September 24-28, 2006

In the beginning of September, 2006, Mike Christ contacted me and told me that this year he could get me into the "Old Time Banquet" or as more readily known "Old Timers Banquet." Needless to say I was more than excited. I told a friend of mine Rhonda Loebs about the trip and she said she had only been Vegas one time in the early 1990's and stayed at a Motel 6 with two toddlers. She would like to go with me and have me be her historical and fun tour guide. I decided to have us stay at two resorts that are rumored to be going down since the Stardust, where the Banquet was being held was sold out. I booked the first night at the Frontier and the remaining three nights at the Tropicana. Now the Frontier I've stayed at before but never had a chance to stay at the Tropicana so I was looking forward to it.

We flew out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank on the morning of the 24th. Our friend Angie Lehner met us at the airport to help us celebrate with a pre-flight Bloody Mary for them and a White Russian for me. I also wish to thank Angie for volunteering to take care of my kitties while I was gone. The dog went to the vet as she needed multiple medications but the two of my cats who are on medication stayed home and Angie went to my house to make sure that Tabitha and Ginger had their appropriate medications and Freddie, Princess, and Midnight were okay. Thanks Angie!!

Rhonda and I got to the airport and she was asking questions about tipping and other little known facts about Vegas. We got our luggage and went to look for a shuttle. All the shuttles had huge lines except for ODS. We figured we'll try them to see why they didn't have the long lines. Now mind you everyone, when you try something like this and anything goes wrong, you can't get mad and I reminded Rhonda of that and she said she is ready to find out.

No one was in line at either the booth or the shuttle so we got on right away. The shuttle filled up in a matter of minutes and we were off. Absolutely nothing happened. Everyone got dropped off in a timely manner, the driver was polite and a good driver. I have no idea why ODS' lines had so few people because we couldn't ask for anything more.

We went to the Frontier and couldn't check in yet so we dropped our luggage off at the desk and decided Rhonda should try a real Vegas buffet. She didn't care where we went. I told her that it has somehow become a tradition with whoever I go with that the first buffet is at the Riviera so off we went. I did explain to her that my own tipping method is that I start off with a buck. The better the service the higher the tip and at one time I did give a $10 tip for the service. We got to the Riviera and off to the buffet.

As usual the food was excellent. I've had mixed reviews of the help at the Riviera and each experience was documented with an e-mail off to John Neeland with either praise or "where the hell did you get that person from." This time we had Superman as our server. Not only did he read our minds when we needed a drink or our plates taken away and was at our table in seconds but when we changed our drinks we no sooner told him as he was back with them. No easy feat considering his section was three-fourths full. We were most impressed with him and we each tipped him heavy for his supernatural powers!

I gave Rhonda a short tour pointing out the Sahara, Circus Circus, where Westward Ho was, and last, the Stardust which she saw the first and last time on this trip.

We got back to the Frontier and checked in. The rooms as what I expected - clean, and showing her era which is what makes her so charming. We especially marveled at the marble in the bathroom, the depth of the tub, and the view of that wonderful sign in the front. We also had a view of the Wynn Resort across the way.

TV Table Beds  Bathroom sink
Tub Window Frontier marquee Front marquee
Wynn Wynn

It was time for me to get ready for the banquet and I was over there by 5pm. I found Mike Christ and met Peter Anthony whose name I've typed many times on this time. It was great walking around reading the name tags and associating them with this site. I didn't take any pictures though and Mike brought his camera and being a professional photographer I knew he would do a much better job. I need to have Mike donate some pictures to this site and I'll let you know when this page is updated with them.

Of course major talk was the Stardust going down and everyone got a deck of cards showing the opening and closing of the resorts as well as a commemorative room key. Talk had it that the next banquet was going to be at the Orleans, another Boyd owned resort. It was a great evening and had a great time.

Afterwards Mike came back to the Frontier with me and we called Rhonda who met us at Gilley's for some drinks. There Mike did what he does with everyone I bring to Vegas - totally enthralled Rhonda with stories, opinions, and comments of the Vegas of long ago and Vegas of today. I don't know when our little party broke up but Rhonda and I were once again charmed with Mike. As usual and every trip to Vegas I've made since I met him, I must thank Mike for getting me into the banquet, for the after banquet get-together and entertaining Rhonda on her first "all alone" trip to Vegas.

I do have to admit though I wasn't quite feeling like my old self. I had a sore throat and I had started coughing but I wasn't about to let it get me down so Rhonda and I went to the casino to play the slots. Rhonda jumps on a Wheel of Fortune machine and within minutes won over a thousand quarters. Yep, the old lady Frontier took a liking to her. I'm not sure how long we stayed but eventually we went back to our room.

We got up on the 25th and I definitely wasn't feeling good. Now my nose started running. Taking over the counter drugs we hopped a cab to go to the Trop. We got a great cab driver and made it there in record time. Rhonda told him this was her second trip to Vegas and up until this time, she never rode in a cab. Well he impressed both of us as to how quick he made it down the Strip and to the Trop's front door.

We checked in and walked forever to our room. We figured this wasn't going to be great with the huge walk to our room but our minds were open. The room was actually beautiful overlooking the pool and we were just steps from the back door. We just had to walk a few steps to get to the Convention Center, casino, buffet and everything. We were just far away from the main entrance using the hallways. We were seconds from everything else. Here are some pictures of our room, and the water falls by the pool which were just seconds from our room with Rhonda chatting with her boyfriend.

Beds TV Room Toilet
Tub Tree pool/falls Falls
Falls

Well, I have to admit. Things get foggy from there as I came down with the flu and was hit hard. I'm going to do the rest of our trip from memory but it won't be in chronological order. We found out if I slept for a couple of hours I was feeling pretty good for about 3-4 hours and then I'd feel beat up again and would have to go back to the room. Unfortunately I didn't get to show Rhonda half of what I wanted to and we didn't get a chance to meet up with Mike Christ again.

I was able to bring Rhonda over to the MGM Grand where we saw the lion cubs playing and tried the buffet there, and we also headed over to the Flamingo to look at the wild bird habitat and buffet by the pond. We tried to find out whether Siegel's rose garden was still there but couldn't find it if it was. We also noticed that the penguins were gone from the habitat as well. Since the Flamingo no longer updates me I can't tell you why or when it happened.

In one of my more lucid moments I was reading the in-house magazines and saw a free admittance coupon for the Classic Car Show at the Imperial Palace. Since Harrah's bought Imperial I thought the cars would be sold since Harrah's isn't in the car business. We went to the show knowing that it won't be there much longer. There weren't as many cars there and about 95% were on sale so it was obvious the display wasn't going to be there too soon. Here are pictures of some of the ones that were there:

Imperial 1 Imperial 2 Imperial 3
Imperial 4 Imperial 5

We also went to the Body Experience in the Tropicana's Convention Center and it was very interesting. We were in it over two hours. I think we couldn't stayed longer but I started to feel ill again so I had to go back to the room again.

We also went to the buffet at the Trop and once again the waiter got a big tip for excellent service. With a packed room he made sure everyone had drinks, dirty dishes were taken away and was very social.

One of the nights I didn't feel well enough to go out, even with a few hours sleep so we ordered room service. We noticed that they served pizza and the price wasn't much different than that of the pizza delivery places so we figured why not. Rhonda never had room service before and she was fascinated at the waiter bringing it in, setting up the dishes, the liter of soda being chilled in the ice bucket and then putting the throw-aways in the hallway.

Overall it wasn't a bad trip but it certainly wasn't good. I came home with the flu and still over a month later I have residuals. I've heard from people that they got the same thing and it lasted a few months. I'm hoping it will be gone soon.

Rhonda really did get into the tipping thing though. When I dropped her off at home when we got to the airport I found a dollar on the passenger seat and she tells me that her boys are getting a dollar tip when they clean their room. The tipping thing has since faded but her kids are wondering when are we going back. Hopefully the next time we do go I'll be healthy enough to show her everything.

Rhonda did find some old matchbooks in her house and lent them to me to put on my site and my e-book so I'll update this page when I get that information together as well.