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Stratosphere 1/19 - 1/22

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by ddashner, Jan 23, 2013.

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  1. ddashner

    ddashner Tourist

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    Location:
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    My Trip Report

    This trip came about kind of by mistake. The wife and I had asked her cousin and his wife if they wanted to go with us to Vegas the last time we were going. They couldn't go at the time so we went with someone else. They just assumed we went at the same time every year and told us they were ready to go with this time. Instead of disappointing them we decided to just go even though we had just taken another trip (non-Vegas) fairly recently.

    The first problem came up when they wanted to stay on the strip and we wanted to stay downtown. We came to a compromise of the Stratosphere since it is kind of in the middle. Looking back now I think that was a poor choice. Instead of being equally convenient it was just inconvenient to everything. We were renting a car though so it wasn't too bad.

    We got my sister in law to drive us to the airport on Saturday. Got there in plenty of time. We could have been an hour later and still had plenty of time. So much for the recommendation of two hours before your flight. I think our flight may have been the only one on the whole concourse that day. All the shops were closed none of the gates had anyone there, and there were even orange cones blocking off the farther parts of the concourse. Apparently Milwaukee isn't the busiest airport anymore since Midwest went away.

    After waiting a while we got on the flight, changed planes in Denver, and made it the rest of the way fairly easily.

    Here comes the next problem. We booked with Dollar car rental. Now, when I say "we" I mean my wife did it. She has this problem with just going ahead and doing things we have sort of half discussed. So when we said lets look into getting a car she took this to mean "book a car". Now I know car bookings are easy to change, but I didn't give it much thought once she said it was done. I never even looked to see who it was with.

    I hate Dollar. Actually I don't really hate Dollar, I hate waiting in the ridiculous lines at Dollar. I learned this lesson the last time we were in Vegas. Apparently the wife did not learn this as she just sat and chatted away with our travel companions last time while I waited in that line. True to form there was another ridiculous line. I saw it (maybe 12 - 15 people) and said right away that we were looking at probably a 45 minute wait if we were lucky. Sure enough it was that and then some. While I am there wasting my valuable Vegas time I look across the car rental area and see the guys from the other rental agencies standing around talking to each other as their customers come and go so quickly there is never a chance for a line to form.

    While waiting in line I can see what the problem is. Apparently Dollar is run by former government employees. My guess would be they used to work for the DMV. There were 2 employees working. A third and a fourth come out, much to the relief of everyone in line, only to have 1 of the original two leave and after helping one person one of the new ones left too! The one guy who was a constant was the slowest person I ever saw. He would walk over to another computer and it would take like 30 seconds to cover maybe 10 feet of distance. His typing skills were no better. I was dreading getting him. Fortunately a guy earlier in line got stuck there and didn't have his confirmation number so that tied up the slow guy forever. So we finally get our car and make our way to Walmart on Tropicana for some supplies. Also had to stop at a pretty tough looking liquor store for some more supplies.

    Made our way to the hotel where I figured I would try the $20 trick for the first time ever. I think I failed, or if I succeeded it wasn't as successful as I was hoping for. Gave Lori (from Albania) CC, DL, and $20 bill. She didn't say anything about it just set the Money down on the desk out of my sight, but not really hidden. Made a little bit of small talk and she told us that they were all sold out of king rooms but had some nice 2 queen rooms. Foolishly I though this was her way of saying "Let me find you a better room than you had booked and make up an excuse as to why I am doing it". She tells me how does a high floor with mountain view sound? I said that sounded great since I kind of thought she had taken care of me based on the statement about the beds. So she gets our keys thanks me for the tip and then says she will get us a map of the hotel since we never stayed there before. Then she says she will get us a map of the strip too (not useful to me, but I again foolishly thought maybe some coupons or something would come with this). So up we go to the room along with our companions who had just finished up getting their room assignment too. They got off on the 8th floor we continued on to the 16th. So far so good I thought. Started long walk down hall to room 16002. I was pretty happy with that room number thinking the big rooms would be at the end and that she really did take care of us.

    The big rooms are not at the end of the hall.

    At least they are not at the end of the hall where our room was located. The ice machine was right next to our room. Very convenient if we wanted ice. Not so convenient when everyone else wanted ice in the middle of the night. Our room was nothing special. Maybe she hooked us up with the high floor, but that is all I got for my $20. I guess our mountain view was nicer than our friends' air conditioner view though so at least it got us that. Probably could have gotten that just by asking though. Otherwise the room was ok. It was clean, water pressure was good (but the volume of water sucked - damn water saver shower heads).

    Now that we are settled in and I am done being disappointed about the $20 we decide to meet up with our friends and go get some food. (Keeping in mind that the time change, flight transfer, and the long wait at the rental desk has made it well past dinner time. I am ready to go to Ellis Island for the steak special, but every one else wants to go to Rio to see the masquerade in the sky. Being outvoted 3 to 1 we head to Rio. Tried going to All American Burger or whatever it is, but no one wanted to pay $15 for a burger so we just went to the Burger King and got some food there. Saw the free show and definitely got our money's worth. Had it been more expensive than free I would not have said that.

    By now our companions are tired due to "being up since 6:00." Now I had been up since before 6:00 myself, and had no desire to waste valuable Vegas time on things like unnecessary sleep. However being the driver and something of their tour guide I didn't want to cause a problem so we drove them back to the hotel, dropped them off and headed downtown to MSS (where I wanted to stay in the first place). Played some VP, got killed and decided to take a break from that and go find the wife. Found her playing some slot near a Ghostbusters machine. Put in $20 to kill some time until she was done. Didn't win anything but hit all kinds of bonuses and made the $20 last for quite a while. While I was playing the wife came over and sat down next to me and she played it for quite a while herself. It was a fun machine. Finally we got bored and decided it was time to get some rest. End of day one - day two to follow.
     
  2. ddashner

    ddashner Tourist

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    Day 2
    As has happened for every other day of 10+ years of marriage, I am up first while the wife is still sound asleep. I get ready and sit around waiting for her to get up which she FINALLY does. Head downstairs to check out the casino a little bit and to place a sports bet that one of her coworkers gave her some money for (turns out he should have kept his money, but that is how it goes). I wasn't too interested in gambling at the Strat, but figured it wouldn't hurt to look around. Found some full pay bonus poker which of course offered no reward points. Decided to play anyways since I had a choice between playing this now for no points, or not playing at a Boyd's property where I could get points but was not anywhere close by. Did ok, pretty much broke even but I wasn't really into it. Found the same kind of ghostbusters machine from the night before and the wife and I played that for a while until our friends were ready to come down. This time around we hit almost no bonuses and went through our money pretty quick. I attribute this to the difference between a downtown casino and a strip one (even if it is barely still on the strip).
    When they got downstairs I was finally able to convince everyone to go to Ellis Island for late breakfast / early lunch. Restaurant was kind of busy so we had to wait. I sat down to some VP and got a straight flush about 3 hands in. Figured that is a good place to stop instead of putting it all back before having to stop for food. Go find the wife sitting at ANOTHER ghostbusters machine. It is a little different style than before, but she managed to hit the Ray progressive for $116. So with our 2 wins we decide to treat for lunch. I was later told that I made a good call with going there for the steak specials (even though the beans had a ton of garlic on them - which I think may have saved us from any vampires as we didn't see a single one for the whole trip!). This also gave us a chance to use our first coupon out of the new ACG for the BOGO meal.
    From here it was off to Luxor to get our MLife cards. After reading about it on here I had been playing MyVegas. I played for maybe 3 weeks before we left and I got enough points to go to Carrot Top , get a buffet at Luxor and a buffet at Circus Circus. So we stopped in got our cards and then up to will call to get our tickets for that night's show. We also all wanted to go see the Titanic exhibit so this was the perfect time to do that, using another ACG coupon. Titanic was pretty cool, but I wish there was a little more to it. Maybe if we had gotten the audio tour that would have helped.
    Now our associates wanted to check out some of the neighboring casinos. Being the good tour guides that we were we went with. After a little bit of that the wanted to go see the pirate show at TI. Now the wife and I have both seen it before, but being that it is free and actually pretty cool we went along. After the show we decided we had to get going so we would have time to get that Luxor buffet. Since we had added a driver to the rental contract I handed over the keys so they could do what they wanted while we were eating and at our show. Of course the car was still at Luxor so we had a nice long walk back from TI.
    Got there with plenty of time to eat and still make our 8:30 show. Now I haven't read too many good things about the Luxor buffet, but for the price (comped from MyVegas) it was just fine. Had we paid the full $22 (x2) price I would have been disappointed. It wasn't gross, but it was nothing special. I did use the opportunity to try some sushi for the first time. I realize buffet sushi (especially at a buffet I myself said wasn't that great) may not be the best, but it wasn't bad at all. I have nothing to compare it to sushi wise, but I would eat it again.
    While we are eating I get a call from our comrades saying they want to bring the keys back before the show since they are getting tired and don't want to have to come pick us up later. Remember this is an 8:30 show so they are planning on dropping off the keys and taking a cab back to the hotel before this because they are tired. MY KIDS DON'T GO TO BED THAT EARLY! So we finish eating and go wait in the atrium for them to show up. They make it before the show starts, give me the keys and are on their way.
    We go in to the show and sit down. We had GREAT seats - second row. Totally worth the time I spent on that game. Show was absolutely hilarious. When it was time to pass out the Crown Royal I just missed out. he ran out of cups a couple people behind me. He then gave it to the guy in front of me to just drink straight out of the bottle. Oh well, not a big drinker so it was no big deal. He also announced the couple of celebrities in the audience. One guy was the guitarist from REO Speedwagon. The wife likes them, so that was kind of cool, but it's not like she would have recognized him on the street. The other celebrity was sitting about 4 or 5 rows directly behind me. It was none other than the legendary RON JEREMY! Carrot Top told him how he has jerked off to lots of his films. Pretty funny.
    After the show we head back. I think we may have gambled a little but nothing interesting happened. We did hear a funny story from our compatriots though. After they went back to the hotel they decided to go to the observation deck. In the elevator on the way back down some drunk guy says to his girlfriend something like "So let me get this straight. I lost $22 and you lost $1100?!?!" :)
    End of Day 2 - Day 3 to follow.
     
  3. Helen of Troy

    Helen of Troy Tourist

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    Sign up for Dollar Express. It costs nothing and there will be no waiting for a car. Just go downstairs to the Dollar Express window and your car will be waiting for you. It makes car rental sooooooo much easier.
     
  4. sstuna

    sstuna Tourist

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    Nice win on the seats. Ron Jeremy! now thats a celebrity that gets recognized LOL, I would have had to hit me up for a pic after the show!
     
  5. ddashner

    ddashner Tourist

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    I saw the Dollar express thing when we were standing in line. A little late at that point, although I did consider signing up on my phone and seeing if that would work. I figured it wouldn't though so I didn't try.

    I wanted to go shake Ron Jeremy's hand, or have the wife take my picture with him, but he disappeared in the crowd as we were leaving.
     
  6. ddashner

    ddashner Tourist

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    Addendum to Day Two.
    The wife and her cousin's wife both bought the Groupons for the yard long frozen drinks. We each had one of those that day too. My advice is either a) get more alcohol added to them because they are really weak the way they are (at least the ones we had were) or b) skip them altogether. I would not get them again. Like I said they were too weak, they are a pain to carry around, and all they sugary syrup they make them with just messes up your stomach.

    Day 3
    The whole time the wife's cousin wanted to go see the Pawn Stars shop. Now I had made that mistake last time and tried to talk him out of it, but he wouldn't listen. So after waking and doing a little gambling at Stratosphere we drove down there to see the shop. There was a long line and I told him no way are we going to wait in that. We can check back later. He was fine with that. At this point we don't really have a plan but his wife says she needs to use the restroom. We have gone a little bit and I see a Shell station and told her we would stop there. She doesn't want to, but we all convince her it will be fine. While we are waiting for her we try to come up with our next plan. I remember that we thought the Mormon fort might be cool, or even if it isn't cool it is only $1 to get in so it's worth the risk. We look on the phone to see where it is. Turns out it is right across the street! Score! So we think. Turns out it is closed on Mondays. So much for that plan.
    We now are sitting across the street from our last brainstorming session starting a new one. We decide red rock canyon was something else we wanted to do and it is easy to get to so off we go.
    Monday being MLK Day, National Parks had free admission so we saved the $7 per car load fee. Now there is our score! The two guys wanted to do some hiking and exploring, the two girls just wanted to do the scenic drive. We managed to convince them to walk around a little bit and got to go see the frozen waterfall which was pretty cool.
    I mentioned that it would be a cool guys trip to go there to camp and really explore for a couple days. The only problem with that is how do you get a bunch of guys a half hour away from Vegas to just camp and explore instead of drinking, gambling, etc. Probably not going to happen.
    We had a gift card to Olive Garden that we brought with so we used that by Red Rock Casino. Not really the Vegas experience I guess, but it saved us having to pay for that meal.
    Now our captors wanted to go see the Bellagio fountains. They are cool and all, but I've seen them enough to not really want to drive back down the strip to see them AGAIN. Still, seeing as how I was outvoted 3 to 1 again that was the plan. The problem was that they wanted to see them at night and it wasn't night yet. So we went back to the room to relax for a little bit and then back down to the casino to wait for them. The wife and I were both up and pretty happy about it. We called them to see where they were and they wanted to go back to a gift shop and return a shirt since they found the same one for $6 less at another gift shop on the property. Told us they would be down as soon as that was done. Now with nothing to do but wait and gamble we proceeded to both lose our winnings and then some. Glad they saved that $6, cause it cost us a lot more than that while they were doing it.
    Finally with shirt returned they meet up with us and we head out. I hand over the keys yet again so he can drive. Up to now the $30 in additional driver fees has been wasted. I am sick of being the chauffeur so I ask if he minds driving. No problem there and off we go to Bellagio.
    Caught the end of one show and I hope that is good enough. Of course I knew she would want to see a full one, but I could hope at least. Turns out she did want to see a full one. So we wait the 15 minutes and we are good to go. Except we're not. She wants to see another one.
    Wait another 15 minutes and see ANOTHER show. Finally she is satisfied and we can go.
    Now we still have a Circus Circus buffet from MyVegas to use, but we want to get downtown to see the FSE and hit MSS again. Neither one of us was to excited about the Circus Circus buffet. (I would have done it and been fine with it since it was free. I think as long as you don't go in expecting 5 star dining a lot of the things people say are crap really aren't THAT bad. We ate the Sahara buffet years ago which is always poorly rated and it was fine.) So we decided to just forget the comped meal and get something to eat downtown.
    Upon arriving downtown the FSE show was just starting (Bon Jovi). I was expecting our masters to be pretty impressed but they looked up and were like "that is cool, now what?" Everyone is hungry so the wife and I decide to hit Mermaids and get some hot dogs and chili cheese fries. (remember what I said about not expecting fine dining?) They were good, and the price is always right there. Of course that isn't the kind of meal our tormentors had in mind so now we have to see about finding them something that they want. Decide to kill two birds with one stone and tell them how good the MSS buffet is. Walk them over there (and mention to be sure to use the men's room and check out the Berlin wall) and leave them to fend for themselves while we go waste the kids' inheritances. As it turns out we managed to increase the kids' inheritances. Ok, who am I kidding the kids will never see it I will have it spent long before that happens.
    After a while I find our guests looking over my shoulder with the "are you ready yet?!?!?" look on their faces. I send them off to find the wife hoping to buy some more time since Lady Luck is on my side. That worked for a little while but MSS isn't that big so eventually they found us both and were obviously ready to go. We cash out and head back to the hotel.
    We went up to the room for about 10 minutes before we decided that we weren't really done downtown and decide to head back out now that we had dropped the kids off.
    I have now learned that when you leave when you are on a winning streak it is sort of like spitting in Lady Luck's face. She proceeded to kick our asses. We probably should have just listened to our wise travel associates and went to bed.
    So ends the saga of Day 3 - Day 4 (travel day) to follow.
     
  7. ddashner

    ddashner Tourist

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    Day 4 travel
    Not much time to gamble or sight see today as we had to get to the airport. Not really looking forward to going home as it was 60's in Vegas and single digits at home.
    Stopped at McDonald's for breakfast (which I hate - their greasy breakfast does not agree with me. I eat oatmeal at home every day before work, I cannot make myself eat some greasy sausage and egg on a muffin.) I ordered their oatmeal which sucked. I can buy a whole big container of oats that probably lasts a month at home for $2 and it tastes 100 times better than the little bowl they give you for the same $2. Still I knew eating would be tough for the next several hours so I did what I had to do.

    Dropped off car at airport and waited in a huge line for security. Still it moved pretty fast and we got through with minimal problems. I even managed not to get extra attention from the screeners which is unusual for me. Usually they need to check to make sure I'm not a terrorist. I guess 30 something white guys traveling with their wives are a big threat.

    Waiting at the airport I REALLY wanted to take a picture of this guy sitting there with his head in his hands. Maybe he was just tired or had a headache or something, but he looked exactly like I would picture a guy who just lost everything and then some. Unfortunately by the time I thought about it and got my phone out he had picked his head up.

    Flight out of LAS was on time and no problem. Got into Denver and had to wait for a flight attendant who wasn't there yet. Her connection was coming in and they couldn't board the plane without her. Now don't get me wrong, I know flight attendants are important and we need them for safety, not just giving us a cup of soda, but I don't see why we had to wait. Obviously she was coming, and I'm pretty sure the other 3 could have managed to help us find seats while she was still on her way. It sucked standing by the gate as every gate nearby was packed too, so it was about a million people crammed into an area built for half a million. Good thing the fire marshal wasn't there that day, he would have shut the place down!
    Finally we get to board the plane. While standing in the jet way we see the same flight attendant we waited for leaving the plane. Seems like she didn't need to be there after all!:confused2:
    Spent the whole flight listening to some woman traveling with her 4 kids. The kids were very well behaved, but the stupid woman would not shut up. She kept telling them everything and talking to them and trying to keep them happy. I wanted to turn around and tell her the kids are fine now shut the f**k up. Thinking that was probably a bad idea I just kept quiet and tried to ignore it.
    Now we are about 45 minutes behind schedule. Not a big deal except the sister in law is the one picking us up from the airport. She has a survey to take with the local market research place and has to be there about 45 minutes after our plane was scheduled to land. She ends up missing her survey and we feel that isn't really fair to her so we give her the $40 she would have made on the survey. So even 1000 miles away from Vegas and almost home we still lost money.

    (Note - I made it seem like the people we went with were a huge burden. This was mostly for comedy value. Yes I ended up doing some stuff I didn't want to and missed doing some stuff I did want to, but we had a good time and they were good company.)
     
  8. merlin

    merlin VIP Whale

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    Good report, reading it reminds me of why I now prefer to go to vegas alone! :wink2:
     
  9. dfalk

    dfalk VIP Whale

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    Glad you added that part cause I was gonna say it sounded like a horrible trip for you and you deserve a nice solo trip! Glad you had fun.
     
  10. Dpin300

    Dpin300 Low-Roller

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    For a moment there I thought I had a better time reading about you trip than you had having your trip. Good and funny report! Thanks for sharing
     
  11. btodd

    btodd High-Roller

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    Great report! I am glad you added the bit about your travelling friends, I too thought that you didn't really enjoy yourself.........it is different with other peeps. Our next trip is with our best man and his wife ( still good friends after 35 years)...they go to Vegas a lot too, I keep repeating to myself that I will go with the flow.........;)
     
  12. Flopitbaby

    Flopitbaby Low-Roller

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    Thanks for sharing. I have been going to Vegas for 30 years with the same core group of guys with newbies sprinkled in over the years. We always make it a point to tell the new members that everyone does what they want when they want. We will announce our plan and those that wish to join great, if not have a great time. 30 years of March Maddness and 0 unenjoyable trips to date !
     
  13. ddashner

    ddashner Tourist

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    I think the most challenging thing about traveling with other people is working out transportation. We decided to split the cost of the car. If we go with someone else in the future I think I will make it clear that we will pay for the car. They get free airport transportation out of it and a free ride if they want to go anywhere we are going. Other than that they are on their own.
     
  14. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

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    Jeremy must live in Vegas.
    I have had the joy of running into him too.:rolleyes2:

    I am also glad you added the bit about having a good time. I was going to suggest you not travel with your tormentors again! LOL.
     
  15. zamboni

    zamboni VIP Whale

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    I worked at 2 different airports for Avis and our really busy day (monday mornings) we would have 100 customers in our lobby at any given time and we could get them all out the door in less than a half hour. Is Dollar really that bad? Yowza.

    I stayed at Strat in Nov and I too tried the $20 trick to no avail. I got AC and parking garage view. We could see the pool on the roof looking up. I actually liked the place. Getting in and out of parking garage and up to the room was easy, and I liked the casino layout. Did you see the Dale Sr Camaro? I am not a Chevy Camaro guy, but that car was very nice!
     
    Super Bowl 2017!!!!
    Super Bowl 2017!!!
  16. ineedavegasfix

    ineedavegasfix Tourist

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    I love your sense of humour!! Thanks for the report and the laughs :beer:
     
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