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Eating and relaxing in Las Vegas

Our weekend trips to Las Vegas tend to be busy. We usually cram everything we possibly can into the less-than-48 hours we’ll be here. Sleep comes only out of necessity. So it’s a little weird that I’m starting a new post at 6:20 am, after getting a full night’s sleep and then some. I think we were in bed by 9 pm. That’s pretty lame.

Still, we had a fun day. We started with an enormous omelet breakfast at the Courtyard Cafe in the Orleans Hotel & Casino, which is where we’re staying. After breakfast, we took the courtesy shuttle over to the Strip. There we saw the Christmas display in the conservatory at the Bellagio. This is often the highlight of our pre-Christmas visits to Las Vegas, and this year they outdid themselves. The larger-than-life polar bear made from 12,000 white carnations was the best part for me. I also liked the model trains used as part of the display.

Polar bear made from white carnations at the Bellagio.

Polar bear made from white carnations at the Bellagio.

We had an early dinner planned so we could meet our friend Lindsey at the Ellis Island Casino & Brewery for dinner in their restaurant. Her flight arrived around 5 pm, and she had to drive to Henderson for work, so it made sense to meet us first.

Dinner was great, as usual. Kathryn and I had the sirloin steak specials. The price of the steak special has gone up sharply since we first started going there. It was $4.99 just a few years ago. Still, $7.99 for a steak dinner — which includes a 20-ounce craft-brewed beer — is tough to beat. Kathryn ordered hers rare, which I thought was a bit ballsy. When the steaks arrived, I remembered why she ordered rare. They tend to overcook. Her steak came a perfect medium rare, while my steak, ordered medium rare, was medium. I’ll try to remember that next time.

Lindsey ordered the fish and chips. I’ve had the fish and chips at Ellis Island several times — often on Fridays during Lent — and they’re quite good. She was pleased.

Kathryn and I stuck around for a while after Lindsey left. Kathryn hit her favorite Kitty Glitter slot machine, while I tried my luck at the craps table. After striking out a craps, I walked back to Kathryn, still at the machine, way ahead. She didn’t quite cover my craps losses, but it made us near even for the day. We had left Aliante Station a bit ahead the previous night, so right now we’re pretty much dead even for the trip. I’ll take even.

Today’s goal is to find a decent donut shop in Las Vegas, something we’ve never accomplished in years of coming here. We’re going to try Chinatown because — forgive me for the possibly racist stereotype — we all know that Asians make the best donuts, at least in the western half of the U.S. We’re also going to try a new church for Mass this morning. I’ll report back on how it went.

I was also going to try to get some sunrise photos, but it looks like I’m running out of time. It also looks overcast and possibly rainy outside, so I’m probably not missing much.