Dinner with Richard…How to play a slot machine has changed due to Covid-19…

A small glimpse of the Las Vegas Strip through the car’s windshield.

We had such a fine evening last night with Richard and his lovely GF. They prefer not to have their photos online, which we fully respect and understand. We had a fantastic evening with the two of them, first having drinks at the Claim Jumper and later heading a short distance to one of my favorite places for salads, The Cheesecake Factory.

It was an evening with lots of enthusiastic conversation and laughter. What a joy it is to see them after 20 months away! We’ll see them a few more times this week as their schedules allow.

Alternate view of the strip from the highway.

When I saw they had a low-carb, sugar-free cheesecake on their menu, I had to control myself to keep from ordering it. Once we return to South Africa, I will make two such pies, one for me and another for Louise and Danie, who also eat the way I do, occasionally having such a low-carb treat.  At least if I make it, I am confident of the ingredients. Tom doesn’t care for it. But I can’t seem to get it out of my mind.

Also, I will make dear friend Don a cherry pie. Kathy brought the cherry pie filling with her to South Africa from the US, along with two cans of pumpkin pie filling. We’ll all be enjoying some sweet treats shortly after we arrive. It will be fun to make these pies for everyone and enjoy a bit of my own favorite low-carb cheese pie.

Another view of the Las Vegas Strip from the highway.

Once we are situated in our bush house, and after I make the cheese pie and make apple crisp for Tom and we’ve finished them off, we’ll both begin our strict way of eating to lose the few pounds we gained in the US, three for me and five for Tom. In a month from now, we’ll both be back to where we were.

Right now, we are walking about 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day, going back and forth to the parking garage, to breakfast, and to other areas of the resort to take photos. It feels great to walk long distances on even surfaces. This is precisely what we needed after being relatively stationary in Minnesota and Milwaukee.

The food court in the hotel is for those preferring a quick meal and lower cost.

When we return to Marloth Park in less than a week, we have decided to start walking more. Based on the problems with my legs after two surgeries on each leg and the resulting nerve damage, walking isn’t as easy for me now as it used to be. We may have to drive somewhere in the park to find level surfaces for walking. The uneven, unpaved, gravel roads in Marloth Park cause walking hazards, which could easily result in a fall. As always, we’ll figure it out.

After last night’s enjoyable dinner, we returned to our hotel. But, while on the way back to our room, we had to walk through the casino. As we did so, we stopped at a slot machine with a beautiful display of African animals. I said to Tom, “Let’s try this. Maybe we’ll have “safari luck.”

Pizza is a popular item in Las Vegas.

Before Covid, it was easy to use a slot machine with bills and coins. It took a mere $3 to realize doing so was a waste of time and money. Not the case now. Sure, you can enter paper bills but no coins whatsoever. If you win a certain amount, you have to take the paper receipt to a cashier to get the actual monetary amount. That was the first thing we noticed.

If players don’t want to find a cashier station, it is easy for them to put the receipt back into the slot in the machine, which encourages them to play more and subsequently lose more. It’s a hook! No wonder gambling is addictive.

All of the slot machines had a similar payout system as described here today.

When I entered $1 into the slot, there was only an option to bet $.75. Left with a paltry $.25 made me put more money in the machine to use up the $.25. This went on and on, never giving me an option to bet the total value of the cash-out slip. Of course, I quit playing immediately, already feeling the throes of being unable to stop. No, thank you. We’d rather spend money on future travels, not on the remote possibilities of prospective winnings.

Back to our room, we both had a good night’s sleep. This morning after another fine breakfast, costing $35 with tax and tip, we headed to the distant parking ramp to drive 25 minutes to our mailing service to collect the items we’d received thus far. On Friday, we’ll return one more time since we’re awaiting a few more items, including one more replacement credit card with more travel perks suitable for our needs.

Tonight, with no big plans on the horizon, we’ll wait and see what rolls out.

Have a fabulous day and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 20, 2021:

Te handed off the camera in Boveglio, Italy, to a kind gentleman who took this blurry photo in the square when we were invited to a party. This photo was posted one year ago will on day #119 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.

Green Valley Ranch, Henderson, Nevada check in…

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, to our vacation rental in Green Valley Ranch, a newer community with massive amounts of stores, restaurants, gated communities, and a  mere sprinkling of casinos. 

It doesn’t feel like Las Vegas with its slot machines in every gas station or public building.  Instead, it feels welcoming, safe, and low on tourists.

Entering the single-family home for the eight days we reserved over Tom’s birthday and Christmas, we knew immediately that we were “home.” A fresh smell wafted through the air (love that word!), welcoming us as we maneuvered through the door arms laden with “stuff.”

Unloading my arms onto the living room floor, I ran about from room to room squealing with delight. Each room had its own surprise to behold. 

From the stack of perfectly folded crisp white towels and washcloths in each of three bedrooms, two baths, and an ample linen closet, to the full-size bars of new soaps atop each stack, no stone was left unturned.  

The kitchen, fully stocked with every amenity, had a “working” ice machine, ground coffee, cream, some basic ingredients along with every small appliance we could possibly use.  Three flat-screen TVs, a pool table, stereo, and old fashioned boxed games were available for our entertainment.

The pool, although not heated and an extra $100 a day to heat (it’s too cold here now in the 30s!) has a free-use hot tub (forgot my suit) in a well-equipped yard with high top table, chairs, and a huge newer grill. Too bad it’s not 90 degrees!

The rent for the eight days, although much more than we’ll pay outside the US for most houses, was fair at $1500 which included a $250 cleaning deposit which we expect to get back.  We did the math.  Most likely we would have paid $165 a night for a hotel (including taxes) during the holidays, plus tips, valet parking, plus all meals in a restaurant, and how much lost with easy access to gambling.  Surely we would have spent at least $400 a day for an estimate of $3200.

Staying in this lovely home, cooking for Tom’s party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day including our guests, our grocery and dining out budget is $1050, leaving us with a total of $2300 saving us $900 or more depending on how much we’d have lost gambling (we don’t usually gamble but when it’s at hand, it’s hard to resist). 

This is the first Christmas in my adult life that I won’t be shopping in a frenzy, wrapping gifts with elaborate hand made bows, baking a wide array of delectable cookies, and of course, decorating every corner of the house. In an odd way, it’s liberating.  We’ll miss family back in Minnesota and we’ll revel in family and friends here in Nevada.  Life is filled with trade-offs.

Soon, we’ll head to our two dentist appointments for our final cleanings, then off to the travel clinic for Tom’s final Twinrix vaccine.  Then, to the grocery store for the ingredients for the lesser amount of baking, I’ll do this year. 

It won’t be gluten-free, low carb, sugar-free, grain-free, starch-free.  It will be delicious, fattening, gooey, filling up this lovely home with smells that remind us of “home.”  I won’t take a taste.  Tom will take off a few days for this special time, his 60th birthday, and some of his favorite treats.

Hum. There’s no rolling pin. What shall I use in its place?

P.S. After writing the above this morning, then rushing out the door to the dentist’s office, I had yet to post it. Upon returning a few minutes ago, it was imperative that I amend it.  We just had the most amazing dental appointment in our lives, a referral from son Richard at Dr.Patrick Simone’s office in Henderson, Nevada.

Walking into his plush, well-appointed office puts me, a dental phobic, instantly at ease. From the elegant, upscale furnishings to the artwork to the well-equipped beverage bar and, the service, impeccable!  Even the restroom was a sight to behold with every imaginable accouterment. 

It almost felt as if we should tip not only the receptionist, but also Terry, the knowledgeable, personable, and thoughtful hygienist.  Instead of the usual hand performed cleaning, scraping away at our gums and teeth, Terry used a laser implement as an adjunct to the traditional cleaning. She used “before and after” photos that were shocking. 

After the cleaning, she performed what she referred to as “sandblasting” the surface of our teeth with a high powered baking soda spray.  The taste was awful.  The result, mind-blowing. My teeth hadn’t been this white since I was a toddler. We couldn’t be happier. 

As we paid our reasonable bill of $226 (for both of us), they thanked us profusely handing us a giant apple pie! Who gets an apple pie from the dentist?  I was thrilled with the bag of dental supplies Terry loaded up for our travel. And then, this giant pie. Wow! 

Need I say that we were impressed?  If you live near or around Henderson or are visiting Las Vegas and a dental situation arises, Dr. Simone’s office is the place to call.

Gee, for the eight days we’re, here in Henderson over the holidays, this does feel like home, minus the grandkids, the grown kids, the friends, the beautifully decorated tree, the elegantly wrapped gifts, the oversized glass jars filled with home-baked cookies, the Santa Bears adorning every corner and on and on.

Life will be different going forward.  Good, but, different.