This post has been brought to you courtesy of Kikita.
After meeting Desi, Mami and I continued on our way to Fabulous Las Vegas.
Right as we turned onto Las Vegas Blvd., Mami asked if I'd like to stop and take a picture at the classic sign. I was in a "seize the moment" kind of mood, so we did.
(It feels like good luck/karma/whatever to stop at the sign when arriving in Vegas. It's like paying homage or something . . .)
We stayed at the very cool (if boderline old school) and totally fun Ballys.
(Located on The Strip, across the street from Caesars Palace)
Ballys, like every good Vegas casino, has a "Sports Book" that Mami was anxious to get to in order to place a bet for a friend of ours. I somehow convinced her to wait until after Miriam's birthday dinner.
I was exhausted after dinner and really hoping Mami would forget about the whole Sports Book thing until morning, but no such luck. So we take the elevator down to the Casino and begin our search for what has now affectionately become known as The Boo.
(We took to calling it "The Boo" because we couldn't quite get the "K" in BOOK to show up in the picture. It was screamingly funny at the time, but I guess you just had to be there....)
After a considerable amount of walking and window shopping later, we find The Boo (=D) and it's locked up tight for the night.
Undaunted, we make a plan to try again in the morning, only to find we can't place college football bets at The Boo so we actually have to get in the car and drive all the way out to the Hilton. (Ok, we didn't HAVE to drive, we could have taken the monorail, but it seemed silly since we were planning on leaving just after placing this sports bet.)
On a mission now, we enter the Hilton and immediately find their Boo. (This cracks us up every time! Okay, you really did have to be there...) Since we had NO IDEA what we were doing, Mami asked me to turn-on my "bimbo" charm.
"Hi, I'm Kikita, the Cuban Valley Girl. " (No, I didn't actually say that, but I may as well have since that's what I sounded like.)
A couple of hair flips later, the bet was placed. Our mission had finally been accomplished.
The person we placed the bet for, who will from this moment on be known as Shady Character #5 (only because he happened to play that part in his high school production of Guys and Dolls, but that's not important right now) slipped us an extra Five-er for our trouble.
I turned to Mami and said, "Let's bet it all on black!"
To my great disappointment, the Hilton has a minimum bet of $10. So we decided to just get on the road and stop at the State Line. (There are a few casinos there and the town actually has a name: Primm. Who knew?)
As we were making our way to the freeway, I couldn't help the nagging feeling of wanting to "Bet it all on black" IN Las Vegas. It felt like waiting to get to the State Line was a cop-out. I was saying as much to Mami when I noticed that an old-school Vegas landmark was just ahead.
"Mija, do you want to just pop into the Tropicana and do it?"
Are you kidding me?? OF COURSE I DID.
I had ALWAYS wanted to go to the Tropicana. (How I'd been to Vegas so many times and NOT been there is beyond me!)
So, I pull into the valet area of the Tropicana (because Mami doesn't believe in self-parking when the option for valet is there) and told the valet, "We'll be back in 10 minutes, we just need to place a quick bet."
Feeling the magic of old-school Vegas come to life, I confidently walked into the casino, walked right up to the first roulette table I saw and bet it all on black, effectively parlaying our little 5-spot into big bucks. The next thing I knew, Celia Cruz was being pumped through the casino speakers.
I took it as a sign that I had been blessed and that it was time to go.
The valet as dumb-founded.
Call me superstitious, but I think that since we did right by old-school Vegas (by staying at Ballys, visiting The Sign when we first arrived, and choosing Tropicana over State Line), Vegas did right by us.
Oh, and the Tropicana is my new favorite casino. =D