Sorry if it's too long, but here it goes......
To see Becka's pics that she took with her camera, click here.
To see my pics that I took with my cameraphone, click here.
We had reservations to stay at Circus Circus hotel & casino in Las Vegas on the night of December 21st and were planning on being there for two days, the 21st & 22nd. After I got off work on Tuesday the 20th, I went home to relax a bit before packing and leaving for our trip. When going on a trip like this, I prefer to leave in the middle of the night for a couple of reasons. I find the trip a lot easier to make in the middle of the night, for there are less people on the road, it is dark so you can’t see the horizon and how far you have to go, and it makes it easier on the gas usage because you’re not running the air conditioner while driving through the desert. So after a couple hours of rest, we eventually left, getting on the freeway here in Anaheim at 2am.
Usually, it takes about 4 hours to get there, going up interstate 15. I did have to make at least one bathroom stop in Victorville, but we got to Stateline or Primm Valley at about 5am. We stretched our legs a little bit, had another restroom break and walked around a little bit. This was Becka’s first trip and first time seeing Buffalo Bills casino. I always like to stop here and wait for sunrise because the desert sunrises here are spectacular and simply breathtaking. But, being that it had been mostly cloudy, and that again this was Becka’s first trip to Vegas, we didn’t hang around Stateline for very long. It was going to be cloudy, and it turned out it was, I didn’t want to waste time there and miss out on a sunrise if there wasn’t going to be one. This was her first trip, and the best way to see it for the first time, is when it is still dark. And that was quickly running out. So we left Primm Valley and headed to Vegas, which is about 30 minutes away.
We arrived at the southern end of the strip at about 6 am. So the first couple of casinos that we saw were Tropicana, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, and New York New York (and click here for another pic of New York). We parked at New York and went through there first. Being that Becka is originally from the “eastern city that never sleeps”, she was really impressed by it. This was still during the wee hours so there wasn’t much open except for the casinos. We left here and walked across the street towards Excalibur, but hopped on the shuttle or monorail down to Mandalay Bay. They have a saltwater aquarium here called Shark Reef that we had plans to see, but never got to. After briefly seeing the inside of the casino which was rather nice, we turned around and hopped back onto the shuttle to the Luxor Casino. We walked around the arcade level for a little bit, just admiring the inside the design of the hotel. (And for those of you that don't know, the main casino/hotel building is a pyramid, and you can view the inside by clicking here.) After here, we went to the Excalibur and had breakfast at the McDonalds in their food court. Just about every food court in every casino has one of these. When we were in this area, we were getting somewhat of a sunrise amidst the clouds which was still rather beautiful. After Excalibur, we walked over to the MGM Grand hotel to see the inside of that and their Lion Habitat which wasn’t open yet. From here, we went back to the car and proceeded up the strip towards our hotel and showed her the rest of the casinos on the way there.
We got to Circus sometime in the morning, the exact time is lost to me at the moment. I do know that early check in wasn’t until 11 am, but we got there well before then, and were able to check in early. Instead of getting the room that we had reserved with one bed, we got one with two. We went back to the car, got our bags, and went up to our room to rest for a little bit before resuming our sight seeing. I have direct deposit setup and I usually get it on Wednesdays by an alert to my cellphone. There was a problem with the website that I usually do my timecards over the weekend, and I feared that it might come late being that it wasn’t approved until Tuesday. But, while we were up in the room, I got the text message that I was waiting for. Becka had also gotten a check from her uncle, so we were on our way to cash that and have some fun. We went back to the Circus Midway for a little bit of gaming and gambling. After here, we went down the strip to the Mirage Casino. Next door to here, there was another one of my favorite casinos, at least up until this trip. Treasure Island is no longer family friendly and is actually departing from the Pirate theme they had first opened with. A couple of years ago, they removed the midway they had there and replaced it with a bar. They have now even removed the Skull & Crossbones sign out front replacing it with a “T I” and have also removed the pirate battle show that was out front, replacing it with a new show in the works. They are simply calling themselves T I now and we just completely ignored this one. I showed Becka the inside of the Mirage resort, going to the Tiger habitat that they have near the front, then proceeding towards the back where they have their “Secret Garden”. Here is where you get a close look at some of their dolphins and exotic cats such as White Lions, White Tigers, and some leopards. Going in, you first get introduced to the area by a tour guide before being allowed to roam on your own. First up was the dolphins, and this was no show, only spontaneous interactions between them and their trainers. You get a surface look at their pools, and then you can go below and see them from under water as one of the pictures show. After going back up outside, one of the dolphins was having some fun with Becka and me as we were trying to take its picture, bobbing its head in and out of the water, almost looking like it was laughing at us, so adorable. (See them here, here, here, here, and here.) They have 3 pools, and only two of them you can see them from underwater. But in the third one, there was more interaction with the two dolphins here that included jumping out of the water and swimming around pretty fast.
From here, we moved on to see the big cats, and first up was the beautiful male white lions. Now, back at the San Diego Wild Animal Park, there was a lion with an all black mane. There were not one, but two male white lions here and they were simply gorgeous. Now unlike the Animal Park, you can get a much closer look here as some of the pictures show. The fences that were between the guests and the cats didn’t strike me as very protective. They had a green railing and about two feet from that was the chain linked fence, easy enough for either an idiot to get too close, or some unsupervised child to wander too close. And one good reason for that is detailed down below. The first one was right up in front of us and looking at them was like looking at Aslan from Narnia. The other was up on top of a rock formation but eventually came down to join the other one for a little play. I could swear these two must have been brothers because of the way they interacted with each other, both back pawing at the ground behind them at the same time. They did get a little vocal with each other, but before I left to see the others, I did get at least one good shot that I’m keeping on my phone. (I swear, when I look at a more larger version of that pic such as putting it as my desktop wallpaper, it REALLY looks like he is looking right at me.) I’m still taken aback by them and just how beautiful they were. See the rest of the pics of these beautiful animals here, here, here, here, and here. Next were a white tiger and a regular one in the same section together. None of these cats seemed to like the landscape because they kept tearing up the sections of grass that were laid down. Next were the leopards that they had there and there were three. One was pacing in the corner, and the other two were napping, one of them in the sun. Next to these was the lone white tiger without any stripes and this was an active one. A few times there, this cat would have it’s eye on this baby in a stroller and would actually stand up against with its front paws on the fence, and growl a little bit at the watching crowd, following the stroller before going back to the log and continued being a typical lazy cat. Too easy for a little one to go up to the fence and stick their fingers or hands in the fence. Last were the three striped tigers and while two of them were being lazy and lying around, one was pacing up and down the front by the crowd occasionally stopping and “marking” here and there. After getting a few last glimpses of these beautiful animals, we left the garden and went down to the next casino.
Next we went to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, which is kind of a glitzy shopping mall like all the casinos are starting to develop. A few years ago, there used to be just a moving walkway, or a flat escalator, that would go across a pool to the entrance of the shops, but not anymore. The entrance is right up at the strip, and you walk into this three level extension of the forum shops which is simply amazing. You first walk in, and straight ahead are escalators that take you to the second and third levels and they curve as they go up. When you look up at the ceiling, it’s almost like being in the Sistine Chapel in Italy. We had to go to the second floor to get to the main Forum Shops in the casino where the rest of the stores were. By this time, our feet were already getting worn out, and my lower back was really bothering me, but we pushed on. Here, there is a plethora of fancy shops and restaurants such as Versace and Planet Hollywood, as well as a slew of sculptures and statues where some of them actually put on a little show. But the one store that I wanted Becka to see was the three story FAO Schwarz toy store with a Trojan Horse as the front of the store. The first level has an Ice Cream Parlor, and aside from that, is full of stuffed animals and dolls. The second level is board games and toys, and the third level is video games. We watched one of the statue shows, and left here to go take our tired bodies back to the hotel room. And after taking a nap for a few hours, we went to the buffet inside Circus to have dinner. After dinner, we played a bit of the nickel machines and some of the midway games in Circus before going back out on the strip. We went back to the New York and Excalibur casinos for a little gaming before coming back to the hotel room for the night.
The next morning, we went back down to the buffet in Circus for the breakfast before packing up and checking out of our room. I paid a final visit to the Circus Midway and the casino before the two of us toured the rest of the strip. I didn’t get very lucky on the midway, but I did in the casino, but it just wasn’t much. For the first time in my life, I scored a royal flush, without any wilds. But I only won about thirty bucks. Here is why, I was playing on nickels with deuces wild, and being that I didn’t put in much money, I was making small bets of two cents per hand. So that is the reason for the small amount, but at least I scored it and I took a picture of it. (I got picked on by my aunt on Christmas for it.) We drove by the Little White Chapel where Britney got married so Becka can get a picture of it. We first went to the Venetian to get a look inside there, being that it was also my first time in there. I just never have wanted to go inside until now and I’m glad I did. Their shops area was similar to the Forum Shops, but instead of a Roman theme, it was more of a Renaissance theme. And there, you could either watch the floating gondolas going by in the canals with the singing gondola operators, or browse among the many shops. They also had statues here, but of a different kind. I also took her to see the Star Trek experience inside the Hilton, but we couldn’t even do much being that you even have to pay for admission on the simulator ride just so you can see the exhibit part that is alongside the que to the ride. We left here, filled up on gas one last time for $2.05 a gallon before leaving, then went back down to the south end of the strip before our trip was over.
We parked in the structure behind New York, walked through to the casino and went back to the MGM Grand to see the Lions. We got there at about 3:30 and the one lion they had there was one of their young ones which was all played out and they were preparing to take it back to their complex they keep them in. And another 45 minutes later, they were going to bring in two others. For those of you that don’t know, this habitat is glass (or thick plastic) enclosure has a rock formation complete with waterfall and caves that the lions can roam around, and guests can go inside a tunnel that takes them within it and under it so that the lions will practically be like inches above them. We waited around for the two of them to be brought out, and were inside the “glass tunnel” when they came out. Picture this: up against a wall, a big glass enclosure and within it, a small rock or mountain formation with a waterfall on the left complete with a little stream. In the middle of this enclosure, there is a tunnel made of thick glass or plastic that guests may walk through and the lions may go on top of and on the other side the rest of the rock formation. We were in this tunnel when they came out, and the first one immediately hopped up on top of this tunnel full of people, and was looking down on us like we were a Las Vegas buffet. Then she went to the wall above the door and took a tinkle right on everybody, but thank god for plastic. Then the second one came out and joined her sister up there, looked around at the people, then grossed everybody out by licking the wet spot her sister left up there. These two were the typical lazy cats and they just laid around, so we took our tired bodies to go look for something to eat being that it was nearing dinner time. There was nothing at the MGM food courts, so we walked over to Excalibur for the food courts there and their buffet. We ate at the buffet, it was expensive being nearly fifteen bucks a person, but it had numerous entrees and the restaurant was huge. After stuffing ourselves, we walked back over to New York for one last bit of gaming on the nickel machines before going back to the car. We hopped on the freeway in Vegas at 6:15 and without making any stops, we were back in Anaheim at 9:30 pm. Only 3 hours and 15 minutes, a new record for me I must say. It was a short trip, but I was still feeling the tiresome effects the following morning and didn't want to get up. And soon again, I will return. It’s always fun to go there, and in case any are wondering, nothing happened there that according to the rule, should be staying there. <wink> Peace out.