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Sampling Las Vegas II

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by westie, Oct 28, 2014.

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  1. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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

    My Trip Report

    Sampling Ethnic Las Vegas

    The Second Season

    Who? The Westies

    What? A vacation

    Where? Las Vegas, NV

    When? October 8-22, 2014

    Why? FOOD, gambling, entertainment

    How? Depleted 401-K plan

    Details? To follow

    October 8 - We departed home at 8:15AM anticipating traffic delays due to the torrential rain that fell overnight. Our first stop was the Beaver Brook Animal Hospital where Brody and most of his worldly belongings were to spend the next 14 plus days. As Ann was completing the paperwork, I witnessed the little ingrate marching jauntily off, tail wagging, with one of the female employees.

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    We circumvented a major traffic tie-up on I-91 by taking the Berlin Turnpike into Hartford, arriving at Executive Valet Parking well ahead of schedule following a brief stop at Dunkin Donuts for Ann's daily dose of caffeine. As a member of the Express Club, I had sufficient points accumulated so parking on this trip was free minus the final day's $12.50 fee. http://www.executivevalet.com/

    It has been a few years since the Westies last flew on American Airlines, but we both had slot club points, oops frequent flier mileage, so this trip was free minus the mandatory security fee. On the downside, American does not offer nonstop flights to Las Vegas so we changed planes in Orlando on the outgoing flight and Dallas Fort Worth on the return. This added an hour here, a couple of hours there, to our trip, but the upside was the excitement of making an additional takeoff and landing in each direction.

    On arriving in McCarran Airport, we quickly retrieved our luggage and made our way to the shuttle area only to discover several people in line but no shuttle. I don't know if they have cut back on the number of buses or not, but this was a first for us. After about a 10 minute delay, the shuttle bus arrived and I was soon standing in line at the Payless Rental Car counter. Oops, sorry our reservations are with E-Z Car.

    This was one of those times when I booked, re-booked and re-booked again as prices trended downward, finally settling at $71 per week for a total out-of-pocket cost of $244.75 for an economy car. I have used E-Z the past several trips due to the favorable rates and experience though there was a small glitch last trip when I booked a mid-size car, but received a compact.

    In response to an online survey I completed following our last trip, I received an email good for a 1-class upgrade that I used to upgrade to a Jetta with 17,675 miles plus a $62 refund. The refund far exceeded the difference in cost, but far be for me to complain. I also received a code good for 20% off on a future rental that I will be using on our next trip.

    Check-in at the South Point, as usual, went smoothly and our requested small pillows were sent up to our room shortly after our arrival. After unpacking our bags, we headed for the showroom where we used a funbook coupon for free entry to the Deja Vu Dance and Show Band show. More importantly we each received a free drink (merlot) plus $5 in freeplay. We really don't enjoy this band so there was a fast exit for the Silverado Lounge with merlots in hand.

    Next stop was the Green Valley Ranch Resort where we redeemed MyVegas rewards for a free appetizer at Tides Sushi & Seafood Bar plus 2 free call drinks or beer at any bar. The Lobby Bar bartender took the coupon literally so we had to settle for Stella Artois drafts that we carried into Tides.

    I asked if we could use the coupon for a pound of Cajun peel and eat shrimp and was told no by one of the cooks, so I asked to see a manager who approved my request. The shrimp were in a spicy sauce that was so good I was tempted to lick the bowl. Showing a modicum of restraint, I used a spoon and finished nearly every drop.

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    We also ordered a seafood Cobb salad that I told our server would be shared. When we received 2 enormous plates of salad, I told our waitress a mistake must have been made as we ordered only one, but she said the chef split it for us. OMG.

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    The salad included tiny salad shrimp, iceberg lettuce, pasteurized crab, egg, avocado, blue cheese and a white vinaigrette dressing that was almost tasteless. It proved to be better after I requested a side of blue cheese dressing. Wednesdays are ½ point days for seniors so our entire meal cost us only 7,500 point plus gratuity. ($6, MyVegas, Points, 2.5 Forks out of a possible 5)

    10/09 - It was but 2AM when I rolled my butt out of bed and, after dressing, headed for Sam's Town and its full pay deuces machines (FPDW). Over the course of 4 hours minus several breaks, I caught a total of 7 wild royals plus my #1 quad deuces of the trip.

    After departing Sam's, I headed south on the Boulder Highway to Friendly Donut House for a monster apple fritter ($1.75, 4 Forks) followed by a stop at Smith's for bananas and OJ that constituted our breakfast.

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    As became my custom on this trip, I took a short nap while Ann prepared herself for the day. We then made the short drive to Silverado Ranch Park where we navigated our way along the paved path under clear skies and a temperature approaching 85 degrees. This weather pattern of clear skies with daily highs in the upper to mid 80's became the norm on this trip.

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    After stopping at a CVS for incidentals, we made our way to the German Bread Bakery on Eastern for rum balls, but horror of horrors, the display case was empty. Instead we ended up with a slice of pudding crumb cake – a crunchy exterior and soft, succulent interior of Bavarian cream. It would have been easier to eat had we had proper utensils, but we managed with the cheap plastic forks that were provided. ($2.50, 4 Forks) http://www.germanbreadbakerylasvegas.com/

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    In the early afternoon, we headed to the showroom for the Dennis Bono show. Guests today included Frankie Scinta and Janine Vallentine from the Frankie Scinta show at The D, songstress Corrie Sachs, the Bob Rosario ensemble, George Bugati and Steve Judkins from the Wonder Wizard of Song show that we will be seeing later in the trip, comedian Bob Zany and singer Genevieve Drew. ($0, 4 Claps)

    On exiting the showroom we headed in different directions, me to the room for a nap and Ann to the video poker machines. I would not normally care if Ann lost money, but in this case it included my $5 in freeplay.

    This being our second night in town, there should be little doubt in anyone's mind that our destination would be Ellis Island Casino & Brewery for free merlots courtesy of the Las Vegas Advisor (LVA) coupons. Ellis serves Barefoot Wine from California and my initial reaction was the 2013 merlot crop was a miserable failure, but after a few sips I could have cared less. http://ellisislandcasino.com/

    Tonight we dined at the very intimate and casual Korean BBQ and Rolls on Green Valley Parkway. This restaurant is a true mom and pop operation that you can tell is a labor of love on the part of owners Mr. & Mrs. Lee. I suspect as retired professionals, he an engineer and she a nurse, they are not financially dependent on the success of the restaurant. She does most of the cooking while he serves. We decided to share orders of Korean style stir fry noodles and BBQ chicken.

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    While waiting for our entrees, we were given complimentary cups of creamy chicken soup.

    Next came 4 tiny servings of banchan - kimchee, pickled vegetable, seaweed salad and seasoned mung bean sprouts.

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    This was followed by a pair of rice balls, a salmon salad plus larger portions of both kimchee and seaweed salad. Everything was homemade and delicious.

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    Prior to departing, cups of a refreshing cold rice tea were brought to our table. Being the recipients of such generosity and graciousness, I felt compelled to offer to help with the dishes or at least to sweep up the floor, but Mr. Lee kindly declined my offer so I substituted a generous gratuity. ($29.32, 4.5 Forks)

    10/10 - My mental clock was set for 4AM, but my internal alarm started bleeping at 2AM. The only place I gambled this entire trip with the exception of playing off freeplay was Sam's Town. I managed to hit #2 quad deuces, but departed some 4 hours later with no more money than when I arrived. Que sera, sera.

    On my return I stopped at the Del Mar Deli for a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and a coffee. Ann shared the bagel with me, but not the coffee. ($5.62, 2,5 Forks) After a quick snooze and a shower, we were ready to face what was left of the morning.

    First stop was the Silverton where we enjoyed watching the fish in the large aquarium before entering the Bass Pro Shop. Neither of us could find anything we wanted though Ann did purchase a visor for a neighbor. Our next stop was the Gold Coast Casino to redeem LVA play $10, get $10 coupons. Ann played both on the Not So Ugly Deuces (NSUD) machines and cashed out with a $15 net win.

    I then dropped the big winner off at Episage Wellness Center for a massage by Teri ($75, 5 Hands) and killed the following hour checking out a few places including the Cookie Bar before returning to pick up the now very relaxed big winner. http://www.episage.com/

    For lunch, we each had a pair of al pastor tacos with onions, cilantro and pineapple at Taco Y Taco on Tropicana. I could not resist sampling the free salsa bar that included black and pinto beans, a variety of salsas, grilled onion and peppers plus pickled carrots. ($7.26, Restaurant.com (R.com), 3 Forks) https://www.facebook.com/tacotacome

    The last stop before returning to the room was the German Bread Bakery for a pair of rum balls that were consumed by the time we reached the car. ($1.98, 4.5 Forks)

    After a siesta followed by an internet session (me) and video poker session (Ann), it was time to depart once again for Ellis Island and our nightly merlot fix. On entering we took note of a sign indicating everyone needed to secure new slot cards because new card readers have been installed. We bypassed the line at the slot booth and headed directly to the karaoke lounge. Since the LVA coupon is good for 3 rounds of drinks for 2 people and our imposed limit is 2, our last round is invariably bottles of H2O to go. ($4, 2.5 Cheers)

    Dinner this evening was Mazda Mediterranean Grill, a Turkish restaurant located on Rainbow Boulevard. https://www.mazagrilllv.com/ This was a very large and largely empty restaurant early on this Friday evening. We started off with the Sultan's Delight appetizer – a generous portion of braised lamb over silky roasted eggplant (babannush?) that we almost finished.

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    For entrees we shared orders of lamb and chicken skewers which came with jasmine rice, a whole grilled pepper and tomato, a pita-type bread and side salads. The chicken was moist and the lamb tasty though more overdone than we prefer. ($25.13, R.com, 3 Forks)

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    On our return to the South Point we made 2 circuits around the casino floor before calling it a night.

    10/11 - This morning's early morning session ended with me impersonating Robert Duran during his infamous 1980 championship fight against Sugar Ray Leonard – No Mas!

    I had given consideration to having the breakfast buffet at the South Point, but realized brunch would be served so plan B was breakfast at the Badger Cafe. It is located in the same run down shopping plaza as the laundromat we frequent on Tropicana at Spencer. http://badgercafe.com/

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    I was initially hesitant to even enter, but it turned out to be a pretty ordinary coffee shop that primarily serves as the restaurant for the adjoining Rum Runner Lounge. Ann ordered coffee, French toast and bacon while I chose easy over eggs, sourdough toast and hash browns. Everything was spot on with service to match. ($7.95, R.com, 3 Forks)

    Our next stop was the north Premium Outlets where we separated with me purchasing some much needed undies at the Jockey outlet and an eyeglass holder at a kiosk. An hour later I saw Ann headed for our designated meeting spot empty handed. I initially thought Chico's must have closed, but she assured me otherwise so I can only conclude that she experienced a senior moment.

    In mid afternoon, Ann lost money playing video poker while I conserved our bankroll by napping. I initially decided to avoid Ellis Island this evening because an Octoberfest celebration was to be held which included unlimited drinks, but I decided we could probably get in and out before things got too far out of hand and we did.

    Arisa Thai Seafood and Steak on Spring Mountain Road was our source for nutrition this Saturday evening. http://arisra.com/ We were the only customers throughout our stay which is a shame because our meal proved to be excellent. The first of our shared entrees was a whole seabass stuffed with (real) crab meat and shredded coconut topped with a nominally spicy mango salsa. Our 2nd entree was spicy (not really) catfish with red chili paste, lime leaf, horizon root and zesty young peppercorns.

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    As we prepared to exit, the chef came out of the kitchen to thank us for our patronage. ($42.67, 4.5 Forks)

    We stopped at Sunset Station to see Ryan White Maloney at the Gaudi bar, but he has been temporarily promoted to Club Madrid. The duo who were playing were not particularly talented so we soon departed.

    10/12 - What could only be categorized as nothing short of a financial disaster turned around over the final 30 minutes so I walked away from Sam's with my financial integrity in tact.

    My plan for breakfast was downtown's MTO Cafe on Main Street. http://mtocafe.com/ In another senior moment (mine), I told Ann I could not picture exactly where Main Street was located but I was sure we would have little trouble finding it. She suggested that it might be pretty close to Main Street Station – duh! We successfully located a spot on the street though validation for parking in the adjoining garage was available.

    The restaurant was close to capacity this Sunday morning, but we were able to secure a table for 2 in the very chic dining room. Chef/partner Johnny Church recently departed RM Seafood to open this restaurant that puts a spin on comfort food. It has proven to be so popular that a 2nd location has or will soon be opening in Summerlin.

    Ann chose an order of lemon poppy seed pancakes with blueberry-ginger compote that no one short of Fat Albert could possibly finish in one sitting.

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    My avocado griddle - eggs with tomatillo sauce, red onions, cilantro, poblano peppers and jack cheese over home fries was more than filling. Hers was good, mine was nothing short of excellent.

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    ($16.03, R.com, 4 Forks)

    We relocated to Main Street Station's parking lot which was unattended. First stop was the 4 Queens where we redeemed LVA $10 free play coupons. We played the 9/6 JOB machines with me cashing out at $11.25 and Ann $0. Her suggestion that we commingle our winnings was nixed by yours truly.

    Continuing on to the El Cortez where we redeemed a pair of $10 LVA freeplay coupons. This time I walked out with $0 while Ann pocketed $38.75 after hitting quad 9's. Needless to say, she was no longer amenable to the idea of splitting our profits.

    It was just a short walk to the Downtown Container park where we quickly located the small shop housing recently opened JinJu Chocolates. http://www.jinjuchocolates.com/ Owner Jin Caldwell greeted us warmly on entering. Her background includes 7 years as Master Chocolateer at Ethel M's before opening her own business in 2011 that continues to sell directly to high end casinos and the public online and via catalogs.

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    We each chose a dark chocolate truffle – Ann's was cappucino, mine salted caramel. We normally share such treats so each has a taste, but I forgot and woofed mine down and then, can you believe this, Ann refused to share hers. ($3, 4.5 Forks)

    In the afternoon, my mental alarm sounded at around 4PM so I departed the room and rescued Ann from the clutches of a video poker machine. We returned to Ellis for merlots before departing for dinner at Lao Sze Chuan in the Palms Casino.

    http://www.palms.com/casual-dining/lao-sze-chuan?gclid=CJ38tpiXyMECFQIF7AodlXYA1Q

    This recently opened restaurant is located in the space formerly occupied by Little Buddah. The room is now more open and brighter than in the past.

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    A spicy cabbage salad was delivered to our table while we reviewed the menu.

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    We started off with shrimp spring rolls that were light and tasty. For entrees we chose sole filets in a fresh black bean sauce plus the chef's special chili chicken.

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    There was an exceptionally long delay between courses so our waitress brought us a second dish of cabbage salad and eventually comped us desserts. The chicken dish was a crunchy delight though not nearly as spicy as one would believe given the quantity of red chili on the plate. The sole was tender and equally delicious. Prices are moderate for a casino restaurant and entrees are generously portioned.

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    Our individual cheesecakes, though hardly Asian, almost brought one senior to tears.

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    On entering I had secured a grand opening card from the hostess that was good for 25% off menu prices through October 15th. ($33.45, 4 Forks) Note: rating downgraded 0.5 Forks due to the kitchen back-up)

    10/13 – I could not catch a cold this morning. After departing Sam's, I made a short detour down Desert Inn Road in order to pick up a pair of blueberry cake donuts at Donut Hut.

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    As I waited for the owner to bag my donuts, I noticed the photos posted on all the walls and realized I had once read a story about the owner who has been nicknamed the Cambodian Rambo. http://www.vegasinc.com/business/2013/dec/06/donut-rambo-cambodian-refugee-finds-success-friend/

    ($1.80, 3 Forks)

    We returned to the Premium Outlets so I could return the eyeglass holder which we exchanged for an eyeglass case for Ann. My luck ran out when Ann decided a second reconnaissance of Chico's was necessary, returning to our meeting place with both a vest and jersey. I managed to counter with a 4-pack of low end, low rise socks from the Nautica store.

    Lunch was at Braddah's Island Style on Rainbow where we again shared a Kaluha pork burrito with seaweed rice, black beans, charred pineapple verde, lettuce and tomato. Even though the restaurant committed the unpardonable sin of running out of cilantro, our burrito proved to be delicious. http://www.braddahstacos.com/ ($5.05, Yelp, 3.5 Forks) Note: 0.5 Forks deducted for you know what.

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    We were pooped so we napped until around 3PM when Ann headed to the video poker machines and I returned to dream land.


    Neither of us was particularly hungry so we decided to have our daily allotment of merlot at the South Point courtesy of some expired funbook drink coupons followed by a “light” late dinner at Soyo Korean Barstaurant on Rainbow. We received complimentary bowls of barley tea and 6 banchan.

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    After reviewing the menu we settled on spicy pork ribs with spicy Korean BBQ sauce, kimchi fried rice with egg and spicy grilled chicken with mozzarella.

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    ($19.22, R.com, 4 Forks)

    10/14 - I really should have remained in bed this morning. Our room breakfast this morning included a banana, toasted bagel from the Del Mar Deli and OJ. ($5.62, 2.5 Forks)

    After reading the newspaper and prepping for the day, we headed downstairs to the Business Center to check our email and otherwise mess around on the internet.

    Lunch was at Tides Seafood and Sushi Bar in the Green Valley Ranch Resort where we shared another pound of Cajun style peel and eat shrimp plus crab cakes with a chipotle tartar sauce and a few greens.

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    The sauce for Cajun shrimp was a bit less concentrated than on our earlier visit, but the shrimp were otherwise just as good. Our crab cakes were of good size, but definitely benefited from the accompanying sauce. ($5, MyVegas, 3.5 Forks)

    After dropping Ann off at the Green Turtle Salon and Spa on Horizon Ridge for a wash and blow dry by Melissa ($36, 5 Curls), I drove to the Sprouts Farmers Market on Stephanie Street where I purchased some red seedless grapes and cashews that were on sale. http://www.gtsalon.com/

    After picking up Ann, we drove to a Humana office in order to pick-up free tickets to the Fun After 55 Expo to be held Saturday at the South Point.

    On returning to the room, Ann proceeded downstairs for yet another losing video poker session while I read (very little) and napped (more). Does anyone else see a pattern here?

    We were running late so after drinks at Ellis Island, we decided to forego plans for dinner at Rollin Smoke BBQ in favor of the barbecue restaurant at Ellis. http://ellisislandcasino.com/dining/bbq/

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    We had only a short wait before being seated. We each opted for the ½ rack of baby back ribs which came with garlic toast, bbq beans and coleslaw.

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    The ribs are steamed prior to a quick flip or two on the grill. Each was slathered in sauce during the grilling process so I did not feel a need to add any more though YMMV.

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    The meat was exceptionally tender and delicious though the sides, excluding the coleslaw, were entirely forgettable. You need to swipe your slot card at the kiosk to get members' pricing, but the system was down this evening so we just presented our cards. ($14.61, LVA, 3.5 Forks)

    We drove out Koval Lane to the Casino Royale parking garage and then made the short walk to the Venetian where we had sixth row, dead center Orchestra seats to Georgia On My Mind. This limited engagement show celebrating the music of Ray Charles proved to be one of the best Broadway-type shows we have experienced. It is unfortunate that it never found an audience. I suspect poor marketing left too many people under the mistaken impression that it was just another overpriced tribute show.

    The talented cast included Emmy award winner Clint Holmes who not only starred but also served as narrator. The supporting cast, under the direction of David Loeb, included six-time Grammy nominee Nnenna Freelon, 10-time Grammy award winners TAKE 6, the entire Las Vegas Mass Choir, the LV All-Star Big Band, and Grammy award sax player Kirk Whalum. Truly a memorable night.

    ($187, Travelzoo, 5 Claps)

    10/15 - I still could not hit deuces, but a flurry of 4 Off A Kind (4OAKS), wild royals and 5OAKS kept my ship from sinking during this morning's video poker session.

    We again got a late start with our first stop our usual laundromat where we have clothes washed and folded for a $1 per pound. Though the posted hours indicated an attendant would be there, none was in sight. Ann called the posted number and the attendant, who was on a delivery, showed up 10 minutes later.

    I drove to Bellagio where we parked on the upper level of the garage and took the tram to Aria. We located the MyLife desk and redeemed rewards for 2 desserts from Jean Phillipe Patisserie.

    Happy Chocolate Halloween

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    http://www.jpchocolates.com/ We are not impressed by their overpriced desserts so we took a chance and successfully used them for a pair of overpriced berry crepes, souffle style.

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    Score one for the Westies! ($7.03, MyVegas, 4 Forks)

    After exiting the restaurant, we made our way to the box office and redeemed 2 MyVegas rewards for tickets to LOVE. We then returned to Bellagio and toured the fall harvest exhibit in the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens.

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    These seasonal exhibits never fail to please. ($0, 3.5 Claps)

    We also made the mandatory visit to the Chihuly shop where we discovered purchases are discounted by 5% with a slot card. Maybe next year.

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    On our return to the room, Ann played a little video poker and then exercised while I exercised my constitutional right to nap.

    In the late afternoon Ann's stomach began to do the Texas 2-step in double time so we canceled our evening's plans. I let her sleep while I made the drive to the laundromat for our clothes and, once again, no one was on site. I started to depart after about a 10 minute wait, but ran into the attendant in the parking lot.

    We subsequently discovered our clothes were wrinkled and some had shrunk either because hot water was used against our expressed wishes or the dryers were set too high. In either case, we will not be using this service again. ($11, 1 Fold)

    I figured it was unlikely that Ann would want much, if anything, to eat this evening so I headed to Taco Y Taco for a burrito to go, but was told by the cashier that restaurant.com certificates are no longer being honored. I told her to fuggedaboudit.

    On my return, Ann was in recovery mode and requested a tea and something to eat so I proceeded to the Del Mar Deli and picked up a bowl of chicken noodle soup for her and a corned beef sandwich on rye for me which included one side.

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    I normally would have ordered a ½ sandwich, but the difference in price for a full sandwich was only about $2. Ann said the soup was excellent, as was the potato salad which she also devoured. ($16.91, funbook, 4 Forks)

    10/16 - Lots of wild royals plus my #3 quad deuces were responsible for the smile on my face as I exited Sam's this morning.

    Breakfast was another shared bagel with cream cheese, a banana, grapes and OJ. ($5.62, 2.5 Forks)

    Though Ann's stomach-O-meter was now out of the red zone, hovering at 75%, she gamely kept to our schedule of visiting the Painting Women exhibit at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. http://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/bellagio-gallery-highlights-painting-women

    The exhibit included works on loan from MOFA in Boston with Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keeffe and Berthe Morisot being the featured artists. It is was an interesting exhibit, but hardly among the best we have seen at this gallery. ($0, MyVegas, 2 Brushes)

    On exiting we also visited the small gift shop and Jeff Mitchum's photography shop.

    http://www.bellagio.com/shopping/jeff-mitchum.aspx

    We were both in need of nourishment so we drove to the Bronze Cafe, a vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurant located in The Center that serves LGBTQ community. http://www.restaurant-lasvegas.com/

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    We were given small samples of the day's soup, a delicious tomato- vegetable delight, while considering our options.

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    Ann chose the Tree of Life pita, the most popular menu item that included roasted red peppers, avocado, mixed greens, tomato, house-made pickled onions, house-made vegan cashew "crema", brazil nut crumble, and mango cilantro ginger vinaigrette.

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    Not to be out done, I chose the LGBTQ – house-made bacon jam, maple-glazed bacon, mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, basil aioli, and lemon vinaigrette on a ciabatta. OMG, these were 2 of the best sandwiches ever conceived. ($15.10, R.com, 4.5 Forks)

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    In the late afternoon we saw Legends in Concert at the Flamingo.

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    http://www.flamingolasvegas.com/shows/legends-in-concert.html#.VEzf3hYhDqI The featured legends were Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Bobby Darin, Barbra Streisand and Elvis. Each was talented, but none came close to being spot on. For example, Britney Spears actually sang live rather than lip synched. How unprofessional of her! LOL

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    ($29, KSHP, 2.5 Claps)


    Random shot of Westie
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    After the show, we made our mandatory visit to Ellis and discovered 3 dealertainers were in-house, an Elvis who put spent the prior 10 years at the Imperial Palace/Quad, Bette Midler and another individual who may or may not have been Cher.

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    In any case, none of them were allowed to sing though I did hear Elvis whistling the chorus form Viva Las Vegas while we were whizzing in the bathroom.

    Soho Japanese Restaurant, noted for its high quality ingredients, innovative cuisine and excellent service, was our destination this evening.

    https://www.facebook.com/SohoJapaneseRestaurant The chef most recently worked at Social House before opening this restaurant. We started off with a pair of shrimp tostadas which were made from taro.

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    For entrees we shared orders of sansho butter salmon with mixed root vegetables and free range chicken with garlic butter soy, pea greens and pickled vegetables.

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    The meal was closed out with a matcha (green tea) tiramisu which did little to enhance our otherwise exceptional dining experience.

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    ($51.32, 4 Forks)

    10/17 - I could not hit anything and was bleeding greenbacks until midway through the session when I began catching wild royals and 5OAKS left and right culminating in my #4 quad deuces and a pair of natural straight flushes, including a dealt one that I misplayed. I was so shocked to see a dealt king high straight flush that I hit the hold button rather making the proper play of discarding the 9. Forgive me Bob Dancer for I have erred.

    Ann was now operating at 80% of full strength which is not good because even at 100% neither of us could remotely be considered a ball of energy. In any case, we headed off to the Feast buffet at Red Rock Resort.

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    I began with an assortment of fresh melon, strawberry yogurt and OJ.

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    My second plate was limited to a Mexican tart topped taco meat and salsa on an inedible base.

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    I fared better with plate #3 by ordering a thin spinach omelet, though the chef forgot the requested cheese, plus a dollop of corned beef hash and breakfast potatoes.

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    Plate #4 consisted of a small taste of 2 salads, watermelon/tomato and a very blah, jicama plus a potato pancake and a slice of bacon.

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    Overall I found the room out shined the pedestrian food. ($5, MyVegas, 2.5 Forks)

    We then visited Red Rock Canyon beginning at Red Springs where we followed the boardwalk through the riparian habitat stopping to read the interpretive signs.

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    We next took the 13-mile scenic drive through the conservation area stopping for a few pictures.

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    Random highway photo

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    On our return we discovered the room had not been serviced though we always make an early service request prior to departing each morning. I spent the following 2 hours hours on a business center computer while Ann split her time between the computer and video poker. She fared better on the computer than on the video poker machine.

    After a second call to housekeeping, our room was finally ready for occupancy at 3:30PM. Needless to say, our housekeeper did not score a gratuity this day.

    We once again enjoyed merlots at Ellis Island before departing for the Prime Rib Loft at the Orleans. http://www.orleanscasino.com/dine/the-prime-rib-loft Years ago we dined a few times at this restaurant and were not impressed, but I have points to burn and the current menu indicates 21-day, dry aged beef is being served so we (actually I) decided to give it one more try – silly me.

    Entrees include a choice of potato and salad with Ann choosing garlic mashed that were puree like and garlic lite. My baker with sour cream was better.

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    The salads were primarily iceberg lettuce that had been topped with diced tomatoes, a couple of olives and red onion tossed in for good measure and dressed with bottled blue cheese.

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    Though our slabs of cow were served medium rare as requested, it took a Herculean effort to just to cut them into bite sized pieces.

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    This was by far the most disappointing meal of our entire trip.

    ($7, points, 1.5 Forks)

    Prior to departing the casino, we played LVA play $10, receive $10 in free play coupons. Team Westie netted a $30 profit so our visit to the Orleans was not a complete bust.

    October 18 – The singular highlight of my morning was back to back 5OAKs.

    I broke out of the toasted bagel with cream cheese rut this morning by ordering a humongous, though cheese-lite, cheese Danish this morning at the Del Mar Deli. ($5.62, 2.5 Forks)

    Shortly after the doors opened, we visited the Fun After 55 Expo in the South Point's arena, taking full advantage of the many freebies being offered by the exhibitors.

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    Later in the trip we dropped off most of the goodies at a local Goodwill store. Our tickets were also good for general admission to this evening's 4 Tops show, but we upgraded to assigned seating simply by exchanging our tickets.

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    Japanese Cuisine by Omae is one of the newest, hottest restaurants in Las Vegas with prices to match, however, 2 time Michelin winning chef Takeshi Omae was serving lunch in October for the benefit of a Japanese orphanage where he was raised so I made the required reservation for 12:15PM.

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    http://takeshi-omae.com/japanese_cuisine_by_omae The only entree offered was spicy tonkotsu ramen soup topped with tender slices of pork, scallions and egg. This was by far the best ramen we have ever experienced.

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    The $10 price tag also included a small portion of green tea tiramisu which was better than Soho's but still nothing like its Italian counterpart.

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    ($25.30, 5 Forks)

    In the late afternoon we returned to the Expo and met Vegas4Locals president Tom Wilkinson and a coupon trading partner and now facebook buddy, Madeline S.

    After a very short rest, we headed downstairs to the Del Mar Lounge for a glass of merlot using expired funbook coupons and then attended the 4 Tops show with seats 7 rows back from the stage. This group originated in Detroit back the early 60's and remained unchanged for 4 decades before the grim reaper began to take his toll.

    Amazingly, Abdul “Duke” Fakir continues as a founding member. Their music had people dancing in the aisles as hit after hit was sung including “I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)”, “Reach Out I'll Be There” and “It's The Same Old Song”. ($0, 4 Claps)

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    On exiting the show we returned to the Del Mar Lounge and used our tickets stubs for glasses of merlot before heading to Bachi Burger for a late dinner. http://www.bachiburger.com/

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    This restaurant has been on my To Do list since it opened some 4 years ago. We decided to share 2 different Asian influenced burgers. The Ronin burger included caramelized onions, Japanese coleslaw, miso goma dressing, fried egg, katsu bbq and yuzi citrus aioli plus Kiki's – sauteed shitake, enoki & eryngii mushrooms, caramelized bacon, sweet onion marmalade, Gruyere cheese, and garlic chili aiole.

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    We also shared an order of sweet potato fries with yuzi citrus aioli.

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    At first glance I could not imagine how I would get my mouth around the burgers, but most of the height came from the soft roll as the actual angus patty likely weighed in at a 1/3 of a pound. We both felt Kiki beat out Ronin and, though the overall experience was positive, I still have never been wowed by any burger.

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    ($35.81, 3 Forks)

    10/19 - I managed to hit a dozen 5OAKS plus my #5 quad deuces this A.M.

    It has been a few years since we last visited Bonjour Bakery on Rainbow so we decided to try it for breakfast sharing a palmier and a cream filled donut along with a coffee for Ann.

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    Though I have seen palmiers (aka as elephant ears) in bakery display cases, this was my first and I initially was disappointed because it was so hard, but the more I ate the better it got until I decided I had made a tactical error by sharing it with Ann. http://www.bonjourbakerylasvegas.com/

    ($7.42, 3.5 Forks)

    Located in the same shopping center was another Sprouts Farmers Market where we purchased a ridiculous amount of bulk peanuts.

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    Our next stop was Manan Bakery where we acquired 4 desserts – a pistachio macaroon plus slices of dream cake, katrin cake and chocolate mousse roll. These were consumed over the remainder of our trip, but, with the exception of the delicious macaroon, each was exceptionally dry and not exceptionally good.

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    ($6, LivingSocial, 2 Forks)

    We then made our way to the Smith Center where we had tickets to the Wonderful Wizard of Song in the intimate Cabaret Jazz.

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    This musical that played off Broadway for 1.5 years celebrates the music and career of Harold Arlen who most famously wrote the music for the Wizard of Oz.

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    His musical compositions included “That Old Black Magic”, “World on a String”, “One For My Baby”, “Accentuate the Positive”, “Let’s Fall in Love”, “Stormy Weather”, “The Man That Got Away”, “Get Happy”, “Paper Moon”, and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. The four member cast plus Bill Fayne on accompanying piano gave outstanding performances though the production value was lacking.

    ($90, 4 Claps)

    After the show we visited Ellis Island again before departing for the highly acclaimed Chada Thai & Wine on Jones. http://chadavegas.com/ This restaurant, owned by the former sommelier of Lotus of Siam, is one I have been looking forward to since it opened two years ago. We decided to share 3 plates starting with an appetizer, pad hed, that should not be missed - shitake and shimeji mushrooms stir fried with brussel sprouts and lotus root.

    Bad photos of a good meal

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    For entrees we shared orders of pad see eiw with chicken – flat rice noodles stir fried with egg, Chinese broccoli and black soy sauce plus pad kee mao (aka drunken noodles) with chicken – flat rice noodles, hot chili, garlic and basil. How we managed to order 2 rice noodle dishes is beyond explanation, but both were very good albeit a little too similar. ($31.03, 3 Forks)

    10/20 - 3 hours, (8) 5OAKs, (6) wild royals and I was still losing until I held a solitary deuce and caught the remaining 3 for my #6 quad deuces.

    On my return I fell asleep while Ann showered so we did not depart the room until almost 10AM. Breakfast was at the Rainbow Club & Casino in downtown Henderson. http://www.rainbowhenderson.com/

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    The casino shares common ownership with the Peppermill Fireside Lounge so we arrived with a degree of optimism that belayed Rainbow's humble location.

    Images Restaurant offers a weekday $1.89 mid week casino special ($2.29 on weekends) of 2 eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns, and toast or biscuits and gravy. At these affordable prices, no coupon is required, but do expect a line unless you opt to sit at the counter like we did.

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    The room was surprisingly nice, a definite uptick from the neighboring Emerald Isle, and service was with a smile. The food was grease free, hot and prepared exactly as requested. The only downside to our counter seats was I witnessed as the wait staff ladled gravy over order after order of biscuits. Needless to say these New England natives selected the toast option. Even after a 38% gratuity, this meal proved to be an exceptional bargain. ($7.71, 3 Forks)

    The early afternoon was spent (by me) in the room reading (very little) and snoozing (big time). We again chose the South Point's Del Mar Lounge as the destination for our merlots using 4 more expired funbook coupons. I do hope Michael Gaughin, owner of the South Point, does not read this TR and learn of my transgressions.

    Dinner was at Hot Feel on Spring Mountain. http://www.hotfeelrestaurant.com/ This Asian restaurant is very large and was largely empty at 5:30PM on this Monday evening.

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    We ordered a pound of head on shrimp boiled in a bag with a copious amount of medium spiced garlic sauce. Inexpensive, oversized plastic gloves were provided, but no plates so the discarded shells and heads were piled up on cheap paper towels that could not stand up to the sauce so the table top became a disaster area.

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    We also ordered lamb sticks, rice and sweet potatoes that were all very good.

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    Overall, our meal proved to be a messy, but very tasty affair. ($16, R.com, 3.5 Forks)

    We then attended The Beatles LOVE by Cirque du Soleil in the Mirage.

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    This is the 4th time we have seen this show and it never fails to impress and delight. If you are undecided given the many entertainment options available to you while vacationing in Las Vegas, trust Westie - “All you need is LOVE”. ($0, MyVegas, 4 Claps)

    10/21 - This morning's video poker session at Sam's featured 3 wild royals, a similar number of 5OAKS plus my #7 quad deuces.

    Ann was now in, what for her constitutes, tip top shape for the first time this week so we decided it was time for a visit to Cornerstone Park off Wigwam Parkway in Henderson. Http://www.cityofhenderson.com/parks/parks/cornerstone_park.php

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    This 100 acre property is highlighted by a 31 acre pond that once was the site of a mining operation that was abandoned in the late 90's. We ended up walking along a trail that circumvented the pond during which we observed a variety of waterfowl including Canada geese, coots, grebes, ducks, cormorants and a single white pelican.

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    (3 Claps)

    It was hot and we were perspiring so our next stop was Nielsen's Frozen Custard on Eastern Avenue. http://www.nielsensfrozencustard.net/ We each ordered a chocolate concrete, a shake you eat with a spoon, that includes a choice of one add on. Ann chose cheesecake, I chose coconut, neither of us could taste our add on.

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    ($6.29, Amazon, 3 Spoons)

    On returning to the South Point, we visited the very small western gift show being held in conjunction with the American Bucking Bull competition in the equestrian center before retiring to the room though Ann soon departed for the purpose of making her daily contribution to the Gaughan retirement fund.

    Once again it was Ellis for our customary libations only to discover their entire merlot inventory had been depleted and we would have to be referred to being called the Cabernets this evening. We forgave Suzie, our favorite bartender, and toasted to her 23 years of employment at Ellis.

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    The last dinner of the trip was served at Moko Tapas Bar on W Charleston Blvd. We arrived near the end of happy hour and discovered we were its only customers this evening. http://www.mokolasvegas.com/ We started off with Fat Tire drafts and ordered the spicy chicken appetizer - yogurt and sake marinated thigh, Kimchi, sweet potato, sweet and spicy sauce along with a cold eggplant salad - grilled eggplant, cherry tomato, grilled shishito pepper, moko dressing.

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    The eggplant salad was refreshing, but the chicken thigh proved to be the star.

    Our server, Ryan, turned out to be the owner who took special care to explain each ingredient as it was served. Next we ordered the 30 hour braised Berkshire pork belly - Korean soybean paste marinated pork belly, carrot, cherub tomato, Kimchi crepe, black raspberry marinated salt and the pan fried Chilean sea bass, mung bean sprout, carrot, onion, hot spicy sauce.

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    The fish was so good I questioned Ryan if it really was Chilean sea bass, he assured me yes. Both dishes were amazing though Jack Sprat and Ann may have found the pork belly too be too fatty, but I had no problem licking the plate clean.

    We closed out this feast with an omiza (a small Asian fruit mostly used for herbal tea) crème brulee.

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    ($51.86, 4 Forks)

    10/22 - Anyone who has been losing as consistently as us hopes for a Hail Mary during their final session, but deep down knows that outcome is remote at best. Thus was my mind set as I entered Sam's this morning. I had little luck over the initial 20 minutes, but then was dealt 4 diamonds to the royal flush and I drew the needed Jack. Yeh!

    On my return to the room, I completed the online check-out process, packed the car and then headed off for Green Valley Ranch Resort for the Feast breakfast buffet.

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    In addition to my usual fruit, OJ, bacon and potatoes, I added a pair of cookies. ($3, MyVegas, 2.5 Forks)

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    After topping off the tank, we returned the car with 1,294 added miles on the odometer and then shuttled off to the airport. Our flight was delayed due to a minor mechanical problem, but we arrived in DFW airport with time to spare before our next flight was scheduled to depart. As it turns out, that flight was also delayed so we ended up arriving in Hartford almost an hour late.

    Thanks to the royal flush, Team Westie narrowly ended up in the black for this trip.

    I want to extend my appreciation to everyone who took the time to read this travelogue. Please feel

    free to ask any questions or make comments.

    Speaking of Harold Arlen

    "He wasn't as well known as some of us, but he was a better songwriter than most of us,
    and he will be missed by all of us."
    Irving Berlin, Composer
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2014
  2. Dr Nostron

    Dr Nostron Low-Roller

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    Very nice report!!!!
     
  3. Graham

    Graham Low-Roller

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    Great report thanks for posting
     
  4. ruralhipster

    ruralhipster Low-Roller

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    Awesome report!! In your travels to various Las Vegas Bakeries Have you seen any that make a good "Lobster Tail" pastry? I had one in Brooklyn last year and have been desperately craving another and my best shot to find one will be my upcoming December trip to Las Vegas.
     
  5. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    Carlos Bakery has them - see link to yelp page for photo. The pastry is also known as sfogliatelle and it one of my favorite desserts. I sometimes drive
    into the South End of Hartford specifically to purchase a few. http://www.yelp.com/biz/carlos-bake-shop-las-vegas-2
     
  6. cetar

    cetar Tourist

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    Thank you for the excellent trip report. I love your pictures and the way that you present your report! Congrats on the Royal!!
     
  7. vegasfan

    vegasfan Tourist

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    wow, you went to lots of interesting places. Loved reading about the off strip restaurants. Just wondering why you stayed at Southpoint if most of your gambling was at Sam's Town?
     
  8. LVHooked

    LVHooked High-Roller

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    Great TR, thanks for taking the time to write it up.
     
  9. Ade87

    Ade87 Low-Roller

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    I love the ratings for different events, brilliant.

    Will finish the report when I get home and looking forward to it.
     
  10. REELmoneySlotFan

    REELmoneySlotFan High-Roller

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    What an incredible TR. I saw a couple of great meals and will make it a goal to try some of the restaurants you've listed during our next trip. I instantly fell in love with the blonde Britney from the Legends show. Real eye candy and things get even better because the girl can sing. So wonderful to see you had the chance to go see the Four Tops. We saw them once (I wish we had the chance to see them in the original formation) and looking at the pictures it seems that Theo Peoples left the current Four Tops. That's a bummer since he had the best vocal qualities of them all.

    All in all a great TR. Thank you so much for sharing. Really, really liked it !!!
     
  11. pphold

    pphold pp Park Place Degenerate

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    WOW..


    Thank you for all the food pics and other pics.

    Love to see it so I can try new foods when I go.

    Great TR.
     
  12. mwig

    mwig High-Roller

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    I love your trip reports. It's so nice to see a completely different viewpoint.

    One question for my use. I'm considering some time at Sam's to generate offers. I know you enjoy South Point and all the local restaurants. Do you receive offers from Sam's? I would hate to dedicate time and get nothing in return. Alternatively, I could play something other than FPDW although I enjoy that game.
     
  13. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    The short answer is the South Point is a superior property. I could overcome that issue but my wife has a problem sleeping on
    the soft beds at Sam's.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  14. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    I don't receive much love from Sam's since I am have been playing FPDW 100% of the time. I talked with a local couple
    this trip who have switched to 9/6 JOB because FPDW are excluded from virtually promotions.
     
  15. kps

    kps High-Roller

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    Incredible report. You have opened my eyes to a ton of new restaurants to go to in the future.
     
  16. mwig

    mwig High-Roller

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    I was afraid of that. I find JOB very boring. Not sure how much it would take to get a room comp but I might try $2k coin in or so to see what happens.
     
  17. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS High-Roller

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    Excellent report! I love your thoroughness. Curious as to the origin of your fascination with Asian cuisines...any story there? Thanks for sharing.
     
  18. Packer

    Packer VIP Whale

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    Wow! What a TR! Thanks for taking us to Vegas with you. How can 2 people eat soooo much. As for this....We subsequently discovered our clothes were wrinkled and some had shrunk either because hot water was used against our expressed wishes or the dryers were set too high. Of course your clothes didn't fit you devoured 10 tons of food! Lol.. thanks again. Great job..
     
  19. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    I considered that possibility but when I got home I put on some other clothes I left behind and they fit, but yes we do eat a ton of food.
     
  20. raraavis

    raraavis VIP Whale

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    loved all the pics, thanks for posting!
     
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