Being a group of nerds and not much into shopping, we downloaded Strayboots to take us on a scavenger hunt through the Strip. On our hunt, we sought the answers to questions and received tidbits of history and trivia as a reward before receiving our next clue. Fourteen hundred miles from a chilly February in Kansas, we enjoyed the sunshine and balmy temperatures, though the lack of humidity suck moisture from my skin at a rapid rate.
We headed to the Bellagio. Inside we found one of the more luxurious casinos, the place where the high rollers tend to congregate. Amidst the tinkling slot machines and blackjack tables stood flowing pieces of blown glass art. The first one looked like something from the sea, wide blooms intermixed with snaking tendrils – my eye interpreted sea anemones and tube worms in the ocean currents. Our clue led us to the registration desk of the hotel. Above our heads, a sky light beamed the suns rays through another blown glass sculpture entitled Fiori di Como by glass sculptor Dale Chihuly with 2,000 glass blooms.
Leaving the Bellagio, we passed the fountain pool in front of the hotel and made plans to come back after dinner to watch a couple of the displays. From here, we looked at the Arch de Triumph replica, which was originally going to be built to full scale, but was reduced in size due to proximity of the airport. Our next question was which number would we find on an American roulette wheel that is not on a French roulette wheel. The answer is double zero (00).
Crossing the street to the Parisian, we headed in beneath the Eiffel Tower in search of a bronze janitor by way of a craps table. I went hunting a penny smashing machine and found one near the cashier. Our son collects smashed pennies from our trip, and I brought along a stash of quarters and pennies just for this purpose. Returning to the craps table, I watched as our group let bets ride on the Pass Line. I cautiously counted my husband’s chips, pleased that he was up a few bucks, but also knowing he was going to play until he ran out. The older gentlemen manning the table were entertaining, helping the betters and making jokes as play continued. At this point, a man in blue shirt joined out table, throwing down $1500 for chips, and that was just a few bills from the stack he had sitting on the rim of the table.
After the men cashed out, we located our bronze friend in order to answer the question. After this, we headed back toward our hotel. Our dinner reservation was set for 5 pm and we wanted to get back in order to nap and change. We passed through the Venetian, gazing in shop windows and at the red decorations in preparation for Chinese New Year coming up. Enormous paper lanterns hung from bamboo sticks and sheep and rams carved from wood stood in the atrium.
During this break, I sat down facing our window, looking out at the distance mountains occasionally as I read my latest book, a beta read at the moment. One thing you notice when you reach the solitude of your hotel room is the silence. There is so much noise in the casinos and on the street that the silence is profound and refreshing.
At 5:00, we gathered in front of the Delmonico, one of Emeril’s restaurants. We were planning on steak, steak, and more steak, with a few sides of asparagus, grits, and creamed corn. And afterwards, there was chocolate mousse in a chocolate cup. Delicious.
After a quick change, we headed up the street again. Cigars in hand (not mine), we strut toward the Bellagio again and found a place along the stone balustrade to watch the fountain show. Dancing to Hey, Big Spender, the powerful jets of water shot several stories into the sky, collapsing back again. Lights flashed and the water popped with a sound like fireworks. We stayed long enough to see another display choreographed to Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye). From here, we headed further south down the avenue. Our goal was to reach M&M World to pick up gifts for the kids. Along the way we found a cello trio playing on one foot bridge, and an electric violin soloing on another. We passed Marvel superheros, Transformers, Elvis, and Spiderman, and a bearded lady.
After purchasing t-shirts boasting everyone’s favorite colorful candies, and smashing a couple more pennies, we crossed to New York, New York again. After another round of craps, we grabbed a taxi to head back to our home base. Now, we repeated ourselves about five times that we wanted to go to the Palazzo, but our taxi driver insisted on taking us to the Venetian, and doing so in a way where we wondered if we’d survive the trip. His gas gauge was on E, tire pressure light on, check engine light on, and accelerating gunning at every opportunity. We didn’t argue the dropoff, we just wanted off the crazy ride.