We had always wanted to experience an extended stay in Las Vegas. When we made our first trip as full-timers from Michigan to become Texans, Gary had thought for a bit about making a detour from Texas to Vegas on our way to the Atlantic. But that notion was quickly discarded with a quick check of the mileage that would have been involved.
We stuck with our north/south travel loop plans until near the end of 2 and 1/2 loops we finally got our shot at Vegas. We wound up spending 45 nights – the second longest stay of any of our camping to date. The weather was fabulous. It was about 10 degrees above average throughout most of our stay. Daily highs ranged from the low 70 to low 80s with sun every day.
We found that if you plan and work at it a bit the city really can still be done on the cheap. The RV Park, although largely a parking lot, was among the very cheapest we had ever used. The city bus system worked great for us and it was nice just largely to park the car for an extended period of time. We drove the fewest miles that we had in a long time. The American Casino Guide coupon book paid for itself many times over.
We didn’t spend any money on big headliner entertainment, but we may regret that we didn’t get to the Terry Fator show which was the one show we really had a hankering to see. But we did go to a comedy club show free from our coupon book that had us laughing out loud throughout. And we enjoyed all the free shows on Fremont Street including the Lt. Dan Band and some lounge shows as well. And, oh, did we mention that I ran into Donny and Marie?
Food and drink were very good and cheap in the downtown area and having our own brewpub at Main Street Station was fantastic. We splurged three times on the spectacular buffet at Bellagio, but saved a ton by “pulling a Mark” on each visit. We would definitely stay in the downtown again.
It certainly didn’t hurt that our luck was quite good as well. Gary came to town as a newly self-proclaimed poker pro. After a very slow start, he made a very impressive recovery. He didn’t cash in any of his first six tournaments but in the subsequent 20 tournaments he played, he cashed seven times including four wins. He found smaller stakes tournaments at the Plaza hotel and was able to have success. He spent about a thousand dollars on entry fees and won about eleven hundred from prize pools. His biggest win was at the Stratosphere where he and four others “chopped” the prize pool for $375 each out of a starting field of over 70 players. I am not sure how we would survive on $100 of “professional” income over a 45-day period, but I am impressed just the same that he could go to Vegas and leave a winner at poker. He also won small amounts at other table games including blackjack and had some small losses on the machines. And he won the autographed football in the Monday Night Football drawing as well.
My gambling was highlighted by my $850 win with four of a kind at Let It Ride. I plowed a couple hundred of that back trying for another big strike that didn’t come. Otherwise, I mainly played the machines which were reasonably good to me as well but overall likely represented a bit of a loss. And then there was my win of the TV in the MNF drawing.
We didn’t spend all of our time in the casino areas. We got out and saw various areas of the city. We took in some garage sales and got some really great buys. We bought and sold stuff off of Craigslist including buying a “new” bike for Gary and a “new” slim digital camera. We sold my iPad as I purchased a new laptop because I wanted a real keyboard rather than a virtual one. And for years to come while watching TV shows, we will be saying, “we were there”. Halloween in Vegas is another thing we will remember about our stay for a long time too.
We said way back at the beginning of our stay that we would be evaluating Vegas as a possible home for us whenever it is that we leave the road. So how did it measure up on that score? On the positive side, it is amazing how much is always going on in this city. There is so much to do at all times. If one is careful, it can be a cheap place to live. We like some of the neighborhoods we saw in the periphery of the city. It is also a place where family and friends would be likely to visit. On the other hand, it is a very exploitative place in every sense of the word. All these billion dollar casinos weren’t built on winners. Especially off the downtown area, the homeless and other examples of despair are ever present. It seemed that in our Craigslist dealings whether buying or selling everyone we were dealing with was always trying to beat us. We can hold our own in negotiations, but it seems rather ruthless here at all times. We didn’t get a feel that there is a great sense of community in Las Vegas. There is not a lot to rally around as a city. It seems a rather impersonal place. The summer heat could be oppressive, but we have plans to have a smaller RV to escape to cooler climates in summers in the future. And one big thing Vegas lacks is an ocean or a gulf. We really enjoy the beach and the sea and there is not much sea in Vegas. It is probably a place that we will visit rather than live in.
Click on the following link to see our pictures from Las Vegas: https://picasaweb.google.com/116107386675555024952/LasVegas