And a Christmas New Year: The Victoria and Bentonville, AR

The Victoria Bed & Breakfast

Today the road has brought me to Bentonville, AR.

This outing was a surprise even to me as I had just come back from a 7 day trip to Tempe, AZ where I visited some friends over Christmas.  But as I told a friend of mine, I just didn’t feel traveled out enough.  I thumbed through my list of B & Bs and found The Victoria and it had one room left for New Year’s.  I booked it and headed south.

Relatively speaking the drive was a picnic as it was the shortest I’ve had in many a moon (less than 6 hours).  So it was that I found myself in Bentonville on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve and at The Victoria, owned and operated by Michael and Joana Garrison.

The Victoria has a self check-in procedure.  I was given a door code to let myself in and found a letter with my name on it welcoming me to the inn and guiding me to my room on the second floor.  After picking my breakfast time, I headed up to my room:  The Emperor.

This was a very elegant room with large paintings gracing the walls, a writing desk, an old-fashioned gas stove, a leather easy chair, and a large king bed.  After settling in, I made a quick exploration of the property. 

The Victoria has six rooms, each with a royal theme.  There is also a seasonal swimming pool and a hot tub on the property.  The mansion is surprisingly snug with the communal dining room serving as the commons area and the bedrooms being very close together.

After settling in, I headed off to worship at St Stephen. I have a feeling this is a very new building as it had a modern feel to it and was the second largest chapel in which I’ve attended a service. 

St Stephen

I felt a real sense of serenity as I worshipped.  There was no real “a-ha” moment to the service to cause this feeling.  I just felt His presence and just rested in it for the service.  Afterwards, I took a few snaps of the Christmas decorations around the chapel and then searched up a place to have dinner.

I had dinner at Table Restaurant on 6th.  The restaurant looks like it was once a house and has upgraded café food to a fine dining experience.  I had a hankering for some Mediterranean food so I gave the Lamb Burger a taste and it really hit the spot.  After satisfying my hunger, I returned to the Victorian and then walked the few blocks to the downtown area.

Downtown Bentonville has a wide variety of shops and restaurants, but it also has some great Christmas lights.  I first went to the outdoor ice rink and took in their magic for a spell before heading to the town square to take in their holiday cheer.  Then I took advantage of the nice night and wandered about the neighborhood for some exercise and to find more Christmas lights.

One thing I noticed was that many homes seemed quite well to do and I would later learn that Bentonville is one of the wealthiest cities in Arkansas and either does, or did, have two billionaires living in the city.  After a good long walk, I returned to the inn where I watched a little TV before going to bed.

I had an early breakfast the next morning and headed down at 8:15am.  I formally met Michael and took a seat at by the window.  Michael gave me a mason jar full of water before taking my egg order.  I opted for a vegetable omelet with a side of turkey bacon.  Before sinking my teeth into that, I had a fresh from the oven cinnamon roll and some fruit from the buffet.

Breakfast was exquisite and I returned to room to relax for a bit before heading to nearby Fayetteville to once again enjoy Arkadia Retrocade.

Arkadia Retrocade

I had visited this arcade back in March on my way home from Hot Springs, but didn’t get to fully enjoy it as I was on a tight schedule.  This time I was able to indulge my video game loving heart to the fullest.

I said it in March and I’ll say it again.  This is one of the two best retro arcades I’ve visited and is #1 in terms of pure value.  For $5, you can game all day.  I was so lost in the treasure trove of games that nearly five hours passed before I knew it.  I had a fantastic day of gaming as I set personal bests on Crystal Castles, Burgertime, Fix it Felix, Jr., Dragon’s Lair (haven’t quite mastered the timing of the arcade version), Donkey Kong 3, and Kangaroo.  I also conquered Sunsetriders, Spider-Man, Captain America and The Avengers, and, for the first time, Double Dragon II:  The Revenge.

Then I drove back to The Victoria and made the short jaunt to Flying Fish.  This is a casual seafood restaurant which also serves some Cajun fare.  I ordered a cup of seafood gumbo along with shrimp jambalaya and bread. 

This is how gumbo is supposed to be.  A good gumbo is more like stew than soup and this one was right on the money with a thick, brown broth.  The jambalaya was spot on and I used the seasoned bread to mop up the remains of my gumbo and jambalaya sauce.  Then I walked for a few miles around town to get some more Christmas shots before retiring to the inn for the night.

Breakfast this morning was a repeat of yesterday’s though I had an orange roll instead of a cinnamon roll and nibbled on a cranberry (I think?) scone instead of having fruit.

And that brings this adventure to an end. It serves as a nice bookend as I’m starting the year in Arkansas and will also close it there when I visit Arsenic and Old Lace of Eureka Springs for my annual Christmas review. As to what happens in between. . .well, we’ll just see where the road takes me.

But if you find yourself in Bentonville, spend a night in regal elegance at The Victoria. You’ll find royal comfort, delicious food, and gracious hosts.

Until the next time. . .happy travels.

Viva Las Vegas, Day 2 or Where Does He Get His Luck?

Another day in Las Vegas and it was actually quite chilly today.  But it’s not going to stand in the way of this adventure.

I was feeling in a particularly good mood, so I bought breakfast for my companions at the Port O’Calls Buffet at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino.  This is a very reasonably priced buffet and the food tastes great, especially the French Toast which is the most delicious I have enjoyed.  There is actually a story behind this delicacy.

The second time I ever went to Vegas with Mat and John (and a third friend, Matt Haynie), Haynie, John, and I enjoyed the French Toast, but Mat was too full to enjoy a piece.  The three of us raved about how wonderful it was and Mat thought we were jerking his chain as this raving continued for the next year.

Mat and I returned to Vegas a year later where we again ate at Gold Coast and I asked Mat if he were going to eat the French Toast.  He said he would just to get me off his back.  I saw him slice off a bite and pop it into his mouth.  Immediately, his eyes popped open and revealed the truth of the incredible taste.  Mat’s expression said he didn’t want to admit how good it was, but he finally grunted, “D–n it!!  It is good.”

After a hearty meal, we returned to the Rio where my legendary luck surfaced again.  I am not much of a gambler, but 9 times out of 10 I am unusually lucky.  We found a Lord of the Rings slot machine where I did decently, ending $40 ahead.  Then I attempted to play a Judge Judy machine and wasn’t having much luck and I decided to take one more spin.

BOOM!  9,000 penny jackpot.

From there, with the aid of good spins and bonuses, I ran it up to being $250 ahead.

After my profitable morning, Mat and I headed over to Harrah’s where we enjoyed the Mac King Comedy Magic Show.  This has been voted the best afternoon show in Vegas for a number of years and is well deserved.  Mr. King is an excellent magician with an easygoing, likable manner.  Even better, he’s clean.  This is a very family friendly show and one of the most affordable shows in Vegas.  Top tickets only cost about $50, plus tax.

After the show, Mat and I ran to the Mirage so I could try to find the Ghostbusters machine that was so generous to me last year.  I found it and, this time, it wasn’t quite so giving and it ate some of my winnings.  A Superman machine managed to dig me out of the loss a little.  I then decided to give the other Ghostbusters machine one last chance.  KA-POW!!  Started earning some more profits.

After I felt I had bled the luck out of the machine, we returned to the Rio where Mat took a break and I proceeded to have a little bad luck and lost a portion of my winnings back to Judge Judy (and blackjack and Spider-Man).

That evening, I finally got to go to downtown Las Vegas for the first time.  It was truly a unique experience.  I enjoyed the Fremont Street Experience (a massive light show), saw a street magician, and proceeded to lose some more money on a Godzilla slot machine and a The Price is Right machine at the legendary 4 Queens Hotel & Casino.

From there, my cohorts and I traveled to Binions where Mat spied a Superman II slot machine and I felt I had to play it.  I hit a bonus where I won 3 2,000 penny jackpots in a row, so now I had recouped all the money I had lost and then some.

After a tiring, but fulfilling day, we returned to the Rio for a well deserved rest.