Thursday, June 15, 2006

Adding to the Collection

It's been such a long week that I've forgotton to make an update on last weekend's activities. My sister Cyndi and her husband David were here in Vegas for the weekend, and we had a great time together, although I had to work every night--so our buffoonery was limited to daylight hours only.

I got two great meals out of the visit (David and I had lunch at Grand Lux on Friday before Cyndi arrived--Asian Nachos!), and one pretty average one . But the best thing was that since Cyndi flew in from that duty-free slice of paradise, St. Croix, she didn't arrive empty-handed. Sensing that my rum stocks might be low (they aren't), she brought me a couple of bottles of the Good Stuff.

First of all, there was a bottle of Mt. Gay Vanilla. Now, everybody knows how much I love vanilla rum, but Mt. Gay is also my favorite brand of rum. So mix the two and I'm pretty much in heaven, liquid refreshment-wise. I can't wait to crack that one open next week. The second bottle I find intriguing--it's a bottle of Cruzan Estate Dark Rum, aged two years in an oak barrel. It looks more like bourbon or scotch than rum, and I'm looking forward to finding out how rich it tastes. My previous experience with Cruzan is that it's generally a lower-quality flavor-infused rum (their coconut rum is absolutely disgusting), but this bottle looks like the real deal. It has on-the-rocks-with-a-cigar written all over it.

As for the rest of the weekend, we had a great time, although it wasn't quite the adventure that last summer's visit was. We spent Saturday morning out by the pool at the Luxor, and I got got burnt to a crisp after about four hours in the sun. (Don't believe 'em when they tell you that the sunscreen is 'waterproof'). I still love that Luxor pool, but it was pretty shiatty for awhile--there was an 'Arena Bowl' party going on out there with some wannabe dj's set up cranking hiphop at about 400 decibels for the first couple of hours. First of all, I've seen the crowds at Arena Football games. Hip Hop, they are not... And second of all, nobody wants to go out to the pool and relax while the sun bakes the toxins out of their body at 10 am and listen to that shiat. It was so loud that you couldn't escape it. It finally ended after about two hours, but man, did it ever suck.

Once we left the pool, it was off to have lunch. We decided on Mexican, so I drove them over to Viva Michoacan on Sunset. Like Joe Walsh said, ain't never been there, they tell it's nice... But it was very good. I had some excellent fish tacos, my only complaint being that they were served with lemons instead of lime wedges. We also had some excellent bubbling queso fundido (served on a hot cast-iron skillet, fajita style) as an appetizer. Don't remember what Cyndi and David had to eat, some sort of combo I think, but the fact that the bar offered Pacifico (my personal fave Mexican beer) was enough for me to be happy. Sunburn, Mexican beer, fish tacos--just like being back in Cozumel...

Too crispy from the sun, we spend Sunday indoors. After I picked them up, it was off to Red Rock Station to give them a glimpse of what casinos are supposed to look like. Yep, they were very impressed. Not only did I run into about six of my former co-workers who were dealing that day, I won $126 at the Pai Gow table. (It would've been $226, but I let David talk me into playing four hands of blackjack. Dealer got 21 all four times).

The casino is beautiful--if you haven't gotten a chance to visit, it's well worth the drive up there to BFE. My personal favorite is the sports book--it's the nicest in Vegas as far as I'm concerned.

Anyhow, after our gambling was done, we had lunch at the Salt Lick BBQ. Unfortunately, that was the low-light of our visit to Red Rock. The service was excellent, but the food was just plain ... average. The brisket, usually my favorite thing to order at a 'cue joint, was dry. And David was born and raised in Texas, so bad brisket is like blasphemy to his refined palate. The pork ribs seemed to hold promise at the first bite--very smokey. Unfortunately, they weren't as tender as I'd hoped and we all agreed that they were almost too smokey. I commented that the ribs reminded me of what my sleeping bag would taste like after a week-long camping trip. The hot links were actually the pretty good--something that I never would've ordered, but they came with the combo--and we enjoyed them. Cyndi had a pulled-pork sandie, and it was probably the best thing on the table. The worst thing, however, were the sides. Bland is the only word I can use to describe them--the beans, the potato salad, and--dare I say it--the coleslaw were all reminiscent of the finest cafeteria food found at a typical nursing home. 'Flavor' somehow missed being included on the list of ingredients.

Overall, we were quite disappointed with the Salt Lick. My only advice is, if you're gonna eat there, make sure you get a comp...

Crummy meal aside, we really enjoyed our visit to Red Rock, and David left saying that on their next visit to Vegas, that's where they'd be staying.

Sadly, I didn't get to spend as much time with them as I'd hoped, but they needed a bit of time together and get away from the vortex of activity that always surrounds them--with their constant travelling, I don't think they'd had any 'alone time' together in almost a month, so I'm sure they enjoyed their weekend relaxing in Vegas without a houseful of people to entertain, like most weekends. (As my classy sister Cyndi said, she needed a conjugal visit...) But we had a great time together, and as always, a lot of laughs. I love it when they come to visit.

Now it's back to reality.

It's too bad that I have to work tonight. Otherwise I'd crack open one of those new bottles of rum, light up a cigar, and spend an hour or two reflecting on just how damn good life can be.


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