New York City in a Day - Our Perfect Whirlwind Tour

It seems anytime a travel magazine fails to sell a page or two of ads, they fill the open space with a short feature of "(Insert City Name Here) in a day." While I am far from the commando tourist, I usually read these filler pieces because they tend to highlight the best, most traveled spots in the various cities. I could never be the "tackle a city in a day" kind of guy, because my need for a nap around 3pm makes these itineraries more difficult. On a recent trip with my wife, however, I put aside my geriatric tendencies for what turned out to be the perfect day in New York City.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
Rockefeller Center

The day started bright and early so we could do the ultimate tourist activity and visit the Today show. My wife is a loyal watcher on her days off, and I may have a slight man crush on Matt Lauer, so I was OK hanging with the sign waving crowd for a few minutes. Sadly, Matt was off for the day, but we did get to see Ann, Natalie, and Al do a quick segment before ducking back inside and out of the cold.
The Today Show Plaza
The Today Show Gang

Next up was our NBC studio tour, where we got to see the sets for Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Falon, and my personal favorite Nightly News. I asked the guide if I could sit at Brian's desk - Brilliams and I are on first name basis - but she politely declined. So I waited till she wasn't looking and did so anyway.
Hanging with Matt Lauer

After we were asked to leave the tour, we headed up to Top of the Rock. It was incredibly crowded and bitterly cold, but it was worth braving both for the spectacular view of the city. The observation deck at the Empire State Building might be good for those looking to recreate Sleepless in Seattle, but I think the view is better from Rockefeller Center. Oh and when you get on the elevator, be sure to look up...
Top of the Rock View
The View From Top of the Rock

We grabbed a quick snack before hopping on the metro for Lower Manhattan. After a quick stroll past Ground Zero and through Battery Park, we decided to walk across a portion of the Brooklyn Bridge. A friend had insisted we do this on on our trip, but warned us over and over to stay out of the bike lane. I couldn't resist the opportunity to live dangerously.
Brooklyn Bridge Bike Lane

Next we headed back uptown for a surprise stop I had on the itinerary. My wife and I were celebrating our first wedding anniversary, and I felt a stop at Tiffany's was appropriate. Before we left for New York I had purchased one of their "keys" for her, and had it waiting at their customer service. I had to think quick on my feet when she declined my suggestion of going inside, but luckily she bought my story of a "secret spot" inside I wanted to show her. Every girl should have something from Tiffany's, even if it is the 3rd cheapest thing in the store.
Tiffany's New York Sign
She's Smiling, Even Before We Went Inside

With my supply of brownie points fully stocked, we headed to The Met for a quick run through the museum. I really wish we had more time here, because we only got to see about 1/4 of the collection, but after hitting the highlights we headed for our next stop. After the obligatory picture sitting on the steps that is...
Steps of The Met

As daylight was beginning to fade we strolled through Central Park on our way back to the hotel and stopped at the ice skating rink. I'm from Florida, so ice skating isn't really my thing, but I managed to get around without falling once. Even if I did only propel myself with my right leg, while keeping my left foot firmly on the ice. This method works well when going counterclockwise, but not so much when they ask you to change directions.
Central Park Ice Skating Rink

The setting sun brought an end to our perfect day in New York City, but the best was yet to come. After a short stop at our hotel for my obligatory nap, our incredible day gave way to an even better night. But that's a story for another day...

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Check Out Time - The Week in Travel

Another week in the books, and only one remaining until the best Sunday of the year. I'm talking the Super Bowl of course....

Here's what you may have missed around The World of Deej and beyond...
The Rockies? Nope..Central Park

And did you see?...

  • In the category of "Best Story of the Year" The Expert Vagabond wins for "The Saga of the Stolen Laptop."

Have a great week everyone! 

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Deej's Picture of the Week

Paris...The City of Lights. As seen from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Well worth the hour wait, scary elevator ride, and frigid temperatures to capture this shot.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas - Better Come Hungry

I don't do dinner buffets. In stark contrast to their breakfast counterparts, dinner buffets are my second-to-least favorite form of dining, only slightly beating out Fondu for last position. When it comes to dining in Las Vegas, however, all one ever seems to hear about are the legendary dinner buffets. Not to mention that at least once a year every travel magazine under the sun lists the "Best Las Vegas Buffets." Feeling that I would not have properly done Sin City without experiencing a feeding trough, I set aside my disdain for one evening and paid a visit to The Buffet at Wynn Las Vegas.
The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas

Anytime I think of a Las Vegas buffet, I immediately picture Randy Quaid ordering "some of the blue and some of the yeller" in the movie "Vegas Vacation."And while I'm sure there might be some which resemble that scene, I had pretty high confidence that Steve Wynn wouldn't allow his buffet to be anything less than extraordinary. At least, that's how my wife and friends sold me on the idea, to keep my complaints to a minimum. 

The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas
The Entrance to The Buffet

"What's this? A line?"

We arrived to the Wynn somewhere around 8pm, and made our way to the line to enter the buffet. The concept of a line for dinner was really foreign to me, but apparently this is how they do buffets in Vegas. The lady in line next to us said this one was relatively short compared to some nights, but that didn't keep me from whining for the 20 minutes or so it took for us to reach the register. Only in Vegas would they be able to pull off the concept of "wait in line, pay first, eat later" but seeing I didn't have much of a choice, I plopped down our $90 and hoped for the best.
The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas
Part of the Dining Room

After being seated in the crowded, yet comfortable dining room, I headed to the buffet area to get started. Given the enormity of the spread, I decided to make a loop and survey what was available first, before I started loading up my plate. I'm glad I did this, because the Wynn strategically hides the shrimp and crab legs at the very end of the line. Sure, put the good stuff last so no one has room on their plate. Sneaky Steve Wynn...Sneaky...
The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas
The Huge Line of Buffet Stations

"The ocean called, they're running out of shrimp."

I started off with an entire plate devoted solely to smoked salmon, and as I made my way back to the buffet I felt a little weak in the knees. Next up was the mother load...Prime rib, chicken, pasta, mashed potatoes, a couple pieces of sushi, and some more smoked salmon for good measure. What?...don't judge.
The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas
Aerial View of the Shellfish Station

I'd cordoned off a quadrant of my stomach specifically for shellfish, and I was ready to get my $90 worth. I made not one, but two trips back to the buffet for plates of crab and shrimp. In the end I might of put away Captain Sig Hansen's entire catch from last year.
The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas
Salad So Pretty I Considered Having Some

Finally, it was time for dessert, and the Wynn buffet did not disappoint here either. Gelato, crepes made to order, and a huge assortment of cakes and other sweets kept me busy for quite a while. The highlight for my wife was the candy apple, while I may have had more than one chocolate cupcake.
The Buffet Wynn Las Vegas
This Was Just Our First Trip to the Dessert Station

While I'm sure there are plenty of fantastic buffets in Las Vegas, it's hard to imagine that there are many which rank above the Wynn. In the end, I was glad that I relaxed my strict policy against dinner buffets. Was it worth the $45 a person? That's debatable, but I didn't walk away feeling as though I was ripped off either. Besides, I'm sure I consumed enough smoked salmon and crab legs to more than justify the cost. 

Have you experienced a Vegas buffet? Share your story!

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Buffet (Wynn) on Urbanspoon

Florida Boy Seeks Cold Weather and Snow - Will Travel

"Why do you always travel north during the winter?" 

It's the same question every year, and the answer is really quite simple. I love the cold..I hate the heat. "Tigers love pepper..they hate cinnamon." Having lived in Florida my entire life, I've grown to detest the sweltering, humid weather we have from February through December. Even during our so-called "winter" the mercury often reaches 80 degrees, and it will yet again today. So while most of the country is seeking to defrost their bloodstream by heading to the Sunshine State - driving our hotel rates through the roof - I'm doing just the opposite and loving every minute of it.
The Snow Covered Great Wall at Simatai

I've been to Europe three times, Asia once, and all were in the dead of winter. We experienced the Blizzard of 2009 in New York City, and repeated the same in Asheville the following year. Even our latest adventure to California and Las Vegas required a jacket, although I could have done without the dessert air. As for future travels, I'm sure there will be some sort of adventure next December, and I can all but guarantee it will be to a destination where the local government has a line in their budget for salt. 
Helping New York Dig Out From The Blizzard of 2009

Living in a place where the grass stays green year round, there is something appealing about visiting a destination during a cold, dreary, and lifeless winter. OK, so I didn't realize I was in touch with my inner goth, but it's true nonetheless. There is a beauty to winter that I simply don't get to experience at home, but I always seem to crave while traveling. 

Today I am taking part in Bootsnall's 2012 Indie Travel Challenge. In case you couldn't tell, this week's topic is winter travel. Tune in next week for another prompt, or tag along with the challenge on Twitter at #Indie2012. 

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


New Year's Eve in Orlando - May The Force Be With You

With the month of February almost upon us, is it too late to do a post related to New Years Eve? I'm sure it probably is, especially considering I stop saying "Happy New Year" at about 9:30am on January 1st, but I'm going to run with this anyway. So let's just pretend we all celebrate Chinese New Year, shall we?
The One Night a Year Paper Hats Are Fashionable

New Year's Eve is a strange and stressful holiday. If you think about it, all that it really brings is the annoying process of changing what date we write on checks. Yet every year it serves as an opportunity for millions to suddenly start living like this night might be their last. Hotels and restaurants are booked to capacity, often at prices that would border on gouging, and manufacturers of party horns are finally able to turn a profit on the last day of the year. While the mention of New Year's Eve conjures images of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, and Times Square, there is another iconic landmark that draws an enormous flock of revelers each and every year...Cinderella Castle. 

There are three times of year that I try and avoid the Orlando area at all costs...Spring Break, July 4th, and New Year's Eve. I don't mix well with high concentrations of tourists, so I made a rule long ago that it was better to steer clear of The City Beautiful during these peak times of year. I broke that rule a few weeks ago, however, and what follows are a few helpful tips to ensure your survival of New Year's Eve in Orlando. 

Stay Away From the Theme Parks 

Seriously. Don't even try it. A few years ago we had the brilliantly genius idea to celebrate New Year's at Disneyland in California. It was a miserable experience, and one that I would not even wish on Billy Johnson, the kid who punched me in computer class in 9th grade.

This year many of the Universal and Disney theme parks reached capacity on New Year's Eve, some as early as noon. This usually means wait times of over two hours on popular attractions, and shoulder to shoulder crowds elsewhere in the parks. Sound like fun? I didn't think so...
If You Skip The Parks on New Year's, Come Back Tomorrow For This

I understand that despite this warning, you may still want to ring in the new year at an Orlando theme park. If this is your plan, then get there early, and be prepared to stay for the long haul. I suggest you do what I did and find a bench to sleep the day'll be better off... 

Find a Home Base and Stay There 

If you decide to heed my advice and avoid the theme parks, then not to worry, there is still plenty for you to do. I learned long ago that the best way to approach New Year's Eve in Orlando is to book a room at one of the countless resorts around town, and enjoy the festivities they offer for their guests. 
Trust Me, It Sure Beats A 2 Hour Line For Test Track

We celebrated this year at the Wyndham Grand Orlando at Bonnet Creek, a brand new resort located practically within Walt Disney World. We arrived early, relaxed by the pool for most of the day, and had a celebratory dinner at their restaurant, Deep Blu. There was a poolside party for the countdown to midnight, and we had a great view of the amazing fireworks displays around Disney. All of this with no crowds, no lines, and no bus ride back to the resort after a horrendous day at the parks. 

Start Planning Before December 28th 

If your calendar says "December" and you haven't booked a room for New Year's Eve, then you've waited too long. If Christmas has come and gone, and you still don't have a dinner reservation, then the same thing goes. It's also important to ask the restaurant if they will have a special menu on New Year's Eve, and find out the details in advance. For example, my brother originally booked a table at a renowned Orlando steakhouse well in advance, only to be told a few days prior about their $150 per person pre-fixe menu. Thankfully, he was able to find an alternative, but at that point the pickings were certainly slim.
The NYE Fireworks Seen From Wyndham Grand

I have no doubt that I have seen far from my last New Year's Eve in Orlando. The truth is, Orlando really is a great place to celebrate the holiday, even with it's full capacity theme parks and resorts. I've just learned that there are ways to go about it which suit my personality more than others. My hope is that this will help guide you through your own New Year's Eve journey, and if you plan on going to the parks...May The Force Be With You.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Adventures to Disney - What's Ahead in 2012

Welcome to those of you joining me from Capturing Magical Memories, and to those just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail as we share our Disney plans in 2012.

Like many around this time of year, I tend to spend the month of January thinking about all the places I'd like to visit in the new year. As usual, my list for 2012 is far longer than what I know to be feasible, but my approach is to dream big, and then scale it back to reality. When it comes to our travels to Disney, however, there are several trips which I know will come about because, well, they are already booked...

Our adventures to the Mouse begin in just a few weeks, when we head to Disney World for my wife to run in the Princess Half Marathon. She and a friend have been training hard, and I'm actually looking forward to getting up at 3am to cheer them on.
Where I will be at about 5am in a few weeks...

Next up is Vero Beach, where we are heading for a long weekend of R&R at Disney's beachfront resort. To be honest, I just might love this place more than Disney World itself...
Disney at the Beach...Great Combination

While I'm sure there will be a few weekend trips splashed in the middle, our next trip to Disney will be in November, where we will participate in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, as well as celebrate my birthday with our annual trip to the Food & Wine Festival. 
The Food & Wine Festival is Hard Work...

Finally, come December my wife and I will celebrate our 4th anniversary, and if we stick to a pact we made years ago that means one thing....Victoria & Albert's. While dining at this famed restaurant the day after our wedding, we resolved to return every other year in celebration of our anniversary. If we stick to that deal, then our third visit will round out our Disney adventures in 2012.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ The Many Adventures of a Disney-Lovin’ Spectrum Mom
2nd Stop ~ Capturing Magical Memories
3rd Stop ~ The World of Deej
4th Stop ~ YourFirstVisit.Net
Final Stop ~ The DisneyFAITHful

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Picasso at Bellagio Las Vegas - Dining in a Museum

Ocean's 11 is easily my favorite movie of all time. In the film Daniel Ocean tracks down his ex-wife at a restaurant in the Bellagio, where he smoothly orders a "whiskey and a whiskey." While my wife forbid me long ago from ordering drinks in this fashion, I knew she wouldn't object to my wanting to recreate the scene by dining at the famed Picasso.
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas

There are far more reasons to dine at Picasso beyond its appearance in one awesome movie. The restaurant proudly owns two Michelin stars, and is a Five Diamond award winner for, ironically enough, 11 years running. In addition, the dining room offers perhaps the best view of the famed Bellagio fountains, and then there's the $100 million worth of Picassos on the walls. For all these reasons, dining at Picasso had been on my list for quite some time.
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
Picasso's Wine "Cellar"

This meal almost didn't happen. 

When I logged on to the Bellagio site to make our reservations, I noticed a message which caused a pit to open in my stomach. "Picasso will be closed from December 7th to December 21st." We were due to return home on the 23rd, leaving our final night in Vegas as the only option to visit Picasso. This would have been perfect, were it not for the non-refundable/non-transferable/non-cancelable tickets to Love which I'd already purchased. Since our show and Picasso were both at MGM Resorts, I called their customer service to see about the possibility of changing our tickets. The agent could have easily given me the standard "no changes" and sent me on my way, but after I begged, pleaded, and offered my future first-born child, she could tell I really wanted to dine at Picasso. She went the extra mile, changing our tickets to a later show, and making my wish to dine at Picasso a reality.
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
The Bar

With our show now at 9:30pm, we had plenty of time to fully enjoy Picasso without feeling rushed. We arrived a few minutes early for our 6pm reservation, and were immediately seated at a beautiful table in the center of the dining room. As I surveyed my surroundings, a small grin came to my face. If first impressions were any indication of what lay ahead, we were in for quite an evening.
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
The Spectacular View From Our Table

The dining room at Picasso was without a doubt the most beautiful of any restaurant I've dined to date. Obviously, the most prominent reason why were the numerous Picassos which surrounded us on all sides, any of which would be at home in the museums of Paris or Picasso's own in Barcelona. In addition, the view of the Bellagio fountains offered a perspective not found elsewhere. The tranquility of Picasso was a stark contrast to viewing the show from Las Vegas Boulevard, and you could almost feel the power on display with the finale of each show. 
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
A Few of the Many Picassos

I wanted to say "Wow." 

There are three different tasting menus from which to choose at Picasso: Degustation, Pre-Fixe, and Vegetarian. We both chose the Pre-Fixe menu, and of course opted for the accompanying wine pairing. Shortly after placing our order the amuse bouche arrived, and the combination of smoked salmon, osetra caviar, quail egg, and a dab of savory bisque amused far more than just my taste buds.  
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
The Amuse Bouche

Following an amazing introduction, we had high expectations for the plates which lay ahead, but the heart of the meal proved to be, well...just OK. Over the years I've come to expect that at restaurants like Picasso there is at least one moment - oftentimes more - where you take a bite, melt a little inside, and simply say..."wow." This happened with the amuse bouche, but sadly, it was the only time.
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
Ruby Red Shrimp

This isn't to say that our meal was bad, because that was far from the case. The plates were fantastically presented, and we enjoyed every dish we ordered, there just wasn't that "wow factor" that you'd expect at a restaurant rated in the top 50 in the United States. The lone exception was my wife's dessert, which would have make Picasso himself proud. She described it as a "dessert version of the peanut butter and jelly." Considering I've never had a PB&J, I'll just have to take her word on why that is awesome... 
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
The Wife's Dessert

A moment of inspiration. 

While our server lacked any perceivable personality, I was thoroughly impressed by the restaurant's sommelier. There was a passion to his description of every wine he poured that I couldn't help but admire. That passion has actually inspired me to resolve to learn more about wine in 2012, so that on my next visit I would understand more than 20% of what he was describing. 
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
Photos of Picasso in the Entry

After dinner, my wife and I stepped onto the private terrace outside Picasso and reenacted the final scene of my favorite movie. As we watched the Bellagio's fountains, I couldn't help but reflect on our experience at Picasso. If I were a professional foodie expecting a meal worthy of two Michelin stars, then I might have been a bit disappointed. The atmosphere alone, however, was more than worth the cost of admission, and we would likely return if for no other reason than to enjoy another meal in their spectacular dining room. 
Picasso Bellagio Las Vegas
Sadly, We Hadn't Just Stolen $163,156,759.

Beyond the food, however, there were little things which impacted my view of Picasso. Things like not folding my wife's napkin when she went to the restroom, or the wine pairing not including a serving with dessert. When my wife asked if she could order one course off the Vegetarian menu, as she's done at other similar restaurants, our server had to "check with the chef." He also forgot both of our orders on one dish, and had to reconfirm with us. Yes, these are all little things, but often it is the little things which you remember the most...both good and bad.

Overall, it is most definitely the good which I will remember from our experience at Picasso. Our evening was no doubt a memorable one, and I'm glad that I was finally able to walk in the footsteps of Daniel Ocean.

Enjoy Your Stay
Picasso (at Bellagio) on Urbanspoon

Check Out Time - The Week in Travel

This has been an exciting week which was book-ended by two important holidays: The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday here in the States, and the worldwide celebration of Chinese New Year. Bring on the year of the Dragon! 

Here's a recap of what you may have missed on The World of Deej and beyond.

A Sleepy Lion at MGM Grand...Random Photo I know...

And did you see?.... 

  • As We Travel shared a video of their thrills...and spills...while mountain biking in Scotland. 

  • GQ Trippin spent the day sailing the Bay of Islands in New Zealand. 

  • Pommie Travels visited the Statute of Liberty and had a run in with a menacing seagull.

新年快乐  xīn nián kuài lè!

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Deej's Picture of the Week

Bellagio Fountains

It's not every day that this is your view at dinner, while surrounded by $110 million worth of Picasso's. Tune in on Monday for the rest of the story!

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Wyndham Westshore Tampa - Hotel Review

Sometimes it is amazing how the littlest of things can influence the places you visit while traveling. A few weeks back I sat down to figure out what hotel in Tampa my wife and I would stay after our late night return from Las Vegas. Of course, I first got distracted by Facebook and Twitter for a few hours, before I finally decided to focus on my original task. I hit the refresh button one more time on my Twitter feed, and spotted this...

Bingo...Problem solved...Back to wasting time...

After closer inspection it seemed the Wyndham Westshore had everything I was looking for with this stay. A convenient location with a free shuttle to Tampa airport, as well as a sweet "Park and Fly" rate which would allow us to leave our car while away. I took a quick look at Trip Advisor and was impressed to see the hotel's GM had taken the time to respond to every review, both good and bad. I've come to learn that hotels which are that engaged with their customer never seem to disappoint, and I was confident the same would hold true with the Wyndham.
Wyndham Westshore Tampa
The Wyndham Westshore

We arrived to the hotel a few hours before our flight, and I stopped by the front desk to let them know we needed the airport shuttle. As we waited outside the hotel I expected the usual van or mini-bus to be our ride, and was pleasantly surprised to see a shiny black SUV pull up instead. When we returned 7 days later, it was approaching midnight by the time we got off the plane and collected our bags. I phoned the hotel but doubted the shuttle was still available. To my surprise the agent said it would be right over, and about 10 minutes later we were leaving the airport. I had barely set foot in the hotel, and already I was impressed.
Wyndham Westshore Tampa
The Lobby

After a quick check-in with the friendly desk agent, we made our way up to the room and the bed which I desperately needed. Our room was sharply appointed with a flat screen TV, and my personal favorite, a comfortable duvet on the bed. The bathroom was functional, albeit a bit small, and I was happy to see the Keurig style coffee maker.
Wyndham Westshore Tampa
Our Room

We had been upgraded to the hotel's club level, but given the late hour I didn't have any hopes of that curing my grumbling stomach. I walked down to the club lounge and found the door open, even though I got the red light when first trying the lock. I rummaged around the lounge in search of a snack, and you would have thought I struck oil when I found the stash of chocolate chip cookies...Score! Realizing that if caught I'd have a hard time explaining why I was in a dark lounge after hours, I high tailed it back to the room with my loot.
Wyndham Westshore Tampa
The Scene of the Crime...The Club Lounge

The next morning I awoke refreshed, but ready to head home after 8 days of travel. The club lounge was closed for breakfast on the weekend, but we were given vouchers for the buffet downstairs. Sadly we were crunched for time and weren't able to enjoy breakfast, but I was quite impressed with the spread. My stomach started to grumble again about an hour later, and I really wished we'd woken up earlier.
Wyndham Westshore tampa
The Breakfast Spread

The Wyndham Westshore proved to be the perfect spot for us in Tampa. The staff were fantastic, and the rooms and other amenities were comfortable and modern. While we were only at the hotel for a few short hours, the Wyndham far exceeded our expectations, and I'm certain we will return when our travels take us out of Tampa.

Oh and if anyone from the hotel sees this, I understand if you need to bill me for those cookies.

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~ 


Special thanks to the Wyndham Westshore for hosting our visit in Tampa. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

A Misadventure at the Las Vegas Sport Book

I'm not much of a gambler. Ever since the time I was playing Blackjack and caught the wrath of an entire table for staying on Ace/2, I've steered clear of pretty much anything in a casino which involves human interaction. I enjoy depositing - because that's all it really is - a few dollars here and there in video poker, but that's about the extent of my gambling activities. On our trip to Las Vegas however, I was determined to branch out of my comfort zone again by placing a few wagers in the sports book. It didn't take long for me to remember why I stick to machines...

This misadventure began before we even arrived in Vegas. I was standing in line to ride the Matterhorn at Disneyland, when I remembered that the Denver Broncos played the New England Patriots the following day. Tebow mania was sweeping the nation, and I wanted in on the action. Problem was we were not going to be in Vegas until the day after the game, and I didn't think The Mirage would take wagers over the phone. Thankfully some friends of ours had arrived into Sin City a couple days before us, and they agreed to handle my "action" for me. 
The Huge Sports Book at Caesar's Palace

The next day while we were still in Disneyland, I checked the score of the game on my phone about once every 2.4 seconds. Things were looking good in the first half, with Tebow and the Broncos jumping out to an early lead. It didn't take long for reality to set in, however, with the Patriots not only coming back to win, but they also covered the 14 point spread which my bet carried. I had yet to set foot in Nevada, and Vegas was already in to me for $20.

After we arrived in Vegas, one of the first things I did was visit the sports book in The Mirage to try and get back my Andrew Jackson. The next day Manchester United were in action against Fulham, and I was confident my boys in red would easily take care of business. The actual business of placing my wager seemed to be another story...

"Hi do you have the odds for the English Premier League matches tomorrow?"

"Uummmm...let me ask a supervisor. Hey, are we taking action on soccer?"

"Depends...What team."

"Manchester United."

"Yeah we'll have it. Give me an hour or so to put it together and come back."

This entire exchange concerned me for several reasons. First, I got the impression that I was the first sucker to ever ask to bet on soccer. Second, I was pretty sure the "supervisor" was Tony Soprano's cousin. And lastly, the phrase "Let me put it together" was especially puzzling. Was he making a call to the Godfather to find out the odds? Perhaps he was buddies with United's goalie and he needed to phone in a "favor?" The whole thing made me uncomfortable, but I had resolved to bet on my team, and this wasn't going to stand in my way.
Caesar's Showed Several Premier League Matches

I returned a few hours later and the "supervisor" printed out a copy of the odds for all the Premier League games. I laid down my $20 on United, and as I surveyed the odds on the other games I discovered something that puzzled me. Swansea was a huge underdog to Everton in their match, but I thought both teams were fairly evenly matched. In fact, Swansea was ahead of Everton in the League standings, which made their long shot odds seem even more out of place. I convinced myself that Tony's cousin had made an error in setting his odds, and decided this was my chance to stick it to Vegas. I plopped down another $20 and started to plan where we would eat dinner on my winnings.

You can probably see where this is going. The Red's came through for me wining handily, but the "sure thing" bet on Swansea proved to be a pipe dream. They lost 2-0. I really should have known better. Suddenly I'm an expert soccer? I was going to pull one over on Vegas? That's only possible in the movies, and my last name is definitely not Ocean.

There's an old saying that "Vegas wasn't built on winners." If this ever becomes the slogan for an anti-gambling campaign, they really should consider putting me on the poster also. From now on, I think I'll stick to depositing money at video poker machines. 

~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~