The Bloom is Off the Rose

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NYNY Sunset

NYNY Sunset

When I was a child, I loved hot dogs. Whenever we had cookouts, we grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, mostly because they were cheaper than steak or chicken, and we were not rich. One summer day at a cookout, I ate one too many hot dogs and got really sick. Really, really sick. For years after that, I couldn’t even think about hot dogs or look at them or smell them–let alone eat them–without feeling nauseated.

Why am I telling you this story? I was in Las Vegas in early May. I had an epiphany when that trip was over: Vegas is my hot dog.

I’ve gorged on Las Vegas for the past fifteen years and finally, it made me sick. Sick to the point I couldn’t wait to get home, and I didn’t want to write about my trip, process my photos or anything. I just wanted to forget about it and focus on other parts of my life. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past few months. Honestly, I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner.

It’s not that I had a terrible trip. There were many highlights.

I paid for the cheapest room type and still somehow scored a kickass view of the Park and T-Mobile Arena from my room at the Monte Carlo. See?

T-Mobile Arena

T-Mobile Arena from my room at Monte Carlo. Sweet!

(I, for one, am really going to miss the Monte Carlo as a budget resort option on the Strip.)

I saw three terrific shows–The Beatles’ LOVE at the Mirage; Billy Idol at the House of Blues, and Lionel Richie at Planet Hollywood. I highly recommend them all. If there’s one thing Las Vegas really excels at, it’s shows.

Billy Idol House of Blues

Unfortunately, all of my photos from Billy Idol’s concert are pretty terrible. But the concert rocked!

I spent some lovely mornings reading by the pool at Monte Carlo or reading at Sambalatte. It was very relaxing.

I had some enjoyable meals at Brand Steakhouse, Bruxie, the Yard House, Aria Cafe, and California Pizza Kitchen.

Bruxie lunch

Bruxie is heaven on a waffle. Do eat there. You won’t regret it. Bring wet wipes.

I saw the Bellagio Conservatory’s Japenese Tea Garden display before it changed over for the summer season.

Bellagio Conservatory

The Japanese Tea Garden display at Bellagio’s Conservatory this spring was pretty.

I got to check out the new Park between Monte Carlo and New York New York. Basically, it has some good eateries and lots of outdoor space to hang out when the weather’s nice.

Beerhaus at night

Beerhaus at night

As I’ve already written, I used Lyft almost exclusively on this trip and it was an excellent experience. I’ll probably never go back to cabs again.

Most importantly, I got to see my friends JoAnna and Cory before they moved to the Ukraine. Okay, I only got to see Cory for about 5 minutes, but better than nothing. Seeing them was my primary motivation for making the trek to Vegas when I did, so in that regard…Mission Accomplished. (Future trips to Vegas just won’t be the same without you guys! I will miss you!)

But I also had a hard time finding new things to do during the day. The temperatures were much hotter than they were supposed to be (in the 90s and almost 100 one day). I got severely dehydrated and sick as a dog one day and didn’t recover for the rest of the trip. It was 100% my own fault, but it put me in a very bad mood. I missed out on 4 meetups with friends and cancelled my stay Downtown.

On the bright side, I read the entire second book of Game of Thrones while I was there, which is 768 pages long. But I could have done that for free if I’d stayed home.

Monte Carlo Plaza

Sambalatte at Monte Carlo, one of the nicest places to sit outside in Vegas.

So yeah, the bloom is off the rose. The honeymoon is over. Vegas and I needed to go on a “break,” which is why you haven’t seen any blog posts from me all summer. I needed to focus on my “real life” for awhile. Going forward, I plan to focus my travel budget and time on new destinations and new experiences. (First up: San Francisco!)

But let’s not kid ourselves: Eventually, I will go back. (Maybe even sooner than I think.) At least I learned some valuable lessons on this trip that will change the way I visit Las Vegas in the future:

  • No more weekends. Weekends are crowded and noisy and expensive–all things I hate. Also, there seem to be more drunken idiots wandering around on the weekends. I’m not a fan of that, either. And get off my lawn!
  • I’d like to stay at a nicer hotel and not worry about pinching pennies to stretch my budget over an entire week. So from now on, when I am ready to go back to Vegas, my trips will be shorter. This will also hopefully solve my problem about finding new things to do during the day.
  • I can’t tolerate the heat any more. So traveling to Vegas from May through September is no longer an option for me.
  • I may try to travel to Vegas with a friend or two next time. That might help me see the city through fresh eyes.
Flamingo Pool

Flamingo Pool

A few weeks ago, I started to read Vegas articles again on my favorite blogs and listen to my favorite Vegas podcasts. I’m hearing about new restaurants and shows and other things happening in Vegas and thinking “Ooh, I’d like to go there!” or “I’d like to see that!” Finally, this week, I thought it was time to break my long silence on this blog, after I was inspired by a post over at Vegastripping that touched on the same things I’d been feeling about Las Vegas recently. The difference is that I’m still not at a place where I’m back in love with Vegas again. I’m sure it will happen in time, but I’m not there yet.

More soon. I think enough time has passed since my trip that I can start to process my experiences with some objectivity in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, enjoy the last blast of summer wherever you are!

26 thoughts on “The Bloom is Off the Rose

  1. Kelly Charles Schillerstrom

    So sorry to hear. I thought you knew some of these things. I hope your recovery is soon but to hear about other place will be nice also. Some of the things I have learned though the years of going is I keep my watch on home time so I am up at 3-4 in the morning there and to bed around 8-9 there which keeps me away from stupid drunks and crowds. During summer travel I spend very few hours outside except early morning hours and if I am out during the day I always have water or soda with me. I also learned that I like the nicer rooms because if I run through my budget for the day I have a nice place to go to. I have been traveling to Vegas for many years with friends and solo for over 6 years now and love it the only people aloud to go with me is my daughter and her boyfriend during her birthday trip. May you solo to Vegas again and speedy recovery.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Kelly – Sounds like you have a pretty solid routine for yourself in Vegas. I used to really like nights in Vegas more than days, but the older I get, the more I just can’t sit up until midnight. 🙂 So I may have to start doing as you do, adjusting my hours. Thank you for the kind words.

  2. Dave

    I felt the same way many years ago about Vegas too. But now after all of the development and the many new enhancements to come in the years to come. It has recharged my adult fantasies to let loose while visiting. Hopefully after a couple years you will get the bug to go back to Vegas again just have adult fun! Take Care, Dave

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Dave – That’s the good thing about Vegas. Since it’s constantly changing, there will come a time when it will be a whole new city for visitors. Some of us won’t like those changes, but some of us will. And those of us who find ourselves bored by it can revisit and experience something totally different. I’m sure I’ll go back some day. Thanks!

  3. Stephanie

    This is refreshing to read. I haven’t been going to Vegas as long as you have but my last trip left me feeling this way. The actual trip was very good but different. There are some major changes coming up in our lives and I know it will be awhile until I return. I’m sure that has something to do with the way I feel. I know I’ll return one day and the bright side is, Vegas is always changing and I’m sure my excitement will be there again when I can start planning another trip.

    Have fun traveling to other places. Hope to hear about them.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Stephanie – I truly do think there’s some wisdom in the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” Some time spent away from Vegas can probably do good if you’re feeling a bit “blah” about it. Good luck with your major changes, whatever they are!

  4. Brian

    Experienced something similar on my last LV trip, Big Game weekend 2016.

    Had a great first 4 days staying @ vdara w/ a bellagio fountain view, viewing the game, gambling, visiting w/ friends, etc. Last 2 days was sick with a cold and ended up leaving town a day early, which really colored my satisfaction of the overall trip.

    Completely agree that the regular “grind” (crowds, d-bags, fatigue, too many food choices, worrying about not having fun because of all of the above) can wear you down.

    Love your idea of staying at a nicer place for fewer days. Ditto the shows/entertainment; they’re really a great way to enjoy the vegas scene without hanging out in a casino. Definitely check out some off-strip accommodations (hard rock, GVR, m resort, red rock); they can be a super nice yet cost-effective way to achieve some of these goals.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Brian – Oh my God, can I relate. Getting sick in Vegas (or anywhere when you’re on vacation, really) is the worst. It really colors the trip in a negative way. I’ve often thought it might be nice to try some of the off-Strip properties, but I don’t rent a car when I’m in Vegas, and I really do like to be in the center of the action, where I can walk out the door of my resort and walk to another one if I want. But who knows. If I’m trying to change things up, that would be a change. Thanks for the advice!

  5. Jay


    I’ve been there. I’ve had the hotdog/Vegas moment. It was a few years ago — I was staying at Aria and everything went wrong. Long hauled to the hotel. Hotel mixed up the room so we had to pay more for a room that wasn’t very special. Bad food choices. Crowded pool over the weekend. No luck at the slots and non-existent drink service. There was more .. and it was a bad trip and I was angry.

    We gave it 6 months, reevaluated what we were doing during the trips — selected more restaurants with high ratings — and the next trip went smooth. We got our groove back.

    This was back when we were going to Vegas 2-3 times a year. Now we aim for twice, but are happy with once.

    Last month we spent 7 days at MGM Grand and I’ll never go back there. Our future trips will be exclusively at Aria.

    We don’t consider ourselves tourists in Vegas — not after so many trips, and I’m sure you feel the same. Now we try to choose a hotel where we can spend the bulk of our time and money and be rewarded with comps and relaxation.

    Fighting the crowds — we don’t have to do that now. We don’t have to visit all the tourist spots or spend a lot of time taking photos.

    We want a good sleep. A great breakfast. A nice pool to sit at that has great food and drink service pool-side.

    We want some shopping — and one or two shows.

    We want to gamble in our hotel and we want a few good stiff drinks.

    This time we bought a few bottles of top shelf whiskey and sat in our room and watched Shark Week — having a few drinks, before hitting the casino floor. And then we’d pick up another stiff drink at the bar and head to the slots so that we never felt like we were waiting for drink service. And it did come — but we weren’t desperate for it.

    It takes a while to get over the hot dogs. I know it does — and we did the SAME thing as you — where we’d normally spend every vacation in Vegas, following our “hot dog” trip — we went to Vegas once the following year but also Newfoundland and the same the next year (Newfoundland again because we loved it so much).

    This year we went to Vegas once and rented a cottage on Lake Huron for a week. We might never go back to 2-3 times a year .. but we still love Vegas.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Jay – Thank you so much for writing about your experience. You totally get where I’m coming from. I think it helps to see other parts of the world so you have something to compare Vegas to, if you know what I mean. Like you, I’m sure I’ll go back eventually, but in a very different way and I need some distance from it first.

  6. Shawn P

    I’m in the same boat. I returned to Vegas last Halloween for the first time in 5 years, but I discovered that the Vegas I loved no longer exists. Between the rising room rates, the rising resort fees, MGM charging for parking, the overrated and severely overpriced food, cutbacks in service, severely overdue property maintenance, and focus on the trust fund club kid demographic, it has stopped being enjoyable, and I can go to Hawaii for less. I have a prior commitment to return for Halloween this year, but I know it’s my last visit. The same weekend last year was $65 less per night for a suite at the Monte Carlo than they want this year for a base room, and this year half the place will be closed for construction, which they’ll use as an excuse to raise the prices even further next year. It’s not worth it to me anymore to see the further deterioration of once great properties, the increase in crime, the “artists” trying to intimidate you into buying their mix cd, and the rest of the downward spiral just to play 6:5 blackjack and slot machines that no longer pay out. I’ll return one last time to photograph the desert and head 60 miles away at night for the dark skies and astrophotography, but next vacation will be spent visiting friends in Phoenix and Texas.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Shawn P – I hear you on how Vegas has changed over the years. It’s not the same city it was when I started visiting, either. But that’s why it’s wonderful we have a huge world of equally awesome places to visit and experience. Hawaii is fabulous. I don’t know where you’re going in Texas, but San Antonio is also a great city to visit. Lots of history there, and of course, the Riverwalk.

  7. JS

    Hi – I haven’t been to Las Vegas in about 15 years because my husband lost his interest in the place after a couple of visits, so I’ve been following your blog to keep tabs on what’s new there.

    While it has been fun to see it through your eyes, I look forward to your future travels elsewhere. I love San Francisco! Given enough notice, I could meet you there.

    On the topic of traveling with friends, I do believe that this has enhanced my recent travel experiences. Even waiting for a flight is more enjoyable when you have company, but be sure to pick companions who can turn annoyances into funny stories.

    Since you are on the east coast, look into Icelandair deals. This past winter, we flew with a group of friends direct from Seattle to Reykjavik and spent four nights in a nice hotel with breakfast and one thermal baths excursion included for about $750 per person. (I would prefer to go again in the spring/summer when outdoor excursions don’t include snow.)

    Happy travels!


    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Hi, Jan – I’m so pleased you’ve been able to keep track of Vegas through my blog. I’m not sure I’ll be writing about San Francisco, but if I do, it’ll be at my other blog, You’re right about icelandair. I see great deals from them all the time to Iceland. Problem is, we never see those deals out of Burlington, VT. We have just a small handful of carriers that fly out of Burlington. Haha, I hear you on the snow, too. 🙂

  8. JoAnna

    I’m so glad you were able to come out to Las Vegas to see of us, Gray, even if it wasn’t the best trip. I think it’s easy to become burned out by a destination, even a place like Las Vegas that has so much going on all the time. It’s actually one of the reasons why we were ready to say good-bye. It’s time to explore somewhere new. Happy travels, wherever you decide to go next.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Thanks, JoAnna! I agree, I think it’s easy to become burned out on the same destination, just as we get burned out on our daily routines sometimes. I’m so excited for you guys with your new adventure. You never know, I might come visit some day.

  9. Leslie Rodgers

    Hi Gray! So sorry you feel burnt out about your trips to Las Vegas. I hope you can work that out and get back to enjoying it again. I’d like to go Vegas once a year but I can’t always achieve that. Maybe it’s because I don’t go so often that I enjoy it so much ( but I’m sure I could go 2-3 times a year and still enjoy myself!) I love Vegas and get excited even talking about it. I love the shows,gambling, exploring, food, and shopping-I don’t buy a lot but enjoy looking. Just walking up and down the at nite is exciting. I am continuously on line looking for new things to see and do. I go on the websites of restaurants and check menus. On my next trip, a couple of things I want to try is to go check out a flea market and go to container city. I hope you enjoy checking out new cities but please don’t give up on Vegas. My goal is to be able to meet you one day!


    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Thank you, Leslie, that’s so nice of you to say. Your attitude about Las Vegas is what I used to experience, too. Hopefully, some day, I’ll feel that way again. Sometimes it just takes a little time and distance from something to learn to appreciate it again.

  10. DB

    So great to see a blog post from you. Sorry to hear about your current relationship with Vegas. 🙁 Like you said, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, and hopefully something will spark your interest in returning. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your blog. Your advice and tips were invaluable. Interestingly, your posts encouraged me to want to visit Vegas as often as possible to experience all that is old and new! I will miss your Vegas posts, but I look forward to seeing any future posts from new destinations you are willing to blog on. Have a great trip in San Francisco! Would love to hear about your travels there on your other site. Thanks for the Vegas posts, Gray!

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Glad to hear from you, DB. Thanks for the kind words. If I blog about other destinations, I’ll do so at my other blog, (I haven’t written anything there in a few months, either.) I actually do have some Vegas content that I’ve been sitting on that I hope to post in the near future. So I won’t disappear from here forever.

  11. Scott

    I was planning my next trip the minute I got back this year, but in fairness I have ony visited twice.

    Last time I stayed for 16 days and admittedly the shine had worn off by then, but that was mostly down to two bad decisions I made in booking the hotels for my weekend and final three days. The Silverton was a nice place, but just so horribly far from everything and the pool got seriously overcrowded. Plus the drinks were not of a good standard, even for the admittedly low off-Strip prices.

    Rio was nice for the gambling as I took them for a good few pennies on the roulette wheel, but again the location made it dull, the pool area was crowded and the Carnival Buffet was so overpriced that even after waiting in line for 30 minutes and suffering from hunger pains, I had to walk away. Hash House A-Go-Go subsequently got three days worth of my business.

    Mirage is off the list now as the prices are bat-crap crazy, especially given that the volcano is only doing two shows a night. I’d like to do the Monte Carlo again though, but I’m wondering when the renovations finish – anyone know?

    I actually wish I had spent more time Downtown last trip, but at least the option is there for next time!

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Hi, Scott – It’s really hard to find a resort where the pool doesn’t get crowded during the warmer months, so I’m not sure it would have mattered where you stayed in that regard. But it sounds as though you learned a lot from this trip about what you don’t want to do next time, so that’s a good thing, right?

  12. Vegas Insight

    Can’t say I’m surprised by this. I had no reason to predict it, but this conclusion is part of a logical progression, I’d argue.

    Regardless of the future, you gave a lot of people a lot of entertainment and helpful advice, and that’s impressive. And you have inspired a topic of future scribbling by me. Now to carve out the time for it.

    Best wishes for your future travels, wherever they may lead.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Thank you very much for the kind words. In some way, I blame myself that I got sick of it. I visited Las Vegas too often and really tried to cram too much into my trips. I overdid it. I hope this never happens to you! Best of luck with your writing.

  13. Vegas Insight

    I was really sure I left a comment here a couple of weeks ago. Really, really sure. So I came back tonight to see if you responded.

    Wow, I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life, but perhaps I’m smoking pot and not realizing it. Because I hallucinated leaving a comment on this blog post.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      No you did, I’m sorry. For some reason, my blog has stopped sending me emails alerting me to comments that people leave, and I haven’t been checking as regularly as I should. I’m sorry about that.

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