Sorry to be a day late with this, but I just had a lot of catching up to do yesterday after having spent Fri-Sun in Las Vegas. We took off Friday morning early, Jon, Ben, Ed, and myself in Jon's just-barely-purchased Mazda 6. We made great time, making it to St. George around 11:30 and stopping for lunch at Utah's very own In-N-Out, which was as good as always, except that like everywhere else right now, tomatoes were off the menu. (How is it possible that every tomato is unsafe? Do they all come from the same location? Whats the deal? If I can't have tomatoes on my sandwiches/hamburgers/etc, the terrorists may have already won.)
Anyway, we cruised the rest of the way to Vegas and were able to check in a little early into our room at the Luxor. After relaxing a bit, we hit the pool for an hour or so trying to beat the heat a bit. Later that afternoon we met up with 3 of the 5 girls who were coming as well and walked most of the length of the strip to get to the Venetian where Jon and Ashley were seeing the Blue Man Group. Since we all wanted to spend time with them, we walked up there with them and found a place for dinner -- The Grand Lux Cafe which is run by the same people as The Cheesecake Factory, and was pretty tasty. We had an Asian Nachos appetizer that was really good, and I had a Kentucky "Hot Brown" sandwich that was an open-faced turkey sandwich with bacon and gravy. Once again the lack of tomato was a downer.
After dinner, those of us who weren't going to show wandered around the indoor Venetian Canal while we waited for the other two girls to arrive. Once they got there, we started our trek back down the strip toward our hotels (The girls were staying at the MGM Grand). Along the way we enjoyed the fountains at Bellagio, probably my favorite thing in Las Vegas. We also wandered around inside the New York New York hotel/casino for a bit, looking for a mythical ice cream parlor that seems to have disappeared since the girls were there last.
Finally we ended up back at the MGM Grand and watched some TV in the girls' room for a while until they decided it was time for us to go home.
Saturday morning, we were pretty lazy, eventually ending up at the Luxor brunch buffet around 11:30 or so. Good food, but maybe a bit on the pricey side. After that, we wandered around the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, flirting with the notion of checking out the Shark Reef at Mandalay, but deciding against it. We took a tram over to Excalibur where the guys bought our tickets for the "Tournament of Kings" dinner theater show there for later that night. Then we walked over to New York New York because some people wanted to ride the rollercoaster there. I was still feeling pretty stuffed from buffet brunch and wasn't really in the mood to ride a rollercoaster, but was happy to tag along.
Before we made it to the ride, though, we stopped in the arcade and played a few games (Dragon's Lair, anyone?). Once we got to the rollercoaster, there wasn't enough group enthusiasm for it to convince anyone to actually pay the $15 it cost. At this point, Jon had a genius idea that we ought to go see a movie. And it was a great idea. We got to spend a couple hours out of the heat, and it only cost $7.50 at the matinee price. We saw the new Incredible Hulk movie, and I found it fairly enjoyable. No real complaints. And given that I fell asleep every time I tried to watch the first one, I guess thats an improvement.
After the movie, it was time for the guys and girls to part ways (they were going to see Phantom of the Opera) and we headed to Excalibur for our dinner show. At the show, each section of seats was assigned to a different "country" and its corresponding "king" to cheer for in the competitions. We were in the Ireland section and our king pretty much sucked at everything he did. He lost every single competition he competed at. At one point he did have a pretty cool hand-to-hand combat scene with another king, unleashing a sweet ninja kick. But then later the opposing king pulled off a sweet rope swing move that was just too much for Ireland to handle. Overall it was a fun show, and the food was decent (although the choice of drinks was just water, Pepsi, or Diet Pepsi), albeit a tad greasy for eating without utensils.
After the show, we went back to our room and chilled until the girls were done with their show, and then we drove over to the MGM and then they followed us over to downtown Vegas to the Fremont Street Experience, basically a four block section that has a huge LCD ceiling over it, and its lined with lots of cheap-looking casinos and reeks of cigar smoke. There was a cover band playing a lot of fun songs, and we saw some guys ride around in one of those motorcycle-sphere-of-death things. After seeing two of the on-the-hour shows on the LCD ceiling, we made our way back to our cars and headed back to the hotel. The girls wanted to watch a movie or something somewhere, so I suggested we do it at our room, because I just wanted to go to bed, which I did.
Sunday, we slept in again, and filled our daily quota for nourishment at the Bellagio's brunch buffet. A little better food than the Luxor (e.g. prime rib) but our server was pretty slow with the drinks, and the hour long wait to get in was kind of annoying.
Anyway, after that we drove over to MGM again to meet up with the girls one last time and say good-bye. Well for one of them to say good-bye to one of us (not me). And once that was done, we were ready to hit the road. We made good time getting back to Salt Lake, stopping for gas in St. George, and for a quick potty break in Nephi. I didn't even need to eat again until Monday morning.
More photos from the trip can be found here.