Well, I'm back and starting to recover after a few fun-filled days in Las Vegas for Martin and Jeanene's wedding. I actually cut myself off from e-mail and the Web for 4 days, so I'll try to post recaps in the upcoming days.
The flight out on Wednesday was thankfully uneventful. I fell asleep for most of it, while Christina watched Shrek. (The only event of note was something I failed to realize until the next day -- I left the Las Vegas guide I had checked out from the library in the pocket of the seat in front of me.) We got there more or less on time just before midnight, which enabled me to wish Christina a Happy Birthday while we were waiting at the baggage carousel.
After collecting our bags, we hopped into a cab to the Excalibur, our hotel. My guidebook says that Excalibur not only is designed for kids, but seems "to be both designed and assembled by children." I think that's overly harsh. The medieval theme is cute, if a bit grating after a while. And I've had far worse experiences in Holiday Inns. Moreover, the price was very nice, especially compared to what the neighboring hotels/casinos/resorts/whatever were charging.
After checking in, we were hungry. Christina tends not to eat much before flying, and I hadn't had a lot that day myself. So at 1 in the morning (4 Eastern Time), we headed to one of the few restaurants the guide recommended that was still open -- America in the New York, New York casino/hotel. We walked on a bridge across the street separating the two establishments.
The NY, NY casino looks pretty interesting from the outside. The "building" consists of the Manhattan skyline squashed together, with the Statue of Liberty (wearing an ESPN SportsZone jersey during our visit) thrown in for good measure. We headed straight for America, which in and of itself is rather visually compelling. It has a huge (90 ft by 20 ft) 3D map of the US hanging up over the restaurant. Fittingly for Christina's birthday, we sat under Texas. (She was born there.) They were running a crab legs & steak special, for which we both eagerly opted. The food was pretty good (much better than I remembed from America in Union Station), and the service was somnewhat indifferent. The highlight of the meal for me was the 32 oz. raspberry margarita...or rather the souvenir cup it came in (for only $4 extra). This plastic container is in the shape of the Statue of Liberty. It's so tacky. It's so Vegas. Perfect.
Having filled our stomachs, we headed back to the Excalibur to rest up for the day of celebration to come.