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NFC is back! Chicago/Laughlin/Vegas. Jet-skis. UNLV Library. Pizza. Probably some gaming too.

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by notfromconcentrate, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. notfromconcentrate

    notfromconcentrate High-rolling diner. Low-rolling gambler.

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    My Trip Report

    As if you guys had enough of my 23-day trip report… :)

    I’m back, and I am ready to rock and roll! This time we’ll be looking at three days in Chicago, four days in Laughlin, and five days in Vegas. A similarly unusual mixture to that of my last trip, which probably has you wondering how this came to be. I’ll give you a quick breakdown here…
    • I have a thing for old-school department stores. It’s weird, I know. Something just speaks to me about them, as a remaining icon of the long-gone glory days of capitalism when people would “go shopping” just for fun, and when going to a department store was a whole experience - not just a transactional visit to buy what you need and get out. I’ve always wanted to go to the Macy’s in Chicago to dine in the Walnut Room - because this is the quintessential “department store restaurant” in so many ways. This is a sentiment that is shared by many people in a Facebook group I’m part of called “The Golden Age of the Department Store”. Yes, it’s a thing. Seriously. Macy’s has been closing their stores so rapidly that it’s got me worried this location might not be there anymore, and neither will the Walnut Room restaurant (which has been there since 1905). So I’m going there for the brunch buffet today, and a proper dinner on Monday (already got my eyes on the Wisconsin cheese sampler and the chicken pot pie!).
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    • Then, of course, gotta do other stuff in Chicago too, right? I haven’t been there before as an adult. I’m doing the architecture cruise along the river. Also going to the Art Institute (I’m SO excited for that, it looks like such an amazing gallery). Got at least two pizza places scoped out, going to aim to have at least a drink at both Ralph Lauren’s restaurant, and the Waldorf Astoria, and I’m going to do a bike ride along the waterfront as well. Also got a marginally possible plan to meet up with Ffejry for a beer on Tuesday. Breanna, this is your cue to say something about our “bromance” :)
    • Now, I only booked my trip down as a one-way flight. So logically, you’d think I’d book another one-way flight back home, since I can’t exactly move to Chicago just like that, right? Oh sure. That would make lots of sense. Until I happen to notice that a flight from Chicago to Vegas costs basically nothing.

      And I’ve got a two night MyVegas comp I can use.

      And I was going to save Laughlin for next summer but right now actually happens to be a great time of year to go there.

      And wait, rooms at Harrah’s Laughlin start at $24 per night?

      Aaaaaaaaand we’re going to Vegas!
    So that’s how this trip came to be. I’ll have spent more than 30 days of this summer in the state of Nevada as a result of this trip. I consider myself extraordinarily blessed, and I already know I’m going to be finishing this trip wanting to go back for even more.

    Brief summary of the gameplan from Chicago…
    • Flying into Vegas late at night on Tuesday. Staying at the Four Queens as a “crash pad”. Going to run $20 through a bartop VP machine at Chicago Brewing Co. for the irony of it (having just come from Chicago) and for “free” beer to help me KO. Treating myself to room service in the morning. Then hustling over to Main Street to catch the 6:55 am Greyhound down to Laughlin, NV - AKA Bullhead, AZ.

    • Got three nights at Harrah’s Laughlin (booked a central tower room… seems I’ve been well-advised to stay away from the north tower). My plans here are to check out all of the resorts, spend some time hanging out on the private beach at Harrah’s, go jet skiing at least twice, take a river cruise, attend a comedy show up at Riverside, and see if the dining scene is exactly as dismal as my other thread suggested it to be. My research on the subject has continued out of sheer amazement at how slim the pickings are. It’s seriously looking like it’s limited to buffets, Cinnabon, and overpriced steakhouses. Oh, and In-n-Out Burger.

    • Then doing two nights at Plaza. Plans here include going back to the Silver Nugget the first evening (I’m not listening to any of the negative commentary because it’s all irrelevant… I love that place!), having dinner at Oscar’s (they have a new osso bucco on the menu, and that dish is my weakness), doing Sapphire pool one more time (I cannot get enough of it), and I have a daybed reserved at the Plaza pool too (going to have a proper, no-excuses, chill-all-day pool experience). I am also considering Ubering slightly west to check out Frankie’s Tiki Room, and possibly Arizona Charlie’s Decatur.

    • Then doing two nights at the MGM Grand, staying in a West Wing King room on a MyVegas comp. I’ve seen the video tours on YouTube, it really doesn’t look that bad, despite being really small. Going to be indulging in both their pool complex and their spa. I also landed a $50 dining credit from them after I experienced some extremely rude customer service from MGM staff (as in, getting hung up on TWICE in a row... I swear this shit only happens to me). Probably going to use that for an in-room breakfast. Got dinner reservations at Piero’s, going to have that shrimp cocktail again and something else from their menu this time. I also finally pinned down where that local history exhibit is over at the university, so I’m going to head over there as well. Even made a connection with a librarian who (long story) happens to be into old school department stores too… so I’m looking forward to meeting him and showing him lots of pictures from Chicago! I’ve also got MyVegas comps for the Mandalay Bay breakfast/lunch buffet, and the shark tank. Cool thing about the shark tank comp… your admission ticket to the shark tank also gets you comp access to the Moorea beach club :) So I’m going to indulge in that too.
    That preamble was pre-written from a few days ago, but I'm typing this at 1:38 am EST as I'm sipping on a neat Jameson to help me KO for about five hours, needing to be up at 6:45 am. The way I'm planning this TR is to make relatively abbreviated updates about Chicago, since I understand it's not going to be of interest to everyone (but if people say "we want more NFC!", I will by all means give Chicago updates Vegas-style). Then I'll take it back to the normal style once I've gotten into Nevada.

    Won't be as epic of a trip as my last one. But I hope you're all excited for one more NFC fix this summer... with the next edition planned for December, when I go to see the NFR :)

    Heading to bed now... will give my first update once I've landed in Chicago tomorrow!
     
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  2. JoJoR

    JoJoR VIP Whale

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    Just a heads up that Shark Reef Aquarium ticket gets you access to Mandalay Bay's Beach not Moorea.
     
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  3. rooster42000

    rooster42000 Patriots #1

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    Good luck again.
     
  4. Syringe Monkey

    Syringe Monkey Hero of the Baggage Carousel...

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    Gino’s East on Superior Ave. has insanely good deep-dish pizza.
     
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  5. notfromconcentrate

    notfromconcentrate High-rolling diner. Low-rolling gambler.

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    Indeed you are correct. Good catch! And honestly I’d prefer the beach over Moorea. Winning already!
     
  6. Crawfordesquire

    Crawfordesquire Low-Roller

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    some chicago dining recommendations from someone not from chicago (but i have been there): bavette's in chicago is great, and I am confident is a lot better value than the new one at Park MGM. GT's oysters in chicago is also excellent seafood.
     
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  7. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

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    :headbang: Go NFC Go! :wiggle:

    Have a wonderful time on each and every leg of your trip! :beer:

    RICHARD
     
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  8. HHFan

    HHFan Low-Roller

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    It’s a shame you didn’t get a chance to visit when it was still Marshall Field’s. The place has sadly been gutted by Macy’s and is a shell of its former self. While you can still tell it was once a grand department store, it’s getting harder and harder to see it every year. Maybe not having grown up visiting the store, you won’t have as negative a reaction. My wife still thought it was pretty amazing when she first saw it.

    Architecture cruise and lakefront bike rides are two must dos, so good choices there. The art institute is obviously one as well, just not a personal favorite.

    The Waldorf is our favorite place to stay in Chicago. Margeaux is great, very similar to his Bardot at Aria.
     
  9. GamblingGolfer

    GamblingGolfer High-Roller

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    Go get 'em! I'll enjoy following along. Glad you chose a "Jameson" late night .... that's my last name ... lol.

    GG
     
    On the way to Palm Springs!
  10. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    Getting into Moorea also grants you access to the beach. But as I wrote recently, I wouldn't do Moorea unless you have reserved a seat. Otherwise, just stick with the main pool/beach
     
    Big meetup with friends!
  11. ffejry

    ffejry #1 Bears Fan

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    Just hit me that you might be doing a TR... so I checked. Following!!!

    I know I said in our PMs that it's probably not going to happen, but if I do get an opening for a beer, I will message you ASAP. I typically leave work around 3:45, Chicago time, so I will let you know if anything changes.
     
    Projected next trip! Let's hope it comes through!
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  12. ffejry

    ffejry #1 Bears Fan

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    FYI, I had the MGM Grand MyVegas comp, did the $20 trick, got the Grand King, I think it was? It was pretty big for a solo traveler. I don't think you can go wrong with the West Wing room. Be sure you pack comfortable shoes, loooooooong walk to the pool. And MGM Grand allows you to bring TWO 16 oz beers (must be able to fill in their cups). Or a mixed drink, whatever you prefer. Save yourself a few bucks at the pool ;)
     
    Projected next trip! Let's hope it comes through!
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  13. insin

    insin Speed Spender

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    During the college years I worked for Marshall Field's (Milwaukee- Grand Ave.) in the After 5 Dress Department.
    The Employee break room was INSANE! (can't remember what floor ...maybe 4th floor?)
    It was enormous and was used as a reception/ballroom in the past.
    Ceilings were similar to Chicago not quite as ornate - no tiffany
    Absolutely beautiful and I am so upset that I never once took photos of it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2018
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  14. insin

    insin Speed Spender

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    If you get an MGM MyVegas Comp - ask for a room on the 4th floor room closest to the Spa elevator...
    ......it's super easy/fast to get to. Hardly anyn walking!
    If you can find the high limit room...the spa elevator is just past there.
    you'll probably never bump into anyone else...we never waited for the elevator.
     
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  15. vegasdev

    vegasdev VIP Whale

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    Chicago is an amazing city.
    I certainly would not object to photos and posts regarding your Chicago visit.
     
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  16. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    $20 trick is totally worth the Grand King, imo. So much better than West Wing.
     
  17. boxofbirds

    boxofbirds Royal Flushless

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    Just finished your last report so I guess I should follow this one too! It's like one big trip from my perspective ;)
     
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  18. notfromconcentrate

    notfromconcentrate High-rolling diner. Low-rolling gambler.

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    Okay, here’s a quick recap of yesterday.

    Got in. Took the train from Midway to Roosevelt, and got checked into the Hilton.

    Now, you’re probably assuming a lot of things about what my room might look like based on the information present here. Staying in the Hilton, generally regarded as an above-average hotel brand name. In downtown Chicago. And every US president since 1927 (except for Trump) has stayed here.

    Haven’t made assumptions yet? Here’s what the lobby looks like.

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    All marble everything.

    So I’m going to have a decent room, right? Space to roam. A sitting area with a couch. A dresser. Gotta have it all, right?

    This is it.

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    That’s everything. Except for a tiny closet and a small bathroom to the right.

    Oh, also, here’s the view.

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    I guess you could call this view “An insightful glance at historic local architecture” in hotel-speak. This is definitely the type of room you pawn off an undesirable guest in. I paid very little for the room, so I guess that puts me on the bottom of the totem pole. But this room does not match the “profile” of this hotel at all in my opinion. It honestly feels like they repurposed an old supply closet or break room (which they probably did, it’s at the end of the hall).

    Anyway. Dropped my bags, did a walk-around. Really liked everything about the city at first glance. Felt just like a movie... probably because I’ve seen it in movies so many times!

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    Then got to Macy’s for my brunch. I have to say that the Walnut Room is just as beautiful as I’d imagined it to be... and the meal itself is one of the better meals I’ve ever had.

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    This was the Sunday brunch. I’m planning on going back on Tuesday to catch the happy hour before I fly out. Just such a stunning place, and it has that good old wholesome luxurious feel to it. Love it!

    Now, just like my last trip, I’m in the middle of a work thing now. Which forced me to go back to my hotel for the rest of the afternoon. So I did that and got stuff done. Then headed up to the river for the architecture cruise. I opted for the evening one to see the buildings lit up, and I’m sure glad I did! The cruise was 1.5 hours in total, and took us through most of the notable buildings with some very insightful narration about them. For about $50, it was a great value. I’d highly recommend it.

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    Now here’s where my night had a bit of a crimp. I wanted to try Giordano’s for their deep dish pizza. Somehow has a lot of good reviews. It was close to the dock for the boat, so I figured it would work out perfectly.

    Boy was I wrong.

    So apparently these pizzas take an HOUR to make at busy times. Which, for something handmade, I kind of get. I ordered a wedge salad for while I waited. It came out on a HOT plate. Took me a solid five minutes to flag down a server and explain what the problem is. Maybe an honest mistake. Still sloppy. This is what both of them looked like. Note the lazy use of a full miniature head of lettuce (and not the actual wedge of a bigger head... which is where the name comes from), and the relative lack of toppings. This was a depressing salad to eat.

    [​IMG]

    Then the pizza came... and it was GARBAGE. That is not enough emphasis. G. A. R. B. A. G. E. I even feel like I’m being too nice just calling it “garbage”. Aside from having just a smidge of sauce, the dough was very stiff, and there was hardly any cheese in it either. I’d describe it as a stuffed pie crust.

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    So I told my server I didn’t want to eat it, and that I’ll just take the bill. The manager was a very nice guy about it. He even took the salad off (which I didn’t complain about). So I only paid for the beer, and left the server about a 50% tip. He was great, despite the lousy food.

    Then back to the hotel. Good night’s sleep. Then had the breakfast buffet at the Hilton, which came highly recommended in reviews. Even had an omelette station where you load up a bowl with ingredients yourself, and give it to the cook who will mix it in with the eggs and “omeletteify” it for you. Even had pork buns and potstickers! Very impressive.

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    I’ve had the unfortunate fate of even more work, so that’s kept me indoors all day. I’m just about to leave now to a pizza place that’s a sure thing (on Ffejry’s recommendation!). Then heading to the Trump tower, where one of my dad’s friends lives, and I’m going to hang out with him for a bit. Then tomorrow I’m doing a bike tour, and off to Vegas in the evening!

    Now, this may come as a disappointment to some of you... but this will likely be my last TR that I write. I’ll go into greater detail about it later, but I have to be honest, I find that even though no one means to give any pressure in asking questions, it puts me under a lot of pressure when I have several of them. Further, I find that taking pictures for a TR and essentially narrating my trip prevents me from living in the moment. I may consider doing recaps of future Vegas trips and other destinations. But I’m kind of sold on the idea of at least giving it a break. So you may find these postings slightly lacking, and I apologize if it isn’t up to what my last reports have conditioned you to. But since I’m planning on it being my last TR, I definitely aim to make it a good one.
     
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  19. ffejry

    ffejry #1 Bears Fan

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    DAMN!!! Dude, which location was this Giordano's? I am very disappointed! When I do get a Giordano's, it NEVER looks like that, ever. That looks like a fast food version of a deep dish!!! I feel awful for steering you there. That is NOT what to expect from Giordano's. Attached is what a real Giordano's pizza should look like. Yours didn't even have the fucking parmesean cheese sprinkled on top! It looks like they just half-assed it. I am so angry and I feel bad!!! :cuss::cuss::cuss::cuss::cuss:
    [​IMG]

    If you somehow don't enjoy Oven Grinder, the pot pie and the mediterranean bread, then I will personally Zelle you your money back, that is a promise!
     
    Projected next trip! Let's hope it comes through!
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  20. ffejry

    ffejry #1 Bears Fan

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    BTW... Obviously today didn't work out - someone came over at 4:30 to fix my dad's car and I had to be here to "supervise" :thumbsdown:
     
    Projected next trip! Let's hope it comes through!
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