I can't say I was sorry to leave Los Angeles. I would like like to visit again, especially since we have several friends in town who really enjoy living there, which makes visiting more enjoyable. However, we will certainly stay in a different hotel. On our last morning in L.A., I loaded up as much as I could carry and went to fetch the car from the valets. Being entirely fed up with the whole valet issue, I took the car out, and finding the side loading zone area inaccessible, I parked around the corner by the library and fed enough change to pay for an hour's parking. I walked back to the hotel to find that Liz had called the desk and argued with them about getting a cart to take the rest of our stuff down.

The hotel's policy is that they "don't loan carts to guests." They said they would send up a person with a cart. She told them that we would load and unload the cart. They obviously didn't tell him this, because as soon as he arrived he began grabbing stuff. We took the elevator down to the lobby and I loaded up again. The bellhop offered to take stuff to our car and I informed him (and Liz) that I was parked around the corner. He offered to let us pull up to the loading zone and I tersely stated that the car needed to stay where it was and I would take the stuff myself. Liz, tired of my crap, went off to check out while the bellhop looked incredibly confused. I dragged the suitcases out, loaded them in the car and came back for the rest. I picked up everything, thanked the man and waited for Liz to finish checking out. She had run down the list of complaints to the front desk and they actually took some charges off of our bill.

Two days earlier another couple staying at the same hotel for the wedding had an odor problem in their room and had gotten a new one only after a nasty argument with someone in the office and had similarly gotten a discount. This serves nicely to illustrate the myriad of problems with this place. In contrast, we stayed in nine or ten (mostly cheap) motels on this trip and in none of them were we inspired to complain about anything on checkout. They were of varying levels of quality, to be sure. Some had non or poorly functioning internet connections or breakfast ended too early or the air-conditioning blew the window curtains up (a perennial problem at Econo Lodges). But these were all minor annoyances in the overall scheme of things. The Westin so infuriated us that we were tempted several times to check out early and find another hotel.

A quick trip to the library to check our email and directions to the next city calmed us and soon we were on our way to Las Vegas. It was three-and-a-half years ago we were married in Vegas and we haven't been back since. The occasion this day was to pick up new skates for Liz.

Lunch was at The Hat. Having no Roadfood recommendations, we picked a random exit for gas and food and then stopped at the coolest looking place we saw. A large lighted sign with a chef's hat advertising "World Famous Pastrami" was enough for us to stop. I ordered a small gravy fries and a pastrami sandwich. Liz ordered loaded fries, again a small. A few minutes later, we had a pastrami sandwich and enough fries to feed eight people. I really don't want to know the size of the "large" fries. We didn't even come close to finishing either of the piles of fries, or my sandwich. Not because they weren't good, but because it was entirely too much food.

We made it to Vegas as night fell. In an amazing stroke of luck, Sin City Skates was open a bit late that night, so Liz was able to get her skates and other gear. SCS is right behind the Stratosphere, our hotel the week of our wedding.



We headed to the Peppermill Lounge on the strip for dinner. Our previous time in Vegas we had dessert at the Peppermill following the Penn & Teller show. This time we got to try the food, which is upscale diner fare. The food was good, but the atmos is really what makes the place. It's one of the few parts of "old Vegas" that's still left. Our 2004 trip was just in time to see the new Vegas begin to take over the old, and we could get a sense of what it used to be like. Since we were there, the Stardust has closed and been knocked down and the Frontier has closed. The Frontier will be demolished on November 13, to be replaced with another ugly Trump hotel. I'm not sure I ever want to go back. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I feel that way about New York as well, once the powers that be and large corporations finish turning it into "New York, the Theme Park (tm)".



The drive out was pleasant. There were several cars parked in front of the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign on the south end of the strip while their owners took pictures. We didn't stop, as we needed to get to Arizona and it was already late.

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