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Last trip as a tourist

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Coaster Kikky, Jan 6, 2007.

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  1. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    Took my final investigative trip 1/1-1/4/07 in advance of my upcoming move to our fave city. Here's the story.

    1/1/07: Southwest flight out, stop in Louisville on the way out. Both legs full. Read a book and the flights went quickly. Always nice knowing you're earning triple credit for a flight too :thumbsup:

    Arrived a little late, maybe 20 minutes, and got myself over to Budget for the car rental. I can't recommend them because both times I've rented from them the agent, who started out just as friendly as can be went totally snotty and bitchy as soon as I said I decline coverage. Either they get a commission from selling the extra coverage or Budget only hires manic-depressives. What an abrupt turnaround. Since I should not ever need to rent a car in Vegas again (since I am moving there, and will have my own vehicle available), the best I can do is warn others.

    Drove Downtown for my one night comped stay at the Cal. I'd never stayed there, but have stayed at MSS so knew what to expect. The room at Cal was as I expected - a little tired, a little worn, but clean and (mostly) functional. More on that later.

    I was trying to get my body on west coast time, so although I was a little dinner hungry I ignored it for as long as I could and played a little video poker. Was up $50 (playing quarter DB) after hitting a couple 4OAK (not aces) and decided to go for dinner. Pasta Pirate said I'd have to wait 45 minutes for a table for just me, so I walked over to MSS to check out Pullman Grille to find they are closed on Mondays. Today is Monday? Who knew? Felt like a weekend to me! Moseyed back to the Cal, played a little $5 blackjack (lost the $50 I was up) and went back to the restaurant and was promptly seated.

    I had previously eaten at Pasta Pirate but it had been years. The restaurant was just as I remembered - decorated as a faux fishing shanty. Think "poor man's Red Lobster". Each entree comes with soup or salad, bread and a glass of wine. Wine creates major issues with me when I've had other alcohol (which I had) so I told them to not even bring it... not gonna drink it so don't waste it. I chose the seafood soup and cheese ravioli with alfredo sauce. They promptly brought me warm bread and a garlic-herb spread which was pretty good. The soup came out quickly and warmed my belly. It had a tomato-basil base and most of the seafood was bits of calamari but it tasted good. The ravioli was filling, and although it wasn't the best alfredo I've ever had, the meal was satisfying and I thought it was a very good value. And the service was very prompt in taking my order and bringing my food. Not as quick about bringing the check around, but I might not have noticed that if I weren't alone.

    After dinner I played a little more .25 vp and hit four aces! So I was up $150 when I decided to hit the hay and put an end to the first day of 2007. Went up to my room, and noticed when I washed my face that the hot water was rather... non-hot. I made a mental note that I hoped that was just a nighttime thing and morning would be better for my shower.

    The room was a little bit stuffy so I turned on the fan to low/cool and immediately saw a heating element turn on. Say what? The room started to heat up so I double checked that I had it on cool, and I did, so I shut it off. That was disappointing. While I hate being cold, I cannot sleep well if I am too warm.

    The bed at the Cal was pretty firm - not as rock hard as the one at Paris but not far removed from it. Slept only until about 5:30am and tried to make it til 7 but couldn't do it. Too many things to do this day, plus the bed was not all that comfy. Turned on the water in the shower, let it run for about 20-30 seconds to let it get up to temperature... and got in.

    HOLYMARYMOTHEROFGOD!! ICE!!! Nope, the "hot" water was barely room temperature. I threw a few handfuls of water on the important body parts and skedaddled out of there as quickly as I could, barely wet. I was grateful that I only have to wash my hair every other day... and knowing that I was Downtown, I knew in advance that the showerhead would be low so I had arranged ahead of time to have that morning NOT be a hair morning. But still... I do bathe every day so this was just plain not the way I wanted to start my day. I made a note to ask the front desk about it on my way out but since the room was already free, there probably wasn't a lot they could do about it.

    I had intended to try the Market Street Cafe (the coffeeshop at the Cal) for breakfast as I had heard good things. The "Luau" Buffet was advertised as $5.00. Sounds good. I sat at the counter and ordered coffee and orange juice and water and realized that if I didn't order the buffet, just my drinks would be nearly $5.00... so I went with the buffet, which you cannot see from the entrance.

    The buffet is a pretty small spread for Vegas, even for Downtown. The heat lamps put an orange glow on everything, making it impossible to discern at a glance what the food is since there is no difference in the color. You literally have to go by shape to figure it out. Let's see, scrambled eggs, hash browns... what is that? Oh, the buffet list mentioned steamed rice - that must be it. Or maybe it's oatmeal... no, it's too solid, must be the rice. I'm just not awake enough pre-coffee and with no real shower to have to work this hard! I put together a plateful and headed back to the counter. Good... no surprises on my plate. I wasn't real happy with everything there - that which was supposed to be moist was dry and that which was supposed to be dry was moist. But for $5? Yeah, it was edible. If you're just looking to put some stuff in your stomach, it'd do.

    I got back to my room and got my stuff together and returned to the lobby to check out. And completely forgot to mention the ice water in their showers. Oh well...

    I spent the morning visiting my top 3 apartment choices, but only got an application in at one because of vacancy issues (specifically, the lack thereof). I had planned on browsing furniture stores in the afternoon, but since I did not know where I would end up living, and therefore did not have the room measurements, I had no idea what size sofa would fit (and still do not).

    Fine. Put the plans aside and just be prepared to go through a whirlwind shopping spree when I do get to town.

    I had driven past Sam's Town on the way to Henderson from Downtown, and decided to pay a visit since I had never been there. I parked and walked into the building right at the part everyone says to visit - the atrium. Not bad... if you've ever seen Mohegan Sun they have an indoor rock mountain and waterfall... it's similar although I like Mohegan's better. I sat at the bar in the middle of the atrium and ordered a beer - their monthly special microbrew was Alaskan Amber ale. It was a nice beer. No, ok, actually it was two nice beers... In order to get your drink comped there you have to put $20 in, but they also require you to play full coin and constantly. So if you're of the school of play one quarter every two minutes for free drinks, cross Sam's Town off your list. The bartender (Judy) was very nice. We had a nice conversation while I was there. I actually managed to play for about an hour and cashed out exactly even when I went into the casino in search of food.

    I wandered around a little, and it looked like many of the restaurants were not open for lunch or, more likely, were so quiet that not one person was eating in them. I figured if they were that quiet, maybe they weren't so good. I did find quite a line for the buffet. It was a long enough line that I didn't want to wait it out. By this time I'm starting to not feel real well because I'm beyond hungry. I know I need to eat right away or it's only going to get worse. Just beyond the buffet, in a corner of the atrium, I find a food court. Nothing looked good, but... I had to eat something. Food purists, please look away... I had a slice of Sbarro pizza for lunch.

    And then I drove away from Sam's Town, coincidentally (I had brought some of my cd's with me) listening to the latest by the Killers and hearing them sing about seeing Sam's Town. I said aloud "yep, me too... in my rear view mirror, but that's the last time that needs to happen!".

    Cross another place to visit off my list. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again.

    I drove to the Strip, as my next two nights' lodging were on an offer received from Aladdin. First night was $49 (plus tax) and the 2nd night was free. It had been years since I stayed at Aladdin, and I remembered liking the rooms there. The casino is entirely different than it was back then. I like it better now - it looks good, although it is still a work in progress.

    I parked at valet and saw the check in line (at almost 3pm) was very long, so stowed my bag and coat at bell desk and made my way upstairs. The pizza hadn't entirely been enough for my lunch, so I was keeping my eye out for other options, hopefully somewhere new to me. I saw PF Chang's... not a real fan of theirs plus it looked nearly impossible to get to with construction.

    Not being able to think of anything at Aladdin or the Desert Passage that really sounded good, I started looking for the door so I could walk up the Strip. I knew that I wanted to visit Wynn this trip as one thing I need to purchase for my new home is a bed. And their beds are niiiiiiiiice! I couldn't find my way out of Aladdin though (literally) so I asked someone wearing a nametag "how do I exit the Casino without going through the mall?". The answer raised my eyebrows. "Oh, you can't right now. That's the only way out." What the??? And I thought that was an issue before. I gathered (from the various construction) that this is just temporary but what a temporary pain in the ass! I started to walk towards the mall but right then my knee gave me a shot of pain and I knew walking clear to Wynn wasn't going to work so I went down to the lobby and got a cab to Wynn instead.

    I found the Wynn LVNV store and got bed pricing. FYI a queen sized bed is just under 2k which includes delivery and removal of your old bedding if you need that. The resort room comforter is $300. If I do buy the Wynn bed, I think I'll shop for the sheets and comforter, etc at one of the outlet stores.

    After that research was completed I realized I was still hungry so I ducked into Zoozacrackers and got a $5 bowl of chicken noodle soup. I laughed when I realized one bowl of soup cost the same as my entire breakfast. It was a good bowl of soup but not THAT good...

    I left Wynn and decided to have a margarita. Isla is kitty-corner across the street and is one of my fave places to indulge in tequila so off I set. While crossing the Strip on the overhead bridge, I saw an 18 wheeler emblazoned with the Boise State mascot. They were coming from Arizona on their way back to Idaho and decided to drive down the Strip. How excited must they have been after that spectacular game (which I sadly only saw replays of).

    Had my nice margarita at Isla and played a little vp (I hate $20 margaritas) and knew that I needed to get back to Aladdin to check in. So I grabbed a cab (no line) from TI and headed back to Planet Aladdin. The driver was great and showed me a trick to use when the Strip is impassable. He took me from TI through Venetian, down Audrie then into the bowels of Ballys and to the backside of Aladdin/Paris.
     
  2. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    At Aladdin, the check-in line was even longer than it was previously when I said it was too long. But this time I didn't really have much choice but to wait it out. I was supposed to be at MSS at 8pm to meet up with Hoya and HoyaHubby, I needed to check in and shower first, and I was hoping to get some dinner prior to the meeting. Good luck to me!

    It took 45 minutes to get through the line. When I got to the agent I smiled and asked nicely "I guess it's not much use to ask about an upgrade when the lines are this crazy?". She smiled back and said she'd take a look. BTW, I did NOT have a $20 bill showing. Just being pleasant after a long wait. After a few clicks, she told me she could give me a complimentary upgrade to a Strip-view Resort room. Excellent!! I took out a $20 and thanked her then, which pleased her greatly. I took my keys for the room on the 19th floor and went to the elevator.

    As soon as I opened the door to my room, I saw something amiss. There were shopping bags in the foyer. Hmm, that's od.... OH LORD! there's a foot in the bed! I swear I never moved so fast as to get out of that room and back down to the lobby. I waited for the same agent, who took one look at me and knew something was terribly wrong... I told her someone was asleep in "my" bed! Well, the person attached to the foot didn't stir, so maybe they were dead... that was probably worse. I was freaked out but if I had been on the receiving end of the unexpected visit I probably would have crapped the bed, literally! She was very sorry, and went to talk to her manager. When she returned, she offered me either a Resort Vista room or a Strip Suite as a complimentary upgrade because of this experience. She showed me the floorplans, and I had to laugh because the Strip Suite showed 800+ square feet. My apartment to be is in the 750 sf range. I just asked her to give me whichever one had the better view. Both rooms looked amazing, and I was stunned to have this nice a room for basically $25 per night. She said the Strip Suite was on the 9th floor, the Resort Vista was on the 21st so that would have a better view. Ok, great!

    Got the keys to room 2139 and went back upstairs, gingerly opening this door. Whew. The room was empty. Holy cow!! This is freakin' HUGE!! There's a good size foyer with a writing desk and two closets. To the left is a long narrow room with a huge amount of counter space and one sink. Beyond that is the bathroom, with a tub overlooking the Strip, a large shower, another sink and a toilet room the size of a walk-in closet. The bedroom has two doors, one into the foyer, another into the bathroom, and is curvy with large windows (not floor to ceiling though) overlooking the Strip. My view is of Monte Carlo, NYNY and a whole lot of construction at City Center. A WHOLE Lot of construction! What a room though!!

    I call for my luggage from bell desk. It took a bit for them to get there, and I'm nervously looking at my watch. The bag finally came and I got my long overdue shower and decided to wash my hair too. Then I got dressed and ready to go Downtown to meet up with the Hoyas.

    I had planned to drive, and only have one beer, but when I got to the lower level at Aladdin I noticed that valet had a crazy line and the taxi line was only two people deep and there were several taxis waiting to have a job to do.

    Got the taxi and got to MSS with about 35 minutes to go before the Hoyas were due to show up. I sat at the bar at 777 brewpub and ordered a beer (the Black Chip porter is outstanding) and their steak special (8 oz steak plus baked potato and veggies for $7.95). I let them know where to find me and tucked into my meal just as Hoya came up from behind me.

    I'd been looking for Dane, with his bald head I knew he'd be more recognizeable from a distance... but she said he was waiting for his penny machine to stop counting $95.00 and spit out the ticket. By and by Dane showed up, and we chatted while I ate - apologizing for eating in front of them but thankfully they had already eaten. My meal was pretty good. The veggies were mostly green beans - one sprig of broccoli and maybe four carrot slices thrown in, a nicely done baked potato... the steak had a too-large bit of gristle to deal with but it was cooked correctly and with the beer and taxes my meal came to $11.03. Hell of a value, I thought.

    The Hoyas & I chatted for maybe an hour, enjoying our beers. Then we decided to take a few pictures, so Dane got the cameras working and took one with theirs then gave it to us so we could critique it. "I look tan!", I said. "How'd that happen??". Hoya said "I look drunk!". In unison, she & I both said "How'd THAT happen???". Too funny.

    Since they had arrived just that day, it wasn't too late (around 9pm) before she announced that she was starting to fade and we said our goodbyes. It was lovely to meet you both - and since the MM meets are unlikely for you, you just must make plans for next fall's drunkfest - probably Not-soberfest II.

    I played for a bit at the Boar Bar at MSS before heading back to Aladdin and my way-too-cool-for-words room. I slept part of the night with the drapes open, letting the lights of the Strip fill my dreams. Unfortunately, even in the middle of the night, I could hear a little bit of the construction at City Center, and the lights they had beaming were quite bright so I ended up shutting the curtains. The gauzy blind in the window in the bathroom let in enough light so I could find my way to the potty in the night. That was the only bad thing about the room, I had told Hoya... you actually have to partially wake up to find your way to the toilet in the middle of the night.

    I woke up for keeps around 7:30am, walked around the 3 corners to the water closet.... and found the toilet wouldn't flush. Damn, gotta call maintenance. The toilet's busted. Went to wash my hands, and it all became clear.... there is no water. Well crap!! And thank God I had showered the previous evening before heading Downtown. I still wanted a shower this morning too, but, clearly that wasn't going to happen! There was a flashing light on the phone next to the bed so I double checked it and sure enough, there was a water main break and Aladdin was water-less. I quickly found out that so were Paris and Bally's, effectively ruling out several places I had thought about having breakfast.

    I washed my hands and those important body parts as best as I could with the cold wet washcloth from the previous night, got dressed and put on my makeup and headed down the elevator. I guess it was a compliment when two women in the elevator told me "you look good considering there's no water!". Um, thanks??

    I decided to try the Victoran room, the coffee shop at Barbary Coast, for breakfast. I walked up the Strip, finding large puddles along the sidewalk the entire distance. BC had water, and was fairly busy. I was seated right away and ordered a skillet of corned beef hash and eggs, which also came with toast. It wasn't as value priced as I was hoping for, considering it was a Coast casino. My coffee, juice and skillet came to $18 with taxes. It was more food than I could eat, however... I would have been much happier with the meal if it had been less expensive and less food. Half the food for about $4 less would have been about right.

    After breakfast, I thought about what I wanted to do that day. I had already visited my top 3 apartment prospects. One had a vacancy for 2/8 but I was coming to town 1/29, so that wasn't that appealing. My back-up place didn't have any one bedrooms at all available right now (although "call back in a week or two - we could still get one!") and my #3 choice, which was pushing the upper limits of my budget, had let me put in an application. Not knowing the size of the rooms limited my ability to window shop for furniture. Well, what else to do in Vegas? How about drink, gamble, wander and shop?

    So I decided not to use the rental car at all that day and just hang around the Strip, like a real tourist. It would be my last chance to do so, after all!

    I walked into Bally's and sat at a bar and ordered a hot chocolate with Baileys and played some quarter DB. I hit four fives (at the exact moment the fellow next to me also hit four fives) and just a couple minutes later I hit four aces! So I got paid $200 to have my drink. Moved on to Paris and ordered another hot choc with Baileys and played. Didn't do as well there but only lost $40 so I was still up $160 and two drinks.

    Moseyed on back to Desert Passage and got a massage from one of the vendors and did some shopping, mostly of the window variety. Decided to have lunch at Max's Grill, which is trying to change it's name to Palm Grille...
    They have a 3 drinks for one price special. They told me it was $14 but it had to have been less than that because with the lunch I ordered, it should have come to $21 plus tax but it was $18 after tax was added. I chose 3 different martinis... one a chocolately dessert drink, which I had first (go figure), a cosmo and a watermelon martini. They were all good. I had pasta for lunch - a nice orichiette with spinach, artichokes and sundried tomatoes in a creamy lemon garlic sauce. The price was listed as $7.99 for that, and it was easily worth that. I was pleased with my lunch there, seated at the bar and chatting with a nice lady from Hawaii. I had also, during my shopping expedition, gotten two free tickets to the Fab Four show that night in the mall... Hoya had other plans and couldn't use them and I wasn't that interested in going by myself, so I tried to give them to someone else... never did manage to and sadly threw them out that evening after the concert was done.

    After lunch, I returned to Aladdin proper, finally got my shower (yay!) and played at a new bar in the center of the casino floor. I like it. Well, most of it. They do not have their musical identity figured out yet. Being a former dj, I always pay attention to music and cringe when the segue between songs is particularly bad. Like from Paul Revere and the Raiders to a rap song. Ouch! (My bad, I don't follow rap or hip hop particularly so couldn't even begin to figure out the artist of the song). Or how about Foo Fighters to Neil Diamond to Weezer? Please!! Figure out your desired demographics and stick to it!!

    By and by I wandered down the Strip to MGM Grand and one of my favorite bars at Centrifuge. I ended up spending too much time and money in there, but I enjoyed myself, having beers, watching football, watching the bartenders dance and playing vp... Eventually I felt like I "needed" to play some Pai Gow and got on a $10 table... and got smoked for $150 in a short amount of time. Crud.

    Ok, dinner time. Got a good buzz... where should I go. I looked over Wolfgang Puck's and Fiamma, both restaurants I have enjoyed quite a bit, but decided to try Emeril's for the first time. I sat at the bar (I do tend to do that when by myself), just drank water, and ordered soup (a caramelized onion and artichoke soup that was absolutely delicious!!) and a pasta dish with scallops and shrimp. The meal was really wonderful, although it was $46 with no alcohol - or even soda - to drink and for just one person. I can imagine it could easily be a $150-200 meal for two with just one cocktail each. Anyway, it was truly yummy, although my stomach did protest the richness of the food.

    By and by I staggered back "home" to Aladdin and to bed before midnight... slept very well and was happy to have water the next morning. Had the buffet at Aladdin for breakfast and found it to be perfectly acceptable for $15 (tax included). The highlight of the buffet was being able to have tri-tip steak for breakfast! Checked out via the drop box, waited about 30 minutes for valet to bring me my car, to the airport, and back home.

    I've decided to postpone my move by one week, so I can get into my #1 apartment choice on 2/8 instead of settling for something I like less. So my next trip to Vegas is for keeps!
     
  3. Jack21

    Jack21 Guest

    Despite the various bathing deficiencies and the fact that you got "Goldielocks'd" at the Aladdin, sounds like a productive & fun outing.

    As I see it, eventually there will be no need for a March Madness because all the usual attendants will be local. :thumbsup:
     
  4. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

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    Aladdin really seemed to be in the throes of construction, I'm not surprised the water shut off on ya, though I know from experience how thoroughly that blows. Hope all goes well with the new digs.

    p.s. my visits to Market st cafe have been better, but I've never gone there for breakfast. Eat at the Cal!

    p.s.s. where in the Republic of MGM is Centrifuge located?
     
  5. SH0CK

    SH0CK Stylin' and Profilin' Quasi Tech Admin

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    Nice report Becky! :thumbsup:

    We had the water turned off on us at the Sahara one year, wouldn't want to do that again.
    It's over by the Lion Habitat. Where they used to have the REALLY high, open space that had a stage and huge screen that showed movie trailers before they remodelled it. The poker room is in that area too.
     
  6. sunni

    sunni VIP Whale

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    Nice report CK as usual..:)
    What are you gonna do with all your kitties when you move to Vegas ?
    (if you still have them )
     
  7. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    Hubby is keeping the majority of the felines. He's bringing my pride & joy (aka BooBoo) to me in mid-February, and at some point in the not too distant future I'll find a way to get Peanut... and after a year if I enjoy living in Vegas as much as I think I will, I will buy a 2 bedroom condo and bring out two more felines.
     
  8. azzy

    azzy MIA

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    Good luck with your move to Vegas soon!
     
  9. Vegas Tonya

    Vegas Tonya Margarita Connoisseur

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    Nice report, sad it's your last "tourist" trip. I still do the tourist trip when the girls are in town though. We stay in a hotel and be tourists, so you can still do it too.

    Can't wait to have a "gym" partner. Safe travels out her neighbor.
     
  10. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    Al, Scott well described Centrifuge but to be even more specific about its location: If you come in off the Strip on the street level (not the bridge from NYNY) and enter next to Rainforest Cafe, Centrifuge will be directly in front of you.

    Not only do they have an admirable beer selection (always having at *least* Fat Tire and Sierra Nevada on tap) but once an hour the bartenders get up on the bar and dance. And they're actually pretty good too. The lady barkeeps are often in a cropped leather-looking bustier top and short zippered denim mini and tall boots. I think you fellas (and some of you gals) would like it. The only downside to the dancing is if your glass happens to go empty at that very moment. So plan accordingly.

    Tonya, I do plan on doing the tourist thing once in awhile myself. I will have a lot of company (or so I'm told). But instead of flying back to the east coast after the party, I'll just get in my vehicle and drive the short distance home. So it'll feel different, I know it will. But it'll still be all good!
     
  11. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    nice TR. Good luck in your new home local.
     
  12. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

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    Thx becky and scott for the info on centrifuge. I'd heard they served Fat Tire somewhere in MGM, didn't get down that far tho in Dec.

    I loved that area. The second-level entry, the 30's art-deco pieces, the big multimedia stage... ok, liked rather than loved.
     
  13. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    The art deco and 2nd level entry are still there.
     
  14. Falcon_Rob

    Falcon_Rob Flying Winnebago

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    Nice TR Kikky. I hope I pick up on some to of those "secret driving spots" after a while. Sorry to hear about all of your H2O problems, but it sounds like you took them all in stride.

    Good luck with the move.
     
  15. sageblue

    sageblue High-Roller

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    Great report, and hopefully by postponing your move, Vegas will have had all of its water issues taken care of by then! Sheesh!
     
  16. howzie

    howzie Tourist

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    Hell, we've been here 1 1/2 years, and still do the "tourist" thing. We might be the only locals that hang on the strip fairly regularly (we can't stand most of the so-called "locals" casinos. Fully agree with Kikky's Sam Town's take-been there, done that, won't be back).
     
  17. howzie

    howzie Tourist

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    From our experience, Kikky, it'll feel better.
     
  18. Jimbucc

    Jimbucc VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the report Kikky. Now that you are moving to Vegas we can hook up sometime and trade Cedar Point stories. :)
     
  19. HoyaHeel

    HoyaHeel Grammar Police & Admin

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    Great to meet you CK!! I'm trying to catch up on a severe sleep deficit but then I'll write up my report. Glad you eventually got a shower & enjoyed the resort vista, weird bathroom & all....
     
  20. DaveP

    DaveP VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Thanks for the report!

    Still looking forward to publication of your first book...City Of Soup.
     
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