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Nov. 5 - 12 : Gold Coast, MSS, the Cal, Lots of VP, with MP's, the Diva's

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Buddha, Nov 17, 2014.

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  1. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    Las Vegas -- November 5-12 @ Gold Coast and Main Street Station :

    OK, folks … this was Vegas trip #53 for us, right on the heels of our recent September trip. We are not fans of summer trips, with the intense Vegas heat, so we stick to our usual Spring and Fall trips. We booked our November Southwest Airline flights back in May, when that reservation window first opened up. Our round-trip flights were first priced at $189 per person, each way out of Chicago Midway, but a few weeks later, the price dropped $18 each way to $171 per person, and I quickly re-booked. A couple weeks later, the price dropped again to $154 each way, and after another re-booking, each of us had a $70 credit for when we book our next trip. These latest prices then earned 845 SWA Rapid Reward points on each leg, for each of us. And, of course, we used our Southwest Visa for double Rapid Reward points (1232) on our flight purchases. Also added to the flight purchase were the Early Bird boarding fees of $12.50 each way, per person … for more Rapid Reward points.

    In setting up our room reservations, I had my usual mailer offer from Main Street Station for 3 comped nights Thurs.-Fri.-Sat. (used to be 4 nights until the bean-counters started cutting back), plus two $20 dining coupons. Nancy followed that by receiving her usual 3 comped nights (our Sun. thru Tues. nights.) at the California (eventually switched to our MSS room) , plus two $15 dining coupons. Our Host at MSS “usually” would even comp our Wednesday arrival day, but not this time, wanting to charge us $40. Well … two can play that penny-pinching game, and we decided to use a FREE-night offer from the Gold Coast for our Wednesday arrival day. So, we now had all 7 nights comped , but with one move on Thursday morning, from the Gold Coast to MSS downtown.

    Next was the rental car for the week, and I already have that booked at Dollar, way back when I booked our car for our September trip. I was very surprised back then, when I found Dollar offering a weekly rental for a “compact” for $85, plus taxes & fees, and it was available for both trips, along with 1200 RR promo points from SWA. However, by the time all the extra taxes & fees were added to that $85, the final total was up to $168. With this also charged to our SWA-Visa card, this price will also yield 336 additional RR points. Collecting all of these SWA Rapid Rewards for this entire trip will eventually add up to about 6200 RR points for a future trip. J

    Our daily itinerary is planned, our usual ACG and LVA coupon books are organized, our bags are packed, the early-bird boarding passes ( # A-24 & A-25) are printed. We also notice that our boarding passes do NOT have us marked for the “pre-screen check”, allowing us to proceed through the quick line, without having to take things off, as well as out of our carry-ons. Soooo … we will have to work our way through the regular security line, which is a lot slower. As we don’t pay for the full-time “Pre-Chk” service, this service always seems to be a random thing … sometimes we get it, sometimes not.

    Wednesday - Nov. 5 :

    At 5:00 am, we park our car at the local commuter lot for the week ($12), and catch our local commuter train ( $2.75 each - Senior fares) into downtown Chicago Union Station.. From there, we walk over to the elevated (the “L”) CTA transit trains, and board the Orange Line ( $1.10 each for Seniors) for a 30 minute ride directly to Midway Airport.
    TSA screening at Midway was quick & easy in the “pre-check“ line, and we were soon on our way to Gate B- 8. Our plane is scheduled to depart at 9:30 am, so we grab some breakfast, in preparation for the 3 hr 45 min. flight to Vegas. However, the strangest thing happened as the passenger boarding concluded at 9:20, and they shut the cabin door. At 9:28, the cabin door re-opened, and a new passenger entered, and a minute or two later another passenger arrived, followed by a mother with her little daughter, and then we waited for another passenger who supposedly went to the wrong terminal, and didn’t know her gate number. All of this caused our plane to depart 30 minutes late … and I could not help but wonder … what happened to that “10-minute rule”, where you HAD to be at the gate “no later than 10 minutes before the scheduled departure, or the jet-way door would closed, and you would not be admitted” ?????? Needless to say, we were late getting to Vegas.

    After take-off, and reaching cruising altitude, we enjoyed our traditional free Bloody Mary’s along with the standard in-flight snacks, and settle back for the ride, as we read the paper, do puzzles, sleep, and arrive in Vegas 15 minutes late, and 75 degrees. Off the plane with our carry-on bags, and onto the shuttle bus to the rental car facility at Dollar Express, we are soon down the escalator picking out a new Nissan Versa for our week in Vegas. We leave the car rental facility, and make our way over to the Dollar Tree store at Maryland Pkwy and Flamingo, picking up a case of water and some incidental toiletries.

    Leaving Dollar Tree, we continue west on Flamingo to stop at the ‘Linq” to pick up free tickets for the “Divas” show on Sunday night. However, there are also taxes & fees attached, and I cover those with points from my Harrah’s player’s card. Leaving the Linq, we head down LV Blvd to the Cosmopolitan, where I have a $25 coupon offer (Thanks Bruce !! ), and we soon turn that into $28 of free profit. Leaving the Cosmo, we work our way over to the Gold Coast for our free one-night stay.

    Everything was in order for our brief stay at the Gold Coast, except they assigned us to the last room on the west end. Luckily, we only had to make that round-trip walk a couple times. We planned on having dinner at the Gold Coast buffet, but first we found a couple video poker machines to earn 200 points each, to make dinner free with the LVA coupon. After making a small profit at our VP machines, while earning our 200 points, and a stop at the player’s club, we were on our way to the buffet. Dinner was very good, and we were soon back at playing video poker for a couple hours … but unfortunately, we each dropped about $50.

    After hitting the Palms (+40) and the Orleans (-20) with a couple match play coupons, we retired to our room for some TV and some ZZZZZZZZZ ………..

    Thursday & Friday & Saturday - Nov. 6 - 7 - 8 :

    We checked out from the Gold Coast at 6:30 am, and headed for Main Street Station for their 7:00 am breakfast buffet (LVA 2/1 coupon plus player points), and where we will also be checking in. These three days of casino play will be spent mostly at MSS, as my 3-day comp offer came from them, and we will both be playing on my B-Connected card, in order to maximize the daily play to cycle through about $7500 per day. We both typically play quarter 8/5 Bonus (99.17 % game) and 9/6 JOB (99.54 % game) … and there are plenty of those single-line games at MSS for Nancy …while I prefer the quarter 3-Play Bonus Poker game on the 3-Play machines at MSS in order to maximize my coin-in, and the additional opportunities for a big hand. We will also enjoy earning 5X points on our 3 days of VP play at MSS (and also our 3 days at the Cal), under their “November Extravaganza Promo”.

    After breakfast, and being too early to check in, Nancy and I begin our first day’s VP at MSS, with us playing about 3K (+34 and 8 scratch cards). At 1:00 pm, we were able to check into our 8th floor room, as I retrieve our luggage from the car in the parking garage, as Nancy goes up to the room to wait for our coffee pot set-up to be delivered to the room. While Nancy is up in the room, she notices that the carpeting is wet by the entry door, next to the bathroom wall. After calling downstairs, a building engineer is sent up, and discovers a pipe leaking inside that wall. We go downstairs to the hotel front desk, and they switch our room reservations to the 4th floor … and we go back upstairs and move all of our belongings down to the new room.

    Upon returning to the MSS casino for some evening video poker, we settle in at our usual machines, finishing with a (+25) for Nancy, and (-42) for me, we hit the LVC & Plaza roulette tables for MP losses at each (- 30 total). We pick up a breakfast comp from the MSS player’s club, on our way back to our room … and then watch a little TV before …. ZZZZZZZ

    Friday morning (Nov. 7th) began with the MSS breakfast buffet at 7:00, with our comp voucher from last night. The selection of morning chow is good, pretty much their usual layout. After breakfast, it was back to the MSS video poker machines with a full tummy, we find the VP games again troublesome (-100). Time for a road-trip break, doing an assortment of MP’s which yield an opposite result … Jerry’s Nugget (+20), Longhorn (+5), Orleans (-20), Palms (+40), and the Riviera (+10). Upon our return to MSS, we had an early dinner at the 777 Brewpub, using one of my $20 dining vouchers. Nancy had the Frisco Burger, and I had the Fish Basket, both of which came with a mountain of fries that we could not even finish (voucher + points + tip).

    After our MP’s and dinner, we return to the MSS casino for one final VP session for the day. Nancy looked around for a “luckier” Bonus Poker machine, but I stuck with my triple-play Bonus machine. Nancy recovered nicely (+93), but my triple-play was giving me more losers than winners (-100), even though I had accumulated several scratch cards. Time for some TV, and catching up on some emails …..

    Saturday morning (Nov. 8th) begins much the same as yesterday, with a comped breakfast at the MSS buffet, but on Saturday & Sunday, it is the weekend “Brunch” buffet, which is an upgrade to the usual Mon - Fri. breakfast, including complimentary champagne mimosas..
    We return to the VP machines at MSS, back where we started earlier, and kept our VP more on a positive note (+180), and we put a bunch of points on my card. We take a short break from the VP, and walk over to the Las Vegas Club (+20) and the Plaza (+!0) for some MP profits. We also visit the Four Queens where we play $20 free-play from a mailer Nancy had received (+19).

    Back to MSS, we resumed our attack on the VP machines, with more positive results (+230), as the “four of a kinds“ were popping. However, like most trips here at MSS, ALL of our scratch-cards were just $2 each … never anything better.

    For dinner tonight, we drove out to the SunCoast, as we have a certificate for 2 free dinner buffets that I was given by a dear friend (Thanks Lee !!! ). We had not been to the SunCoast buffet in quite sometime, but we were not disappointed. Great soups & salads, a carving table with turkey, roast beef, pork roast, seafood with 4 types of fish, breaded scallops and fried clams,, along with Italian, Mexican, Asian, etc., etc.

    Before returning to MSS, we also make a quick stop at the Rampart casino for a couple MP’s at their roulette table (+20), and then hop on the “race-track” expressway back to downtown. WOW … some of those drivers are worse than in the Chicago area.
    Back to MSS, we turn to the relaxation of the TV before the sleep fairy hits us …..

    Sunday -- Nov. 9th :
    Sunday is our usual “moving day”, but we really don’t have to move at all, as this is the morning that we process our “stay-over”, where the hotel front desk checks me out, and Nancy checks back in … to the same room. This is a practice we started a few trips back, with the help of our host, putting room offers back-to-back at MSS. After the “sign-in” was completed, we headed to the MSS morning brunch buffer with our usual comp voucher from the player’s club. This is also NFL football Sunday, and we plan to watch the Bears/Packers game at 5:30 pm … if you remember THAT disaster !!!

    Starting today, and the following 2 days, we will now be doing our VP play at the California casino, based on these days being from Nancy’s mailer offer. Nancy has a few favorite slant-top VP consoles that she likes to play her Bonus Poker, and I also play on her card on multi-line machines. I often play on the 50-line machines for nickels, but I only do 15 lines. We played most of the morning and afternoon here at the Cal, with a couple short breaks, with mixed results … Nancy (+145), and me (- 150).
    Before it got too close to football game time, we stopped in at the 777 Brewpub at MSS, for a quick dinner … Nancy having the Nacho Grande platter, and I had the warm sub sandwich platter, which Nancy paid for with her B-Connected player points.

    The Bears / Packers Sunday evening game quickly became very upsetting, as the halftime score was 41-0, as we quickly lost interest. We had those Sunday tickets to the “Divas” show at Linq, and before the 3rd quarter of the game even ended, we were headed to the car in the MSS parking garage.

    Getting to the parking garages behind the Strip can often be a challenge, so we headed down Main Street, and over to Industrial Drive, down to Mel Torme Way, east onto Spring Mountain, across the Strip to Koval, south on Koval down to the west-side roads to that back-side area. The parking garage at the Linq (old Imperial Palace) is a small cramped garage, so we opted to shoot directly into the Harrah’s parking garage, and quickly and easily found a very convenient parking spot. However, now we had to walk through much of Harrah’s, and over to the Linq, and finally up the escalator to the showroom. Quite an ordeal for a couple of senior citizens !!!
    The Diva’s show was very entertaining, hosted by Frank Marino, who “plays” as the “hostess” Joan Rivers. “She” does an opening monologue, and also appears in between each and every act, in a different gown, with all the other many female star impersonators. The singing is all lip-synced”, but once you put that aside, all of the performances were fun, believable, and entertaining. We would recommend this show to everyone.

    Headed back to MSS at 11:15 pm, with very little traffic, and quickly got back to our room, where we crashed into bed after a very busy day.

    Monday & Tuesday -- Nov. 10 - 11 :

    On Monday morning, I was up early, with my laptop loading the Southwest Airlines website, as today is when their new reservations window opens up from April 7 into June. Our next Vegas trip will be in April, and I wanted to book our flights and “early-bird“ boarding ASAP. I was surprised at the new low fares, as I purchased our departure flight from Chicago Midway to Vegas for $147 p/p, minus $63 of unused ticket funds. And then, I followed that by purchasing our return flight back to Midway for only $131 p/p, for which I used some of our Rapid Reward points to make that flight FREE, except for the price of our “early-bird” passes.. Success … all set for April !!!
    Breakfast today (Monday) is again at the MSS buffet, using another player’s comp from the host at the Cal, based on our play on Sunday. Always good standard fare here, with many good selections, and at no cost to us (but we always tip our servers).

    Today & tomorrow, we will again be doing all of our VP at the California, and both of us playing on Nancy’s card, since these days were part of her mailer offer. Nancy once again heads over to her 8/5 Bonus Poker slant-top machines, and even though I sometimes play those same machines, or a couple of their 9/6 JOB uprights over in the alcoves over-looking the tables, I have decided to return to the 50-play nickel machines, but only play them with 15 lines, max nickels.

    We play our VP at the Cal for about 3 hours, with Nancy again winning, while I am on a losing streak. We also take a break with a walk around Fremont St., hitting the LVC with match plays (+20) … and also stopping at the variety and souvenir store just east of the Fremont Casino, to pick up a new 2015 Vegas calendar.
    Upon returning to the Cal, we settle back in at our earlier machines, and things are a little better now for me, but somewhat worse for Nancy). We continue our VP play for about another 2 hours, but mostly just hover, a little up, a little down, and decide to stop for dinner at the Market St. Café downstairs at the Cal. Nancy uses her first $15 voucher from her mailer offer, and orders the prime rib special, with salad bar (she was hungry), while I opted for the fish & chips dinner with the salad bar. Good food here at the Market St. Café, and very reasonable prices. Nancy presents her $15 coupon to the cashier, along with her points for the few extra dollars, and we walk away with no charges.
    We thought about playing a little more VP, but our eyes are already tired from staring at the VP screens, and we decide to call it a night … watch some TV, and check for emails and stuff. …. ZZZZZZZ ……

    Tuesday morning (11th - Veteran’s Day…big salute and a hand-clap for those wonderful men and women) begins with our breakfast at the Boulder Station buffet, where we were originally going to meet up with our friends Darryl & Carolyn, but they had to cancel their trip. So, Nancy and I went there anyway to raise our juice glasses to them. As usual, we use our LVA 2/1 coupon, for a reduced price, and are quickly seated and ordering our juice and coffee. The Boulder Station breakfast buffet does not have as many breakfast entrees as the MSS buffet, but it has plenty of fruit varieties (which we like), and along with the typical egg, bacon, sausage, potatoes, pastries, etc., etc., to satisfy anyone’s appetite. Here’s to you, Carolyn … hope all is better now.

    We return to the Cal, to resume our VP attack at our usual machines for the remaining morning hours, with very mixed results, with Nancy at (+100), and me at (-100). From there, we once again visit the LVC (-10) with MP’s , but are soon back to the Cal for a new session of VP at our usual places, with both of us hitting a few quads, and a straight flush for Nancy, and with me struggling just to stay even Anyway, we came away from that session at (+75) … and time to take a break up in the room, and check in on our Southwest flight for tomorrow’s early-bird boarding. This time, for our flight home, we got # A-22 and # A-23, well worth the extra $$, than possibly ending up searching for seats & luggage space at the end of the line. And, we also notice that we got the “Pre-Chk” screening marked on our boarding passes. We’re happy to get it this time, but why we didn’t get it leaving Chicago is still a mystery … ?????

    We decide on an early dinner, and head back down to the Market St. Café, where we will once again use Nancy’s $15 off mailer voucher.. Nancy decides on a special of “grilled chicken alfredo”, while I ordered the country-fried steak dinner and salad bar (very filling). Nancy used her points once again with her coupon, and we had another no cost tasty meal.

    Wednesday -- Nov. 12 :
    Our bags are packed, our early-bird boarding has been logged in, and all paperwork organized for later, and we check out from 7 nights at MSS … no charges. As it’s become sort of a tradition, we head south for the South Point Hotel / Casino, for a final getaway breakfast buffet … and we are meeting up with our Illinois friends, Gary and Marcia, who are just starting their Vegas trip. For this buffet, I still have my one-time online LVA 2/1 coupon (exchanged at the player’s club), plus points from my player’s card, for another no-cost meal.
    The buffet at South Point is always very good, with a solid variety of choices. And, after you go through the cashier here, don’t forget to pick up your complimentary Bloody Mary … no need to order juice.

    After a great breakfast, with lots of catching up on the latest news with our friends, it’s time to head out to fill up the gas on our rental car ($2.89 / gal), and drop it off at the Dollar RAC. Shuttle bus quickly delivers us to Terminal 1, we print out our Early Bird boarding passes , and are soon on our way to the Pre-Chk line, and on to Gate C-24 to wait for our Southwest plane, for our 3 hour 15 min. gate-to-gate flight. HOWEVER … as it seems to be a regular happening … the incoming flight from Sacramento, Calif. is about 15 minutes late arriving to our gate, and by the time they unload, some cleaning up the plane cabin area, and our group loading, we are 20 minutes late departing. Luckily, with a strong jet-stream behind us, and the extra padding in the flight schedule times, we arrive at Midway only 10 minutes late.
    Back through the Chicago transit system, with 20 degree temps (BRRR) and onto the suburban Metra commuter train, we find our car sitting where we left it a week ago …and we pull into our garage at about 8:45 pm … always a long day. Vegas trip # 53 is complete … # 54 coming up in April …..

    Summary :
    >> 1 night @ Gold Coast … free mailer comp
    >> 6 nights @ Main Street Station … all comped through our two mailer offers
    >> Dollar rental car --- Nissan Versa --- $168.00 all-in total , and 1200 Rapid Rewards credits
    >> Meals with cash out-of-pocket --- $6.43
    >> 13 free meals, from room offers, comps, coupons, and player points
    >> Tips --- Maids, waiters, waitresses, service personnel, shuttles --- $78
    >> MatchPlay coupons : + $75
    >> Casino play : Cycled & re-cycled about 37K coin-in
    >> Video Poker (including Free-Play) : Nancy +390 , Me -235

    Hope you enjoyed the read (beware of typos), and inaccurate data due to old age & senility. Questions & comments are always welcome.
    Next trip in April …. Viva Las Vegas !!!!

    Buddha
     
  2. concretekid

    concretekid Tourist

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    Great report. Will be there end of the week. Where are better places downtown for VP?
     
  3. dbueler

    dbueler High-Roller

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    Another frugal how-to TR Buddha!! Funny how you and Nancy always seem to "even" each other out, which really helps working those points and minimizing losses.

    The TSA Pre-Check is randomly assigned to non-paying folks and is NOT based on round trip. As a paying TSA Pre-Check member (company paid), I'm not for absolute sure, but it seems to me there are more 'randomly assigned' people in the TSA Pre-Check line on flights/times that don't already have a lot of business people. For instance, when I flew home Friday afternoon (a very high travel time for business people), everyone going through the line was a "suit" like me. With the TSA Pre-check, I have yet to spend more than 2 minutes total in security, and that's a lot of flights for me over the last year. Since it's $100 for 5 years, it is exceptionally reasonable.

    I thought about you during the Bears poor showing on SNF and figured you ditched them with Vegas right outside your hotel room.... little did I know you were ditching the Bears for Drag Queens?? Classic!

    Thanks so much for sharing. I know you play the "senior citizen" card, but you wear my a$$ out! That is one busy trip!
    diane
     
  4. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    Ahead on VP after freeplay for a week with no Royal? That's pretty good!

    And this last trip for me, I thought the Vegas drivers were more sane driving out to Summerlin than those on the tri-state tollway...:confused2:
     
  5. sunny123

    sunny123 Tourist

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    Nice to read a downtown v/p report.
    I definitely need to head down there.
     
  6. mrstealth

    mrstealth High-Roller

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    Another outstanding Buddha trip report. Thanks for sharing and the detail you provide, enjoyed it. Looks like Nancy kicked your butt on the VP this time. Glad to see another combined win!
     
  7. aaisack

    aaisack High-Roller

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    Thanks for the great report. Good job working the comps.
     
  8. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Thanks, Kid. We love the games at MSS and the Cal. Check out the listings on vpfree2.com.
     
  9. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Luckily, we had a good share of Quads and scartch cards at MSS, as well as at the Cal to keep us alive.
    I had Quad Aces dealt to me on the MSS Triple-Play Bonus Poker ... and got dealt Quad 4's on the 15-liner at the Cal.
     
  10. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Thanks, D .... No Royals this trip, like I had in September. We both had several quads, but Nancy hit a few Straight Flushes.
     
  11. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    Great details and it looks like another good trip for the 2 of you.
     
  12. jackincols

    jackincols Guest

    Always a fun read on how to do Vegas with the aid of comps/coupons. You gave me a good chuckle...only a degenerate Vegas addict would be in his room, booking flights for the Apr. trip while you're already there.:peace:

    Say Hi to Nancy for me. April huh? Maybe we'll meet up after a long absence. My tentative plans are mid-end April.
     
  13. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Yes, Jack .... just an old Vegas degenerate, for sure !! April trip will be the 8th to the 15th (departure).
     
  14. LVHooked

    LVHooked High-Roller

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    Glad you had a great trip, and thanks for the tr. My wife's birthday is April 11 and we may be there for that. Would be nice to meet you. I was hoping for a fall trip, but unless I run into some $$$ it doesn't look likely.
     
  15. Graham

    Graham Low-Roller

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    Great report, thanks for posting, I love the fact you booked your next Vegas trip, whilst still in Vegas.
     
  16. Ty

    Ty ?

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    Another great TR, thanks for taking the time to share.

    When you get a comped buffet for your play at California do you get it from the player's club or host?

    December will be our first time using SWA, do you have to log-in in advance or can we do it at the airport? We purchased the early boarding pass, just not sure if we will have our laptop with us.
     
    Christmas Trip. Sam's Town & MSS
  17. wa8ckt

    wa8ckt Tourist

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    As usual, another great trip report. Always enjoy the read. Too bad not even one Royal, that would really make it a profitable trip, but just to enjoy LV for that many days, nothing wrong with that. Looking forward to my solo trip on the 19th of Dec., Kathy doesn't want to give up her Christmas activities lol. Watching for SWA prices for all of us the end of May. Thanks again for the report, well done.
     
  18. Foos

    Foos Low-Roller

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    Sounds like a Great trip.
    Those alcove VP machines at the Cal are my favorite place to play DW.
     
    Western Airlines "The Only Way To Fly"
  19. edinpa

    edinpa Tourist

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    Great report Jim, didn't Nancy kick your butt last trip too? When in April are you going? Probably right after we leave! Thanks for the report.
     
  20. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    We'll most likely be found at Main Street Station or the Cal. Always happy to meet Vegas people.
     
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