Las Vegas, Nevada! “Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada!
“Vegas Baby! Vegas!”

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Back from Las Vegas.
A fun trip to “Sin City”
Happy to be Home!

JOSHWILLTRAVEL! And travel to Las Vegas last week is what we did.*

*well, it wasn’t last week…. more like last month. Tempus fugit!

We were invited (very last minute) to our friend Frank’s 65th Birthday Adventure:
(via a series of text messages)
– Come to Vegas if you want we have extra rooms
– We arrive Wed and lots of different rooms. Party on Saturday
– The party at Topgolf should be good even if you dont golf. Has a private pool for us
– Then we got a big cabana by our pool Friday Saturday and Sunday

So, let me think about it….. and Road Trip to Vegas!
Left the beautiful San Fernando Valley at 1:30am on Thursday morning.
Highways to Las Vegas: 101north-134west-210west-10west-15north
We drove a rental truck, a no-frills silver Nissan Frontier, with unlimited miles.
No traffic! Driving 285 miles at night with the truckers on I-15 north.

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“World’s Tallest Thermometer” in Baker, California

Stopped along the way in Baker, California, for gas and to see the “World’s Tallest Thermometer” once again lighting the side of the 15 freeway. It was “non-operational” for many years, but has been repaired and now it is again a beacon at night on the desert highway.
NOTE: Gas prices were “too f*ckin’ high” in Baker! 

Stateline! No stopping until we get to town.

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Stateline! Primm, Nevada

Arrived at South Point Hotel and Casino before 6am on Thursday.

We have always heard good things about the SouthPoint. People regularly recommend their buffet as being very good. They were also recently featured in the Showtime series “Action” about legal sports gambling, so as we rolled into town we decided to stop there.

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SouthPoint Hotel and Casino – Las Vegas, Nevada

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Self Parking at SouthPoint is FREE. We parked outside, instead of in the structure, and it was only a short walk to the Casino entrance. We had to go to the High Limit Slots counter to get a Player’s Card because the Club Desk doesn’t open until 7am. We played some blackjack and a little video poker and won a little money.

We also earned 300 club points which entitled us to “spin the wheel” and we won 5000 points (so we cashed them out for $15.00), wandered around the casino, and then headed for their Breakfast Buffet.

NOTE: Get the SouthPoint Player’s Card and the Breakfast Buffet is only $9.95 + tax
(Really nice breakfast buffet for ~$11.00 + $5.00 tip for our server/waitperson)

Breakfast Buffet Time! The Las Vegas “Buffet Experience”! And we were hungry…..

On The Menu: Everything. It was a Good Buffet!

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After breakfast we headed out and drove to the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort near the MGM Grand and across the street from TopGolf at the south end of the strip.
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Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

Parked near Tower 3, walked to registration at Tower 2 and Checked In.
Our friends had the rooms reserved and a quick phone call was made, our ID was checked, and we were handed a keycard and welcome instructions. We walked back to Tower 3 and met one of our friends in the lobby. She gave us the “nickel tour” of the resort property and showed us the adult pool and the cabana they had reserved for our party weekend. We walked back to Tower 3 and grabbed our luggage and weekend supplies out of the truck and rode the elevator upstairs.

The SMELL in the hall.
Okay, something died. rotting trash beyond rotting. it was terrible. really terrible.
FOR THE WHOLE TIME! It was disgusting. It reeked. It stank.
Yes, we complained. And they tried to mitigate the smell with deodorizers and sprays, but they should have called for sanitary cleanup immediately. They were really good about apologizing and they gave our hosts credit for the inconvenience.

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“It’s Kubrickian!”

The Sweet Suite!
Tower 3, Room 392 at the Wyndham Grand Desert Resort:

Happily, the smell was only in the hallway. Once inside the room, a “lock-out” connecting room, adjacent to the first room our hosts stayed in…. they moved to the Presidential Suite, and her brother moved into their room. More on that later.

Each room had a nice kitchen area, living room space and private bedroom and bath. Mine was a little smaller than the room next door which also had a bar and bar seating in the living room space. I was very happy with the accommodations and also the fact that it was FREE! My hosts were treated to drinks, gifts and other forms of thanks all week long in appreciation for the invitation.

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After the little tour of the resort the it was nappy time. Then once we were awake and active again, we joined our friends for a quick visit to the TopGolf mega-entertainment center across the street. We met our friends in the inside bar and had a cocktail while they finished their food (we were still full from the morning buffet).

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Our friend’s birthday party was scheduled for Saturday afternoon in the Chairman’s Suite, complete with private pool and lunch buffet, so they went to check it out.  More on that party later……
We wandered around and toured the massive four deck facility. There were lots of bar and seating areas, and a public pool area with lounges, private cabanas and a “swim-up” bar. There were televisions and monitors everywhere, and really big multi-screens by the pool and in the gathering and game areas. And there were a ton of people having fun at midday on Thursday! The Golf Area has private driving areas for rent, with computer monitoring, that tracks your ball and gives you distance, replay, and other fun golf info. And of course there is plenty of food and beverage service available everywhere.
Just mind the warning signs and watch for errant golf balls and clubs!
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And then back across the street to the resort.
Our friends moved their stuff to the Presidential Suite with a Private Veranda and we hung out there and waited for them to get settled in.
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We made a run to the local market and picked up provision for the week. And then later we went back across the street to TopGolf for a late dinner.

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TopGolf Photo Op!

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On The Menu: More cocktails
and Boneless BBQ Wings w/veggies & ranch dressing at one of the bars.
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FRIDAY at the Wyndham

Good morning! Cabana Time!
Our Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

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Large Private Party Cabana in the shade for Friday, Saturday and Sunday!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday began the same way each day: Tiki drinks for brunch! And some kind of food from the resort kitchen, along with snacks we brought from the room.

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The cabana was equipped with a nice television and a noisy ceiling fan, and the public smoking area was right next door and there was a public cabana in that area. Most of the pool cabanas were positioned in the sun, and must have been really hot inside, while our cabana was on the other side and in the shade set back but facing the adult pool area.

 

Dinner time on Friday, and we had a meeting in the Presidential Suite to decide where to go to eat. There are many choices, so the group reviewed them, and eventually decided to go to Burger Bar (inside the Luxor Hotel, which we didn’t know at the time).

NOTE: Everything we did took a long time to get it together and actually do it. It wasn’t a problem, and we resolved to just ride along and see what happens (most of the time).

And then it started raining. A real Desert Storm! And a wet Friday night.
One of our new friends was the non-drinking designated driver, and he was a cool dude. But his driving was not cool. And it was dark and wet and it took a long time to get there. And then we toured the parking lot, for a long time, before finally parking.

We made our way into the Luxor and found the Burger Bar. Basically a $20 hamburger without anything else, so we decided to go spend our money at The Peppermill instead.

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MGM Grand Hotel and Casino on a Rainy Night in Las Vegas, Nevada

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And so, after another wild ride in the rain around Las Vegas, we arrived for Dinner and Drinks at The Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge!

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We had dinner and tiki drinks in the restaurant and then went into the lounge and had more drinks. The rain was really coming down and we were in no hurry to leave, so we rode out the storm in the lounge and met some fun new people.
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On The Menu: Tiki Cocktails!
A Lava Flow and a nice Beef Dip Sandwich with fries and extra au jus

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A good time was had by all! We enjoyed our dinner and drinks at The Peppermill. Frank had a big Scorpion drink (in a glass, not a bowl) and the rest of us had a few different drinks from their cocktail menu too.

One more drive around Vegas in the rain and back to the resort. We survived! We returned to the Presidential Suite and then back to our suite in the other tower. We decided to take a hot bath and then sleep in the next day.

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“Wanna take a bath?”

SATURDAY at the Wyndham and TopGolf

Cabana Time! Basically the same routine as Friday: tiki drinks, food, people hanging out and new friends stopping by until it was time to get it together and head over to TopGolf for the big shindig!

Frank’s 65th Birthday Party in the Chairman’s Suite at TopGolf – Saturday 2-5pm
Golf, balls, a buffet, more drinks and a private swimming pool just for us.

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Party at TopGolf in Las Vegas, Nevada!

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The Guest of Honor in the Private Pool in the Chairman’s Suite

On The Menu: Tacos (chicken, steak and pork), Sliders (cheeseburgers, battered fish and pulled pork), chips with salsa and guacamole, salads, and of course more tiki cocktails!

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The party was a lot of fun, we got out drink on, and there was too much food! We ended up taking a lot of it back to the resort afterwards. There was golfing (unlimited balls, or something like that) and swimming too. The pictures are just a sample before it got crazy wild.

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A beautiful day at TopGolf Las Vegas!

Saturday Night in Vegas!

And so we returned to the resort and hung out until it got dark. We decided our next destination would be (more) Tropical Cocktails at Frankie’s Tiki Room! 

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Saturday Night on the Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada

After the wild road trip on Friday night, we decided we would drive to Frankie’s and meet the crew there. We cruised past The Strip and downtown to the bar.

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More cocktails! Famous tiki drinks! And it was really dark inside.
Here are some pics:

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We enjoyed a Mai Tai and then there was a lot of conversation and more drinks. We moved around from our table in the cabana to a seat at the bar. Lots of kitsch and weird decor to see, even in the dark. Eventually, they decided to return to the resort and we decided to go back to The Strip and have some Las Vegas fun.

We drove to The Wynn, Las Vegas Hotel and Casino – FREE SELF PARKING!
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The Wynn is a beautiful property! And it was crowded, which was nice. We played a little and wandered around taking in the different areas of the casino and environs. We had some luck and cashed out and drove back to the resort and went to bed.

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SUNDAY (Mother’s Day) morning after waking up and getting ready, we walked over to the Presidential Suite for Breakfast/Brunch and more Cabana Time! It was a leisurely day of drinking and hanging out. There may have been an afternoon nap involved.

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So we were volunteered to cook and we grilled some steaks for dinner at 9:30pm on Sunday at the community BBQ Grills. There’s a curfew for cooking at 10pm, so we had to be quick! We took them upstairs and enjoyed a great meal on the private veranda (and of course, there were more cocktails).

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Then we went on a mission to The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” Sign!
It was designed by Nevada-born graphic designer Betty Willis (1923-2015) in 1959.
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“The rounded diamond shape of the sign was inspired by the Goodyear logo and the idea for the starburst came from the one in Disneyland’s emblem, which to her meant a happy destination. The seven silver dollars were a symbol of good luck for visitors entering the world’s gambling capital. (Betty) Willis’s design was never trademarked.”

The sign was built by a small local company Western Electric Displays Inc, aka Western Neon. Western Neon was bought by YESCO (Young Electric Sign Company) and they have maintained the sign ever since. The original sign has been rebuilt, restored, and recognized as a cultural and historic landmark for the City of Las Vegas over the years.

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Safe and legal public access to the sign was finally made possible in 2008, when parking spaces and a pedestrian walkway were finally constructed. Clark County and the Nevada State Historic Preservation Office had the sign listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

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NOTE: It was “Helldorado Days” a big holiday in the State of Nevada. There was a parade on Saturday and the Rodeo and other events were happening all weekend in downtown Las Vegas and on Fremont Street. So, we didn’t go there.

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Old Vegas! Glitter Gulch!

We returned to the resort and stayed up until MONDAY morning!
“It’s HOT in the Hot Tub!” 
And sometime before dawn we hit the Jacuzzi and Pool! (the pool and jacuzzi at Tower 3 are open 24 hours) It was very Early AM, at Tower 3, after it was cleaned, before the crowd and we were almost alone.

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We had stayed up all night and after our adventures we finally decided to try out the 24 hour pool and jacuzzi in our Tower. The pool area was empty except for one couple, so we waited until they were out of the water and then we moved in. We spent about a half hour enjoying the warm, bubbly spa, and swam in the cool pool until the calm was interrupted by two small children and their mother….. as we left the pool area at 6am the mother was screaming at the children in the shallow end of the pool, “Get over here dammit, you pulled this sh*t all yesterday, I’m not gonna have it today!” 

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Went up to the room and took a hot shower, ate some leftover tacos, and went to bed.
Requested and was given a late checkout time of 12 noon via the telephone.

And then,
Housekeeping knocked on my door three different times between 9:30 and 11am!
AND THERE WAS A “DO NOT DISTURB” SIGN HANGING ON THE DOOR HANDLE!
They also started cleaning the other half of the “lockout suite” and made noise like they were doing construction next door, making it impossible to sleep.

NOTE: We complained and Dan, the resort manager, gave us a $50 credit to use at our choice of restaurants “off-property” at a Caesars Hotel (there was a list of restaurants to choose from at each hotel) for our inconvenience and also took care of our friends who invited us. That’s real good hospitality!

Checked out of the Wyndham and drove back over to the Wynn. FREE Self Parking again.

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We walked to the Palazzo and Venetian, then went outside, crossed Las Vegas Blvd and went over to the Mirage. It was a beautiful day, but it was too hot of course.

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We visited the MLife desk, and asked about a MyVegas room rate. They offered us a Monday night room for $63.00 + taxes and the ridiculous resort fee, so we passed.

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We walked through the Forum Shops to Caesars Palace and enjoyed the weirdness!

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Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino was once the best place to stay and play in Las Vegas. Then they turned it into “Disneyland”, and they threw away all the class and quality that made it great. And then they added RESORT FEES and PAID PARKING.

We went to Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill and got a seat a the bar, but when we looked at the menu there was nothing that we wanted to order…. so we thanked them and left. We wandered around Caesars enjoying the sights while trying to decide where to eat.

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The Bar and Sportsbook at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Then we decided on dinner at Rao’s Italian Kitchen, Las Vegas at Caesars Palace!
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On The Menu: Good bread, an excellent Caesar salad and their tasty meat lasagna.
We ate the salad and half of the lasagna and bread, and had the other half packed “to go”.
No drinks or wine because we were driving later, so only ice water with dinner.

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It was getting dark after dinner, so we started walking back, watched the sunset behind Caesars Palace across the street, and then stopped at Harrah’s and the old Casino Royale on The Strip.

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Casino Royale!

 

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And then we walked back to the Wynn. We enjoyed our after dinner walk at night and took in the sights along The Strip on our way back. We returned to our car and hit the road. Destination: Los Angeles.

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LEAVING LAS VEGAS around 9:30pm on Monday.
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Stopped at the new Mega-Gas Station Terrible’s Road House on the way back to California and filled up the gas tank and emptied mine. They have 100 pumps for “rush hour”, but the place was almost empty when we stopped in around 10pm on Monday night.

It was a quick stop, with lots of light and easy highway access. After getting gas, we took some pics and then got back in the rental truck and made a non-stop, no traffic, night drive back to Los Angeles. Home again before 2am. Had a really fun trip!

SouthPoint Hotel and Casino

Wyndham Grand Desert Resort

TopGolf

Peppermill Restaurant and Lounge

Frankie’s Tiki Room

The Wynn Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

 

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The “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” Sign Webcam>
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Headspace 2: The Search for Something

Headspace 2: The Search for Something
Just a Blog Post, nothing to see here.

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JoshWillTravel

HELLO. HOW ARE YOU?
When you are asked “How are you?”
DO YOU REALLY ANSWER TRUTHFULLY?

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DON’T WORRY. BE HAPPY.

Good (Monday) morning!
One year. Missing my father.
Rough weekend for me.

Dad 1

Lee Weisel RIP

May 1st is May Day!
Laugh, Dance and Sing, it’s May Day!
Celebrate Springtime!🌷🌷🌷🌷

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REAL QUOTES FROM CONFUCIUS:
“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

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Happy Birthday to the Little Boy!

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Such a Good Dog, Big Boy!

The Little Boy had his first birthday last week.
He is so full of energy and a fireball of Love.
The Big Boy is getting older and is such a good dog.
And The Little Girls are just the sweetest creatures.

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And the two Little Girls make four!

MAKE SOME ART!
CREATE SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL!

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WOOF! A Dog Doodle (ink on paper)

ART: (noun) the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power

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ART: something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings

Happy Cinco de Mayo! (Fifth of Tequila May)

tequila shots

TEQUILA SHOTS FOR EVERYONE!

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The Battle of Puebla during the Second French intervention in Mexico (the French-Mexican War 1861-1867), took place on May 5th, 1862, near Puebla City, Mexico. The outnumbered Mexican Army of Benito Juárez defeated the invading French forces of Napoleon III. France controlled Mexico until 1867, until Mexican troops overthrew the government. The Mexican victory at Puebla is celebrated every year on the fifth of May.

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RIGHT CLICK and “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW”>
FUN COCKTAIL RECIPES!
FUN COCKTAIL RECIPES 2
FUN COCKTAIL RECIPES 3
MORE TIKI COCKTAIL RECIPES!

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The Soup du Jour!

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!
HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER!

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Jose Cuervo, you are no friend of feline!

AND NOW SOME PICTURES OF SUSHI!

Pickup some Sushi and your Monday will be better.

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Rainbow Roll and a Spicy Tuna cut roll for dinner

Sushi cut rolls yum!
Pick it up, eat it at home.
Thursday night dinner

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California and Spicy Tuna cut rolls “To Go” for dinner

Ahi Tuna Poké (hybrid Hawaiian style)
Recipe: Ahi tuna (cut into cubes), chopped onion, chopped celery, avocado, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic powder, red pepper, and red pepper flakes
Mix ingredients together in a bowl, adding avocado last. Enjoy!

And Tuna Sashimi too

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Tuna Sashimi, rice, avocado, carrots and celery for dinner

And Look, Funny Cutting Boards:
A Kitchen Tribute to Lionel Ritchie, Jessie from “Breaking Bad”,
“The Guardians of the Galaxy”, and “The Walking Dead”

DO YOU NEED HELP?
I’ll just leave these numbers here just in case.

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And in the very near future…
HBO’s “Deadwood” The Movie premieres on May 31st!

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From W Earl Brown: “You might own playing cards, but I know damned well you don’t own a set of Deadwood cards signed by the cast because there is only one of those in existence. And it could be YOURS if you bid enough.”

Support burbankarts4all (Right Click and “Open in New Window”)>
https://www.biddingowl.com/Auction/item-detail.cfm?auctionID=17891&ItemID=691259&viewType=1&style=52&font=0&catName=TV+and+Movies

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“Art is what you can get away with.”
Read the Blog Post> Warhol Wednesday!
https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2019/03/14/warhol-wednesday

Read the Blog Post> Happy Cinco de Mayo! It’s May the 5th! Celebrate!
https://joshwilltravel.wordpress.com/2016/05/05/happy-cinco-de-mayo-its-may-the-5th/

BE HAPPY NOW!

hiatus

WE’LL BE RIGHT BACK!

“The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute,
the man who does not ask is a fool for life.”
– Confucius

Mirage_las_vegas

The Mirage Hotel and Volcano – Las Vegas, Nevada

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I want to party in Vegas with THIS GUY!

ThrowbackThursday! Joey Villa at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas!

ThrowbackThursday! Joey Villa at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas!

Here’s the story about Joey Villa and the time we met Perry Como and Jilly Rizzo at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 – Today they imploded the Monaco Tower at the Riviera.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016 – Today they imploded the last towers of the Riviera

Thanks to the Las Vegas Review-Journal for the live video!
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Riviera Hotel & Casino

We worked on a film (you’ve probably never heard of or seen it) called “Eternity” in 1990.

We met many famous people: Jon Voight, Armand Assante, Wilford Brimley, Lainie Kazan, Kaye Ballard, Steven Keats, Eileen Davidson, John P. Ryan, Charles Knapp, Eugene Roche, Robert Carricart, Frankie Valli and Joey Villa.

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“Eternity” aka “Evil Brother” feature film 1989 Pictured: Jon Voight, Armand Assante, Perri Lister, Kaye Ballard, Eileen Davidson, Charles Knapp RIP and Joey Villa RIP as the Jester

We became good friends with Joey Villa and he invited us to visit him, first at his home in Beverly Hills which doubled as his booking office, and then at the Riviera Hotel and Casino on The Strip in Fabulous Las Vegas where he was performing. He was friends with Meshulim Riklis and Pia Zadora, who owned the resort at the time, and was a headliner in “Splash!” in the big showroom at the Riviera for nine years. Joey also booked acts, hosted and headlined in the comedy room at the hotel.

Joey Villa (Joseph Charles Villani) was born on March 19, 1937. He was an actor and comedian, known for “Heat” (1986 with Burt Reynolds), “Eternity” (1990) and “They Call Me Bruce?” (1982). He died at the age of 68 on December 16, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada from complication from a stroke.

Villa, a native of New York, appeared in just a handful of movies, but he made his mark as a stand-up comedian, performing in Las Vegas as well as clubs around the country. He also spent many years performing on cruise ships, and eventually booked acts for the ocean liners. Villa opened for many famous entertainers, including Nat King Cole, Paul Anka, the Pointer Sisters and Diana Ross and the Supremes. He was a frequent guest on talk shows, including “The Merv Griffin Show” and “The Mike Douglas Show.” Villa was a close friend of both Frank Sinatra and of Sinatra’s “right-hand man” Jilly Rizzo. He gave one of the eulogies at Rizzo’s funeral when the celebrity restaurateur was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver in 1992 in Palm Springs, California.

Joey’s famous opening line from his stand-up comedy act for over 40 years was, “I’m going to live until I die” ……and then he would drop to the stage floor. Every audience roared with laughter as Joey stood up after falling down and began his show. He kept the audience laughing throughout his entire performance. “At the end they always applauded and cheered and left smiling, feeling they were parting as friends.”

“Joey was loved by everyone, from Sinatra on down,” Larry Manetti said.

Villa had no children and died at a local hospice. Survivors include three sisters. Joey and his former wife divorced in 1982 and remained close friends. “He was a gentle man, a much kinder man than most people knew,” she said. “He was born to make people laugh — and he made thousands laugh and applaud, and for a very short time they would forget their problems.”

Nelson Sardelli, a close friend of Villa, said the comedian will be cremated and his ashes cast into the sea. “He requested that there not be any services…He was a gentle person…Sometimes he looked like he was looking for approval…A little accolade, that’s want he wanted.” One friend described him as “happy on the outside, but sad on the inside. He was sort of a lonely person, but at the same time loved to be around people and make them laugh. But I think that is the way most comedians are.”

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

Vegas in the 1980’s before the Mirage opened in 1989 was a wild place! The last Casino holdouts of “Old Vegas” (before they tried to turn it into a “family friendly” destination and eventually turned it into Disneyland for Adults when the big corporations took over) were the main attractions. It was all about GAMBLING (not gaming) in the 80’s and they “comped” players to rooms, meals, shows and more without a plastic card. It really was “Sin City”! You could drive The Strip from Tropicana to Sahara without traffic and there were still undeveloped empty lots on The Strip!

There wasn’t a Fremont Street Experience, there was Fremont Street and Downtown Vegas, uncovered and dirty. Strip Clubs, showgirls, 99 cent buffets, free drinks, cigarette girls, $2 Blackjack…. even then we preferred The Strip.

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

Back in the day, we stayed and played at many of the classic hotels and casinos.

We saw “Seigfried and Roy” at the Mirage when it was the new joint on the strip.

Circus Circus, Thunderbird Hotel, El Rancho, The Landmark, Dunes, Desert Inn, Stardust, Barbary Coast, Wild Bill’s, Sahara, Aladdin, El Morocco, La Concha, Imperial Palace, Riviera, Las Vegas Hilton, Monte Carlo

Caesars Palace, Flamingo, Harrah’s, Bally’s, Tropicana, Bellagio, Palms, Hard Rock Hotel, The Rio, Treasure Island, Mirage, MGM Grand, Venetian, Palazzo, The Cromwell

Pierino Ronald “Perry” Como (May 18, 1912-May 12, 2001) was an Italian American singer and television personality. During a career spanning more than half a century, he recorded exclusively for RCA Victor for 44 years after signing with the label in 1943.

Ermenigildo “Jilly” Rizzo  (May 6, 1917-May 6, 1992) – On his 75th birthday, Rizzo was killed when his car was hit by a drunk driver in Rancho Mirage, California

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Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!
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“Crazy Girls” at the Riviera Hotel

F*CK YOU MORELS LAS VEGAS (at the Palazzo)

F*CK YOU MORELS LAS VEGAS! (at the Palazzo)

YOU SERVED THIS SH*TTY BREAKFAST TO A TRAVEL AND FOOD BLOGGER!

This sh*tty breakfast cost $23 at Morels with a french pressed coffee included:

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Breakfast at Morels Las Vegas at the Palazzo

WE WERE SERVED THIS SH*TTY BREAKFAST LAST AUGUST AT MORELS LAS VEGAS AT THE PALAZZO AND WE ARE STILL ANGRY!

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Coffee with Breakfast at Morels Las Vegas at the Palazzo

 

Complain to them about sh*tty food on Twitter and you’ll get BLOCKED!
How’s that for customer service and care?

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So we wrote a REVIEW ON FACEBOOK and gave them 1 STAR:
(because no stars was not an option)

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Screenshot of Our Review on facebook

Emily wants to know “Why’d you block him?” on March 31st.
And there was NO RESPONSE.

DON’T EAT HERE. There are many other good choices in Las Vegas!

Morels is inside the Palazzo Las Vegas. One more reason not to go there.

NOTE: We started this Blog before the Mass Shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, where 50 human beings were murdered and 53 other people were injured. This horrible event, combined with the reaction to the event, and the constant INSANITY of Donald Trump, we thought we’d channel our negative energy into something positive and finished this negative Blog about a negative experience.

 

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Travel Answers: Las Vegas!

Travel Answers: Las Vegas!

NOTE: These answers were originally posted on another site, and some may have been posted in previous blogs. I am posting them again here for easy access for my readers.

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Welcome to Las Vegas (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Free Stuff to do in Vegas?

Q: Are there free things to do in Vegas?

A: Lots of Free Things to do in Las Vegas!

Walk the The Strip and the Fremont Street Experience downtown. Lots of “Only in Las Vegas” things to see day or night!

Visit Circus Circus Hotel & Casino (great for kids).

Watch the Fountains of Bellagio (and visit the Bellagio Gardens) and catch the Volcano eruption at The Mirage. Walk around the The Venetian, the MGM Grand Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan or any of the other large resorts.

Most of the Casino lounges still have live entertainment. The Carnaval Court at Harrah’s is happening. The Rio Hotel & Casino has live music in the Masquerade Bar on Friday and Saturdays.

Art and architecture at City Center, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign, Wildlife habitat (flamingos) at the Flamingo Las Vegas, Auto collection at The Quad Resort & Casino (get free tickets on the website), the Downtown Container Park giant treehouse, and visit the Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Cactus Garden.

Window shop at Forum Shops at Caesars, The Grand Canal Shoppes or the Fashion Show mall.

Visit the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, Red Rock Canyon or The Valley of Fire.


ACES! Video Poker at the MGM Grand Hotel (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

4 ACES! Video Poker Win! (copyright 2013 JoshWillTravel)

Best tips and casinos for first time gambler?

Q: First trip to Vegas, and I have some money set aside to gamble. I’m fairly new to gambling, so what’s a good overall strategy for a first timer? Best casino’s and games to play? Any tips to help my luck? Thanks!

A: Most of the Casinos in Las Vegas have programs where they will teach you how to play the table games and basic strategy. Just ask at the “Player’s Card” desk and always get a Player’s Card at the casino to earn “Comps” and other freebies while gambling.

Read a few good books, watch a DVD or two, go online and learn from the pros via youtube, etc. before you go!

Craps!

Craps!

Best games to play: Blackjack, Craps and Baccarat have the best odds for the player with basic strategy. Keno, Slots and Video Poker will give you the longest play for your money. Again read a book or watch a tutorial to learn about finding the best odds on the games!

Worst games to play: Roulette, Spin the Wheel/Wheel of Fortune and all the other weird table games. And any game where you don’t know the rules, basic strategy and the odds against you.

Best advice for the first time gambler: set a budget for how much you are willing and can afford to lose! Leave your ATM card at home and win or lose just have fun. (Losing sucks)

NOTE: The Big Las Vegas Strip casinos require larger minimum bets for table games, and the table minimum will increase depending on time/day/crowd/event. Find lower table minimums Downtown on Fremont Street and at the smaller “off-strip” casinos. Your money and your play time will last longer!

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

GOOD LUCK!


Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Birthday weekend in Vegas- where to stay?

Q: My friends and I going to Vegas for my birthday over Labor Day weekend! We need a place to stay that isn’t outrageously expensive, but has a lot going on. We’d like to stay in a hotel that has daytime pool parties. There are 5 of us and we’re open to getting two rooms or a suite, if it’s worth it. Any suggestions?

A: Las Vegas on Labor Day Weekend?

Try The Cromwell, the newest boutique hotel on the strip. It used to be Wild Bill’s and before that it was the Barbary Coast. Located center strip at Flamingo and Las Vegas Blvd. Drai’s is located in the hotel, so you get your choice of pool party, club night or after-hours. Hotel guests get VIP line access.

Just fully renovated! Everything is fresh and new.

Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

You’re across Las Vegas Blvd from Caesars Palace Hotel & Casino and The Mirage Hotel & Casino and the volcano. Next door to Harrah’s Las Vegas, Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, The Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino, The Quad Resort & Casino soon to be renamed The LINQ after the giant ferris wheel. Across Flamingo is Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Paris Hotel And Casino, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the Bellagio Hotel and fountain, and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

There’s lots to see and do within “walking distance”, which will save you on cab fare and waiting. Great restaurants, spas, clubs, shows and other diversions at any of the above resorts. you can also access the monorail at Bally’s or the Flamingo.

Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night - The Flamingo

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Flamingo

Make reservations in advance (and do it by telephone rather than online and always get the name of the person you talk to!) because everything will be crowded!

NOTE: Bring sneakers for walking and then switch to heels when you arrive at your destination. Use a Big purse and plastic bag.

Avoid the MGM, it’s too big and the service is only ok.


Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

The Bar at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Bachelor party venues

Q: One of my best buddies is getting married next year and as a groomsman, I’ve been tasked being one of the organizers for his bachelor party.  Here’s the thing: none of us groomsman are really party animals, so we really have no idea where to start, but we just know that we want our buddy to have a good time and that we want to go to Vegas, just for the experience. Any ideas on which venues to start looking at and/or bachelor party-type activities?

A: Bachelor Party in Las Vegas! Do you want the full blown “Hangover, part 4” or just a good time?

First, how many people will be attending? Do you have hotel reservations? Do you want to have dinner, go clubbing, go drinking, go strip clubbing, hit an ultra-lounge or three, see a show, do some gambling, ride a roller coaster, or maybe shoot automatic weapons?

Or do you want to really get wild?

You can get a nice package deal with the hotels if you have a large group (sometimes, all you need is a block of five rooms). Hotel rooms, dinner, and entertainment can all be arranged, contact the group sales manager.

Rent a limo or party bus if you want to travel around, beyond walking distance. There are companies that can arrange the whole evening, just know that they are probably getting “kickbacks” from the party venues. NOTE: Be sure to shop around, negotiate for the best deal and extras, and always check safety and consumer reports before booking with any company!

You are on your own for strippers, escorts & hookers.

Good luck and be safe.


Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

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Las Vegas Blvd "The Strip" at night

“Vegas Baby! Vegas!” Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

 

 

“Vegas Baby! Las Vegas!”

“Vegas Baby! Las Vegas!”

Las Vegas, Nevada in August on a two night trip to “Sin City” for my birthday!

NOTE: This Blog is unfinished…and will likely remain unfinished.

Enjoy!

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Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – Bally’s, Paris & The Cosmopolitan

“ROAD TRIP!” We left Los Angeles on Thursday Morning, made two stops along the way, and arrived in Las Vegas a few hours later. It was a beautiful day to make the drive.

Glendora Sky at the Donut Man

Glendora Sky at the Donut Man

Our first stop was in Glendora at the famous Donut Man shop just off the 210 freeway. They are known for their Strawberry Glazed donuts, but all of their creations are great.

Strawberry Glazed Donuts at Donut Man in Glendora

Strawberry Glazed Donuts at Donut Man in Glendora

We bought a half dozen, a strawberry glazed, 2 chocolate custard filled, 2 glazed old fashioned and a cinnamon roll. We enjoyed the custard filled and took the rest “To Go”.

Half Dozen Donuts

Half Dozen Donuts “To Go” at Donut Man in Glendora

We stopped for gas and to stretch our legs somewhere between Barstow and Vegas, and I ate the strawberry glazed donut…it was a good donut, but they make such a fuss about them, I guess I expected something more.

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip”

The drive was without incident, and we arrived in Las Vegas and drove directly to our destination. We stayed both nights at The Palazzo Hotel at The Venetian-Palazzo Resort.

The Venetian Hotel & Casino (pic from a previous trip)

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel & Casino (this pic from a previous trip)

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Bypassing the regular line for Invited Guest Check-In

We valet parked the car, and proceeded to the Invited Guest (VIP) Check-In desk. After a short wait we were given our room assignment and keycards.

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Invited Guest Check-In

The Venetian-Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas

The Palazzo Resort in Las Vegas – Invited Guest Check-In Front Desk

Guest Suite at The Palazzo:

The Palazzo Hotel - 9th floor

The Palazzo Hotel – 9th floor

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel

Suite at The Palazzo Hotel -

Guest Suite at The Palazzo Hotel – “Wanna take a bath?”

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View! The view from my room.

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Casino Bar at The Venetian Hotel

The Poker Room at The Venetian Hotel

The Poker Room at The Venetian Hotel

The Race & Sports Book at The Venetian Hotel

The Race & Sports Book at The Venetian Hotel

After the long drive into Las Vegas, and after checking in at the Palazzo and dealing with the room, luggage and housekeeping, we decided to grab a bite at the Grand Lux Cafe.

READ THE BLOG NOW! Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel: (Right Click and “Open in New Window”) http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1P4

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe – Fried Chicken Strips & Waffle with Maple-Pecan Syrup

READ THE BLOG NOW! Late Dinner at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar Original Buffalo Wings at The Venetian Hotel (Right Click and “Open in New Window”)  http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1Qb 

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Food Court at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel – Original Boneless Buffalo Wings $12

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino on Friday Night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

READ THE BLOG! Birthday Dinner at Mario Batali’s CARNEVINO Italian Steakhouse at the Palazzo Hotel (RIGHT CLICK AND OPEN IN NEW WINDOW)  http://wp.me/p3dhVM-1NX

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Carnevino Bar at The Palazzo Hotel

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

Dinner at Carnevino at the Palazzo Hotel on Friday night

“Vegas, Vegas, Vegas!”

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – I can see the “High Roller” from here!

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Linq (Wanna knish?)

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night

HAIL CAESARS PALACE! (they ruined this place). Evel Kneivel ate it big time on this spot:

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – Caesars Palace

Welcome to Caesars Palace Las Vegas

Welcome to Caesars Palace Las Vegas!

The Poker Room at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

The Poker Room at Caesars Palace Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The Race & Sports Book at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

The

The Statue of “David” at Caesars Palace (NSFW or is it Art?)

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Cosmopolitan & Bellagio from Caesars Palace

Craps!

Craps!

“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”

Las Vegas Blvd

Las Vegas Blvd “The Strip” at night – The Flamingo

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View at Night!

RIGHT CLICK AND “OPEN IN NEW WINDOW” TO SEE A LARGER PIC!

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The

The End… “David” at Caesars Palace – Nice Butt. “Take a picture it’ll last longer.”

Had a great time. Will return shortly…

Late Dinner at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Dinner at Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

We were hungry on Thursday night, but didn’t want to eat at a big buffet or an expensive restaurant. My traveling companion wanted to try the new Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar Las Vegas Original Buffalo Wings. And I was okay with that.

FOOD COURT!

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Food Court at The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar Original Buffalo Wings!

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Single order – spicy boneless Buffalo wings with celery, carrots and ranch dressing

Frank & Teressa's Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel

Frank & Teressa’s Anchor Bar at The Venetian Hotel – Original Boneless Buffalo Wings! $12

Food was good. These were good Buffalo wings and very similar to WingStop. They have different levels of “HOT” from regular to suicide…which are really too hot to enjoy. They were overpriced for spiced fried chicken nuggets, a few vegetables and some dressing.

I got a drink at the Panda Express, but all the vendors in the Venetian food court only have Pepsi products and NO COKE. We sat at a table and enjoyed our food, and since I couldn’t eat it all we got a “to go” box and took the leftovers up to the room.

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Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

After the long drive into Las Vegas, and after checking in at the Palazzo and dealing with the room, luggage and housekeeping, we decided to grab a bite at the Grand Lux Cafe.

The restaurant is “Casino adjacent” at both The Venetian and the Palazzo hotels, the food is good and it’s reasonably priced for luxury hotel restaurant dining.

We were quickly seated in the dining room and I ordered the Fried Chicken & Waffles and the Asian Nachos. We received a basket of their fresh baked bread and drinks, and the food was delivered in a very short time.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – The Bar!

The portions are huge! It’s a Cheesecake Factory enterprise, so you know it’s going to be good and there will be leftovers. The fried chicken strips were tasty and the waffle was cooked just right. It was served with a maple-pecan syrup which was a little sweet, but that’s what syrup is all about.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe – Fried Chicken & Waffles with maple-pecan syrup

The Asian nachos are really good too. I only had a taste, but I would order them again.

Late Lunch at the Grand Luxe Cafe

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe – Asian Nachos Appetizer

We enjoyed our meal, and ate quickly, anticipating the Las Vegas adventure ahead! The service was excellent and the food was tasty and delicious. A good start to the party!

AND

Before leaving Las Vegas on Saturday, we had another late lunch. I had the Asian Chicken Salad. The “lunch size” was enough for two people and it was very good.

Grand Luxe Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas

Late Lunch at the Grand Lux Cafe at the Palazzo Hotel – Asian Chicken Salad (lunch size)

All photos copyright 2015 JoshWillTravel

NOTE: You can get food “TO GO” and take it up to your room for a private dining experience or any-hour meal. I like their pizzas.

Grand Lux Cafe – Locations at both the Palazzo and Venetian Hotels 

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The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View!

The Venetian – Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas – Suite View!

Vegas baby! Vegas!

Here’s the view from my suite on the 9th floor of the Palazzo Hotel:

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View!

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of the Pool & Treasure Island Hotel!

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of Trump Hotel & Fashion Show Mall

The Venetian - Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas - Suite View!

The Venetian-Palazzo Hotel, Las Vegas – Suite View of Treasure Island & Trump Hotel at night!

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Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas!

Today, May 4th, 2015, is the last day for the Riviera Hotel & Casino, once one of the finest “carpet joints” in Las Vegas. The hotel and casino will close at noon today…forever.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

*NOTE: THIS BLOG IS NOT YET COMPLETE BUT I WANTED IT POSTED BEFORE THE RIV ACTUALLY CLOSED. I’LL BE ADDING MORE HISTORY AND MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES SOON. PLEASE READ AND COMMENT!*

Sixty years ago, when the Riviera opened on April 20, 1955, it was the very first high-rise and the ninth resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

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Liberace was the featured headliner at the resort’s opening and for many years afterward.

4/20/55  L-R James Cashman Sr. and Liberace at Riviera opening

 

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The casino was first proposed by Detroit mobster William Bischoff as the Casa Blanca, and received a gaming license in 1952. Bischoff later withdrew from the project, which was taken over by Miami businessman Samuel Cohen. By March 1955, Cohen, was identified as a member of Miami’s S & G gambling syndicate and was no longer part of the investment group, though rumors persisted that he secretly maintained an involvement. Harpo and Gummo Marx held minority interests in the resort at the time of the opening.

The opening of the new Riviera hotel and casino, along with The Dunes and the Royal Nevada resorts within a month in 1955, was the subject of a famous issue of LIFE magazine asking “Las Vegas – Is Boom Overextended?”

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas - Is the Boom Over-Extended?

LIFE Magazine 1955: Las Vegas – Is Boom Over-Extended?

The Riviera casino went bankrupt just three months after opening. A group led by Gus Greenbaum took over operation of the property for the Chicago Outfit. Greenbaum started in the rackets with Al Capone and was in charge of the TransAmerican wire service on the west coast for the Chicago mob beginning in 1928. After the Outfit whacked Bugsy Siegel in June of 1947, Greenbaum was appointed the Flamingo Hotel and Casino’s next manager and by 1950, he was managing the Tropicana. Known and respected in the underworld as a reliable source of information on Las Vegas real estate, he had planned to retire to Arizona and initially rejected the offer to run the Riviera, but after his sister-in-law was murdered, he accepted the job. Greenbaum’s womanizing, drug and gambling addictions led to his embezzling from the casino and in December 1958, after refusing to step down and sell his interest in the resort, Greenbaum and his wife were found murdered in their home in Phoenix, Arizona. “That was Meyer’s contract” Johnny Roselli said years later.

Gus Greenbaum - Johnny Roselli - Meyer Lansky

Gus Greenbaum – Johnny Roselli – Meyer Lansky

Sidney Korshak, a lawyer for powerful businessmen, both legitimate and illegitimate, played a major role in the Riviera’s management. His reputation as the Chicago mob’s man in Los Angeles made him one of Hollywood’s most fabled and influential fixers. Korshak was heavily involved with Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters’ west coast operations when organized labor was at the peak of its activity. Law enforcement agencies suspected that he represented the Chicago Outfit’s interest in the Riviera, and was responsible for skimming the casino’s revenue and delivering the proceeds to Chicago.

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

Riviera Hotel Architectural Rendering

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CHICAGO OUTFIT:

The Chicago Mafia began on the South Side Chicago with James “Big Jim” Colosimo. From modest beginnings in the 1890s, Colosimo, who was involved in vice, gambling and labor racketeering, became Chicago’s most powerful gangster during the period before Prohibition. Colosimo was reluctant to pursue the rich opportunities in the liquor trade that Prohibition offered. In May 1920 he was shot and killed in his café reputedly on a contract from Johnny Torrio.

“The Outfit” rose to power under the control of Torrio and Al Capone in the 1920’s during Prohibition. Their criminal activities including loansharking, gambling, prostitution, extortion, political corruption and murder. Following Capone’s conviction for income tax evasion in 1931, the Chicago mob was run by Frank Nitti, who committed suicide in 1943 after being indicted for extortion, and then Paul Ricca and Tony Accardo for over 60 years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, when the national syndicate was dominated by what was called the Big Six, Accardo and Jake Guzik, a trusted advisor and fixer for Capone and the Outfit, flew east weekly to meet with Joe Adonis, Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky and Longy Zwillman.

The Outfit’s biggest moves in the 1950s concerned casino gambling outside of Chicago. Chicago invested in hotels and casinos in Havana, Cuba and later went into Las Vegas in a big way and built the Vegas Strip. By 1961 Chicago had major interests in the Stardust, Riviera, Fremont and Desert Inn. Their Vegas holdings, partly in cooperation with Moe Dalitz, were overseen by Johnny Roselli, while the Teamsters’ Pension Fund provided financing. The Justice Department under Robert Kennedy investigated the Mob dominated Teamsters Union and its national leader Jimmy Hoffa, who was convicted of manipulating the pension fund in 1964.

Around 1957, Tony Accardo turned over the official position as boss of the Chicago Outfit to Sam Giancana, and became Consigliere. Giancana still had to obtain the sanction of Ricca and Accardo for all major business. Around 1966, Giancana was replaced as boss by Sam Battaglia. In 1967, Battaglia was sentenced to 15 years in prison and Giancana was still living in exile in Mexico. Felix Alderisio took over as acting boss in the late 1960s, was convicted of extortion, sent to prison in 1969 and died from natural causes in 1971. Then Jackie Cerone became acting boss. Cerone was convicted on gambling charges in May 1970 and later convicted of skimming $2 million from a Las Vegas casino in 1986 along with Aiuppa, Carl Civella, Angelo LaPietra and Carl DeLuna. Milwaukee organized-crime boss Frank Balistrieri was sentenced to 10-years in prison in the same case in December 1985. Cerone died of natural causes in 1996 six days after his release from prison. He was followed by Gus Alex, Samuel Carlisi and Joseph Aiuppa. Alex died of a heart attack in federal prison in 1992. Carlisi was convicted of racketeering, loansharking, and arson in connection with an illegal gambling business in Chicago in 1996 and sentenced to 13 years in prison. He died there of a heart attack in 1997.

Paul Ricca died in 1972, leaving Tony Accardo as the ultimate authority in the outfit. Giancana was murdered in the basement apartment of his home in Oak Park, Illinois in 1975 after returning from Mexico. The FBI alleged that Aiuppa conspired with Johnny Roselli to kill Giancana because he refused to share his offshore gambling profits from Mexico, but another theory states that Giancana’s murder was connected to the U.S. Senate Church Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s role in the conspiracy to assassinate Castro. Giancana was subpoenaed to testify on his knowledge of alleged government-mafia cooperation just before he was murdered.

In the 1940s Johnny Roselli was involved in the Outfit’s extortion in Hollywood of the motion picture industry. By 1956, he had become the Chicago and Los Angeles mob’s man in Las Vegas. In the early 1960s, Roselli was unknowingly recruited by the CIA. In April 1976 he was called before the Warren Commission to testify about a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy. Three months after his first round of testimony the Committee wanted to recall him. Roselli went missing in July and his decomposing body was found  shot, dissected, then stuffed in a 55-gallon steel fuel drum floating near Miami in August 1976. Roselli was killed on Santo Trafficante Jr.’s orders and he would have needed permission from Outfit bosses Accardo and Aiuppa for the murder. Bill Bonanno, the son of mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, claimed in his 1999 memoir, Bound by Honor: A Mafioso’s Story, that he had discussed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy with Roselli and implicated him as the primary hitman in a mafia conspiracy. According to Bonanno, Roselli shot Kennedy from a storm drain on Elm Street.

Joseph Aiuppa was convicted of skimming profits from Las Vegas casinos in 1986 and received 28 years in prison. On January 19, 1996, Aiuppa was released from prison and died of natural causes three days later. In June 1986, Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and his brother Michael were beaten and strangled to death and buried in a cornfield five miles away from Aiuppa property near Morocco, Indiana. It was assumed that the Outfit ordered the murders because of Tony’s misbehavior in Las Vegas. It was also rumored that Aiuppa ordered the executions because he blamed Spilotro for the skimming conviction. In a 2010 interview with Maxim magazine, Tony Spilotro’s son Vincent claimed that the real target was his uncle Michael, and Tony was killed to prevent any revenge.

Tony Accardo bought a home in Palm Springs, California in the late 1970s, flying to Chicago to preside over Outfit “sit-downs” and mediate disputes. He died of heart failure at age 86 in Barrington, Illinois in 1992.

1975

Howard Hughes and Las Vegas:

Howard Hughes began the move into Las Vegas by legitimate operators and large corporations in the 1960s, resulting in the sale of many mob owned casinos. On November 24, Thanksgiving Day in 1966, Hughes arrived in Las Vegas by railroad and moved into the Desert Inn. Hughes bought the Desert Inn in early 1967 and then bought the Castaways, New Frontier, the Landmark and the Sands. He also bought the small Silver Slipper casino only to reposition the hotel’s trademark neon silver slipper, which was visible from Hughes’ bedroom and had been keeping him up at night. Hughes spent at least $300 million on his many properties and real estate in Las Vegas.

The Riviera sold in June 1968 to a group of investors tied to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp., owner of the Aladdin, Stardust, and Fremont casinos. In 1969, a deal was made to sell the Riviera to the Parvin-Dohrmann Corp. but the sale was blocked by the Gaming Control Board.

Dean Martin was hired in 1969 to perform in the casino’s showroom in exchange for a 10 percent interest in the Riviera. They bought back his shares after Martin left in 1972, because management refused to cut his performance schedule from two shows a night to one.

Dean Martin - The King of Cool!

Dean Martin – The King of Cool!

In 1973, the Riviera was purchased for $60 million by AITS Inc., a Boston-based travel company controlled by Meshulam Riklis and Isidore Becker. The Riviera filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1983. Riklis pledged money to keep the business in operation and appointed Jeffrey Silver as the new CEO to turn the Riviera around. Silver shifted the Riviera’s marketing away from high rollers towards middle and working-class gamblers.

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A Burger King franchise opened in the Riviera in 1983, the first fast-food chain outlet in a Las Vegas casino, inspiring the phrase “Burger King Revolution” which referred to the trend of hotels and casinos targeting middle-class customers.

Riviera Hotel & Casino

Riviera Hotel & Casino

The Riviera underwent an expansion from 1988 to 1990 which went significantly over budget, leading to another Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991. The resort emerged from bankruptcy in 1993 owned by Riviera Holding Corp.

In 2006, Splash, a traditional Las Vegas showgirl revue, ended an extended run at the Riviera. And in 2009, An Evening at La Cage, featuring female impersonators including Frank Marino as Joan Rivers, ended one of the longest runs in Strip history.

On July 12, 2010, Riviera Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The decline of the Riviera was caused in part by the recession of 2008. The Riviera was once surrounded by the Stardust, New Frontier and Westward Ho which were demolished to make room for construction of the unfinished Fontainebleau and Boyd Gaming’s Echelon Place projects. Under the terms of the bankruptcy reorganization agreement negotiated by Starwood Capital Group and the other secured lenders the property was leased to Paragon Gaming.

In February 2015, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority bought the Riviera hotel and its land for $182.5 million. The hotel will be demolished in the name of progress and the planned expansion of LVCVA’s Las Vegas Global Business District exhibit and meeting center.

"Crazy Girls" at the Riviera Hotel

“Crazy Girls” at the Riviera Hotel (the show and the statue will move to Planet Hollywood)

“Crazy Girls” is immortalized with a bronze sculpture based on a promotional photo for the show at the front of the casino. It was unveiled in 1997 with the phrase No “Ifs”, “Ands” or…. Since then, the thong-clad buttocks have been worn to a shine by visitors rubbing them. Riviera ads with the same photo used to appear on Vegas taxicabs back in the day.

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Vegas Matchbooks! Some are long gone now, some still remain…but for how long?

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

The Evolution of Las Vegas!

“It’s a sucker’s game. You can’t win out there, you understand. We got the percentages rigged all in our favor. The longer you stay, the more you play, the more chances you got of losing. I don’t let nobody around me who gambles. A couple thousand, okay, but no gambling!” – Chicago Outfit Boss Gus Alex on the subject of Las Vegas Casinos

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Rivera Hotel & Casino

Rivera Hotel & Casino

Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

Sign of the Times! Farewell to the Riviera Hotel & Casino!

 

UPDATED JANUARY 7, 2017:
Going through boxes in storage, came across a matched set of Riviera coffee mugs>

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A Matched Set of Riviera Coffee Mugs