Day 5 – Scary Clowns and Elvis is in town.

I mentioned before that one of the best things about Vegas for us is that it forces Mike to relax a little. I know, Vegas and relaxation don’t really go together, but for a guy who sets his alarm at 5am whether he needs to or not, a place that keeps the sidewalks rolled up until 10am is a good way to force him to slow the heck down.

It’s even more important right now, since he’s picked up a cold somewhere along the way and is hacking and coughing his way through the night. If he were a normal person, I’d be sad that he’s having to deal with this on vacation, but it’s better than having to deal with it at home where he’s working 12 hour days delivering packages in frigid weather.

So, he still gets up at 5am, but instead of racing through his morning routine he gets to relax and drink a few cups of coffee while he’s reading a magazine or watching a movie.

Speaking of coffee, they’ve got a Keurig in the room. Yay! But they have cups packaged with a sticker on top saying its $3.50 a pop. I’ve honestly never stayed in a room where they charge for the coffee packets, until now. So of course our first stop this afternoon is a Target where we buy some k-cups (after stopping at McDonalds for cheap coffee).

After that, we had the “what do YOU want to do?”, “I don’t know, what do YOU want to do?” talk. I hate those. I had a list (of course I had a list!) of a variety of things that we could do that were within budget and that might interest both of us. Mike was in a mood where nothing sounded interesting, so “we” spent the afternoon at antique stores. Yay. My favorite. ZZZZzzzzzzzz… Good thing I brought the Kindle.

Vegas actually has quite a few really good antique malls, two of them are absolutely massive, with some other smaller ones nearby. Prices are usually realistic, so Mike was able to find three cool things he didn’t think he could live without, and they were relatively inexpensive so I was happy.

We headed back to the room and made dinner – pasta for me, soup for Mike. The fridge here seems to have two settings; sort of cold, and frozen, so we’re keeping the perishables in the cooler to avoid milksicles. On the plus side, it makes it easy to freeze water bottles so I can put them back in the cooler. Why don’t we just go get ice, you say? Because there are no ice machines in this wing of the hotel. There’s a huge piece of cardboard over the entryway to what should be the ice maker and soda/snack machines on every floor.

Honestly, this would be a nice place if they’d just hire a couple hundred maintenance workers and take care of the multitude of minor issues.

After dinner we decide to go downtown and see where the REAL cheapskates stay. Actually, downtown is sort of fun, for one thing it’s much more accessible than the Strip, it’s easy to walk in and out of different casinos without hiking a mile or two, and there’s always some interesting entertainment.

Apparently in the years since we’ve been, the entertainment has become even more “interesting”. There’s tons of Street Performers dressed as everything from Jack Sparrow to Optimus Prime who will pose for pictures if you give them a “donation”. Some of these people have fairly amazing costumes, others are obviously homeless people using a different angle for a handout.

It’s definitely changed the vibe down here. I mean, they’re not chasing after you begging for change, but they do try and interact if you walk past them. On the plus side, there’s more to look at now than just the light show:

Big T

Mike and Mini T

Ace n’ Gene.

A not-so-Slenderman?

Interesting if you don’t mind visions like the ones below being burnt in your brain (warning – next three images are decidedly un-Disney-like. Click on the thumbnails for a larger image – although I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re at work. Actually, if I was a nicer person I wouldn’t recommend it at all, but I’m sort of evil, so click away.)

 

Honestly, these were the best of the worst, the rest were way past PG13.

After we’d had enough fun gawking at the clowns, we walked through the Golden Nugget to check out their pool that has the slide-through shark tank.

I’ve always wondered how they keep all the fish happy and not eating each other.

Binion’s has a free Elvis exhibit so we decide to check that out.

They also have a car with bull horns. In my opinion, Vegas needs more cars with bull horns and fewer homeless guys wearing ladies lingerie, but that’s just my opinion.

After the requisite wandering around the casino in circles trying to follow the vague signage, we finally found the place. It’s strange, I find it easy to navigate Las Vegas when we’re on the street, but the minute I get inside any of the casinos I’m completely discombobulated. Thank goodness Mike has a better sense of direction or I’d still be trying to find my way out of the MGM.

The Elvis exhibit is good, lots of original pieces, including some of the famous pantsuits.

This one is made of leather. Can you imagine the pounds of sweat it would suck up during a concert? No, sorry, don’t imagine. Brain Bleach, please!

Of course, now Mike’s searching for an original copy of this poster.

Mike and I both think of Elvis as belonging to the generation before ours – by the time we were old enough for rock and roll, Mr. Presley was a washed-up joke of his former self. The exhibit did a great job of introducing us to who he was in the 1950’s, and what he meant to American music. It also presented just a tiny peek into his personal brand of insanity — from his obsession with police work to his passion for karate.

Did you know that in the 1970’s he would actually stop in the middle of a concert and put on a karate display? Craaaaazy.

He was 42 when he died. As a teen I remember watching the news of his death, seeing all the people streaming past Graceland and thinking he was old and tired anyway, so no big loss. I had no realization at the time of how stinkin’ young he really was. What a waste.

So, enough with the maudlin remembrances, let’s find some alcohol! Last time we were on Fremont Street, there were a couple of casinos with $1 margaritas. We searched around and finally figured out that the days of cheap booze were gone. Actually, the days of cheap anything in Las Vegas are pretty much over. Casinos are running on tighter margins these days. Deals are still around, but you have to be willing to pay a little to get them – we saw more “buy one get one” specials, or coupons if you join a casino’s winners’ club.

So, no cheap margaritas? Fine, give me a $4 beer! Hey, compared to WDW prices, this is practically pennies on the dollar. Probably better anyway, since we are driving this time.

We wandered a bit more, I do love the old neon down here:

And the “new” (starting to look a bit dated) Fremont Street Experience:

That’s the trouble with investing tons of money in “cutting edge” technology. In a few years it doesn’t look vintage or retro, it just looks old and tired. The FSE still looks pretty good, but it’s not the eye-popping wonder it was back in 1995, or even after the update to LED in 2004. To be honest, I’m still angry that they didn’t go with their original idea of building a life-size version of the Starship Enterprise. That would have been sooooooo cooooool.

We also enjoyed some of the street musicians, I love the “Safe Sax” guy, such a wonderful 1980’s throwback (mmmmm, mullet)…

…but by 10pm we were ready to head back to the room.

Here’s where our tight budget really frustrated me. If we’d had the funds we would have taken a taxi downtown and not worried about drinking and driving or the price of the drinks (okay, you’re right, I wouldn’t have worried AS MUCH). Unfortunately, with our money being buried under a pile of dirt, the taxi ride is out, and so are the well drinks. Freemont Street is fun, but it’s funner for longer if you’ve got a buzz.

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