Friday, 25 May 2012

Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

Well, lookie there, not only did I predict this final, I actually hit the number of games right on for BOTH SERIES!!!

This is the best final I could have hoped for when the playoff started, and I will be cheering for the Devils as I've been a fan of their longer....having said that, I think the Kings are just too good. Although the Kings haven't played a team that forechecks like the Devils do, I think they are deeper and their goaltending is so good, they will win and probably win pretty easily.

Kings over Devils in 5 games.

Hope I'm wrong, but I will be very, very proud of the Kings if I'm not.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Round 3 predictions

Feeling pretty good about my dream Devils/Kings final right now!

Kings over Coyotes in 5
Devils over Rangers in 6

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Vegas Day 8 - the trip home

7:30 AM - Up and packed, so sad to be leaving. Downstairs to grab a bite to eat at the market and then I send Tracey up to the room to call the Bell desk and get them to go get our luggage while I go get the rental car from the parking lot. I cannot overstate what a treat it was to drive this car all week. It's competely impractical for Vancouver, but that won't necessarily preclude me from buying one anyway.

9:30 AM - We arrive at the airport, we're pretty early but didn't really have time to do much else today, and the earlier you get here the better chance of getting an upgrade to first class, which we do! It's the best deal in flying, it costs us $60 more than it would have cost us anyway ($20 per bag, which becomes free with the first class ticket). The bad news is that we find out we are realllllllly early as the flight is delayed at least an hour.

10:00 AM - We arrive at our gate with at least a couple hours to kill, so I fire up the computer and Tracey buries herself in a book. No huge deal, it's worth it to get the upgrade. As we're sitting there, they change our gate, but only from 25 to 26. Then to 27. Back to 26. I feel like I've suddenly been transported into Airplane! "Flight 909er from Chicago now arriving at gate 11. Gate 12. Gate 13..... Gate 19...Gate 20.....".

12:10 PM - Things get really interesting now. Our plane arrived and has unloaded, so they've called for the first class passengers to board; I am first in line, and as they are checking my ticket, one of the workers comes to our gate and tells the lady checking us through to hang on for a second as there were still 3 people to deplane. As they come up the ramp, I notice two women and one GIANT man carrying a bunch of very large Louis Vuitton bags. As they get a bit closer, I notice the first woman is one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in my life....and there is a reason for that....IT IS BEYONCE!!! OMG she looks amazing in person. She made eye contact and smiled at me :-) She wasn't really trying to hide her identity at all, which was ironic because the other two were wearing the huge sunglasses and looking down like they were trying to hide. The smaller girl might have been her sister Solange but I'm not sure about that. Obviously the guy was a bodyguard, he was the size of a house. Pretty damn exciting.

Beyonce looked much taller than her height which the 'net says is only 5'7", but of course she could have been wearing huge heels. I wasn't looking at her feet :-)

12:45 PM - We take off, it's a very bumpy takeoff as it's crazy windy in Vegas (in fact it's been windy quite a bit this week) but nothing too absurd. It's an excellent flight, and we get a terrific lunch (Southwest chicken sandwich with an orzo pasta salad). Everything goes smoothly and we land a few minutes earlier than expected.

As I get off the plane in beautful downtown Bellingham, I am reminded of the classic line from "the Wizard of Oz":

"Toto, I don't think we're in Vegas anymore".

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed the ride!

Engemoen OUT.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Vegas Day 7

9:15 AM - Wow that was a nice restful sleep, but now it's time to get up and begin the sad process of packing. We leave tomorrow morning and since we have big plans tonight (can you say ELTON F'N JOHN????) it's a good idea to get partially packed before we head out for the day. When I say "we" I mean "me" because the wife is still asleep.

10:21 AM - I'm packed about as far as I can be, and she's still I'm going out. I think she's going to have a pool day so I'm going to go enjoy Vegas for a few hours until it's time to meet up before dinner time. Have to be at the Sports memorabilia shop around 3:30 to get in line for the Joe Montana autograph!!

10:22 AM - Oops. I woke the bear, and the bear responded by telling me that she's had a horrible sleep, didn't fall asleep until around 7 AM. Going to be a long day for the bear at this point..... so I leave and am hopeful she can fall back asleep.

11:45 AM - Nope, just got a text that she's up now. She's packing while I am out exploring Vegas a bit. I parked the car at the Cosmopolitan, just to look around; it's the newest hotel and while I've been here before, I didn't explore much. It's very, very nice. I join their player's club, which gives you points for not just gambling, but anything you eat or buy in their shops too. Seems like a good deal as most of the other rewards programs are gambling-only.

1:30 PM - Back at the resort and Tracey is getting ready to go out, but boy does she ever look tired. Going to be one grouchy bear later tonight, but hopefully the excitement of the Elton John show will keep her awake and interested.

2:25 PM - Updated the blog and went downstairs to get Tracey a Starbucks latte. Perhaps getting her hyped up on caffeine is the answer.

2:45 PM - She's ready and we're off to Caesar's Palace where I will get my jersey autographed by Joe Montana. When we get there the Valet parking is full so I drop Tracey off and drive across Hell's half acre to the self parking.

3:15 PM - Yes it takes me half an hour to park and get back to Caesar's to meet Tracey. When we arrive at the store, there is already a lineup, but we are only 8th or 9th in line. Since my Pina Colada count is suffering so badly, Tracey waits in line while I hike up to the Mirage to Rhumbar to get a frosty, delicious P.C. That brings the count to 6, and that's all I'm going to get I'm afraid....well below my trip quota of 10.

4:30 PM - Joe arrives on time. It's really a thrill to meet him, but if there is one disappointment it is that he is seated behind a table with guys on either side of him, so no opportunity to take a real quality picture with him. This is the only photo we were able to take.

Here is the jersey:

4:45 PM - Done with Joe and we have a little time before our dinner reservations so we hit a few of the high end purse stores. We are introduced to a tiny little $15K purse made of crocodile at Gucci. Jesus.

5:30 PM - Dinner at Trevi, an Italian restaurant right by the fountains in the Forum Shops. Tracey calls this "the best meal of the week", and we had some pretty damn good meals. She has chicken scalloppini and I have a pasta carbonara which was also excellent. We'll definitely be back.

7:15 PM - After I take the camera and jersey to the car, it's time for Elton John! I was a little surprised to find out we could have taken the camera in, they were allowing pictures (just no recording), but too late now. The stage was beautiful, and Mr. John was in fine form. It's the first time I've seen him live so that was really a thrill. He appropriately started off the show with "The Bitch is Back" and finished with "Circle of Life".

I have seen a ton of terrific concerts from "old farts" in the last year or so; Elton, Aerosmith, Roger Daltry, Steve Miller, KISS......the old guys still know how to rock.

And then there was the Britney Spears concert, which was akin to an abortion.

9:30 PM - The show ran just about exactly 2 hours. After a prolonged standing ovation, the crowd started to dissipate out into the casino. After fighting through the throngs, we managed to get up to the parking garage and get the car. I'm quite perturbed that I'm almost done driving this car; I may have to just go home and buy one.

10:30 PM - Almost finished packing and we opened up the last bottle of wine that we had in the room. This bottle costs us about $25 at home, it was less than $10 here. I guess this is the place to get California wine (well, OK, maybe California too).

Time for bed. Tracey was a real trooper today, on only 3 hours sleep, so she needs to get a good rest for tomorrow's travel day. I'm tired too because I'm just old, dammit.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Vegas Day 6

8:30 AM - Well that was quite a sleep in....for me anyway.... the wife is still fast asleep.

9:45 AM - STILL fast asleep....I better go wake her up as we are planning to go to In N Out burger for lunch. I'm going to wake the bear......wish me luck.

The bear didn't maul me too badly, and she's up and beginning what she decribes as "the process" of getting ready to go.

12:00 PM - Yes, it's noon, and we finally arrive for lunch at In N Out burger. Wow those burgers are overrated. They're perfectly fine, but I wouldn't cross the street in heavy traffic to get one. Nothing special at all. I actually think I prefer the Five Guys Burger and Fries burgers, and THOSE are overrated as Hell too.

1:00 PM - We park at the Hard Rock Hotel, as we are planning to check out the Kiss mini golf that is across the street. It just opened in the last month, and it's pretty cool. This is actually the first time I've ever been to the Hard Rock Hotel, and the music memorabia is off the charts. Highly recommend that any music fans check out this hotel next time they are in Vegas. I beat Tracey at mini-golf (oh that's a surprise........) and we head back to pick up the car, so we can go back to the resort to change clothes for dinner.

5:30 PM - Dinner at FIX, in Bellagio. We got a terrific deal on dinner as a package with the "O" tickets. We have already paid for dinner as part of the package so it seems like it's free, and we only have to pay for the very nice bottle of German Reisling that we add to our meal. I have filet mignon with scampi, Tracey has chicken. Dinner comes with appys and dessert too, so it's a great deal. This was a really good meal.

7:30 PM - O, by Cirque du Soleil. Good show, very enjoyable, but highly overrated, IMO. Not nearly as good as Love, and also doesn't stand up to KA.

9:30 PM - We have VIP passes to go to the big nightclub in Bellagio, The Bank, but there is a private function that restricts our access until 10:30 PM, so we pass and head to........

10:00 PM - We hit the Wynn and head to Parasol Down, one of our favorite cocktail spots in the city. We have a couple "free drink" coupons to use from a survey we agreed to take the last time we were in the Wynn, and there is nothing better than a couple free cocktails!! I have the "Pear-A-Sol" (get it? Parasol?) and Tracey has a fruity little number. They are both excellent, but we don't get to spend too much time outside as there is someone smoking a cigar (SERIOUSLY, HOW IS THAT STILL LEGAL?????) about 6 feet from we head inside to finish up the drinks.

Oh, and Tracey got carded for the second time this trip. She insisted I mention that in the blog.

11:05 PM - Back at the resort and off to bed. Tomorrow is our last full day in Vegas this trip. BOOOOO.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Vegas Day 5

7:35 AM - Another early day for me, I guess I should be used to it by now. Today is going to be a "pool day" for Tracey so that probably means a poker day for me. First things first, though, I'm going to throw on my workout gear and head down to the fitness centre for a little workout.....trying to work off at least the Pina Colada portion of the trip....

8:20 AM - Back to the room to shower up after a short workout; short because the shoulder that has been bugging me for months is still making it nearly impossible to workout properly. There is just no strength in that shoulder, which ensures I can't do any arm exercises that involve the shoulder rotating at all. I can do bicep curls and that's about it. If this keeps up I'm going to look like one of those mutants with big biceps and nothing know, the kind of guy everyone laughs at during beach weather. And none of you should feel the need to point out that people already laugh at ME in beach weather as well........
The fitness room here is really super. At least they had several machines to work out legs so I didn't waste my time completely going down there. They also have tons of cardio machines if that's your thing.

8:55 AM - I'm just heading out the door when Tracey stirs. As I assumed, she's going to have a pool day so I'm off to the Mirage for some poker action. There is no game at the Mirage though, so I leave my car and walk to Caesar's Palace. No game there either but they are expecting to have one soon, so I head out to the casino and play a little blackjack. Not a great decision as the dealer makes 21 just about every hand and I'm down $255 before I can say "holy shit!!!".

10:00 AM - Back to the poker room and they have enough players waiting to start the $1/$3 No-Limit game shorthanded. I buy in for $345, which is almost all the cash I have on me, the rest I left in the hotel safe.

About an hour into the session I pick up my first decent hand, TT in middle position, and I try to raise to $12 but grab one wrong chip so my raise ends up being only $8. Guy to my left calls, and a couple other callers as well. Flop is Q88. I bet $30 and the guy to my left raises immediately to $90. I have about $320 left and I go into the tank for a couple of minutes. He's a solid player and I think his range of hands here isn't that large. He probably isn't raising that big with an 8 (why chase out the other players, there is no draw on the board), and because my raise was $8 instead of $12 that may have invited him in with a weaker hand (like QT, or QJ...maybe even Q9). I don't think there is much chance that I have the best hand but my instincts are telling me I should push all in and he will likely give me credit for AQ, KK or AA and fold. After all, I haven't shown a hand in an hour and he probably gives me credit for a hand. I'm usually all for going with my instincts but for some reason this time I decide to fold. He shows me 9d8d. WHEW. He certainly wasn't going to fold that, so unless a ten came on the turn or river I'd be leaving the game broke.

The VERY NEXT HAND I pick up JJ, and raise to $12. Same guy calls, 2 other callers. Great flop for my hand, 842 rainbow. I bet $30, guy to my left calls, everyone else folds. Turn is a 6, all four suite represented on the board now. I bet $80, he shoves all in. I don't believe there is any way this player called my $12 cold with 53 or any 2 pair combination, so I have to think about it for a minute. This would be a pretty easy call with JJ in a lot of situations. He asks me what I have, I tell him "Aces" and he tells me I'm beat. He actually seems like a really nice guy, not the kind of guy who would say that to make me fold the best hand....I tell him I think he must have 22 or 44 and as I'm about to fold, he flips over one of his cards...a 2....and I know there is little doubt he has 22 and I'm drawing to only a J. I fold, and he shows me the other 2. I have only about $140 left at this point but that's still better than being broke. Two HUGE bullets dodged here.

I pick up a few pots in the next half hour or so and am up to about $425, a small profit for the poker session. I'm in the big blind with 32 offsuit and I get a free look at the flop of Ah4d5d for a flopped wheel. I check raise an over-agressive calling station to about $90 on the flop, which he quickly calls. There is NO chance in my mind that this guy has two pair or a set, he either has a weak Ace or a flush draw. When the turn is a non-diamond Jack, I announce "all-in" and start to move my chips into the middle, and he quite literally beats me into the pot and proudly shows his AJ for two pair. His expression turned to horror when I turned over my straight, but that quickly changed back again on a river Jack. Ouch, that hurt. Luckily for me he didn't have more chips, as I had him well covered and I still had about $225 to play with.

I got all those chips back from him not much later when I picked up my first premium hand of the entire trip, AA, and flopped A72 rainbow. I check raised him all in on the turn and he mucked his cards without even showing them, so he was obviously drawing completely dead. That hand put me up to about $550 and things kept getting better from there; I cashed out $1150 for a tidy $805 profit at the poker session, and even a nice $550 profit when you factor in the blackjack debacle. Not bad for a few hours work.

2:00 PM - Back to the resort and I meet up with Tracey at the pool for lunch. She's been at the pool since about 10 AM, she is such a pool whore. After lunch I go change into my bathing suit for a quick swim and a little bit of tanning......very little, as not long after I lay down in my chair the sun shifts behind the palm trees (Tracey actually remarks that the one drawback of the pool area is that there are TOO MANY palm trees, and she had to move a couple of times to get back into the sun. Too many palm trees. Oh the humanity) so I decide to go back up to the room. Tracey comes as well.

4:30 PM - Back up to the room and Tracey lays down for a short nap. We are going to try Mon Ami Gabi again tonight for a late dinner.

7:30 PM - We get to Mon Ami Gabi and are told the wait will be 1.5-2 hours, same as Monday; but we are prepared for it this time, so no problem. We head to the Miracle Mile and do a little shopping while killing time. I take the Pina Colada count to 5.

9:30 PM - Almost exactly two hours later, we get seated....AT THE BEST TABLE IN THE HOUSE.... this was certainly worth the wait. On the rail, right on the strip, in the exact centre of the restaurant, directly across from the Bellagio and their water show. Fantastic!!

Dinner is a little less so, however, as they brought me the wrong steak the first time and then in their hurry to fix things, brought me the right steak but WAYYYY undercooked. To their credit they were VERY apologetic and comped my meal and two desserts, so that certainly made up for things. Our dinner bill, including $20 for sangria, was $80 including tip. Can't beat that. Tracey was especially excited as her favorite meal, lemon chicken, was back on the menu after a 2 year hiatus.

11:30 PM - Back at the resort and time for bed. Lots to do tomorrow, including another Cirque du Soleil show, O. Looking forward to that!!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Vegas Day 4

8:35 AM - Up and about, getting ready to start the day. We have dinner reservations tonight but no other plans, so we're just going to wing it. One thing I definitely need to do is increase my Pina Colada count, which currently sits at just two. I feel shame.

10:00 AM - Over to the Wynn to see if their breakfast buffet measures up to their Dinner offerings. It doesn't, but how could it? It's very good, though.

11:00 AM- We take the car and park at Bellagio, which is central the places we are planning to visit today. First up, we head into Bellagio to check out their Gallery of Fine Art, which is featuring a Monet exhibit. It's truly breathtaking to see such works of art up close. We actually have a Monet print in our house, so it was extra special to see the original piece live! The real painting looks a bit more impressive than our print.

After the art gallery, we walk over to Caesar's to check out the Forum Shops, on our way over to the Mirage which is our intended destination. We stop into Burberry and pick up a couple of nice watches (expensive, sure, but not as much as one might expect for Burberry watches, and I was in need of a nice watch). As we get near the end of the Forum Shops, we come across the sports memorabilia store where Pete Rose is usually hanging out signing things (and the same store where I got my picture with Ric Flair)....Pete is not there today, but we did come across this little item:

HOLY SHIT!!!  The greatest Quarterback in NFL history, and my all-time favorite player, is signing autographs here on Friday? The day BEFORE we leave Vegas???

After the paramedics defibrillate me back to life, I hand over my credit card to the shop owner to pre-purchase a limited edition jersey for Joe to sign. The jersey is numbered 3/16 (3 was his number at Notre Dame, 16 was his number with the 49ers as you can see from the picture) and will look pretty damn good framed on my wall at home. This is exciting beyond belief!! We have tickets for Elton John on Friday night but we'll have to stop here first! Wow, so fantastic.

What is not quite so fantastic is that my wife isn't feeling 100% (perhaps 3 buffets in 3 days has something to do with that) so we actually cancel our dinner reservations for tonight, we are just going to head back to the resort and grab a bite from the marketplace and relax.

Next up we arrive at the Mirage to go to Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. They have a couple of baby dolphins (9 months and 8 months) but honestly they aren't a lot smaller than the other dolphins. They are cute of course, but I defy you to show me a dolphin that isn't cute. We've been here before but this is our first time since we bought our new camera, and Tracey, who is the family photographer, gets some great shots.

This was one of the more amazing things I've seen; you can't really tell from the picture, but this dolphin did a full 360 degree flip in the air:

Of course we also got to see some cats. Some very sleepy cats.

One of the cages had four tigers in it, and none of them moved at all while we were there. If I wanted to see four lazy cats sleep all day, I would have just stayed home.

4:30 PM - Back at the resort at we each have a slice of pizza (and by "slice" I mean "biggest piece of pizza ever") and settle down to upload the pictures from today and chill a bit. I have managed to double my Pina Colada count to four so far today.

5:00 PM - We head down to the pool to do a little hot tubbing and then we grab some sandwiches at the market on the way back up. We decide that today is as good a day as any to crack open the bottle of '02 Dom Perignon that we bought. Tracey has never had this before and I had it once, years ago, and we're looking forward to finding out what real champagne is supposed to taste like.

Kind of overrated, I think. It's good, but not great, IMO. Not sure I'd ever buy this again, at least not for just 2 people. Maybe for a group celebration or something like that. Oh well, glad we tried it.