The Tropicana? It’s hard to know where I left off — everything seems so distant in my mind. Unbelievably, I’m writing this post from the Hamptons, at the very end of the first leg of my journey. That could be the middle. Where a journey begins or ends is ultimately up to the author.
Laverne and I were able to find a good deal for the Tropicana on Hotwire. In fact, to all you road-trippers out there, I would suggest a couple things: 1.) using hotwire 2.) not using hotwire for anything less than 2 stars. The Tropicana is experiencing its Miami re-do. This means it has become both cleaner and tackier. It looks like a White tower from Lord of the Rings. The best part is the pool which is in relatively poor taste. Behind the main area is a pond that looks, sadly, exactly like how my dad did his pond in our backyard growing up. A little patching product and quick-dry cement. Nothing you can’t create out of a couple buckets, right? The pool also pumps loud 80’s music non-stop. Everything from TLC onwards, you gotta’ love it. (Random non-sequitur: but was Keith Sweat more of an 80’s or a 90’s singer?)
For me, pools are about getting away. That’s why I love ’em so much. I feel like I’m away from my worries, surrounded by waters which heal me. But this pool is different. For starters, there’s the music blaring. There’s the cigarettes everywhere — they allow smoking pool-side. Worse of all, they have a swim-up blackjack table. Say what? Yeah, you can swim-up and they will deal you some plastic, up to 21 or bust. So even if you’re addicted, and just trying to take a breather from the slot machines and the tables, you can’t. It follows you even to the oasis. Crazy.
As I mentioned before, I had lost $80 ($40 on behalf of my little seester) and $40 just cuz’ on stupid slot machines all in the first night I arrived. My mom always makes it so easy. I just really wanted to be able to buy me and Laverne a fancy meal at a buffet by winning at gambling. Makes sense, right? I was raised to play for food. Anyway, Wheel of Fortune did me wrong, and those Lucky Seven’s never showed up. The lemon picatta chicken breast I had at the Grand Lux sat wrong in my stomach, so the next day, as we were checking out, I headed with $20 to the craps table to win a load of cash, or at least my pride. I got lucky and made back $80. Laverne made me leave the table at that point, although the hunger had descended upon me, and so I wanted to stay. But, it was near time to leave, and my lucky 8’s and 6’s weren’t doing as well.
We headed over to Caesar’s Palace where I spent most of my winning on lunch for Laverne and me at Joe’s stone crabs. If you want a truly scrumptious key lime pie — ain’t no better place (though when I got to Wisconsin I gave it a couple twirls, but nothing turned out better than Joe’s). That thing is tart and sweet, and the crust is so flaky and rich that it really is the best pie ever. Just saying.
And with that last taste of Vegas, we were off, driving toward Utah…