25.05.2010 - 27.05.2010 69 °F
Gate E72, Salt Lake City Airport
Well, we are not actually sat anywhere near Gate E72 as it's down in "The Dungeon" which Delta Airlines call their "Delta Connection". All the flights with little planes to little towns go from there and the area is not big enough to cater for the number using it.
(STOP PRESS: UPDATE. John did Email SLC airport last year after finding this area so messy, especially the toilets. Also that there was no free Wifi. Well, I can report they listened because: just been in the toilets and it's spotless. The guy mopping the gleaming floor said "Ah, Señor Asplant. We have been expecting you". Oh, and there's now free Wifi too. )
It seems busy here probably as it's a holiday weekend, Memorial Day is on Monday. I was saying to Bob when we were flying to Las Vegas how different the airports feel here to UK ones. More comfortable giant bus station than the shopping malls and drink-fests that the likes of Gatwick are. You know which gate your flight will be going from so you go wait there (except if it's gate E72). Civilised. Well behaved. Polite. Comfortable. Pleasurable and, as Bob just said, all part of the holiday.
Back to Las Vegas.
Here are Arthur's promised snaps. Until we saw our final bill this morning, we'd forgotten how "little" we were paying for this luxury. $88 a night. In the older, original towers, rooms could be had for around $55. Still pretty luxurious too.
Stan enjoys the comfort too
Arthur types this Blog
Arthur prepares to wash behind his ears, not!
Stan & Arthur enjoy the view:
Drive up to any hotel/casino in Las Vegas and ingore "self parking" signs. Drive right to the Valet at the front door and they take care of the car for you. When you pick the car up, the custom is to give a small tip, now, usually $2. Well worth it for the lack of hassle and the feeling you are being treated like a "VIP". Sorry, Arthur, VIB.
The Valet runners are usually boys. Somehow I ended up filming this girl at Mirage
The most luxurious resort is Encore, the ultra-luxury extension to Steve Wynn's "Wynn's". We went there yesterday for breakfast. Very posh Eggs Benedict. In this country, no one looks down their nose at you unless, perhaps, you are dressed and behave like a bag lady!
In the upmarket places you expect the machines to be "tight" but we had a long run on Video Poker and, of course, whilst playing anything (1c slot to $10,000 Bacarat) drinks are free (well, waitresses expect a $1 tip). Just listen out for the ubiquitous call "caakkktayels", "caakkktayels".
After Wynn's and Encore, we drove over to visit Mirage which was Harvey's favourite, we believe. Built by Steve Wynn as the first non-themed mega-resort. Then sold for billions to MGM grand and now, sadly not so well looked after as Wynn would have. We think Harvey may have been a bit disappointed. We even spotted KIDS there! (No one under 21 allowed in casinos).
Round the corner from the Golden Nugget is the railroad. The now sadly much faded Plaza Hotel used to have the booking office and up from that is the Victorian and beautifully restored Main Street Station hotel & casino. We'd got a two-for one coupon. To be able to use this we had to join their "slots" club and then we were given a free pack of cards and the coupon. We used that last night.
Our first experience of a Las Vegas buffet. I am running out of superlatives, but the amount and range of food available for $10.99 was stunning. Sorry, belly-filling. Every type of salad and dressing, roasts, bakes, barbecues, pizzas, Chinese. The roast beef and baked ham was delicious. Baked yams, broccoli (Arthur's favourites especially as the stump was left on), corn. And desserts to pop the buttons. We had to drag Arthur away. Good job you are not allowed a "doggy bag".
Only downside of the experience was the amount of food that was being chucked away.
After that we had a practice run to the airport (well worth it for peace of mind). The airport here is virtually on the Strip and the Mandalay Bay is dead opposite. We were going to pop in there, as it's a favourite then back to El Cortez, which is in the old Downtown which, until a couple of years ago, was a no-go area. Now they are trying to rejuvenate it (calling it East Fremont) with lots of security and new neon signs and features, including a wonderful giant neon cocktail glass. The attraction of the Cortez, apart from it being a traditional casino, is looser slots.
But we were running out of time as we had to be up at 4. So we had a final fling on the Video Poker in the Golden Nugget. Normally we would not expect to win here but Bob went up to the room with $70 winnings in his pocket and John had a long and enjoyable run for his money.
Neon is something now sadly lacking on "The Strip" (Las Vegas Boulevard) where all the newer mega-resorts are. They rely more on electronic lighting and signs than neon and, of course, there are now 4 giant "black holes" on The Strip where the casino companies demolished older casinos, like the Stardust, and started building massive mini-cities with tower blocks intended mainly as condos, hotels and shops. Then, of course, the recession hit and most of them have been stopped in various states of development. So the Strip is certainly not what it was, even last year. Some stretches have become all-but no-go areas and casinos near the North end like the Sahara and Circus Circus are cut off from the rest. Only one development, City Centre has been 1/4 finished. Here, some of the blocks' exteriors have been finished but not the interiors. There's more on this blight here.
This mad spurt of development and the billions invested have all-but brought down huge corporations like Harrah's and MGM-Grand.
Room 2210, Trapper Inn, Jackson, Wyoming. 5.33pm
We're here, now, amongst this lot:-
Bob's doing the laundry, I'm finishing this. Tomorrow, the Grand Tetons (Arthur asks whether you know what "Grand Tetons" mean? It's from the French for Big T...., er, Dolly Partons), then Yellowstone, with two nights at Lake Yellowstone. Rain is forecast still. We shall see.