My 40th Birthday in Las Vegas Oct 4, 2012, that I had been planning since December 2011, was a fabulous celebration! Four glorious days in Vegas with my family and friends. We ate, we drank, we played the slots, we explored. This was my fifth time in Las Vegas, and it never disappoints. Vegas is my second happiest place on earth, the first is Memphis (more specifically Graceland).
I woke up in the dark at 6am on Tuesday October 2nd and was at the Park and Ride at BWI Airport by 7:10am. The line for security at Southwest wasn’t too bad and with the early bird check in, I was able to snag a front row aisle seat. It was a 5 1/2 hour flight from Baltimore to Vegas. Luckily the new NKOTB biography had just downloaded to my kindle. Ironically, the last time I was in Vegas was for the start of the NKOTB no-casino tour two years ago. After reading for a bit, I watched Greaseon my iphone and then listened to U2. I took two dramamine, but did not sleep. I am not sure why flying makes me so hungry, but I ate cheese crackers, Lorna Doones, twix, peanuts and pretzels. I don’t like flying, so maybe I was trying to comfort myself. I was excited when we landed 45 minutes early, but then disappointed when we had to sit on the runway for 20 minutes until there was an available gate. After a quick shuttle ride and a long check in, I was finally in my room at Bally’s at 11:30am (which was 2:30pm my time).
I love Bally’s because it is in the center of the Strip and easy to get to everything, plus they have a little mall below the casino with reasonably priced eateries and shops. While waiting for Mom and Dad to arrive, I had pizza and sweet tea at Sbarro’s in Ballys – because I didn’t have enough to eat on the plane apparently. To work off all of my food from the morning, I walked out to the Strip – actually I love looking at all the action of Vegas. Mom and Dad arrived at 1:15. They had a little lunch, and although tempted to eat once again, I resisted. We walked over to Paris casino, which is connected to Bally’s, to play for a little bit. I found a great new slot machine called Pinball that I really liked and would win on throughout my stay. Around 4pm, we left to meet Cindy and Kathy at the Grand Cafe Lux at the Venetian for an early dinner. We took two shuttles to get there – one from Bally’s to Rio (which is off the strip) and then one from Rio to Harrah’s. Then we got turned around at Harrah’s and walked way out of our way before finally making it to the Venetian. We had a nice dinner though. When we’re in Vegas, Cindy and I always eat at the Grand Cafe Lux, which is owned by Cheesecake Factory. They have such a vast and diverse menu and everything is great. I had a wonderful blue cheese salad and turkey and brie sandwich. Then everyone gave me their leftovers to take with me. Apparently, my reputation as a foodie is well-known. After dinner we played for a few minutes (I won on Alice in Wonderland) and then headed back on our long journey to Ballys. We walked to Harrah’s and then took the monorail to Ballys. The Venetian is only five casinos away from Bally’s, but each casino is so huge that it is a really long walk, especially for my parents. Plus to get to the monorail, you have to walk all the way to the back of the casino and up and around and it was just a long, long day. I was in my room, in bed, by 8pm (which was really 11pm my time).
After six hours sleep, which was the most sleep I got in one night while in Vegas, I woke up at 4am (which was really 7am my time) and was in the casino at Ballys by 7am to start my second day in Las Vegas on Wednesday October 3rd. I had lost most of my money by the time I met my parents for breakfast an hour later. After breakfast, we took the bus down to Freemont Street. My parents had not been to Vegas in over 20 years, so they were anxious to see everything. I wanted to recreate my favorite I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For video, but realized I could not play my ipod on my iphone while videorecording with that same iphone, so there is visual but no audio.
After exploring Freemont Street and meeting the gold cowboy, we went into Binion’s, which is now my favorite casino downtown. We got a bunch of free stuff and I won my money back from the morning. Mom, Dad and I got our picture taken with a fake million dollars (our only family photo in years). I got a free luggage tag and a $5 Las Vegas tote bag. I won $110 at Stuntman Sam. my new favorite slot. It was a fun motorcycle jump game that I didn’t see again for the rest of my time in Vegas. I also played the Elvis slot while at Binion’s, but I was able to play that again at other casinos.
After a couple of hours exploring Freemont Street, we got back on the bus and walked two blocks to the World Famous Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, better known as the site of Pawn Stars. Mom is a big fan of the show. It was very crowded and much smaller than it looks on tv. None of the guys were there. I bought Rick’s autobiography and a magnet. I’m happy to say that they were the only souvenirs of my entire trip.
We walked two more blocks, hopped back on the bus and after a long, crowded bus ride, we were at Margaritaville by 1:30. I had a nice, soothing mango margarita at the bar then played some slots. Mom, Dad and I met Cindy, Kathy, Frank and Chris for lunch at Margaritaville at 3pm. After lunch, Cindy and I played the slots at The Flamingo, the first casino in Vegas – started by Bugsy Segal. By 6pm, I was back at Bally’s. Mom and I joined Dad downstairs at the Sports Book to watch the Orioles game, unfortunately they lost and would have to play in the wild card game in Texas on Friday. I went back to Paris and played Grease before meeting Mom and Dad at Le Burger Brasserie for a late dinner at 8:30pm. I had a fabulous yummy blue cheese burger and chocolate shake. To work off my dinner, I played some more at Bally’s and won $133 on Quick Hits. I was in my room by 10:45pm. It was a perfect day!
On my 40th Birthday, my third day in Vegas, I woke up at 5am – sleeping less than four hours after staying up to ring in my birthday at 12:04am, which was 3:04am eastern time. I put on my ‘It’s My Fabulous Fortieth Birthday’ shirt and met my parents for breakfast at 9:30. We ate the wonderful Le Village Buffet at Paris with amazing omlettes and homemade pastries – an absolutely perfect birthday breakfast and a great way to start my 40th birthday! After breakfast, Mom and I played the slots at Paris casino and then Dad and I walked up the Strip. We went to the Walgreens in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood so Dad could get sunglasses – nothing like Walgreens in Vegas! Then we went to the Harley Davidson Cafe, which was really cool. They had all sorts of celebrities’ bikes including a corner dedicated to Elvis. Nothing from Larry Mullen though. Dad noticed two showgirls standing on the Strip, so I took his picture with them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile that big for a picture.
Dad continued his journey down the Strip to MGM and New York New York while I went back to Paris to play some more. I had to charge my phone in my room and was back at Bally’s by 2:30 to play some more. I walked next door to Bill’s thinking that my luck may be better in a smaller casino – I was wrong. I came back to Ballys and had a little snack of potato salad and chocolate milk at Nosh before going back to my room to take a break from all the losing at the slots.
At 5:30pm, I met my Mom, Dad, Frank and Chris at Le Burger Brasserie for my Birthday Happy Hour – two for one drinks. Cindy and Kathy joined us at the very end and then we all walked over to Le Provencal for my birthday dinner. I was already feeling very happy after my two pinto grigios. My friends Matt and Melissa joined us for dinner, so there was nine of us. I had two more pinto grigios with dinner, so I had a great time and thought the food was good, but it wasn’t the amazing dinner I remembered from 2005 when Cindy and I had dinner there. For my 40th birthday dinner, I had caprese salad, seafood pasta and creme brulee. Of course they brought my creme brulee out with a candle in it and everyone sang. It was quite festive.
After dinner, Cindy, Matt, Melissa and I walked over to the Cosmopolitan. It was very chic and fancy and a completely different world than Ballys or Paris, or even the Venetian or Bellagio. We played for a bit and then walked over to Planet Hollywood. I won $150 at Wizard of Oz. There was a band playing all sorts of 1980s covers, including U2′s I Will Follow. We were back at Paris at 1:45am and parted ways. Matt and Melissa kindly drove Cindy back to the Wynn on their way home. I played a little longer at Paris before going to my room at Ballys. I ordered a pizza and was awake until after 3:30am.
Barely three hours later I woke up to see my parents off. They were driving to Mount Rushmore by way of Denver before heading back home. I ate some leftover pizza and napped in my room until checkout, so I didn’t really start Day 4 in Vegas until noon on October 5th. I had just three hours left in Vegas until I caught the shuttle to the airport. I started out in Bally’s and won a little on Alladin, Sex and the City and Wheel of Fortune. Then I walked over to Paris and won a little on Grease, Pinball, and Hot Shot. I walked out onto the Strip one last time on the way back to Bally’s. On my last spin on my last slot, Wheel of Fortune cash wheel, I won $300. I was still down for my time in Vegas, but at least I was going home with more than $10, which is all I had in my wallet. The airport shuttle was 20 minutes late, but I was at my gate by 4pm in plenty of time for my flight at 5:15pm. During my 4 1/2 hour flight home, I again read my NKOTB biography, watched Grease and listened to U2. I again did not sleep. I again was very hungry. I ate cheese crackers, three packs of sugar babies and Lorna Doones. Throughout the flight, the pilot gave us updates on the Orioles Wild Card playoff game.
I had a fabulous time in Las Vegas! I only slept 14 hours total in the three nights I was there. I did everything I wanted to: played slots, ate lots of good food, toured the Strip and Freemont Street, visited Pawn Stars, and most importantly celebrated my 40th Birthday with my family and friends (Mom, Dad, Cindy, Kathy, Frank, Chris, Matt, Melissa). The only thing I will not miss about Vegas is the smoke. I am a bit sad now because my birthday celebration, since I’ve been planning since last December, is over. Wow I’m 40! This is not what I thought 40 was going to be like when I was a little kid, but I am so happy with my life and so very blessed!
To see all of my pictures from Las Vegas (because there are so many great ones you haven’t seen), please click here.