Monday, August 15, 2016

Seattle Getaway and GNR Concert - August 12 - 14, 2016

Pre-Trip Thoughts - Thursday, August 11th:

My oldest friend from elementary school and I grew up bonded with "Bay City Roller" memories and things like first crushes and first kisses with boys.  I have been waiting for her to be able to travel with me and it would finally happen.  Just a short trip to see Guns N' Roses, but it would be us getting away together.  I was really happy!  Tickets after fees and exchange were about $170 CAD each for really shitty seats.

I should start by saying: In 1990 I gave birth to my son and his middle name is “W. Axl”.  My dad said, “Don’t name him that – people will call him Asshole”,  :) lol.

I saw GNR in Tacoma – Summer 1991.  By that time, Steven Adler was already out of the band and Matt Sorum was drumming.  It was another road trip and I remember my friend singing "You Could be Mine" from the "Terminator 2" movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger  on my cassette tape, all the way to Washington state - I think it was the only GNR song she knew.  I remember us being on the floor at the concert.  GNR started LATE - everyone was getting more bombed than they already were.  It was worrisome at times that Axl was going to cancel the concert due to the crowd excitement/wastedness...  What I remember most is that my friend got to piggyback some guy and then sit on his shoulders so she could see better and I was so jealous - she wasn't even a GNR fan like me, just more social!  I still have their song list from that night, handwritten, tucked away somewhere in a suitcase with my old memories (I call it the "suitcase of broken dreams") and it was a night I will never forget, one of the most spectacular, memorable nights of my life...

Below is the poster I had on my bedroom wall - for years.  I taped my Tacoma ticket to it.


To say that they were one of the most influential bands in my life would be an understatement, so much a part of my formative young adult years.   EVERY single one of their songs has meaning to me.  To see what happened to them was crushing to me and I felt awful for naming my son after Axl the misogynist.  I felt they were destined for SO MUCH MORE!!!  Axl not showing up to the "Rock n Roll Hall of Fame" just solidified what a douche he was...

Now, it feels full circle to be going back to Washington state to see them again….oh, and where the Seahawks play too!  How exciting is that?  ;)  Just kidding…

I’m stoked...In fact, I’m thrilled!  Time heals all wounds, right?  I hope Adler will be there as I heard he’s done a performance for a few songs and I only wish that Izzy Stradlin had made the tour too.  Nonetheless, I’ll take what I’m getting.  This picture below reminds me of THAT place in time when I loved them with all my heart and soul.  I’m going with a positive attitude and hoping it’s not anti-climactic after all this anticipation and my “appetite for destruction”...

I had giddy points of just looking at GNR and  how I remember(ed) them. Then I got all teary-eyed and goofy...believe it or not, not that much wine was involved either...I went to bed at midnight.

Pic from www.rollingstone.com

Friday, August 12th:

My friend was due to pick me up at 8:30am.  I awoke at 6:00.  I had done most stuff night before except packed my clothes and toiletries, which may mean I didn't do much...I did make breakfast/lunch for the road trip and food for my son, so that is what took my evening up.  I woke up and saw that "Alice in Chains" was opening for GNR.  I was really happy about that too!  I was TIRED this morning, I didn't sleep well and my head was stuffed up - figures...

She was right on time and we went on our way.  During the drive down I remembered I had forgot my pills, as in my meds.  I could see them packed into my "first-aid" bag, sitting on my dining room table...

We arrived around noon and our room was ready.


We got a two bedroom suite (family suite) for $187 USD per night.  The hotel was old, but comfy and it suited our purposes.  There was free parking, the area was great and had everything we needed.  Below is the living room.


The bedroom
The kitchen
Pink Bathtub!

There was a Walgreens right on the corner so I was hopeful they could call my pharmacy at home and get my meds which I've had luck with before (in other states).  They couldn't, said they needed a prescription but that were was a clinic a couple of blocks away.  We went there.  They said they could fill me 2 days worth of my pills on a script and would try to bill my travel insurance directly too.  They told me to come back in 20 minutes for my appointment.  We went to Starbucks and had a drink and it was time to go back.

The doctor was nice and filled the prescription for me.  They were not successful billing my insurance so provided me a receipt.  The visit was $145 USD.  We went back to Walgreens and they couldn't fill it so sent me to another drugstore (Bartell's) about 4 blocks away.  Unfortunately Bartell's couldn't fill it either but phoned one close by our hotel who could.  It was about a mile away so my friend drove me there.  By the time that was all done it was about 3pm.  I had a "peace of mind" and could relax now.  I went to Walgreens and grabbed a bag of ice.

We sat and I had a drink and rested for a half hour. Then we got ready and I called for an Uber car.  It was my first time using it and I signed up before I left and got the app on my iPhone.  It was really neat - they tell you your driver, you get a picture of them and what kind of car they drive.  The fare was $22 USD.  I'm guessing a cab would have been about $40?  We soon saw our driver "Mo", and he was taking us to a restaurant near CenturyLink which was called "Jimmy's on First" which was in the Silver Cloud Hotel.

Traffic was crazy but he dropped us right in front.  We tipped him, he was really happy and we went inside.  Now, before we left home, I had googled and found this place.  I emailed and tried to make a reservation but they said because of the concert they don't take reservations as it would be packed.  However, the director of F&B said he would make an exception for me and put me on the waiting list and we would get the first available table when we arrived.  When we walked in, it was of course packed and my friend said she overhead the people in front of us being told it would be about and hour and a half wait for a table.  When I went up, I told them about the waiting list, they pulled up something on the screen, and my name popped up.  She said, "We have a table right now for you".  That was sooooo awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!  I sent him an email and thanked him when I got home.

We were starved!  We ordered drinks and meals.

CRISPY FISH & CHIPS
panko crusted cod, manny’s pale ale batter, jimmy’s tartar sauce, fresh house-made slaw  $15.25

CRAB MACARONI & CHEESE
cold water crab, jack, cheddar, parmesan, fontina cheeses, toasted brioche bread crumbs, jimmy’s mixed greens salad $17.75

I enjoyed the fish and it was a good place to start before the show.  Heard lots of GNR chatter, saw lots of GNR clothes and the people watching in general was fun.  I finished with a cocktail.

JIMMY’S DON JULIO MARGARITA
don julio anejo tequila, agave nectar, lime sour, lime & orange $14.00

We headed for the show...the hotdogs and onions smelled so good, it made me hungry again!



My friend wanted to buy T-shirts but the line up was huge and moving very slow.  T-shirts were $45 USD.  We just continued on at this time.  When we got in, we were directed to a "ramp" to make our way to our section which was 335.  And that ramp went up and up and up!  Below is a picture just after we started climbing the ramp.


Below are shots of when we finally made it up to our level.  



"Alice in Chains" was on so we had completely missed Duff McKagan's daughters band which was the opening act.  When we got to our level, my friend commented that she would not go up the final flight, that she was having a panic attack.  I made my way up to see if she would follow eventually.  Our seats were almost up at the rafter and that last hike was a doozy!  I sat down and my hair was soaked!  I messaged her (free WiFi!) and she told me that "they - staff" had a place us for us.  So back down I went splashing my wine out of my cup with every step.  :P  .  

They had 2 spots standing room by the wall for us.  The view was definitely better.  It was a beautiful night in the open air setting. 


So, by the time GNR was about to start and no one had filled the seats in front of us along the railing, we moved.  


I had my own seat with no one beside me as it was a wheelchair space.  I got to sing at the top of my lungs and enjoy myself.  The people on the level below were all standing but did not hurt my view at all.

video

The video above is a clip of my fave GNR song "Estranged".  Axl looked in good shape and fit but his face was weird and plastic - whatever surgery he had done, did not do him justice.  His voice could still reach those notes, but it seemed like he sang very low key to reach the high keys.  Still great, but not as sharp as the old days.

However, Slash is timeless and really was the star of the show to me.  He can play that guitar so well, I was in awe and he made me smile ear to ear.

video

Duff looks better with age.  He was fantastic and time has served him well.

Izzy's replacement looked like him and if you didn't tell me it wasn't Izzy, I would have assumed it was...

The band barely spoke at all other than introductions from Axl for the rest of the band members.  It was two and half hours of just a solid performance.  I was taken back 25 years to what I loved and remembered.  This show was soooo worth it to me!!!  I am so happy I got to go.  It was kind of like closure too which I never thought would happen:  "Not in this Lifetime", which is their tour name.  They ended with "Paradise City", had a fireworks show and it was brilliant!  I got the song list, this time from a review:


  • It’s So Easy
  • Mr. Brownstone
  • Chinese Democracy
  • Welcome to the Jungle
  • Double Talkin’ Jive
  • Estranged
  • Live and Let Die
  • Rocket Queen
  • You Could Be Mine
  • You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory/Attitude
  • This I Love
  • Civil War
  • Coma
  • Band intros into Slash solo – Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather/Andy Williams)
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine
  • Better
  • Out Ta Get Me
  • Jam (“Wish You Were Here/Layla”)
  • November Rain
  • Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door
  • Nightrain

  • Encore:
    • Catcher in the Rye
    • Don’t Cry
    • The Seeker
    • Paradise City
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Both our phones were just about dead.  We tried to stop for T-shirts again but it was absolutely ridiculous.  We made our way back to the Silver Cloud hotel and there were guys selling T-shirts there for $10 and $20!  She bought eight.  I just bought one for my son for $20.  It was very nice with original GNR logo and concert info.  I could not get an Uber (no cars available) and we did not see one taxi!  40,000 people attended that concert.  We got out about 11:30 and it was 1am now.  The hotel staff went above and beyond trying to help us out.  One got us a cab but then the driver told us to get out as he had another fare.  Finally another staff member got us their "town car".  It cost us $60 but honestly, at that point we would have paid $100 to get home...  Super great staff at that hotel!!!  We got in and both went immediately to bed, however, I was so wound up in my head, I didn't fall asleep until after 3:30am...

    Saturday, August 13th:

    We slept in and got up sometime before noonish.  Had the lunch that I had packed, sat and chatted and got caught up.  Around 3pm we went back to Walgreens and then to Trader Joe's which was a couple of blocks from where we were staying.


    I was so excited.  I have never been to one and wanted to experience it.  One of the staff told us that Canadians always buy "cookie butter".  She did, I didn't.  The store didn't disappoint and we filled the trunk of her car up with goodies to take home.  We went to the room, snacked, blabbed and had a couple of drinks before dinner.


    Dinner was at Ristorante Doria.  It was about a block or two away from our hotel so we walked over.


    Service was good, the food was tasty (especially the soup of the day which was crab bisque).  We enjoyed the meal, some drinks and more chatter.  It was about $160 USD after tip.

    Complimentary bread and olive oil

    My friend's "Negroni"

    That delicious crab bisque

    Antipasto Misto (for 2 people) --- $14.95

    Garlic Prawns

    Linguini alle Vongole --- $18.95
    Linguine and clams sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes and tomato concassé

    Doria’s Tiramisu --- $7.50

    We went back to the room, had a few more drinks and were in bed pretty early.  My friend is not a drinker so wasn't feeling too well after her imbibing this evening.

    Sunday, August 16th:

    We were ready and out of the hotel for the road trip home at 10:30am.  I had a made a reservation at a very popular (local, organic, sustainable) brunch place a couple of blocks away.


    We still had to wait about 10 minutes but it was okay, as it smelled delicious and it was great people watching.  Very nice atmosphere and they had an outdoor patio too that would have been lovely to sit on.  Their motto is:  "EAT LIKE YOU GIVE A DAMN".  :)

    I ordered one of the specials which was the wild mushroom omelette.  It just sounded amazing.


    I also got a drink.

    BLOODY MARY $8
    local seattle pickle company makes our bloody mary
    amazing. gekkeikan sake, crisp pickled vegetable
    garnish, chipotle salt rim. 

    It was good.  The staff work so hard here! Wow, what a busy place but service was great and they have a terrific system going of teamwork.

    DUNGENESS CRAB CAKE BENEDICT
    dungeness crab cakes with lemon & dijon, 2 poached, organic
    stiebrs farm eggs*, fresh hollandaise, tarragon garnish. $18.50


    This was a perfect meal to start the drive home.  We both enjoyed it immensely.  The area we stayed in was a lot of fun.  We both thought it was great.

    The drive home was fine and uneventful.  I was home just before 4pm.  

    This was a wonderful weekend and I will forever be grateful at my opportunity to have seen Guns N' Roses again.  My heart is fulfilled.  <3



    Friday, May 20, 2016

    Downtown Las Vegas Trip - May 15 - 20, 2016

    I told everyone I know that there would be no trips to the U.S.A. this year with our bad Canadian dollar.  I came home from work one day in February and had a large flyer in my mail from the "D" hotel.  My offer was 3 days free with no resort fee in April or May.  That also included a $25 Food & Beverage credit and $25 Free play on Slots and $25 Match Play on tables.  I had some vacation booked off for May with no plans so called the hotel.  The offer was valid for those days and my 2 extra nights were $28 USD (Wed) and $35 USD (Thurs) with a $20 resort fee for each of those two nights for $116 USD total for 5 days.  So, I booked it.  I could cancel up to 48 hours before.

    I got airfare from Bellingham, WA on Allegiant for $150 USD or $200 CAD.  I was OK with that since that price included luggage and taxes too.  By the time it was mid-April, our dollar had come back a little so it didn't feel as bad.  I was glad I had booked.

    Sunday, May 15th:

    This will be the most unexciting trip report I have written, at least to me it is - I bored myself! I had been fighting a nasty cold/cough for the last week and it had finally taken hold of me Friday night.  Saturday, I was really debating just not going, I felt like bloody hell.  Sunday, it hurt to cough and I felt like a big bag of poo...I called my cab at 9:45am to take me to the train station where I was catching a bus to Bellingham airport.  The drive and flight were relatively painless though I coughed the whole way on the bus, thank goodness there was only one other person, the driver and me.  I probably had twenty cough drops today!  I used Showtime shuttle when we arrived and got to my hotel just after 7pm.


    There was no line, so I was checked in immediately.  I  felt awful!  I dropped my luggage, then I made my way to the ABC store on Freemont and bought some cold/flu pills and water.  I was starving, so I bought a Coney Island Chili dog at my hotel.  Then I went to the room, ate and took the pills.  I didn't sleep well, coughed all night and woke up every hour.  Also the noise/bands on Freemont traveled right up to the 25th floor I was on and I could hear the ruckus quite well...

    Monday, May 16th:

    I stayed in bed until 11am and then decided to unpack, shower and try and get out for awhile.  However, when I went to use the shower, it either didn't work or I didn't know how to turn it on!  I had to call guest services to send someone to come look at it.  He came right away and it was indeed broken, but he fixed it in about 10 minutes.  When I was ready, I went downstairs and gambled a little.  Broke even and then used my $25 voucher at the "D Grill" for lunch.  I ordered chicken fried steak.  I pecked and had a couple of bites, but I had lost my appetite and was starting to lose my taste and smell of food as well...


    My bill was $15 and she told me they don't give any change.  I told them that was fine and went back to the room.  It still wasn't cleaned but the cart was in the hall now, so I went back down to gamble while I waited.  I sat at a "Buffalo Gold" machine and put in $40 and played $3 a spin.  When I got down to $12.75 left, I hit a bonus and then kept winning spins.  I took the picture below when I started winning...



    ...and it just kept going, and going and going!  74 free spins in total!  This netted me my first ever hand pay!






    Wow, that was exciting, though the US Taxman took 30% so $688 came right off.  I tipped her $60 and collected just over $1500.  I wasn't complaining though.  I took my win and went back to bed.


    I woke up at 5pm and felt even worse.  I had antibiotics with me so took them.  I knew if I did that, it would mean I had to quit drinking, but I wasn't drinking anyway at this point.  I went back to sleep, coughing relentlessly.  I awoke and decided I should try and eat, so looked at the room info and saw I could order from "Nacho Daddy".  I ordered a chicken kale salad, cheese quesidilla and two bottle waters for $32 pre-tip ($30 minimum order).



    It was here in about 15 minutes.  I had a couple of bites.  I'm sure it was good, but I had no taste now and so I went back to sleep.   I awoke constantly, again, to the noise on Freemont Street and slept lousy.  That being said, the bed was super comfy!  I had no complaints about it at all.

    Tuesday, May 17th:

    I felt slightly better, still coughing but on the whole, there was a little improvement.  However, I had completely lost all sense of taste AND smell now.  I had pre-booked and pre-paid the Neon Museum for 10am this morning, but I knew I wasn't up for it.  You can't get refunds or re-schedule, so I lost that $18.  I went back to bed and slept restlessly until 11am.  I gambled at the Golden Nugget, got a tea at Starbucks then walked over to the California hotel.


    I went to their Market Street Cafe and got some "Oriental Saimin (Ramen)" soup combo ($8).



    I couldn't taste anything but salt in the broth which is what I was after anyway - broth.  It is so weird to eat food without taste buds working.  Texture becomes such a huge part, and I admit that most textures are unappealing...soup was the only thing that appealed to me.  I gambled there for a bit, saw this machine which was new to me.  Won $80 at it and then left.



    I gambled at a few places, all losses pretty much today, and was starving about 7pm.  I was at the 4 Queens, so decided to try Magnolia's.  I ordered a cup of soup (cream of mushroom) and a French dip or as we call them, a beef dip.  All I know, is that the beef had a rubber texture that I couldn't even eat!  I dipped some of the bread in the au jus.  Between that and the soup, it was enough to fill me up.



    Then I went back to the room and back to bed about 8pm.  Wow, how exciting!  I slept to the Freemont Street noise as usual...I think I was starting to find it comforting in a weird way...

    Wednesday, May 18th:

    I slept restlessly till 11am again.  I was seriously tired of not having any taste/smell now, so I went to Walgreens and bought some nose spray to see if it would fix it.  About a half hour later, it seemed to.  I got whiffs of scents.  I decided to go have lunch at the D Grill.  I ordered eggs benedict.  Unfortunately, I could taste this and it wasn't very good.  The hash browns seemed fine though.  I had a $5 off coupon so the meal only cost me $6 and change.  I've left and wasted a LOT of food so far...on the up side of that, I was sure I wasn't going to gain weight this trip.


    I set off to gambling and lost again.  My hotel was really unlucky for me now.  I couldn't even hit bonuses and if I did, they were lame.  I did much better at the other hotels but wanted to spend some money here.  I lost about $400 here today.  The Game of Thrones machines were also new to me.




    I got a bonus and cashed out before I lost.  Around dinner time, I wanted to get some "real food" so went to The Smashed Pig Gastropub on Freemont.  It was quiet in here but the decor was really nice.



    I hit the last 10 minutes of happy hour so ordered 1 each of the 4 apps that were on HH special.  I also ordered the daily "sashimi/tartare".  It was tuna tonight. I also ordered chicken lettuce wraps.


    These were three of the apps.  The slider was pork belly ($2).  The croquette was "shepherd's pie" ($2).  The other two were mac & cheese balls ($1).  The slider was tasty.  The frying was perfect on the others but unfortunately the insides were lacking in flavour.  I was so excited for that croquette too.  Too bad...I picked at everything.



    These two dishes were good, but not exciting at all.  The chicken wraps were super salty, and I've had way better seared tuna dishes but this was balanced at least and had hot sauce on it for a nice kick.  Below are shrimp "fries" ($1) with some super sweet dip.  Meh.  I left those.


    Service was good.  I was his only customer so we talked and chatted.  Bill was just over $20 so I got what I paid for, for sure.  I'd give them another chance.  And then of course, it was bed time!  This was my first night out after dark!  Even the canopy show was on.  This was the Who.



    I stopped at the Freemont Casino for a bit.  This was my fave place this trip.  I enjoyed it here and always seemed to do well.  Then I went to bed to the "now soothing" noise of Freemont street.  I slept well - first time since I've got here...

    Thursday, May 10th - a.k.a. last day:

    I awoke earlier today and took some nasal spray so I could keep my taste/smell alive.  I went downstairs in the hotel and lost $300 pronto!  That meant I had now spent the $1000 I brought with me and was now spending my winnings.  I decided/realized to not sweat it and just be happy I was ahead still.

    Then I decided I must have some GOOD food today.  So, that made my choice easy and I headed for lunch to my favourite place downtown which is Carson Kitchen.



    I ordered the Butter Burger with Boursin, cheddar, lettuce & mayo.  It's served with spicy tater tots.  OMG! This was soooo good.  Finally, some great food!  I ate it all except for 3 tater tots.  I was so stuffed, but my taste buds thanked me - seriously, they did.  I was so happy!  I trotted back over to the Freemont Casino.


    I even decided to have a couple of drinks today.  It was my last day and I was pretty bored of never taking up those free drinks that kept going by me and always ordering "water".  I got a nice Bailey's coffee with lots of whip cream.  It was really good.  I had a great cocktail server here so I tipped her well.  I sat down playing an older Wizard of Oz machine and just at $1.50 a spin.  Well, that first $20 in and quite awhile later turned into $300!  I had a nice roll on it.  I cashed out and played some old school quarter slots (1 pay line).  I hit one of those for $200 (2 doubles on the pay line) and cashed out.  I was back even with my money now and put back my "win" money to keep it untouched.  I still had a couple of hundred left.  I left the Freemont Casino on a happy note.  :)

    Dinner tonight was at Andiamo Steakhouse at my hotel.  My reservation was at 8:30pm.  I was offered water and then my waiter came over and brought me some bread and caponata.


    He came back twice to see if I was ready to order but never asked if I needed help or suggestions, so I just quickly decided.  I finally asked him which pastas were good and he was good and told me all but two of them that he didn't recommend.  I ordered 2 starters and a pasta.  I also ordered a glass of Pinot Grigio.  I had a bite of the caponata and it was very good.  Very quickly my first dish came out.  It was only warm, but the tastes were fine.  A nice garlic flavour in the sauce, but I wasn't overly impressed so far.

    Escargot Bourguignon
    Baked in mushroom caps with garlic butter,
    finished with toasted bread crumbs - $16

    My waiter came over twice to see if I was finished and while I had a mouth full, asked me if I was still working on my dish?   I was a little surprised by this, so quickly finished and he immediately brought the soup out.  I was starting not to like him...

    Italian Wedding Soup
    Herbed brodo with root vegetables, meatballs,
    spinach, allice pasta - $8

    I am a huge fan of this soup and this was very, very delicious.  I was really enjoying it.  When I was just over half done, my waiter was back with the pasta this time.  He just stood there holding it, looking at me.  Finally he said, "Am I too early?".  I looked at him, like DUH but he still stood there, so I told him to just put it down.  I took my time and finished my soup at the pace I wanted to.  I tried one bite of the pasta, but I was turned off now and just asked for it to go.  It was very delicious as well.

    Agnolotti
    Handmade pasta filled with ground veal,
    spinach mascarpone crème, black truffle, wild
    mushrooms, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano - $26

    He packed it up at the table and then asked if I wanted dessert.  I told him no.  I gave him my "Club" card because I had $20 of comps on it and wanted to use it with my bill.  He came back and was sure to show me the REAL total before the comp was applied, like he had to remind me to tip on the full price.  I did 20% because the bill was cheap.  If it was an expensive bill, I might have only gave him 15% because he annoyed me.  I had another bite or two when I got back to the room and then was in bed by 11pm with a wake up call for 6:45am.  I drifted off to the noisy Freemont street usuals and I slept right through until my wake up call.

    Friday, May 20th:

    Check out, shuttle, flight, shuttle home was all painless.  I won a little bonus at the airport while waiting to board.


    My air/hotel/shuttles cost me $400 CAD for 5 days. I brought $1000 USD spending money and spent it all! I came home with $1600 USD though, so I guess you can call this a free trip!  That really made up for being so sick (and I still am) and really brought a bright side to what would have been a real downer of a trip otherwise.  I am really thankful for that.  :)