Historical Trip Reports (early 80s) 1 of ? Here are some memories of my early visits to Vegas. All of my writings are available at http://hhadley.blogspot.com Due to the passage of time, and the effects of alcohol on the brain, I don't have real clear memories of those first individual trips to VEGA$, just a conglomeration of individual exploits, high jinks, monkeyshines, etc. In those early years we tended to stay in modest, but perfectly acceptable accommodations like Circus Circus Manor (a group of 3 story buildings adjacent to the massive CC towers, featuring large, quiet rooms), the Sundance Hotel (now Fitzgeralds, downtown) the The Hotel Continental (now Terrible's, off the strip). Finding the perfect casino isn't as easy as it sounds. You want to feel at home... Wander into Caesars Palace, and you feel like you should be wearing a suit. Spend too much time at The Gold Spike and you need to take a shower. And it's not just finding a good middle-class joint either. It shouldn't be too big (like Bally's). It must have low-limit table games, and most importantly it needs to be lucky! I have entered many casinos that seem to be hospitable, but for whatever reason the luck isn't there. The Orleans is just such a casino. In recent years, my wife and I have stayed there a few times. The rooms are beautiful, very reasonably priced, the casino is friendly, but for the life of me, I can't win a god-damned dime there! Anyway, back to THE VEGA$ CLUB in the early 80's. One afternoon we happened upon a small casino on the heart of the strip called The Castaways. It was a great location (so great, that a few years later Steve Wynn bought it, leveled it, and built The Mirage in it's place!), good cocktail service, and two $1 blackjack tables open 'round the clock! I think originally the theme of the place was supposed to convey a feeling of being on a lush island in the tropics, but by 1984ish, the only hint of tropicality was that the dealers wore Hawaiian shirts. The rest of the place was pure, no-nonsense casino. We returned to The Castaways many times during those early years. The dealers were amazingly friendly, even at the $1 tables! Cocktail service was prompt (each BJ table had a little "cricket clicker" that would summon a waitress in short order!). Of course, we were looking to break the bank, each of us fancying ourselves as young Edward Thorpes. Unfortunately, that never happened, but at $1 a hand, it was a nice way to enjoy the company of friends, and get ridiculously inebriated. One memorable night, Roger and I decided to switch from boring old beer to something more mature. Martinis sounded pretty classy, but sadly the well Martinis served to the $1 players at The Castaways tasted like kerosene. After trying a few different things, Roger settled on the Tequila Sunrise, and my poison became The Greyhound (vodka and grapefruit juice). Charley was our designated driver and stuck with Coke. Whenever he ordered, the waitresses would act like no one in the history of Vegas had ever ordered a Coke before, "PLAIN Coke???" they'd ask, dumbfounded. From then on, whenever any of us wanted a Coke, we would order it as a PLAIN Coke. I think that Roger and I managed to polish off about 15 Greyhounds/Sunrises apiece. I do vaguely remember asking the dealer, "SO, DO PEOPLE EVER GET KICKED OUTTA HERE FOR BEING TOO DRUNK?" She gave me a hard stare and icily said, "Yep. All the Time." Roger suggested that maybe it was time we call it a night. That trip we were staying at the Sundance downtown, and I remember that being one of the longest rides of my life. In fact, when faced with the prospect of going round and round and round up into the parking structure, Roger and I opted to get out on the street. I still remember the elevator ride back up to our room. We both occupied opposite corners of the elevator car, and as we went up, Roger slowly slid down the mirrored wall onto the floor! The next day, we had to go home, and BOY what a miserable drive across the desert that was. Every time I saw a Greyhound bus, I felt like puking! The Castaways closed its doors on June 20, 1987. There are still a few small places left, off the strip, or downtown. But I've yet to find one that had the unpretentiousness, friendliness, prompt cocktail service, and that elusive good luck. It's not like any of us ever broke the bank, it was just a nice place to slowly lose a few dollars, and have a good time along the way.