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“Lights, tall buildings, and hookers”, or “The Epithet of a Hick"

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by PHU-KNA, Jan 17, 2007.

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  1. PHU-KNA

    PHU-KNA Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    “Lights, tall buildings, and hookersâ€, or “The Epithet of a Hick"

    Hi all,

    Long time lurker, first time poster. Insert any/all other appropriate jargon for newbies here. I am no Vegas vet, but by no means a spring chicken, either. I now have 8 trips under my belt, 6 of those in the last 2 ½ years. Since I have an upcoming trip booked, I thought I would quickly do the ‘time warp’ and regale you all with my rather vivid memories from my maiden voyage, some 16 years ago. If it doesn’t go up in flame(s)/(rs), perhaps there will be a repeat performance.

    It was my senior year in college. I was making my way home from school for spring break. I had no plans. But anything was better than school. Side note- now being married with kids, job, house payment, car payment, insurance, daycare, 401(k)’s, taxes, etc., was college really all that bad? The phrase – “In a heartbeatâ€, quickly comes to mind.

    Upon arrival home, my father said he had a surprise for me. He had bought me a plane ticket to Phoenix to visit my eldest brother. Right off the bat, I knew my dad was trying to get rid of me. He had recently re-married after being widowed, and the new ‘wife’ and I didn’t get along. Ok, that’s crap. We hated each other. No matter. Phoenix is great for me, especially on someone else’s nickel. Besides, April in Montana doesn’t exactly sprout Daytona Beach –type spring break images. What’s that saying? April showers bring May flowers. Uhhhhh. How about – “In April we can no longer use the garage as a meat lockerâ€. So off I go, with very little cash.

    So I land at Sky Harbor, and find my brother as I reach the end of the jet way (back when you could do that sort of thing). Once his ‘its-good-to-see-you’ look wanes, it turns to desperation. He said “come on, we are in a hurry. Our flight leaves in 5 minutesâ€. Me –“Uh, what flight?†Him- “Vegas, baby. Vegasâ€. Me – “Oh, Sh$tâ€.

    It turns out that since he was fairly new to Phoenix, he didn’t have the slightest idea on how to entertain me for a week. About all he had found so far was a decent watering hole. Couple that with SWA’s “friends fly freeâ€, or whatever deal, and for $59 plus tax we were on our way. I was scared.

    Why, you ask? I don’t know. I just was. It’s Vegas. I guess I was worried I would get mugged, have my kidneys harvested, or be lying next to Jimmy H in a shallow grave somewhere in the desert. Stupid, I now know. But all that city represented to me was drugs, prostitution, organized crime, and a serious case of gambling addiction to anyone who dared to step foot off an airplane. Full-blown, textbook, raging paranoia steeped in ignorance. I was so worried, I don’t even remember seeing all the lights from the airplane before we landed.

    So we land at McCarran and are left with a dilemma; where are we staying? My brother always had a penchant for being spontaneous; thus this little side trip. Sometimes it bit him on the proverbial ass. Was it going to bite me? Was I sleeping on the sidewalk tonight? We went to the kiosk with all the hotels and must have pushed the button for every hotel there. They were either booked or BB (beyond the bankroll). We finally scored a palatial room at the highly sought after Travel Lodge. I think it was a Penthouse Suite.

    We hop on a shuttle. I don’t remember much other than pulling up in front of a Motel 6 that was covered in neon and lights. Huh? Then the driver said, “They left the light on for yaâ€. I don’t remember if I laughed. Next we arrived at the Travel Lodge. Here is where I need some help. Again, this was @ 16 years ago. I know there is one on the North strip. But I would swear to God this one was more Southern/Center strip, west side. Anyone? My recollection is that it was where MC or Bellagio stands now. I do know that the property directly North of it was vacant.

    So we go to leave the room, and I again express my fear about venturing out there. I guess I am worried that Vegas will somehow telepathically remove all of the money from my wallet. I have already resolved myself to the fact that I am going to get beat up, mugged, and catch a raging case of the clap just from walking past a hooker. But I was worried about my beer money. So my brother suggests that I put $40 bucks in my wallet, and the rest in the floor safe. “Floor safe?!!!!â€. See!!!!! If the rooms have to have safes, this town is crawling with hordes of hooligans. I doubt I will live to die another day.

    So we head out of the room and my brother informs me that Vegas is all about buffets. Ok. Being in college, I am all about value when it comes to sustenance. I lived on ramen almost exclusively simply to preserve bankroll (uh, weekend beer money). I am pretty sure we went to Bally’s. Or at least the building where Bally’s is now in case back then it was something else. Seems like it was in the basement. I am not a picky eater, but remember it was nasty, and by my recollection, expensive. What is so great about this town again?

    Next, we walk. We need some lubrication to calm the nerves. “Look at that!!!!!â€. Giant flames draw my attention over to the Mirage in all of its fairly new glory. Since that day, it has been my favorite joint. So we settle down on some slot machines, as my brother informs me that if we do this, “they†will happily reward us with more free booze than we can keep up with. I’m in! Only problem was, “they†weren’t keeping up their end of the bargain. [Side note – do you every wonder who “theyâ€, is? I do. You know, “they†say you shouldn’t swim for an hour after eating. Or, “they†say everyone will have 10 pounds of undigested red meat in their colon by the time they die. At this point, I am thinking “they†is Cliff Claven, perched on a barstool, half way through his 12th round – end side note] I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that chances are, I was playing the lowest denomination game on the property, and slowly at that. We were getting no love from the cocktails. Heck, I’m not even sure that there was a confirmed sighting. Being the fat cat that I am, I decide to just saunter up the bar and procure a drink the old fashioned way. “Two beers, pleaseâ€. “Can I see some I.D.?â€. Sure. Long pause…………..What, you’ve never seen a Montucky driver’s license before? I am sure she thinks it is fake, but eventually makes with the beers. I pull a finsky out of my wallet (back then, they still had quarter beer night in my home town), and she says – “that’ll be 8 dollarsâ€. “Holy Sh$Tâ€- I says.

    I deliver a beer to my brother, along with the bad news; neither of us is puking in a garbage can this night. Well, maybe from the rank buffet food, but certainly not from over-imbibing on libations. Oh well. Time to blow this joint. So we start walking again, all the while, looking like a couple of hicks on their first trip to the big city. “Hey ma, look, dat place is more than two floors!â€. Then, pay dirt! In all of its shining glory, I see the marquee on the Barbary Coast. Right there, before my eyes, in huge letters it read – “All drinks 75 centsâ€. I think we ran, at full speed.

    So we belly up. After having my I.D. thoroughly scrutinized, I order a gin and tonic. “What kind of gin you want in thatâ€? You mean I have a choice? The answer is a less than thrilled “Yupâ€. Tanquery? “You got itâ€. At this point, I am like Jason Biggs in American Pie when Shannon Elizabeth starts undressing in his room. “Jackpot!!!!!!!!!â€. Our next concern is whether or not we have time to get good and plastered before closing. We are trying to figure out if since its Vegas, maybe they stop serving a little later than the standard 2 AM that we are accustomed to. The Asian bartender overhears and says – “evry ting in Vegas twenty foh owe-ahhh. Yes!!!!!!!!!!. About 3 hours and $20 bucks worth of booze later, we feel the hunger pangs. Well, wudya know? A McDonalds in the basement. 75-cent drinks, $2 tables (maybe even $1), and a Mickey D’s in the basement? I am never leaving. Too bad they replaced it with Drai’s. That is a joke, by the way. I have actually never been. But being a low roller, in the end, a $2 Big Mac and a $40 steak both make a turd. What a pig! Yes, yes I am. Don’t worry. I am currently faced with the dilemma of reservations at Joe’s or Delmonico for the upcoming trip. But if it were a guy’s trip, no reservations would be required at Ellis. Remember the ramen!!!!!!!!!

    Later on, my brother stuck a whole $5 in a dollar slot at Caesars (I thought I was going to have to take him to GA meetings after that) and after a lot of loud clanging, in the tray was enough dollar coins to pay for the plane tickets and the motel room. “Cool†or maybe “bitchinâ€, I says.

    Shortly after, there was a pimp sighting. Have any of you seen the timeless classic “I’m Gonna Get You, Sucka� If you have, then you can appreciate the visual of seeing “Fly Guy†in real life. He had it all, sans only the goldfish in the platform shoes. He looked me square in the eyes, obviously waiting for this bumpkin to laugh, or even smirk. I think I peed myself.

    Right after witnessing this, I for some reason thought to look at my watch for the first time of the evening. Maybe I was wondering if perhaps I should be documenting the nocturnal habits of those plying their trade in the first profession. Either way, I most certainly was not feeling tired. I looked down in amazement when my watch indicated 6:00 AM. Wow! Maybe “they†is right!!!!!!!!!!!

    I don’t remember a ton about gambling. Even today, I require several glasses of courage to play the table games. Wuss. But I do remember getting yelled at a lot by the dealers. Hmmm, perhaps that explains it. The seasoned, under-sexed, cranky, pre/post/smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-menopausal dealers at Barbary Coast reduced me to a timid, infantile, spineless, pile of goo lying in a puddle of my own drool under a semi-circle table. Figures. The world turns, where’s Dr. Phil?

    I should probably cut this off here. I realize this probably doesn’t even make worthwhile “work timeâ€(come on, you all now what I am talking about) reading. But when it was all said and done, I was smitten with Vegas. My fear had turned into elation. This wasn’t a place to be feared, it was a place to revel in. This is the place where my alter ego can be placated. I can’t recall who has the slogan – “The funnest place on earthâ€. But personally, I think Las Vegas has a bonafide, legal right to it.

    PHU-KNA
     
  2. DonD

    DonD Super Moderator

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    Very funny! I especially like the following:
    The dealers in those days were supposed to intimidate you and if your bet even touched the line of the circle, they would yell at you. After you knew what they were up to, it didn't scare you anymore.
    Welcome to the board as a contributor.
     
  3. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Thanks for the laugh & the time warp report. My first trip was in '93 so it brought back some memories. By your location description, I'd say that you actually stayed at the Rodeway & not the Travelodge. NYNY & Monte Carlo have since replaced the Rodeway & the Arco gas station on the NW corner of Tropicana & LVB.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    LOL :kill:
     
  4. sageblue

    sageblue High-Roller

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    Great report, and I can't wait to read reports of more contemporary visits.

    On my first visit, I had the exact same "What time is it, really" moment, but mine was at 5am at a blackjack table at the Golden Nugget.
     
  5. DaveP

    DaveP VIP Whale

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    :thumbsup:
    There's another classic line.
     
  6. Jer

    Jer VIP Whale

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    Dave, you beat me to it... That line is classic!

    Good read...:thumbsup:
     
  7. gmoney590

    gmoney590 VIP Whale

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    Who you kidding this made for a great work time read.
     
    Back where we belong
  8. PHU-KNA

    PHU-KNA Tourist

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    Thanks for the kind words, and overall lack of ribbing. Much appreciated.

    Oh, and the Rodeway it must be. Thanks for that walk down 'previously blacked-out' memory lane.

    Op-I see I left out the actual epithet. I suppose that renders my title rather meaningless. I'll get it right next time. Or not.

    Next up-
    "Spa's, Shopping and Shows", or "Is Taking Your Wife to Vegas Such a Great Idea?"
     
  9. brisut

    brisut Tourist

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    So the Rodeway was across Tropicana from Excalibur? My first trip was in 1991 and I recall that being an empty lot. Was it farther North towards where Monte Carlo is, or on the corner

    I do remember the Arco station basically right in front of Excalibur on LVB. I bought perhaps the grossest gas station hamburger there on the same trip. I ate it at the airport while waiting for my flight.

    I also remember the MGM Marina being closed up an a fence sorrounding the property. The Excal was shiny and new at that time....
     
  10. PHU-KNA

    PHU-KNA Tourist

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    Rodeway

    I had a chat with my brother (my partner in crime on this trip) today, and much like myself, he doesn't remember us being as far South as the Excal. The pictures posted make it look as though this motel is due North of "kiddie land". Granted, this was many years ago.

    Question: was the Rodeway a Motel or Hotel. Assuming I grasp the difference, the doors to rooms of the joint I stayed in led directly outdoors, versus an internal hallway. That memory is very vivid.

    I suppose this topic goes far beyond pointless. It reminds me of the portrait "Kramer"; it makes no difference, yet I can't drop it.
     
  11. blackjack

    blackjack Monkey!!

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    Yes it was across Tropicana but set back a bit. The lot was cleared in 1994 (I believe) to make room for NYNY. There was a trailer on the corner when the lot was empty in '94 that had a scale model of NYNY for public viewing. I thought that Arco was on that lot in 1993 but in looking at my pic facing north, it does appear that it was on the Excalibur side of Tropicana. I did some digging and found out that there were actually two gas stations on the Rodeway lot - Chevron & Husky's. :rolleyes2:

    Interesting. You were there at a key moment in the "old Vegas meets new Vegas" era. Kirk Kerkorian bought the Marina in 1989 basically for the land to build his dream. For a brief time the hotel was renamed the MGM Marina. He closed it in November 1990 & began construction on the MGM Grand in October '91 deciding to keep the original structure rather than implode it. The Marina is now the MGM's West Wing (formally the Emerald Tower).

    Useless knowledge: The showroom inside the old Marina was called the Mirage.

    I took these pics 3 months before the MGM opened in 1993:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    From what I can recall it was a motel - two stories (enter from the outside) with an adjoining restaurant. I'm pretty sure there was a pool with grass surrounding it in the middle of the parking lot. Next to it (heading north) was another motel called the Desert Rose. It was featured in the movie "Melvin and Howard" and closed in 1995 to make room for the Monte Carlo.

    Here's another pic that I took of the Rodeway sign in 1993 - it was pretty hot that September afternoon:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. bigalbr

    bigalbr VIP Whale

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    Didn't the Boardwalk have an old motel as part of it's "lodgings". An old Holiday in perhaps?
     
  13. HurricaneMikey

    HurricaneMikey A-List Buffoon

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    Hey, isn't there a Travelodge (I'm almost certain of it) down on the North Strip between Circus Circus and where the Westward Ho was? I don't get down to that end of the Strip that much at all, but I'm pretty sure there was.

    That might've been where you were staying.

    But it would be a bit of a walk to the Barbary Coast or Mirage from there.

    Mikey
     
  14. dscs007

    dscs007 Tourist

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    Mikey, The Travellodge is on the other side of Circus Circus, near where the Arco USED to be.

    David
     
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