Running Away to Vegas

In the depths of the wettest March in Oregon, with the skies black and the heavy rain thumping down the gutters and downspouts, Michael and I booked our trip to Las Vegas. It had been way too long since we vacationed in Vegas–November 2009 in fact. We buckled; we needed sunshine and some warmth and a break from the rain and stress. Thank you tax returns. Thank you for the random strangers that bought a bunch of our old crap on eBay. A HUGE thank you to airline miles for essentially free plane tickets (seriously, Michael’s ticket was $5!). Vacation!

This trip we booked a room at the Monte Carlo. I’ve never stayed there but I’ve played there a bunch of times and really enjoyed their casino. Even better: their gym is free to hotel guests (as all gyms in casinos should be)! The date finally arrived and we flew into Vegas for some sunshine and some fun.

But alas, we arrived on a Friday afternoon to thunderstorms and rain in Vegas. What the hell? That’s what we were leaving! It wasn’t that big of a deal, though because we planned on playing indoors that night.

We got settled into our room at the Monte Carlo and then headed out to indulge in the adult playground. Michael’s game is poker so we checked out the poker rooms at the Monte Carlo and MGM. I did some playing of my own. I play roulette. I am completely aware that it’s a fool’s game and that the house always wins but…’s still my favorite game!

What’s more fun than choosing random numbers, watching a tiny white ball spin around a wheel with your heart pumping and then cheering with joy when you win $35! Woohoo! I am a very conservative gambler. Not only is it something I only occasionally do, I’m tight with my money and I’ve learned to walk away from tables that weren’t giving me wins. AND I’ve learned to walk away from tables when I’m UP and happy, not broke and miserable. (The following photo is NOT my play and YES the guy won!)

When Michael and I went to Arizona last year, we had In n’ Out Burger there and I loved the burgers. I was looking forward to having it again and found one on the other side of the freeway from The Strip. Too far to walk (and dangerous because it was a highway overpass) so we hopped in a cab. $7 later, we were enjoying our delicious fast-food cheeseburgers and split an order of fries.

It was just as good as I remembered it being last year. The place was packed, too. Clearly a hot spot.

After dinner we hopped back in a cab back to The Strip. Michael took off to play poker for the rest of the night and I meandered around by myself. I saw some celebrities! First, Michael Jackson. 😉

Then, at the MGM, I spotted Hiedi Klum. They were doing some sort of taping for a TV show I guess. That was pretty cool to see. Half the time I miss celebrities because I can’t tell it’s them.

I sat down at a slot machine in the MGM and put in $2. Honestly, I hate slot machines–I don’t get the attraction. I feel bored by them, I don’t get that excitement like I do with roulette and half the time I don’t understand what’s going on! But this particular machine was cool–it was The Ghostbusters game and basically you just spin and try to match. So with $2 I won $30! It was pretty exciting!

I happily took my winnings and went back to the Monte Carlo to play roulette for a few hours. Two different dealers asked me if I was Kristen Stewart from Twilight; I’ve gotten that before and don’t really see it. For the rest of the weekend they called me Bella. I went to bed at a reasonable midnight (or so) and Michael stayed out playing poker until 4 a.m.

QUESTION: Are you a Slot Machine junkie? What’s your game of choice?

Mystery Road Trip – Part One

Friday I got home to Michael’s car packed and he was ready to go on our anniversary weekend away. He informed me that I was driving and that he was the navigator. I climbed into the driver seat and found this:

A clue! I still had no idea where I was going or even if I packed the right stuff. I said okay and we stopped at 7-11 for road trip snacks (I got a Perrier) and I drove us South to Woodburn. The first stop was the Outlet Mall–which was a good idea because in my haste to pack I forgot to bring any sort of jacket of long-sleeved anything. I bought a cheap sweater at the Gap and then we went back to the car where I found Clue #2:

Now Salem isn’t exactly a “hot spot” for fine dining but apparently it was en route to our final destination. I drove us to Salem and we found Christo’s Restaurant. Michael had everything planned for this trip. He researched the best rated place in Salem and that’s where we went. Christo’s was a Pizzeria and Italian joint with the typical things on the menu.

We both got the Greek Salad to start and a small pizza to share.

The Greek salad was stellar. We both raved about it. Not only was the dressing tangy and yummy but the spinach was fresh, the olives were salty and the feta cheese was strong. The salad came with two long bread sticks which added a lot to the salad too. We couldn’t stop talking about this salad. The pizza was good–nothing compared to Apizza Scholl’s or our own but still good. After the romantic dinner in the dimly lit restaurant that played good jazz music, we were off to our next destination. I had another clue waiting for me in the car. And as soon as I saw the clue I knew my speculation was correct!

The sun was setting over the hills as I drove us through the Willamette Valley.  We arrive at Grand Ronde when it was dark: Spirit Mountain Casino!

We checked into the room and got situated and then talked about the plan for the evening. It was nearly 10 p.m. by this time. The room was HUGE. Michael had splurged for a really nice room with a king sized bed.

We had a few different options for what we could do. I told Michael he should play poker (he loves it and he’s good at it) so Michael went to the poker room and I headed down to the roulette table!!

I love roulette. I know it’s totally not a game of skill and it’s probably the worst game to play in a casino in terms of chance but I love it. I love how exciting it is. I totally get a rush when I have chips on the table and the little white ball is spinning around. I’m a really conservative player but I play solely for fun. I almost always WIN or come out EVEN. I rarely have a bad time!

I was able to play for several hours making a little bit, losing a little bit and eventually I walked away with $1 plus the original amount I bought in at. I could have kept playing but I wanted to be able to walk away a “winner”. The next morning we had breakfast at the casino. I ate two sausage links, most of the eggs and half of the biscuits and gravy.  We also got a complimentary fruit dish and coffee cake. We ate all the fruit and I had a few bites of the coffee cake but didn’t really want it.

Michael informed me that we were only staying at Spirit Mountain that one night. Then I got another clue!

While Michael was checking us out of the hotel, I snuck over to the roulette table, drank a cup of coffee and had a few successful hits:

Michael won a little bit at poker the night before so we left Spirit Mountain feeling pretty good about our trip! I had no idea where the next location was. The day was GORGEOUS. It was hot and sunny out as I drove to the next location. We went by an old covered bridge and I wanted to stop and take some pictures.

The bridge was built in 1914. Oregon has TONS of old covered bridges and I’d love to do a day trip to see them all. It was cool. We got back in the car and drove up the old road and then got off onto an old forest road.

The day was sunny and gorgeous but the single lane road winding up the side of a mountain was slightly terrifying. Especially when other cars came down and we had to try and fit two cars in a single lane road.

We arrived at our destination: Drift Creek Falls! The day was perfect for a hike. I changed into my shorts and we set off on the trail.

To Be Continued….