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Tons of Fun & Tons of Photos: A Family Spring Break 4/6-4/10

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Apr 13, 2015.

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  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    Prelude: With free hotel rooms staring us in the face from MyVegas, it was an easy decision where we wanted to go for Spring Break 2015. The planning stages of this trip started when I realized my kids were out of school the entire week after Easter and the Mirage had midweek “Bonus” nights available for most of that week. Between my MyVegas account and my wife’s, we secured reservations for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and then we used two more rewards on show tickets to “KA” for Tuesday night – one free ticket and one companion ticket, giving us three tickets for only about $80 out of pocket.

    For our sixth and final reward, we planned on using a Mirage Secret Garden companion ticket.

    With all our MGM rewards spoken for, we sought to utilize rewards from other MyVegas partners to further extend our vacation budget. A “Buy One Entree, Get One Free” reward for Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand (technically a Wolfgang Puck reward, not an MGM Resorts reward) worked out perfectly as the plan for our post-KA meal.

    A couple weeks before the trip, I discovered a Costco near me was selling MGM Resorts International $100 gift cards for $80. Knowing we were going to spend at least $200 in resort fees and MGM-owned restaurants, I bought two in an effort to save a little more money.

    Typical of me prior to the trip, I excitedly spent time adding activities to my big list of “Possible Things to Do.” Play golf at least once. Spend time at the Mirage pool, weather permitting. “Daughter stuff” like visiting the M&M’s Store and playing games on the Circus Circus Midway. See the Lucky Cat at Cosmo. As the list grew and grew, along with it my concern grew over whether or not we’d have enough time to do everything. After all, Vegas Time always seems like it runs at double speed to me.

    So a few weeks before our trip, I decided to do some research, for, ahem, purely exploratory reasons. I was just curious, I told myself. And that’s when I discovered this:

    [​IMG]Screen shot 2015-03-18 at 10.37.04 PM by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    What upstanding VMBer could resist extending his or her trip when a hotel as nice as Downtown Grand is available at ridiculous rates like this? Right? Sonya would be justified in kicking me off the site if I bypassed that opportunity, so I conferred with my wife and we booked another night. This also helped a few other items on the “To Do List” fall into place, but I’ll get to those later.

    By the way, for those who have read my “family” trip reports in the past, my teenage son is still in his “I hate Vegas” phase and opted to stay home again rather than accompany us on our family vacation. I wish he’d go, but as long as he’s in that phase, he tends to make the vacation miserable for everyone else, so I’m okay with him not going. (I’m not a monster. Really.) Also, he had an opportunity to spend Spring Break hanging out on a boat with a friend, so it wasn’t like he was left alone to fend for himself. So it was just me, my wife, and our seven-year-old daughter. Here’s how it all went down:

    Oh wait, one more pre-trip note: About a month prior to the trip, I decided it was time for a new camera. I saw a fully immersible, rough-and-tumble underwater camera at Costco that sounded fun to take to the pool and wherever else. I bought it, but the first full experiment with it was really disappointing, image quality-wise. A prerequisite for any camera for me is to take good golf course pictures, and it took terrible golf course pictures, so I returned it and opted for a Canon SX 520 HS with a 42X optical zoom. The first few times I used it prior to the trip (spanning 54 holes in two days about a week before the trip) I was happy with it, but this trip would give it a real workout in all conditions. Most photos here are taken with that camera, although a few were from my phone camera or my wife’s phone.

    Here we go...
  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day One: Monday, April 6, 2015

    We left home at 9:30 a.m. and encountered bad stop-and-go traffic throughout much of the Cajon Pass. We lunched at Barstow Station McDonald’s and grabbed a couple Dunkin’ Donuts to go and were back on the road after about a half hour pit stop. The rest of the drive went smoothly and we arrived at the Mirage about five hours after leaving home. We got checked right in and were given room 7100. It had the most nondescript view one could ask for, but it did have two queen beds like we requested.

    [​IMG]IMG_0002 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0003 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    While waiting for the bellhop to arrive with our bags, I spotted a piece of paper flipping in the wind outside our seventh-floor window. It looked a lot like money, and when it landed on the roof outside the window, I was able to give the 42X zoom lens its first workout. Here’s the result:

    [​IMG]IMG_0016 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    If only I could’ve figured out how to get out on that roof, I would have bolstered my gambling bankroll by one percent! Alas, we set up our in-room bar and mixed some drinks before changing into our swim attire to hit the pool.

    [​IMG]IMG_0017 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Weather-wise, most of March found Las Vegas highs in the low- to mid-80s, so we were a bit bummed when the forecast said the high all week was around 73. Sure enough, Monday was pretty windy and barely warm enough for the pool, but we went anyway. My daughter had no problem getting in the water but it was rather chilly for me, and my wife wanted no part of it. I eventually got used to it and we had fun.

    [​IMG]IMG_0034 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0036 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0044 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    After a while, all three of us sought the warmth of the jacuzzi. It felt great but about 10 minutes later, we were ready to head back to our room. As we got out, I handed my wife my towel in order to shield her from the cold wind as soon as possible, but it turned into a major fuck-up because I didn’t know she had hidden her phone in her towel. So when I picked up her towel for myself, her phone went flinging onto the concrete pool deck and cracked the screen. FUCK! This isn’t the way to start a trip! The phone was still operable but I was really bummed and felt terrible for the next hour or so. Sure, it’s replaceable, but the phone is only a few months old and was still in pristine condition. Aargh.

    Anyway, we went back to the room and just hung out for a while. On our trip last summer, I taught my daughter how to play War with a deck of cards, so she associates that with Vegas and we played again until it got boring. Meanwhile, my wife took the first gambling shift of the trip and built $20 up to $100 on a Cleopatra machine before whittling it all back down to $20. Double aargh.

    Things took a turn for the better when we ventured out for dinner. Tonight’s choice was Grimaldi’s at Palazzo, which gave our daughter a chance to see Venetian for the first time ever. We walked across from the Mirage and wandered through the Venetian, taking in the sights and sounds of the murals, gondoliers and whatnot.

    [​IMG]IMG_0081 copy by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0083 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0090 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We eventually found Grimaldi’s and were seated right away to begin perusing the menu. We decided to split a Caprese salad and each get our own 12-inch personal pizzas so we could choose our own toppings. My wife got artichoke hearts and fresh garlic, my daughter got meatball and bacon and I chose meatball and ricotta. We admired the wine bottle chandeliers and I used the zoom to capture a pizza maker tossing dough from across the room.

    [​IMG]IMG_0098 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0103 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0109 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    The Caprese was decent but nothing noteworthy. A little blah, actually.

    [​IMG]IMG_0107 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    However, the pizzas quickly made up for any shortcomings with the starter. The crust was so perfect – crispy on the bottom, airy and chewy in the middle and a little char on top. We traded bites of each other’s selections and my daughter’s meatball and bacon was my favorite, although I also loved my own pie.

    [​IMG]IMG_0117 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0120 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    It turned out there was a large TV on one wall in the dining room, so I was fortunate to get to watch the end of the NCAA Championship while enjoying our meal. For dessert, we chose a cannoli and tiramisu. For some reason in all my years I don’t recall ever having a cannoli before, so that was exciting because Grimaldi’s is supposed to be great. And it was. I can’t believe that filling is just sweetened ricotta, though. It tasted and had a consistency more like cake frosting, encased in a perfectly crunchy pastry shell. I loved it. My daughter dug into the tiramisu before I could even take a picture, and it was great, too. It’s the closest thing to the tiramisu my mom used to make that I’ve ever had.

    [​IMG]IMG_0124 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0125 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0127 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0130 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Grimaldi’s was a huge success! Neither my wife nor my daughter finished their pizzas, so we took the rest back to the room. After dinner, we reversed our path and explored Palazzo and Venetian a little more and stopped in the magic store in the Grand Canal Shoppes. My sweet angel of a daughter opted for some Fake Poo as her first souvenir of the trip.

    [​IMG]IMG_0149 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I led my wife and daughter down the Q*bert tile floor and we spotted a bride in the lobby of the Venetian, invoking thoughts of an alanleroy trip report. Points for me! I snapped a few more photos inside and out front:

    [​IMG]IMG_0152 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0155 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0161 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0163 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    As we crossed the Blvd., the 9:30 Mirage volcano show was just beginning. We stopped and watched it from the best view we could get on such short notice:

    [​IMG]IMG_0181 copy by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Back inside the Mirage, we showed the red British phone booth to our daughter before retreating to the room.

    [​IMG]IMG_0192 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    As my wife and daughter got ready for bed, I prepared to venture out for some photography and possibly some gambling. I walked over in front of Caesars to try some time exposure shots with my tripod but I think I left the shutter open a bit too long on them. They came out a little overexposed and not nearly as sharp as similar pics with my previous Canon. I did like this one, though:

    [​IMG]IMG_0203 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Deep down, I always have a soft spot for Caesars Palace but I really haven’t spent much time there on any recent trips. So I went inside to reacquaint myself and check out some sights both new and old.

    [​IMG]IMG_0210 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0213 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    The new nightclub, Omnia, wasn’t open Monday night but I got to see the entrance. Ultimately I found a penny multi-play video poker machine near the entrance to the Forum Shops and decided to play five hands at a nickel apiece. I had an early morning tee time imploring me to get to bed and wanted to preserve my minuscule bankroll for later in the trip, so this worked out well. When I hit four aces I wished I was playing higher denoms, however:

    [​IMG]IMG_0215 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    This was another good one. Dealt three sevens, and I converted the 4OAK on three of five hands!

    [​IMG]IMG_0216 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I got a Bailey’s on the rocks and played for maybe an hour, breaking even. I headed back to the Mirage around 1:00 a.m., set my alarm for 5:30 and hit the sack.
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day Two: Tuesday, April 7, 2015

    I fetched my car from the Mirage North valet a few minutes past 6:00 and started the 25-minute drive to Aliante Golf Course. The sun rose behind a hill and I got a couple pictures I liked of the morning sky:

    [​IMG]IMG_0218 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0220 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I was playing Aliante because I had a voucher for a free twosome I won in a golf tournament last December. Otherwise I would choose a more exciting course, but free is free. The morning was brisk and windy, but the skies were clear so it was scenic throughout the round. Here are a few pictures of the course:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150407_065622 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0234 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0263 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0266 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0269 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    My game was totally inconsistent and I shot a disappointing 90. After the round I raced back to the Mirage and was surprised to find my wife and daughter had already ventured out, bought a souvenir in the Beatles Store and even sampled White Castle over at Casino Royale. Apparently my daughter took one bite of her burger and put it right back in its box, confirming the consensus opinion that these popular little sliders are actually quite disgusting.

    My daughter was unaware that we planned to go to the Secret Garden, and when I got back she asked if we could go. It’s always fun to willingly say yes to something the kids ask for, so we got ready and headed out there after hitting up the Mlife desk for our BOGO voucher. I was surprised to find a giant line at the Secret Garden ticket booths, but it moved relatively quickly and we were inside within probably 10 minutes.

    You arrive at the dolphin portion first, but other than this one flashing us a friendly smile, there wasn’t much action happening:

    [​IMG]IMG_0289 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We are much more interested in the big cats, so we continued back there pretty quickly. The 42X zoom quickly came in handy to capture a sleepy male white lion, dirty tongue and all:

    [​IMG]IMG_0305 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Then we found a leopard named Neruda:

    [​IMG]IMG_0320 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0325 copy by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    This sleepy white tiger finally woke up and peered back at us:

    [​IMG]IMG_0358 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Then we found the “cubs” that aren’t so much cubs anymore, but cute nevertheless:

    [​IMG]IMG_0373 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0374 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We had a great time and got our daughter a little stuffed leopard as a souvenir.

    [​IMG]IMG_0333 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0388 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0389 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0405 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Upon returning to our room, my early morning tee time was taking a toll on me and I achieved two feats that never happen: One, I convinced my daughter to take a nap and two, I took a nap myself. Normally I would feel like I’m wasting vacation time by napping, but it felt great. We had a big night out planned anyway, so it gave me a second wind for that. It also gave my wife gambling time without feeling guilty for leaving us behind. Win-win-win! (Except she lost about $40.)

    Around 6:00 we left the Mirage and drove over to MGM Grand for KA at 7:00. Before we entered we bought some snacks and drinks, including a huge 32-oz. specialty cocktail for $20 containing vodka, Midori, orange juice and a peach schnapps float. It was delicious. Performers roam throughout the theater pre-show and they let you take pictures in the theater up until a few minutes before curtain:

    [​IMG]IMG_0422 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0424 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We all enjoyed the show and were engaged and intrigued by every act. However, none of us followed the story at all. I had read beforehand about how easy it is to understand, and I was lost other than the twins and the ambush scene. Maybe I’m dumber than I thought.

    Also, two people near me repeatedly ignored the “no photography during the show” rule, which infuriated me. Every time they’d use their phone was totally distracting and took me out of the performance. One person was two seats away and I was tempted to grab her phone and smash it on the ground. I did think up a possible solution, however: little bean bags like those used in a bean bag toss! Every movie and live performance theater should have a big bin of them at the entrance, and anytime someone takes out their phone, everyone is welcome to pellet them and/or their device with bean bags. Whaddaya think?

    After the show we walked all of 100 feet or so to our 8:45 dinner reservation at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill. We had the MyVegas BOGO entree reward, which is an outstanding deal! My wife got the prime flat iron steak with bleu cheese butter and red wine sauce. I went for the Black Angus ribeye with Tuscan potatoes, brussels sprouts and a red wine peppercorn sauce. My daughter got a pizza from the kids menu. We started the meal with an order of Truffled Potato Chips with Maytag bleu cheese sauce and a great bread basket. Here’s pictures of it all:

    [​IMG]IMG_0427 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0429 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0430 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0432 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0434 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Everything was delicious! The only snafu the whole meal was our waiter not using the MGM Resorts gift card correctly and almost screwing us out of $25 still left on the card. We bypassed dessert because our next stop would surely satisfy our collective sweet tooth:

    [​IMG]IMG_0443 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0448 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0453 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0456 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0457 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I’d never been to M&M’s World before and my daughter loved it, especially the “Candy Wall” that offers every imaginable variety of M&M’s in large colorful tubes. We explored all four levels of the store and eventually exited after buying nearly $30 worth of M&M’s and small souvenirs.

    We trudged back to the MGM valet and headed back to our home base at the Mirage. Once we got back, I headed out to do some gambling. I’d read about Casino Royale offering a $20 loss rebate to new slot club members, so I was all over that, especially considering it’s right across the street from the Mirage. It was easy to sign up and there was no catch. As soon as you’ve lost $20, a $20 credit becomes accessible on your card.

    I “splurged” and played DDB quarters for my first $20 and lost it in no time. I then switched over to my normal nickel DDB play and accessed the $20 credit. I did okay with that and hit a few quads, including threes:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150408_005446 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150408_013834 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150408_021609 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Around 2:30 a.m., I was down $10 and decided to call it a night, gambling-wise. However, I didn’t feel like going to bed quite yet so I walked over through Harrah’s and ended up touring all of the CET properties between there and Cromwell. I hadn’t been inside Harrah’s or Flamingo for many years, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they seemed well kept. I seem to hear a lot of CET bashing about casino conditions, but Harrah’s and Flamingo seemed clean and new (although maybe a little bland) while LINQ and Cromwell are obviously brand new and beautiful. I was impressed.

    I returned to the Mirage around 3:15 and went to bed.
  4. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day Three: Wednesday, April 8, 2015

    In many ways Wednesday of our trip felt sort of like a “lost” day, but in keeping with the theme of my previous day’s nap, I choose to look at it like just an enjoyable, lazy day that I don’t often get when not on vacation. It didn’t start that way, however.

    We slept in a bit late (we slept GREAT every night in the Mirage beds) and got ready just in time to get over to Harrah’s in time for the 1:00 Mac King Comedy Magic Show. I didn’t have the coupon but just asked for it at the box office and the woman graciously gave it to us. The total came to $43 for three, which included three drinks (well, wine or domestic beer, but they let me get a Corona for one of them). This is an amazing deal and well worth the time. We all loved the show and my daughter decided to spend her own $20 she brought on a Mac King magic set. He even signed it and posed for a picture with her afterward. I highly recommend this show if you get that same price.

    [​IMG]IMG_0467 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    After the show we returned to the Mirage and my daughter and I hit the pool for a bit while my wife went and gambled. (She lost.) Then in mid-afternoon, we got sleepy just like the day before. We didn’t actually nap, but we just vegged out in the room until my wife decided to grab us a late lunch from Carnegie Deli. We all split a gigantic pastrami sandwich, some pickles and chips. Yum!

    [​IMG]IMG_0479 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    This was the only night of our trip that we didn’t have set dinner plans, but tentatively we were going to choose between China Poblano at Cosmo or perhaps some sushi somewhere. But like it always does in Vegas, time had flown by and we realized it was already 5:30 when we finished our “lunch.” There was no way we were going to be hungry enough for a big dinner later, so we just scrapped those plans and came up with a new one –*it was time to play Midway games at Circus Circus.

    We spent about an hour and a half in there and blew through $50 or so playing games and winning stuffed animals. We also split a Happy Meal at McDonald’s. Just when we were about to leave, an employee told us we could get 2-for-1 game coupons in a small office right next door to the McDonald’s. They gave us eight of them so we played eight more games before calling it a night. It was a lot of fun and my daughter left with a huge plastic bag full of stuffed animals.

    [​IMG]IMG_0498 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0514 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0530 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0542 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    After returning to the Mirage, my wife went and gambled while my daughter and I hung out in the room playing with our new pets acquired at Circus Circus. Around 11:00 my wife returned (she lost) and it was my turn to go play. I wanted to return to Casino Royale to play more nickel VP but decided to play a little electronic roulette at Mirage beforehand. The first machine was all full so I went to another and lost $10 within about eight spins, playing my customary 11 and other numbers. I then made my way to Casino Royale, passing the other electronic roulette machine, which was showing two 11s in the last few spins. Aaargh!

    I then got over to Casino Royale and realized I could’ve gone straight there and played live roulette for $4 minimums, and there were THREE 11s up on the board. Aaargh again!

    I then went on a huge cold streak on nickel DDB. Earlier at Circus Circus, I broke a $100 bill in a machine that disseminated 10 $10 bills. I had seven of them left when I arrived at Casino Royale, and I pumped one after the other into the same machine until they were all gone. No quads. No straight flushes. No nothing. However, once I lost that last $10, the other aspect of the Casino Royale slot club rebate kicked in and it informed me I’d lost $100 ($20 that was reimbursed and then $10 more the night before, $70 tonight) and I had a new $20 credit available to me. Phew! This saved me as it wasn’t long before I hit two quads within three minutes of each other:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150409_003323 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_20150409_003621 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I played through my $20 loss rebate and cashed out for $45. Suddenly I was only down $35 on the night instead of a much more maddening $80. Feeling reinvigorated, I wandered through the CET Corridor again like I had the night before. This time, however, I parked myself at a triple play STP nickel machine at the LINQ and slipped in a $20. After a while, I hit a quad:

    [​IMG]IMG_20150409_011721 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I eventually lost that $20 and then $6 more playing a bit more electronic roulette. After walking through a bunch of casinos and deciding to head back to the room, I stopped and watched (but didn’t bet) a spin at an electronic roulette machine inside Harrah’s. Bad move. Eleven! Fuck me.

    I returned to the Mirage and tucked myself into bed around 2:00 a.m. this night.
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  5. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day Four: Thursday, April 9, 2015

    Considering how effective the comfortable beds and blackout curtains were at the Mirage, I had set my alarm to ensure we got up in time for the 11:00 a.m. check-out time. We all got up around 9:00 and after a while my daughter and I headed down to The Roasted Bean to get some coffee, juice and something to eat. The line was huge and then just my luck, the guy in front of me seemingly ordered everything on the entire menu. However, our luck turned when he revealed the reason he was ordering so much was because his host had added a $1,000 F&B credit to his room and he was checking out that day anyway, so he had all this money to spend and nowhere to use it. He invited us and the people behind us in line to order whatever we wanted and he’d bill it to his room. That was very cool and a fun and exciting way to start the morning. I only ordered what we were going to get anyway, a coffee, some OJ and a fruit salad:

    [​IMG]IMG_0546 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    I wondered if he was a VMBer, but I didn’t ask. Anyone? And if you are and would rather not identify yourself, thank you again!

    Anyway, we got all packed and left the Mirage by around 11:00, and then I headed over to Goyemon Sushi House, where we’d been once before and I knew had some good lunch specials. What I failed to realize, however, is that they don’t open until 11:45, so we were way too early. None of us were all that hungry, but we knew we’d want some lunch at some point and sushi sounded good. We decided to forget about lunch and just head straight to our actual next destination, Red Rock Canyon.

    Google Maps led me on somewhat of a circuitous route that I don’t think was all that effective, but we eventually arrived and paid our $7 entry fee.

    [​IMG]IMG_0548 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0555 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We stopped and toured the Visitor’s Center before heading out onto the 13-mile scenic road. The Visitor’s Center includes indoor and outdoor exhibits and some of the center’s desert turtles were sunning themselves within a fenced-in native area.

    [​IMG]IMG_0560 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0584 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0591 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Once we started the scenic road, we stopped at the very first chance to park, which I believe was called Calico I. Thank God we stopped here, because the entire 13-mile road is one way and this is clearly the highlight of the entire area. We spent some time climbing down toward the red rocks and took a bunch of pictures.

    [​IMG]IMG_0603 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0612 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0618 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0640 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    At this point, we didn’t know that this stop was the only real access to “red” rocks during the drive, so we continued on to explore other points. The entire drive is beautiful, but all three of us felt it paled in comparison to Valley of Fire, which we visited about 18 months ago. Here are some more Red Rock scenes:

    [​IMG]IMG_0642 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0644 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0655 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0686 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0691 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Toward the end of the 13 miles, we were all ready for lunch and thankfully our next stop was just a few minutes away – Red Rock Resort & Casino. Before the trip, both my wife and I had purchased the “2 Free Bowling Games” MyVegas reward and we decided to play it by ear whether or not we’d also purchase the “2 Free Lunch Buffets” reward for lunch. When we arrived, the line at the buffet was gigantic so we said fuck that and went to the food court instead. Are all those people getting free buffets or why are they so willing to wait so long to eat lunch? I don’t understand.

    We got our daughter a kids meal at Rubio’s that included a yummy bean and cheese burrito, while my wife and I split a medium Italian sandwich from Capriotti’s. Delicious!

    [​IMG]IMG_0707 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We redeemed our bowling MyVegas rewards and paid $16 for two more bowling games and shoe rentals for three. (The MyVegas rewards saved us $12, I think.) It seems the only time I ever bowl is on trips to Vegas with the kids, but we had a great time and I performed much better than I expected, scoring 152 in the first game and 146 in the second.

    [​IMG]IMG_0726 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0728 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0731 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We then hit the arcade for a few minutes and then jumped back in the car to head to our new hotel, although we stopped at Albertson’s for some more vodka, water and Pepsi en route.

    We arrived at Downtown Grand a little past 5:00 and got checked in smoothly. Our room was 729 in the Grand Tower, just down the hall from our rooms last time we stayed here for Thanksgiving 2013.

    [​IMG]IMG_0760 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0763 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0769 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Once settled in our room, I called the front desk to inquire about the pool hours, and was told it closed in 30 minutes at 6:00. I quickly changed into my board shorts and headed over there with my camera. Soon my wife and daughter joined me and we made the most of the pool time we had left. Although small, the whole pool complex is great and the water was a little warmer than the Mirage pool, making it easier to get in.

    [​IMG]IMG_0781 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0789 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0790 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0803 copy by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    About an hour later, we were ready to head out for dinner, which necessitated a 10-minute walk over to Fremont East. Specifically, to Kerry Simon’s Carson Kitchen within the John E. Carson Hotel. This was the meal I was most looking forward to of the whole trip, and it didn’t disappoint at all. But before I get to the details, the walk over was full of interesting sights and resulted in several of my favorite photos I took all week, especially the ones of my wife against the wall and of Eden’s Hotel:

    [​IMG]IMG_0823 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0826 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0829 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0836 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0838 copy by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Carson Kitchen doesn’t take reservations but fortunately we got seated right away. We started by selecting drinks from the interesting menu – a Brewer’s Fix (Hop Head vodka, apricot preserves, fresh lemon, simple syrup, prosecco) for my wife and The Magarian (Aviation gin, thyme & honey syrup, fresh lemon, Mr. Q Cumber soda) for me and a bottled Virgil’s “Dr. Better” for our daughter. Food-wise, most of the menu is designed to be sharable plates. We ordered the Bacon Jam and Crispy Chicken Skins with smoked honey right from the start.

    The drinks arrived first and mine was incredibly delicious, eerily reminiscent of a fantastic craft cocktail I had a couple years ago a block or two away at the Laundry Room. My wife enjoyed her’s, too, but we both agreed mine was the best drink of the whole trip.

    Brewer’s Fix:
    [​IMG]IMG_0852 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    The Magarian:
    [​IMG]IMG_0854 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Then the food began arriving. First up was the bacon jam. It had a lot more kick than I anticipated, and our waiter confirmed it had jalapenos in it. It’s served with melted brie on top and little slices of toasted baguette. I enjoyed it, but it was about to get even better later in the meal. Stay tuned.

    [​IMG]IMG_0855 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Then the Crispy Chicken Skins arrived, which also had much stronger seasoning than I expected. The highlight of this dish was the smoked honey dipping sauce that tempered the strong seasoning on the succulent yet crunchy fried skins.

    [​IMG]IMG_0856 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    At some point we ordered additional food, which the waiter agreed to bring out in stages – veal meatballs with sherry foie gras cream, baked mac & cheese with a secret ingredient, roasted young beets with pistachio, orange and goat cheese, and the seared scallops with mango habanero beurre blanc.

    The mac & cheese came next. This was primarily for our daughter, but it was large enough that we all ended up sharing it. It was delicious.

    [​IMG]IMG_0859 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    However, at one point while talking with our waiter, he suggested taking a crispy chicken skin, scooping some mac & cheese on it and then topping that with the bacon jam. Damn was this recommendation spot on! I spent about the next 10 minutes just eating this amazing combination.

    The veal meatballs were next.

    [​IMG]IMG_0861 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    The veal was incredibly tender and the sherry foie gras cream was like liquified velvet in your mouth. The spice was subtle here and more like comfort food than anything overly challenging or surprising to the palate. Wonderful!

    Next: The seared scallops, just two large mollusks perfectly caramelized on the exterior and topped with diced mango and herbs, all resting on a creamy glaze.

    [​IMG]IMG_0864 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Finally, the beets arrived and we were already getting full. I actually enjoyed that the beets were last, because they were light, fresh and full of flavor –*a great, refreshing conclusion to a delectable and extremely fun eating experience.

    [​IMG]IMG_0866 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    The bill arrived enclosed in some sort of literary novel and we were invited to write inside the book. My daughter took over and drew a self portrait and wrote her restaurant review at the bottom of the page.

    [​IMG]IMG_0877 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0883 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0872 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    To top it all off, I was pleasantly surprised to find all of this only came to $102.

    [​IMG]IMG_0884 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We walked back to our room at DTG via the Fremont Street Experience, and then my wife went out for another gambling session. (She lost.) Even though we were full when we finished eating, my daughter and I decided to seek out some dessert. We ended up at Pizza Rock, where we ordered the apple calzone from their pizza-by-the-slice take out counter. Are there points awarded for pizza dough being thrown on the alanleroy photo hunt(?), because for the second time this trip, I got a picture of exactly that:

    [​IMG]IMG_0911 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    We took the dessert back to our room and were happy to find two delicious apple “calzones” with an incredibly rich caramel dipping sauce.

    [​IMG]IMG_0916 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    My wife completed her gambling and returned to the room around 11:00, so I headed out for my last night of the trip. Being downtown, I had all sorts of decent VP options around but opted to begin right downstairs in the DTG casino. I found a nickel machine and hit quad Jacks pretty quickly. Good start!

    [​IMG]IMG_0917 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    However, I went on another long quad-less drought and ended up losing $25 at DTG. I then walked over to the FSE and took in the sights.

    [​IMG]IMG_0920 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0930 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    While near the Plaza end, I decided to do something I’ve never done but always wanted to – play at the Boyd casinos. I started with a nickel DDB machine at the Cal, where it sure felt great to be getting 45 credits for every full house. Unfortunately I didn’t hit anything better than a full house, though, so after I lost $10 I headed across the catwalk to MSS. I started on another DDB nickel machine but quickly got a bad vibe from the machine, so I switched to a STP nickel machine where I played one line at a time. I hit 3 Aces with 10X multiplier activated...

    [​IMG]IMG_20150410_013100 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    …but nothing better than that. I lost another $25 or so at MSS and decided my gambling for this trip was a total failure. Around 2:15 I walked back along a mostly deserted Fremont Street Experience up to 3rd St. and back “home” to DTG.

    [​IMG]IMG_0932 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0935 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Almost forgot to mention: At some point Thursday I got a voicemail from a woman at the Akhob installation inside Crystals at CityCenter. She explained that my request for an appointment for Friday could not be granted because they were fully committed until Monday. So if you want to see what sounds like a very interesting (and free) exhibit, I suggest you call well in advance of your trip to secure a reservation.
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  6. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS VIP Whale

    Sep 6, 2012
    Orange County, CA
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Day Five: Friday, April 10, 2015

    Friday was the last day of our trip, although one of the first things I did when I got up was check HotelTonight for any good deals, but Friday night seemed quite expensive all throughout town. My daughter and I started the day with one last swim session at the DTG rooftop pool, which was fun. Better yet, she met a girl her age and they hit it off and played together for half an hour or so.

    [​IMG]IMG_0943 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Then it was time to return to the room and pack up for home. We checked out right at 11:00 (our request for a later check out was denied, supposedly due to high occupancy) and drove a few blocks over to the Downtown Container Park, where my daughter enjoys playing in the giant treehouse. We spent more than an hour in there and found some souvenir socks for our son, which he loved.

    [​IMG]IMG_0953 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0958 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0966 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0974 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0976 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Next came the last meal decision of the trip. I’m always ready for a return to Rollin’ Smoke BBQ, but our attempts to have some sushi earlier in the trip had all gone bust, so that sounded good, too. Thursday night we’d walked right past a relatively new sushi place called Bocho, which I’d heard good things about and is very near Carson Kitchen. We decided to give that a shot. Although I missed out on Rollin’ Smoke, this proved to be a delicious lunch.

    We chose a teriyaki chicken Toro box for our daughter while my wife and I split a rainbow roll, a China roll and a California roll. The China roll had shrimp tempura on the inside and spicy tuna on top, all drizzled with some sort of wonderful sauce. It was the highlight, although everything was fantastic. Even better, there was a big screen TV with the Masters tournament nearby, so I got to catch some of round two.

    [​IMG]IMG_0981 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0982 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0983 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0984 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0986 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    A couple weeks prior to our trip, I received a mailer from SLS that said I had $10 in freeplay on my The CODE card each weekend (Fri-Sun) in April. This was a good opportunity to do a little more gambling and for my wife and daughter to see SLS for the first time. We drove over there from downtown and self parked. I didn’t want to forget to see the Saam statue this time, so the first thing we did is walked out front and took some pictures.

    [​IMG]IMG_0993 by itslikeimsayin, on Flickr

    Then my wife got a player’s club card and got $7 in free play for signing up. She played on that for 20-30 minutes while my daughter and I roamed around the property. My wife actually won a little bit on this session and gave me her TITO for almost $14 when it was my turn to play. I applied my $10 credit to a quarter DDB machine and lost it in just a couple minutes. I then spotted some multi-play Double STP nickel machines near where I hit my Royal in November and wished I’d played those instead, so I slipped my wife’s TITO in there and lost it all within about 15 minutes. That brought gambling for the trip to a close, and it felt like I had really been underserved when it comes to 4OAKs, but maybe not. Perhaps I blew my wad on night one when I hit four of them playing pennies.

    I rejoined my wife and daughter and they showed me a cool photography exhibit upstairs and we took a quick look at the tiny World Tower pool, which was packed. The main pool was Foxtail Pool Club for the day and seemed pretty happening, too. I still loved SLS as much as on my first visit and would really like to stay there sometime, preferably without the kids. They play good, upbeat music and the whole aura of the place is to my liking. That damn location still sucks, no matter how you slice it.

    After looking all around SLS, it was 3:30 and we were ready to hit the road for home. We got an extremely smooth drive, only stopping for dinner at Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Victorville for dinner and otherwise never slowing down less than 80 mph until we got home.

    Seeing we never made it to China Poblano, we missed out on the Lucky Cat at Cosmo, but did almost everything we wanted to do on the trip. Aside from the lousy gambling results, we had a wonderful five days full of great meals and fun activities. Thanks for reading!
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
  7. nickle

    nickle Low-Roller

    Mar 9, 2004
    Iroquois, ON, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Enjoyed the report and particularly the pics.
  8. sigsev

    sigsev Low-Roller

    Mar 19, 2015
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Pics are great, especially for optical zoom, the animal pics look especially nice. I recently picked up a micro 4/3 camera and love taking it on trips now, its much more convenient than my SLR. Glad you had a fun trip!
  9. majorminor

    majorminor Tourist

    Jan 19, 2015
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Very nice report and excellent pictures! I just redeemed KA tickets for next week and have a couple rewards left. Never occurred to me to hit Wolffgang Puck afterwards. Think we'll do that - thanks for the idea!
  10. thecarve

    thecarve Misanthrope

    Aug 24, 2009
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Thanks for the report - great pics!

    Your little girl is a cutie. I love the evil grin she has in the fake poop pic.
  11. guapoxxx

    guapoxxx High-Roller

    Jul 24, 2007
    Jersey Shore
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    AWESOME REPORT AND PICTURES and thanks for sharing!

    Golf Trip!
  12. driver

    driver Tourist

    Oct 8, 2012
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Great report. Like the way you include your daughter in the trip.
  13. Slotchick

    Slotchick High-Roller

    Jun 29, 2011
    BC, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Sounds like you had a great trip! Great pictures, enjoyed the read :)
  14. Ladybb9201

    Ladybb9201 Tourist

    Nov 30, 2013
    Kansas city
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Wonderful trip report and awesome pics. Thanks for sharing!
  15. NYNYGirl

    NYNYGirl High-Roller

    Jun 21, 2007
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Enjoyed this report. Thanks for sharing. Your daughter is a cutie!
  16. Jordan

    Jordan Caveman

    Sep 20, 2013
    Halifax, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Excellent report....I love the diversity of the VMB TR's....awesome how the dude paid for everyone's breakfast in the line up at the Mirage, he is due for some good Karma!
  17. hotreds

    hotreds VIP Whale

    Jul 31, 2014
    5 miles past "Resume Speed."
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Well done!
    Had to go again this year!
  18. pac1971

    pac1971 Tourist

    Feb 23, 2014
    Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    A great read and some really nice pictures! Thanks for sharing!
  19. vwhiten

    vwhiten VIP Whale

    Aug 10, 2014
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    thanks for the report and the great pics. Val
  20. gambler

    gambler VIP Whale

    Feb 7, 2012
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Fantastic pictures!

    I think I'm an oddball here but I love trip reports of families that do Vegas right with their kids. I think I've commented on your reports before because I recognize your daughter. You and your wife seem to have a great time while your daughter enjoys herself too! There is a way to enjoy Vegas with kids and you guys have it totally figured out. Too many people think that Vegas isn't for kids and you have absolutely proven them wrong!

    Nah, you're not a monster at all. Your son probably thinks your pretty cool for letting him stay behind. I bet your son has great stories to tell of his boating weekend without his parents around! Teenagers need their space too and I know what you mean about them not being "into the vacation destination" and making life miserable for everyone else. Sounds like it was a great spring break for your entire family.

    I really enjoy your trip reports! Thanks for sharing.
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