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June 7 CC Reno / June 8-10 Harrahs Reno / June 11 Caesars Palace Vegas

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by mjames1229, Jun 14, 2018.

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  1. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    My Trip Report

    I had been to Reno 10 previous times, all for me to bowl the USBC Open Championships.

    For a few years in the mid-2010s, both the men's and women's tournaments were held concurrently in Reno. My wife decided to make her first tournament in 2013, but an elbow injury that eventually required surgery halted that. She made her actual first tournament in 2016, in which she injured her knee pretty badly but bowled through it. Two surgeries and countless Orthovisc injections later, she decided to take another crack at it this year.

    And bless her little heart, she let me come along. Ain't she the greatest?

    Thursday, June 7 (also known as Melissa's daughter's 21st birthday) - We took some grief for this. For a few years in a row about a decade ago, Melissa was out of town on business on the daughter's birthday. So when we told her of our departure date this year, she went a little mental at us. I did say that since she would be 21, she could come along and enjoy all that Nevada has to offer. She declined... something about her son only being a year old. Her loss is our gain, as we get another child-free vacation!

    Our flight from Milwaukee at 6:15 AM into Las Vegas went smoothly, and since I had taken a brief nap on that flight, I now wanted a cup of coffee to kick in for when we landed in Reno. I made a stop at that little coffee place where the B-gates meet the C-gates. I ordered a large Americano with a squirt of caramel and sat down to lose some money at video poker (success!). When the coffee cooled down, it was clear that there was no caramel in it. I had drank about 1/4 of it when I decided to go back and get my caramel. The clerk had no problem fixing the drink, but for "sanitary reasons" he wouldn't take my cup so instead made me a new drink. Suddenly I had 40 ounces of Americano to power through.

    Before we boarded the plane, most of those ounces were gone and I was ready to bounce off the walls. But mostly, it made me have to pee. Since I have no interest in using an airplane bathroom, I did make a mad dash once off the plane.

    Relieved to be relieved, we got our bags and rental car and headed for lunch.

    Being my wife's trip (and her having been to Reno numerous times as well), I let her pick most of the meals. When she said that we were going to eat at Laughing Planet on the Nevada-Reno campus, I was a bit dubious of eating at a Paleo-friendly, gluten-optional, vegan and Keto hipster bro guy campus chain restaurant. But it wasn't too bad. I had a Korean BBQ bowl, with my only wish that the veggies were cooked instead of raw, and I had a Marionberry Ginger smoothie (whatever the hell that is) that was delightful. Blew my mind as the only Marion Barry that I knew was the coke-head former DC mayor. My wife had a quesadilla that she reported as "nummy" and we were on our way.

    20180607_125846.jpg

    Since I could only talk Harrahs into a 3-night comp, we stayed the first night at Circus Circus Reno for $48 (plus $17 resort fee). The Sky Tower had been so recently remodeled that it had that new carpet smell. For those of you unaware, this is decidedly NOT the Circus Circus in Las Vegas, because though it caters to families, CC Reno is a lot better. The casino is nice, the sports book is pretty big and is a comfortable in every way.

    We checked in, walked to the National Bowling Stadium so my wife could check in, then we headed over to Harrahs Reno for the first gambling. Even though I wasn't staying at Harrahs that day, with the Silver State Multiplier promo I decided to play where I'd be earning more spiffs. The gambling gods were against us that day (as they would be all weekend) so after an hour we walked back to Circus Circus to get ready for dinner.

    There were two "nice" dinners planned for the trip, the first one being on arrival day, where my wife would meet up with her team (with one member from Arizona) and be all friendly before bowling the next day. With temps in the mid-80s, I was in shorts and wanted to put on slacks and a dress shirt.... you know, proper dinner attire. I got the iron set-up in the room, pulled out my dress shirt... and.. where... are... my... pants?

    Apparently I left them in Milwaukee. My dinner dress choices were shorts or black sweatpants. I understand "dress" is being relaxed these days, but I felt like one of "them" by schlepping into Harrahs Steakhouse in shorts.

    I had never eaten there before, but that is an oversight that will not continue going forward. This was, in a word, fuckingawesome!

    20180607_172627.jpg

    They had two Prix Fixe offerings; an "early bird" dinner for diners arriving before 6:00 PM for $32, or their 50th Anniversary four-course meal for $50. I had that 50th Anniversary dinner and my wife didn't.

    20180607_175049.jpg

    My crabcake that I almost forgot to photograph.

    20180607_175440.jpg

    My wife's creamy French Onion soup... served in an onion.

    Not shown is my salad because, well, it was a salad. As Homer and Bart Simpson once sang... "You don't win friends with salad".

    20180607_181336.jpg

    This was cool... a small dollop of sorbet with a champagne pour over. Didn't expect the palate cleanser as it wasn't mentioned in the menu at all.

    20180607_181643.jpg

    My petit filet with stuffed prawns. My brilliant wife whisked the offending fungus off my plate before the meat was infected. That's why I love her so.

    20180607_181648.jpg

    My wife had the Chicken Scallopini.

    FB_IMG_1528431735086 (2).jpg

    This isn't the greatest photo, but my Alaska is being Baked tableside.

    You'd think we'd be done at dessert. But no! They brought out...

    FB_IMG_1528431720927.jpg

    They brought out a bowl of chocolates over a bowl of gurgling CO2. This photo didn't do it justice, but that was way cool.

    Since these are catty old ladies, we each got separate checks. My 50th Anniversary menu, my wife's soup, entree, dessert, her soda and two Old Fashioneds for me cost $150 with tax and tip. It was absolutely delightful and a steal and I can't wait to do it again in two years.

    After dinner and cycling a few more dollars into Caesar's employee's 401Ks while watching the Vegas Golden Knights lose Game 5 and the Stanley Cup, we headed back to Circus Circus. My wife went to bed and I decided to keep my gamble going, so I went across the street to the Silver Legacy for some Pai Gow Poker. Couldn't even sniff a win, and I knew my entire trip was in trouble when I was dealt three pair; AA on top and QQ66 on the bottom and lost to the dealer's AA with KK99 on the bottom. When you can't win with three pair including AA, it's a bad sign.

    I tried chasing losses in some slots without success, so when I ran out of my daily money, I schlumped off to bed.

    Evening came and morning followed, the first day.
     
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
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  2. charlestfuller

    charlestfuller Low-Roller

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    Forgot the pants :haha:
     
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  3. Johnzimbo

    Johnzimbo VIP Whale

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    Looking forward to more. I bowled the National the first year it was at the stadium, do they still have you enter from behind the pinsetters?
     
  4. vegasvette

    vegasvette High-Roller

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    Let's hope, as this saga continues, that Mr. James does not lose his shirt after forgetting his pants.
     
  5. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    That's part of the pageantry. Unfortunately, there is no center aisle at the South Point Bowling Plaza, nor was there one built into the convention center this year in Syracuse.

    But I love that center aisle march. Gets me all tingly inside!
     
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
  6. acccrow

    acccrow Low-Roller

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    You're just cold. Put some pants on.
     
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  7. acccrow

    acccrow Low-Roller

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    Speaking of pants...

    Why is it that a garment you wear on your lower body is nearly always written as a plural? Pants, trousers, slacks, etc.

    But upper body is singular ... shirt, jacket, etc.

    It's not like the quantity of appendages explains it ... for every leg, presumably you have an arm, too.

    These are the things I think about when I'm bowling, which explains the usual average of 43.
     
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  8. RynoBU

    RynoBU Low-Roller

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    Enjoying the TR. Sorry about the Pai Gow Poker luck.
     
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  9. smartone

    smartone VIP Whale

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    Love it when folks spend time in the north! Thanks for the report...
     
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  10. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    I'm feeling a whole lot better about the 88 I just bowled at The Orleans! :D :trophy:
    Thanks, @acccrow! :beer:

    Great start to your TR, @mjames1229 :)

    RICHARD
     
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  11. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    Gets better. Working on more "up north" content after the Peru v Denmark match ends.
     
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
  12. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    Friday, June 8 - We arise and shine!

    June 8 - 1 View from Circus Circus.jpg

    As has been detailed in plenty of other trip reports, I am not an egg eater so it sometimes poses a challenge for breakfast. Two years ago in Reno, we considered eating here on the exact same day that this happened.

    Its Nevada, so we gambled with fate and actually went to Peg's Glorified Ham and Eggs and managed to eat a meal without a car crashing through the window.

    June 8 - 2 Michael at Pegs Glorified Ham and Eggs.jpg

    Once concern I have with pancakes involves the cost. They often outprice eggs for reasons that astound me. Flour, egg, oil and water is a pancake. Eggs by themself are pretty cheap, but are often part of a meal or omelette with a dozen add ons, like meat, peppers, potatoes, cheese, onions and, more meat. So when I saw the pancakes for $6.50, I thought there might be a catch. There was. A single sausage patty was a $6.00 adder. That $12.50 was more than almost everything else on the menu. The pancakes were good. The pancakes were not THAT good.

    With my wife bowling at 5:00 PM this particular evening, we needed to fill seven hours without blowing the bankroll in the casino. Clearly, a ride to Virginia City was in order.

    The plan had us arriving at the 1870 Train Depot for the 10:30 run of the Virginia and Truckee Railroad to Gold Hill and back for $12 each.

    June 8 - 4 Virginia City and Truckee railroad steam engine.jpg

    The trip was 35 minutes round trip, and the conductor told stories about the Gold and Silver Rush pretty much non-stop, pointing out historic sites and mines that were deserted so quickly that they are still in place almost 150 years later.

    June 8 - 10 Train ride.jpg

    June 8 - 16 Train ride.jpg

    June 8 - 17 Train ride.jpg June 8 - 18 Site of first gold discovery.jpg

    In the photo on the right, in the center of the picture is where gold was first found in Virginia City. Which begs the question... why was anyone digging there in the first place, and what made him/her think that thar was gold in them thar hills?

    One issue we had was that our credit card had declined at the train station. We had used the credit card traveling to and through Las Vegas to Reno, and I know that there was plenty of available room. Clearly, some algorithmic fraud alert had tripped on my account, so I had to contact the card company to clear it. I decided to make this call while driving up the hill to the main drag of Virginia City. I had the account specialist on the line and were almost done when the call dropped. I tried to call back twice, and both times my call ended prematurely. Apparently the only place in Virginia City where Capital One would take my call was in the parking lot across from the train depot.

    So, sigh, I drove back there just to complete a phone call so I could use my card again. And it worked perfectly. Apparently this technology hasn't been perfected yet.

    "What", you may ask, "is the draw to Virginia City?"

    "Good question."

    Click the link for a look at the live webcam, which is VERY representative of the mile or so of C Street.

    Not quite ready for lunch, we found a parking spot across from the fire station and got to the The Way it Was Museum ($4/ea). I had been to Virginia City a few other times in my trips to Reno and always wanted to walk through it. And when I finally got to do it, I was bored silly. There were quite a few mining and other artifacts from the mid-to-late 1800s, but there was no particular rhyme or reason. Its as if they bought some glass display cases and hooks for the walls, put whatever stuff wherever, and hand made some signs roughly describing what we were looking at. It was all pretty cheesy. I kinda raced to the end because of The Video.

    The biggest repetitive advertising this museum had (both along C Street and at this museum) was a series of videos featuring Merlin Olsen and Charlie Jones.

    the-way-it-was-museum.jpg

    My thought was that since they were my favorite NBC NFL announcing team in the 80s, this couldn't be too bad. Just because Merlin Olsen died in 2010 doesn't mean this wasn't quality work. Right?

    The shows were running on a continuous loop, so while there was some other low budget video running before this started, I whipped out my trusty Samsung Galaxy 6S and Googled "The American Frontier". Found it was produced in 1985 as filler material between PBS shows. Truth is that the videos weren't too bad, despite being dated. Then again, the subject matter was already 125 years in the rearview mirror when they were produced, another 30+ years wasn't going to hurt.

    Finally it was on to lunch at the Bonanza Saloon. I had again given my wife her choice of dining and she chose this because, well, because I think she didn't care enough to take the responsibility seriously.

    June 8 - 25 View of Bonanza Saloon.jpg

    We were seated out the back patio overlooking the 100 Mile View.

    June 8 - 22 View from Bonanza Saloon.jpg

    June 8 - 24 Melissa at Bonanza Saloon.jpg

    I thought I was hungry, but nothing really tripped my trigger. When the waitress came around the third time, I was pressed into service and ordered the Little Joe burger (we were at the Bonanza Saloon and all). According to the menu, it was to be a 1/3 pound burger with sauteed jalapenos, onions, bacon, pepperjack cheese and a Sriracha aioli. I ordered it medium rare, and when it came it was grey throughout and didn't have the sauce. It also had a couple of onion rings on it that weren't supposed to be there. Normally I would have sent it back, but for whatever reason, I kept it. It was very good. Would have been very gooder with a juicy burger and some sauce to hold it together. After lunch, we walked up and down C Street for awhile, then headed back over the mountain to Reno. My wife got ready to bowl, I took a glorious midday Nevada nap. I would be in great shape for the rest of the day.

    June 8 - 26 Melissa and her Nationals group.jpg

    June 8 - 28 Melissa bowling.jpg

    Her knee was really bothering her and I felt bad for her, but she did gut out and bowled halfway decent. Under her average a bit, but Nationals lane conditions are tough for a scratch player, they are also tough for the recreational player. After bowling was another dinner that had been on my bucket list, Bertha Miranda's for some Mexican food. I had read and heard great things, but for some reason in all my previous visits, I could never convince my bowling guys to eat there.

    June 8 - 30 Melissa at Bertha Miranda.jpg

    Although the menu prices were a little steep for a local's place (or maybe I am just used to midwest pricing levels?) I decided to have the Saturday Special... a steak with green chile and a red chile enchilada.

    June 8 - 31 Steak dinner at Bertha Miranda.jpg

    The waitress said that they were out of the green chile, which is why I ended up with grilled scallions. Also, the steak was the quality you'd expect from a Mexican restaurant. That said, the meal was fantastic. The red chile sauce really popped, and the rice wasn't just the Goya stuff from the grocery store.

    Even the chips and salsa (ask for the salsa verde) were top notch. $22 might have been more than that meal was worth, but I had a very happy tummy.

    After dinner it was back to Harrahs Reno where my wife went right to bed and I tried my hand (again) at Pai Gow Poker. I hadn't noticed the day before, but they had a special Diamond and Seven Stars drink menu. Being Diamond, I needed to have something on the list. However, I don't normally drink hard liquor so I was over my head. I ordered the first thing I could pronounce... Macallan 12-year Scotch. Being a true man (and an idiot) I had it neat. The waiter, Kregg, raved about how great of a choice it was. And a few minutes later, I was delivered a small glass of room temperature lighter fluid.

    Undeterred, I had a second one, too... this time on the rocks. That helped a bit. Those two drinks were only $100 each, though (sad face emoji).

    Evening came and morning followed, the second day.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
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  13. charlestfuller

    charlestfuller Low-Roller

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    Drinking scotch neat, well done sir!
     
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  14. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    Saturday, June 9 - Good morning, Reno!

    June 9 - 1 View from Harrahs Reno.jpg

    Because my beautiful bride had to bowl at 12:30 PM, the morning was filled with admin duties. But first breakfast at...

    June 9 - 3 Melissa at Black Bear Diner.jpg

    Black Bear Diner. Since the closest location is over 1000 miles from our house, we'll just ignore that it is a chain. In five days in Nevada, I had pancakes four times, and these were the best regular pancakes - BY FAR. Like Peg's, a side of sausage was way overpriced compared to the pancakes, but my wife's breakfast came with a side of sausage, which I yoinked before she could touch it. Those spicy sausage patties are legit.

    After breakfast was a quick trip to Costco to get some prescriptions (we got paid on Friday and our HSA was reloaded) then back to get her to the Bowling Stadium. Since I didn't have to get there early, I decided to try to win something (I forgot to mention that we had spent an hour Friday at the Cal Neva and we got hammered there, too).

    I wasn't feeling table games this particular afternoon, so I instead dumped a third of my daily bankroll on various slot machines... and I've got to take this point to mention how frustrated I was becoming. I understand that gambling is a negative expectation, and I also understand the Gambler's Fallacy of "I'm due" and "Its my turn to win". But dammit, it was my turn, wasn't it?

    No. No, it wasn't.

    But while I was playing, I was noticing most every Harrahs employee wearing T-shirts (and in some case jerseys) of Reno's soccer team, Reno 1868 FC. Clearly there was a marketing tie in, but do they offer tickets to their customers? I went to see a casino host to inquire, and she said that she wasn't sure if tickets were still available and that she'd check with marketing and would call me back.

    June 9 - 5 National Bowling Stadium.jpg
    My view Saturday afternoon.

    Though riveted by the bowling that was going on, I waited for a phone call, which came a couple of hours later. The host said that tickets were waiting for me. I let the wife know that I was going for a walk. I figured the seat location of the soccer game might be pretty good because, well, it is second-division football. What I didn't expect was...

    June 9 - 8 Suite tickets.jpg

    Wow! I must have lost more money than I thought I had, securing tickets in the luxury suite and all! One minor problem, though, was that my wife had committed us to dining with all of their bowling group members and guests. With any luck, I'd be too full to eat too much of Harrahs ballpark food, but I'd work on the beer instead.

    Once my wife finished her nine games, the tally wasn't particularly pretty. The knee - which had responded to the application of KT tape in the morning - had decided to stop responding and her scores showed it. But I give her credit for finishing it up, and I tried to promise less walking for the rest of the trip. I also knew I that with what was planned, there was no way I could keep that promise. We walked back to Harrahs for her to clean up, then we walked over to Eldorado for their seafood buffet.

    "Go" time was 4:45 PM, but some of the ladies hadn't made it over yet. That allowed me to lose another full 1/3 of my daily budget in about 30 minutes.

    June 9 - 6 Group dinner at Eldorado Buffet.jpg
    Everyone, meet the gang. Gang, everyone.

    June 9 - 7 Dinner at Eldorado Buffet.jpg
    Me, my wife and one of her teammates.

    After dinner and goodbye hugs (many were leaving the next morning) we walked over to the stadium. During the walk, we noticed it had become drastically cooler, so we made a quick detour back to Harrahs for warmer clothes.

    June 9 - 9 Inside of suite at Greater Nevada Field.jpg
    The Suite Life. It was even a bobblehead night of a player who won the league scoring title last season.

    June 9 - 10 Melissa at soccer game.jpg

    June 9 - 12 Reno v Fresno.jpg
    Except for the poor sodding, you'd have never really noticed they were playing at a baseball stadium.

    My wife's sore knee and the wind had her leaving at halftime, while I survived subzero wind chills (OK, but it couldn't have been over 50 degrees at the end of the game) and otherwise enjoyed an entertaining 1-1 draw... and to you haters, yes, you CAN enjoy two hours of football with only two goals. Take a look at the highlights... it was an exciting game.

    With my lovely wife tucked in bed, I went all Clark Griswold on Harrahs, determined to do some damage. Unfortunately, we know how the Clark Griswold story ends, as I blew through the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday's bankroll on Pai Gow Poker, High Card Flush and a frustration bennie on slots. Nothing was working, and I was above my stop loss with two more days to go. I did have two more Macallan 12 year, which brought me the same exact luck as the previous evening. Mildly panicking...

    Evening came and morning followed, the third day.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
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  15. 93 Octane

    93 Octane Chief bottle washer

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    What a suite score:rolleyes:
     
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  16. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

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    Very cool those suite (heh) tickets!
     
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  17. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

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    Sunday, June 10 - The day started a little bumpy, due to my lovely wife's lack of knowledge of geography (sorry, Darling, but....) We were planning on breakfast at Mel's Diner at the Boomtown as we headed to the western shore of Lake Tahoe. However, one of her bowling friends had wanted a T-shirt from the Hard Rock in Tahoe, and my wife dropped this nugget on me.

    Capture.JPG

    Because of this 50-mile detour, we passed on Mel's Diner and I quickly Googled other possible breakfasts. Under the gun and a bit frustrated, I saw that Squeeze In was on the far south side of Reno, so I set course for there. Luckily, the frustration of the day ended as soon as we were seated.

    June 10 - 1 Melissa at Squeeze In.jpg

    A gorgeous patio (albeit a touch chilly) with pettable pets right behind us and a solid set of pancakes to start the day. Differently than the other places we'd had pancakes, Squeeze In offered real maple syrup (for $3.50) and I treated myself to it. When it was delivered, there was a skin on the syrup. I was all set to grumble about it but decided not to make a big deal. Then we got the bill and I wasn't charged for it... made me feel good that I didn't make a big deal about the "wrong" item when the server simply forgot. No biggie.

    I had taken the drive from Reno through Carson City to the southern end of Lake Tahoe numerous times and I had kind of been looking forward to the northern route, but as soon as I made that turn around the corner and spotted that crystal clear lake, I had forgotten all about it.

    I've taken these same pictures before, but for some reason I couldn't stop.

    June 10 - 2 West shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg

    June 10 - 4 West shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg

    June 10 - 5 West shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg

    We dutifully made our stop at the Hard Rock Casino, and for the first time on the trip, I walked out a winner in about an hour of play... $20 on craps and $60 on slots. As we were heading out, I decided to play an impulse twenty on a video poker machine, and my wife sat next to me. She plays one credit Deuces Wild because she has no interest in learning strategy, she just wants a little fun. Before my money had expired, I was dealt three Jacks. I held them, turned away, and asked my wife to "land me a Jack". She pressed the draw button and said "Like that?" as the credits rolled. I cashed out with a $60 profit on VP for $140 at the Hard Rock. Then we left for our next destination.

    June 10 - 7 Stateline NV.jpg

    June 10 - 11 East shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg

    June 10 - 15 East shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg
    `
    June 10 - 16 Entrance to Squaw Valley.jpg

    For years, we'd intended to go to the Heavenly Ski Resort on the Nevada/California border, but every single time we've been in the area it has been in between the winter and summer seasons. Having wanted to take their gondola, I had figured that with all of the mountains in the area, there must have been something similar.

    And there was... at Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. Their Aerial Tram was open for the season, with unlimited rides from the village to High Camp (tickets were purchased in advance online for $39/ea).

    June 10 - 20 Melissa in tram.jpg

    June 10 - 21 View from Tram.jpg

    The views from the tram and at High Camp were breathtaking.

    June 10 - 25 View from High Camp.jpg

    Don't like my photos? Check out the 360 degree webcam.

    But it had been quite a while since breakfast, and with little else to do at High Camp (besides wander aimlessly) outside of tourist season, all that was left to do was to eat lunch at the Granite Bistro Cafe. For some reason, though, with wind chills in the 50s (I mean it this time) they only offered outdoor seating.

    June 10 - 23 Melissa at Granite Bistro Cafe.jpg June 10 - 24 Michael at Granite Bistro Cafe.jpg

    The menu was limited, but I had a decent cheeseburger, served with some sublime Garlic Parmesan fries. After lunch, we did some aimless wandering.

    June 10 - 27 Michael in the snow at Squaw Valley.jpg

    I also found the edge of a mountain.

    June 10 - 28 Michael at the edge of the mountain.jpg

    Well, not really. My wife just wanted to record in case I fell over. In reality, I had found a photo op.

    June 10 - 30 What Michael saw at the edge of the mountain.jpg

    After a couple of hours at High Camp, we headed back to the village and after an obligatory stop for some gelato and a Starbucks, we were on our way to our next adventure.

    June 10 - 36 Melissa on sailboat.jpg June 10 - 38 Michael on sailboat.jpg

    We took a sunset sailboat cruise on the 50' Tahoe Cruz from Tahoe Sailing Charters. The tickets were $70/each, which wasn't too bad, except that CET Diamond members get two free tickets on their yacht. Unfortunately, they didn't start the trips until the following week so I had to shell out actual money. Kinda glad I did though, as we had a marvelous time on this sunset cruise.

    June 10 - 39 Melissa and Michael on sailboat.jpg

    June 10 - 44 Sunset over Lake Tahoe.jpg

    What a beautiful way to end a glorious day. I even got the north shore views on the ride back to Reno.

    June 10 - 45 North shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg

    June 10 - 46 North shore of Lake Tahoe.jpg

    Spooner Summit (on US 50 heading to the western shore of Lake Tahoe) is 7100 ft. At Squaw Valley High Camp, the elevation was 8200'. As we were driving back to Reno, we got as high as 9100' elevation on Slide Mountain. Each time, I could say that I was never higher. I don't know if anything could top that (file that information for when you begin reading Monday's report).

    We got back to Harrahs Reno around 9:00 PM, and with a (very) early morning flight we didn't want to have a formal dinner, so I ordered take out from the Joy Luck Noodle Bar at Harrahs. The day had started bumpy, the middle part was one wonderful climax, and the end was as bumpy as the beginning. The line at the noodle bar was only about three or four deep, but it took forever for me to get to the front. It seemed that each customer had some sort of conflict that the cashier couldn't resolve so he needed to flag down the otherwise-preoccupied manager. Finally I placed my order and was told it would be 25 minutes, so I asked for it to go so we could eat in the room. I couldn't understand the wait, as the three people in front of me took so long to handle... and no other orders were coming in.

    So while I waited, I decided to slow play some slots. After about 10 minutes I saw them bagging up an order so I went in to check, and someone else was taking it away. The clerk, surprised to see me, said "Oh, we haven't even started yours yet". Disheartened, tired and frustrated, I pounded the slots a little harder. Ultimately, it cost me $120 to wait for my dinner... and the Pepper and Salt Shrimp wasn't even very good. It was tempura fried shrimp atop a stir fry, but there was no sauce to bring the meal together. I had taken soy sauce absentmindedly, but it was screaming for sweet and sour or something else. I really felt like I wasted 2500 RCs (and $120) on our dinner. My fault all the way around, which is probably why I was frustrated. Didn't stop me from falling soundly asleep by 10:00 PM, though.

    Evening came and (very early) morning followed, the fourth day.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2018
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
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  18. kkinwi

    kkinwi VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2016
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    Location:
    Northern WI
    Trips to Las Vegas:
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    Haven't been to Reno for some years, but Circus Circus was always a solid place for us to stay (and play). Soooo different than the Vegas one! Enjoyed all your details and pix....great summer getaway!
     
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  19. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2004
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    Those Tahoe pics are amazing!
     
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  20. mjames1229

    mjames1229 # of visits includes only trips w/ hotel stays

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
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    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    29
    Monday, June 11 - The alarm went off at 2:55 AM. Do you know how many times in Nevada that I've gone to bed AFTER 2:55 AM? But with a flight to Las Vegas leaving at 5:20 and a rental car to return, that was about as late as we could swing it without worry about being too late.

    And I think we got to the gate in plenty of time, because for the life of me I can't remember anything after we dropped off the luggage.

    But to Las Vegas we got, and as scheduled at 6:30 AM. I had rented an Audi through Silvercar with a promo code (through the Founders Card) for $69. However before I texted them that we had arrived, I took one stab at Car Rental Savers to see what I could find, and was offered an SUV from Alamo for $40. Although cool to have an Audi, an SUV would be just fine for one day and about $30 less, too. I booked the Alamo SUV and received the largest Ford Explorer that I've ever seen.

    Being up for four hours without anything to eat or drink, the very first order of business was breakfast, and true to form, I needed to check two boxes... local and pancakes. I set the navigator on the Explorer to BabyStacks Cafe right off of Flamingo and Buffalo.

    And if you're adventuresome about pancakes...

    BabyStacks.JPG

    But it got better. Their special flavor of the day was Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl. It was a very, very (VERY) tough decision, but I ultimately ended up with

    June 11 - 1 Red Velvet Panakes at BabyStacks Cafe.jpg

    The Red Velvet pancakes with cream cheese frosting and a side of Portuguese sausage.

    My wife had ordered the Banana pancakes, but the waiter said that they noticed that they had no bananas. He said that they just sent someone to the grocery store, but that it might be 10-15 minutes. This being Las Vegas, there was no interest in waiting so my wife went with her second choice, the German Chocolate pancakes.

    June 11 - 2 Red Velvet Panakes at BabyStacks Cafe.jpg

    The funny part was that the waiter had pretty much gotten back to the kitchen and in walked someone with two large bags of bananas. We laughed, but my wife kept her order intact, and she said that she's glad she did.

    It was still only about 8:30 AM and too early for too much, so we took care of a Matrix casualty from our 2017 trip; the Silverton to spend some time watching the aquarium.

    June 11 - 3 Silverton Aquarium.jpg

    Although to me, this was something Melissa wanted to do, and therefore I was just marking time, in reality it was really relaxing. They have benches around about 2/3 of the perimeter, and with nobody but us viewing, I could just sit down and chill for about a half hour.

    After dropping a few bucks in some slot machines (Johnny Cash giveth, Kenny Rogers taketh away) we set out to Bally's to get our Diamond show vouchers and (hopefully) tickets for Wayne Newton. We get the vouchers from the Total Rewards booth, but the boothling says that their box office didn't open until Noon. She did offer that the box office at Paris opened at 10:00, so we headed that way.

    At 9:45, I was first in line at Paris' box office, across from the hotel check-in desks. At 10:05, a random Paris employee said that box office opens at 11:00 AM, but that I could get any show tickets at the Eiffel Tower box office. By the time I got there and waited my turn behind about a dozen others in line, I asked for Wayne Newton and was told that there was only 1 GA ticket available. I was crestfallen. Not that I have this man-crush on him, but he is as close to being Las Vegas as there is remaining. With Elvis, Liberace, Frank, Sammy, Dean and Don Rickles all in various states of dead, there aren't many classic Vegas entertainers remaining. That may have been my last chance. I did regroup, though, and pretty much let my wife decide on which show. We got the tickets, then headed over to Caesars Palace to check in.

    I had never stayed there before... actually, I don't think I really ever spent too much time there. Too much of a pain in the ass to get to, and a little out of my price range. But the Total Rewards calendar had me comped for one night (which is in my price range). We headed to the Diamond check in (past the empty kiosks and lonely clerks in the - snicker snicker - Gold lines). With nothing more than a request and a pretty smile, we were upgraded to the Augustus Tower, overlooking the Bellagio Fountains.

    June 11 - 4 View from Caesars Palace.jpg

    June 11 - 5 View from Caesars Palace.jpg

    Back when we were planning the entire trip, before we even sketched out what we were doing in Reno (besides bowling), the plan was to drive to Mt. Charleston (the reason for the Audi in the first place) for the day. As we sat in this gorgeous room at Caesars, we began rethinking those plans. We'd just spent a wonderful, picturesque day around Lake Tahoe with the crystal blue waters and snow capped peaks, although I'm sure I'd enjoy Mt. Charleston, just one day after Tahoe might have been pale.

    So what else to do?

    My wife said that she'd prefer a nap, so I headed over to Harrahs for their Noon poker tournament. I arrived a little after noon and was placed as an alternate. Within about 10 minutes though, they took all the alternates and opened a new table.

    Tournament poker is really my game (as opposed to cash games) and I was in pretty good shape until soon before break. On the button with blinds at 300/600, I was dealt AA. There was a limp or two, and a lady a few seats to my right raised to 1200. I re-raised to 2400 and only she called.

    The flop was 39K rainbow. She bet 2200, which was about 1/3 of the pot. I thought that she might have had a pocket pair and that my AA would be good, so I raised to 5200... which she instantly called. This lady had been bemoaning her lack of cards, which is why I didn't read a really strong hand from her. That is, until she called my large bet. I quickly reassessed her possible holdings, and all I could come up with was KK. The turn was a blank and the action checked through (I am sure she was waiting for me to fire again) and after the river she jammed. I had no doubt that she had KK (although she possibly had AA as well). I didn't see any path to a win, so I mucked, losing half my stack in the process.

    I suddenly was short-stacked and so I opened up my range a bit but hit no flops. Before long I was dealt AJ suited and jammed pre-flop (about 5300) There was one caller who showed AQ and that was the end of my tournament. I've hit a real dry spell at poker, trying to outlast my run-bad. But I was frustrated and took my frustration out on... High Card Flush in the casino.

    Yeah, that didn't go well. The guy to my right (playing $100 a hand with $25 on each bonus) hit a five-card straight flush and raked in a fortune. A little while later, the guy to my right had back-to-back four-card straight flushes with $10 on each bonus. Me? I had a five-card flush that lost to the dealer's higher five card flush. I wasted a little money in slots and headed back to Caesars to cry to my wife.

    She was still sleeping, so I moved the chair to in front of the window overlooking the fountains with the intent of moping about being in a hotel room in Vegas during the day because I was running out of money. That was the intent, at least. I fell asleep in that chair pretty quickly.

    We both woke up in time to dress for dinner. Me in shorts, remember.

    June 11 - 6 Entrance to Hells Kitchen.jpg

    June 11 - 8 Kitchens at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    We arrive, and after a short wait we are seated at our table... which unfortunately is nowhere near the "set" of the two kitchens, which really is the only reason for dining here. We were tucked behind a far wall where we could only really see anything special if we craned our necks.

    No matter, we were here for our Diamond Celebration dinner, and for a great way to bookend our trip with another great meal.

    June 11 - 10 Hells Kitchen.jpg

    June 11 - 11 Melissa and Michael at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    June 11 - 13 Old Fashioned at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    Gordo makes a mean Old Fashioned.

    June 11 - 9 Menu page at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    We each had the Signature Prix Fixe menu...

    June 11 - 15 Caesars salad at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    The Caesar Salad for my wife, though I admit to having a few of her parmesan discs

    June 11 - 16 Scallops at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    My scallops, though I was a little disappointed in how small they were... they looked like they were cut in half horizontally. Tasted phenomenal, once I scraped that nasty pea sludge off the bottom of each one.

    June 11 - 19 Beef Wellington at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    The main course.

    June 11 - 18 Mac and cheese at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    I had a side of Pancetta Mac and Cheese.

    And surprisingly, each one of us got a full portion of...

    June 11 - 20 Sticky Toffee Pudding at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    Sticky Toffee Pudding.

    We also had a celebrity sighting, as Hells Kitchen 10 winner Christina (and a head chef at HK) sat down at the table adjacent to us.

    June 11 - 21 Christine arrives at Hells Kitchen.jpg

    Y'alls remember this? In February I had my TR account compromised, and in the end, all of my points were restored and the spending of my card frozen at all Las Vegas properties. Well, neither did I when I had asked the waiter to deduct the $100 Diamond dinner, then to use the rest out of my Reward Credits. When he came back with a confused look on his face, he explained that I had the RCs available but the computer wouldn't let him access them. "Oh, shit!" I said out loud. I asked him to let me run into Caesars to the TR desk to remove the block. He looked at me exactly like you'd expect... the meal is over and he wants to flip the table, and here's some schmelmo doing a 21st Century Dine and Dash. But he did allow me to leave and come back, and after explaining it to the TR clerk (who had never heard of such a thing and had to call a manager) my account was opened up for 60 minutes to allow this transaction.

    Although it was a pain in my ass (the waiter's, too) because I should have remembered to do this earlier, I really appreciate the waiter's patience as well as the TR manager making sure my account is re-closed to keep the fraud protection on. I walked out of there quite happy.

    Next on the agenda was a drive over to the Flamingo for the show. We took the car because we didn't know what we were doing after the show, and we wanted the transportation ready.

    I had thought our seats for the Legends in Concert would be general admission, I was pleasantly surprised to be at a table reasonably close to the stage. I was also very surprised to see so many people in attendance. I'd always considered the Legends concert to be hackneyed, but there were so many people there, and everyone (including us) had a great time.

    June 11 - 23 Sting at the Legends concert.jpg

    Sting was first, and in my opinion was the least impressive. The songs that he sung had no energy (De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, King of Pain, Every Breath You Take, etc). There was a lot of just standing and singing. I used that time to adjust my camera settings :)

    Next was young Michael Jackson doing (mostly) Jackson 5 stuff. And not only could that singer cut a rug, the video boards played a lot of snippets from the Jackson 5 cartoons... those were almost as much fun as the actual singing and dancing about 15 feet away from me.

    June 11 - 24 Michael Jackson at the Legends concert.jpg

    According to the website, Aretha Franklin was supposed to be next, but instead...

    June 11 - 25 Janis Joplin at the Legends concert.jpg

    Janis Joplin came out and screeched for 15 minutes... and I mean that in a good way. This lady looked like she was heading for middle age, and I was amazed that she could hit - and maintain - that signature Joplin scratchiness.

    June 11 - 26 Elvis at the Legends concert.jpg

    Finally, Las Vegas Elvis came out and did Las Vegas Elvis. He was very good, but he was no Travis Allen. As I detailed in my Vegas Bright review of All Shook Up from last year, that show at the V Theater at Planet Hollywood is far superior to this Elvis.

    After the show, we had been considering heading to Main Street Station to play some VP at the Boar's Head Bar, but my wife instead talked me into going to Palace Station to see how the renovations are coming. She also had a minor bit of free play to play freely. The renovations look lovely, but is beginning to make it look like just another casino and stripping any personality from it. It's very nice, just, well, that its nice.

    And also still a money pit for me. For all the praise that off-Strip casinos get for great VP, good slot returns, low limit craps, good blackjack rules, etc, I'd be better off handing my money to SpongeBob in front of the Bellagio. I can't win a damn thing at that place.

    Allow me one more good whine about my gambling luck over the weekend. 5 days in Nevada, I lost my entire bankroll (including the benji that my wife gave me) and at no time did I win $100. I didn't hit a slot bonus, a bonus playing cards, a premium 4-of-a-kind... nothing. As a matter of fact, this last hurrah at Palace Station summed it up beautifully....

    June 11 - 27 Typical of Michaels gambling.jpg

    Two bucks a spin, 67 free spins, total win south of $36.00. With buffalo luck like that, I should challenge Royal Flusher to a duel.

    Evening came and morning followed the fifth day.

    Aw, hell, let's just keep going, shall we?



    Tuesday, June 12 - All we really had time to do was to have breakfast, get gas, then head to the airport. I had been batting around two ideas for this last breakfast, either Blueberry Hill (which has been on my list for years) or Mr. Mamas which I read about on this current thread.

    Mr. Mamas won, in part because it was slightly closer to the airport, and also because I can still pine for Blueberry Hill this coming August... or February... or next April.

    I love that we were greeted at the door at Mr. Mamas, sat immediately, and almost before we could look at the menu, the owner (Nick) came over and made us comfortable. We must have had the "tourist" signs in full view as he asked where we were from, and when we said that we were from Wisconsin, he told us about how is family is full of U Michigan alums, but he played football at Saginaw Valley, and 19 surgeries later, he owns a restaurant in Vegas.

    On one hand, the menu is nothing special. On the other hand, everything we had was fantastic, and this is a place I would love to regularly patronize back home.

    June 12 - 1 BLT at Mr Mamas.jpg

    I just couldn't do pancakes anymore, but look at all the bacon on the BLT, and that's a great dose of peppers and onions on the hashbrowns. Might give Waffle House a run for their money (Side note; I think that's one of the last chains - besides Culvers - that needs to get to Las Vegas).

    After an uneventful trip back to the airport and back home (the best kind of flight) I look back and kick myself for being worried about my gambling losses. On one hand like I stated above, I can't believe that I can go through almost $1700 without any individual $100 win. On the other hand, look at all the stuff we did in five days. If there was no gambling involved whatsoever, this might possibly have been the best vacation ever. And I can't wait for my next full Vegas vacation next April when it is my turn to bowl the National tournament.

    I'll just make sure to bring a bigger bankroll.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2018
    Super Bowl / Poker Trip Combo Platter
    Bowling the USBC National tournament, I hope.
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