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Travelblog: My birthday in Vegas

What happened to those $2.99 buffets in Las Vegas? The last time I was in Sin City was in the late '80s, when my wife wanted to walk up and down the strip and see every hotel.

It was August. We were young and stupid.

Before that, a couple of my old high school chums and I decided that right after we finished college we would drive to Vegas. We were younger and stupider.

But I remembered if you didn't lose your shirt gambling that Vegas was a cheap vacation. There's probably still cheap buffets and cheap rooms somewhere in town, but apparently not on the strip near the Luxor, where I was staying.

I was covering the SHOT Show, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade Show in Las Vegas. It is a paradise for a gun nut and I sure would like to have the new Benelli over and under shotgun, but I would need to win about $3,000 at the casino, however, to do so.

I had booked a room at the Luxor because it was partner hotel for the SHOT Show where I could catch a free shuttle to and from the show every day.

Most of the other partner hotels were already booked for the week by the time I made reservations for SHOT, except Excalibur and Circus Circus. And I was not going to stay at Circus Circus.

I had some trepidation about the Luxor because I read several negative reviews of it on the Internet before coming to Vegas. Some places had even rated it as a two-star hotel.

I don't know who those people are but I thought the hotel was great. I was most impressed by how clean it was. The hotel had several restaurants and shops and three shows. You could choose between a magician, showgirls and comedy.

Carrot Top was the comedian playing at the Luxor and surprisingly to me, the bartender at the Chonga Bar (basically a Jamba Juice joint for frozen cocktails in the Luxor) said most hotel guests think his show is the best of the bunch.

My room was nice and spacious and very clean. Now, it would have been nice to have a microwave, a refrigerator or a coffee maker in the room and the WI-FI was crappy in the hotel, but I would stay there again.

The Luxor has a walkway that connected to the Excalibur and Mandalay Bay and I discovered some nice shops and restaurants at Mandalay Place, which is on the walkway between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay.

That's where I lost most of money during the week, buying souvenirs for my kids. Daddy would have been in trouble if I came home empty-handed.

It was at Mandalay Place where I found the Slice of Vegas Pizza. It had a pizza with gravy on the menu. Now, anyone who knows me knows I love gravy, but I couldn't fathom it on a pizza, so I just ordered one with lots of meat and added a few mushrooms and green peppers as well.

It was great. I ate my pizza and watched the Thunder beat Washington in overtime then felt so good about the home team I strolled over the Las Vegas Sock Company and bought some Thunder socks.

It was the best place I ate at in Vegas until I went to Gallagher's Steakhouse in the New York New York hotel. Miles Hall and Tim Shoopman of the H&H Shooting Sports Complex had raved about the steaks so I decided on my birthday I would treat myself.

I could take the walkway from the Luxor through the Excalibur and over to New York New York so I didn't have to pay for a cab ride.

I ordered Gallagher's Cowboy Ribeye and it didn't disappoint. I was also entertained by the two old guys at the table next to me that sounded as if they were really were from New York New York.

They reminded me of Felix and Oscar and kept bickering, in a friendly sort of way, through dinner. One guy kept trying to persuade his friend that he needs a new cell phone plan and a new cell phone, that he was still using 10-year old technology.

This guy had hair grayer than mine and kept telling his buddy that he didn't want a new cell plan, or a new phone, that he was happy with what he had and he didn't want to learn anything new.

He kind of reminded me of me.

I told the waiter it was my birthday, just in case Gallagher's wanted to give me a free piece of cheesecake for dessert. No such luck. Is there nothing free in Vegas anymore?

I ordered the cheesecake anyway and the waiter did dress it up for me with a candle. A young couple at a nearby table wished me happy birthday. The grumpy old guys on the other side of me didn't say a word. They were now debating whether the slot machines on the end of the rows paid out more often then the ones in the middle.

I enjoy playing poker, blackjack and craps but I hate losing money more, so I stayed out of the casino as much as possible. Besides, by the time I went to the SHOT Show and battled the crowd, then wrote a couple of stories, and then had dinner, I was pretty beat by the evening.

However, since Thursday was my birthday and I was turning 55, I decided I was going to the casino after my birthday dinner and bet $55 on the roulette wheel.

Considering my age, black seemed a logical color choice to bet. I walked over to a roulette wheel in the Luxor casino and announced to everyone within earshot of my intentions. The cocktail waitress told me I didn't look 55. Imagine that.

I put $55 on black and the ball dropped. It was a sure thing.

Ed Godfrey

Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more... Read more ›