If It Is Saturday, This Must Be Las Vegas

On Saturday, we started our St. George trip by flying into Las Vegas. We took an afternoon flight and arrived in Las Vegas late in the afternoon. The flight was bumpy and Sue had technical issues with her computer and her phone, but other than that, the flight was uneventful. By the time we deplaned, got to the rental car company and checked into the hotel it was 6ish. The temps were still in the low 100’s, but it is a dry heat…

We stayed at New York New York because we are both from the real New York (only I am from the real New York; Steven grew up in what I consider Canada–that is, north of the Bronx) and what says real New York than one weirdly constructed casino in the middle of the desert? We survived the usual up sell on the room size and paid the mandatory “resort fee” and were assigned room 813.

Sue and I are planning on doing some hiking, and it was a good thing we were ready because it was a significant walk to get to the elevators. Once off the elevators on the 8th floor, it was another 132 steps to get to our room. The distance to the elevators is a double-edged sword; sure we needed to plan for a snack midway, but on the bright side, we were so far a the end of the maze that they called a hallway, we had virtually no one making noise.

Sue noodles with egg & vegetables and broth

We settled in for a few minutes and then headed out for dinner. We had decided to go to Chinatown and found a great noodle place called Mian. Sue had warm noodles with egg, vegetables and broth, which she ordered medium spicy. I had cold noodles with beef, which I ordered a little more spicy than mild. They were both delicious. Sue’s was a bit too spicy for me, and mine was as spicy as I get in Chicago when I order medium spicy. They served a delicious drink which was cold sweetened mung bean soup. It had a very mild sweet flavor and really worked to dampen down the spiciness of our food.

After dinner we wandered over a block or so to the Golden Tiki. It was just what you would expect in a tiki bar. The DJ was playing ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s hits. The TV on the bar was playing clips from old Hawaiian movies and the atmosphere was a cross between pirate nautical and advanced kitsch. What more could you ask?

Sue’s Dragon’s breath

Sue had a flaming rum drink called a Dragon’s Breath; I had what is normally called a Singapore sling, but they called it something else. We had a perfectly enjoyable time and after a couple of hours we headed back to the hotel for the night.

A great start to our vacation and tomorrow we will head to St. George.

The “Joy” of Booking Travel

We are all set to go to St. George. We spent this week searching airfares, hotels in Las Vegas, AirBnB’s in St. George, and rental cars. It always ends up being more complicated than it should be and there are way too many permutations that can’t be searched at once. Our plan is to fly to Las Vegas on Saturday, stay overnight, then drive to St. George in the morning. We will look around St. George from Sunday to Wednesday and then fly home from Las Vegas on Wednesday evening.

We started on the big search sites like Orbitz and Travelocity. The nice things about them is that we can search for a package of airfare, hotel, and car. The drawbacks: We could not exclude the basic economy flights from the search and so any pricing required us to separately search for airfare and add back any additional costs if the site allowed us to “upgrade” to regular economy. (I am sure Sue will use a blog post at some point to rant about the injustice of the multi-economy pricing model, but we will leave that for another time. You know it.) I will confine my whine to say that the option to upgrade–if available at all–is usually buried somewhere towards the end of the booking.

We also searched the airline websites, which also offer packages and while we are able to book the right airfare, the hotel booking option is limited–at least on American (and United as far as I could tell) –to a hotel in the city where you are flying and for the entire time you are there. Not what we are looking for, so strike two. We were able to book the flights and then a separate booking on the airline site for the hotel (which got us extra miles!), but it is the same price as booking the hotel from the hotel site. Both of those exclude the mandatory resort fee from the price of the room. I don’t mind if they exclude the costs of options that we may not use (breakfast, internet, parking, etc.) from the listed price of the room. I might not want those extras and so I shouldn’t have to pay for them. But the “resort fee” is mandatory so I don’t have any option but to pay it. Seems like that should be part of the room fee. What next? Mandatory check-in fee? Or perhaps an elevator use tax? Please, just add $35 to the price of the room and just be done with it.

Parking is another issue. Since we need a car, we will have to park at the hotel for one night. I thought it might be a better idea to pick up the car Sunday morning–one fewer day of rental and not paying for the parking would be offset by the cost of two taxi/Uber/Lyft rides from/to the airport. The taxi/Uber/Lyft ride would be $10 each way. When I searched the cars, it is somewhat counter-intuitively $10 less expensive to rent the car on Saturday rather than on Sunday. No idea why. Perhaps there is a sin tax for renting on Sunday, although not likely as it is Las Vegas and if they were going to tax sin, renting a car on Sunday would have to be pretty far down the list. Either way, we have now booked it for Saturday and will pay the $15 to park.

We booked an AirBnB in St. George and I have the same sort of issue with their pricing. he place was listed at about $70 per night but the total was about $350. Last time I checked, and I realize I have been out of school for a long time (although he is allegedly an accountant) 4 nights@$70 per night should be about $280 (for those of you following along with your calculators do this: press the 4, press the * key press the 7 and then press the 0. Now press Enter; you should see 280. I don’t mind paying $350 per 4 nights, but that is NOT $70 per night.

So, here is my recap for this post. 1. Please let me search your site for what I want. 2. Give me a break and allow me to define what options I want/don’t want up front 3. Please organize the prices in a reasonable and logical order and 4. (and finally) JUST TELL ME THE DAMN PRICE. NO MANDATORY FEES OR NO HIDDEN CHARGES.

Vegas Is Not My Thing

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada Sign

OK, we’re planning our trip to St. George and you probably know that flying there means flying to Vegas. We’re thinking we’ll travel Saturday evening and spend the night in Tinseltown. We aren’t gamblers, but I thought maybe a show?

The band members seated in a tight circle
I hope I don’t look that foolish at their age. Oh wait, I AM (almost) their age. Also, there are only 2 original members. It’s Def Leppard, in case you didn’t guess.

The first event I noticed was Psycho Las Vegas. Hmmm, had potential until I read that it is a heavy metal festival. No. Def Leppard, really? Mary J. Now, I would see her, but I doubt she’s Steven-the-Dead-Head’s idea of a great night of music. We’re going to miss Cher and Lady Gaga Maybe the Cirque du Souleil Beatles? Penn & Teller? Possibilities.

Next, I got worried. Lavish Vegas was touting the city’s many gun ranges and says, “… if the August heat has you frustrated, blow off some steam during target practice.” Youch. I can think of many ways to blow off steam without pretending to blow off someone’s head. That just feels icky. Call me crazy, but I don’t think guns are toys or entertainment. You are crazy – we both know that.

Wait a minute: Police Chase Las Vegas! Drive the getaway car! Drive the police car! BUT, you only get 5 laps around a track for $199 and I doubt that runs at night when we’ll be there. Still, that sounds like it could be fun or a totally rip off. I need to know how fast the cars go before I’d put any money down. bet we could rent a Ferrari somewhere.

Maybe just a nice dinner.

I am so happy we are only spending one night there. There’s beauty all around Vegas, but the whole over-the-top-fakey-fakey America really doesn’t do it for me. Give me Red Rocks any day.

Time to Look at St. George

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.” – Lewis Carroll

Not real relevant to anything, but I like the poem, so I thought I would just put it at the start of this post just for fun and perhaps to draw your attention to the fact that we are now seriously planning our transition to St. George, Utah.

The house is on the market and we are going to fly to St. George to see whether we would be comfortable making our home there for a year or so. It seems somewhat crazy to be planning to move somewhere we have never visited, but what the hell, we can always change our plans.

Our latest thought is we will head out there  in late August. The outline for the trip is a flight to Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive over the state line to St. George.

We will contact a Realtor to get the lay of the land and the rental market and see if they have suggestions for areas to scout. We plan to spend 2-3 days wandering the town to get a feel for it. (I am hoping not to get the heebee jeebees, but instead a warm, fuzzy feeling.) Hopefully, we will have time to check out some restaurants, see the downtown, and look at the areas where there are available rentals. One of our thoughts is that we should head to the local grocery stores to see what we will be able/not able to get. It seems like an important part of the litmus test of what the city is like. We both think that wandering for a few days should be enough to make the decision. But like everything else in this adventure, we are open to changing it quickly.

I don’t expect we will have time to do any recreational activities. Perhaps one or two short hikes, but I think we will save that for once we have moved. But given the beautiful landscapes, we will see if we can get some in.