Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Las Vegas High Life

Travel There – Riding High on the High Roller

Without air and accommodations to pay for, our big spend for Vegas was O by Cirque du Soleil at Bellagio, but we had other things to do before the show!

First up, the High Roller! I’d felt so wise when I bought a Big Bus package with two days of Hop Off/Hop On, the Night Tour and the High Roller. Well, you know how the Hop On/Hop Off went and I was too exhausted to do the Night Tour, so I wasn’t expecting much from the High Roller. I figured it was money down the drain.

We were all gussied up for our evening at the Bellagio when we arrived at the High Roller ticket office. We were dismayed to find their lobby chock full of people, standing in a line that snaked back and forth for several layers. What was worse was that there was no short line for people like us who had already paid and just needed to pick their tickets. We had to stand in line FOREVER with people who just happened by – people and their 47 kids. This was the biggest crowd we’d seen so far in Sin City.

I was not happy and my expectations were not being met. We’d allowed what should have been plenty of time with a will-call receipt, but the cookie was not crumbling our way. I was anxious as we creeped along towards the cashiers, hoping our package deal wasn’t going to ruin our big night out. We got our admission passes at the last possible moment, just before we had to walk away, and the wheel was about to turn, so we hotfooted it up the stairs and into our High Roller gondola.

Now truth be told, I would never have signed up for the High Roller on my own, but it was part of the package and I thought Bill might like it. Being somewhat acrophobic I don’t go around looking for high wire experiences, so with the exception of the Texas Star at the State Fair of Texas, I haven’t been on any of these new fangled Ferris wheels which are popping up all over the place.

I edged to the middle of the gondola, found a place to perch and held on for dear life. Bill, of course, stood with his nose inches from the glass. Despite my fears it was quite a lovely experience. Thank goodness we’d scored a gondola without any rowdy kids, so it was actually serene as we were pulled up into the sky.

We’d come at twilight, when the lights of the big city had just begun to twinkle, but there was still a little light in the sky. When the ride was over, it was full dark. We’d timed it just right.

As soon as we hit the ground, the serenity disappeared. It was almost time for O! I trotted across the Linq and down the Strip as fast as my kitten-heled black peau de soie slides would allow.

Come back next week for our Big Night at the Bellagio!

ART, Attractions, DFW Metroplex, Music, Performing Arts, Road Trips

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – FLAMING FLAMENCO FEET

Quiet Saturday in the Country

One nice tradition for the women of my church is the Sweet Sixteen Tea held for our young ladies on that special birthday. In the past, the events have been held at the church, but this time, the location was moved to a member’s home who lives out in the rural area between Heath and Forney. She’s been doing a lot of remodeling and she was thrilled for an occasion to share it with her sisters.

Since my house is theoretically on the way to the hostess’ house, my bestie planned on picking me up. I say theoretically, because we didn’t count on the traffic and wrecks she’d encounter getting from her dance lesson to my house. Good old Wayz kept rerouting her and when she told me she was being sent to Hwy 80, I knew she would have been better off going directly to the tea. At that point, she would have had to stop and input the address of Victoria’s house into Wayz. So she came on to my house and we went together, as planned and we ended up being only about 10 minutes late.

The tea was lovely. We played some game which combines, among other things, Charades and Password, using words which were particular to the honoree. It was a lot of fun, mostly because there were so many delightful young ladies, who knew the honoree well and played the game often among themselves. I was reluctant to join in the timed game, because the timing thing flusters me, but by the final round, where we could only use 1 one-word clue, we’d already gone through the words twice, so I figured I didn’t need to be too clever. Then the honoree opened up her gifts and she was very thrilled with each and every item.

After the Tea, it was nearing dinner time, so we decided to pick up something to take to my house and share with Bill. Deb wanted BBQ, so even though Bill and I had been to a Dickey’s just a few days before, that’s where we went. Can any Texan get tired of BBQ or Tex Mex? It hasn’t happened to me yet. We enjoyed a feast of ribs, okra and slaw. Then we settled down in the den to look at scrapbook albums two and three I’d just finished for a client.

Sunday Starts Quietly, Too

I finished up my latest scrapbooking client’s albums early on Saturday, so before the tea and Sunday before and after church, I begun to prepare for a presentation I’m doing Friday – this Friday and if you’re reading this the day it is published, that’s today. It’s only a brief spotlight, so the primary impact will be the door prize and samples I give away. I spent the time packaging the mini-album samples and getting contact stickers on the catalogs I’d just received.

This will be the second spotlight I am doing for this group, but the first one was a couple of years ago when I still had not figured out most people just don’t have or won’t make time for memory keeping. Now the focus of my scrapbooking business is creating custom albums for them. I’m happier, because I never loved selling scrapbooking supplies, but I love scrapbooking! When I get a new client, that means I get to scrapbook more and someone is going to pay me for what I love doing.

A Paradigm Shift

Let’s face it. Dallas is expensive. When we lived in the small community of Pismo Beach, on the Central Coast of California for a few years, back in the early 2000’s, we’d get tickets to great events in the $35 -50 per person range. That’s not chicken feed, but it felt comfortable. When we came back to Dallas we were faced with sticker shock. Not only were things more expensive than they’d been on the Central Coast, but there had also been a huge jump in pricing from our previous days in Dallas. We’ve been back for over a decade, but we’ve been to very few live shows.

When we have attended something live, we’d usually see free or inexpensive performances at local colleges or we’d get reduced rates to events at the museums and gardens we belonged to. Season tickets to the opera, which I’d had in the past, were just not an affordable option, especially when Bill is not as taken with opera as I am. We’ve been to a few Cirque du Soleil events or won tickets to the odd sporting event, but outside that we’ve made our own entertainment.

Then came Covid and like everyone else, what used to be no longer existed. Our museum and garden memberships were not providing the types of entertainments we’d enjoyed in the past, so we’d let them go. We needed to get more aggressive in pursuing our entertainment. Recently, we bit the bullet and bought tickets to a Flamenco performance in a South Dallas venue. What WERE we getting ourselves into?

Seat Selection & Parking

On Facebook, I’d seen tickets to a Fever Flamenco event. We love Flamenco music and dance, so we definitely wanted to go. The price seemed right, about $60 a person, until I read the fine print, ” 🎫 Basic Admission – fair visibility without seat selection.” That made me nervous. We’d have no control over where we sat and we’d have “fair” visibility. What did that even mean?

For $65 we still had to sit where they said and our visibility would be good, but that didn’t seem much more comforting. So we bit another bullet and opted for Preferential Admission, where we could pick our seats and have great visibility. It was $90 per person, but the other option was to stay home and watch more TV. We bought the tickets.

The venue was Edison’s on Cockrell Avenue. I’d never been to Edison’s, but when I was growing up in Dallas, Cockrell Hills was a no-go zone. I am very aware of the renewal efforts happening south of Dallas in areas like Bishop Arts, but living on an opposite side of town, I don’t have much personal experience with them. So we were venturing into strange territory.

Arriving at the venue we were directed to a pay parking lot. Getting out of the car I saw a sign which instructed us to text the lot id to a number. I tried, but didn’t get anywhere. The attendant tried and got far enough along to realize we didn’t have any credit card loaded onto our phone. No _ _ _ _ Sherlock! And I don’t plan to EVER have a credit card loaded on my phone.

So, Bill moved his car to a spot on the street. Thanks to the irritating digital world we saved a few bucks. That’s not always an available solution and some day we may have to navigate that little technical maneuver, but that didn’t happen on Sunday evening.

Now, Edison’s is a cool place in a sort of industrialized area. We felt quite safe It has a roomy entry area graced by an antique car, which opens onto a larger space, which opens onto other areas. The stage was set up in the main area and the seating is cafĂ© chairs.

Our preferential seating put us on the front row of chairs, but in front of that row is the VIP table seating which was $120-135 per person. For that price you either got “amazing” or “best” visibility with “a charcuterie box with Spanish products, and meet and greet with the artists to take photos after the show.” If you should decide to go this weekend (it runs through Sunday) go ahead and opt for the VIP seats. You may not be interested in the charcuterie box or meeting the artists, but since this is Flamenco, you’re going to want to see their feet and you have to work at that when you sit anywhere behind the VIP seats.

Fever’s Flaming Flamenco Feet

All that being said, we loved it. The stage is very small, so the performance is very intimate. The musicians come out one at a time for a short solo and then take their chairs on the back of the stage. Then out come the dancers and you are whipsawed into the fantastic!

The musicians were talented. The costumes were beautiful. The dancers? Oh my goodness!!!! They were truly amazing. Some sets they danced together and others they danced solo. The woman and her trailing flamenco flounce were astounding. How she maneuvered on the tiny stage with all that dress was a wonder in itself. She put so much vigor in her performance that one time when she nodded her head, bobby pins flew out into the audience. She also had beautiful, fascinating hands. Sweat poured down her face and I decided her dress must be lined in plastic, because in spite of the sweat on her face, none leaked through her costume.

Now the guy was a whole different experience. His costume was very body conscious and he didn’t have a flounce to swing around. Instead, he just had it all going on, from the tips of his fingers above his head to the flaming red shoes that moved so fast you could barely see them. He had sweat pouring out of every pore and by the end of his solo performance, his hair was sopping wet and sweat drops were being peppered on the audience closest to the stage. Remember that during your seat selection. If you get the VIP seats, you might want to be on the far side of the table!

Both dancers totally captivated the audience and the musicians provided comic relief from time to time, as well as wonderful, authentic music. Yes, I think you should go. I loved it and am so glad we took a chance on it. We’ll be checking out other offerings from Fever, because this was wonderful.

Keep coming back for Travel Here, Travel There and Memory Keeping 101.

Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Getting Into a Groove

Travel There – Caesar’s Forum and a Luxor Lunch

It’s hard to believe this guy is smiling at me. So far it’s been as if someone should have done more than give us a free trip to Vegas. They should have paid us for our time, trouble and trauma. Seriously! We’re starting our third day in Vegas and the most fun we’ve had so far was getting our id cards and tickets for public transportation.

We headed out to McDonald’s. I was dying for one of those famous breakfast buffets, but Bill just couldn’t face that much food so early in the morning. He was being very patient with this disaster of a vacation, so I wasn’t going to make him go anywhere he didn’t want to. We waited a bit for the Deuce, but decided to walk when it didn’t come immediately. It was too chilly just standing there.

Along the way we came to the Flamingo and decided to step inside and see the Wild Life Habitat. It was a pleasant little garden, but honestly, not worth a mention in the guidebooks. Then onto Mickey D’s. We were becoming regulars.

Fun at the Forum

I’ve got to be honest with you. Things had been so bad on this vacation I was regretting we’d won it. The day before, the Grand Canal Shops at the Venetian had not been very entertaining, so I felt a bit of trepidation about heading to the Forum, but what the heck else were we going to do with ourselves – gamble? We’d rather stand and throw our money in the Bellagio Fountain!

Though I can’t exactly tell you exactly why, we enjoyed the Forum a lot more than we did the Grand Canal. Perhaps it was because it was fairly quiet that morning and the Grand Canal was bustling. Maybe we like classic Roman architecture better than Renaissance Italian. Maybe I was finally feeling better. Maybe it was the softer lighting and higher ceilings of the Forum. I don’t know. We just had fun.

One of the things that really helped us enjoy the Forum was a marvelous curator at one of the art galleries. Bill asked her a few questions and suddenly he had a new best friend. We were there for a long, long time.

Then there was the big grandiose fountains in the Forum. The Venetian had fountains, too, but they more like waterfalls and the fountains in the Forum made you feel as if you actually were in one of those faraway places I love so much.

Of course, like all things since Covid, we were supposed to wear masks and the stores would only let in a certain amount of people at a time. So places like Versace and Louis Vuitton had a roped off area in front of the store with patrons waiting to get in. Without the ropes we might have strolled in, but we weren’t going to wait. No loss to them I guess, because I’ve been carrying the same old Coach bag for years now and will probably be buried with it!

The worst part of being there during Covid was that they’d changed the schedule for The Fall of Atlantis attraction – instead of hourly every day, it was only on certain days at certain times. Wednesday wasn’t one of them!

Buffet Lunch at Luxor

It was awful! That’s all you really need to know. Here’s a serving of beef brisket from the carving station. Yuck!!

So, I knew breakfast was your best bet and I also knew there were better choices than the Luxor. I shared my information with my traveling companion, but we had My Vegas Slots rewards at the Luxor and Bill was interested in seeing it.

Now I stayed at Luxor a number of years ago and it was a wonderful experience. I also enjoyed a couple of different buffets, one in the lobby and a bigger one downstairs – but that was pre-Covid.

The last buffet standing was the one downstairs and I had remembered it as a bright bustling place full of eager tourists, busy employees and delicious food. That was no longer the case. We were almost alone in the establishment. The employees were begrudgingly shoving food onto the buffet tables and the food was nothing to write home about, unless it was to complain.

I tried to make the best of it. We were going bogo – right? Only it really was awful and for Bill, the brisket was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He actually went and found a manager to complain to – who gave us a coupon for a free meal on our next visit. Are you kidding us? I think Bill had hoped for a refund, but we wouldn’t be coming back to this place EVER!!

It was time to take another Deuce bus to Paris and get ready for our really big evening! Jane and Bill are going to stay out late in Vegas. come back next week and stay up late with us.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Gardens, Photography, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – SECOND WEEKEND IN NOVEMBER

Quiet Saturday Ends with a Great Meal

Last weekend I was finishing up a custom scrapbook for a client, so I was in hog heaven. I happily worked through the day in my studio, content with the knowledge I had a great evening planned. We were continuing the birthday celebration for my bestie with dinner at Lavendou.

Lavendou Bistro Provincial is one of my very favorite local restaurants, along with Javier’s, Brio and Bazille. Add in Joe T. Garcia’s over in Fort Worth and I really would never need another restaurant. That’s why Deb and I are so happy, waiting for our table on Saturday night. We were in for a treat.

I used to live just blocks away from Lavendou, so it was my go-to restaurant for lunch-time meet-ups. Once we moved to Heath, getting to Lavendou for lunch was a bit of a stretch and I miss it more than I can say.

So, you can imagine how thrilled I was when Deb said she wanted her birthday meal at my old favorite. Now, I have to tell you. I do not usually go to Lavendou for dinner, because it can get a little pricey, not a pricey as Dallas can get for a nice meal out, but pricier than we usually spend. However, it was a special occasion and the meal was outstanding.

Well, the only one who ate a meal was Bill. He actually ordered up a seafood entrée and ate every bite, which is unusual for him. He usually eats about half of his food and takes the rest home for another meal. This evening there was nary a crumb or a drop of sauce left on the plate.

Meals at Lavendou start out with warm, fresh baguette slices. Bill’s not much of one for bread either. He likes it and may use it to sop up the sauce, but he doesn’t just sit around and spread butter or oil on it. At Lavendou he gives Deb and I a run for our slices, because the sour dough bread is just that good.

Deb and I moved from bread to soup. She had French Onion, which she loved, but I had Lobster Bisque, which is an occasion all by itself. I could wax eloquent on it’s attributes, but I’ll just say you should have it when you go – and you are going to go aren’t you?

From there we moved on to escargot. Oh my goodness! How delicious!! Tender tasty meat bits smothered in garlic butter and yet another excuse to eat more bread slices. We were in heaven.

We also had just barely enough room left for dessert. Yes, we skipped right over the entrĂ©e. Now, Lavendou has a variety of delicious desserts, but when I’m there for dinner, there’s only one I care about and that’s the chocolate soufflĂ©. You have to go in knowing you want it, because it has to be ordered with your meal, but just do it!

An absolutely perfect meal with my two favorite people in the world. You can’t ask for more than that. We did make one stop on the way home. Another thing we loved about living in Far North Dallas was Central Market. Whenever we’re over that way, Bill has to stop. He might also get a slice of Carrot Cake, a Crème Brulee or some sushi, but he’s there for the freshly made gelato. We always get a large box with at least three flavors. I say we, but I don’t eat much in the way of ice cream or gelato, so it’s all about Bill. Me, I hang out in the floral department. It’s spectacular. I don’t buy. I just look. I did buy some chicken salad from their chef’s selection, but that’s because I was feeling all kinds of luxurious.

A Sunday in Fort Worth Garden

As if I hadn’t already had an absolutely perfect weekend, Sunday was also special. I woke up early and put the finishing touches on the album I was working on. I had coffee with Bill (he has the coffee, while I drink my beloved Diet Dr Pepper) and then went to church. After church we ate our Central Market chicken salad and headed to Fort Worth.

Any day I spend with my husband can be quite special, but my very favorites are the ones he actually plans himself. While I was away at church, he researched ways to spend the afternoon and decided on a trip to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden where they were having a Fall Festival. He confessed he had checked the Dallas Arboretum first, where we have maintained a membership for years, but during the pandemic they started requiring us to schedule our visits. That’s a hassle! So we let our membership lag and since they are still requiring us to schedule our visits, we rarely go. Covid has yet another permanent impact on my life. Maybe some day they will wise up and we can go back to our casual drop-bys.

I’ve been making treks to Fort Worth for a long time and I remember when their botanic garden was both small and free, unless you visited the Japanese Garden. That was a long time ago. Now, there’s a Garden Center, a Conservatory, all the old gardens and some new gardens. Seniors pay $10 to enter, but then the Japanese Garden is included so, it was a very inexpensive way to spend a great afternoon. Since there was also a festival, then we were really doing good.

Rather than wear you out with more words I’ll just show you some pictures. The Japanese Festival was only one weekend, but they have another in the spring when the cherry blossoms are opening. They are also just about to start their holiday show, Lightscape and I think it’s going to be wonderful – so go!!

So – go to Lavendou and visit the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. We topped off our day with some Dickie’s ribs and okra. We had a bit of an adventure getting there which I’ll just skip over. The dangers of depending on Google and your GPS, but life was made for adventures, so stay tuned for more of them – here and there!

Accommodations, Architecture, Attractions, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Aria & Lemongrass

Travel There – The Cool Kids

Given the opportunity to do this whole trip again, instead of suggesting we stay at Paris, I would have suggested one of the newer, cooler places, like Aria. Like Paris, it’s right in the middle of The Strip, but unlike Paris it has a hip, edgy feel. Had Paris had the romantic Montmartre vibe it had when visited before, I would have been happier, instead it had become a sort of warehouse for slot machines with little to no atmosphere whatsoever in the lobby or our room for that matter.

Aria, Vdara and other newer hotels were where the cool kids were staying, but I’ve got to tell you, even there, where Rolex watches and flashy diamonds were the moda, everybody was still so casual I wanted to scream. I get it if you don’t want to be required to wear haute couture gowns every time you walk out of the room, but I’d like it if you’d look like you were out of your room on purpose, instead of being caught out in your pajamas, lingerie or jeans you were about to give to Goodwill.

Even though Las Vegas ain’t what it used to be, I refused to succumb to the general atmosphere of uber-dressing-down. It was as if the worse you looked the more points you got. Keep your points. While I wore jeans during the day, at night I dressed up and I had more fun that way. I’ll be so glad when sloppy becomes so yesterday.

Going Through the M Life Motions

All we really had to do to get to Aria is cross the street. The signs took us through the Crystals Shopping Opportunity, which was OK with us, because we wanted to see everything. This was our first real encounter with a plethora of exclusive high end designer shops, but by the end of the trip, they didn’t feel quite so exclusive, because they are virtually everywhere you look in Vegas. However, the high end prices remained the same.

Once inside Aria we were as awestruck as the next guy. They have got some amazing architectural touches throughout the public areas. We walked around with our mouths opened as we searched around for the M Life desk. The Aria M-Life personnel were ever so much more accommodating than the surly bunch down at The Mirage. I was allowed to feel more like the smart traveler I thought I was, instead of being the cheapskate the other guys’ behavior suggested.

Lemongrass – The Hidden Restaurant

There used to be a comedy routine about “the booth in the back in the corner in the dark.” That might be a good way to describe Lemongrass, except it wasn’t dark. You had to wander around a bit to find it, but once you did, it was a very attractive space, perhaps a bit crowded, but otherwise quite nice. The waitresses were dressed in Asian-flavored uniforms, which matched their ethnicity. While the menu was big, it was somewhat limited in this American’s opinion.

Along with being required to make a reservation, you were instructed to inform them you were using an M-Life award. Then when you arrived, you were required to remind the hostess about your M-Life status. I really think they should just stamp something across your forehead. That might be less humiliating than some of the hurdles they throw up. Just think, some guy sits in an office somewhere and it’s his job to make using the My Vegas Slots award so inconvenient and humiliating that people won’t use them. Perhaps his title is Discourager in Chief.

I never know what to order in a Thai restaurant. People rave about Thai food and how spicy it is, but every time I go to one I end up with something resembling milk-toast. I did a little better this time, but in truth, it was more like Kung Pao chicken than the spicy dish I hoped for. I think Bill felt much the same way, but at least the bogo meals didn’t break the bank.

And Now for the Really Big Shew

For all my efforts to see and do everything, sometimes the best things are serendipitous. After our meal we wandered around the hotels in the area for a while longer and then headed back to our hotel. Suddenly, people were running across our path and weaving in between cars. The Bellagio Fountain show was just beginning and we got to enjoy every bit of it. We hadn’t planned it that way. It was just the way things worked out.

Except for our thwarted coffee break and the run in with the kiosk, we’d booked a pretty good first day in Vegas. We arranged for reduced fare transportation throughout our stay, gotten our M-Life cards and enjoyed My Vegas Slots awards for lunch, a drink and dinner. So far, so good.

Day two was not quite as successful. Come back next week and find out why.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Lunch & Drinks at The Mirage

Travel There – My Vegas Slots Starts to Pay Out

In the days rolling up to our Vegas vacation, I was so devoted to earning awards on the My Vegas Slots app that I was skating on thin ice. I figured out the rhythm of the whole thing – how long you needed to wait for free chips, how long you could play a game until it got cold, how all the bonus games worked, even how long you could put it on auto-play without losing all your chips. Bill said he didn’t care how much I was winning. He just wanted to see his wife without her being distracted by her phone.

However, as we started to use my awards, my devotion to the games started to make more sense. After tackling the Bonneville Transit Station kiosk, we got on a bus headed back down the Strip and Bill began to freak out just a little bit. He was hungry and wanted to eat, but he was still in shock over his coffee experience.

I said, “I have a bogo deal at the Mirage. We buy a sandwich and get a free beer. I think we could share that and it would hold us over until dinner.”

“Well, what are we doing for dinner?” he asked.

We can make reservations at Lemongrass over at the Aria. I have a bogo deal there, too.”

“What kind of food do they have?”

“Thai.”

“What’s Thai food?”

“Remember the place we went to for Stone’s birthday. It was Thai and you liked that.”

About that time The Deuce pulled up to the Mirage and we hopped out. As we got off the bus, Bill allowed that he had liked the food at that Thai restaurant, so my plan was a good one.

Using My Vegas Slots Awards

Here’s the thing about the My Vegas Slots Awards. You can’t just walk up to the place you have the award for and show them your phone or a coupon. First, you have to go to an M Life Desk, located in the various lobbies where the coupons are good and get an M Life Card.

And here’s the reason the MGM is perfectly happy to give you these awards. It’s at this point that most people think it’s too much of a hassle and never redeem their awards.

Not me. Bill and I marched into The Mirage, found the M Life desk and endured the obvious irritation of the clerk who apparently had more important things to do than issue M Life cards. But that’s just the first thing you have to do.

Once you have your M Life card, you have to redeem your reward. I had visions of redeeming all the rewards at once and using them as I had a need for them. Au Contrare! That’s not how this works. You can only redeem one award at a time and you have a limited period in which to use it. If we thought the lady was irritated about issuing the cards, that was nothing to her near dismay at being forced to give us a bogo coupon for their snack bar.

Scoring Goodies at The Mirage

The clever name of the snack bar at The Mirage is SNACKS. The burger we split was delicious and while it wasn’t free, there was more than enough to share. Washing it down with free beer certainly didn’t hurt. Bill’s liking my awards better all the time.

“What do we do now,” he wondered after we’d had our burger and enjoyed the huge Aquarium behind the registration desk – the Mirage’s free attraction. I pulled out a free drink award for The Still, a whiskey bar that had just opened for the day. I would give you a review of the Aquarium, but while we were in Vegas, they announced the Mirage was going to be torn down, so you couldn’t go see it anyway.

We went back to the M-Life desk, renewed our award for a coupon and headed over to The Still. Going through that rigmarole for every redemption was truly a hassle, but if they wanted to waste their personnel’s time on it, we could play that game with them.

We went to The Still, turned in our coupon for another beer, since our other option was whiskey and began to enjoy our vacation.

Back to Paris

After our free drink, we found the Deuce bus stop and caught the next one that came by. In minutes we were back at our hotel. I made the necessary reservations for Lemongrass. That’s another of the award tricks you have to watch. Some of the awards have very specific instructions about making reservations, including how far in advance you have to make the reservations. Those specifics kept us from ever using the awards for the Wolfgang Bar & Grill over at the MGM, but otherwise we were able to juggle the instructions and our patience with the hassle.

Come back next week and we’ll have some Thai food.

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

Shades of Amsterdam

Travel There – Jane Faces the Kiosk and Loses

With the RTC discount card firmly in hand, our next hurdle was buying the three day pass we’d need to get around Vegas. The human who issued our senior discount card could not sell us tickets for the buses. We had to go outside and face the human-less kiosk. I am intimidated by kiosks. With humans, you can say oops, but kiosks don’t care.

Sometimes I do fine with the kiosks, like getting food coupons at the State Fair of Texas or when we bought subway tickets in Vienna. I was a total champ, but there will always be Amsterdam. That’s when Bill and I were nearly defeated by a phone with more slots than your average casino. To this day, I am convinced the hand of God reached down and saved us, because after trying our luck with various phones and various slots we were suddenly connected and I’m not sure why.

There have been other kiosks which won the battle – like the day we headed to Portland and ended up in Denver. It was the weather, not the kiosk, but the argument we had in the terminal was all about the kiosk.

And how about the first time I tried to tackle the Southwest kiosk. We ended up with boarding passes, but no luggage tags. An exasperated Southwest employee treated us like a couple of senior citizens who didn’t know the difference in dial-up and broadband. I like Medicare and senior discounts, but I’m not senile, yet. You can call me “ma’am” or even “honey” (which seems to be Millennial for old person) but don’t treat me as if I take my brains out and play with them.

As we trudged out to the RTC kiosk with our senior discount ID’s, I felt as if we were headed to a firing squad playing a game Russian Roulette for bus tickets. Would we get our tickets or be sent back to Dallas?

Pushing the Buttons for Tickets

I still can’t explain what happened, but suddenly, I was holding not one, not two, but three bus passes and each pass was for three days. Drat that kiosk!

I looked at Bill and he was as clueless as I was. He’d stood there coaching me through the transaction and he didn’t know how we’d ended up with three tickets either. We shrugged our shoulders and headed back into the Transit Station.

I reminded the attendant I hadn’t wanted to face down the kiosk in the first place and she was sympathetic, probably because she had those senior citizen prejudices, but there was nothing she could do for us, except give us a telephone number. Isn’t that always the case these days? You’re standing in the bank, looking at one of their employees, who hands you a phone number to call to deal with your issue.

Apparently, I’m the only idiot who’s ever had this problem, because the first few people we talked to didn’t know what to do about us. Eventually, we were transferred to a lady who could help, but even then, we had to read some number off the extra ticket and that was more difficult than you might imagine. The senior citizen thing kicked in, because Bill couldn’t see the number with any of the glasses we had with us.

Now, the extra ticket only cost us $10, but the whole reason we’d gone through this exercise in the first place was to save a little money and that $10 would have rendered our efforts useless, so we stood around in the Transit Station working out our refund.

The Most Fun We Had in Vegas

I told you at the beginning of this trip that Vegas wasn’t my kind of town, but let me illustrate for you just how much it wasn’t my cup of tea. Looking back, this adventure to the Bonneville Transit Center was my favorite part of the trip. There was an element of discovery. Bill and I laughed together about several of our other travel challenges, from evil kiosks to running out of gas coming back from Temple. We were having good old fashioned fun and for the most part, the rest of the trip was tinged with disappointments and Covid-related challenges, not fun.

Come back next week and we’ll start using the coupons I’d earned playing the My Vegas Slots app.

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Museums, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

TRAVEL HERE – THE SECOND WEEKEND IN OCTOBER

A Dancing Lesson

Saturday was a day in Fort Worth with my bestie, but we had a stop to make before we got there. Deb, who dances ballroom competitively, had a lesson with her new partner at Dancesport Training Center in Addison. She’s been dancing for many years, so I have gotten to know her teacher and many of her fellow dancers. I knew I’d be hearing a lot about the new partner, as they prepared for competitions in the spring, so I wanted to observe.

I have to tell you, I love to go to the competitions and as I see Deb float on the arms of a tuxedoed partner, I think, ‘that would be fun.’ Going to observe a lesson reminds me why I have no interest in ballroom dancing. It’s a lot of work. Over and over and over I watched them practice the same series of steps, not even an entire dance. Granted, they’re new partners, so there are basic logistical adjustments to figure out, but seriously, it’s like watching paint dry.

Not for Deb! She left exhilarated. She thought it was a great lesson and was full of enthusiasm about social dances at a new studio, taking lessons from her partner’s teacher and maybe doing rhythm at the silver level. Which reminds me of the other reason I’ll never be a competing ballroom dancer. It’s unbelievably expensive. You pay weekly for lessons, often multiple lessons, and then you pay to compete and then you pay to have your pro there when you compete and if the competition is not in your area, then you pay for your pro’s travel. And those beautiful dresses Deb floats by in during the competitions? Thousands of dollars each. Yep, I’m staying in the audience.

Lunch Café Modern

Did you know there is a Wolfgang Puck-ish restaurant in Fort Worth’s Museum of Modern Art? Not to worry. Most people don’t and until this visit to CafĂ© Modern, we didn’t realize the Wolfgang Puck trained-chef part. We’ve been before and loved it, but as most of you know, when I get to Fort Worth, I usually go to Joe T. Garcia’s. This time, we’d been to Joe T’s recently and decided to do something a little different.

You need to put this on your list. It was 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon and only a smattering of people were enjoying the wonderful atmosphere and great food, which was surprising to me, since special events were happening all around the museum area. Almost everyone was on the patio taking advantage of the great weather and we joined them, but the interior is quite nice. We ate there last time during a winter visit.

Deb got the Cubano Sandwich, which she loved, while I ate Chinois Chicken Salad. It was good too, but think more salad than chicken. It’s mostly green stuff with strips of cooked chicken thrown in, not chunks of chicken, fruit and nuts I love best. The service is good, but not fast, so we each had a couple of glasses of wine. Prosecco for Deb and Sauvignon Blanc for me. We split the bill paid about $50 each including tip. Not a bargain, but a great meal in a wonderful space.

Murillo at the Kimball

The Kimbell’s own Murillo from the Exhibition App

A few weeks ago we went to the Dallas Museum of Art and happened upon the last day of the Cartier and Islam exhibit. I was both happy I got to see the exhibit before it left and mad that the DMA, for which I pay a membership, didn’t manage to communicate it to me in a way that made me aware of the exhibit. You can interpret this to mean they probably sent me emails along with the 50 thousand others I get in a day and I missed it. If you really want me to know something an email blast probably isn’t you best bet – especially with the summer I had.

So, this weekend, we went to the Kimball, where Deb is a member, only to discover they were having a 50th anniversary celebration with all kinds of stuff happening. Their lawn between buildings was full of tents, chairs and a stage. They were having a concert that evening of some sort. We went directly to special exhibition area to see the Murillo exhibition.

I was very surprised, because it was free and there was absolutely no line. The Kimbell permanent collection is always free, but you have to pay for the traveling shows. For this special weekend, the Murillo exhibition was free. It’s an amazing collection of paintings and you should see it, but few were taking the Kimball up on their offer of free.

If you’ve been to the Kimbell before, then the image above is familiar. The woman with the glasses haunts me and I enjoy speculating about her and the other three images in painting. This exhibition expanded my knowledge of the artist. His portfolio is wide, from landscapes with religious subjects to the dark portraits I identify with Spanish portraiture to whimsical paintings of everyday people.

Please go over to Fort Worth and see this beautiful collection of paintings and learn more about Murillo. He was a humanitarian and one of his goals was to sneak meaningful messages about charity and morality into his gorgeous paintings, hoping as they adorned the walls of his patron’s homes, the message would sink in. You’ll like him and you’ll enjoy his work.

Not much more to share. Sunday morning was given over to church and since it was my weekend to stand in the breezeway and greet people, I had a marvelous opportunity to enjoy the weather. Once home, Bill and I took more time outside, sitting on our swing next to the pond and having a coffee break in the sunroom. Then it was time to go pick up a new scrapbooking project from a client. I’m so excited to start working on it.

Come back Wednesday for some more travel stories from Las Vegas and perhaps another Weekend report later in the week.

DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning, United States

The Transit Adventure

Travel There – Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada

Bill and I usually get a rental car when we travel by plane. We like to avoid the hassles and constraints of public transportation, but what the heck are you going to do with a car on The Vegas Strip, except pay very expensive parking fees. So, I did a little research.

There’s a monorail and we’d used it extensively when we’d stayed at the Sahara attending a conference which was in the Venetian. It did a great job of getting us around then, but for the itinerary I’d put together, it wasn’t going to do us much good this time.

I looked into the Big Bus Tours which were so convenient and useful when I’d visited Chicago. More about them later, but for a tourist getting around Vegas, nothing seemed as convenient as the Deuce on the Strip! And guess what else!! I discovered Bill and I qualified for the senior discount. All we had to do was get to the Bonneville Transit Center and get a free Reduced Fare ID.

Once Bill had gotten in his nap and I’d moved into our room, we were ready to go see Vegas. First on our list was our senior discount!

From Paris to the Bonneville Transit Center

I am a timid user of public transportation. I always have visions of missing my stop and being forced to disembark in a ghetto, where I get mugged and perhaps caught in a drive-by shooting. I don’t know if Las Vegas has a ghetto or not, but I had a good map of the the routes in my hand and I was tackling the public transportation system with my handsome husband.

Another of my fears of public transportation is having the right thing to pay for my ride or coming to a point where I have to pay more and I don’t have cash or any form of payment they will accept. Irrational, of course, most fears are, but the ticket we got to take us to the Transit Center was good for two hours, certainly we could find it in that time without paying more – even if I had to get off and try again in another direction. And besides the street-side kiosks took credit cards.

Riding along in the Deuce, we craned our necks to see the sites along the like other tourists. After passing The Strat, we knew we were at the end of The Strip and that our destination was just a few stops away. Thanks to Bill we did get off at the right place. Dodging the busses to get to the building was dicey, but we made it.

Inside the station, they actually knew what we were talking about, which is always a plus. Often in my research I find something that no one but me knows about or they just did away with it a week ago, but not this time. We had our pictures taken and were issued with an ID card which would provide reduced fares until 12/13/2026.

If you are only going to be in Vegas for a couple of days, this is probably not worth the effort, but we used the heck out of the passes, so we thought it was great. If you’re one of those people who go all the time or you are staying for more than a couple of days, why wouldn’t you get it, if you qualify.

Now you’d think this was the end of this story and we’d move on to our next Vegas adventure, but not all my fears of public transportation are unfounded. Come back next week and see what happened next.

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

The Weekend Report

Photo Snipped from The Republic website. Link below.

TRAVEL HERE – THE FIRST WEEKEND IN OCTOBER 2022

Happy Hour at My Place

We don’t entertain much. We’re busy people and when we’re not busy, we relax. It’s a shame in some ways. Our home just begs for a big party and I’ve inherited pretty much every serving dish and implement known to man, including 36 place settings of Gorham Chantilly sterling flatware. Salad scissors anyone?

However, the completion of the sunroom was a milestone, so we decided to have at least a few neighbors in. Since the sunroom is a small space, we decided to do it in phases, inviting a pair of couples in at a time – this end of the cul de sac one night and the other end the next night.

Invitations sent and accepted, I woke up Friday morning, did the necessary tasks for our business and then Bill and I went errand running. Bill went because he’s always afraid I will overbuy when we entertain, and sometimes I do. I had a list ready of what we needed and a set of priorities, as well as reasons for my priorities. I had to take that list, tear it up and throw it away. Bill rearranged everything in the exact opposite order I had planned and threw in a trip to Costco for our Covid boosters, which hadn’t been on my list at all. Only wives will understand.

Aldi and Costco

Aldi is not my go-to grocery store. Heck, out here in Heath, I don’t have a go-to grocery store. I remember fondly the days in Dallas when I could get to one of virtually everything within five minutes – Central Market, Whole Foods, whatever, but Market Street was MY grocery store.

When I go on a normal grocery run, I want to go to someplace that will have everything on my list. My mom spent her life chasing bargains and would visit several grocery stores in a week. That is not my life and that’s the reason I am not a regular at Aldi, because they will not be able to fill my whole list. However, I’ve learned, when I entertain, Aldi has more of what I want, in the quantities I need, for amazing prices.

So, we went to Aldi and found what we needed. Three different exotic deli meats, sliced thin, all in one package. Two cheeses. One of those boxes of fancy crackers with several varieties in it. Some hummus and Bill picked up some flatbread thing he wanted. He’s a bigger shopper at Aldi than I am. He loves their chocolates and their kettle chips, so we got those, too, not for the party, but we were there, right?

Along with our Covid shots, we picked up wines at Costco. My next door neighbor loves Aldi’s Winking Owl wines, but for wine, Costco is the go-to for us (when we don’t have time to get all the way to Trader Joe’s). I picked up Prosecco, which is what everyone ended up wanting and Bill chose a few other things for those who might not.

Bill drops me at home, so I could get things and myself ready for our guests. One of the things I needed to get ready was my nails, so I ran off to the salon for a new set. By the way, my go to is Signature Nails, next to Kroger, here on the south side of town. That’s when I got a text which threw my party plans in the air. I’m trying to resolve them via text with the hubby, who is determined to wait until I get home.

When I got home, we did resolve the issues, probably to no one’s satisfaction, but the show for Friday night went on and who knows when we’ll get around to the rest of the street. In spite of the storm in my teacup, Friday night went well. It was one of the first times we’d connected socially with our neighbors since the pandemic. It felt like we’d redeemed one more chip of our lives.

Working Weekend

So, Saturday was given over to work and making a trip to the discount fabric stores on Harry Hines. We’d borrowed a tasseled tieback from an upstairs room for out Friday night soiree, but needed to get one. If you’re decorating, I hope you know about the discount fabric stores. On Midway there’s Childress Fabrics and Cutting Corners. Over the years we’ve been successful at both, but for the sunroom, the drapery material came from Cutting Corners. However, we never buy any fabrics until we’ve been to the corner of Harry Hines and Perth. The names change, but the savings all along Perth Street stay the same. Need fabrics – go there.

Listing photos taken and tasseled tieback bought, it was time for a late lunch. We went to Republic Texas Tavern on Inwood Road near Forest. I’d been for a business meeting once and saw enough to think it was worth another visit. As we sat admiring the restaurant, my husband, (who I claim will try to tell God how to improve the streets of gold) asked, “Guess what I don’t like about this restaurant.” I confess, I rolled my eyes and asked what. “Nothing.” That’s high praise folks!

He had a beer and I had their version of a margarita, which is Texas Ranch Water. He loved his Pastrami Sandwich and I enjoyed their Truck Stop Burger. Every sip and bit was delightful. We’ll be finding reasons to go back, even though it is on the other side of town. You should go, too.

Casa Mama

So, after church, Bestie and I wanted to grab some lunch. It was a late lunch, because Deb sings in the choir and it meets Sunday afternoon. My criteria were Tex-Mex and a patio. Deb sort of leaves the choices up to me, because she says I make more exciting selections.

After cataloging the usual possibilities in my mind, I remembered there was a new restaurant downtown. Anything called Casa Mama was probably Tex-Mex and I knew they had a patio, so that’s where we went.

Deb loved it. She raved over the choices on the menu and thought the brisket enchiladas with spinach were delicious. I was a little more picky. The patio is right on the main road, which even on a quiet Sunday afternoon meant it felt like we were eating in the street. My cheese enchiladas were good, but not the ridiculously gooey mess I love at El Fenix or El Chico. (Yes, I like El Fenix and El Chio – that’s real Tex-Mex with lots of Dallas tradition on top.) The interior cheese on my Casa Mama enchilada was melted but not runny, gooey. Some people might consider this an improvement, but give me the goo.

Their margarita made up for any lack of gooey cheese and yes, I will be happy to go back. I will not sit on the patio and I will not have the cheese enchiladas, but I will go back and you should visit, too.

So, this is the Weekend Report. This one’s a little longer than most of them will be, because it was a busier weekend than most are. I have challenged myself to do this every week as a counterpoint to my Travel There series on Wednesdays, but I can’t promise I will always make it, nor which day I will post it, but keep an eye out! I have also challenged myself to start posting scrapbooking tidbits, but that’s not ready to roll out.

So, the next post I can promise is on Wednesday and we’ll be in Las Vegas!