Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Stroll Around the Mirage

by Pa Rock

Gail and I got out and determined to see Las Vegas on our own this morning. Just steps outside of our hotel, the Tropicana, we turned the wrong direction and headed away from the Strip. Not being a particularly auspicious beginning, we probably should have just returned to our rooms and napped like proper old people!

Eventually we got turned around and made our way over the Strip (there are now lots of bridges across the Strip to limit the messy slaughter of tourists) to the MGM Grand. And it was Grand - but like every other place of business in this neon infested jungle, you have to navigate a half mile or so of casino in order to get anywhere. In this case we were looking for someplace to have breakfast. We finally found a little food court and had pizza.

After breakfast we decided to find the Monorail and traverse the Strip the easy way. That was probably our smartest move of the day. A twenty-four hour pass is just thirteen dollars. The MGM Grand is on the south end of the Monorail line, and the Sahara is on the north, with six stops in between. Each Monorail "train" is four cars long, and taped humor is played between stops. For instance, the tape informed us that the Monorail got its name from mono which is Latin for one, and rail which means rail.

We got off at the Sahara, discovered that it was on the poor end of the tracks, re-boarded heading south, and rode to the Caesar's Palace stop. Caesar's is awesome. One of the attractions are the lions which are encased in glass in their own rugged environment. We found the lions quite accidentally. We then decided to visit the Forum Shops, but, again, we had to march through half-a-mile of casino in order to get there. Eventually we saw an exit and escaped. Unfortunately we were out back in a glorified alley and had no idea which way to go.

After some marching trials and errors, we ended up in view of the Mirage. We were on Frank Sinatra Boulevard which was not that impressive, and there was a four-foot wall between ourselves and the Mirage. We followed Frank Sinatra to Industrial Avenue, turned right, and again were up against that damned wall for a couple of blocks. Finally we found a drive heading to the Mirage, but it said "Authorized Vehicles Only." Not being in a vehicle, I assumed that we could rush past the guard shack and make it to the sanctuary of that big damned hotel and casino. Nope. A very genial young man with a Caribbean accent sent us on down Industrial.

Two blocks and one more turn later we came to another "Authorized Vehicles" entrance. The guard in that shack was extra-courteous, and showed us how to get to an entrance by walking diagonally across a parking lot and a couple of more blocks. We wound up at the "Limousine Entrance" just as Reed caught up with us! I feel safe in assuming that my sister and I have seen more of the outside of the Mirage than any other tourists who have ever been lost in Vegas!

My primary objective at the Mirage was to show Gail the White Tigers that had tried to eat Roy, or was it Sigfried? That used to be a free display, but now you have to pay $15 dollars to enter Sigfried and Roy's Pleasure Garden where the tigers and the dolphins play for the touristas. We passed on that deal. For not much more than that you can get in the San Diego Zoo and see the whole damned zoo!

I visited with one of the employees at the Tropicana this morning and commented that it seemed like there are fewer tourists under foot that when I was here fifteen years ago. She told me, quite dejectedly, that my observation was correct. One of the things that make Casino City seem more sedate is that the slot machines no longer payoff in coins, so the sweet clang up success is gone. Now when you cash out, you receive a ticket that goes in an ATM and your cash comes out - like a bank transaction. None of the slot machines even have coin slots. They take paper currency! It's just not the same as walking around the casino with a bucket or two of nickles trying to find a hot machine!

The Tropicana is one of the older hotels on the Strip. The rooms are circa 1950's and haven't changed that much since the days when Buddy Hackett and Connie Francis were running the halls between shows. The old hotels are disappearing (the Stardust and Desert Inn have both been knocked down and replaced since I was last here), and I suspect that the Tropicana's days are numbered. The Folies Bergere still perform here every night. Miss Susan and I came to the Tropicana and saw their show fifteen years ago - and those girls were old then! But they are professional showgirls, and I am certain that they can still do the high kicks - even if they have to hold onto their walkers to meet the challenge!

Tonight we are going to see the Vegas version of Jersey Boys. I saw it on Broadway, but it is so good that I know I will enjoy a second serving. Gail hasn't seen this wonderful musical yet, so I am anxious to gage her reaction.

I will be leaving early in the morning and heading back to Hellizona.

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