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2 Little, 2 Late

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by westie, Dec 26, 2015.

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  1. westie

    westie VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    Messages:
    4,022
    Location:
    Kensington, CT
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    60

    My Trip Report

    December 5-19, 2015


    December 5 - This trip began, as all our trips since Brody's January, 2014 arrival, with our departing Casa de Westie with Brody riding on Ann's lap. We dropped him off at Beaverbrook Animal Hospital where he was warmly welcomed by the staff and one of the resident cats. http://www.beaverbrookah.com/

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    We continued on to LAZ Economy Valet where we parked for the entire 15 days for $50 using a coupon from Valpak. https://www.lazfly.com/?gclid=CM2er7jz7MkCFcwWHwodoCwPtw

    After a quick shuttle ride to Bradley International Airport, we checked our luggage with Southwest Airlines which seemed the logical thing to do since we were both flying nonstop with them courtesy of Rapid Rewards credits.


    The flight was largely uneventful and, thanks to a good tail wind, we arrived 30 minutes early and more surprisingly a gate was open and even more surprisingly our luggage was one of the first on the carousel. We took the shuttle to the remote parking facility and checked in at Thrifty where I had a Wild Card reservation for a compact or larger car at a total all-in cost of $229.68. In our case, and probably yours should you fall for this come on, we were told at the desk that it would be a Chevrolet roller skate, oops Chevrolet Spark. Fortunately, when we went to retrieve the car, the garage attendant asked if we would care for a SUV. We did not hesitate in responding in the affirmative so we soon exited the facility in a Jeep Compass with just over 15,000 miles on the odometer.


    We once again stayed at the Grandview, a timeshare located adjacent to the South Point Casino, but this time we requested a room in the Sage Tower. The check-in process again went smoothly and when I went to pick up our parking pass I was able to score 6 funbooks and very little in the way of a sales pitch. http://www.vacationvillageresorts.com/VVR/grandview_las_vegas/

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    We were assigned room 907A, a 1-BR unit with the same amenities as on our prior visits (e.g. jacuzzi, full kitchen, king bed, 2 flatscreen TV's, washer/dryer combo and safe). While unpacking we discovered the safe was not in working condition and the handle for the shower was resting on the bathroom vanity. A call to the front desk yielded an offer of another unit, but we had already unpacked so we requested maintenance assistance. Less than 15 minutes later our problems were solved and we were making the short walk to the South Point Casino.


    First stop was the Grandview Lounge for a pair of Budweiser Lite drafts courtesy of funbook coupons. These were taken to the Del Mar Deli where we shared a pastrami on rye sandwich with a side of potato salad. Though the pastrami was lean and bountiful, the sandwich was on the dry side.

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    ($10.98, 15% off with funbook coupon, 2.5 Forks out of a possible 5)


    December 6 – It was 2:30AM and I found myself in the Jeep on my way to Green Valley Ranch (GVR). https://greenvalleyranch.sclv.com/ The only gambling I do in Las Vegas, other than dining in small ethnic restaurants, is playing full pay deuces wild (FPDW) video poker that returns 100.7% with perfect strategy. I know the strategy from years of experience and practice, but on this trip, much to my dismay, I discovered my left pinkie sometimes had a mind of its own and would not hold a card that my mind selected.


    After a few hours of up and down play, I was dealt (4) deuces for my #1 quad deuces of the trip. Prior to leaving I swiped my cards at the kiosk for 3 x points.,

    On exiting I made a short detour to the Boulder Highway where I picked up an apple fritter at Friendly Donut House for us to share. As usual, it was fresh, mammoth sized, inexpensive, delicious, oil free and healthy.

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    Okay, maybe not real healthy though there were apples in it and we did not require medical attention on this trip. ($1.75, 4 Forks)

    We were both tired so we spent the remainder of the morning reading the newspaper, resting and prepping for the day. Around lunch time we drove to El Fish Taco on Tropicana where we ordered a total of 4 tacos, (2) El Fish (shrimp, black beans, avocado and chipolte cream, (1) Al pastor, (fish filet with scallions, onions and grilled pineapple) and (1) poblano (fish filet with poblano rojas, corn and sour cream). While we waited for the tacos to be prepared, our waitress gave us a sample of their fish soup.

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    I was somewhat disappointed in the flavor of the poblano taco, but the 2 other varieties were fresh tasting. We also shared a strawberry crème brulee which was more the consistency of a flan bathing in cream.

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    ($15, Groupon, 3 Forks) http://www.elfishtaco.com/

    We then drove to the Smith Center to attend the “Clint Holmes For The Holidays” show featuring his wife Kelly Clinton-Holmes, best buddy Bill Fayne, granddaughter Asia and actor Antonio Vargas (Huggy Bear from Starksy and Hutch). A wide variety of holiday songs were performed much to the delight of one and all. We have seen several versions of his holiday show in the past at both Harrahs and, more recently, the Suncoast and this year's show compares favorably to his best.

    http://www.clintholmes.com/ ($110, 4.5 Claps)

    After returning to the room we barely settled in before it was time to head out to Ellis Island Casino for a few adult beverages courtesy of the Las Vegas Advisor 3 rounds of drinks for 2 people coupon. http://ellisislandcasino.com/ The timing of this trip was planned to coincide with both the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) and, more importantly, the availability of the Ellis family's eggnog.

    This year's vintage, the eggnog, not the NFR, was so smooth that we were not always successful in limiting ourselves to one round of this alcohol enhanced beverage. Tonight we “really” tried, but when the bartender called out “2 merlots?” we nodded assent only to belatedly realize she actually said “2 more”. We did not send them back.

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    Dinner was at Chada Street where we dined twice on our last trip. The restaurant, serving upscale street food from Thailand, was almost empty on this Sunday evening. http://www.chadastreet.com/

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    We started off with yum yod tua (pea sprouts, shrimp, ground pork, onion, chili, lime and fish sauces, and crispy shallot) that was tasty but, a little too spicy for one of us.

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    Our shared entrees were pad ped pla duk (crispy catfish with chili paste and green beans) and sen mee kang pou (their signature crab curry with rice noodles) The crispy catfish was the highlight of the meal while their signature crab curry was a disappointment because the noodles were stuck together rendering them almost uneatable.

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    ($41.13, 3 Forks)

    Ann put in a short losing session of not so ugly deuces (NSUD) at the South Point on our return while I headed directly to the room.

    December 7 – My 3 plus hour session this morning yielded nary a single wild royal flush, much less the more coveted quad deuces or royal flush. I did swipe my slot card for 3 x points and entered us both into the latest Station Casino's promotion. I am not sure if it was related, but I did receive a coupon good for $10 off a $20 purchase at any buffet or Grand Cafe.

    Breakfast was at the Grand Cafe at Palace Station Casino which was not very busy in comparison to our prior visit 2 months ago. https://palacestation.sclv.com/Dining/Grand-Cafe.aspx I ordered an eggs Benedict with spinach and tomato that was topped with an abundance of Hollandaise sauce with a large portion of hash browns on the side. The Hollandaise sauce was very good, but the eggs were overdone and the thinly sliced tomato added nothing to the taste profile of the Benny. Ann settled on a vegetable omelet that included both toast and hash browns.

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    Overall, neither meal was better or worse than fair though our server proved to be a delight. ($19.20, promo, 2.5 Forks)

    Next stop was the Bellagio where we parked and made our way to the box office in order to exchange MyVegas rewards for tickets to both Zarkana and the Australian Bee Gees show. We were told the Bee Gees show had been canceled for the night of our reservation so we chose a later date.

    Prior to departing, we toured the holiday display in the Botanical Garden that included a 42' fir tree decorated with 7,000 lights and 2,500 ornaments. In addition there were polar beers, penguins, a pair of rotating globes, humongous rocking horse, a miniature train and so much more. ($0, 4 Claps)

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    On our way back to the Grandview, we detoured in order to purchase granola and fruit at a Sprouts Farmers Market. https://www.sprouts.com/ After returning to the room, Ann headed off for a video poker session while I took a quick nap before hoofing it over to the South Point. I could not locate her so I visited the Western Gift Show that now occupies multiple ballrooms.

    It has been approximately 5 years since our visit coincided with the NFR so I was amazed to find the number of gift show vendors had increased from a few dozen to a few hundred. Ditto for the World Series of Team Roping, held in the adjoining equestrian center, that now exceeds the NFR in terms of total prize money awarded. Needless to say during the first week of our visit we saw a lot of cowboy hats and tight fittin' jeans.

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    We tried our eggnogs on the rocks at Ellis Island this evening and decided straight-up held a decided advantage in terms of both flavor and quantity. Our second round featured glasses of the house Barefoot merlot. The karaoke lounge was jammed with Monday night football fans having dinner and/or taking advantage of the specials that include craft beers and wings for $1 each. The sole bartender was busier than a one legged man in an ass kicking contest so we decided to pass on our traditional 3rd round of bottled water to go.

    Dinner was at Portofino, formerly known as Onda, in the Mirage. https://www.mirage.com/en/restaurants/portofino.html

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    We received a basket of warm garlic ciabatta and ordered the chef's signature appetizer, crab cake arancini (lemon saffron risotto, pesto aioli with fresno pickles).

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    Ann's entree was another signature dish, chicken rollatini Parmesan which was entirely different from the usual chicken Parm in that a house made sausage using leg and thigh meat is wrapped inside a chicken breast that has been lightly breaded and topped with marinara and mozzarella. This dish proved to be almost as bountiful as it was delicious. Not to be outdone, I chose the chef's signature pasta, burrata agnolotti (lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, roasted corn butter) which was rich in flavors.

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    Nether of us left unsatisfied. ($73.37, MyVegas 2/1, 4.5 Forks)

    After walking around the Mirage we stopped in the Carnegie Deli for a slice of cheesecake and a coffee for Ann. The slice was very large and we were pretty full, so we were barely able to put a dent in it before requesting a doggie bag. ($4.25, MyVegas, 3.5 Forks)

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    On our return to the Grandview, we walked over to the South Point and caught the end of the bull riders' event before taking a walk around the casino.

    December 8 – I awoke around 3:30AM in time for another FPDW session at GVR. I was literally down to my last $1.25 when I held a single deuce and caught the remaining three for my #2 quad deuces of the trip. I rounded down and cashed out with a modest loss that almost felt like a win.

    On my way back to the room I stopped at a Smith's for OJ and bananas. Our breakfast included granola with blackberries, a pair of cuties (California clementines) and OJ. After spending a little time in the Grandview's computer room we visited the Las Vegas Premium Outlets – North. On arrival we split up with Ann off to Chico's, what a surprise, and me to the Jockey store. She returned with a scarf, I returned with 6 pairs of undies. She will show you hers, I am more bashful.

    For lunch we drove to the recently reopened Tacos el Gordo on the Strip. http://www.tacoselgordobc.com/ Compared to a year ago when it operated out of this same location, business was underwhelming most likely because there has not been much, if any, advertising. In attempting to correct previous problems with people not knowing which line to stand in to order, there is now a single line which caused a back-up even though there were relatively few people in front of us.

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    We shared a quartet of adobada street tacos, but the norm this day seemed to be 6 per person. Our tacos were not as filled as in the past, but that may be an anomaly.

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    We also shared a horchata that was heavy on Mexican cinnamon – that's good. ($10.81, 3 Forks)

    Ann played a little video poker in the afternoon while I multi tasked by reading and napping while doing a load of wash.

    We again found ourselves at Ellis Island with a glass of eggnog in hand though this evening our bartender (Diana) topped it with whipped cream.

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    With no football games on the tube, business was off from prior evenings. Our 2nd and 3rd rounds were our standard merlots and bottled water to travel.

    Dinner was at Inyo Asian Variety Restaurant on Spring Mountain Road. http://www.inyolv.com/ This restaurant serves tapas that cross the culinary landscape from Japan, Thailand, and China to Korea. A group of 18 office workers were enjoying a holiday dinner causing a back-up in the kitchen so our meal dragged on for almost an hour and a half. We began with a 4-piece order of Thai chicken wings enhanced by chili, lemongrass and fresh herbs along with eggplant dengaku (miso glazed eggplant) and Japanese street corn (miso butter and togarashi).

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    All 3 dishes were flavorful with the street corn receiving the coveted 5 Forks rating. The second round featured 2 miniscule pieces of black cod saikyoaki (miso marinated black cod) and crab fried rice (snow crab, maitake and soft scrambled egg).

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    Though both of these dishes were very good, the black cod way overpriced. ($44.56, 4 Forks)

    On our return to the Grandview we again walked over to the South Point and watched the bull riders event before making a circuit around the casino. Lastly, we ate another third of our cheesecake from the Carnegie Deli.

    December 9 – I took another beating at GVR (e.g played hours before hitting a single wild royal flush).

    Based on how late we got started this morning, our breakfast at Baguette Cafe on W Sunset Road would be more appropriately characterized as a brunch. Olivier was not manning the cash register, but mom was in the kitchen so all is well. We each ordered the vegetable quiche with a side salad that was nicely portioned and delicious. Ann's coffee was super sized, refills not required though she did have them warm it up. ($21.62, 4 Forks)

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    Next stop was Mandalay Bay where we visited the Cowboy Market Place which largely duplicated the Western Gift Show at the South Point though much larger. http://www.cowboymarketplace.net/ Near the end of our tour we stopped, looked and listened, yeah that train keeps a rumblin', to a bluegrass group perform for one set. (2.5 Claps)

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    On our return, we headed over to the South Point's box office to pick up complimentary tickets to tomorrow afternoon's Dennis Bono's show. Our paths than diverged with Ann headed to her usual video poker (lost) machine and me to the room for rest and relaxation (broke even).

    At the appropriate hour Ann returned to the room and, after a short breather, we were off to Ellis Island for, in order of appearance, eggnog, merlot and bottled water to go.

    Dinner was at Tides Sushi & Oyster Bar in GVR. http://tinyurl.com/gmtxs42

    We shared the crab cake appetizer that was most notable for its zesty remoulade sauce.

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    Ann chose as an entree a combination pan roast that included shrimp, crab and lobster in a finger lickin' brandy, cream and tomato sauce. Meanwhile Westie ordered the cioppino – a seafood stew with a medley of seafood that was diminished by heavy, under seasoned tomato sauce.

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    ($10, MyVegas, ½ points, 2.5 Forks)

    On our return we listened to a few songs by a country band in the Grandview Lounge, located in the South Point, followed by one circuit of the casino floor before calling it a night.

    December 10 – At this point the management of GVR must think it has an annuity because I keep losing. I did manage a total of 4 wild royals this morning, but they only postponed the inevitable loss.

    Breakfast was in the room followed by some time on the computer before I dropped Ann off at the Green Turtle Salon in Henderson for a wash and blow dry by Melissa. http://www.gtsalon.com/

    Meanwhile I made the short drive to Sprouts Farmers Market where I picked up raspberries, cashews and apples.

    Lunch, is that time again, was at Tups on East Windmill. We visited this petite, family owned restaurant on our last trip and plan on returning as long as they will keep having us. This time we shared a turkey avocado sandwich (sliced turkey on toasted whole grain wheat bread with avocado, mayo, tomato, bacon, cucumber, red onion, green leaf lettuce and micro greens) that included pickle and coleslaw. ($9, Restaurant.com, 4 Forks)

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    Next stop was the South Point's showroom for the Dennis Bono show which was in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birth.

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    The guest list included Sonny Charles (Original Checkmates), Reva Rice (Vegas the Show), Vincent Falcone (Sinatra's musical conductor), Pia Zadora (singer who frequently opened for Sinatra), song stylist Laura Taylor, Reckless in Vegas, Eric Jordan Young and jazz singer Rita Kim. ($0, 4 Claps)

    Early evening found us seated at the center bar at Ellis Island where we ordered eggnog, merlots and water to go. Does anyone else notice there is a pattern here?

    I had planned on us going to the recently opened Bell's BBQ in Henderson, but we decided it would likely be a heavy meal so we opted to dine at KINTHAI on W Sahara Avenue. http://www.kinthailasvegas.com/ There was no one in the place so the owner engaged us in conversation both before and after dinner including a display of his tattoos that mirrored the wall mural. We shared orders of Pad Thai with shrimp and stir fried basil chicken which were both well executed. ($25.62, 3 Forks)

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    So far on the daily high temperatures have been in the 60's, but the winds kicked up this evening in advance of a change in the weather pattern so tomorrow's high will likely be in the lower 50's. In any event, it was time for us to call it a night.

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    December 11 – I have turned out to be the gift to GVR that keeps on giving. On my return to the Grandview I went to the computer room to check my email and found one from Chase Credit Card fraud department advising me of unauthorized charges at a Marshall's. This is the 3rd time this year our credit card information was pirated.

    The remainder of the morning into the early afternoon was devoted to breakfast, requesting a new credit card, computer time, the Western Gift Show, the Cowboy Art exhibit and the team roping competition.

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    For lunch I traded $3 for a pair of hot dogs at the cart parked outside the sports book plus Bud Lites using funbook coupons ($3, 2.5 Forks)

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    We again separated with Ann putting in a losing video poker session while I whiled away the remainder of the afternoon reading and napping.

    I had previously claimed a MyVegas reward for “Sharing the Holidays with Frank Sinatra” that was being performed this evening in the Rocks Lounge at Red Rock Station so we headed out early to take advantage of the happy hour at Mercadito. Ann ordered what purportedly was one of the 10 best margaritas though it likely would not be in the top 10 in Summerlin.

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    We received a bowl of housemade tortilla chips with 3 salsas that were very good. Between us we ordered a total of 5 street tacos:

    carnitas - braised pork, chili, de arbol coleslaw and toasted peanuts

    pastor - chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, chile de arbol salsa

    carne asada - epazote & oregano marinated skirt steak, watercrest-jicama slaw, serrano-roasted garlic aioli, and crispy shallots

    espada – blackened swordfish, spicy aioli, cabbage-jalapeno slaw

    costillita – wine and chipolte braised short ribs, tomatillo avocado salsa, chipolte siracha aioli and

    crispy potatoes.

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    If only these tacos tasted were nearly as good as they sounded, though the clear winner was the costillita. ($27.15, 2.5 Forks)

    We went to the players club to pick-up our show tickets only to be told they had oversold their allotment. Huh? Plan B was the Kenny Davidson show at the Tuscany Suites. Kenny's guitarist was MIA so the performance began 45 minutes later than scheduled. In the meantime we watched a rebroadcast of the NFR and picked our noses. His performance during his first, and our last, set was sub par compared to the 2 we listened to on our last trip. ($0, 2 Claps)

    December 12 – Another frustrating, losing, sucking, crappy, upsetting, financially draining, @#$*& session. Pardon the language, but I feel better now that I have vented.

    Immediately prior to my return, I visited the recently opened CRAFTkitchen on Eastern Avenue in Henderson that occupies the space formerly housing Chris Herron's highly acclaimed Bread and Butter. http://craftkitchenlv.com/ I selected a scone and a kouign amann that we enjoyed in the room.

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    Both were freshly baked and of excellent quality. A return visit is assured. ($6.49, 4 Forks)

    After a leisurely morning reading the newspaper and prepping for the day, including an abbreviated nap, we head off to the recently opened The Rice Shop on Durango Blvd for lunch. http://www.riceshopvegas.com/ The menu is small, the restaurant is petite, only lunch is served and owner Tony Zappola serves as cashier, waiter, busser, chef and no doubt bottle washer. Ann chose the mochiko chicken rice bowl – large chunks of kung pao chicken, broccoli and peanuts that had her smacking her lips.

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    Not to be outdone, though I think I might have been, I chose Thai Shrimp Bao rice bowl – plump shrimp, black bean gumbo, celery and pickled chilis. The flavors and colors were brilliant.

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    In the end it proved to be too much food for lunch though not much was left in either of our bowls when we finally raised the white flag. ($22.70, 4.5 Forks)

    In the same shopping center is Zaytoon Market & Restaurant so we stopped in to scout it out and ended up purchasing small pieces of pistachio baklava and walnut baklava which were very different from the Greek version and not as good IMHO. ($4.48, 2.5) http://zaytoonlasvegas.com/

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    Once again in the afternoon Ann played video poker (small win) while I rested and digested in our room. Ann also did a quick tour of the Western Gift show and on her way back through the casino heard someone call out Westie, are you Westie? It was Michael with wife Chris from Seattle who recognized her from my trip reports.

    In addition to our usual eggnog, merlot and water at Ellis, we each had a slice of cheese pizza from the in-house outlet of Metro Pizza. The toppings were greasy, the bottom was limp, and the price too dear. ($6, 2 Forks)

    Next we attended the “It's A Wonderful Life” benefit concert for the Toys For Tots campaign. The show commemorated the Frank Sinatra's 100 birthday. Husband and wife performers Ben Stone and Jasmine Trias (American Idol, Society for Seven) hosted the 2.5 hour extravaganza. The cast included a 7-piece band, impressionist Rich Little, Pia Zadora accompanied by Vincent Falcone, Reckless in Vegas, magician Tommy Wind, Jersey Boys lead singer Travis Cloer, Sinatra impressionist Gary Anthony and members of “Shades of Sinatra”. To say Rich Little's act is a Little out of date would be an understatement. ($40, 3.5 Claps)

    December 13 - My video poker session this morning is best described as choppy. How choppy you ask? I had to request a seat belt and life preserver.

    We had OJ, fruit and yogurt in the room before driving to Jokers Wild Casino on the Boulder Highway for breakfast in the Court Cafe. http://www.jokerswildcasino.com/dine/the-court-cafe We barely made the 11AM cutoff for the breakfast special of 2 eggs, toast, bacon and hash browns.

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    Ann's $2.14 coffee exceeded the $1.89 cost of the special. Service was very good as was the toast which arrived at our table both crispy and hot. The breakfast proved to be an outright bargain with my only quibble being the bacon could have been crispier. ($7.70, 3 Forks)

    We stopped to check out a massage parlor for a future trip and then spent time on the computers before once again separating with Ann putting in another afternoon video poker session and me reading/napping. I

    Pre dinner drinks were again at Ellis Island, but this time we made a switcharoo. We started off with our usual customary eggnogs, but on the second round we discovered Mr. Ellis had upgraded the wine program to include Estancia cabernet sauvignon. Estancia will never be confused with Napa Valley's finest, but it represents a giant step up from the Barefoot wine we have been consuming.

    Dinner was at Satay Thai Bistro and Bar on Paradise. This long established Thai & Malaysian restaurant has been flying under my radar until recently. We shared orders of pad prik khing with shrimp (wok-fried shrimp with green beans & lime leaves in a Thai chili galangal curry) and char kway teow with chicken (flat rice noodles wok-fried Malaysian style with chives, bean sprouts, & eggs).

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    Both dishes delivered a generous portion of protein and good flavor. ($30.92, 3 Forks)

    Tonight we attended our rescheduled Australian Bee Gee's show at the Excalibur. This was our third time seeing the show and it has never failed to entertain us though it remains largely unchanged, except for an upgrade in the sound system a few years ago. The performers are able to connect with the audience through both the music and patter. Everyone seemed to be having a great time though there is usually one table, this time a group of 6-8 filipino women, that is having more fun than the rest of us. ($0, MyVegas, 4 Claps)

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    During our nightly spin around the South Point's Casino, Ann spotted Michael and Chris so we stopped and chatted.

    December 14 – This morning was noteworthy due to two events that occurred almost simultaneously. First, I was dealt quad deuces, my #3 of the trip, and, secondly, I achieved Platinum status at Station Casinos for the first 6 months of 2016. The quad deuces were worth $250, the Platinum status plus a bucket of spit are worth a bucket of spit.

    By coincidence, today marked the beginning of not one, but two South Point promotions that ran for the remainder of our trip – Pay Less With Your Points and Ho Ho Ho, Let it Flow. The first involved paying half price when using points at all restaurants, bars, gift shop, spa etc. throughout the property. Under the second promotion, all drinks were just $2 and only a $1 when using points. Ho Ho Ho, Away We Go!

    We enjoyed breakfast in the room before Ann departed for a Swedish massage at the Costa del Sur Spa in the South Point. http://spacostadelsur.com/ The facilities were very nice as was the massage. ($20, ½ points, 4 Hands)

    Meanwhile I drove to the GluttonZero Bakery on Eastern. http://www.glutenzerobakery.com/ I was immediately greeted by an employee as I perused a display case containing 2 trays of miniature carrot cakes. I then checked for other pastries, but was disappointed to find trays with only 1 or 2 pastries so I ended up purchasing 2 carrot cakes, one with and one without walnuts.

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    We shared one later that evening and the other the night following, but the cakes were much too dry though the cream cheese frosting was good. ($7.95, 2 Forks)

    I also stopped in a Sprout Farmers Market for some blackberries and mixed nuts. As I approached the car, I clicked on the fob, the lights blinked, the door opened and I jumped onto the front seat just as I heard a scream from the back seat where a woman was placing bags into “her” SUV. “Oops, so sorry miss, wrong car, it's a rental, so sorry, my SUV is just over there, I'm sorry”. If you are under the age of 70, I would not be snickering as this incident provides a window into your future.

    Given the number of times we have stayed at the Grandview or South Point, it is amazing that we have never dined at the Coronado Cafe. Well we scratched that one off my To Do list this afternoon by ordering bowls of French onion soup.

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    I am always a little hesitant to order this particular soup because so often it is loaded with salt, but this version was salt lite and delicious. ($3, ½ points, 3.5 Spoons)

    Ann put in a video poker session while I returned to the room for my usual read and nap session.

    We took advantage of the Ho Ho Ho, Let it Flow promo at the South Point's Grandview lounge this evening, but had to explain how it worked to both of the bartenders. First round Grey Goose cosmos, 2nd round glasses of cabernet sauvignon.

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    Dinner was at Duzan Mediterranean Cafe & Tapas on Eastern Ave in Henderson. http://www.duzancafe.com/ Shortly after being seated we were served a complimentary sample of their mint lemonade, a small dish of pickled vegetables and another of olives.

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    All were delicious. We both ordered gyro plates for entrees which came with side salads, fluffy homemade pita, plus a choice of either hummus or lebaneh (strained Greek yogurt with herbs), we ordered one of each. Lastly, we received a sample of their version of Israeli baklava. Everything was good, but oh so filling. ($30.92, 3 Forks)

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    It was one, should have been 5, laps around the South Point casino before we called it a night.

    December 15 – I was already down $200 when I slid another Benjamin into the jaws of the greedy video poker machine and started getting some decent hands, finally cashing out at $200 for a $100 loss that (almost) felt like a win.

    We did a mini freeplay coupon run starting off at the Orleans with an American Casino Guide (ACG) play $10, get $10 in freeplay coupons. I won $10 on the NSUD's machine while Ann a few dollars less.

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    Next stop was Tuscany Suites where we planned on redeeming ACG coupons good $10 freeplay, but the slot boothling required a signed ACG card so only Ann was able to play. She won $7.50 on the double bonus machine.

    We arrived for lunch at Mr. Mama's on Jones Blvd. Noted for its breakfasts by locals and nonlocals alike, we found the restaurant to be packed on our arrival just after noon. We were finally called after a 15 minute wait and both ordered the house made chili topped for 35 cents with onions and cheese.

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    The chili had a nice flavor and bite, but I am glad we only ordered the 8 ounce cups because it turned out to be very filling. ($13.03, 3 Spoons)

    On our return we stopped by the front desk to pick up our new credit cards. Ann put in another losing video poker session while I spent time on the computer and bed.

    In the later stage of the afternoon we put in a session at the Silverado bar in the South Point while enjoying Grey Goose cosmos and glasses of cabernet for $1 each after charging them to Ann's slot card. Ho Ho Ho, Way to Go!

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    Dinner at Don Vito's Italian Restaurant in the South Point is almost mandatory for us though we ventured away from our traditional eggplant Parmesan for the first time in several yearshttp://southpointcasino.com/dining/don-vitos-italian We received a basket of hot sundried tomato rolls plus their excellent roasted garlic/tomato dipping sauce to start off while we reviewed the menu.

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    Entrees include a side of pasta (meh!) and a choice of soup or Caesar salad. We have never been impressed by their salad so we both opted for cups of Italian wedding soup. For an entree Ann ordered Chicken Angelo (sauteed with artichoke hearts, olives, and mushrooms in a white wine sauce). I followed up with Chicken Marsala (sauteed with mushrooms and garlic in a demi glaze and Marsala wine). Both plates included crisp green beans.

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    For dessert Ann ordered zabaglione with fresh berries while her companion chose an espresso crème brulee. As good as my brulee was, and it was, Ann's zabaglione was even better or so I am told since she only gave me one small spoonful. ($8, ½ points, funbook, 3.5 Forks and a crow bar to rescue me from behind our booth)

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    We used other funbook coupons for free entry to Greg Austin's M-Town & More review in the showroom. On entering we received coupons good for a free drink and another for $5 in freeplay. Neither of was impressed by the show so we took a couple of gulps of our wine and called it a night before the first set was over. ($0, 2 Claps)

    December 16 – After this morning's session, it was time to visit an ATM, a first for us and not a good first. Prior to returning to the room I stopped at the recently opened Fresh Bakery Cafe on Green Valley Parkway. Though there were 2 full display cases, there was not much in the way of breakfast pastries so I ended up with a blueberry scone and blueberry muffin.

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    The scone turned out to be more moist than the muffin – who would have figured? ($10, 2.5 Forks)

    Shortly after noon we went to the South Point's box office where we encountered a long line of seniors picking up Dennis Bono tickets for tomorrow afternoon's show. After we receiving ours, we headed to the slot club to have our $5 freeplay credited to our cards.

    Ann played both our freeplays plus more while I drove to GVR to get my senior day double points credited. I earned 5 entries into the senior slot tournament earlier this morning, so I decided to play, suffering my usual humiliation at the hands of the slot machines. Out of a maximum 24 participants in each round, I came in 10th, 10th, 15th, 21st and 20th. These machines require one to continuously slap a big black button and then flick the screen whenever a balloon appeared. So it went slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, flick, slap slap etc. After 5 sessions, I was slap happy and flicking frustrated.


    We had an early show so I used the Bellagio self-parking garage and took the tram to Aria where we took advantage of the daily happy hour that runs from 11:30AM to 5:30PM at Julian Serrano's. https://www.aria.com/en/restaurants/julian-serrano.html Julio was not available so we ordered glasses of 3 day red sangria from the bartender – excellent, the sangria, the bartender was just okay. On the first round of tapas we ordered cheese coca (small flatbread with goat cheese, spinach and pine nuts) and a beet salad (striped beets, kale, goat cheese, croutons and beet vinaigrette).

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    The second round included another round of red sangria and a bomba (a veal and pork tenderloin spicy meatball with spicy rocoto sauce) plus paella magro y verduras (pork and vegetables).

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    Each dish demonstrated the chef's commitment to sourcing and a deft hand though the paella, made in a large batch each day, proved to be a disappointment.

    ($66.21, 4 Forks)

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    Next we attend Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana in the half empty Aria showroom that was half empty or half full depending our your perspective. The show seemed disjointed without a single act that we had not previously at an other Cirque show in the past. I could not help but doze off a couple of times.

    http://s323.photobucket.com/user/westie2f/media/LV%2012-15/112_zpsf2dsf1qh.jpg.html?sort=2&o=96

    It came as no surprise when it was recently announced that show would be closing next April. ($0, MyVegas, 2 Claps)


    After taking the tram back to Bellagio, we again headed to the Botanical Garden.

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    We also stopped by the hotel lobby.

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    On our nightly lap around the casino floor we again encountered Michael and Chris who now must be wondering if we are stalking them.

    December 17 – I registered a small lost, at least as compared to the losses I have been sustaining on this trip.

    Breakfast was at Kitchen Table on W Horizon Ridge which opened about a week prior. http://www.kitchentablelv.com/ This restaurant is co-owned and operated by 2 chefs so our expectations were high. Chef Antonio Nunez greeted us shortly after we sat down and checked back with us frequently.

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    We started off with monkey bread, sticky, gooey cinnamon balls of deliciousness. Ann had the plain French toast that featured a soft center, just short custard, that was served with Noble syrup and a dash of whipped cream. Very good though it fell a little short of Bouchon's. I ordered tostadas, 2 to an order, that included a more than generous portion of suckling pig, black beans, cilantro slaw, salsa, and quail eggs. Outrageous!

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    Chef Nunez told us they roast a suckling pig on a barbecue and then finish it in the oven. The menu is quite ambitious so I am looking for a return visit or two on our next trip. ($29.36, 4.5 Forks)

    After dropping Ann off at the Green Turtle Salon to have her hair washed and blow dried, I returned to the scene of the crime – GVR, but this time I just walked around the casino.

    Ann played video poker for awhile while I held our general admission seats for Dennis Bono's 15th Annual Christmas Show. Today's guests included Tony Orlando, Sonny Turner (former lead singer of the Platters), Reva Rice (Vegas the Show), former Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt, the Jazzmin, Chris Phillips of Zowie Bowie, These Guys, Lou Gazarra (Vegas the Show) and Michael Cavanaugh. The highlights being the performances by Lou Gazarra and Michael Cavanaugh. ($0, 4 Claps)

    After the show, Ann returned to the video poker machines and caught her #1 quad deuces of the trip. Meanwhile as I made my way back to the Grandview I saw a couple of helicopters hovering nearby and later learned that a cop had been shot near the junction of Pebble and LV Blvd. - just 1 mile from where we were staying.

    On entering Ellis Island this evening, we noticed a new floor was in process of being installed. It is the odds on favorite that this is the first upgrade since the place originally opened up in 1967 as a Village Pub. We had our usual eggnog followed by a long pour from a bottle of Robert Mondavi cabernet sauvignon.


    Dinner was at District One Kitchen and Bar on S Jones Blvd. http://www.districtonelv.com/home/ We started off with an order of beef and lemongrass wrapped betel leaves that was not what I expected based on the description, but very good. We also shared an order of 5 spice Cornish hen that was just legs and thighs that I upgraded to include garlic noodles. In addition we had an order of garlic vegetables to ward off aliens. ($43.80, 3.5 Forks)

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    On our return we met Michael and Chris again during our circuit of the casino and wished them well as they were leaving the next day.

    December 18 – I wrote in my last trip report that I thought GVR liked me, but it was painfully obvious this trip that the honeymoon is now over, at least from my standpoint. Yet another small loss was registered this AM.

    Our in room breakfast included OJ, a pair of cuties and the remainder of our monkey bread. After prepping for the day we drove to the Drago Sisters Bakery on S Rainbow Blvd. http://www.dragosisters.com/ Based on a quick inspection, I can assure you that none of the Drago sisters are cuties. Just kidding ladies. We settled on one of their highly acclaimed 4” tres leches cakes.

    We visited the Palazzo, Grand Canal Shoppes and the Venetian to view the Christmas displays and do a little, thanks for small favors, window shopping.

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    Lunch was at Goodwich, a kiosk on the fringe of Dino's Lounge's parking lot that was formerly occupied by Viva Arepas. We reviewed the small menu and decided to share a reuben-ish (house cured corned beef, Swiss cheese, fennel sauerkraut, and 1,000 Islands dressing) plus a bottle of coke. While patiently waiting for our sandwich to be prepared, there were several people in front of us, the owner said they would be relocating in early January to larger quarters further north on the LV Blvd. ($12, 3.5 Forks)

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    Ann again played video poker in the afternoon while I spent a similar amount of time on the computer, reading and napping. A few hours later, I walked over to the South Point to find Ann and discovered the South Point was celebrating its 10th Anniversary with cake, champagne and Wes Winters. I quickly grabbed a glass of bubbly and tracked down Ann who was nursing a glass of bubbly. We adjourned to the Grandview Lounge to listen Wes while enjoying yet another glass of bubbly before returning to the room where we packed.

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    Our drinks this evening in the Silverado Lounge included cosmos and glasses of Cabernet sauvignon that were followed by dinner at the Silverado Steak House. http://southpointcasino.com/dining/silverado-steakhouse Ann ordered the 8 ounce filet mignon while I selected the in house dry-aged, 12-ounce prime rib. Our entrees included a Silverado salad and baker, both were flavorful with service throughout our meal deemed attentive. ($11, ½ points, 3.5 Forks)

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    Our nightly walk around included 2 laps plus a short stop in the arena to watch a women's basketball game for a quarter – that's time, not the price of admission which was free.

    The tres leches cake from the Drago girls was mild tasting with too much whipped cream and not enough leches. ($6.43, 2 Forks)

    [​IMG]

    December 19 – I was recognized going in that it was going take more than a Hail Mary, maybe divine intervention, for me to come close to breaking even on this trip. I started off by hitting a series of 5OAKS and a wild royal, but then I went down, back up and then down again. Finally, about 25 minutes before I planned on quitting, I held a lonely deuce and caught its 3 siblings for just my 4th quad deuces of the trip. Needless to say, I found losing to be a lot less fun than winning.

    Ann had put 300 points on each of our slot cards yesterday so we redeemed ACG coupons for a free brunch buffet at the Garden Buffet. The brunch was more than a little disappointing with the only additions to the usual breakfast fare being a cheap beef roast, tiny Asian shrimp and some BBQ ribs from one of the bulls who participated in the NFR. ($4, ACG, 2 Forks)

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    Our return flight was largely uneventful though Ann was seated next to a women who coughed a minimum of 40 times over the course of our 5 hour flight.

    Ann somehow managed to squeak out a modest, though highly appreciated, profit while I gave back exactly one-fourth of the money won on our two earlier trips this year.

    I must thank everyone who managed to reach the finish line of this literary marathon. Please free to criticize (nah), comment (okay), question (all right) or give praise (bless you).

    "I used to be a heavy gambler. But now I just make mental bets. That's how I lost my mind."

    — Steve Allen ---
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2015
  2. Superpocky

    Superpocky VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    God bless you westie for another trip report, always enjoyed reading these from you. Thanks for writing it up, happy holidays to you and your family!
     
  3. JosieCat

    JosieCat VIP Whale

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    What a very enjoyable trip report this was. Although, now I'm really hungry :).

    Sorry the slot gods were not kinder :(
     
  4. TomTWI

    TomTWI High-Roller

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
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    Highly enjoyed your trip report.

    TomTWI
     
  5. Vtamanda

    Vtamanda Tourist

    Joined:
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    Great report! I always enjoy your culinary adventures. Sorry VP wasn't kinder to you this time out.
     
  6. Electroguy563

    Electroguy563 Over-Fried Gambler

    Joined:
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    "After 5 sessions I was slap happy and flicking frustrated" Ha Ha! I love it!

    Thanks for another great trip report. I enjoy following along when both of you go off on your dining adventures. I always get hungry reading your reports!

    Sorry the gambling did not go well this trip, I'm sure it will get better next time out!
     
    Going to Hawaii's 9th Island!!
    Going to Hawaii's 9th island!!
  7. Joe

    Joe VIP Whale

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    As always, a great food & drink report.
     
    Christmas
  8. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    I'm hungry now.............I have to take hidden pics of my food if I want to photograph it. Hubby is always !$#@!%$@$#% are you doing!!!
     
  9. wam

    wam Low-Roller

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    another five star trip report westie. always enjoy your well written and informative report. thanks again.
     
  10. Aces and Eights

    Aces and Eights VIP Whale

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    What a great TR! My mouth is watering. Now I'm going to take out food from several places to cover the varieties of food I saw in the photos. I'm sure I'll have leftovers for the next couple of days. Thank you for sharing your experience with us VMBers!
     
  11. SDSteve

    SDSteve Low-Roller

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    5 claps once again! Thanks for the nice, detailed report!
     
  12. LVHooked

    LVHooked High-Roller

    Joined:
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    Thank you for writing your trip up, their always a great read.
     
  13. Geogran

    Geogran OTD Tea Sipper

    Joined:
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    Echoing 5 claps - Picked up some good tips for places to try on our next trip, thanks for the details and pics!

    We had dinner at Portofino, two days prior to your visit, I also had the Chicken Parmesan and it was delish! Had to pry hubby's fork away from my plate. He had the squash/turkey ravioli - the turkey overshadowed the squash but still a nice entree.

    Still chuckling on the wrong car comment - been there! Hope VP treats you well on your next trip.
     
  14. siwst852

    siwst852 Tourist

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    Thanks for taking the time to write this up. I almost always get a new place to try out or your stories.

    Sorry you had a losing trip.
     
  15. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Nice report! My gf's mom did the key fob thing once. Only so many combinations on there I guess.

    Given the title, I hoped for at least a little comeback! :( Hopefully you can relive the last trip next time in the VP department!
     
  16. Chrisbeans

    Chrisbeans Low-Roller

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    5 claps! Thanks for sharing your trip report!
     
  17. retiree52

    retiree52 Tourist

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    Loved this TR and all of the food porn with accompanying reviews. Your food adventures were fantastic.
     
    Happy place Soon
  18. Topanga

    Topanga Tourist

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    What an awesome trip report. Thanks for all of the restaurant reviews and food pics!
     
  19. Camp Rusty

    Camp Rusty Low-Roller

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    Thanks for the fun report.......

    - - - Updated - - -

    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
     
  20. Godflesh

    Godflesh Tourist

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    Loved the Food Pics!
     
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