Very tasty. Dan had the special, which was a seafood stuffed salmon in a dill sauce. Also excellent.

For dessert we had the Stratosphere Tower. An amazing piece of work. It is an entirely edible replica of the tower prepared at your table. The base is solid dark chocolate and it sits in a raspberry sauce on the plate. On top of that, they place a chocolate cookie cup filled with vanilla and chocolate mousse that is in the shape of the top piece of the tower. Then, they pour chocolate and vanilla creme all over it and you dig in. It is amazing to look at.. and sinful to eat. I probably wouldn't have had dessert if I weren't so curious about this creation, because dinner was so filling. But then again, you only do this sort of thing once or twice a year, so why not? I'd walk it off just getting back to the damned car anyway!

After dinner, we went upstairs to enjoy the (almost) full moon and the warm air. Dan rode the Big Shot and then we walked around up there for a while longer. Everyone was surprised that Dan would go on the Big Shot right after dinner, including me! I was ready for someone to have to get a hose. But everything worked out okay. I even made Dan get the photo they take of you at the top. The expression on his face is priceless... sort of like "HOLY SH...."

We left Stratosphere and went to Sam's Town to catch the 10pm show. The show is quite impressive. I wasn't expecting it to be anything much from what I read here, but I really liked it. We sat down at the Ram's Head Bar and had a drink before the show. What a perfect place to watch from. The waitress was very nice. I had a strawberry margarita and I forget what Dan had. She came over and alerted us when the show was going to start and told us which table to move to. I didn't even notice, but the bar rotates and we had managed to move around to be opposite the waterfall where the show would take place. It had been a long day.

Unfortunately, that was the end of our nice evening as we proceeded to lose a bunch of money over the next hour. $60 at the Blackjack tables and $40 at Video Poker. I thought this was supposed to be a good place to play VP. I was killed!

We went back downtown and caught the last Fremont Street Experience show. Dan and I walked around and shot some photos of the neon signs and lights. I got bored and decided to try to win back some of my losses at Binions. I did turn $20 into $30, but I didn't make back enough to make either of us happy.