Billy Joel at the MGM Grand Garden Arena

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MGM Grand Garden Arena

This might be hard to believe, but in the thirteen years I’ve been traveling to Vegas, I’ve only ever been in town once when there were concerts I actually wanted to see (who weren’t resident headliners).  You may remember from my “sneak peek” post before my last trip that I had a smorgasbord of concert choices, and ultimately decided to see Billy Joel. Because….BILLY JOEL.

Billy’s Glass Houses album was one of the first I ever owned. I played it ’til I wore it out, long past the time when most people got rid of their record players and made the switch to cassettes. (I’ve gone digital now; I’m not a total dinosaur.)

Arena Crowd

Waiting for the show to start.

I waffled for awhile on the price, because I was trying to make this a cheap trip, but finally went for a mid-range seat for $162. As far as I knew, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see him. Once I bought my ticket, I started to get excited. Continue reading

Pizza Rock. . .Rocks

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Pizza Rock

And it has a photogenic sign, too.

I walked into Pizza Rock around 3pm on a Wednesday. I’d been up since 3:30am EDT and flying all day to get to Vegas. I was beyond starving. Because Pizza Rock is on 3rd Street, the same block as Downtown Grand (where I was staying), it was a convenient place to stop and grab a bite to eat.

Inside the door to my right was a take-out counter, but I was looking to sit and have a real meal, so I looked into the restaurant. There were a couple of large, loud families with children at tables there. Eh. Was this a place I really wanted to stop and eat? I thought.

Then I spied the bar at the far end of the room (with a sign clearly indicating that it was Adults Only–hallelujah!) and made a beeline for it. It was nearly empty but for a couple and two men who kept staring at their smart phones instead of talking to each other, even though they were sitting right next to each other. Since it was Happy Hour, I was a little surprised there weren’t more people here.

Continue reading

9 Ways To Get Your “Geek Fix” in Vegas

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Geek tee

Wear your geek label proudly.

Some people use the term “geek” in a derogatory fashion. Not me. That’s because I am one–and I make no apologies for it. I grew up reading comic books and watching Star Trek and Star Wars, and I never stopped loving those things. My favorite hangout in Las Vegas used to be the Star Trek Experience. I’ve been wishing that someone would open a scifi themed bar or resort to fill the gap ever since the Experience closed. Sadly, that hasn’t happened.

But I was able to feed my inner geek on my last trip to Vegas in a handful of spots. If you’re secretly (or not so secretly) into Marvel comics and Star Wars and UFOs and love to indulge your inner geek whenever you go on vacation, here are some places for you to check out in Las Vegas: Continue reading

Horse Race Betting for Dummies

This entry was posted in Gambling on by .

Horse race

Full Stretch by Paul Kehrer

If you’ve ever found yourself intimidated by the idea of placing a sports bet, I feel your pain. I am intimidated by a lot of gaming options in Las Vegas casinos. Craps, blackjack–anything where I have to know the rules and perform them in front of others who are more experienced tends to intimidate me. (What will happen if I screw up? Will they yell at me? Will they snicker at me? How badly will I be humiliated?) This is why I’ve pretty much stuck to playing slots during my gambling sessions in Vegas: No witnesses.

But I have had a fascination with horse races for a long time. Part of it is rooting for the underdog (or “underhorse” as the case may be). Part of it is that I love horses; they are such magnificent creatures. Part of it is that horseracing is such a fascinating subculture and industry.

My June Vegas trip happened to coincide with the Belmont Stakes. For some reason, I took this as a sign that it was time for me to learn how to bet on a horse race. I mean, if you’re going to do it, it might as well be a famous race, right? Continue reading

My Very Own “Cheers” Bar in Vegas

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Double Barrel Roadhouse

Double Barrel Roadhouse

For years, I’ve been searching for my very own “Cheers” bar–you know, the one where “everyone knows your name”. I still haven’t found that place here in Vermont. Even the staff at the sports bar around the corner from me (that I visit at least once every other month) still don’t know me by name. But on my June trip to Vegas this year, I think I came as close as I ever have before, at the Double Barrel Roadhouse.

The Double Barrel is one of the new restaurants at the Monte Carlo. You can’t actually get there from inside the Monte Carlo, though. It’s located outside the resort, between 800 Degrees Pizza and the CVS Pharmacy to the north of the Monte Carlo Strip entrance.

The Roadhouse has a down-home feel to it, and lays claim to being pretty much a BBQ restaurant, with BBQ beef brisket and pork, baked beans, and wood-grilled corn on the cob, among other menu items. The walls are made of what looks like weathered wood, and the back wall is a stack of barrels.

Double Barrel Roadhouse

The Double Barrel Roadhouse is a good spot for people-watching.

In the summer at least, it is an open-air restaurant. But don’t think that means you’ll be sweltering in the 100-degree temperatures. I sat at the bar, which is in air-conditioning. It was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold, with a mixture of sun, fresh air and cool air. Not to mention great people-watching on the Strip.

The food’s not so bad, either. Believe me, I had three meals here, so I got to sample plenty of it. I’m going to tell you what I had and how good it all was, even though none of these things appear on their online menu any more, so I assume they’re no longer offering them. All I can say about that is I’m so sorry for all of you who didn’t get to try the first dish on my list. So, so sorry. Continue reading