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Surviving Vegas, annual early March trip

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Jinx, Mar 26, 2009.

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  1. Jinx

    Jinx VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    Another March, another Vegas trip. This was a solo trip for 6 nights, (3 at MGM and 3 at Bellagio) all comped. In the last year or so, I’ve started receiving rooms from MGM and have to say I’m becoming more and more comfortable there, even though the odds on the machines seem to be getting worse and worse. The Bellagio offer was a birthday offer and likely due to the recession, but I’ll take it. I usually do a blow by blow recap but just can’t get motivated to do it, so going to break this into some categories for reviews and observations. This is still likely to be long though, as I don’t seem to know how to write less.


    Dining:

    I try to hit mid tier restaurants and usually wind up with apps and a drink or two. It’s easy to sit at the bar and get in and out. Get some good food and while the prices can be high it won’t break the bank.

    Hawaiian Tropic Zone – two for one drink coupons being handed out along the walkways and in the mall still. Had a quick lunch here, nothing great to report, food was average at best. Sadly they’ve gotten rid of the Portobello mushroom fries (which were awesome) and the only reason I used to get food here. I’ll probably come back for the drinks for a break in gambling, but unlikely to eat here anymore. Total for 2 apps and the 2 drinks $60 which included the tip.

    Puck’s café MGM – First meal of the trip, had the veal ravioli and a cable car at the bar. Ravioli was ok, but nothing to remember, drink was good. Talked with bartender some and when asked about crowds, he mentioned that they hadn’t seen a slow down but other properties had (I’d concur from seeing the MGM floor for the most part). Nice quick meal $32 total with tip. However the bartender didn’t charge me for my drink, so I just gave him the cost of the drink as a tip, so figure $42 or so for the real price.

    Sushisamaba at Palazzo- Lunch, had one of their specialties and some yellowtail dish (I screwed up on the yellowtail order as I thought it was something I had last time, I was disappointed it wasn’t as good, but not bad) the other dish I had is their el toro (I think), anyway, it’s outstanding and a must have when I come here. Waiter mentioned, it was on his top three on the menu as well. It’s salmon, rice, crisp onions and mozzarella. Very tasty. I had another one of their specialty cocktails here, but it was a dud (second time I’ve been here and both drinks have been duds). Maybe it’s just my choice but for $12 I’m expecting something a little interesting at the least. Anyway, I highly recommend SS, I don’t get there much since I keep staying farther down the strip, but it’s worth it in my opinion.

    Bellagio – Room service. Reuben and fries, pretty good actually, although I wasn’t a huge fan of their fries. Pricey as is everything at the B. $27 total with no drink, just tip, service charge, and meal.

    Bellagio Buffet – My room offer came with two buffet passes. Got them at the players desk and they gave me line passes as well. Unfortunately I didn’t need the line passes. I’ve only been to the B buffet once for a Sunday brunch and loved it. In my opinion this buffet is the best on the strip. Their raw food area is superior to Wynn or PH, their offerings are diverse and well prepared for a buffet. It just is superior in my opinion, now a lot of that maybe preference, but it’s just how I feel. Beef tartar, spicy tuna rolls, and sushi and sashimi were all pretty good (I’m not a sushi snob, but I’ve learned the difference between average and bad. All other buffets I’ve tried have been bad including Wynn. B was average). Pastas were very good, along with chicken Wellington, sliders, and carrot cake. Those are what I remember, I tend to try just a little bit of everything rather then eat a lot. Couple other points, the free buffet included a free cocktail, which was kind of cool, pomegranate martini was nice, I wanted something different then the 100 rum and cokes I drink though the trip. The other point is pricing for the buffet, for lunch and breakfast, the pricing on the buffet is easily comparable with any other buffet on the strip, at least south of Harrahs. I don’t remember the exact prices, but I remember thinking it didn’t seem like a gouge and it seemed cheaper then Flavors at Harrahs or Paris, again not absolute though. Dinner seemed a bit high and I think I did lunch both times (don’t remember the time I went).

    Fix at Bellagio – Sat at the bar one evening, had two apps and a drink, don’t remember much at all, besides meh. $60 with tip, I won’t return, nice place, fine looking servers, food wise though it bombed.

    Sbarro pizza Ballys – pure greasy indulgence one afternoon.

    BLT Burger – Mirage Sat at the bar, during dinner service, seated immediately, decent drink, some Red Bull mixed concoction. Burger was average in my opinion, waffle fries were good. Didn’t get a shake, but I just can’t have a shake and a meal at the same time, just not my thing. I’ll return to try a shake, but not for a burger (burger bar is #1 in my preference for a burger at the high end joints, the Bally’s Paris place 2nd) Oh one point on the Le Burger or whatever stupid name they call that place, they changed the server outfits. Much, much better now imo, red and black. Before they were white/cream with berets and in my opinion did not flatter most of their staff at all. The new ones are much more appealing, just from seeing it on one or two of the hostesses when walking by.

    Bellagio café – 3am in the morning on a drunken bender, decided to give it a try, very solid, had a great bowl of white bean and chicken chili. Which was great as it was brought out almost immediately as I was starving. And then had some chicken and poblano pepper sandwich, well half of it, and took the rest to go and had a bankroll saving lunch the next day. Total plus tip was probably in the $30-40 range here, who knows though as I was drunk and hungry. One point, I think I was asked 5 times if I wanted a drink by 3-4 different people. I had brought a capt and coke in, each time when I’d say no, it was one of those, oh you already have one. It wasn’t quite the snobbish treatment of ‘hrumph only a $30 check’ but it was bordering on it. Just an observation.

    Final thoughts on dining. I was most happy with the free B buffets this trip, while they weren’t great, I’ll make an effort to hit lunch there at least once every trip from now on. Everything else besides Sushisamba I probably can do without on any future trips and I’ll just have to find some new places. There was much less of the entitlement factor from the servers I saw, very courteous and engaging, my last couple trips have been like this though, the only time actually I don’t get that kind of service seems to be when the wife and I go.

    Places I didn’t get to go but were on my mind to try:

    T&T brunch at Luxor: An all night drink fest at MGM made this impossible.


    Entertainment

    Crazy Horse at MGM – through Tix 4 tonite (same day purchase only), half price GA seat, take voucher to concierge for assigned seating. Concierge hooked me up with a center seat with lots of leg room, I think based on me being a guest at MGM. Show was ok, dancers were all very attractive and I get that it’s a show based on the Parisian version. I just found it campy and kind of lame though for my tastes. It felt a little slow moving as well. I did like the astrological introductions they did for each girl in between acts, but I’ve seen a review that they just changed that recently and have removed the astrology part, ashame as I thought the routines fit. (I’m an astrology buff, so it was fun to associate). I won’t say I’d never go again, but I’d probably try all the other dance shows first.

    X at Flamingo – through Tix 4 tonite (advanced purchase available) this is my second time seeing the show and while it was good I thought the first time was better. The choreography and some of the dancers have changed too. The music is a bit bolder now, a little more rock and roll in your face kind of stuff. Which for most of the numbers worked very well. It’s maitre d’ seating, so a 10 spot for one usually gets you a nice seat, last time it was center floor (light crowd) this time on a Saturday night and getting to the theater late, I got placed first row but right on the side of the stage where the girls come out. It wasn’t a bad seat considering where it could have been , but definitely not as nice as front and center. I would describe X as modern caberet and the energy and sexiness of the show are exactly what I would expect from a Vegas show. I was a bit disappointed, in the dancer I thought was the best from the show in July wasn’t performing that night. A medium height, curly haired blonde, who dominated the stage with her presence. The dancers for this show were pretty good, but some looked new. One had her pearls break and then slipped on the stage in the middle of the room (by the stripper pole) and literally ran off after the number. I only realized that her necklace had broke and made it too difficult for her to stand when exiting the room and seeing the pearls all over the place. The comedian during the intermission is outstanding and could have her own show in my opinion. Her routine isn’t much different then the first time, but she’s very good at picking out audience members for harassment, in that most are asking for it, or she’s quick to move on if they don’t engage. I highly recommend X
    Karaoke at IP – this is a favorite haunt of mine, even getting a table, the drinks are in the $5 range, which for strip prices are phenomenal. And you get one of the weirdest mixes of classes and people you may ever see. I hit this spot for 2 nights and as luck would have it a bartender I know from previous trips got moved there, so I just sat and played VP during the night. Drinks were refreshed regularly and it’s a great spot for people watching. I did get manhandled by a hooker when I was coming out of the rest room the first night, and when I say manhandled I mean, full on grab, not just hi how you doing tonight. I politely turned the offer down after separating myself from her. It’s an only in Vegas thing though I guess. For a low cost night with great people watching the 3rd floor of the IP is definitely a spot to check out.

    Cheetahs strip club – made a visit here on Monday night, called for pickup and a nice tip to the driver gets you in with no cover. No need to share any details here, but safe to say it was a pretty good time. I picked a horrible night to go though. I tend to like to get in and chill out a bit with a drink and size up the room, planning to spend a couple hours in the place, without too much of a constant deluge of requests. I plan to spend money while I’m there, but a Vegas dancer will separate you from your cash quicker then well I don’t have an example of quicker. Anyway, last two times there, I’ve found the dancers to be super aggressive, which makes the night a constant battle and makes it hard to relax a bit. Walking in the door on this Monday, I was approached immediately upon walking in the door, they were pretty much hanging by the entrance. Mix in a recession with a slow night and this is bound to happen, just a heads up to anyone that maybe looking at going.

    Qua Spa – Caesars, got a 50 minute massage here and relaxed for almost 7 hours, by far in my opinion one of the best spas in Vegas.

    McFadden’s Karaoke at Rio – something different for the last night in town (Tuesday) small crowd, not many singers, drink specials on cherry and jager bombs, in which I had a few. Nice little perk, they give out a drink ticket to those that sing.

    Rhumbar at Mirage, visited here, had to be opening week, I’ve posted comments elsewhere on this, but here again, I was looking forward to this, as I pretty much drink rum exclusively (outside of the jager and red bull). I thought the rum selection was weak for a ‘rum’ bar, the specialty cocktail I ordered was way to heavy on the bitters and seemed to perplex the bartender, as it took him 10 minutes to make in an empty bar. The patio looks nice, as it’s at the front of the property and hidden from the walkways by the foliage. I’ll give it a shot again, based on it’s specialty but I was disappointed to say the least. It bills itself as a cigar bar, which is nice, but it just seems to antiseptic to smoke in there, the inside bar is all white. Maybe it was just me, but believe me when I’m in Vegas it’s rare that I find a spot while drinking where I’m not smoking, so having the feeling that it just didn’t fit is a little weird.

    Gambling

    Staying at the MGM, my plan was to drop $20 into the lion’s share machine each day. First night I hit for $300, a great start and just how I wanted the trip to start (my goal was to get up $200 or so on the first night). Anyway, I lost $150 of that back that night, not bad but still sucked. From there I couldn’t hit a thing. I went 2 ½ days of playing VP without a 4OAK, and then once I hit what I believe should have been the average over the next couple days hit another spell where I couldn’t hit anything.

    I played some video roulette and chased losses on it, betting heavy at times and just ‘knowing’ it couldn’t keep doing what it did, guess what it did. I got my ass kicked on roulette this trip.

    I played some slots, unfortunately there were no new video slots and I was hoping to play some of the new (at least new last trip) slots that were no lines, penny slots that no matter where the symbols came up if you got 5 across you won. They had deal or no deal and star wars like this last trip, but they were gone. So no playing those. So I played some, short coing $1, and $2 slots, had one or two wins, but basically just broke even on those, and it was mostly to play off free play or to take a break from the vp beating I was taking.
    I only got to the table games once during the trip, my last night I played some baccarat at Bellagio, was doing pretty well at the $25 table up $100, but with all the losses from the trip, just couldn’t separate myself from the table with that small profit and basically gave it and my buyin back on a bad run.

    It seems every March trip I just don’t feel like playing at the tables, I remember my bad runs in BJ and craps and decide to play VP or video roulette for the most part and listen to the ipod and chill. I’m usually waiting for some type of nice hit or play and then go play the tables, but last two march trips, I’ve simply got hammered on the machines and never made it to the tables. Come July I’ll wind up back at the tables some I think just to change the pace a little bit and because I’ll have the decimation in my head from the machines.

    MGM has fried their odds on VP even at the .50 level, they were offering as of October, 7/5 BP at their bars, it’s down to 6/5 now. They also were offering single zero roulette on the machines, which is now double zero, and only 32-1 payout for a straight up number. Bellagio and NYNY still had single zero but only 32-1 on the straight up payouts, so if you stayed on the outside it’s still only a 2% house edge. It’s the nature of the business right now and I accept it, it’s unfortunate, but the price for staying on the strip I guess.

    Had great service for drinks at the following bars. Rouge, Bellagio sportsbook, IP third floor bar, the large bar in the center of MGM (not centrifuge), PH heart bar and Luxor Flight bar. Great drink service with no hassle, sat down, put cash in and tips and cigs to the side and bartenders were prompt and friendly. Even when watching the bartenders talk to new players, who may not be familiar with it, I never saw one talk down to a patron in telling them how much they had to be playing or put in the machine for free drinks.

    I hate trips where I can’t seem to win at all, so debilitating. I managed to avoid tilting too much, only had one night where I took out some cash above budget and tried to get on a run and got slaughtered with that too. These trips do happen though, just hate them, don’t necessarily want to win big, but it would be nice to get some play. From looking at my points when I got home, I definitely got less then I normally would, so I’d say either the majority of my trips where I don’t even break even, I was extremely lucky, or this one I was extremely unlucky. I tend to think it was the former.

    Observations and fun things

    5 hour energy sold in those little bottles, rules. I think I had one a night for about 4 different nights, no caffeine, sugar, or taurine and if nothing else from a psychological effect it worked with no crash. I found myself heading to the gift shops for it multiple times. Nice thing was they were only like $3.50, which is pretty much the price I see at home. Future trips, I may bring a supply for one a night.

    I had a double booking at Paris, just in case my room switch to Bellagio meant I was out of a room for a couple hours, which I hate, so upon checking in I get my room number and head up. Their P rooms and there normal rooms share the same numbers except the P, of course no one at the desk told me this and it’s not something I’ve experienced before. So upon heading down as my key didn’t work, and after talking at the desk they finally told me there are 2 rooms with the number and acted like I was the idiot for not walking down the hall to figure it out. Maybe I was but when I see the room number, and there is a p listed on my room charge card maybe it wouldn’t be so obvious.

    6 nights takes a toll on the liver and lungs, especially with my new tastes of red bull at times. I’ve got a 9 night trip scheduled in July and I need to pace myself a bit better, from a gambling and drinking standpoint.

    Harrahs is really pushing alcohol in my opinion. Upon checkin now you get six 2 for 1 drink coupons, JD, 10 cane rum, Cuervo, and three types of beer. Not to mention, Flamingo, IP, and Bill’s have all finally moved away from the dinky cocktail glass that they always seemed to use. The glasses I got now were much taller and larger. Plus with Osheas being the new drinking capital of the strip, in my opinion HET’s figured that cheap drinks are the way they want to combat the recession. (Also see IP’s new deal, food and all drinks inclusive with room single occupancy 99 a night, duel 139/night) Not that there is anything wrong with this, as a matter of fact I find it sort of a welcome change, just bring it up as it’s probably a good idea at HET props to look for drink specials at restaurants and bars. McFaddens and Voodoo are supposed to have all you can drink specials, but I didn’t see any signage for those at Rio.

    I tend to have some interesting experiences in Vegas, here’s one that comes to mind from this tirp.. A typical drunk night in Vegas, drinking at IP all night and reaching my limit, decide to walk back to MGM, as the cool air would do me good. Make it back and decide to play some vp at the bar just drinking water. It was probably 2am at this point and the bar started to fill up, I was sort of playing VP, and the crowd immediately around me became a guy celebrating his 39th birthday with his friend, a girl who sat next to me, likely a hooker, two guys from Minnesota, one very drunk, the other upon discussion appeared to be a vegas regular. A new bride in full attire, that was hanging out there as well. So the girl sits down and the hooker radar goes off, and I put the head down and keep playing VP. She pretty much didn’t bother me though to start and starts talking with the Minn guys and laughing a bit. Bday boy is getting a good drunk on and his friend disappeared and before you know it, it’s one of those round robin style conversations with all mentioned above involved. As we were trying to get the bride to tell us where her husband had disappeared to and whether she went out for a proper bachelorette party (she didn’t they did stripper 101). So Minn guy #2 decides that everyone needs Patron shots and orders them up, lovely, just what I needed, but I oblige and we toast to the birthday boy, who is starting to get in that drunk state you don’t want to be in, in Vegas, that self loathing completely out of it state, but he is hanging on admirably. Possible hooker girl is talking it up as well, the reason I say possible is her outfit and appearance, she had a very girl next door look, but her conversations and actions hinted otherwise. If you haven’t sat at a Vegas bar late into the night, it’s hard to describe what you pick up on, but I was fairly positive she was as was Minn guy 1 who I talked with after she left. She never made it known to me though if she was, and I’ve been wrong before on this (see last March’s trip report for that story.) Minn guy 2 disappeared and his friend was a bit concerned and it’s entirely possible he left with the girl from the bar, needless to say Minn guy 2 was drunk in that yay it’s my first night in Vegas way. So Minn guy 1 went to find him and make sure he didn’t do anything stupid. Bday boy eventually fell out of his chair, which I jumped up to pick him up and then worked with the bartenders to try and get security to help him back to his room (he was becoming a bit aggressive at this point, and having carried someone that I drank with at the bar from rouge to the Signature entrance on a previous trip, I realized after doing so that it was a terrible move on my part, for a number of reasons, and security had come to the rescue that day to help out). Anyway the bartenders recognized his friend sitting off in a corner, so I went and gave him a heads up that bday boy probably could use an escort to his room now, based on what I was seeing and having been around a number of drunk friends who had gotten to the state he was in. And that was it, the night ended. The night flew by and it was about 7 or 8 in the morning when I made it back to the room (it was daylight savings time, too but still a long ass night). That pretty much ruled out brunch the next morning, especially considering I had to check out, yech. Not too mention, I wound up drunker then I would normally be in Vegas, especially considering I was about at my limit for the day at the IP. The Patron and the subsequent drinks didn’t help, but it’s one of those interesting nights and experiences you can only get in Vegas, so worth it for a little hangover.

    Last thoughts, everyone at MGM and Bellagio were great, constantly greeted in the hallways and didn’t have a bad service experience at either place. I never thought I’d like the Bellagio so much, but I enjoyed playing there during my stay and while the restaurants tend to be a bit higher then I like, I did enjoy the casino and the room. I was surprised that they have security checking room keys, 24/7. I’ve seen it at night at most MGM places and once at a Harrahs property, but it’s the only place I’ve seen it 24/7. I’d really love to stay at the Bellagio during the summer as the pool seems open and a bit more upscale. I like the Flamingo pool, but when it’s crowded it feels cramped as does the MGM pool. Who knows, maybe my play/losses will qualify for another offer.

    As bad as this trip was from a gambling perspective, I can’t wait to get back, have just booked for July, 9 nights, 4 with wife along and 5 solo. Looking forward to pool season and a definite reason to keep the regularly scheduled gym appointments.

    I’m sure there are a ton of grammatical and some spelling errors here, apologies for them and thanks for sticking through the report, glad to answer any questions.
     
  2. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

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    After reading your report, it reminded me of how much fun solo Vegas outings can be. I need to do another one again.
    Nicely bundled TR.
     
  3. ref59405

    ref59405 Low-Roller

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    That was a great report, thanks for sharing.
     
  4. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    I have to ask again - WHERE are the dog-gone Lions Share machines? And is this the same as the big progressive one? I sent directions that I had written down from here to my cell phone and followed them, but was unable to locate anything but the Players Club from my directions, LOL!!! I want to try again in May, so if you can please give me a bit more detail on how to find them, I would greatly appreciate it. I had written down - when Tabu is on the left - look right. But maybe I was standing the wrong direction as Tabu was to my left and the Players Club area was down the wall to my right.

    PS - I was confused about the P/non-P room numbering too. They stuck me in one of those off the hall cubbies on my first night in after the multiple hours of plane delay. I had the non P room - but both were numbered the same except the P, however, I would have still requested a change to a room closer to the elevator as I was totally uncomfortable going off into that corner that you could not see into to get to my room.
     
  5. farkingidiot

    farkingidiot High-Roller

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    Excellent, excellent, report, Jinx. I gotta give ya props for mentioning Cheetah's. I'm amazed at the sheer volume of strip clubs in Vegas, yet to judge by the trip reports on here, NO one seems to frequent them. :angel: I don't know if you've been to Cheetah's before, but they've ALWAYS been aggressive like that. It IS irritating. I lucked out last time I was in there, told a girl how irritating I found the constant offers and she offered to sit with me, since she wanted to just chill for a while, so she fended off any advantaces for me. Overall, Cheetah's is pretty fun, far as I'm concerned. The girls seem more down to earth there.

    Funny, you liked the B buffet so much. We actually didn't go there last trip and we go there every trip. Repeatedly. For years and years. Thing we've noticed is that leave food sitting out fo too long. They will leave a tray of food sitting out till it's empty. No matter if the food in the tray is starting to get dry, or whatever. We've noticed a gradual slipping in quality over the past 3-4 years. And they rarely change up their offerings. We used to love B, now we just like it. Wynn has become our favorite.

    I gotta say, I've always been curious about taking a solo trip, not that it would ever happen (My wife would freak if I got to go and she didn't!). Nice to read a solo trip report with so much detail. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
     
  6. Jinx

    Jinx VIP Whale

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    Thanks all for the kind words.

    jgates, it's by Tabu, right next to a drink bar for the waitresses, actually looks like a restroom entrance, (funny I saw 6 people ask service personnel and waitresses at that entrance where the restroom was in like 10 minutes there) it is the 2 million dollar progressive that's posted everywhere, they move it every couple months. My best suggestion if you can't find it is ask a slot tech, not a players club or slot attendant. The first time I asked anyone besides the slot attendant they had no idea what I was talking about. Asking the slot repair tech, they knew exactly what one I was talking about, my guess is because it's an older technology. If you do ask a slot attendant, mention the one that still pays out in dollars. Once you see it once it's easy to find again.

    FI, you are right not much mention of clubs too often. I like Cheetahs too as the girls are a bit more down to earth, my first couple times there, didn't have an issue, but I think I might have to switch it up next trip and try somewhere else if I go. Usually I can unhook them from pestering for a bit with some technique, but there was no one else there for them to make a play at, and I think they felt if they let the proverbial fish off the hook, one of the others would catch them. Any suggestions on a more laid back experience, don't mind spending the money, but wouldn't mind it lasting all night without feeling like I'm the meat in the meat market. (once or twice is enough for that, I think I know what women go through at nightclubs now sometimes)

    I can understand your points about the B buffet, there were definitely some things that I didn't like which didn't make it into the report. And I liked Wynn's, just thought it was too expensive and outside of my normal path around time to make the effort for. I probably got lucky in the B had things I liked there too, so much of it is preference. One of the reasons I don't like Paris, besides the quality degrade, is they just don't have anything that wows me. But I understand why people do like it, crepes don't do much for me, and we make them here every once in awhile but for others they are an indulgence. I guess it's good and bad the wife won't let you go by yourself, in that she must love the place too, mine can take it or leave it, and she gets exhausted by my pace there. :)
     
  7. jgates8

    jgates8 VIP Whale

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    Thank you for the additional directions. I sure hope I can find it next time! My goal was to crack that thing this trip and I couldn't even find it!
     
  8. JR Swift

    JR Swift High-Roller

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    Good detailed report. Karaoke and strippers! Sounds like my kind of trip. I echo a few others who mentioned missing the solo trip. Used to do it all the time and then I introduced a few friends to Vegas and now I can't seem to manage to ever get out there without someone else wanting to go too.
     
  9. zerofan

    zerofan VIP Whale

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    Wow what detail! Awesome...I had to skim through the middle a bit but the beginning is excellent. Thank you.
     
  10. doctor_al

    doctor_al VIP Whale

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    Interesting read, thx for posting!
     
  11. texas_aggie_girl_93

    texas_aggie_girl_93 VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the report. Nice read.

    Haha ...nice little story about the drunk guy at the bar. I love those kind of stories. While I was waiting for security/maintenance to let me in my room there was someone who'd had too much to drink being wheeled into a room across the hall. *LOL*

    Thanks for the recommendation on those little energy bottles. I always see them and wonder if they are any good. May give them a try next trip.
     
  12. gotavegasjones

    gotavegasjones VIP Whale

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    Very nice TR. Thanks for posting.
     
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