Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Rainy Day on Fremont Street

Here's our big tip for the day, and it's a safety tip! If you're crossing the courtyard on your way to the El Cortez after it's just rained, watch your step. Those bricks are real slick after they get some rain on them. I'm guessing rain in Vegas isn't something the planners thought they'd encounter frequently, but we got quite a bit at the end of February. Since I had to go downtown anyway and visit the post office, I was on my way to the El Cortez to cash in a coupon for a Free Gift that expired after the end of the month. Turns out I had my choice of a deck of cards or a pair of dice. This would have posed quite the dilemma if the El Cortez hadn't been kind enough to mail me two coupons, the other of which is good through the month of March, so I could go back any time for those dice. Today, even.

On a rainy day it's natural to seek cover, so I headed for the canopy overhanging the Fremont Street Experience. On my way I passed the notorious Heart Attack Grill, which makes the news every now and then when a diner suffers an actual heart attack after downing one of the Triple Bypass Burgers. None of that for me! Well...maybe I'd try that chili bacon dog one of these times. And hey, freebie hunters, look: "Over 350 Lbs. Eat Free!" And Vegas is just the kind of town where you can make that dream come true. Starting right here, I'd imagine.

Next stop: The free slot pull at Binion's. You could win $2500! You won't, but you could. In any case you'll get a sheet of coupons, one of which is good for a free Las Vegas keychain from the discount clothier in the back, past the Player's Club. While you're there you could check out the racks of t-shirts and sweatshirts in the $12-$15 range. And as long as you're at Binion's, you get one chance per day to have your picture taken with a million dollars. How often do you get your picture taken with a million bucks? If it's more often than this, you don't need my advice about making money. They say it's half an hour before you can pick up your picture (in its nice souvenir holder) at the Player's Club desk, but I figured I could still kill that much time and have an hour for the drive to my office, so I soldiered on. (By the way, the Four Queens also has a free slot pull. They also have a Tix 4 Tonight outlet where you can scope out the new issue of Vegas2Go or 24/7 for the latest coupons.) 

Next I popped into Mermaids and bellied up to the counter at Nathan's Famous, where you can still order a deep-fried Twinkie (God bless America), although I was there to order the All-American Hot Dog with onions, $1.35 tax included. By the way, Mermaids, like La Bayou across the street, has drawings every hour for cash, where you could win $50, more or less. My advice: Show up first thing in the morning, when you may well be the only one in the place. Those are pretty good odds. I checked the winner's list once and the 8:00 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. winning tickets were consecutive ticket numbers.

On to the D, where I'd earlier valet parked my car. The D used to be Fitzgerald's but has undergone a youth-conscious makeover. Gone are the shamrocks and barley; now, at night, the dealers morph into young women in skimpy black fin de si├Ęcle dance hall girl outfits, and others clad in bikinis dance on bartops to that pounding beat. Nothing wrong with that, but by day it's still more of your typical casino ambience. I was there to use another coupon that expired after February, this one for a $10 match play. I was lucky enough to find an empty blackjack table where the dealer had just shuffled, but before she could deal the first hand some doofus sidled up, pulled out $100 in chips, and proceeded to play three hands...all badly, never hitting his 13 or 14 when the dealer was showing an Ace or face card, which no doubt contributed to my losing my match play and the next couple of hands for good measure...then got up and left. Great. I stuck around for a few more hands, won my money back, broke a $5 chip when I cashed in so I could tip the dealer (and the valet guy when I left), and took my leave.

Then back to Binion's to pick up my photo. On the way I passed these guys flipping and spinning ad placards in the air. There's always free entertainment on Fremont, but you never know what you're going to get. It can't be Lady Antebellum and Miranda Lambert every time. By the way, as I was driving away. I saw Wolverine and Capt. Jack Sparrow heading for Fremont to hit up the tourists. You never know who you'll run into on Fremont Street.

As I was headed back to my car, I surveyed the Slotzilla, the world's largest slot machine, installed at the end of the street. Not a big fan, as it and the receiving station for the zipline across Fremont which is also in the works partially obscure what was once an unobstructed view of the entirety of the Fremont Street Experience, the street-long LED display which runs different light and music spectaculars throughout the night. It was something to stand at one end of the street and be able to take in the whole panorama in its entirety. Well, the best view is probably somewhere in the middle, really.

And with that I'm off, $4.35 in tips and hot dogs poorer, but richer in cards, souvenirs, food and experiences. More coupons to use in March!

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