Thursday, April 25, 2013


the view from The Plaza: The Las Vegas Club
 The Opposite Corner is The Golden Gate Hotel and Casino

Straight down the Middle is Fremont Street (gorgeous at night)

Remember my "E" post (yes, I know that was a lot of letters back) on euchre?  My parents were avid card players.  My dad really liked to play poker.  That was not a game that he taught to me, but that feeling that he had about Las Vegas must have been something that I picked  up on, because I vividly can recall saying as a teenager that "Dad and I are going to Vegas when I grow up."  Did my dad talk a lot about Vegas?  Not that I remember.  However, there must have been a feeling in the air about it.  I knew that he wanted to go.  And even though I had never gambled in my life, I wanted to go, too.

After I graduated college and started working, my dad acted on his own desire.  He started  to go on local casino trips.  He then started a Casino Tour Group with his brother and another partner.  He enjoyed that for many years.  He even went to Vegas several times (without me).  However, it didn't really fill that Vegas need that he had.  So, he moved there.  Yep.  He left Ohio and moved to Vegas.  Even I was shocked.  I was living in Georgia, or maybe Florida, by this time.  (It's so hard to keep up....)

Eventually, my mom and I did go to Vegas while my dad was still living out there, so I did get to spend time with my dad in Vegas.  In a strange way that edict that I made as a teenager was fulfilled.  More specifically, I actually went to Vegas with both of my parents, despite the fact that  they were divorced.  It wasn't the trip with my dad that I had planned in my head, but it sure was fun.  And they got along much better divorced than they ever did married, so we all had a great time.

Both of my parents have always been conservative gamblers and so am I.  I love it like crazy, but my dad taught me to never take more than you can afford to lose.  Ironically, our family is pretty lucky overall, and since we play it so cool, we tend to come out even or ahead in these matters.  However, gambling was something that my brother *used to say* that he would never do.  In fact, I can clearly recall him saying that gambling is the same thing as flushing your money down the toilet.  Mom and I just looked at each other.  (How was this possible?  Dad loved to gamble.  She loves to gamble.  I love to gamble.  Aaaahhh.  Lightbulb moment: he just hadn't tried it yet.)  Needless to say, once he visited my dad in Vegas, it was all over but the taking it back.  My brother now loves the Casino.  And Vegas.  So much so that he bought a Timeshare there.  That was something else that he would Never.Ever.Do, because it was throwing your money away.  

The takeaway: never say never.   The other takeaway: don't take your debit card to Vegas.  Only lose what you are prepared to lose.  And if you win or break even, you are one lucky duck.  

 On a more personal note, you simply don't know how much time you will get with people.  If I hadn't made that trip out to Vegas with mom when I did, I never would have gotten to fulfill my "Vegas trip with dad desire."  It wasn't long after this trip that he decided to move back to Ohio.  Shortly after that move he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer, and passed away.  Life is short.  Take advantage of the opportunities when they come.  Seize the day.  Viva Las Vegas!

Rating: Passion, with some Life Lessons thrown in...

Have you ever been to Las Vegas?  Any other Casinos?  Did you love it or hate it? Have you ever been thankful that you seized an opportunity when you did or filled with regret that you missed one?


  1. I'm sorry. Glad you and your father got to enjoy Vegas though.
    If you just take what you can lose and go have fun, it's a cheap form of entertainment. And at the right places you also get free drinks.

  2. My parents lived in Carson City for many years, and my brother and I spent a lot of time in the casinos there and up in Tahoe. Lots of late nights, watered down drinks, and great memories.

    I made my first trip to Vegas a few years ago, and it was a blast. Looking forward to going with my daughters one day. Not for the gambling of course, but the hotels are great and the girls will love the shows.

  3. Viva Las Vegas, indeed. Glad you got to spend that time with your dad before he passed.

    I'm not a big gambler, but my wife and (especially) her family are all gamblers so I hear a lot about it.

    It can be fun, if you don't get carried away :)

  4. When I go to Vegas, I spend more time in the used record stores than the casinos.

    Not a huge gambler...

    But I am glad you got to spend that time with both parents. My father passed last year, and a year or so before he did, me and my three brothers went out with him for a "guys night out"....probably the first time we'd done anything like that ever.

    You really never know (even when you're young) how much time you have, but as you get older it becomes pretty I am with you....if you want to do it-what are you waiting for?


  5. I love Las Vegas but my husband hates it. I'm taking my daughter in October when she turns 21.

  6. robin
    Aren't you happy that you have those pictures of you and your parents. I think it takes one good win to get people hooked on gambling. My father was a gambler. He taught me how to gamble when I was really young. He'd school me on poker and how to lead the other players astray by varying my small idiosyncrasies, facial expression,etc. At that time women didn't go into the local pool hall and the poker was in the back. One day he said I was ready to gamble with the "big boys" and he sneaked me in the back door of the pool hall. I held my own, as I recall. I've never told anyone that and now I'm telling the whole world.
    My father gambled on other things besides cards... chess, checkers, horses, you name it. I went on to black jack and loved to go to Vegas when I was married. We went often. Then I discovered I could make the most money playing the expensive slots in a big casino. For 3 years I supported the family by gambling. At one time I knew every gambler in Minneapolis. They aren't low-life sleaze balls as one might think. They are honest, always in good spirits, ready for the next big win. They seldom drink.

    Now I live in a state where gambling is legal and I rarely ever gamble. The jack pots are too small and then the adrenalin rush is gone and I don't have the time. My son-in-law has/had 2 casinos here but he died last year and now my grandson owns them. I still never go in. But I think gamblers get as addicted to the sound of a casino, that constant jingle and music of the slots. I still love that sound.

    You would never know my brother and I were raised in the same family. When our Mom died we went back to SD and went into the casino at the hotel. My brother is by no means a pauper but this is funny. He put ten bucks in a machine and kept losing, losing and I could see him actually sweating. Then he began winning again and went back to the ten bucks again, bang, he hit the "pay" button so fast and got his money back. It was hilarious. He never never liked to gamble.
    Sorry to write an epistle but that is another big part of my life.

  7. Alex ~ It is great entertainment. It makes for an excellent vacation.

    Tim ~ Thanks for sharing your memories. It is so much fun. Have fun with your girls!!!

    Mark ~ So long as you aren't playing around with money you need to pay your bills, I say have at it. If it is a vacation, have a ball!!!

    Larry ~ You are so right. You can wait so long that you have missed your chance. Just Do It.

    Tracy ~ You and your daughter have a great time.

    Manzanita ~ You always have the BEST stories. Your life has been so full of adventure. There is something about the sounds and feel of a Casino. I just LOVE it. I do think people who love Casinos love that sound as much as anything. After having been to Vegas, mom and I went to the Hard Rock in Tampa, FL. When we walked in the door, I looked at her and said, "Mom, I'm home." We both cracked up laughing. However, you nailed it. Your dad must have been a firecracker. And you, my dear, must be quite the lucky one. Supporting your family for 3 years gambling. I am officially in AWE.

  8. I'm so glad you got to spend time with your parents in Vegas, especially with your dad. I haven't been to Vegas, but I have been to Lake Tahoe - so beautiful. And the casinos sound the same everywhere. I like gambling OK, but husband enjoys it more. I'm happy to leave the minute I have more money than I came in with, even if it's only a dollar.

  9. Robin: I am a gambler at heart. I used to go to Vegas every year to play poker and blackjack. I had a blast. I have not been there in quite a few years, however, and there are many new hotels and casinos. Maybe this summer! That was a great memory with your folks.

  10. Vegas is on my bucket list. My husband and I occasionally visit the local casino but mostly we don't like taking a chance with our money.

  11. Carol ~ I think everyone enjoys the winning. I love the thrill, too;)

    JJ ~ Me, too. Mom and I talk about going back all the time. I hope it's soon!!!

    Susan ~ If you make it a vacation and the gambling money is entertainment, don't worry about losing it. Just go and have fun. It may be something you only do once. Live it up!!! Seize the day:)

  12. Hi Robin,

    Your tales of Las Vegas and the times you shared with your parents there. Heartening to know that your parents, despite divorce, were getting along so well. A poignant time in the memory you have of your father.

    I've never been to Las Vegas, but I went to Reno, Carson City and Sparks, many years ago. I had a wonderful time. Even spent some glorious moments at Lake Tahoe. I recall they had a game called "Keno". I wonder if it's still played. Gambling isn't really my thing, but I did feel the buzz when I was in Nevada.

    I seized the opportunity to do something very scary and move to England from Canada. At times, there were regrets. Over all, I'm proud of what I've done.

    All the best and enjoy your weekend, Robin.

    Gary :)

  13. We went to Vegas last October for our 20th anniversary. It was wonderful. Your dad story is sad. Mine is similar. (((hugs)))

  14. So sorry for your loss, and glad you can look back on happy memories!

    My husband and I have visited Reno several times, anniversary visits, and always had a great time. He's a conservative gambler, never losses more than he can afford and most times makes out. We studied black jack before the last trip and did well, that was fun, but I'm a nervous gambler, I hate losing money. It's sinful or at least feels that way. I'm not good at it that's for sure. Have never been to Vegas but do hope to get back to Reno, soon. They have opened gambling here in PA, but have not been, it's a special thing, not a daily thing.

  15. Gary ~ My parents got along BETTER after they divorced. hahaha. Yes, keno is still alive and well, and many people are still enamored. You should be proud of making a move like that. It is very brave to move from one country to another.

    M.J. ~ Vegas is fun anytime. I imagine that would be a fabulous 20th Anniversary Trip:) Yes, it makes me very sad to think about my dad and his passing. It still grieves my heart. Hugs back at you. I'm not sure we ever quite get past it.

    Yolanda ~ Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad to have the happy memories. I have never been to Reno, but it sounds like a fun trip. So long as you aren't spending more than you can afford, I say no harm, no foul. If you consider it "entertainment expense" than I wouldn't feel guilty. Just as I wouldn't feel guilty spending the money on a show or a nice meal when I am on vacation. You brought the money on vacation to have a Good Time. As long as you're having a good time, then you are achieving the goal!

  16. I loved Las Vegas when I visited a few years ago. So much fun!! I love it!!

    my blog:

  17. What a lovely post. I can really feel that Vegas and the memories that you have of it truly mean something to you. I love these posts where you get more personal about things that maybe would never come up if not for the A to Z.
    Did you know that Vegas is just 4 short hours away from Palm Springs?!

    1. Aha. Perhaps the next time mom and I go to Vegas you and the hubs can go to Palm Springs so that we can meet up? Sound good? You can jet over to Vegas or something...

  18. ROBIN ~

    I just left a comment on Arlee Bird's blog about favorite 'Youth/Coming Of Age' movies, where I saw your earlier comment and decided to pay a visit here. (Have you seen the movie 'Birdy'?)

    Vegas, eh? Where do I begin? I have been there more times than I could possibly count. My Pa was a gambling man. (Have you ever heard the Warren Zevon song 'Mama Couldn't Be Persuaded'? It always makes me think of my Pa and Ma.)

    My parents were married in Las Vegas, and according to my Ma, I was conceived there on the wedding night. (How did she know? I don't know, but I totally believe her - I somehow know it's true.) I used to drive/fly to Vegas 3 or 4 times a year (even though I'm not much of a gambler - kinda like you, actually).

    As I said above, my Pa was a gambling man - he loved Blackjack, Craps - and above all - Horse Racing. In 1988, he entered a Blackjack tournament at a casino in Downtown Vegas, and although he did not win, he did REALLY WELL and I was quite proud of him. He taught me about the horses - I can't see a copy of The Racing Form without thinking about my Pa, whom I dearly, dearly loved. He went back to God in 1996, and I still miss him so much.

    Someone mentioned RENO - I first visited Reno in probably 1973, on a family vacation, and to this day I dream of eventually living somewhere in that area. (I believe I lived thereabouts in a previous incarnation.)

    LAS VEGAS - "the city of my conception" - and HORSE RACING - "The Sport Of Kings" - I have blogged about them a number of times. Off the top of my mind, I can think of two blog bits I've posted about Vegas - one was a travelogue piece (my few readers seem to especially enjoy my travelogue pieces, and this one mentioned how, like, 30 years later, I'm still ticked that the Golden Gate Casino has my money) and one scared the crap out of my friends (they thought it was a suicide note).

    I think one of my most humorous blog bits was the "travelogue" piece about a trip I took to Reno with my brother, Nappy.

    And very recently, on my still-breathing blog, I made mention of an old aborted blog bit about my Pa and his Horse Racing addiction and my disappointment in learning that Super-Horse 'Big Brown' was on steroids.

    Anyway... thanks for the trip down... uh... "something" Lane.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    POSTSCRIPT: In this blog bit you mentioned 'The Plaza' hotel and casino in Downtown Vegas. Were you aware that 'The Plaza' played the part of 'Biff's Hotel And Casino' in the 'Back To The Future' series? Also... if you've never seen the movie 'One From The Heart', put it on your NetFlix queue and bump it up to the top. Just trust me and... do it.

    1. Stephen ~ Sounds like you have many fond associations of Vegas. Whenever I think of Vegas, I still think of my dad, too. So we have that one in common.

      I actually read your piece on the horse racing and Big Brown being on steroids. You were very disappointed that he was a cheater. I didn't know how to comment on that one, so I just didn't. Sometimes when you don't have the comforting word, it is better to say nothing. Now I understand even more how catastrophic that insult was to you, and how wrong any comment I would have given would have been. Given the additional information you provided in this comment, I can tell that it was very personal to you. So, I am really glad I held my tongue.

      I chuckled when you said you were still ticked that the Golden Gate Casino has your money. I hope that this doesn't offend you, but that is their business. Hahahaha. And it has been thirty years. You are so funny.

      Thank you for that tip about The Plaza in BTF. I saw that movie before we stayed at The Plaza. (That is the hotel where we stayed, btw.) So, I didn't connect those dots. Now, I have to watch that movie AGAIN, just so I can see it for myself. And I have not seen ONE FROM THE HEART, but I do trust you, so I will add to my movie watch list.

  19. ROBIN ~

    ...Thank you for that tip about The Plaza in BTF. I saw that movie before we stayed at The Plaza. (That is the hotel where we stayed, btw.)

    Yeah, I had already figured that... and that's why I mentioned 'Back To The Future'.

    The movie 'One From The Heart' was filmed ENTIRELY on Hollywood sound stages; not one scene was actually shot in Vegas. It's an amazing visual feast (and the Tom Waits soundtrack is one of the best of all time), but the idea of shooting every scene in Hollywood (rather than Vegas) for total visual control, bankrupted Francis Ford Coppola. Believe it or not, even the interior AND EXTERIOR airport scenes were filmed INDOORS on Hollywood stages!

    Overall, the movie is way better than the critics said it was - the plot is very thin and the characters are simple, but the movie is still something to see (and hear)!

    In my 3-part Vegas-themed travelogue blog bit at 'STUFFS', I wrote the following about 'The Golden Gate' casino:

    Aww, yeah, the Golden Gate Casino. I’ve spent $300 dollars at the Golden Gate trying to win back the $10 dollars I lost there 30 years ago. And I tried it again this trip, too. I walked in, put a ten spot on the black, the roulette wheel went ‘round and ‘round, and where it stopped . . . was red. Alright, that’s it, I quit! Why those dirty, double-dealing dogs, they can just KEEP my Hamilton. Hell, I don’t even want it anymore. Besides, I would have just blown that ten bucks on cheap wine, cheaper women and Paris Hilton CDs anyway. Yeah, they can have my ten dollars. (I wouldn’t mind getting the three hundred back though. Maybe next time.)

    Anyway... sorry if I've been beating a dead horse.

    ~ Stephen

    1. I think it is interesting how you know SO MUCH about the things you really like. This movie is a case in point. Because you really enjoyed the movie you know it's backstory. That might even be more relevant than the movie. I had no idea that this film, or any film, BANKRUPTED Francis Ford Coppola. Wow. He must have really believed in it. Now, I really want to see it. Thank you for coming back and throwing fuel on the fire. As for John Waite... I always did like him. I suppose I will running down that soundtrack next!

      I am still laughing about the money you lost at the Golden Gate. It sounds like you are, too. Time has a way of doing that. And maybe we just get tired of throwing good money after bad. I do think that there are some places that are lucky for us and others that are NOT. My philosophy is to let go of those unlucky spots and MOVE ON. On the other hand, I suppose if you want to continue drop in there and throw ten bucks at the place to see what happens, there is no harm, no foul. Plus, it adds more spice to your story! There really is no right or wrong answer here... obviously.

      Don't apologize. I found this story very entertaining:)

  20. >>...As for John Waite... I always did like him. I suppose I will running down that soundtrack next!

    Ha!-Ha! John Waite? Only if he were also a Black "Baby" could he be any more different from TOM WAITS.

    Incidentally, if you really do see 'One From The Heart', watch for a shot of a saxophone player on the street, wailing in silhouette against the wall of a downtown casino - that's Tom Waits in a little "Background" role. (In real life, he mostly played piano.)

    Knowing Vegas as well as I do (and especially the 1970s / very early '80s Vegas that 'One From The Heart' portrays), I was amazed by how the set designers nailed down even the smallest details (e.g. buffet advertisements framed on exterior casino walls, etc.) Even KNOWING that every single shot in 'OFTH' was filmed on a Hollywood sound stage, it's not easy for me to accept that fact. (But then again, that attention to detail and basically reconstructing Downtown Vegas in Hollywood was the reason the filmmaker went bankrupt.)

    Well, you didn't ask to see it, but I will provide URLs to my 3-part Vegas blog bit anyway. On this trip, I went alone, so the "travelogue" piece does not include any of the customary comedic exchanges between my brother Nappy and me, but I think I made up for it with a little extra "heart". Hopefully I copied these URLs correctly and got them in the proper order:

    Part 1:

    Part 2:

    Part 3:

    Yeah, I know it's three parts and they're all long, but at least try to make it to the point where I pay an old man NOT to shine my cowboy boots (I think you'll appreciate the "heart" in that story).

    VIVA LAS VEGAS (and Reno too)!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    POSTSCRIPT: I've been meaning to tell you... it would have been A-OK had you submitted a comment on my 'Big Brown' blog bit (like my alliteration there?) I would never post anything publicly if I wasn't fully prepared to publicly respond to everyone's input. In other words, I ain't no SissyBoy.

    1. Egads. I think I am going to have to start wearing my reading glasses for Blogging, too.

      It is too late tonight for me to fully appreciate your Vegas posts, but I will read them tomorrow.

      Sometimes I don't comment when I don't know what to say. Have you ever been there. It isn't that I fear offending. I simply don't have the words.


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