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Fire! Rain! Sun! Start! Stop! Go! Go! Go! Another family TR: 7/17-7/21

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Jul 27, 2015.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    41

    My Trip Report

    Prelude: With MyVegas loyalty points burning holes in me and my wife’s virtual wallets, we planned a Vegas getaway for three nights at Mandalay Bay in July. I used a free weekend night reward to get Saturday night free, and then my wife used a midweek reward to get Monday. For Sunday night, I used a 1,500 LP reward to get that night for $69. My wife’s Monday night free night might have been one of the best LP-to-dollar value ratio rewards in the history of the game, because a big veterinarian convention had pushed Mandalay Bay room rates toward the absurd. Keep in mind this is for a Monday night:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150615_122447 by Mark, on Flickr

    This was to be another “family” trip with our seven year old daughter, while our 17-year-old son opted to stay home again. (He recently got his first job and probably couldn’t have gotten the time off anyway. He also just got his driver’s license and his first car, so he was happy to stay home and revel in his newfound independence.) So once we got the hotel booked, it was time to schedule some family-friendly activities. We used two MyVegas rewards (one free, one BOGO) to get three tickets to Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Because we were staying at Mandalay Bay, the House of Blues MyVegas rewards were convenient, so we also got tickets to the Gospel Brunch (One BOGO adult ticket, two free drink rewards). We also nabbed a $50 Monte Carlo food credit.

    Finally, I took advantage of two Travelzoo deals: One was for dinner for two at Border Grill for $59, the other was for VIP tickets to “V-The Ultimate Variety Show” at the V Theater at Planet Hollywood. Through the deal, VIP tickets were $50 each including a free drink and souvenir photo. I called to reserve the seats a few days ahead of time and was able to get really great seats, so that was awesome.

    It seems on several of our recent Vegas trips, we’ve found a way to “extend” the trip just a bit, and this time it was a post here on VMB just a couple days before our trip that served as the perfect excuse to leave on Friday instead of Saturday. In the golf thread, VegasBJ posted that he was playing Southern Highlands on Saturday and asked if anyone was going to be in town. I’d always wanted to play this private course and took the opportunity to join him. Mandalay Bay wanted $595 for Friday night, but fortunately my wife had a mailer from Downtown Grand that got us a room for $85 that included $40 in free play. The free play was split $20 the first day and $20 more the second day.

    Finally all was set! Now all I had to do is get through work on Friday and we’d leave as soon as I got home. Oh, but if only it had been that simple…
     
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    41
    Day One: Friday, July 17, 2015
    Around 3:00 on Friday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk practically giddy about the fact that it was one hour till vacation time. Sure, the Friday night drive might be tough, but we were headed to Vegas and I was all set to play a sought-after private golf course Saturday morning.

    And then around 3:30 my phone rang. Why is my mother-in-law calling me? Well, it turned out she wanted to tell me the Cajon Pass (the main funnel all Southern Californians use to reach the high desert) was on fire and the freeway was closed. Cars had caught on fire and it was an extremely dangerous situation, even if the road was open. I confirmed the info online and all my joy and anticipation turned 180 degrees to exasperation and depression.

    I drove home from work listening to fire coverage on AM radio. This wasn’t just a mention on the news, it was full-blown, “forget all the other news, we’re going all-in on this fire” reporting. When I got home, same thing on all the LA television stations. The experts from CalTrans and the CHP were saying to avoid the area at all costs and that possibly the roads would reopen on Saturday. AAAARGH! This really had to happen right as our vacation was about to begin? The two alternate routes would surely be jammed with people like us, and flights at that late notice were exorbitantly priced. Suddenly it seemed our whole vacation was in jeopardy, or at minimum, the first couple days.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150717_164256 by Mark, on Flickr

    I was in a terrible mood and really didn’t know what to do. The reporters on TV kept talking about how fast this fire was spreading, but on wide shots from the helicopters, there were rarely any flames to be seen. After about an hour or so, the flaming cars on the freeway were extinguished, and maybe along with them was the sensationalism by the news teams. They softened their stance about avoiding the area and mentioned that the northbound 15 lanes were open, although moving slowly. So around 6:00 pm, we decided to get in the car and give it a shot.

    In a way, I think the overbearing news coverage helped us, because there was hardly a soul on the road. We made it to the Cajon Pass in record time, and then hit the big jam. There were water-dropping planes flying all over the place, and news helicopters too.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150717_193040 by Mark, on Flickr

    While stuck in the slow-moving traffic jam, we saw one of the weirdest things we’ve ever seen. My wife mentioned that a woman driving a car to our right looked like she was asleep, and sure enough she was driving with her head tilted way back against the headrest and her eyes seemingly closed. We were stuck in the jammed mess next to her for quite a while, and she kept driving – competently – while looking like she was completely asleep. We’re still trying to figure out exactly what was going on there.

    Overall, we made it up the Cajon Pass in 52 minutes, so the fire caused only about a 40-minute delay. We were treated to a beautiful, smoke-infused desert sunset just past Victorville (with the tiniest sliver moon for good measure), and then later an awesome lightning show in the distance that continued from Barstow to State Line. Other than the Cajon Pass, the rest of the drive was smooth, and with one stop in Barstow, we made it from home to Downtown Grand in just over five hours.

    By 11:30 we were in our 18th floor room and time was running out for my wife to redeem the first half of her $40 free play. So she headed down and was told it would expire at midnight, so she needed to use it immediately. She did so, and returned to the room around 12:05 having turned $20 in FP into a TITO for $64.55! Awesome!

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_000952 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then she gave me her card and let me go play the other $20 in FP that became available after midnight. I was tired and only played through the FP in a couple different nickel VP machines, turning $20 into $12.50. The $77 in cash from the free play basically paid for our $85 room rate, and there was no resort fee on the room with my wife’s offer! Thank you Downtown Grand! We love you and wish we would have had more time on this trip to hang around there.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_002536 by Mark, on Flickr

    We had eaten some McDonald’s fries in Barstow, but I was hungry so I then decided to get some slices at Pizza Rock. My wife said our daughter was still awake and they were hungry, too, so I got three slices – cheese for my daughter, pepperoni for me and veggie for my wife – and an order of 3 meatballs and a large Coke to take up to our room. It was all delicious.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_003511 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0386 by Mark, on Flickr

    It had been a long day full of varying emotions, trials and tribulations, but we all enjoyed our food and took a deep breath to relax in the satisfaction of making it to town and starting our vacation. Seeing I needed to meet VegasBJ at the MGM Skylofts valet the next morning at 7:15, we all decided to go to bed around 1:00.
     
  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    41
    Day Two: Saturday, July 18, 2015

    I woke up and quickly took note of how bright it seemed outside, which jolted me out of bed in fear I had overslept and missed meeting VegasBJ for golf. Fortunately I was wrong and still had a while before my alarm was due to sound, but I couldn’t sleep anymore so I quietly got ready and left the room without waking up my wife and daughter. (Those half-door showers at Downtown Grand are still stupid.)

    I fetched the car from the valet, and knowing I had some extra time to kill, decided to take Las Vegas Blvd. rather than the freeway to MGM. It was a beautiful desert morning at this point.

    [​IMG]IMG_0387 by Mark, on Flickr

    Despite taking the scenic route, I still arrived early and then met VegasBJ and his friend at the Skylofts valet, where an MGM limo took us out to Southern Highlands. We were escorted into the locker room to change our shoes and then went out to meet our caddy and warm up. Long story short, the course is fantastic, the clubhouse is grand and majestic, and the whole morning was a lot of fun. Colby is a great caddy and made it extra fun for all of us. Here are a few pictures of the course:

    [​IMG]IMG_0404 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0408 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0417 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0458 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0498 by Mark, on Flickr

    During the back nine, the weather turned overcast and not long after we returned to MGM, the wind was howling and thunderstorms were arriving. I said goodbye to VegasBJ and headed back downtown to find my wife and daughter. They were eating lunch at Hennessey’s and roaming around Fremont, buying souvenirs and taking in the sights.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_113649312 by Mark, on Flickr

    Apparently this “Spongebob” was very talkative and bizarre, breaking character to reveal she was a woman underneath and sharing all sorts of weird, excess information with my wife and daughter. Wonderful.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_124302140 by Mark, on Flickr

    The next couple hours were spent running errands of sorts – picking up tickets at the Miracle Mile Shops and Excalibur to save us time later, fighting our way into Mandalay Bay’s jam-packet valet, and then finding a gigantic check-in line in the lobby at Mandalay. Ugh.

    By this time I was starving so my wife agreed to wait in the long check-in line so I could go get something to eat. My daughter and I walked, and walked, and walked, to finally arrive at the Mandalay Bay food court, where we ordered some food from Johnny Rockets.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_154351 by Mark, on Flickr

    Not long after the food arrived, my wife alerted us she was near the front of the line (quicker than we expected) and we had to rush all the way back to the lobby to join her, taking our food to go. That worked out and we finally got checked in around 4:30 to room 31303, a standard two queen bedroom overlooking the pool complex, and Bali Hai Golf Club farther afield.

    [​IMG]IMG_0507 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0508 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0509 by Mark, on Flickr

    It felt good to finally be settled in for the next three nights. After our luggage arrived, we poured ourselves some drinks and finished off the Johnny Rockets food we grabbed to go. Then it was time to hit the pool. My daughter’s reaction to the first few waves in the wave pool was priceless, with nonstop giggles of excitement and a huge smile smeared across her face.

    We stayed at the pool maybe an hour and then returned to the room to get ready for our big dinner show, Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. I’ve never had any desire to go to Medieval Times, but seeing there was a MyVegas reward for this and we figured our daughter would like it, we decided to do it anyway.

    We took the tram over to Excalibur and entered the theater. The first thing we encountered was a little souvenir stand with light-up toys like you’d find at a circus, so we bought our daughter a light-up magic wand she could wave around during the show. We then proceeded to our second row seats in the Norway section.

    [​IMG]IMG_0527 by Mark, on Flickr

    Pictures weren’t allowed during the show, so I can’t share any food pics of the meal. Each person first gets a bowl of tomato soup, and then your plate is delivered with a cornish game hen, broccoli sprinkled with parmesan, little red potatoes and a biscuit. There is no silverware, so you pick it up and eat with your hands. Unlimited soft drinks are included, while beer and wine are available at pretty typical price points, not crazily inflated. I had read terrible reviews of the food, but with expectations tempered, I actually thought it was decent, especially the chicken.

    There’s a lot of audience participation during the show. Sometimes you’re encouraged to pound on your table, other times you’re supposed to raise your glass for toasts, boo the bad guys, etc. It was fun in the moment, but overall, not something I would ever care to do again.

    After the show concluded, some of the performers come out and they allow photography at that point, so my daughter posed with a couple people, including the guy who we rooted for all evening, the King of Norway (second picture below.).

    [​IMG]IMG_0528 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0529 by Mark, on Flickr

    Earlier in the day when we stopped to pick up the tickets, we played a few games in the Fun Dungeon arcade and promised our daughter she could do more after the show. So then we spent probably the next 30 minutes or so in there and she had a blast.

    We took the tram back to Mandalay Bay and I headed out for some gambling around 11:15. I found a Triple Play DDB nickel machine and started strong, hitting four quads in the span of about 25 minutes:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_234434 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150718_234746 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_000042 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_000705 by Mark, on Flickr

    My $20 buy-in was up to almost $60 at that point, and I cashed out when it got down to $50. Then I roamed around and found a 50-play machine that allowed me to play one line at a time. I only hit one quad and eventually lost $20 on that machine.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_003722 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then I found a JOB nickel machine and hit a couple quads but little else, and eventually cashed out at the break even point.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_011419 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_011937 by Mark, on Flickr

    At this point I was up $10 on the night and ready for bed, but I spotted one of the electronic roulette wheels that always suck me in, so I put $10 in and played for a bit with a couple minor hits. Usually the minimum denomination on these machines is 50 cents, but this one was 25 cents (still with $3 minimum bet), so you could really cover a lot of numbers for low stakes. When my credits got under $3.00, I slipped one more dollar in the machine and lost it all. It was time for bed, down a total of one dollar on the evening’s gambling.
     
  4. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    41
    Day Three: Sunday, July 19, 2015

    Man, do Mandalay Bay’s blackout curtains work great! I woke up thinking it was the middle of the night and tip-toed into the bathroom careful to not wake anyone up, and then I checked my phone to see what time I was and it was already 9:15! I never sleep that late anymore! Then I realized it was time for one of my favorite vacation traditions, morning Bloody Marys in the room.

    By 10:30, we had downed a drink or two and then hit the pool for a while. It was more of the same, playing mostly in the wave pool because my daughter liked it best. We all had fun and then returned to the room for our next planned excursion, the 1:00 Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues.

    Sort of like Tournament of Kings, had it not been for a MyVegas reward, we probably wouldn’t have chosen to do this. But a BOGO reward for 25,000 LPs made it only $55 for two adults, and a child ticket was around $26, so it was a great deal for an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet along with a show.

    The MyVegas redemptions were really quick and simple in the retail store, and then we got in a big line for the brunch. I wasn’t sure exactly where it took place, but was pleasantly surprised to find it was in the theater portion of the venue, not the Crossroads restaurant.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_125954 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0562 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0563 by Mark, on Flickr

    The theater had different food stations set up throughout the space – omelette bar here, carved meats over there, chicken and waffles, a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary bar, a dessert table, and then a long row of traditional buffet foods mostly influenced by HOB’s (supposed) southern roots. I enjoyed it tremendously. I thought the food was almost all great, including large peeled shrimp for shrimp cocktail, delicious bacon and sausage, potatoes, waffles and Caesar salad. On another trip I got some sliced brisket and southern mac & cheese. The first few bites of the brisket was fantastic, but then the rest of my slice was very gristly and fatty. My wife and I each also had a MyVegas reward for a free Bloody Mary or mimosa. My wife opted for the mimosa while I had the Bloody Mary. The bartender added vodka and a celery stick to my glass, and then the rest was up to me. This was kind of fun, but also a little weird. The two different Bloody Mary mixes weren’t labeled very well, so I wasn’t sure exactly what my options were. At any rate, it turned out good but not great.

    Entertainment-wise, everyone in the show had extremely powerful voices that reached inside you and stirred up some weird emotions. As a non-church goer, I felt a little hypocritical sitting there, but appreciated the music and had a good time. My wife and I figured our daughter would absolutely love this, and she definitely had fun, but maybe not to the extent we expected. She did enjoy meeting one of the performers afterward, though.

    [​IMG]IMG_0569 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0571 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0568 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0593 by Mark, on Flickr

    After brunch, my wife went to gamble for a while (she lost $30 in no time) while I huffed and puffed to blow up the inflatable rings we brought for the lazy river. My daughter and I went down to the pool and had fun alternating back and forth between the lazy river and the wave pool. Before the trip, I had bought two of those waterproof plastic phone pouches so I could shoot some photos and video in the pool. That was fun, and later my phone had automatically edited together some of the footage into a little movie complete with music and effects:

    https://youtu.be/pgpABYhXSOA

    We then returned to the room in anticipation for our 7:30 dinner reservations at Border Grill. A Travelzoo deal for $59 convinced us to this a shot, which included two alcoholic beverages up to $12, chips and guacamole, a shared appetizer, two entrees up to $29 each, and a shared dessert.

    We chose a seat on the outdoor patio on what was a weird, blustery, potential thunderstorm-in-the-making type night. It almost felt like Hawaii or somewhere similarly tropical. Here was our view:

    [​IMG]IMG_0613 by Mark, on Flickr

    Once we were seated, it took about 10 minutes for our waitress to finally arrive. She was very sweet with our daughter but a little saccharine for my tastes. And then, frustratingly, she insisted that despite what the Travelzoo offer actually said, the only two alcoholic drinks available with it were the standard “blanco” margarita or sangria. So two blanco margaritas it is, then. She also noted that the shared appetizer had a $10 price cap on it, which left only two or three options. (They will not let you get something more expensive and pay the difference on this deal, which is also annoying.)

    Anyway, enough complaining. After some initial chips and salsa, our guacamole arrived with more fresh chips and it was not only delicious, but a very generous portion. For our app, we chose some sort of mini potato tacos that were recommended by the waitress and quite tasty. And then for our main course, my wife and I each chose a sauteed shrimp and scallop dish that sounded great. Our daughter chose some sort of tamale off the kids menu and a watermelon lemonade.

    [​IMG]IMG_0619 by Mark, on Flickr


    Originally, my wife planned to order a watermelon margarita, so after she finished her blanco, she got the watermelon one and it was delicious. It had jalapeno in it to give it an unusual kick. After our entrees, we were all full but didn’t want to bypass our included dessert, so we split a piece of flan. It was decent, but I would expect something more innovative or distinctive from such well-known chefs of Mexican cuisine.

    [​IMG]IMG_0624 by Mark, on Flickr

    The Travelzoo deal oddly doesn’t cover the tax on the meal, so we had to pay for that plus our daughter’s meal and the watermelon margarita. Despite my complaints, this Travelzoo deal is a great bargain. After two visits to Border Grill spanning about 10 years, I’m just not sure how much I really enjoy this restaurant.

    After dinner, we walked back to our room and found a mother and two young girls standing right outside the door next to ours. It turned out they had just checked in but their key didn’t work, so they were waiting for maintenance to come let them in their room. My daughter immediately hit it off with the two girls and they became fast friends, which was really cute. In fact, all throughout dinner my daughter was begging us to go to Hershey Chocolate World after dinner, but once she met these kids, she was all too willing to wait until the next night.

    I had an early morning tee time in Mesquite, Nevada (about 85 miles from Mandalay Bay) so I needed to call it an early night, but I descended back down to the casino anyway with the thought that I’d lose no more than $20 and then go to bed. Well, I went on mini tilt (for me anyway) and found myself down $80 on Triple Play DDB nickels within a short amount of time, having hit only two quads in the process.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_231640 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_231858 by Mark, on Flickr

    I decided to slip one more $20 in the machine and fortunately hit quad 3s, which allowed me to finish the session down only $65.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150719_234635 by Mark, on Flickr

    I went upstairs, set my alarm for 3:50 and went to bed.
     
  5. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
    Messages:
    959
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    41
    Day Four: Monday, July 20, 2015

    On Sunday evening I checked the weather for Mesquite, Nevada, my golf destination early Monday morning. I had a 6:10 tee time at Wolf Creek, which was the first tee time of the day, which meant they wouldn’t open until a few minutes before my time. The problem was the forecast called for rain and thunderstorms in Mesquite much of Monday, but I had no way to reach the Wolf Creek personnel until they opened, so I really had no choice but to drive there and hope for the best. So that’s what I did.

    I was on the road by around 4:30 am and drove through light rains most of the 85 miles or so to Wolf Creek, arriving at about 5:50. For the non-golfers, Wolf Creek is an extraordinary course routed through very dramatic, rocky terrain, and one of the most stunningly beautiful courses you’ll ever see. So even if the rain stopped, it would have been sort of a bummer to play on such an ugly, grey day. Fortunately, the pro shop staff was fine with whatever I wanted to do – wait out the storm and play later on Monday, cancel altogether or rebook for Tuesday. When the guy working there promised me he’d get me out first all by myself on Tuesday morning, I jumped at the chance. It was a waste of getting up early and driving a long way, but I knew Tuesday was supposed to be beautiful weather and I would much rather experience Wolf Creek for the first time under sunny skies.

    Before I left, I took a few pictures to get a glimpse of what I was in for the next day:

    [​IMG]IMG_0626 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0629 by Mark, on Flickr

    I had never been to Mesquite before, so instead of driving straight back to Vegas, I pulled into Virgin River Casino, got myself a player’s club card and played some triple play nickel STP DDB. The casino feels very old school, in a good way, sort of like if Barbary Coast was still Barbary Coast and had never updated anything. I actually liked it and would love to return there again. Paytables were decent, too, 9/5 DDB nickels. I nearly took $1,000 off their hands with a 30 cent bet to get started:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_062341 by Mark, on Flickr

    A few minutes later, I did convert on a 5X multiplier to get off the schneid:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_063122 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then over the next 35 minutes, I enjoyed a tasty Bloody Mary and hit three quads:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_063436 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_070440 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_070727 by Mark, on Flickr

    At the high point, I had my $20 investment up to almost $50, but then went on a losing streak and cashed out at $40. I figure the $20 win was gas money for the failed round trip drive to Mesquite, and I had a lot of fun in that casino.

    I drove back to Vegas and arrived with the last groups of the British Open playing the back nine of the delayed final round, so I made myself comfortable in bed and watched the remainder of the tournament in our room. At some point, my wife and daughter headed down to the pool and I joined them shortly after the tournament’s conclusion.

    This was probably our most relaxing pool day, splitting time between the wave pool, the regular pools, the lazy river and just laying on our chaise lounge chairs soaking up the sun. After a couple hours, we headed back to the room.

    At this point, my 4:00 am Mesquite excursion caught up to me and I crashed hard. I had set my alarm for one hour, but my wife turned it off and let me nap some more. Eventually I got up at 6:00 pm, which I immediately knew was probably too late for all of our evening plans to work out well.

    I got ready quickly and we headed out, taking the tram to Excalibur and then walking to Monte Carlo. We had a $50 food credit from MyVegas for anywhere in Monte Carlo, so we hit the Mlife desk and I forgot that on this reward, you have to tell them where you want to use it. If I’d remembered, I probably would have checked first to see if we could get in, but I didn’t, so we asked for Double Barrel Roadhouse and then headed there. Unfortunately, they had a 25-minute wait, and we had show tickets for 8:30 at Planet Hollywood’s V Theatre. We didn't quite have enough time to wait, eat and make it to the show.

    It was around this point that I began to realize I had probably over-planned for this trip. Then again, if I hadn’t slept that extra hour, we would have been fine. But now we had to improvise. Not wanting to waste the $50 for Double Barrel, we decided to eat a small snack and then return post-show for dinner. Now we had lots of time to kill to walk over to PHo, so we stopped in CVS and got some fresh fruit and chips as a snack. Then we walked through Crystals for our first time. We really liked this cool sparkly apple tree:

    [​IMG]IMG_0650 by Mark, on Flickr

    Eventually we crossed over to the PHo side and grabbed a picture with a Minion who was taking off his costume right as we approached him. He begrudgingly slipped it back on for the pic. And yet he looks so happy here:

    [​IMG]IMG_0653 by Mark, on Flickr

    We did some window shopping in the Miracle Mile Shops and my wife and daughter bought matching flower hair clips at the ABC Store.

    [​IMG]IMG_0654 by Mark, on Flickr

    Then we headed into the Elara lobby to sit down and rest for a bit, while my wife sweet talked her way into the pool area. The one instance we needed time to pass quickly, it felt like every minute was an eternity.

    At 8:00, we watched the Rainstorm show, which should be awarded “Most Disappointing Free Attraction” by a local publication. When you think of all the amazing Las Vegas attractions, you figure the rain must really come down hard. No, it’s just some lackluster sprinklers lazily falling from the ceiling onto a concrete pond covered in fog.

    [​IMG]IMG_0659 by Mark, on Flickr

    Finally, it was time to head to the V Theatre for V-The Ultimate Variety Show. Our VIP tickets included a free drink and a free souvenir photo with each ticket, so we got our pictures taken and then headed into the bar waiting area to get our drinks. Just a few minutes later, the doors opened and the secret I knew was soon revealed to my wife and daughter – our seats were in the front row, center section! Photography was forbidden during the show but I snapped this beforehand…our drinks rested on a little ledge attached to the stage:

    [​IMG]IMG_0667 by Mark, on Flickr

    This show was fantastic! It’s hosted by a juggler/comedian named Wally Eastwood and features variety acts like you might find on America’s Got Talent. We saw a comedy duo called The Crazy Gauchos, a contortionist named Turf, a rhythmic gymnast who spun hula hoops on all her arms and legs in dramatic fashion, The Quiddlers (YouTube ‘em), who made my daughter laugh harder than I think she’s ever laughed, a prop comic named Russ Merlin, and Iouri & Gabor, two guys who balanced on each other. Being in the front row for this was awesome, and we all had a great time.

    After the show, many of the performers posed for pictures in the lobby and also autographed my daughter’s souvenir photo. We got our VIP tickets for only $50 through Travelzoo, and at that price, I highly recommend this show to anyone.

    [​IMG]IMG_0669 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0670 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0671 by Mark, on Flickr

    As we started making our way back toward Monte Carlo for dinner, I looked up when Double Barrel Roadhouse closes, and it turned out they were closing at the insanely early hour of 10:30. We also wanted to get to Hershey Chocolate World, which closed at 11:00. (Are we still in Vegas?) So our only option was to quickly duck into Double Barrel, order food to go, and then check out the Hershey store and eat our dinner later. It actually all worked out great.

    At Double Barrel, I ordered a cheeseburger, my daughter got some sliders and my wife chose the ahi tuna lettuce wraps. I also added an order of deep fried pickles. The $50 food voucher ended up covering it perfectly, and I tipped the bartender $5 for taking care of us so well right before they closed.

    We then made it over to the Hershey store at NYNY with about 20 minutes to look around before they closed. It’s pretty clear this place is a small-scale, wannabe M&M’s World, but my daughter still enjoyed it, and that’s all that really mattered. It was fun.

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_224834150 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150720_225108 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0673 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0674 by Mark, on Flickr

    We trudged back to the tram at Excalibur and finally made it to our room at Mandalay to dig in to our dinner. Maybe it’s just because we were all starving, but everything from Double Barrel was absolutely delicious! The fried pickles were amazing and came with a kickin’ dipping sauce. My wife is still raving about her ahi tuna lettuce wraps almost a week later. We enjoyed our near-midnight dinner all sitting around the desk in our room while catching up with our son on speakerphone, so it was an unorthodox family meal, but fun anyway.

    It had been a very long day, and seeing that I was in for a repeat drive to Mesquite in about four hours, going down to gamble was out of the question. It was bedtime for us all.
     
  6. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2012
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    959
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    41
    Day Five: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

    Perhaps counting the minutes in my head, I woke up a few minutes before my alarm that was set for 3:45. I showered, put my golf shirt and shorts back on, and headed out the door at 4:10 am. I arrived at Wolf Creek around 5:30, and the good weather promised was delivering, with a scattering of high clouds but nice blue skies otherwise. The same guy from the day before welcomed me back and I paid my $85 green fee. He said I’d have to wait until around 6:00 to tee off, so I hit a few putts and snapped a few pictures. At 5:55, the starter called me over to the tee, gave me his spiel about the course, and off I went.

    This is simply a course unlike any other. It’s mind-blowingly dramatic and beautiful everywhere you look, and nearly all 18 holes could be the “signature” hole at some lesser quality courses. I loved it, and having the whole course to myself on a gorgeous morning only made it that much more special. I took more than 200 photos over the course of 18 holes, and finished at about 9:15.

    [​IMG]IMG_0702 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0754 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0764 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0773 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0795 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0810 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0842 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0851 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0894 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0902 by Mark, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0908 by Mark, on Flickr

    With check-out time at 11:00 and late check-out requests already being denied the night before, I had no time to dilly dally, so I raced back to Mandalay Bay just in time to fetch my family and possessions. Fortunately my wife had packed up all my stuff, and we checked out right on time.

    From Mandalay Bay, we all expressed regret that it was time to head home, but first we had time for one last meal. My wife and daughter agreed it was time to return to Rollin’ Smoke BBQ, having skipped it our last couple of trips. Their prices have risen some (about 20% by my estimation), but it was still very enjoyable. I had the two-meat combo with brisket and pork ribs (corn nuggets as the side), my wife had a pulled pork sandwich and my daughter had the pulled pork sliders from the kids menu. I guess I didn’t even take any pictures this time.

    From there it was time to gas up the car and head home. The southbound Cajon Pass was a mess either due to fallout from the fire or roadwork, or both, and it took about five hours to get home on a Tuesday afternoon. We made it just in time for my daughter’s 6:00 pm karate class, and suddenly we were right back into the grind of being home.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  7. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

    Joined:
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    959
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    Orange County, CA
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    In Conclusion…

    This was a great trip, but like I alluded to on day four, I think I may have over-planned it just a bit, and maybe chased "deals" a bit too much. It felt like we always had someplace to get to next, and then that hectic schedule was compounded by fire, rain, missed dinners, etc. Both my wife and I feel like we got short-changed on gambling time. The amazing golf I got to play made everything worth it, for sure. Fortunately, our next trip should be without the kids and enjoyed at a much more relaxing pace. Until then, thanks for reading!
     
  8. Vegasaddict2014

    Vegasaddict2014 Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2015
    Messages:
    222
    Great trip report. I think it's good to plan things and look for deals but I agree that sometimes it feels like a constant rush to get where you planned to be. I have planned everything for my next trip but am prepared to miss out of some of the stuff!
     
  9. VegasGroove

    VegasGroove VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    M ILIS,

    Thank you for another excellent trip report! I love how your family does Vegas and you are making tons of great memories for your daughter!

    Looking forward to your next trip report. You deserve a laid-back trip!!
     
  10. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Great report... Great trip! Thank you for sharing it all with us!!! Great family!!! I had lunch with a friend at Rollin' Smoke about 3 weeks ago... whadda feast!
     
  11. Jordan

    Jordan Caveman

    Joined:
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    Halifax, Canada
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    Thanks for sharing...
     
  12. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

    Joined:
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    You got lucky at Double Barrel; we had a bad experience there when we arrived about 1/2 hour before the kitchen closed. I enjoyed it the first time I was there but after the second experience, have no desire to return. I left two MyVegas rewards unused on my last trip as we just couldn't seem to fit them in once we arrived and got side-tracked. I bought the LVA coupons for my next trip and with the variety and flexibility, hope that will work out better.

    Looks like your wee one really enjoys Vegas!
     
  13. ACMike

    ACMike High-Roller

    Joined:
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    New York, NY
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    Enjoyed your report, looks like you had fun!!
     
  14. llestrange25

    llestrange25 Tourist

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Ireland
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    Great trip report , we are heading to Valley of Fire at christmas and then visit Mesquite
     
  15. Brick

    Brick Low-Roller

    Joined:
    May 28, 2015
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    Location:
    SF Bay Area
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    Thanks for sharing your trip with such detail. I'm glad you were able to give your daughter such a good time and still have time for some "grown up Vegas" fun.
     
  16. ant1433

    ant1433 Low-Roller

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2005
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    Location:
    nj
    Great report.
    Was the $85 with cart or did you walk it in Mesquite? Just wondering. Did you have the course to yourself that early?
    Thanks
     
  17. UncleBen

    UncleBen Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Ipswich, UK
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    5
    Nice report.
    I do love seeing the MyVEGAS/travelzoo/groupon deals but need to find the balance between great deals and over committing on my next trip.
     
  18. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Thanks everybody.

    $85 includes cart. I doubt they let anyone walk that course, it's way too hilly and spread out. There was a twosome about a hole behind me that kept up with me for a while, and ahead of me were a lot of maintenance guys. But otherwise, yes, I had the course to myself.
     
  19. VegasBJ

    VegasBJ VIP Whale

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    M,

    great report and loved all the pics!
     
  20. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

    Joined:
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    Nice report once again! I'm glad you were able to use multiple nights at MB before they tightened up. The pool area is a major highlight and I'm sure your daughter enjoyed that. Also glad that fire didn't delay your trip that badly.

    Do you happen remember the paytable of the 50 play for DDB there at nickels? I'm also shocked they actually had a single line game for nickels. Nothing better than 6/5 JoB on that though? :(

    And lots of golf! Great pictures! Was looking forward to reading this, but waited to get back from tunica to save on data with the pics that i knew were coming. haha
     
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