COMING INTO THE “NEW” LAGUARDIA AIRPORT

Many years ago when now President Joe Biden was the Vice President, he didn’t win many friends in New York by comparing New York City’s other airport, LaGuardia, or LGA, to a “Third World ” airport.

This didn’t sit well with many New York politicians, including then governor Andrew Cuomo, who grew up in the borough of Queens where LaGuardia is located.

JFK is located in Queens as well, but they’re ALWAYS adding more terminals to it and there’s even a hotel right near the runway.

LaGuardia is different.

Nothing has happened to that airport in years, so those of us who have flown out of LaGuardia, agreed with Vice President Biden.

Not only does it look like a Third World airport, not for nothing and sorry not sorry, LaGuardia looked like a dump compared to JFK and even the other New York area airport, Newark Liberty over in New Jersey.

When I returned from my 30 Plus Teams Tour of Las Vegas, I flew into the “new LaGuardia” at Terminal B, which looks NOTHING like a Third World airport.

It’s a beautiful terminal and it reminds me of a lot of United States airports that I’ve been to, especially BWI, the other Washington DC area airport.

If JFK wasn’t close by my house, (basically in my backyard) I’d fly out of LaGuardia a lot more.

There’s a lot more work that needs to be done at LaGuardia but in the words of many a preacher, “We’re not where we wanna be, but Thank God, we’re not where we used to be!”

I MADE IT TO LGA, TOO BAD MY BAG DIDN’T

After five days and four nights of a great 30 Plus Teams Tour of Las Vegas, it was time to go back to New York City.

I came in to Las Vegas on February 1st from JFK on a Delta Airlines flight, I was returning to LGA on Saturday, February 5th on a Southwest Airlines flight with a stopover in Denver.

I had a little bit of time, so I brought myself a blended Matcha Green Tea and waited to board.

The flight from Denver was quicker than I thought it would be.

As usual, we had to taxi because after all, it is New York City, there’s traffic even on airport runways.

I waited for my bag just like other passengers,but while they were getting their bags, my little blue bag was no where to be found.

My next step was to go to the Southwest Airlines baggage office to see just what was happening here.

The agent looked at his computer and said, “Miss Lawery, your bag didn’t transfer from Denver Airport, so we’re putting it on the flight to St. Louis to LGA. I’m sorry for the delay.”

Great, my bag is travelling to another place before it gets to New York, meanwhile the Sports Diva is going to fight traffic on a Saturday night ride back to another part of Queens.

The baggage claim agent asked me to describe my bag and what was in it .

“Light blue with lots of Vegas Golden Knights stickers on it. There’s clothes ,toiletries, and two bottles of booze in it”

The Sports Diva has her priorities, and of course my bag has stickers of some sports team on it.

I was told that my bag would be delivered to wherever I was staying.

Not to be a jerk which I could have been, my reply was, home, I’m going back to my house.

A day later, I’m still waiting for my bag, which still hasn’t been delivered yet, but that’s not their fault.

I just haven’t been home and neither has anyone else.

A SURPRISE IN LAS VEGAS

As I said in my last post, for my last full day in Las Vegas before I went back to the cold of New York City, the plan was to visit as many casino hotels as possible and take in everything else happening in Las Vegas for that weekend.

Not only were hockey players invading the home of the Vegas Golden Knights, T Mobile Arena, but over at Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders football team, the NFL All Star game, the Pro Bowl, had football players invading Las Vegas also.

It was the first time in sports history that two sports leagues were having their all star games in the same city, and not only was Las Vegas more than ready for it, the Sports Diva was in her element.

This is what I came for, to see all the hockey goings on in town.

I didn’t go to the Fan Fest on Friday because I was trying to rush back to my hotel in Downtown Las Vegas and pack for a 6am flight the next day.

Plus I wanted to see my favorite part of any sports all star game.

Not the all Star game itself, but the festivities before like the Home Run Derby in Baseball, The Slam Dunk and 3 Point Contest in Basketball and in hockey, Fastest Skater, Hardest Shot, Most Accurate Shooter, Mascots Dance Off and the Breakaway Competition in which players from the different teams come up with creative ways to score on the goaltender .

As for the football all star skills competition, nope, sorry not a fan of that.

Anyway, as I said, I had plans for Friday.

My Vegas Golden Knights friends had other plans for me.

My friend LB: “Jo Ann where are you now?”

“I’m just walking into Resorts World now.”

My friend LB: “Lisa and I are staying at Park MGM.”

Park MGM Hotel and Casino are across the street from T Mobile Arena, but I figured we were going to watch the Skills Competition from the girls room.

“Okay, I was going back downtown to my hotel and watch the Skills Competition.”

My friend LB:”Lisa has an extra ticket to the Skills Competition, you wanna go?”

I didn’t know if half of Las Vegas Boulevard could hear me screaming, but the Sports Diva screamed as though one of her teams had just won the championship or something.

Oh hell yeah, I wanted to go.

Packing could wait, the Sports Diva had a hockey All Star Skills Competition to go to.

Need I mention that LB and Lisa are Vegas Golden Knights seasons tickets holders so we sat in their seats watching the mascots act the fool with fans, dancing with the Vegas Bellas, who are the showgirls who preform at Golden Knights games.

The mascot dance off was won by the Pacific Division mascots from Vancouver, Los Angeles,Anaheim, San Jose and of course, Chance from Las Vegas, who did a routine with the showgirls to a song by The Weekend, “Blinded By The Lights.” Very appropriate for Vegas if you ask me.

The Metropolitan Conference mascots, led by Gritty from Philadelphia, Sparky The Dragon from The New York Islanders, Iceburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot, and The Eagle from the Washington Capitals, came in second dancing to The Harlem Shuffle.

Outside of the Fastest Skater and Hardest Shot Competition, which was won by Jordan Kyrou of the St. Louis Blues (and really is one of the fastest skaters I have ever seen and I’ve seen some pretty fast hockey skaters in my time)and Victor Hedman of the Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, everyone was waiting for the Breakaway Competition.

The event was won by Alex Pietrangelo of the home town VGK, but even the Vegas fans were booing this decision.

Like me, they thought it should have gone to Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks, who shot into the net blindfolded while the mascots threw dodgeballs at him.

It could have even gone to Alex Debrincat from the Chicago Blackhawks, who dressed like Alan from the movie The Hangover.

You can’t get any more Las Vegas than that.

Debrincat brought the house down when he came out with Derek Carr, the quarterback of the Las Vegas Raiders who threw a football , which Debrincat caught and then shot it into the net.

It got really crazy when the All Stars were announced and the loudest boos weren’t for players from the Los Angeles Kings or San Jose Sharks, the rivals of the VGK, no it was reserved for Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals, who believe it or not is the second most hated man in hockey.

After the competition was over, it was time for me to go get something to eat and finally pack because the shuttle van was coming to take me to the airport at 3:30am.

I always love my 30 Plus Teams Tours of Las Vegas, but this one was really good and what a surprise.

Youpi and SpartaCat, the Ottawa Senators mascot, meeting the crowd
Blades the bear, the Boston Bruins mascot

NHL FAN FEST AND A HISTORY LESSON PART TWO

The Fan Fest on both days started at 3pm, Las Vegas time.

I didn’t expect to stay long after seeing the exhibits and playing games.

The game sponsored by GEICO, I won another stuffed animal, a camel.

If you’ve ever seen the GEICO commercial, you know this is kinda funny.

“HUMP DAY!”

I was going to stay maybe an hour or so, but I noticed they were doing an interview with former players so I stayed.

But then I heard a lot of noise coming from the other side of the hall near where the DJ was playing music.

It wasn’t the music, it was the mascots from most of the 32 teams.

Some teams like New York Rangers, Seattle Kraken and Detroit Red Wings don’t even have mascots, and I didn’t see the mascot from the Calgary Flames, Harvey The Hound, either.

But other mascots were there, including the mascot that seems to be the one everyone knows, Gritty from the Philadelphia Flyers.

The mascots played dodgeball, which got the crowd going and just mingled with the crowd.

Hunter the Lynx, the Edmonton Oilers mascot, got just a little too up close and personal with the Sports Diva and I was behind the glass.

As I said, the plan was to stay maybe just an hour or so.

So much for plans.

I ended up staying until 7pm and it started at 3pm.

I had one more full day in Vegas and I had a whole day of exploring Vegas on my list of things to do that Friday before I left to go back to New York, so I wasn’t going to go to the second day of Fan Fest.

Or at least I THOUGHT I was going to do other things in Vegas on my last day in the city.

My Vegas Golden Knights posse had OTHER plans for the Sports Diva.

Finn, the Vancouver Canucks mascot, Wild Wing, Anaheim Ducks mascot, Victor E Green, Dallas Stars mascot and Hunter, Edmonton Oilers mascot
Tommy Hawk, the Chicago Blackhawks mascot
Manitoba Moose, the Winnepeg Jets mascot
Bailey, the Los Angeles Kings mascot
Sabertooth, the Buffalo Sabres mascot and Carlton the Polar bear, Toronto Maple Leafs mascot
Louie, the St. Louis Blues mascot with Chance, the Vegas Golden Knights mascot
Nordie, the Minnesota Wild mascot
Howler, the Arizona Coyotes mascot
It’s Youpi, the Montreal Canadiens mascot. If he looks sort of familiar, it’s because Youpi was the mascot for the Montreal Expos baseball team
Louie saying hi to the crowd, S. J. Sharkie, the San Jose Sharks mascot is close by
Poor Bernie the St. Bernard, Colorado Avalanche mascot, got hit by a dodgeball from one of the Eastern Conference mascots. SpartaCAT, Ottawa Senators mascot and Lightning Bug, Tampa Bay Lightning mascot aren’t showing any sympathy for Bernie. Victor E Green had to help up the poor baby.
Ok back up, Hunter. You’re a little too close up and personal to the Sports Diva

NHL FAN FEST AND A HISTORY LESSON PART ONE

This was one, no the main reason why the Sports Diva did a 30 Plus Teams Tour of Las Vegas.

Usually my trips to Las Vegas are twice a year, February and June.

This year there was a real reason to go to Vegas at this time and it had NOTHING to do with gambling.

If you know the Sports Diva, you know that my mottos are, “Staying home is NOT an option”, and my favorite one, “Have a hockey team, will travel.”

Las Vegas does have a hockey team, the Vegas Golden Knights and from February 4-5, they and the city of Las Vegas hosted the NHL All Star game and Fan Fest, which was at the Las Vegas Convention Center and ran from Thursday February 3 until Sunday February 6.

The All Star game was on Saturday February 5, but by the time it came on at 4pm, Eastern time, the Sports Diva was back in New York City.

The Skills Competition has always been my favorite but more about it in another post.

I was ready for two days at convention center for Fan Fest.

It didn’t happen, I only ended up seeing one day of Fan Fest, but that was okay by me.

It was fun seeing all things hockey, including the antics of the mascots from many of the teams including the host mascot, Chance, who is a lizard or as they call them in Nevada, Gila Monsters.

What I didn’t expect, though, was a history lesson on hockey.

The first exhibit as you walked into the west hall of the convention center past the banners of all 32 NHL teams was the exhibit showing the contribution to hockey by not just blacks but women and Native Americans (or First Nations, as they’re refered to in Canada as well.)

I saw names of players that I remembered watching over the years and players that I didn’t even know were black or Indigenous.

I wish this exhibit had been bigger or had as long a line as the line to see the Stanley Cup did.

CHECKING OUT CIRCA HOTEL AND CASINO

This hotel is located in Downtown Las Vegas and is across the street from Golden Nugget, another fancy looking hotel.

Fancy for Downtown Las Vegas, that is.

Splash and dash is more for the hotel casinos on the Las Vegas Strip like Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Wynn or Encore, not Downtown Las Vegas.

CIRCA is located towards the end of the Fremont Street Experience, right before Plaza Hotel and Casino.

Even if you aren’t staying at CIRCA, which I hope to do very soon, God willing, have that ID out if you’re going to eat or play the slots there.

You MUST be 21 to enter and prove it.

There’s a security guard right at the entrance checking your driver’s license or state ID if you’re from the United States.

Have that passport ready if you aren’t from the United States, you will need it.

CIRCA is owned by the same gentleman that owns Golden Gate and The D hotel and casino, Derek Stevens.

All of these hotels are on Fremont Street.

Like The D, it’s all about the state of Michigan at CIRCA as well.

Derek Stevens is from Detroit, so you’ll feel at home in both casinos if you’re walking around in either a Michigan State, Detroit Pistons, Detroit Red Wings or U. of Michigan jerseys.

If you want to watch a game with some teams who aren’t from Michigan, you can do that as well on the big screen at the bar.

This just isn’t any old bar, it’s called The MEGA BAR, and it’s big.

Feeling homesick for those foods in Michigan?

CIRCA has you covered with Michigan favorites such as Barry’s Restaurant, Saginaw’s and if you’re really hungry for some Michigan eats, head on down to The D for an American Coney Island Dog, which is a staple in the Motor City.

Right in the middle of the casino is a figure that has nothing to do with Michigan.

It’s part of Old Las Vegas and it’s making a reappearance in Downtown Las Vegas.

It’s the figure of a cowgirl known as Vegas Vickie.

The last time Vegas Vickie was around, she was in front of a casino bar known as Glitter Gultch.

Glitter Gultch is no longer there. What’s standing where Glitter Gultch used to be?

You guessed it, CIRCA.

CIRCA pays tribute to all things old Vegas.

Right in the hotel store is a picture of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., better known as “The Rat Pack”.

Only in Las Vegas can you swim in a pool, that’s heated all year round by the way, enjoy a beverage and watch sports.

Welcome to Stadium Swim, where if you want to watch a soccer match, but your wife wants to watch a Golden State Warriors game, you both can do that at Stadium Swim, just look up in front of you at one of the biggest tv screens you’ve ever seen.

I didn’t get to see Stadium Swim because it wasn’t open yet, after all it was just 7am, Vegas time.

What I did get to see was one of the biggest Sports Books I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a few in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

The seats are made as though you were seated in a movie theater, so all you needed was your bucket of butter popcorn and a drink, but I’m sure the waitresses can bring you your favorite beverage while you place your sports bets.

As for placing your bets, with as big as the screens are, there’s no way one can say, I couldn’t see what I was betting on.

The screens are that big.

As for the slot games, there were many that I wanted to play but didn’t because 1. I didn’t bring that much money with me 2. I was in a hurry to get back to my hotel and 3. I left my players card from The D that I can also use at CIRCA back at the hotel.

Sorry, the Sports Diva needs those comps so I can get those discounts at Las Vegas hotels.

CIRCA might just be my next place to stay in Downtown Las Vegas

PICTURES FROM RESORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS

The last 30 Plus Teams Tour of Las Vegas I took was in June of 2021.

The day after I left, another casino opened up .

It was Resorts World, but unlike the one near my home in Queens, New York, it has two hotels attached to it, Hilton and The Conrad.

Both the Conrad and Hilton have separate entrances for their guests.

I wanted to see for myself what the Resorts World was all about, after hearing so many different opinions about it.

When I went not only was it Chinese and Lunar New Year, but going on in town wasn’t only NHL All Star Weekend, but the NFL Pro Bowl, which is the All Star game for the National Football League.

My own opinion of Resorts World is this, it’s beautiful and different than the usual hotels that Vegas is used to.

The area where Resorts World stands used to be the old Stardust Hotel, and as you walk into the lobby of Resorts World, you see part of the old Stardust.

Enjoy the pictures of the newest hotel and casino in town.

TEXAS STYLE BARBECUE IN AN ASIAN SETTING

I finally got to visit the new Resorts World Hotel and Casino Las Vegas on this 30 Plus Teams Tour.

There will be more about the Resorts World Las Vegas in an another post.

Since it was my full day in Las Vegas there were a few places and things that I wanted to do but it didn’t happen that way.

Something else came up to spoil the Sports Diva’s plans, but the something else that came up was something very unexpected.

More about that also in another upcoming post.

As usual, the Sports Diva got hungry as I only had a Dunkin Donuts and a cup of coffee early in the morning.

I knew most of the restaurants in Resorts World are Asian themed because there’s a Resorts World in my neighborhood and they were opened before the one in Las Vegas was.

I couldn’t decide between the sushi, Pho or a food that I hadn’t had in a long time, Indian food.

I went to the order board and looked over my choices.

One particularly caught my eye right away.

Being the Sports Diva that was raised by parents from North and South Carolina, my eye went to a restaurant that has its roots in Texas, Blood Brothers.

So what did I order?

Texas style barbecue Brisket on white bread, a Pineapple Fanta soda and potato salad.

Now being the good girl raised by Southerners, you better believe that some hot sauce went all over this delicious food.

No matter what you order from any of the restaurants at Resorts World, your food is either brought to you or you pick it up when it’s ready.

Just put in your phone number and when your food is ready, you get a text.

The food court is just like the hawker stalls in Malaysia and Singapore where your food is brought to you.

It brought back memories of going to Malaysia and Singapore when I worked for Malaysia Airlines in Los Angeles.

All in total, I paid $21 for my meal, the brisket was $17 and some change, which I’m sorry isn’t expensive.

I would have paid a lot more in New York City for this and besides, Beef Brisket isn’t a cheap cut of meat.

For the meaty slices that I was given, I would have paid more, really.

Every time I do a 30 Plus Teams Tour of somewhere, I keep a list of restaurants that I want to return to when I go back to that city.

Another one has been added to the long list for Las Vegas.

FINALLY EATING AT HEXX.

It seems that whenever I do a 30 Plus Teams Tour of anywhere, I’m either going to a sporting event or eating at some restaurant.

This latest visit to Las Vegas for All Star Weekend is no different.

As often as I come to Vegas, one of the restaurants that I’ve avoided is HEXX, which is located inside of the Paris Casino.

The restaurant is in a prime location, across the street from the Bellagio Hotel and the Bellagio fountains.

You can request a table right by the window and watch the Bellagio fountain show.

In the summer, not only can you request a table by the window, you can sit outside as well.

I was going to eat at another restaurant for breakfast, but since I had just won $65 at Paris Hotel and figured that I need to treat myself to a meal at a place that is always mentioned by YouTubers and travel bloggers alike when they come to Las Vegas.

From the moment that I walked in to the time that I finished my meal, I wasn’t disappointed at all.

The service was excellent whether it was the hostess who seated me, the waiter who served me, (his name was Mike, I think, but his mom is from Michigan and he worked in New York)or even the server who refilled my water and coffee.

As for my meal of three eggs Sunnyside up, apple wood smoked bacon, and potatoes, it was delicious.

The meal was $14.99,(and worth every penny)and it came with English muffins or your choice of wheat or white bread.

If you’re like me and didn’t want any bread of all, you had the option of having fruit, which is a dollar more.

HEXX also has bottomless Mimosas for brunch, which starts around 8am, and costs $30 per person.

I passed on the Mimosas but throughly enjoy my coffee, and that view that I had from my table.

The hostess asked me if I wanted to sit at the bar since I came in alone, but a table was good enough for me.

I was so full from the brunch that I skipped lunch.

I’ve decided that for my next trip God willing, HEXX will be a stop for brunch.

Come to think of it, I have two more days for this 30 Plus Teams Tour, HEXX might be a brunch stop whether I’ve won money at the casino or not.