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Broncs, Bulls and Beers - A Las Vegas TR

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by westie, Dec 17, 2006.

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  1. westie

    westie VIP Whale

    Jun 24, 2002
    Kensington, CT
    Trips to Las Vegas:

    My Trip Report

    Preparation for this trip was a bit more involved than usual because of the recent addition to our family. We now serve as foster parents, aka butler and maid, to Ziggy, a gray, short-haired tabby found roaming the city streets after being voted out of office in the November elections. Late on Tuesday afternoon Ziggy and some of his newly acquired possessions were bundled up for a two week vacation at our neighbors’ home. Seizing on this opportunity, Max-the-Schipperke reclaimed the spare bedroom as his own. http://www.petfinder.com/

    11/29 I arose at 4AM and read recent posts on the various Las Vegas discussion boards, finalized and printed our duplicate copies of our trip notes and practiced my video poker skills. At 7AM Max-the-Schipperke and I toured the local golf course and, on our return home, I prepared breakfast and practiced my black belt napping skills. We departed from home around 1PM and dropped Max-the-Schipperke off at the Cromwell Vet. http://www.cromwellvet.com/ . Lunch was at the South Poquonock Grinder shop where we shared an Italian grinder. Lots of meat, an undistinguished roll, very little lettuce, cheese so thin you could see through it and very little oil or spices. ($6, 0.5 Forks).

    We next dropped the car off at Executive Valet, a remote parking facility a bit removed from its competitors in terms of both geography and price. As Express Club Members, we used our accumulated credits so this trip was comped. The lady in front of me at check-in took about 10 minutes which raised my blood pressure to a dangerous level, for her, not me. http://www.executivevalet.com/ . Ms. Westie again flew on a SWA Rapid Reward while I did my part to support our GNP by paying $238.60. I secured Group A boarding passes the day prior so we were in a no rush mode as we proceeded to check our luggage and clear security. Once again we traveled on the 3:50PM nonstop to Las Vegas and settled into our exit row seats. 5 hours and fifty long minutes later we landed and a few rubes in the back of the plane did that hand clapping thing – how embarrassing. Meanwhile I returned my rabbit’s foot, St. Christopher medal and four leaf clover to my carry on bag.

    After securing our bags, we proceeded to the shuttle area and, on pick-up, advised the driver of our status as Dollar Express Club members – he seemed impressed. http://dollar.com/ We were dropped off near the tent and when I showed the lot attendant a picture of Alexander Hamilton he upgraded us from an economy car to a Mercury Grand Marquis with only 1,100 miles on the odometer. Our first 2 nights of the trip were at the South Point where we had a comped room. http://www.southpointcasino.com/google.php?gclid=CPrhnPyWwogCFU1MGgodBC9kDg Check-in was reasonably efficient and we were soon on our way to the hotel elevators situated a football field away.

    .As we entered the hotel elevator another guest dressed in the Official NFR outfit, Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots and hat, and a longneck bottle in hand, invited us to join him and his friend for some fun after we put on some clothes,

    Longneck bottle
    Let go of my hand
    - Garth Brooks -

    What's Made Milwaukee Famous
    Has made a Loser out of Me
    -----------Jerry Lee Lewis -------------

    On a previous trip I had earned several free dinner buffets so we decided to use two of them for the Wednesday night seafood buffet. The highlight was the fried shrimp, a dish under normal circumstances I wouldn’t even consider eating plus a pretty decent fruit tart. Less successful were the unpeeled shrimp (small & soft), turkey (dry), Chinese BBQ ribs (dry), chow fun (no fun), clams oreganata (dry), breaded oysters (dry), snow crab (small and icy), bread pudding (dry) and salad (blah blue cheese dressing). Several soups had congealed and everything at the Italian and Mexican stations looked disgusting. Hands down this was the worst seafood buffet I have ever experienced – shame on you Michael Gaughan. (Free, ACG, 0.5 Forks) Note: ACG = American Casino Guide

    All our giddy up was gone so we retired to the room without gambling on our first day in Las Vegas. Please do not under any circumstance repeat this to anyone as it is highly embarrassing to have to admit this.

    11/30 I am an early riser, but being fully awake at 1:30AM is a little over the top. There must have been a few hundred slightly tipsy cowboys hangin’ out at the bar as I departed for the FPDW machines at the Tuscany Casino. Sometime over the next 4 hours I managed to be dealt, no redraw required, my 1st. quad deuces of the trip. On my return to the room I announced my presence by playing reveille and Ms. Westie was soon taking her turn in the shower while muttering something or other. As part of our casino offer we had comped breakfast or lunch buffets so being gluttons we tempted fate once again by dining at the South Point buffet. I successfully navigated through the fresh fruit selection, OJ, skim milk, easy over eggs and Lyonnaise potatoes. Some of the items I chose to forego included the fried potatoes and the entire Mexican station because each looked old and nasty. (Free, 1.5 Forks).

    Supplies were needed so we drove out Silverado Ranch to a Wal-Mart. Since we happened to be in the immediate area, I assure the reader it is a coincidence, we continued on to the Cupcakery on Eastern where Miss Westie chose a Southern Belle and I cast my vote for the ever so beautiful Mocha Mocha. http://www.thecupcakery.com/favorites.html Next stop on the Westie Express was the Tuscany for an abbreviated VP session in which Ms Westie was on the winning side and I contributed to the casino’s bottom line. We returned to the Orleans and on entering our room temptation seized my hand and I opened the bag of cupcakes. They may have been Rhode Island sized and a tad bit on dry side, but I wouldn’t have refused a second one if I could only have convinced Ms. Westie to part with hers. ($2.25, LVA, 3.5 Forks).

    The remainder of the afternoon was spent lounging until I happened to find the UCONN versus Purdue women’s basketball game while channel surfing. After the game, an easy UCONN win, we enjoyed a pair of merlots downstairs before departing for our 7PM reservation at the Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.
    http://www.bordergrill.com/ I had requested a garden view table which proved to be a big mistake on this bitterly cold evening. There was a noticeable draft that made us feel uncomfortable. Where were those two Hot Tamales when you need them? We started off the meal with complimentary hot taco chips and a trio of salsas – tomatillo, chipotle and some type of fruit. We both ordered the evening’s special – Hawaiian sea bass which I believe is Hapu`upu`u or, as it is more commonly known, grouper. It was served with pan seared shrimp in chipotle sauce over Chinese broccoli and chili lime buttered boniato (white) yams. Like Bette Middler, everything was Divine. ($38.05, Restaurant.com, 4.5 Forks). Dessert was a short uneventful VP session at the Tuscany before we both turned in for the evening.

    12/1 I was obviously starting to adjust to the time change and woke up at 3:15AM. In what proved to be a fortuitous decision, I put the car on autopilot and arrived some 15 minutes later at the Fiesta-Henderson. http://henderson.fiestacasino.com/templates/fiesta_home.aspx?p=8 In short order I hit my 2nd quad deuces followed a few hours later by my 3rd. With some extra jingle in my jeans (Lees), I decided to go for the Full Monty and picked up a pair of apple fritters at the local 7-11. ($3.69, 1 Fork).

    This being Ms. Westie’s birthday month, she earned a few points and received 2,500 bonus points. We then visited the equestrian center where the World Series of Calf Roping was in progress. http://www.ropedaddy.com/home/index.asp You couldn’t mistake this group of cowboys and cowgirls for those competing a few miles away at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR), but they seemed to be having fun. We were told that over 400 teams were participating. After watching for 30 minutes we became bored so we left and checked out of the hotel. I realized the 42’ plasma TV in our room wasn’t going to fit in my suitcase so I settled for 2 bars of soap and a nifty showercap.

    We arrived at the Orleans at 11AM and encountered no problem with an early check-in. I requested an upper floor and we were assigned room 2195 in the original section. http://www.orleanscasino.com/hotel/guest-rooms.html We are staying at the Orleans for a total of 12 nights with the last 3 gratis. As we proceeded to settle in, I remembered we had luncheon reservations for 12:15PM at Commander’s Palace (CP) so the luggage was tossed on the bed and our tracks to the car were quickly retraced. After parking at Paris, we realized the Alladin’s façade was a work in process and we entered the Desert Passage through the wrong door. It took a while, but we eventually worked our way through a labyrinth of obstacles and found CP.

    Once again super Maitre D’ Santino welcomed us and I received a big hug from the big lug. Today being Friday, the Power Lunch was in the offering in addition to the regular weekday $18.80 3-course lunch with 25 cent martinis. http://www.commanderspalace.com/las_vegas/menu_detail.php?menu=13 The Power part of the luncheon is entertainment provided by a Dixieland duo composed of a banjo player and a clarinet player/singer with the latter reminding me of Leon Redbone. http://www.leonredbone.com/ Ms. Westie chose the creamy sweet potato bourbon soup with spiced pecans and red pepper chantilly. The soup tasted even better than it sounds based on the one itty bitty teaspoon Ms Westie allowed me. Her entrée was stuffed flounder salad – gulf shrimp and mirliton dressing stuffed flounder with wild rocket arugula, white balsamic - fresh cranberry vinaigrette and toasted pepitas. I navigated a different road to culinary bliss; Andouille Sausage Piquant - housemade andouille sausage served over warm green tomato sauce piquant topped with young greens. My entrée was a bowl of roasted turkey gumbo – slow roasted free range turkey in a rich Creole spiced gumbo served tableside with Louisiana popcorn rice. An hour later a major decision was required, bananas foster or strawberry mousse cake? The votes were tallied and the DOD (dessert of the day) was the orange chiffon cake layered with California strawberry mousse served with raspberry and passion fruit coulis and vanilla bean chantilly. In the martini department Ms. Westie played it ever so cautiously by ordering a solitary CP while I did yeoman’s work in finishing a CP and 2 lemon drops. As usual service was superb. They say all good things must end so as we departed singing “Oh, when the saints go marchin inâ€, Santino handed us 3 pralines. ($40.50, Restaurant.com, 4.5 Forks)

    I returned us safely to the Orleans and spent the remainder of the afternoon in a profound state of unconsciousness. My plan was to visit the Kona Grill in Summerlin for happy hour, but neither of us were hungry so we drove directly to the Suncoast for the Earl Klugh show. http://www.konagrill.com/ I have to admit we were clueless about Earl Klugh who I discovered after some research is considered one of the best jazz acoustical guitar players in the world. http://www.earlklugh.com/main.html . His sax player, Len Price, was exceptional and stole the show. The entire 1’45†performance was musical bliss. (4.5 Claps)

    We were hungry at the conclusion of the show, but did not want a full meal so we settled for New England clam chowder at the Coronado Café. I know what everyone must be thinking, Westie is from New England so why is he ordering clam chowder in Las Vegas? As Groucho once said “he may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot, but don’t let him fool you. He really is an idiot.†($8.93, 0.5 Fork).

    Prior to returning to the room we stopped by the Bourbon Street Cabaret where a country group called Mammoth Jack was appearing. This group occupied the lounge throughout the NFR which is unfortunate because even with a fiddle in the band I doubt they could play in Texas.
    http://www.mammothjack.com/ (0.5 Claps)

    12/2 My quad meter was dysfunctional this morning so the Tuscany managed to win back some loot. After I showered and shaved, Ms. Westie accompanied me downstairs to the Orleans buffet. I had my first huevos rancheros of the trip along with a dollop of corned beef hash, OJ, and fresh fruit. ($6.95, ACG, 2.5 Forks) We then drove over to the Clark County Library where we caught up on our emails before stopping at the world renowned Ellis Island Casino for lunch. http://www.ellisislandcasino.com I moseyed up to the bar with an ACG coupon in hand and told the bartender:

    Pour me somethin' tall an' long
    Make it an eggnog before I go insane
    It's only half-past twelve but I don't care
    It's five o'clock somewhere
    -----------Jackson & Buffet & Westie---------

    As best as I can determine, somewhere is many miles off the Atlantic coast. The eggnog was not nearly as good as in the past and tasted too much like Bailey’s, but it was still better than mud in your eye. ($0, ACG, 2.5 Burps) We then settled into a booth in the dining room and ordered bowls of cream of broccoli soup. The soup tasted too much of cream and too little of broccoli. ($4.25, ACG, 1 Fork)

    On our return to the Orleans I napped while Ms. Westie headed down to stoke up the bonus poker machines before returning an hour later sorrier for the experience. She did receive 2,500 bonus points as a birthday present.

    Prior to dinner we enjoyed a few glasses of merlot at the Mardi Gras bar before driving to the Spirit of Cuba on Decatur. http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/2005/12/22/taste.html We were greeted at the door by the owner/hostess who told us her mother was the chef. We were hesitant to order fish because the restaurant was virtually empty at 7:15PM so I opted for the masitas de Puerco that she recommended. The only problem was the kitchen was pork free this evening. My next order was pollo asada al ajillo – chicken seasoned and marinated in garlic. It turned out to be a grilled leg quarter, but I could not discern any garlic or other seasonings. Ms. Westie’s pechuga de pollo a la plancha – grilled chicken breast topped with grilled onions was another yawner. Our entrees included rice and fried plantains. We concluded the meal with a very dense flan that was more than decent. ($22.65, Restaurant.com, 2 Forks) Entertainment on weekends is provided by a 5-piece band that must have escaped from a nearby nursing home. One of the musicians was 91 years old and the rest looked to be on the wrong side of 70. (2 Claps)

    We drove to the Gold Coast where Big Mike Callan and his band were holding court in the showroom that was being used as a second lounge during the NFR.
    Big Mike played a lot of cover songs by the likes of Willie, Waylon and the boys. http://www.bigmike.ca/ (3.5 Claps).

    We also stopped by the lounge for a set by Susie Dobbs and the Way Out West Band. http://www.susiedobbs.com/ She immediately announced that at the NFR that night Wrangler had presented a $1,000,000 check for the benefit of breast cancer research. This ball of energy has played at both the Gold Coast or Orleans’ lounges during the NFR for several years, but she was noticeably pregnant and relatively subdued this year. At one point she got a little too enthusiastic and jumped in the air. On landing she exclaimed “I really can’t do that anymoreâ€. (4 Claps)

    12/3 Tuscany was offering 5 x points so I put in 3 hours early this morning and was rewarded with my 4th quad deuces of the trip. Our choice for breakfast was the Le Village Buffet at Paris Casino. http://lasvegas.citysearch.com/profile/11629452 Blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries topped with crème fraiche served as my starter followed by a Belgian waffle topped with more berries and cream, ½ of a mini spinach and Asiago cheese quiche, Lyonnaise potatoes and an assortment of cheeses. ($8.60, LVA, 4 Forks).

    We decided to walk off a few calories so we headed to the NFR Cowboy Christmas Gift Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. http://www.vacationsmadeeasy.com/LasVegasNV/eventCalendar/NFRCowboyChristmasGiftShowattheLasVegasConventionCenter.cfm We have taken in this show in each of the past several years and found it pretty much the same set of vendors so our tour was abbreviated and completed in about 1.5 hours. We still had some energy left so the Tuscany received the call with Ms. Westie hitting her 1st quad deuces of this trip.

    After resting for the remainder of the afternoon, it was off to Costa del Sol at Sunset Station. We enjoyed the excellent flat bread and a very good salad bar. Our entrees were salmon with Ms. Westie opting for grilled while mine was sautéed. Our entrees included Cajun mashes and baby green beans and carrots. http://restaurant.com/microsite-menu-image.asp?pgn=gcp&zp=&pxm=&src=&rid=319513&eb=False&rn=&cs=&ne=&al=&nv=1&pg=&bsp=0&qty=0&nav=menuimage ($21.95, Restaurant.com, 3.5 Forks) We were both tired so we returned to the room early.

    12/4 I was rewarded with my 5th quad deuces of the trip at the Tuscany this morning. The Orleans buffet was still there this morning so I proceeded to devour an Egg Beater’s spinach and cheese omelet, grapefruit and orange sections, OJ, and a dollop of hash (corned beef). ($6.95, ACG, 2.5 Forks) We then drove to the Barbary Coast where I parked and walked to the Bellagio in order to visit the Conservatory and Botanical Garden. http://www.bellagio.com/pages/attrac_pop_gardens.asp#chinese Highlights included 5 reindeer in flight finished with whole pecans, a topiary of the 3 polar bears that included well over 40,000 white carnations, the banyan tree festooned with ice, thousand of cranberries, multi colored amaryllis, red balls made of 50 dozen red roses, and a large Christmas tree. (5 Claps)

    We then headed east on Flamingo to the Tuscany, my casino of choice this trip, for an uneventful and unrewarding session of video poker. Once again this was followed by a more rewarding session at the bar at Ellis Island where we taste tested another batch of eggnog. For lunch we shared orders of hot chicken wings and a tuna salad sandwich that we shared. ($8.41, ACG, 2 Forks) On returning to the Orleans I napped while Ms. Westie had another go around with the 8/5 bonus poker machines which were rapidly disappearing.

    Following drinks at the Mardi Gras bar, we drove to Roy’s on Flamingo.
    http://www.roysrestaurant.com/ This was the first of 3 days set aside to celebrate Ms. Westie’s birthday having both agreed it had to be December 5th somewhere. This upscale restaurant chain, founded by award winning chef Roy Yamaguchi, serves innovative Hawaiian fusion cuisine with a focus on fresh fish. Ms. Westie ordered the 3-course prix fixe meal which included a beautiful sampler appetizer of a crispy coconut shrimp stick, Szechuan baby back ribs and a crispy shrimp pot sticker that she graciously shared. Her entrée was Roy’s signature macadamia crusted mahi mahi in lobster cognac butter sauce accompanied by mashed potatoes and baby vegetables. I ordered the macadamia crusted white fish which turned out to be the same entrée. The sauce would have benefited by the addition of more lobster and cognac, but it still complimented the fish which was properly prepared. A delicious melting hot chocolate soufflé was included plus Ms. Westie received a fruit tart with the plate inscribed with Happy Birthday wishes. ($52.48,Restaurant.com, 4 Forks)

    We drove to the Gold Coast to catch another set by Susie Dobbs, but she was late returning from the NFR where she had opened up that evening’s performance by singing the national anthem. While waiting for her return, three members of her band entertained us with a mix of country and old time rock and roll. In the middle of the set a woman in an electric wheel chair thought she was Bette Midler and started to dance in tune with the music by going full tilt from one end of the dance floor to the other then making a uey and heading back in the other direction. It was shades of Goldie who, as of 6/10/06, I am sure still shakes her booties nightly on that really big dance floor in the sky.
    Susie finally returned and we stayed for one set before retuning to the room. (3.5 Claps)

    12/5. Shortly after arriving at the Tuscany this morning, I decided to use the facilities and on entering the bathroom heard someone say “so how you doingâ€. I looked around somewhat bewildered as I didn’t expect to run into anyone much less someone so friendly. As it turned out, some guy was in one of the stalls on the cell phone. I can picture the other side of the conversation where the other guy receiving the call asks “so what are you up to?â€

    I subsequently celebrated Ms. Westie’s birthday by hitting my 6th quad deuces of the trip. On retuning to the Orleans a decision on where to have breakfast had to be made - Ellis Island or Bouchon? It wasn’t cut and dry, but in the end I drove us to Bouchon located in the Venezia Tower of the Venetian. http://www.frenchlaundry.com/bouchonLV/bomenu.htm This is world-renowned chef Thomas Keller’s French bistro that swept the 2005 Las Vegas Life Epicurean awards by winning in four categories – Best French, Best New Restaurant on the Strip, Best Restaurant on the Strip and Best Restaurant. The restaurant has a warm and elegant atmosphere including rich wood paneling, a handcrafted pewter bar, boldly patterned mosaic floor tiles and antique light fixtures. A table on the outdoor patio overlooking the gardens and fountains would have been perfect had the weather cooperated.

    We started off with fresh squeezed orange juice and were soon served a complimentary roll with cherry preserves. We ordered a specialty of the house, French toast - bread pudding style with warm layers of brioche, custard and fresh fruit (apples) with maple syrup. Since Ms. Westie completed her undergraduate studies in French toast and received an MBP, Masters of Bread Pudding , I was not about to argue with her when she assigned a 5.5 rating to this meal. ($39.91)

    I dropped Ms. Westie off at the Palms for a Swedish massage while I returned to the Tuscany and proceeded to further deplete my bankroll. After picking her up, I treated her to a hot dog with all the fixins at the Orleans. ($2, 2 Forks)

    That evening we enjoyed a few glasses of merlot at the Orleans prior to departing for our 7:30PM reservation at Little Buddha at the Palms. http://www.littlebuddhalasvegas.com/ We entered the reception area of this Paris (the country not the casino) import via two massive doors with Chinese lanterns lighting the way. Chef Gerard Canales, formerly head chef at the highly acclaimed Japenego restaurant at the Hyatt Lake Las Vegas Resort, has introduced many new and innovative dishes while retaining longtime favorites. The dining area itself is dominated by an enormous Buddha and classical and Asian music plays softly in the background. We shared an appetizer of lobster cakes, cumin aioli and Thai mango chutney. For entrees we each chose the Korean barbecue salmon over potato cake topped with a green papaya salad. The meal was superb though our server was personality challenged. ($48.80, Restaurant.com, 4.5 Forks)

    Our next stop was the Gold Coast where country singer Trent Willmon was performing in the showroom now operating as a lounge, but first we stopped by the bar for a pair of Smirnoff Ices to take into the show. There was a country station holding a drawing for various prizes to be awarded at 10PM and they gave us each a T-shirt. I also picked up a Broncs, Brews and Beers temporary tattoo. In one of those ‘seems like a good idea at the time†decisions, I affixed it to the back of my hand and some 10 days later it finally wore off. Trent is a young up and coming country performer who looks and sounds good. (3.5 Claps)

    A few minutes before 10PM we gave up our table and returned for the drawing. Most of the prizes were of little interest to us, but low and behold Ms. Westie’s name was the last one called and she won a pair of NFR tickets for the following evening. Yahoo!

    12/6 I was the recipient of my 7th quad deuces of the trip, but let it gradually slip through my paws before returning to the Orleans. This was day 7 of the trip and I was feeling it. Who says video poker isn’t a contact sport? My wrist aches, shoulder hurts and my back is so bad that Ms. Westie had to help me put on my socks this morning. Damn if we ain’t having ourselves a good time!

    We dropped off our unmentionables at the local wash and fold and head to Le Village Buffet at Paris. Fruit and berries, egg Benedict, bacon, OJ etc. For the first time service was less than stellar primarily because this was our waitresses’ first day on the job. She was obviously learning by trial (us) and error (her). ($8.60, LVA, 3 Forks)

    We returned to the South Point where the Paint Vegas horse show was in progress. http://www.aphapaintvegas.com/ The paint horses were gorgeous, but it was pretty boring watching the judges walking back and forth while the horses stood still. We had enough after 15 minutes. Ms. Westie visited the slot club booth to redeem just over 4,000 points for a $25 Chevron gas card before we bid the South Point a fond adieu.

    We returned to the Orleans and Ms. Westie told me I had been acting more like a frog than Prince Charming so I was being sent to the room while she played a little bonus poker on one of the few remaining 8/5 machines. In short order she returned to the room and when I asked her to show me the money she produced 10 Franklins – a ROYAL!!

    We celebrated late that afternoon by enjoying a glass (plastic) of Rodney Strong cabernet in the room before heading off to pick up our laundry. Dinner tonight was at Metro Pizza on East Tropicana. Years ago I signed up for their monthly newsletter and every 8 months I receive a free large pizza, a $22.95 value. Metro has received numerous awards including best pizza in the US from USA Today – give me a break. We ordered a pair of diet colas and the Thompson Street pizza – spinach, ricotta and garlic on thin crust. http://www.metropizza.com/ It was pretty good, but way too heavy in ingredients for the thin crust. ($6.63, 2 Forks)

    We then attempted to park at the Thomas Mack Center for the NFR, but kept getting diverted and never did locate the pay lot. I finally found a space way in back of the library. Our tickets were in the nose bleed section, but turned out to be just fine. We arrived early so we stopped by the outside stage and who’s playing but Trent Willmon. The pageantry that accompanies each nightly session is truly amazing – the national anthem, a parade of participants, fireworks and Trent Willmon again – I get the feeling this guy may be stalking me. We enjoyed the experience, but someone needs to put a sock in the announcer’s mouth. He talks incessantly and I finally ended up getting Excedrin headache #32.

    12/7 Once again I find myself playing the FPDW machines at the Tuscany and am rewarded with my 8th quad deuces and a ROYAL- yippee-i-o! On my return to the Orleans Ms. Westie tried to convince me our each hitting a royal had some direct connection to our breakfast at Bouchon. Westie may at times be gullible, but he did not buy into that particular line of reasoning.

    We again chose the Orleans buffet for breakfast – a pair of baby pancakes, OJ, grapefruit and orange segments, and hash browns filled my belly.
    ($6.95, ACG, 2.5 Forks)

    We drove to the Tuscany where I lost and Ms. Westie hit her 2nd and last quad deuces of the trip. Our next stop was the Clark County Library where we checked our email and then drove to the Gold Coast to redeem a coupon for 2 free luncheon buffets. I was surprised to find peel and eat shrimp. I rounded out the meal with a mediocre jambalaya, a piece of fried chicken, plantains and a chocolate chip cookie. Okay I confess, it was more than one cookie, but less than a baker’s dozen. ($0, 2 Forks)

    On our return to the Orleans Ms. Westie went to the spa while I headed for the mattress. She returned an hour later and, after finding me comatose, went downstairs to feed the video poker machines. Later that evening we drove out East Tropicana for dinner at Casa di Amore. http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2004/Feb-27-Fri-2004/weekly/23285175.html We last dined at this old style southern Italian restaurant in 2005. We each ordered chicken angelo – mushrooms, olives, and artichokes in a lemon butter sauce plus complimentary cups of chicken pastina soup. The soup was okay, but the chicken angelo fell a little south of mediocre. $19.79, Restaurant.com, 1.5 Forks)

    My primary reason for selecting this restaurant was because singer George Bugatti was performing this evening. http://killerreel.com/george_bugatti/index.html He is an old school lounge performer who covers tunes recorded by likes of Sinatra and has an album, Bugatti on the Strip, recorded at Bellagio’s Fontana Lounge where he once performed. (2 Claps) We adjourned to the Tuscany where I quickly hit my 9th quad deuces and then we called it a night.

    12/8 My return to the Tuscany early this morning was well worth the effort as I was dealt my 2nd quad deuces of the trip and 10th overall. This type of repetitiveness I can learn to live with. Once again I rewarded myself by dining at Le Village buffet at Paris. Fresh berries, milk, OJ, bacon, a Belgian waffle and Lyonnaise potatoes were on the agenda this morning. ($8.60, LVA, 3.5 Forks)

    We next drove over to the Las Vegas Premium Outlets where Ms. Westie invested a portion of her winnings in a new watch. The late afternoon was primarily spent relaxing in the room before we headed downstairs for pre dinner drinks.

    Dinner this evening was at Sapporo on West Flamingo.
    This Japanese restaurant, an offshoot of the original located in Scottsdale, is enormous with a large bar area peopled this Friday evening by The Young and The Restless and The Loud. The walls are painted in blue and silver and mirrors serve as dividers. The restaurant offers the mandatory sushi bar, several teppanyaki grills and Pacific Rim cuisine. We shared an appetizer of coconut chicken skewers with a sweet chili sauce. The plate was quite attractive with the skewers imbedded in a large pineapple segment. I initially ordered a halibut dish, but was informed it was out of season. I then followed Ms. Westie’s lead and ordered the crab crusted mahi mahi artfully arranged on top of lemon jasmine rice in a black bean buerre blanc sauce and accompanied by grilled asparagus spears. Everything was delicious though I would have been happier if the fish was a little less well done. ($26.55, Restaurant.com, 4.5 Forks)

    Our next stop was the nearby Suncoast Casino where we had tickets for the Glen Campbell show featuring his daughter Debbie. http://www.glencampbellshow.com/
    It is always a shock to see someone you remember from years past who has aged so much in the interim while you have maintained your youthful good looks. lol Glen performed most of his hits, but had to be prompted before each tune for the correct cord. (2.5 Claps)

    12/9 Though I played for about 3 hours this morning at the Tuscany and never hit quad deuces, I did manage to just about breakeven thanks to an inordinate number of straight flushes, 5OAKS and wild royals. Breakfast this morning was at the Orleans buffet where I assembled plates of fresh fruit and huevos rancheros along with the mandatory OJ and skim milk. ($6.95, ACG, 3 Forks)

    We then drove downtown for the Great Las Vegas Santa Run. This is a 5 kilometer run where all the participants pay $40 to enter and receive a Santa outfit that they wear. The goal was to break the record of 4,000 participants set in London earlier this year. The beneficiary of this run is Opportunity Village. http://www.opportunityvillage.org/content/?c=29 An adjunct to the Santa Run was the Kris Kringle Jingle walk of one mile that Siegfried and Roy participated in. I read afterwards that it took Roy an hour and forty minutes and it was the furthest he has walked since being attacked by Montecore some 3 years ago. You have to be impressed by the man’s will to live and inner strength - God bless him.

    The Great Las Vegas Santa Run was immediately followed by the Great Las Vegas Traffic Jam, but we eventually managed our way to the Tuscany for what proved to be a losing outing for each of us. Next stop was the main bar at Ellis Island where upon entering I began to sing:

    I love this bar.
    It's my kind of place.
    Just walkin' through the front door puts a big smile on my face.
    It ain't too far.
    Come as you are.
    Mmmm, I love this bar.

    We each consumed 2 free eggnogs courtesy of the ACG before returning to the Orleans. I rested while Ms. Westie put a little hurt on the Orleans by winning back the money she lost earlier at the Tuscany. Prior to departing for dinner we once again enjoyed a few free merlots at the Mardi Gras bar.

    Our restaurant of choice was Almaza which features the cuisine of Lebanon. http://www.usmenuguide.com/almaza.html
    It is nicely decorated though I think the plasma TVs in the dining area playing an Arabic version of MTV are out of place. Their mezze, an assortment of appetizers, seemed outrageously priced at $24, so we ordered baba ghannou, a roasted eggplant with lemon juice and garlic dip served with warm pita triangles. It was good, but I thought the addition of olive oil detracted from the taste and texture. Ms. Westie’s entrée was kafta kabob, minced lamb with chopped onion and spices and served with tziki sauce while I ordered lamb kabob. The kafta kabob was too light on the spices and my lamb was both fatty and overcooked. Our entrees were accompanied by rice and a bland salad. ($22.16, Restaurant.com, 2 Forks)

    12/10 Traffic was a mess at 4AM as I approached the Strip due to preparations for the Las Vegas Marathon set to start at 6AM. I was hoping for the best, but fearing the worst as I arrived at the Tuscany for this morning’s VP session. Over the course of the next 2.5 hours I managed to hit quad deuces #11 and #12 while earning 5 x points. On departing, I made a wide loop and approached the Orleans at 7:15 via I-215 and I-15.

    Breakfast this morning was a shared Danish pastry before we departed for the Tuscany. Neither of us did very well so I was more than happy to head off to the Gold Coast for a dim sum lunch at Ping Pang Pong.
    http://www.lasvegasweekly.com/2006/10/12/dining.html Many moons have passed since we last had dim sum so I had done a little research in my preparation for this trip, but of course I left the notes in the room. There is a Yiddish saying that I believe applies - men tracht un Gott lacht - man plans, God laughs. We were fortunate to have a waitress that was fluent in English because many of the women pushing the food carts were not. We ordered the mandatory pot of jasmine tea and enjoyed all of the following: har gow (shrimp dumpling), sesame rice paper shrimp roll, baked BBQ pork bao, lotus leaf sticky rice, silky tofu with minced shrimp and rice noodle rolls with BBQ pork. ($24.85, 4 Forks)

    The remainder of the afternoon was spent trying to recuperate from lunch. We arrived at the Mardi Gras bar and ordered a pair of merlots, but were informed that effective that week Orleans bartenders would no longer be accepting drink coupons for the other Coast Casinos. Not a problem as I tendered another ACG coupon. We then walked over to the Orleans Arena for the Trans Siberian Orchestra (TS0) show. http://www.trans-siberian.com/multimedia/index.shtml On entering we used coupons from our funbooks for free extra value meals – hot dog, soda and family-size popcorn. TSO is not your parents’ Christmas show unless they happen to be Jim Hendrix and Janis Joplin. This is a rock show first and foremost with lasers and pyrotechnics, but holiday music, R&B, classical compositions and storytelling are incorporated into their performance. I was amazed when I checked my watch and discovered I had been intensely entertained for 2.5 hours. (4.5 Claps)

    We made a 180 degree musical turn by ending the evening at Brendan’s Pub where we enjoyed one set by John Windsor (Irish sing along). http://www.john-windsor.com/ (4 Claps).

    12/11 As I was driving along this morning my mind must have been somewhere else because all of a sudden I saw a sign for the airport - whoa! I immediately took a sharp left off Tropicana onto to Paradise – one way, double whoa! I made a fast uey (it’s a New England thing) and headed back to Koval. I should have taken this as an omen of things to come because this morning’s VP session was a D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. I returned to the Orleans 3 hours later with broken dreams and an empty wallet.

    We drove to Ellis Island once again, this time for their delicious French toast. ($4.12, ACG, 3.5 Forks)
    We parked at the Barbary Coast and returned to Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden for some photos. Next was Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art for the current exhibit – Ansel Adams: America.
    http://www.bgfa.biz/ We have hiked in most of the western National Parks and seen many of the natural wonders depicted in his photographs so this exhibit held a special meaning for us. (4.5 Claps)

    Ms. Westie was suffering with a cold so we checked out what the soup du jour was at Ellis Island and then the Cannery (Village Pub). Each was featuring cream of chicken which did not appeal to us so we returned to the Orleans and dined at Don Miguel’s on bowls of tortilla (me) and fideo (Ms. Westie) soup. Both were good, but there was too much cheese in the tortilla soup. ($8.41, 2.5 Forks)

    Later that evening we made a return appearance at Ellis Island and happened to meet Chef Jerry and his friends. Jerry serves as a private chef for those staying at Skylofts - MGM’s boutique hotel that occupies the top two floors of the hotel. He gave Ms. Westie some preserves from Skylofts which he just happened to be carrying in his bag this evening. Our number was finally called for the BBQ restaurant allowing us to gracefully bid farewell to Jerry and friends. We each ordered the ½ rack of baby back ribs which were accompanied by cole slaw (tasteless), garlic toast (cold) and beans (under cooked). The ribs themselves were overdone. ($8.41, ACG, 1.5 Forks)

    Prior to calling it a night, we stopped at a Walgreens for some over the counter medicine for Ms. Westie.

    12/12 The Tuscany is/was offering 5 x points from 12/10-25th so where else would I head this morning? I managed to hit my 13th quad deuces of the trip, but ended up losing all of that plus a few dollars before returning to the Orleans. Ms. Westie didn’t sleep at all last night so she was in a world of hurt. I left her in the room to try and catch a few zzzz’s and drove to the Gold Coast for the breakfast buffet. In order of disappearance I had fresh fruit, OJ, huevos rancheros and skim milk. ($3.50, ACG, 3 Forks)

    On my return I picked up a blueberry muffin and tea for Ms. Westie and also exchanged towels with the housekeeper. I then drove over to the Clark County Library where I checked emails and printed out our boarding passes. Next stop was the Tuscany where I put in about an hour of work, play being when you are winning. On my return, Ms. Westie was in process of getting dressed and feeling a little better.

    This evening we dined at the Blue Agave at the Palms. Years ago this restaurant and Gardunos required reservations even on weekdays, but this evening the place was relatively empty. In fact, for the first 10 minutes there wasn’t even a chef. Our waiter took our orders of house margaritas and combo pan roasts that include crab, shrimp and scallops. The chef finally made an appearance and both his demeanor and facial expression suggested he would have been happier having a root canal. Prices have increased since our last visit. The combo pan roast has probably increased $3-4 while I believe the house margaritas have gone from around $6 to $9.95.There was a lot of seafood in the pan roasts, but we agreed these just aren’t as good as in the past. ($37.99, LVA, 2.5 Forks)

    Entertainment on our last night was Plaid Tidings, the special holiday edition of Forever Plaid. Even though we saw Forever Plaid only 2 months ago, this show proved to be a pure delight. The segments on Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and the Ed Sullivan show were exceptional as was the Plaids harmonizing. (4.5 Claps)

    Ms. Westie wanted to put in one more session at the Tuscany so off we went. Unfortunately success was not in the offering and we soon departed for the Orleans.

    12/13 I was feeling tremendous pressure on this my last morning in Las Vegas as I departed for the Tuscany. This was my 14th day of playing FPDW and to date I have hit a total of 13 quad deuces. Will the streak continue or will I fall a quad short? Hour #1 goes by without the needed quads and as the clock ticked down to hour #2, I am dealt 3 deuces for a straight flush. I discard all but the deuces, close my eyes, hold my breath and hit the draw button – bingo – the fourth duck shows up. It is now 6:15AM and time for my return to Orleans

    After showering we head to the Orleans buffet where I had the Breakfast of Champions (i.e. fruit, OJ, pancakes and skim milk). In short order we check-out, return the car to Dollar, check our luggage, clear security and secure our place near the front of the A line at our Southwest gate. We ended up in the Exit row for our 10:35 AM nonstop flight and in 5.5 hours land in Connecticut.

    Thus concludes another fabulous Las Vegas vacation highlighted by the kindness bestowed on us by Dame Fortune.

    The following is a sample of headlines covering our gambling exploits on this trip:

    Las Vegas Review Journal
    of-State Couple Win at Tuscanyâ€

    TV Guide
    “Walters to Interview the Westiesâ€

    Wall Street Journal
    “Tuscany Announces Layoffsâ€

    Christian Science Monitor
    “Westies Slay Goliathâ€

    Ring Magazine
    “Westies Win Unanimous Decisionâ€

    Hartford Courant
    “Parade Scheduled for Sundayâ€

    Rolling Stone
    “The Boss and Westies Announce 12-City Tourâ€
  2. Jer

    Jer Grandpa VMBer

    Jan 20, 2002
    Southern California
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Tremendous read....

    I always love a report from Westie...:thumbsup:
  3. chef

    chef Resident Buffetologist

    Apr 20, 2002
    It doesn't get much better than a westie trip report. Thanks for all the time effort you put into it. And, I love that dry humor.
  4. sin

    sin VIP Whale

    Jun 25, 2004
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    :nworthy: westie-another awesome report! (5 claps) :nworthy:
  5. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

    Jan 8, 2003
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Some random thoughts in my head after reading:

    1. LOVE the way you write up your trip reports
    2. There is no such thing as too much cheese
    3. Nice going on the dual Royals!
    4. Even nicer going on adopting a homeless kitty :nworthy:
    5. Roy's... oh yummmm Roy's
    6. I'm from New England and order NE Clam Chowder even when I travel... had some extremely good chowdah at Wynn's coffeeshop, and some the waitress tried to tell me was "the best ever" at Red Rock's coffeeshop (it wasn't bad, but it wasn't all that).
  6. westie

    westie VIP Whale

    Jun 24, 2002
    Kensington, CT
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    -----I am a Rhode Island native where we don't add cream (or tomatoes) and make it from native quohaugs. We accompany the chowdah with a dozen clam cakes. Now we are talking fine dining.
  7. sailor53

    sailor53 Tourist

    Jan 18, 2006
    Pensacola, FL
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Westie - I'm from Fall River, MA originally and can understand your appreciation for good seafood. nothing better than some 'real' clam chowder and clam cakes from a drive up roadstand. The best I had recently was at Flo's in Island Park (near Newport) RI.

    Great report, as I've mentioned before.
  8. Wanderer33

    Wanderer33 Guest

    :thumbsup: Great read!
  9. westie

    westie VIP Whale

    Jun 24, 2002
    Kensington, CT
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Sailor534 - I have been to Flo's many times - great fried clams.
  10. Kid Ghia

    Kid Ghia Tourist

    Nov 29, 2006
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    Enjoyed your report. Wondering how many points you racked up at Tuscany?
  11. westie

    westie VIP Whale

    Jun 24, 2002
    Kensington, CT
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    I put on just over 58,000 points - the FPDW are 10-coin, 5 cent machines. A lot of my play was at 5 x points which were offered Wednesdays and Sundays plus from 12/10-13 when we left.
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