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Palace Station April 22-25, California April 25-28

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by mjames1229, Apr 30, 2017.

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  1. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
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    My Trip Report

    Once again, I descended upon the Las Vegas valley in search of fun, bowling riches, and fun. (Note that I didn't include gambling wins as this was a seven-day bloodbath of heretofore unthinkable proportions).

    Because I don't know how to write a concise report, I will again break this into one post for each day. However to reward y'alls, I will include numerous photos. So here we go...

    Saturday, April 22 - Once again, we're on the 6:15 AM flight from Milwaukee, and once again I get to the airport as a zombie. But I did remember one detail. In 2005, my wife and I took our honeymoon in Vegas, and took an evening flight. That day, each time we drove somewhere prior to arriving at the airport, I played Viva Las Vegas on an endless loop. So on this particular morning, I tried to do that again. However, my new car doesn't have a CD player, and it isn't advisable (even at 4:30 AM) to play with your phone - even if just streaming music - so I only played it twice.

    We arrive at the Milwaukee off-site parking, at the airport, to and through TSA (thank you, PreCheck) and onto the plane with no incidents.

    Then the incidents begin. Once we pull back, we sit. And sit. And sit. About 15 minutes later we here that there is a fuel gauge problem. Back to the gate for repair, then we back out again. Same problem, so back to the gate. Turns out it was a dummy light on the dashboard. Simple repair and we're off. Only 90 minutes late.

    Do any of you remember my Matrix from last year? I made one for this year, too. I left it a little more open than last year.
    upload_2017-4-30_19-40-4.png

    This year - thanks to no injuries to any party - we stayed pretty much with The Matrix... that is, except for the very first item. Due to the late flight, we never got to the Silverton, instead going directly to the Badger Cafe (adjoining Rum Runners) to meet with Vegas Bright editor Michael Movestro and his lovely wife, Angie for breakfast.

    Saturday morning 2.jpg

    I forget the name of this, but this is something along the lines of a Wisconsin Sandwich. Contains pastrami, cole slaw and cheese on grilled sourdough.

    Saturday morning 3.jpg

    My wife had a chicken sandwich, which was as over done as it looked.

    The Movestroses had breakfast stuff that looked pretty good. On a scale of 1 to 5 Foam Cheeseheads, I rate the Badger Cafe as a 3. I love their burgers and wings when I have them at Rum Runners during Packers games, but my sandwich seemed sparse and my wife said that hers wasn't very good.

    After a brief walk through Rum Runners to show my home-away-from-home, I offered to drop Mr. and Mrs. Vegas Bright at their next destination and then we continued on. We could have headed to Silverton, but instead decided that we'd get there later in the trip. Impulsively, I decided to visit the Lucky Dragon for the first gambling of the trip.

    Saturday morning 4.jpg

    The Lucky Dragon was as much as everyone said that it was. Beautiful, small and quiet. Wanting to get a chip for my collection, I sat down at the only blackjack game going on at 1:00 PM on a Saturday. The table limit was $15, which I thought a little high for the situation. I got down to the felt with one last $15 bet, and of course was dealt an 11. I reached into my pocket for another $15 to double, was dealt a 2, and the dealer won the hand. It was the start of a long gambling weekend.

    After losing some more money on some not-horrible VP, we headed to our first hotel of the trip, the Palace Station.

    Normally I am "The Player", yet somehow my wife managed a 3-day comp based on about four hours of play on our previous trip... the one where she won about $900 and I left with empty pockets. But I let her have the moment in the sun and get the room in her name. Palace Station is certainly nice enough, and I'd have no qualms with staying there again. We unpacked, gambled for a few minutes, then headed to South Point to check my son into his room.

    See, my son Aaron was staying on MY comp at South Point. While I was in line at the registration desk, my wife found a dog that looked remarkably like our dog, so she asked the owner for permission to pet him.

    Saturday afternoon 1.jpg

    Aaron is also bowling the USBC Open Championships with a group of his friends, and they are all staying at the South Point. I manage to guilt him into spending time with me (instead of partying with his friends) and he gets in the car for the afternoon.

    With Aaron in tow, we headed to the Shark Reef at the Mandalay Bay. The car entered the self-park garage at 3:42 PM. We all had MyVegas freebies that we redeemed on-line, so we headed right to the exhibit. After the obligatory souvenir photo op...

    Saturday afternoon 2 (2).jpg

    ... we continued through the exhibit. Others had told us that the walk-through was about 30 minutes, and that's about what we did. As neat as that was, there just wasn't a lot of variety. The other issue is that the information signs in each aquarium were too small for more than one person to read, so we didn't have the opportunity to read a lot. To me, this was very well worth the MyVegas comp, but I think my wife would pay actual American greenbacks to see it again. We get back to the parking garage and I stamp my ticket. The time? 4:41 PM. Know what that means?

    FREE PARKING!

    We were a bit under the gun, as Aaron and I wanted to bowl a different tournament across town, but first had to drop off my wife at the Stratosphere for MJ Live show later that evening. We get to the Strat right at 5:00 (the time the tournament is scheduled to begin). Aaron calls and finds out that they will be starting "a little late" but we are still 15 minutes away. We drive a little way, and Aaron realizes that even if we get there, we will feel rushed and would probably be wasting money, so we decide to go to dinner.

    Then my phone rings. They cancelled MJ Live, and now my wife is stranded at the Strat. Turns out all three of us have plans that didn't pan out. Good thing I've been to Vegas enough to know how to kill time. With my wife in the car, we head to where Aaron and I were going for dinner.

    I don't know where I first learned of Carnitas Y Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara, but Aaron and I had originally planned on dining here on our Super Bowl trip but just never got there. So I pulled this out of the mental file drawer and took the family.

    Saturday afternoon 3.jpg

    I had the eponymous sandwich, carnitas on a durable bun, soaked in tomato sauce. My son had one as well. My wife couldn't read the menu (literally bilingual, she is not) so she was apprehensive and pointed to a picture of food that she recognized.

    Saturday afternoon 4.jpg

    She ended up with a taco platter, each with a different meat... Pastor (pork), Asada (beef) and Birria. Now, I can read enough Spanish to order at a restaurant, and I know what birria is. She asked the waitress what the three meats were, and when she was told that birria is goat, she decided not to change her order.

    On a scale of 1 to 5 exotic meats, Carnitas y Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara rates as a 4.5. The food was fantastic, but it is northeast of downtown and a lot of people will see the neighborhood and get back on the freeway. That's not the food's fault, though. For me, though, it is a definite do-it-againer.

    Here is my Vegas Bright reviw of Carnitas y Tortas Ahogadas Guadalajara.


    Still only about 6:00 PM, we had more time to kill, so we headed to the Cosmopolitan. We pull up to The Chandelier bar and order up... a soda for my wife, and a pair of Verbenas for father and son.

    Saturday afternoon 5.jpg

    Baby's first Verbena.

    When the first drink ticket spit out, we had a different drink from the menu. With the one after that, I had that second drink again, while Aaron went back to a Verbena. I think he liked it.

    After paying $45 for each of my comped drinks, we left the Cosmo and got to The Mirage in time for the 8:00 PM show.

    Saturday afternoon 6.jpg

    Saturday afternoon 7.jpg

    We had parked, walked to the volcano, saw the show, and walked out within 45 minutes. Know what that means?

    MORE FREE PARKING!

    At that point, each of us had different plans, so I took my beautiful bride back to Palace Station for some slots then seepies, and I took Aaron back to South Point so he can spend time with his buddies and bowl yet another different tournament. I also picked up a new passenger for the rest of the evening.

    When I first read about Louie Anderson's After the Show, I noticed that one of the shows was while I was there and jumped at the chance to attend. However, I could only convince my teammate Ken to come with me.

    He hadn't eaten yet, so after a brief stop at In-N-Out Burger...

    Saturday evening 1.jpg

    ... for a Double-Double Animal Style w/ extra toast. It was some of my first fast food since I started my weight loss journey, and it was heavenly. I gotta watch out for this. I had forgotten how good fast food can be.

    We arrive at The Space about a half hour early, so I look around the small lobby. There isn't much to look at, but it was still enough for a few pics.

    Saturday evening 2.jpg

    Saturday evening 3.jpg

    That photo on the wall on the lower left is actually a screen shot of the Mike Tyson Punch-Out video game, signed by Tyson himself.

    Saturday evening 4.jpg

    Saturday evening 6.jpg

    Ken and I sat in the front row of the back theater that seats about 100 people. I didn't know what to expect, but according to this LA Times article, it would be Louie and friends, hanging around kinda like Liberace did. And since the show is titled Louie Anderson After the Show, one would assume that Anderson would be there.

    We wait until the 10:30 start time, and out comes... Gordie Brown. He said that Louie Anderson couldn't be here, but offered nothing else. Turns out Louie Anderson was performing in Nashville. He was apparently never going to appear in Vegas on April 22.

    Now with all that said, the show was only $20 plus a $3 service charge, and all proceeds were for charity. This "almost like Liberace did" show was just a stand-up comedy show. And other than the comic that appeared right after Brown (and he clearly got the "Get the Hell off the stage" signal as he abruptly ended his set in mid-joke) most of the comics were pretty good.

    One of the best comics was Derek Hughes, who's claim to fame (often repeated) was a Top 10 finish on America's Got Talent. Hughes did an extended card trick, and at one point took the time to mention that he fills in for Mac King at Harrahs when King is on vacation, and "oh, by the way, he is here tonight"... and sitting right next to me! I shook his hand and said hello, but since I've never seen his show I didn't bother with any other conversation.

    Here is my Vegas Bright article on Louie Anderson Presents: After the Show.

    Even though Louie Anderson was never going to show up to a show that I had bought tickets to because I wanted to see him, I've spent a lot worse $23 in Vegas, and Ken and I did get a solid 2 hours of entertainment. I would recommend the show to anyone, but on the basis that Anderson probably won't be there in person.

    After dropping Ken back at South Point and cycling through too much money on late night video poker at the Palace Station, evening came and morning followed, the first day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
    2017 Poker trip!
    Super Bowl or BUST!
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  2. tycoon

    tycoon Tourist

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    Looks like you all had a good time! Thanks for sharing :)

    But yeah, that chicken sammy looks way overcooked. Gross! :vomit:

    But mmmm In-N-Out! Wish there Ohio had at least one :(
     
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  3. marcianofan

    marcianofan Low-Roller

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    Mmmmmm in-n-out the best fast food burgers imo, except for maybe shake shack, I love the one at NYNY especially when you can sit outside and watch the strip. Hope you like palace station, I've stayed there a few times and it's always worked out well, especially if you stay in the tower.
     
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  4. Robdude

    Robdude Tourist

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    I really enjoy your TR's, just finished your Reno trip. Looks like you two have recovered well from your injuries. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip!
     
    Las Vegas Marathon
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  5. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    My knee couldn't be in any better shape. Taking off almost 100# in the last year has helped, too.
     
    2017 Poker trip!
    Super Bowl or BUST!
  6. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    My wife read about the first day, and she said that it wasn't as funny as my stuff usually was. I will try harder for the rest of the TR.

    Sunday, April 23 - How bad was the ass-kicking from gambling on Saturday?

    Sunday morning 1.jpg

    Normally, my wife and I try to out-get-up-early each other to sneak down to a casino for an early morning gamble. I couldn't gather the gumption, so instead I watched the FA Cup match (in which I had a bet on Manchester City). As goes, Arsenal scored in extra time for another loss for me before even getting out of bed.

    My wife did manage to bribe me out of bed with food, so we went down to Palace Station's Grand Cafe for breakfast. There wasn't a line, but while waiting for the hostess I saw the "Hard Hat" special on a poster at the entrance.. two eggs, two pancakes, two sausage links, two slices of bacon, hash browns AND coffee for $4.99. I was skeptical, but other than the eggs (which I suggested that they mail to children starving in Africa) it is exactly what I wanted for breakfast so I ordered it. When I did, I was waiting for a catch, like not on weekends, or before 8:00 AM only, etc. To my delight, there was no fine print. That's a lot of eatin' for $5 (and it was so good I also had it for breakfast on Monday and Tuesday mornings, too). My wife had a fruit plate comes with a ton of fruit, as well as yogurt and granola. Hers was more expensive, however the bill (with tip) was still only about $20, so I have no complaints. On a scale of 1 to 5 hard hats, breakfast rates 4.

    This day was going to be one of two heavy bowling days, so we had to get our gamble on early... and the pounding continued. I tried all manner of VP at the Palace Station... My preferred Double-Double Bonus, some DDB with a progressive, some Triple-Double Bonus, and even some Deuces Wild as a change up. Nothing worked as each machine gave me very little play for my money.

    Then I got a call.

    One of our teammates (who moved from Milwaukee to Henderson last summer) admitted that he had no car and therefore no ride to South Point. Well, the call did one thing; it saved me a lot of money.

    After a tour of Henderson (which is thankfully pretty close to South Point) we arrive for our practice session at 1:00 PM. (Note, boring bowling-speak coming....) Up to a few years ago, the lane condition at Nationals was a challenge, but not impossible for the scratch bowler. A couple of years ago, the Congress made the decision to make them really tough. Then to up the ante, beginning this season, the Congress decided to keep them really tough and not publish the oil pattern. I appreciate the challenge, but I am on the bottom edge of the phrase "scratch bowler" and I need all the help I can get, therefore we scheduled a formal practice session on the official tournament pattern... For a charge... Which goes to the Congress...but I digress.

    Meanwhile, my beautiful bride decided that she'd rather play bingo than to watch me practice. I understand not wanting to watch practice. But bingo? Oh, my...

    Until I got the text that she hit a bingo for $250. Suddenly, I was jealous that I was hemorrhaging money, was practicing (poorly) and she was winning.

    After the hour practice session was up, I relaxed the only way I knew how. Gambling. While walking through the casino, I saw my son playing craps and I decided to join him. $150 later, I decided to shred my money elsewhere. A little VP here, some slots there... and I couldn't wait to get up to the squad room to check in.

    Sunday evening 1.jpg

    By the way, I designed the jersey's myself. You should see the whole thing.

    Sunday evening 3.5.jpg

    Sunday evening 3.jpg

    (A little more boring bowling talk here...) Overall, we bowled pretty well. I led the 10 of us with a 626 series (209 average), which I was thrilled with on this "secret", tough oil pattern. My five-man team is currently in 150th place (out of about 2200 teams in our division, with about 2500 teams to go). As a team, this is the best we've bowled in years.

    Jersey - front.jpg

    (Humblebrag... I really like how the jerseys came out)

    Jersey - back.jpg

    After a disappointing call-and-response with The Foundation Room as an after-bowling outing (as detailed in this thread) I instead made reservations for our group at Battista's Hole in the Wall. All but two of the bowlers in our group of 10 came along, and it was a riot... well, in part because I played chaperone to a bunch of 25-year olds going on 15. I knew the free wine would be it hit...

    We all know that you either love or hate Battista's, but it served our need very well. I had the Veal Parm (and my wife the Chicken Parm which looked alike, so I only took one photo)

    Sunday evening 5.jpg

    (Dammit. That's even more blurry blown up than it looked on my phone.) I had her creamed spinach.

    A couple of others had steaks...

    Sunday evening 7.jpg

    I didn't have everybody's spinach, and was too full to try the tomato with melted cheese and balsamic drizzle. When the cappuccino came, the little children thought it was too hot, so they cut it... with... white wine, of course. But there was one thing missing...



    Overall the meal did not disappoint. My veal may have been a little overdone, and the salad was overdressed, but everyone had a great time, and really, that's what a group dinner was supposed to be about. On a scale of 1 to 5 carafes of wine that the teeny-boppers drank, the meal was a solid 4.

    By this time, it was almost midnight so I set course back to Henderson to drop off John, then back to Palace Station for one last crack at booking a gambling win. But, alas, no. Evening came and morning followed, the second day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
    2017 Poker trip!
    Super Bowl or BUST!
  7. Zander1

    Zander1 Tourist

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    How is the P S remodel going?
     
  8. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    I didn't pay attention to how it looked last year (before the remodel) but it now looks like a nice, basic, clean casino. They were still working to finish the Bingo hall for the April 28 reopening, and there was plastic sheeting up in the adjacent VP area. Looks like our room had been remodled as it, well, looked like it. The bed was very nice.

    Nothing stands out about it, other than that it looks very nice. But it certainly won't rival any of the big boys.
     
    2017 Poker trip!
    Super Bowl or BUST!
  9. Ty

    Ty ?

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    Nice looking shirts.
     
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  10. JeJas

    JeJas VIP Whale

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    Nice report.
    I always enjoy reading your reports. Very interesting writing!
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  11. The Rumor

    The Rumor High-Roller

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    Question was the accordion player not there?
     
    REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD
  12. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    No, he was already gone for the evening when we arrived at 9:30 PM. I thought the college kids would have gotten a kick out of that.
     
    2017 Poker trip!
    Super Bowl or BUST!
  13. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    This was a fun day. Well, except for the gambling, natch...

    Monday, April 24 - Let's expedite to early afternoon.... 1) Hard Hat special for $4.99, 2) Ass kicked in video poker, 3) Drove to Henderson to pick-up my buddy, 4) Arrived at South Point for bowling.

    Monday afternoon 1.jpg
    Man, I've become pretty. I've got some, um, distinctively styled teammates, though...

    Monday afternoon 2.jpg

    (Warning, a little more boring bowling talk...) As stated in Sunday's post, the US Bowling Congress has made the oiling patterns more difficult, and have not released what they are. In addition, the oil pattern for the second day is different than the first day. Whereas yesterday's oil pattern offered lots of hook (too much, if you were throwing too aggressive of a ball, or bowled like crap), this day's pattern seemed to be oiled from the foul line to the head pin. I took the ball that I had that hooked the most, and threw it as slowly as possible. For the three game Doubles event, I managed a 570 series (and my partner 548) for a score that should cash for a few bucks. For the first six games, my total score was 1196.

    Last year, when the tournament was in Reno, my score for the first six games was 1198. I managed to bollocks up the last three games and end at 1702 (a 189 average).

    For this singles event, the lanes finally started offering a little hook, and I grabbed the right bowling ball from my arsenal and threw a 662 series (221 average) for a 9-game score of 1858, which is the third highest score in the 24 times that I have bowled. (The boring bowling talk is ending soon, but I bowled about as well as my skill level would allow, so give me this moment please. Thank you.) This will likely be the second time that I will cash in all four events, and as of right this moment, my 1858 All Events score is in 231st place. It may not seem like a lot, but there have been about 10,000 bowlers so far. I had a really good weekend on the lanes. (/boring bowling talk).

    After bowling, I tripped myself up on being a cabbie to everyone that didn't have a car, and I don't mind saying that I lost my cool a bit. Glenn (the checkered pants fella on the right) had previously asked me to transport him and his mom from South Point (where he stayed the first part of his trip) with their luggage to Bally's. Aaron had previously asked me to transport him and as many of his teammates that would fit in my car (and their bags and bowling equipment) for the second hotel stay at The Orleans. And then there was John, who didn't have a car and needed a ride home.

    So I am at South Point, and I have to drive west to The Orleans, north to Bally's and east to Henderson. On my vacation, where I bowled great and felt like celebrating.

    Instead, I bought off my son with a $20 to put towards a convoy of Ubers. That eliminated The Orleans. Glenn offered me a breakfast later in the trip, so I loaded him and his bags (including his mom) and made amazingly good time to and from Bally's. The freeway wasn't as bad at 5:00 PM as I had feared, and I hit most of the lights on Flamingo. I got back, grabbed John and my wife, dropped John off, and started to think about dinner.

    We had a standing 9:00 PM appointment, and a problem... I wasn't sure if there was a dress code. I tried to make contact but could only leave a message. Concerned about not being let in (and becoming hangry, because that Hard Hat special from 8 hours earlier had worn off) we managed to find a Ross Dress For Less on Sahara and got a pair of nice jeans for my wife (who had only packed shorts and a dress for the trip). We made a quick stop back at the hotel to change, and it was already past 8:00. Crapola.

    I sped toward downtown, park in Binions garage and head towards the south end of the canopy where Ken ran into us. He said that he needed a beer, I said that I needed food, and just then the clouds parted and we saw it...

    Evel Pie.

    They sold beer, they sold pizza, and both were instantly available. This hit every button!

    Monday evening 4.jpg

    Monday evening 2.jpg

    Monday evening 3.jpg

    That $5.50 communion wafer you see above these letters was remarkably unremarkable. It is drunk food for someone who was not drunk. On a scale of 1 to 5 Evel Knievel videos of his jump at Caesars Palace, this pizza barely rates a 2. The atmosphere gets it just to the 2 mark, as there is a lot of kitschy crap on the walls that I'd like to take more time to look at. But I can't because its on to the The Laundry Room.

    That Super Bowl trip that I had taken with Aaron (and our visit to The Laundry Room) was actually recon for this visit; I had to make sure that my wife and friends would appreciate it. Since the Commonwealth (the bar that hosts The Laundry Room) was closed, we had to go around the side entrance, which was kinda creepy, but once we knocked we were led to the secret room and the alcoholic goodness within. The Laundry Room does not serve soda or beer; even their drink menu is limited, as the idea is to challenge the mixologist to create something unique based on your preferred flavor profile.

    We were seated (and photos are not allowed, so trust me on this one) and offered popcorn. In February, it was just half regular popcorn and half kettle corn. We were offered a bowl tonight, and it was set down with no description.... It was an insanely good caramel corn with mini-marshmallows and drizzled with chocolate. As someone who hadn't had a proper dinner, well, figure it out. I used to be 330# for a reason, and it wasn't glandular. Since this popcorn substituted for dinner, on a scale of 1 to 5 singed rosemary stems in Glenn's mom's glass, The Laundry Room rates 4.5, with a little taken off because the popcorn was missing bacon.

    Our mixologist this evening was Andrew, and so I decided to test him. In February (to the mixologist Anthony) I told him that I liked tart fruit, ginger beer, and nothing too sweet. So I gave the same instructions to Andrew and I got a completely different drink that was just as good. My wife had a Cosmo-like drink, Glenn had something, his mom something with gin and no citrus, and then there was Ken. Ken likes beer. He doesn't like these fancy, foo-foo drinks. Andrew managed to get some direction out of him and served Ken a drink that he said that he liked.

    When it was time for the second round, I also asked for the same second drink as last time... some sort of cucumber and mint martini, and again I got a completely different drink that was just as wonderful. I am completely sold on this place, even with each drink costing $15. If you like a quiet atmosphere and have an adventurous side, GO TO THE LAUNDRY ROOM. Poor Ken, however, wasn't as adventurous so he didn't order another drink. Andrew tried to pull more out of him, and then said "Hang on a second..." and walked away. About two minutes later, he came back and poured Ken a pale ale and told him that it was on the house. That was an impressive move.

    After about an hour and a half, we left Andrew and headed towards our next activity. But first a backstory...

    As some of you may recall from other posts and trip reports, my wife and I - each tipping the scales at over 330#, began a weight loss journey last summer. I really struggled with parts of it (the program has you eating boxed food for a few months, and I felt it tasted horrible) and almost refused to continue. My wife bribed me and said that if I could get down to under 250# for this trip, she would accompany me on Slotzilla.

    The Tuesday before I left, I weighed in at 235#, down 97.5#. She isn't as far down as I am, but she is over 90# down, too.

    We headed over to Slotzilla at our designated 10:40 time.

    Monday evening 5.jpg

    It looks so innocent, doesn't it?

    Monday evening 8.jpg

    That is one apprehensive wife. As she says "I am not afraid of heights, I am afraid of falling from them".

    Monday evening 6.jpg

    Even I will admit that the march to the top was a bit ominous... If you don't know what you are in for (and I had never ridden a zip line before) it felt like a death march.

    Monday evening 9.jpg

    I really enjoyed it!

    Monday evening 10.5.jpg

    My beautiful bride, on the other hand...

    Monday evening 11.jpg

    But we did make it out alive. That wasn't so bad, right Honey?

    Here is my Vegas Bright article on our Slotzilla adventure.


    As the adrenaline started to subside, Ken, Glenn and his mom after wandering downtown with us decided to get back to their respective hotels, leaving me and my wife to bask in our accomplishment. Well, I basked; my wife tried to restart spontaneous respiration.

    And I was hungry again. Then it hit me... Oxtail Soup!

    I'd heard about this delicacy at the California for years, but was never hungry and in the neighborhood after 11:00 PM, but today, here I was.

    Monday evening 12.jpg

    The meat, with just a little effort, fell right off the bone and tasted a lot like a well prepared roast beef. I customized mine with the rice, cilantro and ginger and the combination was magic. My wife had pancakes. They aren't photogenic, so I didn't photogen them. On a scale of 1 to 5 happy Hawaiians, the Oxtail Stew rates a 4. The only issue is that trying to get the meat off the bone can be a little tricky as the bone is as hot as the soup. Don't know how they'd solve it, though, and still keep everything hot.

    Monday evening 13.jpg

    I was never this wrinkley when I was fatter, maybe if I was in Vegas more often I'd solve that...

    After The Fourth Meal, we walked back to Binions to get our parking ticket validated. I was all set to gamble awhile to earn the validation, but the we walked right past the security station and I asked for a stamp... and he obliged without me ever having to wager a nickel. I am glad he didn't; as it was the closest thing I had to a gambling win in three days to that point.

    Evening came and morning followed, the third day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  14. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    Tuesday, April 25 - We bid adieu to the Palace Station with another Hard Hat Special and plate of fruit, then contacted a hostess to discuss the charges that had been billed to the room. Turns out that in addition to the three night room comp, our three breakfasts came off the bill as well. Yeah, we lost that much money that this back end comp was appreciated.

    It was my job to move to the California, and on my way I had to drop my lovely wife at Circus Circus, as she wanted to take in the circus acts. I dropped my passenger and headed downtown. The more than helpful valet driver couldn't raise a bellman to help with the bags. I go into the registration line where - in the first instance of (unfortunately many) surly California employees I was told that my room wasn't ready, but that she would check me in and I could get the key later. Being about 11:00 AM, that wasn't unexpected, but I didn't have a room number to give to the equally smileless drone of a bellman, who grunted that I should just keep everything in the car. Shit, I could have not checked in and saved the drive downtown, too, so there you go.

    It was to be our Date Night, which we had been looking forward to as much as the bowling and zip line, and I had soft plans to shower and shave early upon check-in, hang the clothes, etc while my wife was circusing. Daunted (which is the opposite of undaunted, right?) I recalled that The Barber at the El Cortez does straight razor shaves. I could kill three birds with one stone (hey, I bowled good enough that I felt I had the balls to pull it off)...1) my morning exercise, 2) get the shave, and 3) use the El Cortez ATM and their 5% free play offer.

    The walk was a mile round trip on a gorgeous, sunny day so that wasn't the issue. But then the birds started moving, trying to avoid death.

    [​IMG]

    I found The Barber's shop, which is at the end of one of the hotel hallways. There was nobody there, so he took me right away. I should have thought something was off when he immediately turned the water on and left it running as he got the chair set up, got me lathered up, and started shaving. I didn't say anything, but I thought the hot towel came first... because I could feel each hair tugging as it was being cut. This was not the comfortable, relaxing shave that I had expected. After hacking up my face (and especially my neck), THEN he hits me with the hot towel, except it was just a bit warmer than lukewarm. After a minute or so under the towel, he re-lathered and hacked at the same raw skin a second time. Upon completion, I got another lukewarm towel, then he started dabbing me with the stingy stuff (you know the stuff that grandma put on your skinned knees? Except on my neck). Through the entire ordeal, I tried to relax, thinking about how baby-bottom smooth my face would be.

    Upon completion, I gave him the $15 (plus tip, which I guess you're supposed to) and couldn't wait to get to a restroom to survey the damage. Truth is that other than my neck being pretty red, it didn't look too bad, but my face was far from smooth. I kept rubbing my remaining whiskers, wondering what I had paid for.

    I headed for the ATM to withdraw some money and took my receipt to the cashier for my free play... which she couldn't give me because I apparently answered two questions wrong. To the question of "Have I ever done this before?", I accurately answered that I had, but over two years prior. The second was "How many points have I put on my card today?" to which I (again) accurately mentioned that I hadn't as I didn't have any money. I just walked away in frustration instead of pressing the issue (it would have been $25 in free play, which I would likely have lost anyway, but still...) But I don't know, I look at the promotion on the El Cortez site and it says that it can be redeemed twice a month with no mention on a play requirement.

    So let's assess my morning... can't check in, can't give my bags to the bellman, get a brutal shave and didn't get my El Cortez free play. Meanwhile, let's check in on my wife, shall we?

    Tuesday afternoon 1.jpg

    Apparently, my wife figured out the Lyft app.

    Tuesday afternoon 3.jpg

    Tuesday afternoon 4.jpg

    The lamb burger with truffle fries.

    So she got to see some circus and had a really nice meal, while I got slashed by a butcher. Sigh. It was a little after Noon, and I had to meet my wife inside the Miracle Mile at about 4:00, so I headed over to the Planet Hollywood for their 1:00 poker tournament.

    For $80, each player receives $12,000 in chips. Blowing past the card-dead phase for the first hour, I am still around $12K when I get my first really playable hand on the button with pocket 10s. I raise the $600 blind up to $1500, and there are two callers. The flop is 10-brick-brick. One player checks, the lady on my right bets $1000, I raise to $3000, first player folds, lady calls. Turn is a low card... but a second diamond. Lady bets another $1000. At this point, I've still got the nuts so I raise all in (she had about $4000 remaining). She snap calls. Do I need to continue? The river is her fifth diamond. I suppose I should have bet her out of the pot after the flop, but jeez, at that time the board was mild. After the turn I did what I could. I got my money in at the right time, but I still had about $4000 remaining, so it looked bleak but was not hopeless.

    A few hands later, I am in the big blind with 59 and with all limpers I see a cheap flop, which is 689. She bets from the small blind $800, I've got top pair with an inside straight draw, so I call, others fold. Turn is a 7, giving me that straight. She bets $1000 and I call. I woulda/shoulda/coulda raised here, but I wanted to protect what few chips I had left. River is a 5 for a straight on the board... and she bets $3000 (which would have put me all-in). That might have been a bluff, or she could have had 4-10 and was proud of her seven-card straight (wouldn't surprise me with the way she played that flush earlier). But I was just playing the board and didn't want to risk my tournament life on the hopes of a bluff and a chop pot.

    The very next hand I am dealt JJ in the small blind. I bet my last $2300. One caller. We flip cards and he has 56 suited. I breathe a short sigh of relief before seeing the flop of 569, then a 6 on the turn.

    It all happened so fast... I get no cards for an hour, then lose all my chips in one orbit. Whoosh.

    I texted my wife, found that she was done with her adventures and suggested that she come over and see if she can get in her hair appointment early. The Original Divas were glad to take her, so she Lyfted across the street and went right to the shop. I killed some time in the casino... and in an odd twist, didn't get hammered. I played various slots for a little over an hour and only lost about $50. That, my friends, is like a jackpot!

    I get to the shop and see her still in a chair, so I grab some bench and check my Facebook... except that I can't get a signal. So I try to people watch; but I can only really see one thing.

    Tuesday afternoon 5.jpg

    Weight loss plan notwithstanding, I am only human. I bought a $7.99 ice cream sandwich using two Toll House cookies and Cookie Dough ice cream, and it was heavenly. Or course $7.99 was too much, but hell, I am on vacation.

    Date night 1.jpg

    Luckily, my Diva was walking out of the shop just as I finished my treat, so she didn't see me. I did confess my sin to her... after we were in the car and it was too late for her to get one. I was looking out for her, donchyaknow?

    We went back to our room at the California to get ready. I finally took my shower, and though I considered shaving, I didn't want to risk any damage that my brand new Gillette Fusion blade might cause.

    We asked a seemingly gracious bellman to take a photo and he insisted on including a friend of his in the picture. After he took it, we asked for another one against a plain wall, but he said that he had to get back to work (because doing something that a customer wanted might have earned a tip, but since tips are expected anyway, why waste the service?)

    Date night 2.jpg

    Dinner was at NOVE Italiano at the Palms.

    Date night 3.jpg

    Date night 4.jpg

    The view was stunning, and it was fun watching the sunset reflected on the other buildings, while simultaneously watching the city light up.

    Date night 5.jpg

    Even though I had my sinful cookie, we were hungry and had eaten some of the bread before remembering to photograph it.

    Date night 11.jpg

    With our entrees, we ordered the recommended "Death By Potatoes" (with pancetta, scallions and mascarpone) which is an odd choice, as I had risked death by nummy chocolate chips a few hours earlier.

    Date night 9.jpg

    My wife had the Pomegranate Chicken Bake. She raved.

    Date night 8.jpg

    I went all-Vegas and had the Surf and Turf.

    Date night 7.jpg

    Even though we had a potato side, I was also scooping up the mashed potatoes. When waiter came to check on us, I had just sliced off some lobster and rolled my eyes in delight. While he was still in the neighborhood, though, I cut into my steak and it was well done, not the gorgeous medium rare pink that had been ordered. The waiter fell all over himself in apologies, and he and his assistant not only took it back to the kitchen, but took all of my place settings and brought out a complete new set of silver and napkins.

    A few minutes later, still in mea culpa mode, the waiter also brought out this.

    Date night 10.jpg

    As my wife was well into her entree, they brought a complimentary appetizer portion of their Walnut Pesto Ravioli. It was wonderful, but between the potatoes and ravioli, I was starting to get a little full. Pretty quickly, though, the kitchen manager personally brought out my replacement Surf and Turf, and asked that I cut into it to make sure the steak was cooked to the correct temperature.

    As Gordon Ramsay might say, it was "rawr". Most impressive, though, was the look on everybody's face when they saw the blue meat inside. Again, they took the plate and all of the place settings and begged forgiveness.

    By this point, my wife was done with her dinner as the restaurant manager came out to apologize and explain that this is not indicative of his restaurant, and that he'd like to make it up to us. He offered dessert, but I wasn't even sure I was hungry enough for my dinner, so I counter-offered with a request that he take off the cost of the potatoes. He even went so far as to also offer a second round of drinks on him. I was very impressed with how they handled the mistake, although to echo a point that he offered to me, an establishment of that repute should never have one meal returned to the kitchen, much less two meals for the same customer.

    When my steak did arrive, I again cut into it, but I was pretty sure that I was keeping it whether it was still mooing or if they had served me a hockey puck. Truth is that it was closer to medium than medium rare, but it tasted great and their fawning over me helped keep my in good spirits on Date Night. On a scale of 1 to 5 replacement steaks, NOVE Italiano rates a 3.5. All groveling by the restaurant staff aside, don't charge $65 for a lobster and filet of you can't make a steak properly.

    We still had plenty of time left for that night's main event, a helicopter tour of The Strip using a MyVegas BOGO. Part of the offer was that their bus picks you up and returns you to a hotel, and if there was one downer, that led to a whole lot of down time. Our pick-up was at 8:00 PM, and the next pick-up was at Bally's at 8:30. There was a third pick-up at Planet Hollywood and we were to the Maverick building at the airport by 9:00. Then we had to wait more for the pilots to round up the group.

    Date night 12.jpg

    There were five helicopters that all left at 9:30 PM, each with four or five passengers. We were offered the front row seats!

    Date night 14.jpg

    And here's what we got for our $124...



    That video does not do it justice. That was the coolest $124 that I had spent in a long, long time.

    If you include the safety demonstration and the time taxiing and waiting for clearance, we were on the tarmac or in the copter for about 20 minutes... and we weren't delivered back to the Palms until almost 11:00 PM. Upon returning to the California, though we were pretty beat, we felt the need to give Sam Boyd some money so we tickled the machines for a little while. But it was unremarkable, and evening came and a very early morning followed, the fourth day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
    2017 Poker trip!
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  15. JeJas

    JeJas VIP Whale

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    Nice dress shirt and tie for dinner.
     
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  16. Kevke

    Kevke Vegas Addict

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    lovelely TR
     
    Here we go again !
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  17. garrman

    garrman Low-Roller

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    I'm really enjoying your trip report! Nice work with the Bowling! I know the euphoric feeling you get after having a good event in a sport.

    The description and retelling of events were great. Loved all of the pictures. I also enjoyed the bowling recap!

    Great job!
     
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  18. vegaskid74

    vegaskid74 Low-Roller

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    I had the same experience a couple years ago. Some rave over Ernesto and his barbering skills, but I'm guessing their experience was confined to a haircut rather than a shave. I walked out in mid shave with several weepers and a very sore, raw face. Inexplicably, I too tipped him, I guess for letting me walk out alive?
     
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  19. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

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    Really enjoyable report. I find myself laughing through it.
     
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  20. mjames1229

    mjames1229 VIP Whale

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    Really early Wednesday, April 26 - How early?

    Wednesday morning 1.jpg

    My wife said that the alarm went off at the same time (if you include the time difference) that my alarm goes off in the morning at home. Difference is that at home, I am averaging more than four hours sleep and not in Las Vegas. But at 4:45 AM is rise and shudder time.

    Glenn had set us up on a bus trip to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and the bus was going to pick-up from Planet Hollywood at 6:10. Before that, though, I needed to pick-up Aaron from The Orleans. Knowing that I had to get Aaron, I had suggested meeting at Planet Hollywood as they offer free self-parking... it never occurred to me to see if the bus could pick-up at The Orleans. It would be an expensively unasked question.

    Leaving the California at 5:30, I thought there would be plenty of time to get to the PHo on time, but I was stunned by the amount of morning traffic. The bottom line is that I pull into the parking garage at about 6:08 (and with a bus already at the stop) leaving me only one option... valet parking for $18. Sigh.

    Glenn booked the bus tour through Viator (Tour code: 18262P1) which cost $78, but I told him about a promo code for 10% which he used for a total of seven tickets (joining us was Glenn's mom, plus my aunt and uncle who were also in town). I just re-read the description of the tour, and it is exactly what we did...

    • Sweet rolls and water on the bus for breakfast
    • Stop at Hoover Dam / Lake Mead
    Wednesday morning 2.jpg

    You're not seeing things; the water level really is that low.

    Wednesday morning 3.jpg
    • Stop in Seligman, AZ at Westside Lilo's Cafe. The bus driver spent a lot of time talking up how good this diner is, and that the owner is famous for her old, German recipes. But we didn't get German food. We got a boxed lunch with a ham sandwich, bag of chips, an apple and a cookie. It was just as indicated on Viator's description of the tour, but hearing about the good German food was kind of cruel.
    Wednesday morning 4.jpg

    Down this road - the original Route 66 - were some neat looking, touristy businesses that cater to the Route 66 history. But this wasn't a Route 66 tour, so the bus never stopped for photos. You'll just have to Google it yourself. Or wait. Click here. I just did it for you.

    It was about 11:00 AM when we left Seligman... and just in time to log into MLB.com and listen to the Brewers, who had started 20 minutes earlier. I don't know if I can explain how enjoyable it is to drive through the desert while listening to Bob Uecker call a baseball game. Now back to the bulleted list...
    It was here that we had two options. We could view for an hour, come back to the bus where he would drive to Bright Angel Lodge for another hour. Or, we could walk the paved path for the 2-1/2 miles from Mather Point to Bright Angel. It was an easy decision for us to walk the path.

    Between the group of us, I'd bet we snapped about 100 photos. I will only bore you with the interesting ones.

    Wednesday afternoon 7.jpg

    Wednesday afternoon 8.jpg

    Wednesday afternoon 12.jpg

    Wednesday afternoon 6.jpg

    She's still afraid of falling from heights.

    Wednesday afternoon 5.jpg

    This is as close as I could get her to the edge.

    Wednesday afternoon 22.jpg

    Aaron was very moved by the experience. He's growing to become quite a guy. Just don't tell him I said that.

    Wednesday afternoon 19.jpg

    The men had a meeting near the edge. The women folk stayed back and took photos.

    Wednesday afternoon 2.jpg

    We arrived back at Bright Angel Lodge, and boarded the bus for the 4-1/2 hour drive back. Considering about 10 hours of bus ride for a two hour walk around the canyon... you'd think the ratio was off. However, unless you are interested in a hiking trail, burro ride, or camping, about two hours is all you need to look at a negative space mountain.

    On the ride back, we stopped in Kingman, AZ for dinner. The tour guide said something along the lines of "We are contracted to stop at this McDonalds, but if you were to walk to Arby's, Burger King, Jack in the Box or Taco Bell and be back here in 30 minutes..." as he didn't complete the sentence. We crossed the street for Arby's for a dinner. On a scale of 1 to 5 non-contracted bus stops, Arby's rated a 3.5. The extra half a point is because Arby's Has the Meats.

    We arrived back at the Planet Hollywood at 9:00 PM, and Aaron decided to come with us back downtown as his friends were partying on Fremont St. Melissa and I, exhausted but with a full-on gambling jones decided that some gambling was in order. We decided to explore the upper mezzanine at the California, and spotted the Lappert's Ice Cream. Other than Arby's (and we really didn't overeat there), we had a lot of physical activity and relatively few calories, so we treated ourselves. My wife had something chocolaty, while I had a salted caramel iced cream... and it was heaven. On a scale of 1 to 5 calories, Lappert's Ice Cream rated a rare 5. I like ice cream.

    I decided to ease off of video poker, and found a three-reel Flintstones slot machine. It quickly gave me a pretty nice bonus of about $150, so I suggested to my wife that we walk over the sky walk to Main Street Station for awhile. I had one thing in mind, a beer and video poker at the Boar's Head Bar... and now I had stake money!

    I sat down, settled in with a Double Down Hefeweizen and before too long...

    Wednesday evening 1.jpg

    This was by far my longest session, and though the machine cooled down, I did win five different scratch-offs... one for each beer. Two of them were for $3, by the way!

    Speaking of "two", two of my five 4OAKs happened when I played a different strategy. You know how, when you are dealt three of a kind and you hold them, then your finger hovers over the "DEAL" button until you think that fourth card will be dealt? Well, that wasn't working for me, so I devised a way to sneak up on that "DEAL" button. After I held my three cards, I would grab for my beer and take a sip, and without looking, whap the "DEAL" button. Then I waited for the credits to roll. The first time I tried that, the credits kept rolling as I got my fourth card. A couple of times, though, there was the fake out as the credits rolled, and my eyes opened to see a full house. I decided to employ that strategy every time I was dealt three of a kind.

    After a couple of hours, my wife came and found me and when it looked like I wasn't ready to leave, she put some money into a machine next to mine, but then said she had to run to the ladies room.

    While she was gone, a middle-aged lady wearing a purple T-shirt saw my stack of scratch-offs and made conversation about having a good night. Despite the five four-baggers though, I was down on the session. She sat at the machine with my wife's money in it, and before I realized what was happening, I said that my wife was going to be right back. At first, this lady moved down one machine, then she just left. But I couldn't believe what I had just done! This was the first time in about 30 years that a woman was hitting on ME and I brushed her away! Sigh... (and I mean that in the nicest way, Honey).

    When my wife got back, I told her the story, she laughed before she said then said "Damn right to send her away, Buddy". I then realized that I needed to find the Berlin Wall, to which she accused me of wanting to find the Mysterious Purple Woman... which would have been a great idea, but I really, really needed to pee.

    I got up from my stool and something happened. The floor had become slanted and I was more wobbly than usual. It was then that I realized that the bartender must have snuck some alcohol into those beers, that Cursed Bastard. I manage my way to the restroom and back without injury (or finding any purple T-shirts) and my wife decides that it is time to go.

    But then I decided that I was hungry, because it had been about six hours since we'd eaten at Arby's and I was in no shape to drive. When staying at the California and one is hungry at 1:00 AM, where could we possibly go to satisfy that hunger?

    Wednesday evening 2.jpg

    That's right, there were TWO counter seats open (with about 10 people in line for a table) at the Market Street Cafe. We scooted right in, sat down, and ordered.

    Wednesday evening 3.jpg

    You may have noticed that this does not look like Oxtail Soup, and for that noticement you should be rewarded. This is a photo of my wife's turkey burger, which I took because the Oxtail Soup that I had ordered looked (and tasted) exactly as it had two evenings earlier. Screw the turkey burger, on a scale of 1 to 5 menu pages of drunk food, this Oxtail Soup rated a 4. Why is it downgraded, even though it admittedly tasted the same? Because the soup kept moving, and it was hard to catch the parts of the tail to remove the meat. Had someone volunteered to take care of that for me...

    Evening came and morning followed, the fifth day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
    2017 Poker trip!
    Super Bowl or BUST!
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