Sunday, January 29, 2017

Paris ~ Las Vegas!

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     Paris ~ Las Vegas!
     The Paris Casino Resort has been a Las Vegas landmark since 1999.  The entire theme of this luxury resort is composed of everything that one would expect to see when touring the "City Of Love" in France.  The classic French theme lends to the reputation of the Paris Casino Resort as being the most romantic destination on the Las Vegas Strip!
     Many famous sites of Paris, France, are integrated into the design of the Paris Las Vegas resort.  A half scale replica of the original Eiffel Tower is an unmistakable landmark that can be seen for miles around.  The original plan for the Las Vegas Eiffel Tower was designed to be a full scale replica, but it would have been so tall that it would have interfered with air traffic.  As it is, the Eiffel Tower replica is just over 500 feet tall and the views of Las Vegas from the top are astounding.  
     The Eiffel Tower Restaurant is located a few stories above ground level and the window seats in this restaurant offer unobstructed views of the Bellagio Fountain Show.  The Eiffel Tower Restaurant is operated by a chef that has won the best French chef in America award and the classic French cuisine is magnifique!  A friend and I reserved a table overlooking the Bellagio Fountains a few years ago and the dining experience was one that will be remembered for a lifetime.  French Champagne and Bleu Cheese Soufflé for an appetizer was followed by a classically prepared Rack of Lamb and Steak Poivrade with a vintage bottle of Bordeaux Wine.  For dessert, we chose Passion Fruit Meringue and Assorted Chocolate with fine Armagnac and Cognac aperitifs.  The French Maitre D' performed superb table side service and offered expert sommelier service.  French food, classic French service and a table in the Eiffel Tower Restaurant overlooking one of the most famous water fountain shows in the world certainly was as romantic and indulgent as a Las Vegas Christmas celebration could be!  
    Strolling around the Paris Resort property is a romantic walk by design.  Couples looking at the splendid sites naturally stop what they are doing as if they were just struck by Cupid's arrow.  Views of the Arc de Triomphe and the Montgolfier Balloon are awe inspiring.  The ground view of the front of this resort is designed like the Louvre and Paris Opera House.  The lit Eiffel Tower at night makes its presence known.  In this place, romance definitely fills the air!
     The Paris Casino Floor is tastefully designed with French cabaret flair.  The Paris Casino offers plenty of action and excitement in a casual upscale atmosphere.  There are several bars that offer relaxation and opportunities for interesting conversation.  A separate area for high rollers offers world class elegance and guest services to match.  
     As one exits the casino floor, one pathway leads down a vast convention hall that is lit with some of the most magnificent chandeliers in the world.  Gold leaf paint adorns this area and this is the place where dressing formal adds to one's own status.  
     Another pathway from the casino floor leads to the performing arts theaters, French restaurants and patisserie shops.  All along the Promenade corridor are shops of every kind and the architecture is designed to look like being at street level in Paris, France, at the turn of the nineteenth century.  Charming is the best way to describe this old fashioned French Promenade shopping corridor, which leads to the Bally's Casino Resort property next door.  
     One of the best buffets on the Las Vegas Strip is located in the Paris Resort Promenade.  The design of the Le Village Buffet is one of a kind.  The architecture is a French style antique gas lamp era village theme.  The food is served in street level shops and the seating mimics outdoor tables at a French café.  There are also private dining rooms and large table seating inside the homes in this French village.  All one has to do is visit the farmer's produce cart for salade, stop by the fromage shop for cheese and pâté, pay a visit to the charcuterie or poissonnier for some meats or seafood, then top the dining venture off with at least one visit to the patisserie shop for dessert!  Le Village Buffet is a unique stylish social dining event that must be experienced to be believed and the food is superb! 
     Of course the Paris Casino Resort offers all world class amenities and every room offers a great view of Las Vegas.  A new addition to the resort houses the Chateau Nightclub and the Sugar Factory.  If sophisticated sweet indulgence is all that is desired, then the Sugar Factory is the place to go!  The Sugar Factory specializes in fine classic desserts presented with modern flair.  Everything from gourmet cupcakes and scrumptious sundries to fine chocolates and lollypop desserts that are designed by Hollywood stars are served in the bliss filled Sugar Factory!
     As anybody can see, all that I have experienced at the Paris Casino Resort is indulgent romantic dining ventures and casual gambling for entertainment value.  Everybody knows that there is much more to life than this ... or is there?  The Paris Casino Resort offers much more, but unfortunately I just cannot seem to get past the indulgent lures when visiting this world class resort.  The romantic classic French theme certainly commands enough respect to recommend this resort as a top destination when visiting Las Vegas.  Paris is the "City Of Love" on the Las Vegas Strip!                       

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Erotic Heritage Museum, Las Vegas!

     Just Another Field Trip To A Museum!  
     Classic mainstream museums focus on cultural history, the arts and natural history.  Mainstream museums tend to attract people that expect to gain worldly knowledge in a tasteful environment.  Mainstream museums are educational and they are designed to appeal to people of all ages.  Some people can spend everyday in a big museum and never get bored, while others get tired of seeing the same old exhibits, so they go outside to feed the pigeons.   
     Fortunately there are many privately funded small museums in the west and some are quite interesting.  The lesser known small museums in the west tend to focus upon specialized topic matter and oddities.  The lesser known small museums attract people that have specialized interests and tourists that simply want to have a fun good time.   
     Small museums in the west tend to focus on a specialized theme.  For example, the Superstition Mountain Museum focuses on the follies of gold fever associated with this legendary place.  The Code Talkers Museum in the Navaho Nation appeals to those who want to learn an important part of military history.  Ghost town museums provide insightful information that the history books overlook.  Railroad museums throughout the west even have old steam engines that run daily.  Dinosaurs have been popular topic matter in recent years and there are several small dinosaur museums off the beaten path in Utah.  The Idaho Potato Museum needs no explanation and it is one of the biggest draws in that state.  
     There is a fine line between a small museum and a tourist trap.  Anybody that has traveled on old U.S. Highway 66 or driven through Roswell, New Mexico, knows exactly what is meant by this statement.  There are billboard signs for extraterrestrial exhibits, the serpent lady mummy and just about any kind of strange thing that can be imagined along the roads less traveled.  Some are legit and some are a disappointment, yet visiting these places becomes part of the travel venture, just for the sake of saying that you have been there.  Watching a television travel show that features a freaky little museum out in the middle of nowhere that you once visited creates an opportunity for bragging rights back home!    
     The Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas actually is a legitimate museum and it has become a famous tourist destination.  People from all around the world give this little museum a visit and the experience certainly leads to an opportunity to exude bragging rights with friends back in the home town.       
     Erotic heritage is a topic that mainstream museums tend to not cover, even though human sexuality has always played an important part in history.  This is not a museum that one will find in a bible belt city, but this kind of specialized museum is exactly what one would expect to see in good old Sin City, Las Vegas.  The Erotic Heritage Museum could not have picked a better city for a location.
     The Erotic Heritage Museum is not a smut parlor that is frequented by dirty old men wearing yellow raincoats!  This museum exhibits erotic heritage topic matter with class!  It is an adult oriented museum that is well respected.  Artwork, paintings, memorabilia, graphics, antique signs and posters from the past, present and future of erotica are on display.  Basically every erotic aspect of humanity is represented at this museum.  
     The Erotic Heritage Museum has a loyal following, because the organizers are active in the local community.  The museum organization is active with abuse counseling and victim advocate counseling for the gay, lesbian and straight communities.  The museum offers professional counselor training in these fields for interested volunteers.  Film festivals, speaking events and instructional events are also organized by the Erotic Heritage Museum directors.         
     The Erotic Heritage Museum initially was a business failure when it opened about a decade ago, but after reorganizing this unique museum looks like it here to stay.  The Erotic Heritage Museum is located at 3275 Industrial Road at the intersection of Fashion Show Drive.  This museum is located just behind the Fashion Show Mall and it is next to the Deja Vu Gentleman's Club building.  Currently, visits to this museum are by reservation only.  The information for booking a visit can be found at the Erotic Heritage Museum website.  
     The Erotic Heritage Museum is definitely a great place to visit while in Las Vegas.  It is one of the only places in the world, where erotic heritage is treated like fine art!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah!

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     Bonneville Salt Flats!
     When traveling west on Interstate Highway 80 from Salt Lake City, the road skirts by the southern edge of the Great Salt Lake.  The views of the Great Salt Lake are mesmerizing and it is easy to be consumed with thoughts of where all the salt water came from.  Passing over the mountains at the west end of the Great Salt Lake offers panoramic views of the Great Salt Lake to the east.  Looking west, the rolling green hills end where the seemingly endless salt flats begin.  This entire region in Northwestern Utah is laden with salt lake beds from dried up ancient oceans.  The barren landscape is like nowhere else on earth!
     The Bonneville Salt Flats is the largest of the dried up ancient lakes west of the Great Salt Lake.  The ancient body of water that created this vast salt bed was called Lake Bonneville and it can be difficult to imagine just how big this lake must have been long ago.  Basically, the mountains that dot the flat landscape in this region would have looked like islands and the lake was large enough to have tidal shifts.
     In modern times, the Bonneville Salt Flats is a Bureau Of Land Management Multi Use Area.  Salt mining takes place all over this region and this is the source of nearly all commercial salt produced in America.  The salt beds are so deep and vast, that even after nearly a century of salt mining, the level of salt in this region has only dropped by a minute fraction of a percentage point.
     The BLM Multi Use Designation protects environmentally sensitive areas in the Bonneville Salt Flats where unique ecosystems exist.  Life actually does exist in the salt flats.  The adaptation of the plants and animals is a study in itself that makes for an interesting read.  One of the best places to view the salt flat environment while driving along I-80 is at the BLM Bonneville Salt Flats Rest Area.  This stopping point offers facilities and picnic areas.  The concrete barriers offer shade and relief from the high winds during the winter storm season.  
     The Bonneville Salt Flats multi use designation also includes recreational use.  Access to the recreational areas is free of charge.  People are welcome to drive around on this section of salt flats at will.  The access road to the Bonneville Salt Flats Recreation Area is fairly easy to spot from the highway as one approaches the Nevada Border near Wendover, Utah.  This is where the Bonneville Raceway is located too.  Just keep an eye out for the Salt Flats Café and gas station complex and you are there!  
     As can be seen in the photos above, the Bonneville Salt Flats looks like a lake during the winter season.  The snow from winter storms melts, no matter how cold the temperatures are.  This is one of the best times of year to view the Bonneville Salt Flats, because this area returns to its natural state.  Driving a car on the Bonneville Salt Flats during the wet winter season is nearly impossible, because the wet salt is like deep slush.  As one can imagine, any vehicle that drives through the salt slush will quickly turn into a rust bucket, so it is best to stay on the dry pavement.
     When the Bonneville Salt Flats are wet during the winter season, the landscape looks surreal.  In fact this place does not really look like it belongs on planet earth at all.  During this time of year, the Bonneville Salt Flats is a photographers paradise, because it is easy to capture reflections of the mountains in the calm flat salt water in the foreground.        
     The Bonneville Salt Flats Recreation Area is world famous for land speed records at standing mile straightaway racetrack.  Land speed record attempts started at Bonneville way back in 1938 when going over 100 miles per hour was nearly the impossible dream.  Race vehicles have come a long way since then and a recent Bonneville land speed record set in 2012 was over 700 miles per hour!  The racing takes place during the World Of Speed event in the heat of summer when the Bonneville Salt Flats are dry as a bone.  This year's racing event went off without a hitch and a few new world speed records were set in a variety of vehicle classes.
     The World Of Speed is the main event at Bonneville each year, yet there is no guarantee that the event will take place, especially if foul weather enters the picture.  Racing was canceled a few times in recent decades.  When it rains in the desert, it pours cats and dogs.  A torrential rain storm can quickly turn the dry salt flats into a bowl of salt slush.  Rain can turn a costly schedule for a land speed record attempt into a bankruptcy situation, because funding for the specialized high speed vehicles depends on media exposure for the sponsors.
     The casino resort town of West Wendover, Nevada is only a few minutes away from the Bonneville Salt Flats Recreation Area.  This city offers all amenities and it is a fun place to stay when visiting the vast salt flats area.  West Wendover caters to the World Of Speed race event and this is the place to meet and greet the drivers of the fastest vehicles on earth!
     The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah definitely belong on the lifetime bucket list of travel destinations.  This unique ancient salt bed environment is surreal and peaceful during the winter, yet it can be as harsh as hell during the long hot summer.  This is also a great place to legally see just how fast your own personal car will go.  If you own a Dodge Scat Pack muscle car like I do, then will see why Bonneville was at the top of my own bucket list!  There literally is no other place like this on earth!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

West Wendover, Nevada!

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     West Wendover is located on Interstate Highway 80 just across the border of Utah.  The town of Wendover is within the Utah boundaries, while West Wendover is in Nevada.  Most of the locals just refer to either of these metropolitan areas as Wendover, no matter which side of the state line they are standing on.
     Wendover is a convenient stopover between Salt Lake City and Reno.  This city is next to the Bonneville Salt Flats, so it attracts many fans that attend the World Of Speed event that takes place during the summer months.  Bonneville Salt Flats is where all land speed records are set on a mile long straightaway.  When the racing takes place at the Bonneville Salt Flats next door, Wendover is the place to meet the drivers and crews that make the World Of Speed event happen. 
     I first visited Wendover while working at a ski lodge in Salt Lake City.  Salt Lake City is a nice place to be, but the night life options are limited and gambling of any kind is taboo.  After asking some co-workers about places to go in the area, they suggested that I check out Wendover, because they knew that I was from Las Vegas.  Wendover is the closest destination to Salt Lake City that has full scale casino resort operations.
     It is kind of funny, but on an average Friday night, the westbound traffice on Interstate 80 looks like a mass evacuation from Salt Lake City!  Thousands of cars loaded with thrill seekers head to Wendover for the weekend and there are practically no cars traveling in the opposite direction.  Wendover, Nevada, certainly has carved a place in modern Salt Lake City culture.
     My first impression of Wendover was like a a sigh of relief!  It was like stepping back in time to the golden age of Las Vegas.  The prices were much lower than modern Vegas, the parking was free and the dining options were straight out of the good old days.  Wendover offers an old fashioned level of comfort that has been cast aside by the modern corporate casino resorts in Las Vegas.
     After returning the next day to the ski resort job in Salt Lake City, I mentioned that I drove to Wendover and had a good time.  One of the co-workers referred to this destination as "Bendover" because of the reputation that the casinos have for fleecing local gamblers.  I just had to laugh, because I won more than enough money in Wendover to cover the cost of the entire trip!  In fact, during the next few trips to Wendover while working in Salt Lake City, I never came back a loser.  All I can say is that the slot machines and poker machines in Wendover seem to have a more customer friendly payout schedule, when compared to Las Vegas.
     The casino resorts in Wendover are all lined up on one section of road that can be likened to the Las Vegas Strip back in good old days.  There is plenty of room to breathe and the pace is unhurried.  The casino resorts offer all amenities and the entertainment venue caters to the taste of the locals.  Top forty hits of the past and country western music play in the background.  There was no gangster hip-hop or electro club music nightclub scene, which is okay in this conservative part of west.  Wendover also hosts a major concert hall that books top performers each week.   
     Honestly, gambling was not the primary reason that I visited Wendover.  I personally like casually dining at a good buffet and there are no good buffet dining options in Salt Lake City.  The buffet food offerings at the Wendover casinos was like stepping back in time, when Las Vegas was a bit more customer friendly.  The prices were reasonable and old fashioned buffet favorites like prime rib and crab legs were on the menu even during lunch hours.  There are plenty of fine dining options in Wendover and classic western steakhouse restaurants too.  
     Most of my dining ventures were at the Peppermill Casino and the Montego Bay Resort.  The company that operates these two casinos has a Peppermill Restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip that is famous for great food and a lavish atmosphere.  Lavish luxurious relaxed comfort is a good way to describe the Peppermill Casino Resort experience in Wendover.  The Peppermill Casino is the place to dawn some fine threads and be treated like a VIP.  
     The Red Garter Casino, Wendover Nugget and the Rainbow Casino offer a little bit more casual atmosphere.  The restaurants in these three casinos also offer great food and good dining value.  I really had a good time chatting with the locals while playing blackjack at the Rainbow and they filled me in on upcoming local events.  
     West Wendover has come a long way since gaming was introduced in the 1930's.  West Wendover was basically an old rancher and mining community till the State Line Casino was built.  The State Line Casino is long gone, but the big towering Wendover Will neon sign from this casino remains as a landmark attraction.  When visiting West Wendover, one must simply stop and take a picture of the gigantic neon cowboy that lights up the sky!  
     West Wendover is not just a gambling destination that lies just across the border of Utah.  This city is now a great resort destination in its own right.  As far as a weekend escape from Salt Lake City is concerned, the big Wendover Will neon sign is a welcome sight to see!