Vegas, Baby!


Ahh, Las Vegas.  Hawaii’s ninth island.  Where all the Hawaii folks go hoping to get lucky.

Ever wonder why Hawaii folks are drawn to Vegas like termites to a light?  Is it for the fun?  Or the food?  Or the free rooms?

I have a theory – but it’s just that – a theory.  With the cost to own a home in Hawaii, it takes almost a whole lifetime of work just to pay off your home.  But a nice, say $1.5 million jackpot would easily pay off the mortgage.  And that’s after taxes.  Would still have to work to pay for utilities, home insurance, property tax, etc. but not having a mortgage would make life so much more relaxing.

Dreams put aside, what other reasons do people go to Vegas for?

Me and Paula love the shopping.  The 2 outlet malls.  Being MLC, we still refer to the one by the airport as Belz since it used to be called Belz Outlets about 15 years ago.  And the one by downtown – we just refer to that one as the downtown outlet.

And there’s the Burlington stores that has good deals.  Something like a Ross but much, much more organized.  Think TJ Max with Ross prices.

And of course Trader Joe’s for the omiyage.  But there’s also Dollar Tree stores where everything actually costs a dollar!

What else is the draw to Vegas.  FOOD.  Yes, In-n-Out burger.  Always have to have an I-N-O burger when visiting Vegas.  And if you ever go the the super busy one just off of Tropicana, there is a I-N-O logo store right next to it.  It looks like an old service station.  You can get some cool I-N-O gear there.

And there’s Five Guys Burgers in LV too.  Yeah, we have one here now – but it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg for a burger in Vegas – like it does here.

And there’s Olive Garden there and Applebee’s restaurants.  I especially like Applebee’s.  They have this sizzling steak with a spicy, cajun like rub on it.  So ono.  It’s called a Bourbon Street Steak.  Here, take a look;

Hungry yet?

Another stop that we’ve been making lately is Monta Chaya Ramen in Henderson.  Good ramen with excellent prices.  Not the kine $12 for a bowl of ramen.  More like $6 – $7.

And then there’s good ol’ Market Street Cafe in The California Hotel.  I must say that their salad bar is pretty good.  And the Crispy Chinese Chicken is ono.  Takes little while because it’s a whole 1/2 chicken – like a huli-huli chicken.  Deep fried with Chinese spices on it and drizzled with a sweet sauce.  Worth the wait.  And the short-ribs is good too.  Local, teriyaki kine.  Big pieces.

Okay, ‘nough about food.  Getting hungry.  Oh, I just read that a couple of Chic-fil-a’s just opened in Vegas.

Oh yeah, the gambling!  Me and Paula aren’t table players.  We stick to the machines.  Poker and Keno.  Sometimes the slots.  I especially like the multi-card keno because you know how if you pick 5 numbers in a line, the 5 numbers on the next line come out?  So you move your five numbers to that line, and the ones that you had before comes out?  Frustrating, yeah?  So with multi-card Keno, I fool the machine and pick the first 5 numbers on one card and the other 5 numbers on another card.  And whaddya know – 5 numbers on a different line comes out.  Lose money.

Nah, but if you’re patient and don’t chase – sooner or later – she hit.  Sometimes later can be an hour later.  Or the next day.  Or the next trip to Vegas – but she hit.

As for Megabucks – gotta try.  Put $30 in, spin 10 times.  If no hit, oh well.  Try again tomorrow.  Just no chase!

Talk about chasing.  One time Paula and I were watching this girl playing the $5 Wheel of Fortune.  That’s $10 a spin.  And she really wanted to hit the spin.  We watched her drop like $400 in less than 5 minutes without hitting the spin once!  And more worse, her player’s card wasn’t inserted good so wasn’t registering.  But I wasn’t about to tell her.  She looked futless and was determined to hit that spin.  I hope she was playing with house money.

How about the weather?  We love the cold.  There were a couple of times that we experienced snow flurries blowing around when we were out shopping.  But they didn’t last too long.  Other times we watched thunderstorms pass through from our hotel room.  Awesome lightening show!  But those storms blow through so fast.  One time it was nice and dry.  We ate dinner and when we were done, a couple came in saying how they were caught in a huge downpour.  Really?  We go outside to see – all pau.  We missed it.  Only could see the trailing lightening from the storm moving on.

Oh, but the summer heat – killahs.  I’ll take cold over hot anytime.  The 100+ degree temperatures just drains the energy out of me.  Paula and I like the cold so much that one time it was super cold so we stopped by a Starbucks and bought a coffee.  Just 1 coffee that we shared.  Then we took it outside and sat on the cold chairs while we passed the hot cup of coffee back and forth to warm up our hands.  The locals sitting inside were probably looking at us and saying “Must be Hawaii tourists”.

Checking out The Strip.  Been there, done that.  Glad we did because now they charge for parking!  Big time!  For the longest time, I always appreciated the free parking.  That’s what brought us to places like MGM, New York, New York, Paris, Bellagio, and other strip hotels to check it out.  And of course we dropped some bucks as we played the machines there.  But now, it’s like Waikiki.  We just drive through and enjoy the sights from the road.  Maybe we’ll go to the places where parking is still free – like South Point, or Orleans, or Rio.

Okay, my hands getting itchy.  Better start looking for good air-fares.

How about you MLCer’s?  What’s your draw to Lost Wages?  The food?  The shopping?  The clubbing – No act, this is MLC.  Okay, maybe the shows.  The buffets?  The cold weather?  The hot weather? Friends and/or relatives?  I can’t wait for the Raiders to move to Vegas!  Just win, baby!  Yeah – Vegas, baby!


Another awesome Give2Live event coming up to benefit the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry.  All star line-up of Divas!


30 Responses to “Vegas, Baby!”

  1. Hbh says:

    U ok uncle Rod?

  2. Andrew says:

    I think there’s also the old Asian culture of gambling. And since Vegas is legal, it became the place to go. Like the generation before us, and ahead of that, gambling was the thing to do for fun. And that has been past on the generations. I don’t see the younger generation today feeling the same way about Vegas being the 9th island.

    • Rodney says:

      @Andrew – Welcome to the MLC blog and thank you for commenting. You know, when I first started going to Vegas – it was with high hopes of hitting it big. And coming home was always a disappointment. But I’ve learned – as you mentioned – to just go there to have fun. If I get lucky, great! If I don’t come home with the money I took up – that’s okay because I had fun!

  3. Mark Shelby says:

    Slow thread so I will add my story. I first started going to Vegas from 1976 to 1980 for work, right out of college.

    I worked for our family friend’s company called Crossroads Gallery here in San Diego. I drove 18 Wheelers pulling a 45 foot high box trailer full of oil paintings. And I did art sales all over the US, Canada and even lucky enough to do Australia. We did sales in convention centers and large hotel ballrooms.

    I did several art sales in LV at their old convention center on the strip. And I also drove my rig past LV on the I~15 going to other States.

    Back then there were still even vacant lots on the strip and you knew another large hotel/casino would be built on the empty lots for sure.

    So anytime I was doing a show or even just driving by I made sure I stopped and got that all you can eat buffet for just $1.99! Steak and eggs $0.99 cents with free coffee! Wow! I just loved doing that!

    I never gambled, I worked way too hard for my money. So my love for LV was the great deals on all of the food! But I always enjoyed walking around the casinos listening to all of that ding ding ding and watching everyone having fun.

    Today they have raised all of those buffet and meal prices, but I still stop and walk around if I’m driving through the neighborhood along the I~15. And sometimes I get a meal.

  4. Kage says:

    I am not a big LV fan. I only go if I have a conference or others in my group want to do a road trip from CA.

    I always budget for the Megabucks. This last trip I walked away from the Megabucks with extra. Someone in our group kept telling me that is the secret. Walk away when you are ahead.

    I love the food!
    This last trip it was Lawry’s Steakhouse and Cosmopolitan Wicked Spoon. Ono!

  5. jaydee11 says:

    I’ve been to ‘Vegas dozens of times. From Cali it’s about 3hr drive. My mom used to live there so we went almost monthly to visit her.

    I’m not much of a gambler so when I go it’s usually for the golf and the “eats”. There’s a lot of places to golf and the buffets there are like no other. Rio has a good one as does Cesar’s but most all of them are good. Golf rates in the summertime are very reasonable due to the weather being so hot but it doesn’t bother me. I’d rather golf in 100 degree heat than cold and wet any day.

  6. Seawalker says:

    Black or white. Yin or yang. Yes or no. At’s the thing with Las Vegas, you either like it or don’t. Me, I love it while Mrs. S don’t really care for it. My first time going there was right after college. Think I took my grad money from the relatives and spent it, well, gambled it away. But still remembered being in McCarran Airport for the first time and heard all the slot machines paying off with coins. Then we saw all the signage in the airport. It was summertime. Then we were hit with the dessert heat when walking outside the airport. Currently, this is the longest stretch since I’ve started visiting Vegas. But some things can wait. Vegas will always be Vegas. It’ll always be plan B or C if we need to travel or need a getaway. Did the drive from L.A. to Vegas before. In fact, did it nonstop. Gets you there faster. You want to give the urinal a big ol’ hug when you arrive. Some people are weird, no?

  7. Alan says:

    Interesting to read all the comments about this posting. But for me, I am a Vegas junkie. Been going to the Cal for over 30 years now, and for the last 10+ years, about every 3 weeks or so. I even go by myself sometimes. I love to gamble, and I love to eat and drink good. I don’t travel much anymore, other than to go back to Honolulu each year and visit my granddaughter in LA, so Vegas is my “relaxacation”. One last thing — most visitors/gamblers at the Cal are older generation people. I am just guessing but I don’t necessarily think they were/are rich people — they are people who worked hard all their lives, saved their money, and now are enjoying themselves — that is my theory.

  8. mows says:

    Lost Vegas is the best. “Spin” on “Wheel Of Fortune.” Won $1000 twice almost thrice but my friend told me you gotta switch machines. So I did then the next guy hit it three tries on the machine I just left. Concerts, shopping, food and roller coasters are some pleasant distractions from gambling that I like. My family drove from LA to LV in the 70’s and that instilled upon me the love of the road trip. So far I drove Lexington, North Carolina to Orlando, Florida. Last October we flew into Cleveland, Ohio drove to Sandusky, Ohio to visit Cedar Point to ride some massive roller coasters then drove to Lexington, NC and then to Orlando again. Had a new Kia van with 300 miles on the odometer when we returned it in Orlando it had 2500 miles. That was one road trip to remember.

    Love to drive down to Prim to ride desperado, do some shopping and get some California lottery tickets.

  9. Seawalker says:

    First time in Vegas, had 3 dinners one night. Had the buffet first. Nuff, right? Wrong. Prime rib dinner after that and another dinner before going to bed. When you young, you eat like no tomorrow. Rookie!

  10. Seawalker says:

    Was carded once playing roulette. Was doing a solo act on the table and betting pretty big. Then they asked to see my ID. Ho, that made me feel good. Was smiling and nodding to the eye in the sky as if to say ‘alright they think I must be a professional gambler’. That’s the thing about Vegas. Nobody knows if you are rich or poor. People act like they have money when they don’t. As for me, lucky I wasn’t wearing my puku BBD’s that day. Never know when the mob’s going to shake you down and do a search. Hehe

  11. ankleBYTERS says:

    Vegas is a little less than 5 hours away from me. I usually take a road trip there every year to meet FWB as she flies in from New England. I hate cold and she hates heat so it’s usually in April or October. I’ll rent a car here and then drive for about 5 hours, stop in Wickenburg for something to eat and then just drive straight through to Vegas and just park it at the hotel for the duration of our stay. We’ll either take the monorail or a taxi if we need to be somewhere, before Lyft/Uber services. We use to stay at the Luxor but the accommodations there has become rather boring and one time we were there, they were remodeling the casino area so only half was accessible. The last few time we decided to stay at the other end of the strip at the Venetian. They frequently have great online deals there for their suites. The only time we’re downtown is for the Fremont Street show and to eat the local food served there at California. I’m not a heavy gambler and neither is she so we’ll hit the sidewalk and walk the strip visiting the various hotels and their amenities. By the end of the day the back of my knees are hurting from all the walking.

    I’ve been there for SEMA events, many conferences for work and my son’s hockey tournaments. I have the usual 808 ‘must visit’ places right here, like In-N-Out, 5 Guys, Trader Joe’s, Fry’s Electronics, Olive Garden, Applebees, Ikea so I don’t get too excited about them….lol. I’ve seen a lot of shows there like David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, Jerry Seinfeld, Righteous Brothers, Danny Gans….now you have Cirque du Soleil shows and Celine Dion as headliners, the High Roller (you should try it at night). Vegas use to be kids oriented as there use to be a water park on the strip as well as in backside of the MGM.
    My high school class is having a reunion there in March but I’ll be in Hawaii at that time.

  12. Mark'75 says:

    The sound of coins dropping into slot machine pans tells me I’m in Vegas! Well, not so much nowadays with credits and paper receipts…bummers

  13. Mark'75 says:

    In the mid ’80’s we took a national parks tour that went from Washington thru Canada, and down to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Zion, to Vegas. Was so hungry for saimin or anything ‘local’ by that time.

    At the Cal I ordered a saimin (before Aloha Specialties)…was some kind of Mama-san ramen or something, still in the block in soup with luncheon meat. But at THAT time, it was so good! LOL

  14. Mark'75 says:

    I think I can count the number of times I’ve been to Las Vegas on one hand. It’s a fun place and I always have a great time while there, but I don’t miss it afterwards.

    Can remember walking ‘for days’ from one casino to the next on the strip, with huge vacant blocks in between. Then the next time, was all filled in! WTH!

  15. M says:

    Been to Vegas a few times, not my kind of place, I rather go other places. Japan is my favorite destination. Been there more than any places I have been too.

  16. hemajang says:

    Went to Las Vegas for the first time in April. Trip was actually to LA to visit brother-in-law and relatives but BIL said, “Let’s go on a road trip to Vegas!” …okay, why not. So we left in my rental Frontier truck, made a few stops and reached LV in late afternoon. First thought was how big the city was and the Honolulu-like rush hour traffic. Stayed at Four Queens downtown, kinda grimy. Went to eat pasta at their restaurant, went upstairs and felt nauseous and bad but was better in morning. BIL was sleeping when I got up so went downstairs to check out the casino. Had no idea on how the slot machines worked. I was behind watching this haole older guy work the machine so I started to talk and ask him how to play. Guy was interesting, said he was there to place a Super Bowl bet…in April? Anyway he had on a Green Bay jersey on and said he was on the team back when Bart Starr was quarterback. He was a kicker but didn’t last long due to injury. He showed me his Super Bowl ring…wow, impressive. I think my highlight of Vegas was talking to this guy, anyway he showed me the basics of playing the machine and came away with $50…beginner’s luck! BIL later came down and we played blackjack at a table. He then said let’s go to Hoover Dam so I drove and did the tour and on another whim we decided to drive to the Grand Canyon…think I drove around 1500 miles. Anyway, my Vegas experience was okay. Probably won’t go again unless someone drags me there. I know many who go to Vegas regularly and have a great time. I dunno, I rather go to different places. I have a trip to the bay area in April and look forward to visiting Miur Woods and running the Golden Gate Bridge.

  17. Seawalker says:

    Eh @LK, tell ’em why you always go…

  18. Seawalker says:

    All you have to do is make a withdraw from Vegas one time and you think you own the whole stinkin’ joint. The odds are always with the house, but sometimes Lady Luck or being a First Timer is with you. Man, that’s the greatest feeling in the world. You walk away with a bundle of black chips, you tip like mad, you act like the buffet food is not good enough, you start doubling-down of 8’s and 9’s, and you press your bets flat over and over like mosquito bites at Jhopanee Hai. 😆

  19. dihudfan says:

    At first it was the excitement of seeing and hearing the clinking of the slots, the loud roars at the crap tables and the cheap good food… as going on more and more trips there, it became the ease of getting from casino to casinos and around town, shopping and eating… It’s kind of hud to get lost, driving around in LV, at least now a days…
    Always look forward to eating good and being entertained at one of their shows… I guess, winning $$$ is the main objective but all the other amenities is great…
    btw Rod… I canceled my Orleans stay, but now going to MGM, will meet my son and girlfriend, but will check out Orleans…

  20. Keoni says:

    Never been to Vegas and have no real desire to go. Living in NJ, I could go 50 miles to Atlantic City and do all the gambling I wanted (slots). And food? Man, you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a real Philly cheese steak or South Philadelphia pizza. I’ve found my real paradise here in Hawai’i. Besides, try asking for musubi or plate lunch with two scoop rice, mac salad and garlic chicken back in NJ….huh? LOL

  21. GARETH AU says:

    I think the key is that Vegas is both exotic yet familiar; it’s like going to a different place, but still being in Hawaii at the same time. You can enjoy the bright lights and frenzied activity of Downtown, and the towering spires of the Strip, each transplanted from a different part of the world. And then when you need a break, you can have a comforting bowl of oxtail soup or saimin, with the true taste of home. That’s what brings people back, over and over again…

  22. sally says:

    I’m with you, Rod. I’ve been there in snow flurries and I’ve been there in 120º with locusts swarms ugh. Which do you think I enjoyed more?

    Locusts are disgusting! Think cricketzilla landing in your hair! ugh! I love cold weather. Had my hot chocolate on the sidewalk watching the volcano at Mirage.

  23. sally says:

    Visiting friends that moved there.
    Playing slots.
    Seeing shows.
    Eating is low on the list but that too.

  24. Hbh says:


    Heres another theory. Those growing up on island from older generations lived in a time when we could still consider oahu as a magical place to live. How many MLC blogs do you see for other mainland states growing up in? None really

  25. Hbh says:

    I think its the magic feel UR we are addicted to it. Hawaii ohana I know do Disney park trips alot too.

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