Saturday morning, we all convened in the lobby at TI and headed to the cars. Bill and I had the same rental car in different colors, so I’m sure our 10-person, 2-car caravan looked awesome driving down the strip. Our destination was the Mob Museum, located in the former federal building in downtown Las Vegas. We paid $5 to park our cars in their million-degree parking lot, and went inside for tickets.
I’d wanted to visit the museum since I heard about it, because it’s run by the same group who created the International Spy Museum in DC. They do a good job of telling a story in a way that holds my fleeting attention, and they have a lot of interactive exhibits.
We started by getting in the lineup, which provided no end of entertainment.
They had an exhibit on the St Valentine’s Day massacre, complete with a piece of the actual wall:
Then there was the electric chair. Bally gave it a try.
They had a room devoted to Vegas-related mob history, and the old hotel artifacts were great. They also had video of all the old casinos being imploded.
Farther along in the exhibit, we got to practice our reaction times with a gun. Matt’s a lawbreaker, so he just shot at the cops.
We swung through the gift shop quickly, then all gathered out front where Katie wrangled another tourist to take a group photo on the steps of the museum. It was so hot out, I thought I was going to have an ass-burn from the stairs.
Sarah mentioned that she needed to eat soon, so we devolved into a flurry of “OH GOD PANIC THE PREGNANT LADY NEEDS FOOD RIGHT THIS SECOND!!” and rushed over toward Fremont Street. Matt and I really wanted to see the brand new Detroit-themed casino called The D (seriously, a Detroit-themed casino), so we headed that direction. Doran was just excited about the name.
The game floor was pretty nice, and they had cheap blackjack and even $3 craps. We went upstairs to find the restaurants, and the entire upper floor was a huge collection of old slot machines and other games that actually used quarters. The owners had gathered as many of them as they could find. AWESOME.
Oh, and they had a piece of the Blarney Stone for some reason.
We decided on the D Grill for lunch; it’s the typical burger place that exists in pretty much every casino. They were quick to get us a 10-person table, and our server was really amusing. After ordering, Matt and I rushed to the sports book to see if they were taking bets on the Belmont Stakes, but they didn’t do parimutuel there.
After lunch, we went to get a plastic bucket and roll of quarters from the casino cage so we could play the horse-racing game. It was a really old machine with 8 seats around it and the “track” in the center. You deposited money and made your picks, and then the horses kind of lurched along their individual tracks to the finish. They switched the odds every time, and the favorite always won, so I guess the best play was to just pick that horse every single time. It was pretty entertaining, though.
After we got tired of that, we went back downstairs to look for a table. Conveniently, half of the group was ready to go back to the hotel and head to the pool, and half of us wanted to stay downtown and gamble. Matt, Bill, Wendy, Doran and I couldn’t find open tables at The D, so we stopped to grab a beer and headed to check other casinos.
As usual, Binion’s proved reliable. Matt, Wendy, and I sat down at a pai gow table, and Bill went to go play craps. Doran wandered.
After a while, Matt wasn’t liking his pai gow luck, so he and Doran headed over to The D to play. Doran went right back to the horseracing game, and Matt found a blackjack table. I left pai gow once I was up a little, cashed out, and found Bill at the craps table. I turned my money right back into chips and played that for a while, until it was time to round everyone up to head back. We got Wendy from pai gow, Doran and Matt from The D, and went to the car. We drove back to TI and made plans to meet in the lobby again shortly.
Matt and I went to our room to refresh our sweaty selves, then headed back downstairs. Half the group was going to the car to drive to the Cosmopolitan, and Wendy, Amelia, Bill, Matt and I were going to walk so we didn’t want to have to drive back afterwards. I’d told Wendy to meet us at the bar in the back hallway so we could use one of our check-in coupons for a 2-for-1 slushy drink or beer. We needed sustenance for the long walk to the Cosmopolitan, after all.
It took a while to get our drinks, and then we realized we’d have to hurry to be to the restaurant on time. We rushed off down the strip in the 110-degree heat. Once we got to Caesar’s I suggested we go in through the mall entrance and walk through the building, since it’s easy to get from there to the Bellagio, and then the Cosmopolitan.
That turned out to not be such a great idea. First, when you walk into the mall rotunda, it’s absolutely unclear how you get from there to the casino. You can barely even see the hallway for it, and it’s not obvious which level you should even be on. We circled around there on the escalator for a while, and finally found the hallway. That went well until we ended up at the dead-end near the giant aquarium and had to backtrack. Then it was clear we were almost definitely going to be late.
We wisely decided against walking through the Bellagio, and went out to the strip instead. The fountain show was just starting in front of the Bellagio, so we got to see a tiny bit of that as we rushed past. As we got to the top of the escalator near China Poblano, we saw the other half of the group waiting outside, just being gathered by the hostess to go to the table. WHEW.
They seated us at a long bench-like table near the counter prep area. We ordered cocktails, and started reviewing the menu. I’d forgotten how awesome their food is, and what a variety they have.
We ordered a couple guacamoles for the table while awaiting our other food. While we were eating that, a server suddenly appeared with two brightly-colored pitchers, and handed me a note. Jumi and Josh, who hadn’t been able to make it to Vegas, had bought drinks for my birthday! Between those sizeable pitchers and the cocktails we’d already ordered, we were in good shape.
I got a setas taco and the huitlacoche noodles, which are the best thing ever. The rest of the table was freaking out with excitement over the golden pigs, i.e. pork donuts. They loved them. Seeing small plates for ten people arrive constantly at the table was pretty amusing.
After a very long dinner and a mezcal sampling flight, we were finally ready to go. It took half an hour to figure out the bill, but we worked it out, and headed out into the casino. As per usual, half the group was ready to go back already, and then rest of us (me, Matt, Wendy, Amelia, Doran, and Sarah) went to wander. We tried to find a table in the Chandelier, but it was really busy. We went to Bond instead, since it’s an equally awesome bar. There were no seats there either, but we found a rail to stand around. Since it’s right at the front entrance of the casino, people-watching there was incredible.
After we finished our drinks, we headed across the street to Planet Hollywood. We cut through the casino there, and stopped at the Cabo Wabo walkup window so Matt could buy me a birthday shot from Sammy Hagar.
From there we crossed into Paris, and walked through the hallway with all the shops. We stopped to watch the giant slot machine outside Bally’s, and Wendy and Amelia went to find machines to play on. Sarah wanted to go into L’Art de Paris, the store with a million creepy sculptures, so we followed them in there. We were the only ones in the shop apart from some surly-looking guys working there. They had “no photography” signs everywhere, but Sarah still snuck one of a Jesus on the cross with large, shapely breasts. Then we got the hell out of there.
Matt and I played on some video poker machines for a while, then found Doran and Sarah again. Wendy and Amelia were headed back to the hotel. Matt and Doran stopped at the bar to get Jameson on the rocks, which arrived in super-cute rounded miniature rocks glasses. I told them we were keeping them, and we headed out the front door to the next casino.
We finally ended up at The Quad again. I figured it was a good choice since Sarah was undoubtedly getting tired, but she corrected me quickly: she was going to stay up and hang out, because that’s what you do in Vegas. The tables were all packed, so we picked a spot at the usual bar there and ordered manhattans. We stood around there talking for a few drinks and what seemed like a very long time, watching the celebrity impersonators.
Doran wandered off to use the bathroom, and when he returned he was sans cute stolen glass. Sarah asked where it went, and he looked alarmed and headed back in the direction of the bathroom. A few minutes later, he returned with a shotglass… a different one that he’d found sitting out. He got laughed at for that, and Sarah told him they were taking that one instead.
We said good night to them and walked back to TI. We decided to stop at the bar for a room drink, so Matt headed toward the place we’d been the previous night. I told him no, we should go to the bar on the other side of the casino, because that one was better. He told me there was no other bar, but I insisted that I knew where it was. I led him around the outside of the game floor to the better bar… which turned out to just be the far end of the one he was going to. I deserved the laughing-at that I got for that.