June 4, 2006

Greetings from blistering hot Las Vegas and reporting live from the beautiful Rio Hotel and Casino. If you haven’t stayed here it’s definitely worth your consideration. Today I thought you might like to join me on a brief “Sin City” tour through the eyes of The Great White Shank, so hop on board. And, don’t worry about the meter, I’ll pick up this one.You can get it the next time.

Our tour starts at the northern end of the Strip. It’s a bright morning, and last night ended awfully late. Leaving the comparatively drab confines of Circus Circus (if you saw the room I have here at the Rio, you’d understand, but then again, you get what you pay for!), I can’t think of a better way to start the day than a light breakfast at the Peppermill. In the front, they have a nice restaurant (word has it that Penn Gillette stops by after most of his shows for a Cobb Salad). After breakfast, I’m thinkin’ it might be a good idea to kick those cobwebs out with a foo-foo drink at the Fireside Lounge, just behind the restaurant’s hostess desk. Here, you can understand why this bar is called Vegas’ #1 make-out lounge! The room is dark and cozy – perfect for a day like today when it’s already pushing 100 before noon – bathed in red, pink, purple, and blue neon light. Here you’ll find secluded booths, one with a small pond and fire emerging from the center, the others featuring small theaters in the round outfiited with plasma TVs. The bar is big enough to be welcoming, and the waitresses are all quite tall and beautiful, dressed in black, low-cut cocktail dresses. Very elegant or playful – whatever your mood may be.

We’re now walking south down the Strip and ducking in and out of shade wherever we can find it. We pass the Wynn and The Venetian but don’t go in – The Great White Shank eschews super-large hotel/casino complexes – but you may want to take them in never the less. A Roman Catholic priest is standing in the hot walkway taking donations for Las Vegas’ homeless. I make a donation and receive a blessing, which makes me feel ahead of the game already. We pass Harrah’s and the Imperial Palace, then find ourselves face-to-face with a midget dressed as a leprechaun, announcing free shots and an 18-hour happy hour at O’Shea’s Casino‘s new Double-Down Bar. As much as the $1 drafts sound enticing on such a hot day, we’re still fighting a wee bit of a hangover from last night and in the mood for something more exotic than beers and shots.

We find it just a little further down at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, a restaurant and bar with one of the best gift shops you’ll ever find. We’re not ready to eat yet, so we do a little shopping, picking up some some Buffett-themed Hawaiian shirts and a “It’s 5 o’clock Somewhere” T-shirt that will make perfect cruisewear when Mrs. Shank and I do a 7-night Hawaiian cruise in late September to celebrate our 20th anniversary. After all this shopping I’m feeling a little peckish, so why not grab a table for lunch and some boat drinks? I order me up a Bubba’s Big Bamboo – banana rum, black rum, vanilla rum, Triple Sec, orange juice, and coconut cream – and the liquid is like a plasma IV attached to one of my veins. One drink down and another on order – boom! no more hangover. A very blackened Mahi-Mahi with mango salsa and rice completes a wonderful dining experience, and we’re ready for whatever might come our way as Vegas prepares for another night of mayhem and madness dressed in all its gaudy glitter.

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