Monday, 30 April 2012

Vegas Day 3

6:00 AM - Nope. So much for sleeping in. Maybe I can try to go back to sleep.

7:15 AM - I guess this IS sleeping in, such as it is, at this point in my life. Something tells me there is a nap in my not-too-distant future.

7:55 AM - Tracey is awake and she gets up to make us breakfast....eggs and toast. Not exactly the gourmet breakfast we expect in Vegas but perfectly good for now. She is planning a "pool day" and I am going to go do.....well....not sure yet. I suspect some poker may be involved and I'm sure I'll join her at the pool at some point. We have no defined plans for today, one of only 2 days on this trip that is blank on our itinerary, so we have lots of flexibility today.

9:00 AM - Tracey's down to the pool while I hop in the car and head back to the Mirage poker room. I get seated immediately and not long into my session, the following hand comes up:

Solid player raises in early position, one other caller, I'm on the button with 55 and call.

Flop is 5xx with two clubs. No paint cards.

He bets $30. Other player folds. I think about raising but decide to just call and raise on the turn if a club doesn't come. Turn card is the Jc. He bets again, $45. Can't fold at this point but I think there is at least a reasonable chance he raised with big clubs and may have me beat. I call. River is a blank, he bets $50, I call, and he turns over JJ. Lousy turn card for me, but having said that if the turn card was the other Jack, not the Jc, I would have gone broke on that hand. As it was, I probably lost the minimum I could possibly have lost. Even if I had shoved all-in on the flop he wouldn't have folded, it would have looked too much like I was raising on a flush draw. Dodged a bit of a bullet here despite losing $140 or so.

Not much long after that, I get a bit of a donation, as a very aggressive big black guy (very nice guy from Chicago, but VERY big!) raises in middle position, one other caller, and I call in the SB with AQ. Flop is Qh6h4c rainbow. I check-raise him, he quickly calls. I have $103 left, and I shove it in on the turn after a rag hits. He goes into the tank for a while so I know I have him beat, and I hear him say "I think he's trying to buy it" and he calls off $103 with 99. He doesn't river a 9 and I'm back to being even for the session. I think this is a terrible call by him, although I guess it's possible I might do that with a flush draw, he's got to think that a good portion of the hands that I would call his raise with pre-flop in the small blind (AQ, KQ, JJ, TT) have him crushed at this point.

Not too long after that hand I pick up KT, two off the button. I limp along with a few others, guy in the cutoff limps, button (the black guy) raises to $15. I figure that's it for my hand until everyone else calls too, so I'm getting huge odds to call so I do so. The old gentleman in the cutoff says "well I can't pass THIS up" and shoves in his stack, another $64....and the button AND the guy directly to my left both call. Normally I wouldn't get involved pre-flop for this amount of money with KT, but the pot is huge and I'm last to act so it's a pretty easy call. When the flop comes KTx rainbow, I drag a hefty pot. The guy who shoved had JJ, so he pretty much screwed himself by limping pre-flop and allowing a huge pot to be built so I could call with KT. Little decisions like that mean everything in poker.

I end up turning a $295 profit in about two hours of play.

12:10 PM - I get the car from the valet and head back to the resort to join my wife for lunch at the pool. She is very much enjoying the pool so I know she's going to be there for a while. After lunch I head up to the room to update the blog and contemplate my next move......I may go down for a swim, or maybe a nap is more appropriate......decisions, decisions......

1:00 PM - I decide to head down to the pool to have a swim, a little hot tubbing, and a little tanning. We only stay for an hour or so before we head back up to relax before dinner. Our plan is to head to Mon Ami Gabi around 7ish.

6:30 PM - I wake up from a nap and Tracey is ready to go. I'm obviously discombobulated as I tell Tracey I need 15 minutes to get ready. It doesn't take me 15 minutes to get ready for ANYTHING.

6:37 PM - I'm showered, dressed and ready to go.

7:00 PM - We get to Mon Ami Gabi and are told the wait for a table outside on the patio is 90-110 minutes. Ick. We decide to head across the street to the Bellagio buffet instead. Although I rave about the Wynn buffet, this one is very close to being just as good. Fabulous.

Gordon Ramsey has a new restaurant called STEAK opening up in the Paris. It opens up May 7th, two days after we leave. Oh well, we'll try it next trip.

9:00 PM - We're back at the resort and decide to have a little nightcap, so we open up a bottle of Jackson Triggs Icewine we picked up the other day. It's pretty good, not as good as the Quails' Gate Icewine we always have at home though.

10:30 PM - Blog updated, time for bed.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Vegas Day 2....

6:00 AM - What the heck has happened to me???? I used to be the ultimate night if I sleep past 6 AM it means I'm sick. I used to mock old people who go to sleep before the sun is down and get up at this unholy hour, and now I have become one of them. Not much else to do now but move to Florida, hike my pants up to my armpits and complain about the government full-time.

7:30 AM - The wife wakes up!!! After a little bit of complaining, she's a real trooper, and she starts to do her business to get ready for the day.

9:01 AM - We are out the door, narrowly missing out on the "oh my GOD we will actually be out the door before 9?" award.

9:30 AM - Breakfast at the Bellagio Cafe. Excellent as always. We neglected to bring the camera but we'll be back to Bellagio later in the week so we'll take our pictures of the Conservatory at that point. Oh, and did I mention how freaking awesome our rental car is when the top is down?? No sight line issues with no top and I think I'm falling in love with convertibles.....

11:00 AM - After a bit of shopping at Bellagio we head to Las Vegas Premium Outlets North to do a little more shopping. Earlier this morning I remarked to Tracey that she was wearing very inappropriate footwear to be shopping in the heat in Las Vegas. I was proven correct after we'd been at the mall for about 5 minutes, and the crappy sandals she was wearing started to give her blisters. To the Nike store we go, where she bought a couple pair of good running shoes. Disaster averted.

We picked a good weekend to be there, as Sunglass Hut was having a big clearance sale. I got a pair of Oakleys (yeah I needed another pair of Oakleys like I needed a third nipple, I know) and Tracey bought a pair of Prada glasses....both pairs for under $200! And we had a $100 gift card that we got from AirMiles, so the whole thing cost us about $100 out of pocket.

2:00 PM - Today's shopping done and we're back in the room to relax for a little while before dinner and our show. We have reservations at Zefferino, an Italian restaurant in the Venetian, and then tickets for LOVE at the Mirage. This should be a fun evening!

Oh, and as of this writing (2:12 PM), I have not yet had a Pina Colada today. I am a little bit disgusted with myself.

4:00 PM - Back into the car and we head to the Mirage and park, then walk across to the Venetian where we have dinner reservations at Zeffirino. We have a little bit of time so we walk around the Venetian shops, including a new one called It'Sugar.....1000 square feet of sugar. Willy Wonka is everywhere. Every kind of bulk candy you could ever hope for, and some you would NEVER hope for. It better be good, because that bulk candy is $14/lb. Ouch.

5:00 PM - We arrive at the restaurant for our reservation and are quickly taken upstairs to a beautiful, much-fancier-than-I-thought dining room. Fantastic "old world" decor and our table is literally overlooking the gondola boats.

I highly recommend this restaurant. The service was perfect; not overly-solicited or annoying, but I'm sure if one of us had dropped a fork someone would have been there to catch it before it hit the floor. We both ordered salad; my caesar was terrific and Tracey's mixed green salad was awesome. For our entree, Tracey ordered a traditional pasta dish and I had a filet of sole, crusted in bread crumbs and accompanied by a rosemary and pineapple sauce. It might have been the best fish I have ever eaten, and Tracey's pasta was also fantastic. We topped off the meal with a bottle of top notch Pinot Noir. A truly satisfying meal.

6:30 PM - All you need is LOVE, and baby, that's where we are headed now! This is my 5th time seeing this show and it never disappoints. I've never sat this close before, we are in row 6, and I am seated against the railing right next to one of the performer entrances. The first female performer to enter the show made eye contact and winked at me. At the end of the show, the guy that does the crazy tricks on the board high above the stage (during "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite") high-fived me on the way off the stage. It was pretty cool to be that close and see all the performers' facial expressions.

Having said that, if this was the first time I'd seen the show, we were probably TOO close. A lot happens in this show, and a lot happens way up above you, and it would have been easy to miss some important details from this vantage point. I'm glad I've now seen the show from 5 very different viewing angles.

I don't think I'm overstating it to suggest this is the best show in Vegas; in fact, it's the best show I've ever seen, anywhere, anytime, any price, period. I cannot imagine ever coming here and not seeing this show. If you have never seen it, you need to stop reading this blog, go to your nearest airport, and fly to Vegas IMMEDIATELY. Yes I know I said that before, but I really mean it this time.

8:30 PM - Tracey decides to play a little slots and I head to the poker room where they have a seat open in a $1/$2 no limit game. After her slots Tracey takes the car back to the resort and I stay and play for a few hours. I make a modest $151 for my trouble in a session absent of any significant hands. Some AWFUL players at that table, not a huge surprise for Vegas in the evening.

1:00 AM - Home from poker, and off to bed. I'm interested to see if my body will actually allow me to sleep in considering I'm up so late......

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Hey baby, let's go to Vegas.......

6:35 AM - We're off; and only 5 minutes behind schedule. We actually checked in online last night so no need to hurry to the airport. Going to stop at IHOP for a leisurely breakfast and start the relaxing right away.

8:00 AM - At IHOP near the Bellingham airport, and both Tracey and I choose pretty healthy options for breakfast. Let's face it, a week in Vegas isn't going to be very Weight Watchers friendly so we might as well do what we can now. There will be copious amounts of bacon consumed on this trip, because in the immortal words of Ron Swanson, "if you don't like bacon, you're wrong".

8:35 AM - Breakfast is over, and we have already arrived at the airport and are in a short line to drop off our luggage. Pretty sure this is the first time I've ever checked a bag on a trip to Vegas, of course this is also the longest Vegas trip I've ever taken. My luggage is half empty, something I expect to rectify before we come home.

9:00 AM - We are through security and at the gate. Everyone is SO NICE today, from the baggage people to the TSA guys. The Alaska Airlines staff are also very nice but that's not a huge surprise, they always are. What a great way to start a vacation. We check to see if there are any First Class upgrades available but no luck there this time.

9:55 AM - Flight leaves on time.....well, 5 minutes early actually. So far everything is going about as well as can be expected. Captain just came on the intercom and said we are expecting to be in Vegas about 20 minutes AHEAD of schedule. Dare to dream.

12:20 PM - After one of the most enjoyable flights of my life (non-First Class, anyway), we land in Vegas 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Things are going way too well so far. It's a little suspicious.

12:50 PM - After getting our luggage and doing the paperwork for our rental car, we are told by one of the Alamo guys to go to the end of a certain row and take our "pick of any of the convertibles there". OK, so we get to the end of that row, and find exactly TWO choices; A sporty little Mitsubishi Eclipse, and a bigger Chrysler Seabring. We had a lot of luggage, so clearly the obvious choice was the much-roomier Seabring....but F**K that, it's the first time in my life I'm going to drive a convertible, I'm damn sure going to take the sporty little number. The Mitsubishi it is.

The downside to this car is, well, there is no trunk room for anything. We have to put our suitcases in the back seat. Oh, and since we have the back seat stuffed with our crap, we don't dare to put the top down at this point, and with the top up, the sightlines are almost non-existant. It's like driving a car with no windows. Wow.

After a quick shopping trip at Whole Foods (OK I hate that stupid store.....they claim to be a "health food" store, so they don't stock crazy things like Coke and Pepsi, but you can get all the alcohol you want. Hypocrites.), we head to our resort, the Hilton Grand Vacation Club on the Strip. It's funny to drive to such a beautiful resort in the "dirty" end of the strip. Those of you who have been here know that once you pass the Encore heading North, you are in poverty-town. It's almost like you suddenly got transported to Reno.

This resort is about halfway between Circus Circus and the Stratosphere, not exactly the best part of town....but OMFG is it spectacular!! One of the nicest resorts I've ever stayed at. A fantastic pool (and 2 huge hot tubs), awesome fitness room, a great market/deli, and everything else you could ever need (except for a high-end restaurant, but something tells me we won't have much trouble finding those in this town). Our room is so big it's not actually a room, it's TWO adjoining rooms, with 2 room numbers and two doors. It has a common lockable door so it could be downsized into two separate rooms, but for us, we get it all.....2 full bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, one full kitchen with another mini-kitchenette in the other bedroom, and a beautiful view of the pool. OK so the decor is kind of God-awful but who cares? The service here is terrific as well; our bags arrive just minutes after we do, and maintenance comes up to fix a minor air conditioning problem, getting to our room in less than 5 minutes. Problem solved. This is going to be a great week!!!

3:30 PM - We're unpacked and ready to hit the town. We head to the Mirage where we park the car and head inside to pick up the show tickets we have already purchased for this week. Oh, but first it's over to Rhumbar for a frosty beverage. Pina Colada count has just reached one.

We pick up our tickets for Love tomorrow, and for O on Thursday, and walk up the street to the Fashion Show Mall. The LV store calls to Tracey (what else is new) but I actually end up finding a wallet and tie that I'd like to purchase as well. We might have to come back if we don't lose our shirts this trip :-)

5:20 PM - There is a beautiful art gallery in this mall, and I find a beautiful painting of horses that I'd love to buy, if only I had $15K to blow on a painting. It was breathtaking (and HUGE), though. Done with the mall now and heading across the street to the Wynn to tackle the buffet.

For those of you who haven't been fortunate enough to sample this buffet, you should all drop what you are doing, head to your nearest airport, and fly to Las Vegas RIGHT NOW. Where else can you get Kobe Meatloaf, Chicken Scalloppini, 2 kinds of Lamb, Sweet Pea Risotto, Prime Rib, Brisket of Beef, Turkey, Oysters Rockefeller......not to mention the Chinese food section (including Dim Sum), made-to-order pasta bar, crab legs, yada yada yada....I could go on forever. Oh, and some of the best chicken noodle soup in the history of mankind. Even the salads are off-the-charts.

And did I mention the desserts? Too many to possibly mention. There was some sort of a pina colada parfait....I could have had about a dozen of those bad boys.

I ate exactly the right amount; just enough to make me feel like I was going to explode, but not quite enough to actually MAKE me explode.

7:00 PM - Back to the room as it has been a long day and it's bedtime. Stop laughing, we're old and tired, live with it. After a quick bath and a blog update, time to relax and get a good sleep. Tomorrow is another long day and I'm hoping that the day begins before noon, but of course that's up to my lovely wife.........

Friday, 27 April 2012

Round 2, here we go......

After a less than stellar 4/8 in round 1 (not to mention that my pick for Cup winner lasted only five games), let's see if we can improve on that for Round 2......

Los Angeles over St. Louis in 6
Nashville over Phoenix in 7

Philadelphia over New Jersey in 6 **
NY Rangers over Washington in 7

** I know, I know, I picked the Devils to make it to the Cup Finals, but I'm flipping on that. Hope I'm wrong....but there is clearly something wrong with Kovalchuk's ankle/knee/leg that is preventing him from skating. That should be enough to cost them against the Flyers.

I'm setting the under/over for goals scored in the entire Western Conference games this round at 22.5...and I think I'm taking the "under".....

Off to Vegas tomorrow! Can't wait. I will be blogging about the trip so make sure to tune in, faithful readers.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

On the eve of the playoffs.... Round 1 predictions.

NY Rangers over Ottawa in 5
Boston over Washington in 5
New Jersey over Florida in 4
Pittsburgh over Philadelphia in 6

Los Angeles over Vancouver in 6 (and if I'm only right on one of 8, this better be it.....)
San Jose over St. Louis in 7
Phoenix over Chicago in 6
Detroit over Nashville in 5

And, some early later picks:

East Final: New Jersey vs. Boston
West Final: Los Angeles vs. Detroit

Stanley Cup Final: Detroit over New Jersey

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Three weeks and counting....

....until my lovely wife and I take off to Las Vegas!!

Let me tell you, we are in desperate need of a week away. Between the continuing saga of my Dad's illness and recovery, and the recent loss of our cat Pepe, a vacation is just what the doctor ordered.

We did have a great time with some very good friends last weekend. We hosted a Wrestlemania party, featuring some great food and wine, and this little beauty:

Championship cake. Oh, so sweet.

My wife says that cake was made from bitterness and tears. I pointed out if it was made from the tears of Canucks fans, it would be SO much bigger.

Beautiful weekend in Chilliwack today; so nice in fact that we are heading out to the Vedder River for a little walk, then off to a wine tasting at our favorite VQA Wine store. If only every weekend was this good!!