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My 40th Birthday in Vegas – October 4, 2012

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).

my 40th Birthday in Vegas

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).

the Las Vegas Strip

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).

dinner at Grand Cafe Lux w/Mom, Dad, Cindy, Kathy

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.

Mom and the gold cowboy

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.

we won!

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.

Pawn Stars

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!

lunch at Margaritaville w/ Cindy, Kathy, Chris, Frank, Dad, Mom

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 loves Las Vegas!

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.

Kathy, me, Cindy with my new Vegas tee at my birthday Happy Hour

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.

My 40th Birthday dinner at Le Provencal at Paris w/Dad, Mom, Kathy, Melissa, Matt, Cindy, me, Chris, Frank

my beautiful and yummy caprese salad

Happy Birthday to me!

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.

Paris Vegas

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!

Cindy and me, best friends for 40 years

To see all of my pictures from Las Vegas (because there are so many great ones you haven’t seen), please click here.

Rams Head Center Stage with the Regal Beagles 8.27.12

I love casinos and I love concerts, so I have been really excited about the opening of the new Rams Head Center Stage at Maryland Live Casino all summer! It is the closest Rams Head to my house, plus there is free parking. Now I don’t have to drive 45 minutes to Annapolis or 30 minutes to Baltimore City to see a great show at Rams Head.

Rams Head Center Stage

Two weeks ago I got free tickets to the Regal Beagles show at Rams Head Center Stage. It was to be the first show ever at the new venue, a preview show. The official grand opening is August 31st with The Real Geniuses, and the next night there is a private show on August 30th with the Charlie Daniels Band for premium members of Maryland Live Casino. But I was going to be at the very first show ever at Rams Head Center Stage. My dad was also curious about the new venue (plus he likes free stuff) and my mom loves the slots, so we made it a family event.

1st show ever at Rams Head Center Stage
8.27.12

We had dinner at Bobby Flay’s restaurant Bobby’s Burger Palace at Maryland Live Casino. I highly recommend the Bobby Blue Burger that comes with lots of blue cheese and bacon – YUM! After dinner, we walked around to check out the new section of slot machines where the new Rams Head was. It was just about 7pm when the doors were supposed to open, but no one was going in yet. We could see into the venue from the casino – it’s right behind the Rams Head Bar. Since no one was inside yet, we decided to play the slots for a bit. Unfortunately I lost all my money.

view into Rams Head from casino

Just before 8pm when Regal Beagles were supposed to start, Dad and I went into Rams Head Center Stage while Mom continued to play the slots. I only had two tickets for the show, plus Mom would rather play the slots than listen to a concert. On the way inside I met Adam, the guy who I had been tweeting back and forth with about the opening. He put up with all of questions and was very nice about it. He told me the curtain behind Rams Head bar will be closed and no one will be able to see into the venue from the casino, but they will still be able to hear the music if they are right by the bar.

curtain closed

curtain open

sheer curtain

There were only about 10 people inside when Regal Beagles started playing and only about 30 when we left after the first set. Rams Head Center Stage is a very intimate venue. There are booths on the perimeter up top and seats on the floor. There is a bar on the floor to the left of the stage and waitresses bring you your drinks. Both the beer and wine is $5 each, but sorry Guinness fans there are no Stouts. There is also no food served, but there are plenty places to eat in the casino.

The Regal Beagles
w/dancing waitresses

The Regal Beagles played for three hours, but we left after the first hour. It was a Monday night after all. They are a great band. The bassist Dave DeMarco has a great voice, and the drummer Tom Moon is very good. Regal Beagles play what they call Yacht Rock, which is basically lite rock from the 1970s and 1980s. Their first set included such songs as the theme song from Three’s CompanyEscape (The Pina Colada Song), Africa, and December 1963 (Oh What a Night). 

The Regal Beagles

I loved the new Rams Head Center Stage at Maryland Live Casino and will definitely be going back. There aren’t many better ways I can think of to spend a night than playing slots and listening to great live music! They are open every night with a live band playing every night, with the exception of Monday Night Football each Monday during the NFL season. Thursday nights are 80s nights. I am really looking forward to the Patty Smyth / Scandal show on Thursday September 27th. Click here for the full September concert schedule.

Maryland Live Casino

Maryland Live Casino

Maryland Live Casino opened June 6th, but it took me over 2 weeks to get there. That may not seem like that long, but I love casinos, it’s only 20 minutes from my house, and my mom and her friends had already been there twice. So I finally went last Saturday and had a blast! I was really impressed. It is a big, spacious casino with all the latest slots and the customer service is fantastic! When finished it is going to be the third largest casino in the US.

Grease, my new favorite slot

Mom and I arrived at Maryland Live Casino just after 9am on Saturday morning, and it wasn’t crowded. We walked around the entire casino, so I could check it out. I was really excited to play the new Grease slot machine, which has now became my favorite. We played until about 11am and then stopped for lunch. Although I do want to try Bobby Flay’s Burgers and the Cheesecake Factory, we decided to eat at the Market buffet. It was really good – better than the buffet at CharlesTown. After lunch, we played for about an hour or so and left around 1:30 when it started getting crowded. I’m looking forward to going back to Maryland Live Casino, although I’m not thrilled about all of the dress code rules – especially no flip flops after 8pm.

Lots of Rules at Maryland Live Casino

V is for Vegas – my 2nd favorite city

A favorite of mine that begins with V is Vegas, as in Las Vegas my second favorite city. I love Las Vegas so much that I am planning to celebrate my 40th birthday there in October.I have been to Vegas four times, and two of those times have been with my best friend Cindy who will also be joining me in October. The first time was for my job, the second time was for U2′s Vertigo tour, the third time was for U2′s 360 tour, and the fourth time was for the opening of NKOTB’s tour and to see the Viva Elvis cirque de soleil show. Whenever I go to Vegas, I stay at Bally’s. It’s a great casino and hotel centrally located on the strip. I love everything about Las Vegas – the lights, the energy and the many, many slots! It is the perfect place to celebrate my milestone 40th birthday! I can’t wait until October!

What is your favorite city?

This blog post is part of my A to Z April Challenge – 26 of my favorites. Thanks for stopping by. I am also blogging the A to Z Challenge on my other blog On the Road with U2.

My 48 hours at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino!

My 48 hours at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino was filled with free slot play, a great free room, lots of fantastic food, and most importantly fun with Mom. I love Dover Downs, second only to Vegas – better than Tunica. It is such a relaxing, calming and happy atmosphere. You can gamble for a bit with your free slot play, then relax in your free room and then gamble some more. You earn comp dollars quickly for snacks and meals while gambling. You can eat at one of the many great restaurants with huge portions of superb food at reasonable prices.

Dover Downs casino

In tee shirt and flip flops 11 days before Christmas, Mom and I drove to Dover, Delaware Wednesday morning and arrived at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino around 11:30am. After valet parking, we walked into the lobby and saw the beautiful ginger bread house. We checked into our free rooms and then had lunch at The Deli. I had the yummy special buffalo chicken wrap and fries. The Deli has the sweetest of sweet teas, even more sugary than Paula Deen’s. After lunch, Mom and I went to the casino. In an hour, I had lost my $90 free slot play at Triple Stars, American Idol, Hot Tournament, Hot Shot Cash Wheel, Sex and the City, Dean Martin’s Vegas Shindig, Double Jackpot 7, Fireball, and Hot Roll – although I did win small bonuses of $20 each at Triple Stars, American Idol, and Double Jackpot 7. Mom was nice enough to lend me $100. from her winnings, so I played Happy Days and Hot Shot – my two favorite games. But I didn’t win anything, so I went to my room at 2:30 to nap and watch tv until Happy Hour.

Dover Downs Ginger Bread House

Mom and I met  at the Fire and Ice bar, our favorite hangout at Dover Downs, for Happy Hour. Of course my pinot grigio was not a happy hour special. Feeling sorry for me and a little tipsy from her strong half priced vodka tonic, Mom lent me $50. of her winnings. From the suggestion of DoverDowns on twitter, I played MegaHits and doubled that $50 into $100. I took my money out and we went to dinner at Frankie’s, which is my favorite restaurant at Dover Downs. Frankie’s is this great Italian restaurant with huge portions of freshly made pasta at reasonable prices served while listening to the hits of the Rat Pack. I had the great house salad made with yummy sweet peppers and my favorite eggplant parmesan – and of course a glass of pinot grigio. Mom couldn’t eat all of her manicotti, so I finished that too – and had some of the pasta that came with it. Needless to say, I was quite full. To work off our dinner, we played some more slots. In an hour, I lost half of my $100. at Golden Monkey, Jackpot 7, Red Hot Fusion, Hot Tournament, Happy Days, Power Strike, and Wild and Wilder – although I did win small bonuses of $20. each at Red Hot Fusion, Power Strike, and Wild and Wilder. By 8pm, I was in my room with $50. left eating ice cream (as if I hadn’t already eaten enough food), watching The Big Bang Theory and reading Tim Tebow’s autobiography Through My Eyes.

Frankie's, my favorite restaurant at Dover Downs

Thursday morning Mom and I met in the casino at 9:45am. I still had the $50 from Wednesday and Mom lent me another $100. We played American Idol, Hot Tournament, Hot Shot Cash Wheel,  MegaHits, Betty Boop, Bombs Away, and Dirty Dancing. I had lost all of my money and was down to $2. on Dirty Dancing when I hit a bonus and won $215. I was so relieved to have some money to play with for the rest of the day. I played Jackpot Vegas Hits, Jackpot 7, Happy Days and Hot Shot. I finally won a little on my favorite games – $15. on Happy Days and $50. on Hot Shot. By 11:30 I had lost half of my winnings, so Mom and I went to The Deli for lunch. I had my favorite tuna melt on a croissant and three potato salad – and some more of that oh so sugary sweet tea. After lunch, I went back to my room to watch my soaps, relax and more importantly to make my money last longer.

my only win

With $100. from my Dirty Dancing winnings, I met Mom back in the casino at 2pm. I played Sex and the City for almost a half hour, but then it was all downhill from there. By 3pm, I had lost all of my money playing High Speed, Two for the Money, MegasTwo Winner, and Triple 7 Red Hot. I went back to my room until it was time to go to dinner. I watched the first horse race and then met Mom at Michele’s at 5:30 for dinner. It was Ladies’ Night – ladies get half priced entrees. Mom got the most delicious filet mignon. It literally felt like velvet – the most tender filet I’ve ever tasted. I had the chicken breast with crab meat – and of course pinot grigio. Mom and I split the chocolate lava cake for dessert – so rich and yummy. To walk off our dinner, we hit the casino again. On our way, we ran into Elvis and chatted with him for a bit. I regret that I didn’t get a picture with him. I just watched Mom play the slots, since I didn’t have any money. We were in our rooms by 7:30pm. Tomorrow morning we will avoid the casino, check out and head straight home.

watching the horse races from my room at Dover Downs

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