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Solo Trip - The Mirage - July 20-24, 2017 (100+ Photos!)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by AlnessW, Jul 31, 2017.

  1. AlnessW

    AlnessW Tourist

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2016
    Messages:
    85
    Location:
    Oregon
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    2

    My Trip Report

    Hi all – please enjoy my official trip report from my most recent trip to Las Vegas last weekend! You all helped me settle on a hotel earlier in this thread, and while the following “trip planning” threads never really materialized, this is the more important thread of them all. :)

    I tend to gravitate towards a stream of consciousness-style of writing sometimes, so please bear with me. Apologies if this gets a little long at times – you can spend hours editing and I needed to be done. For those of you who want the “reader’s digest” version, you’ll see I’ve added a brief daily summary to the start of each section. All in all, this trip was absolutely wonderful – great getaway, ideal Strip location, fun activities, many things crossed off my “bucket list,” and really nice closure after my first trip. The crowds there on a weekend were INCREDIBLE! (Much more my speed.) I swear, it’s a completely different city than the midweek experience I got last time which was kind of a bummer. Like most vacations, it had its highs and it had its lows… I’ll cover it all!

    As always, feedback is more than welcome, as well as in particular any answers to my various questions you’ll see scattered about… Anyways, enough babbling – enjoy!

    Background
    As with most of my adventures these days, I tend to conceptualize them during the flight/drive/trip home from the previous and/or first iteration. This was no exception. Following my first “real” trip to Vegas which most all would agree was way too short and too weird of timing to really count for something big. Hence, I was quick to start planning the next one but it took well over a year to finally materialize thanks to (prior) limitations and other related things.

    I KNEW I wanted 4 nights, so that was my starting point. In mid-February of this year, I checked out airfare and Strip hotel rates for a summer vacation-type of trip. Once I settled on a weekend that was clear for both my personal AND work schedules, I requested a Friday and Monday off as well as a half-day Thursday, which were all promptly approved.

    Being still somewhat of a rookie in the working world, I don’t get a ton of paid vacation time unlike everyone else on here, it would seem. :) So, whatever days I do take off have to be made the most of. After hammering out flight schedules, I settled on an evening departure for Thursday, July 20 and a later-evening return on Monday, July 24. Originally I was thinking of flying back earlier in the day on Monday, but the schedule wasn’t ideal (either early or late-morning which would have required a fast get-up and go), and for a slightly more expensive fare I’d get about 10 more hours in Sin City. I’ll take it.

    On my birthday, I booked Alaska 620 and Alaska 621, Portland to Las Vegas roundtrip. Coincidentally, these were the exact same flights I took on my last trip… Then it was time to book a hotel! After much deliberation between the MGM Grand and the Mirage (again see thread for details), I settled on a 1 x queen, Volcano View room at the Mirage for a very fair price. As it turned out, this was a wise decision – not only was the centralized location on the Strip really awesome, but I basically had 2 x resorts in 1 with Treasure Island right next door…and connected by a tram. Sweet!

    Fast forward a few months, it was planning time. A lot of my closer friends don’t really “get” the concept of Las Vegas, so I’ve long since given up trying to explain it. Many people asked things like why would I possibly want to go there mid-summer, by myself, and when it’s over 100 degrees out. As for the last point, my response is usually “well, it’s not like they don’t have pools, air conditioning, and slushy drinks there…” Anyways, I’m single and live by myself hence my first solo trip.

    Itinerary
    Thursday, July 20, 2017
    Alaska Airlines 620
    Depart Portland OR 4:50 PM
    Arrive Las Vegas NV 6:57 PM

    Monday, July 24, 2017
    Alaska Airlines 621
    Depart Las Vegas NV 7:47 PM
    Arrive Portland OR 9:51 PM

    Activities
    I knew I wanted to cover pretty much all the bases (and I knew I’d have time for it on this go-around) – casino, gambling, pool, Strip walking, good restaurants/bars, all that good stuff. I plan things out a lot, so I assembled a day-to-day schedule for the whole vacation which I was able to follow fairly well, but changes here and there are always expected to be made. Each evening also sort of had its own “theme” which you’ll see below – sort of by planning, sort of by serendipity.

    Shows
    I was certain I had to hit at least 1 x Showgirl performance this trip, so that was priority 1. I was a little bummed I never got to see Jubilee at Bally’s before they closed, and since I love musical theatre and 80’s rock…yeah, I was pretty disappointed when I heard Rock of Ages closed. (It looked way awesome from the teaser videos.) After assessing my various options, Crazy Girls at Planet Hollywood seemed to fit the bill on all fronts for me. Tickets were slightly cheaper on Vegas.com, PLUS there seemed to be some “mobile discount,” so about a week before I left I busted out my trusty Samsung Galaxy Tab and booked away. This would later turn out to probably be the best $42 I’d spend on this entire trip. I really wanted to see KA at the MGM Grand, but I just couldn’t afford it…this time.

    Prep
    The weeks leading up to this trip had their rough moments (both work and personal), so the timing ended up working out really well just to get out of dodge for a long weekend. On the eve of departure my bags were packed, documents printed, schedules made, and everything was ready for action!

    Thursday, July 20, 2017
    1/2 day at work, then Alaska Airlines 620 PDX-LAS.
    Dinner: The Still
    Evening: Casino/Gaming Night – slots and blackjack at The Mirage and Treasure Island.

    Thursday morning came, which brought the requisite “Holy s***, I am going to be in Vegas tonight!” moment. As I alluded to above, I only took a half day Thursday for the sake of saving vacation days, so the morning was situation normal at work before leaving at 1:00 PM. Before heading for the airport, I had to pick up a few things at home, and then run a few errands. This unfortunately made for a slightly more hectic afternoon than I had planned, so the “relaxing at the airport lounge with a cold beer waiting for my flight” vision never materialized. To make matters worse, literally EVERY highway was a complete logjam at 2:30 PM so it was surface streets all the way to the airport which really made me crazy. Finally arriving at the economy lot, suffice to say it was not the best way to start a vacation but I was quite thankful that part was all over.

    Boarding the shuttle, I headed for the main terminal, checked in at an Alaska Airlines kiosk, and proceeded to security screening. Adding to the day’s frustration, south security (A-B-C concourse) was pretty busy, but the TSA agent at the start of the line was pointing people to the north checkpoint (D-E concourse) where there was no line. Thankfully, she was right – after walking up to the other end of the terminal, I was quickly cleared through without issue. (Aside from TSA never having an adequate number of lanes open…) Heading down the concourse connector, I arrived at gate C1. The gate lounge there was already a hive of activity as neighboring gate C3 was simultaneously boarding a flight to Los Angeles. As per usual, I took advantage of the free bag check since I didn’t need my small suitcase onboard.

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    Alaska Airlines ticketing/departures area at Portland International Airport.

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    Departure board with my flight - Alaska 620.

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    Oregon Market on the way to north security, D-E gates.

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    MUCH shorter wait on this side, thank goodness.

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    Taking the concourse connector back to the A-B-C gates.

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    Gate C1/C3 counters.

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    Gate C1 departure lounge.

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    Down the C concourse.

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    Our Boeing 737-900 ready for action!

    Boarding at around 4:30 PM, I settled into seat 20F. We pushback at 4:45 PM, with wheels-up at 4:53 PM. I ordered a beer from the cabin service, read the inflight magazine, and played a few hands of solitaire on my tablet – before I knew it, we began the decent into Las Vegas. As always, evening Strip views were pretty cool during the final approach. We land at 6:42 PM, and pull into gate E14 at 6:48 PM. Coincidentally, this was the same gate I arrived AND departed from on my last trip… I sense a pattern here. Wandering my way through the terminal and downstairs to baggage carousel 20, my suitcase appeared in no time.

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    On board, looking down to the A and B gates.

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    Cabin shot of the 737-900. Note the new, much larger overhead stowage that Boeing has designed for some of their aircraft. It's a good thing those heavy, oversized bags aren't stored directly over our heads...oh wait... :rolleyes:

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    Legroom at 21F...and some nicely cleaned and pressed slacks!

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    Inflight service.

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    Flying over the deserts of Nevada.

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    Final approach into McCarran.

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    And there's the Strip!!

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    Parked at gate E14.

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    Disembarked and in the terminal.

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    Ah, a welcoming sight! :)

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    End of the E gates/Terminal 3.

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    Heading towards the arrivals area.

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    No one to take a photo of me under the sign this time, sadly!

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    Arrivals escalator into the baggage claim area.

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    Baggage carousels.

    After spending a few minutes trying to locate/figure out hotel shuttles, I bagged that idea and just headed for the Uber pickup area over in the parking garage. They have quite an operation over there – dedicated loading areas, stalls, etc. I request a driver and James arrives curbside in a nice sedan within 5 minutes or so – really nice guy, good conversation, and even gives me a narration during the drive over to the Mirage. I arrive around 7:45 PM and head for check-in. I knew I wanted to try the $20 trick with my agent, and sure enough it worked like a charm. He got me up from my 1 x queen Volcano View room to a 1 x king Tower Room (still with Strip/Volcano view) on the 25th floor – woo hoo! I think the Tower rooms are slightly bigger, higher up, and have the double-sink/separate bathtub and shower. Maybe someone on here can clarify. He also got my room charge account set up. (Or so I was told…more later.) Heading through the casino, up the elevators, and down the hall, I arrived at room #25066. VERY nice – spacious and well-kept!

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    First photo I take in every hotel room I step into for the first time is always myself in the mirror - I have no idea why, but I think my grandfather used to do a similar thing back when he traveled a lot so I must have gotten the "gene" from him...

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    Spacious room with king bed.

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    Desk/TV/counter.

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    Living room area.

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    Looking back towards the door.

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    Bathroom.

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    Double sinks/vanity...with yours truly.

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    Oh YEAH!

    (At this point, the battery in my Canon camera died...and of course I forgot to bring the charger so the rest of the photos in this report were all taken on my mobile. The iPhone 7+ does have an awfully nice camera, but we'll see how it translates in a browser...)

    After unpacking my bags and getting situated, I went downstairs for dinner and to explore the property a bit. Originally I had planned on STACK, the upscale American restaurant there, but after perusing their menu I didn’t see much in the way of non-meat options. (PLUS it was steakhouse pricing…) So, on to plan B – I went with The Still, the Mirage’s newest restaurant so I figured it was worth a shot. Turns out I was very impressed – it’s advertised pretty heavily as a sports bar, but I personally found the whole establishment to be much more upscale than that. Café-style service, so you order at the kitchen, and then they give you a table number to bring your food out. I sat at the bar (as I did for every meal on this trip) and went for a classic fish & chips. Their kitchen is also WAY cool – it’s an entire Airstream trailer they hauled in and converted to a full-service kitchen. The food was delicious along with my cold Long Island Iced Tea to wash it down with. All in all, a great place to eat and more deserving of the “sports bar” title they gave it, IMO. I think this area used to house some sort of Beatles lounge/club…

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    Bar area at The Still. Note Airstream trailer kitchen in the back!

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    Looking back out to the casino.

    It wasn’t until I ordered my food at the kitchen window that I realized there was some problem with my room charge account. Since I was right in the casino, I headed back to the front desk to see what was up. As it turned out, I COULDN’T charge food/beverage to my room since I used a debit card at check-in (unless I agreed upon some crazy withdrawal amount). Details not relevant here, but I go over them in a separate thread here. If there was one big frustration from this trip, that was probably it.

    Following a few Facebook posts, a longtime friend of mine from Sacramento asked if I was in town. Turns out, so was he! I hadn’t seen the guy in a few years, so via text we made plans to meet up that next afternoon.

    After dinner, I was in gaming mode. I started out with slots at the Mirage – I actually did fairly well then, winning free spins on Flowers of Babylon and eventually hitting a $70 or so win. Then on the Gold Wheel, I got to spin said wheel (like Wheel of Fortune) for maybe a $30 payout. As it turned out, this was about the best luck I’d have on slots all weekend. Later on, I hopped on the tram to Treasure Island partially to “pay my respects” after last trip, but also to play there. After hitting a few slots, I sat down at a $10 3:2 blackjack table. Lots of free drinks which was nice… After maybe an hour and change, I came out about $7 ahead so I called it good. After some more time in the TI casino and playing back at the Mirage (again, both slots), I went to bed around 3:30 AM.

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    My room view, by night.

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    Mirage casino in all its glory!

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    Winning at Flowers of Babylon during my free spins.

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    Captain Morgan & Diet Coke over American Original.

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    Never played this one, but I sent the photo to my friend back at home who is absolute Game of Thrones nut - she hosts themed viewing parties at her house with costumes, etc....

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    Out for a short walk.

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    Looking back to the Mirage guest loading/unloading area.

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    And the Mirage by night!

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    In case anyone's wondering, this is where Kahunaville at TI used to be, now not a trace it was ever there. An experience I never got to have, sadly - but it looked fun in the videos!

    Friday, July 21, 2017
    Breakfast: N/A
    Lunch: Pantry
    Afternoon: Strip walk, Margarita Bar, pool & friend meetup.
    Dinner: Portofino Ristorante
    Evening: Harrah’s/Carnaval Court/Gilley’s Night – Mr. & Mrs. Smith, drinks, gaming & party at Carnaval Court, followed by Gilley’s Saloon & Dance Hall.

    Next morning I awoke, got dressed, and was out of the room by 11:30 AM or so. This would prove to be my normal schedule for the rest of the vacation – never in bed before 3:00 AM and usually starting the next day around noon. (I was also never awake early enough for breakfast, so on the days I ate lunch I just skipped straight to that.) First on today’s agenda was a good walk of the Las Vegas Strip. I do a lot of walking, so I wasn’t too worried about the heat/distance, plus I knew the Mirage’s centralized location would be a big advantage there.

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    The Mirage atrium - bit more impressive during the day!

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    A beautiful sight from Las Vegas Blvd.

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    Looking over to Treasure Island.

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    The Venetian / Palazzo.

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    Looking down towards the Wynn / Encore.

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    The Mirage lagoon and volcano.

    I knew I’d need refreshment for the walk, so I went next door to check out TI’s Margarita Bar. I have no idea why, but I MUST have accidentally looked past this place on my first trip somehow. The reviews you’ll see on Yelp are absolutely correct – great/friendly service, and pretty boozy drinks. Terry, the (head?) bartender there is awesome – really nice guy and was most helpful in explaining all their various drink types and sizes. After some deliberation, I went with a full yard of Pina Colada for $25. As I alluded to above, he used a pretty generous pour of Captain Morgan White that was mixed well. Another great thing about the Margarita Bar is that their yards are 48 oz. – you’ll see comparable pricing at related establishments for 28, 32, and 42 oz. yards. As I thanked Terry and headed out the door, he told me “and come back again soon, refills in your glass are only $19!” SWEET! All in all, if you enjoy tipsily walking down the Strip with a cold beverage, hands-down this is the BEST place, IMO. (They have craft beers on tap as well, plus cans of domestic.)

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    Yard of Pina Colada courtesy of Terry at TI's Margarita Bar.

    I walked from TI almost as far as New York, New York before turning around and heading back. Again, it was hot, but manageable with refreshment (and water…). One thing I had forgotten about the Strip was all the “characters” you’ll see there, who will gladly take a photo with you for a tip. (I even saw a pair of guys dressed as Zach Galifianakis with dolls dressed as the baby from The Hangover…) Jubilee at Bally’s may have closed, but rest assured there are still plenty of girls out on the Strip dressed in the Jubilee-style “headdresses” (?), feathers, etc. for photos.

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    Harrah's.

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    The Flamingo with Margaritaville.

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    At Caesar's, looking towards the Cosmopolitan.

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    "Uh, Caesar! ...Palache."

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    The Bellagio.

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    The Cosmopolitan.

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    Overpass at the Cosmopolitan or so, looking down towards the MGM Grand.

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    And back up to the Mirage.

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    New York, New York.

    After my oversized Pina Colada, suffice to say I was ready for lunch around 2:00 PM. I went with the Pantry (at the Mirage), their 24-hour all-American restaurant. Sitting at the counter, I ordered their fish tacos with a Sierra Nevada Kellerweis (Hefeweizen). Delicious!

    Following a short nap in my room, it was time to meet up with my friend. He picked me up at the main hotel loading area and we headed for the Stratosphere (free parking, as he informed me). I hadn’t seen the guy in probably 2 years, so needless to say it was a blast catching up! He’s in Vegas getting his CFI certification as a pilot, which is pretty cool. We spent the afternoon up at the observation deck of the Stratosphere over cold beverages, fantastic views, and great company. Around dinnertime, he dropped me back off at the Mirage as he was actually driving to Carlsbad for the weekend. Great to see you again, buddy! Serendipity is a wonderful thing.

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    Back in my room that afternoon...and the Beatles.

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    Fantastic view from the Stratosphere!

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    Strip View doesn't get much better than this!

    Next up was hitting the Mirage pool for a little while, which people speak very highly of. As usual, they were right! The “tropical oasis” they have there is lovely, complete with waterfalls, palm trees, and so on. The entire (BIG) pool is only about 4 feet deep, which isn’t always the best when you’re 6 feet tall, but all in all a great complex.

    7:00 PM or so it was time for dinner, tonight at Portofino Ristorante. The name speaks for itself – coastal Italian food in a very nice setting. I ordered their Burrata Angolotti (which my server explained to me is similar to ravioli) with fresh lobster and mushrooms in a cream sauce. I think this might even be the dish featured on the Mirage website… Needless to say, it was fabulous.

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    Burrata Angolotti from Portofino Ristorante.

    I didn’t have any real big plans for tonight, so after dinner I headed back out to the Strip for a bit. Walking past Harrah’s (a few doors down from the Mirage) I spotted Carnaval Court – a spot I knew I wanted to visit. For those who don’t know, Carnaval Court is an open-air (outdoor) party bar with DJs, live music, blackjack tables, and flair bartenders. (i.e., perfect for me.) Unfortunately, the famed Timothy “Flippy” Morris was nowhere to be seen that weekend. Hanging out at the bar for a little while, the DJ was eventually replaced with a band called Mr. & Mrs. Smith. (Might be stylized as Mr. $ Mrs. Smith?) These guys are TOTALLY awesome – a high-energy party band if you will – playing everything from 70’s tunes, to 80’s rock, to current hits with few breaks in between songs. They practically go nonstop… One of my favorites of theirs had to have been a killer rendition of Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall.

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    Carnaval Court bar.

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    Mr. & Mrs. Smith in action!

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    Looking back out to the Strip.

    Since I now knew I wanted to stay for a bit, I sat down at one of their $10 6:5 blackjack tables. The dealers there are cool – cuties in tank tops who give you a fist bump when you get a blackjack, etc.… Unfortunately, I didn’t do as well here, and in subsequent conversations with other players at the Mirage and Treasure Island, this seems to be the norm… “EVERYONE loses money at those tables,” etc. Not sure if anyone here can speak to that?

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    Harrah's casino/table games - with dancer!

    As soon as the band was done (1:00 AM?) and went back to just a DJ on stage, I colored up, cashed out at the Harrah’s cashier inside, and meandered over to Margaritaville (a few doors down) just to see what was going on there. A band was playing there as well (perhaps the Ravenettes?) but they were wrapping up too and the establishment was basically closed.

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    The Ravenettes (?) at Margaritaville.

    Heading over to Treasure Island, Gilley’s Saloon was in full swing, so I hung out there for a little while which was also great fun. For those who don’t know, Gilley’s is the quintessential “honky-tonk cowboy saloon and dance hall” of the Las Vegas Strip. (They also serve things like BBQ ribs and chili during the day, but I’ve never eaten there.) There was still a good crowd there at around 2:00 AM, so we all had a blast country line dancing, watching people ride the mechanical bull, and dancing to Blake Shelton’s “cowboy” version of Footloose… :cowboy:

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    The Mirage by night, and from the east side of Las Vegas Blvd.

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    Treasure Island, from up on an overpass.

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    The Wynn / Encore from said overpass.

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    Gilley's Saloon and dance hall at TI!

    When things wound down at the saloon, I walked back to the Mirage for a final session of blackjack at another $10 6:5 table. About an hour and several beverages later, I found myself just not able to win. I don’t know if it was simply bad luck or what, but I could have sworn the dealer kept getting 21 after blackjack after 21 after blackjack. Out some money and feeling defeated, I went to bed at 4:30 AM. (If there was low point/moment on the trip, this was it.)

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    The Mirage atrium by night.

    Saturday, July 22, 2017
    Breakfast: N/A
    Lunch: N/A
    Afternoon: Carnaval Court (again), this time for The Whip-Its.
    Dinner: Cravings Buffet
    Evening: Senor Frog’s/Party Night – Mirage Volcano, followed by “Latin Nights” party at Senor Frog’s @ Treasure Island.

    Next day I was up and at ‘em by 12:00 PM or so. Still bummed by yesterday’s losses, I was determined to turn my luck around so I headed downstairs to the Mirage casino. Unfortunately, it didn’t work (yet). Having had about enough of blackjack for a little while, I tried high-limit slots where I wasn’t winning ($1 and $5 pulls, if I recall), and video poker ($5 bets or so) where I was dealt garbage hand after garbage hand. How frustrating!

    I don’t know if it was from weird sleep schedules, feeling down about not winning anything or what, but for some reason I wasn’t hungry that afternoon. Heading out of the casino, I walked back to Carnaval Court to check out another band I had made a special point to see on this trip – The Whip-Its. These guys are an all-80’s cover band (can you tell I like that genre…) who also plays every weekend at Carnaval Court, in the afternoons. Arriving just as they started I Hate Myself for Loving You by Joan Jett, I knew right then that I was hooked. I would best describe the band as half-music, half-adult comedy in between (and sometimes in the middle of…) songs. It’s run by 2 x siblings from Germany (?) – the brother (don’t recall his name) plays guitar, and his sister Ivana (sp?) is lead vocalist. I have no idea if any of this is true or just a getup, but that didn’t make it any less funny. (“We have been in the country for 7 years, so that means we’re allowed to drink now. – Actually, did we ever ask? – No, we didn’t. – Oh well!”) These folks play just about every 80’s classic the mind can fathom – Bon Jovi, Madonna, Van Halen, Blondie, you name it.

    Knowing I wasn’t about to leave any time soon, I ordered a Dos Equis and had a blast at their performance. They even have a tip jar on stage for requests – later on I went up and requested Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks, to which Ivana responded with “That song is a b****.” Next on my list was She’s Got the Look by Roxette (another top favorite of mine) – this time I got a resounding “Oh YEAH!” After rocking out to a fantastic performance of said song, I thanked Ivana who even gave me her “VIP treatment” from up on stage…good times. Needless to say, that whole deal was an awesome experience. After they wrapped up their set for the night around 6:00 PM, I went back to the Mirage for dinner.

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    The Whip-Its at Carnaval Court.

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    Going out in the audience for You Spin Me Right Round by Dead or Alive.

    Time for the “Cravings Buffet” – a pretty quintessential Vegas-style buffet featuring cuisine from all over the world. Not only that, but the $35 buffet price includes all-you-can-drink beer and wine. The worst part about that was that said beer was Bud Light, Coors Light, and a seasonal tap which happened to be stout at the time. “Lawnmower Beer” as they say, but all-you-can-drink beer is all-you-can-drink beer… All the food (+ dessert) I had there was just wonderful – plus their made-to-order specialty that night was shrimp scampi, another nice bonus. After eating and drinking to the point of nearly getting sick, I went back up to my room for a short rest and to get ready for the night ahead. I also went to watch the Mirage Volcano!

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    Mirage casino, again.

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    Entrance to Cravings Buffet.

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    Inside at the buffet

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    Ready for the volcano.

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    Off she goes!

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    You got to lava me now, or lava...no wait, that wasn't until tomorrow! ;)

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    Even the water catches fire...

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    BIG crowds on the Las Vegas Strip.

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    RHUMBAR.

    Every Saturday, Senor Frogs (at Treasure Island) hosts their “Latin Nights” party, a spectacle I was not about to miss – they are one of those establishments that’s a restaurant by day, and a nightclub by night. Those of you who recall my last report could tell you that the “nightclub” side of things definitely doesn’t exist on Monday and Tuesday nights, which was a huge disappointment for me. I realize some might say go elsewhere for a good club/party, but finally being able to party at Senor Frog’s was really nice closure for me, and another “bucket list item crossed off,” if you will. After waiting in the short line to get in at 10:30 PM, the party was on! The bar was even open the entire time, plus with specials like $7 beers and $3 shots. (Short shots, but still…) Upon entering I realized I was never charged the $22 cover which was nice – maybe it was still early enough?

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    Waiting in line at Senor Frog's.

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    Main stage area - during the day, this is where restaurant tables would be set up! Also, the "signs on the ceiling" never fail to entertain...

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    Bar area.

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    Speaks for itself! :p

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    Upstairs.

    I was quite surprised at how large the establishment really is – 2 floors, 2 large outdoor decks, plus at least 2 different DJs/sound stages. I think they recently got rid of their gift shop as well which opened up some additional room. By 11:00 PM or midnight, things were in full swing and just about every corner was packed. The Latin part of the party seemed to be upstairs, while downstairs focused on more standard DJ fare. What fun! Every now and then, a “shot girl” would go up on stage to advertise their $3 specials. I got to dance with a few girls who weren’t already busy crawling over other guys, which was cool as well. I was glad I got in early – later on in the evening, I saw the door line stretched clear back to the casino cashier. Around 1:00 AM, a marching band entered and paraded through the dance area in all their brass glory!

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    Things pick up downstairs.

    [​IMG]
    ...and upstairs.

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    Upstairs deck...practically warmer out here than it is inside! Too bad Froggy has a black eye...

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    Upstairs party.

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    Back downstairs, now things are REALLY rolling! Notice girls brought onstage...

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    Selena (?) the Shot Girl with their $3 specials.

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    "Auxiliary" bar by the main entrance.

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    Non-bottle service tables for people to sit at and take a rest.

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    Here comes the marching band!

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    The line to get in...glad I arrived early.

    Around 3:45 AM, things started to wind down. I was exhausted, so I thanked the security staff for a fabulous party and walked back “home” to the Mirage. Got to bed around 4:00 AM – another day in the books!

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    The ever-deteriorating Siren's Cove...now with a broken mast on this vessel.

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    The establishment from Siren's Cove.

    Sunday, July 23, 2017
    Breakfast: N/A
    Lunch: White Castle
    Afternoon: Pool & RHUMBAR
    Dinner: Margaritaville (@ The Flamingo)
    Evening: Show Night – “Crazy Girls” @ Planet Hollywood.

    If I had to pick a favorite day from the trip, Sunday would be a very close contender with Saturday – you’ll soon see why. This day also had the most number of “bucket list” items crossed off which was a pretty awesome feeling.

    Awake and ready for action at about 12:00 PM, I started my day out at the pool, which was lovely. Next on the docket for Sunday’s agenda was the Mirage’s RHUMBAR – being outdoors, stripside, and with misters keeping everyone cool, it’s a neat place to hang out for a cocktail. (A mojito, in my case.)

    Yes, you are reading my header correctly – I did indeed eat lunch at White Castle on Sunday. After spotting it at the Best Western Casino Royale from my room, I knew I had to go there. See, we don’t have White Castles where I’m from, so I’d never even been to one until now. Heading over there around 1:30 PM, I ordered a fish sandwich combo. The cashier informed me that this is the only White Castle west of the Mississippi, so you’ll see why it’s usually pretty busy! My food was delicious…and now, I can FINALLY say I’ve even at a White Castle!

    [​IMG]
    White Castle at the Best Western Casino Royale.

    [​IMG]
    Walking back to the Mirage.

    After a short nap back in my room, I walked over to the Sin City Theatre box office at Planet Hollywood to pick up my ticket for that night’s 9:00 PM showing of “Crazy Girls.” Not long after, it was time for dinner, so I backtracked over to the Flamingo and headed for Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, another first for me. Whoever thought to turn this song/concept into a franchise has got to be a billionaire by now – literally, the Flamingo alone has a Margaritaville restaurant/bar, Margaritaville gift shop, and even a Margaritaville casino! A coworker informed me they have Margaritaville retirement communities now, too…

    I absolutely love Jimmy Buffett, so this experience was definitely a long time coming. Sitting at the bar, I started out with a frozen watermelon margarita which (as one might suspect) lived up to its name! Pondering food options, I went with their coconut shrimp and fries…another wise decision. Shortly after, a pair of young ladies (about my age) sat down next to me. (I think they were originally just getting drinks while waiting for a table, until the bartender reminded them that the full menu was still available so they stayed.) Eventually, I introduce myself and we talk about we’re from, what we do for our day jobs, our plans while in town, and so on. Turns out they’re staying at the Mirage as well!

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    Bally's, Paris, and the Cosmopolitan seen walking over to the Flamingo / Margaritaville.

    [​IMG]
    The LINQ.

    [​IMG]
    And here we are!

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    Yes, Margaritaville even has its own casino.

    [​IMG]
    Sitting at the bar at Margaritaville.

    [​IMG]
    Looking in towards the restaurant.

    [​IMG]
    Frozen watermelon margarita!

    [​IMG]
    Coconut shrimp/fries/coleslaw.

    While we’re talking, the music cuts out and we hear “We interrupt this song for a special Margaritaville bulletin!” (Or something to that effect.) Just as the famed Buffett song starts playing, I said “I think the volcano gonna blow…” Sure enough, it did! First, a pair of accordingly-dressed girls come out to do a little “volcano dance” for us all. From where I was sitting, I thought they were up on some sort of stage…no, they’re stilt-walkers! Then, a girl in a bikini appears, climbs up to the top of said volcano, and goes down a waterslide into an oversized margarita blender! As if that wasn’t enough, she’s then fished out (literally) on a large fishing hook and does some aerials above us to the tune of what this restaurant was named after. It was all quite the spectacle! I must say, sitting in a restaurant named Margaritaville, enjoying a glass of “that frozen concoction” and some island food, watching a girl do aerials above me, all while listening to Jimmy Buffett classics was just a really, REALLY cool moment – a highlight of the vacation for sure. I’m not sure if I would still be considered a “Margaritaville Virgin” or what prior to this visit, but I wasn’t about to tell the staff there as legend has it such virgins are thrown into a blender! (Now, if they were to throw me into a blender with one of those bikini girls, well then…)

    [​IMG]
    Bow down to the volcano!

    [​IMG]
    Aerial performance on the fishing hook.

    [​IMG]
    Dancing on the railing to that famed song.

    [​IMG]
    And time for a photo-op!

    I stayed long enough (chatting with the girls I had met, and so on) that I actually got to watch this whole routine twice, which was awesome. I think they call it the “Vegas Cutie,” for a very good reason – done every hour or so in the evenings. I had to make my show, so I paid my check, thanked the bartender, and said goodbye to my new friends. I even gave them my number (my mobile number, that is – not my room number!) in case they wanted to meet up at the Mirage later that night. Not surprisingly, I haven’t heard a word since…

    After walking a few doors down to Planet Hollywood, I went upstairs to the Sin City Theatre. This was my first true Las Vegas Showgirl experience, so needless to say I was quite excited. I was surprised to see that that the theatre is actually quite small – smaller than I was envisioning. I’m not sure if maybe it was just because I had purchased through a 3rd party site (or if the box office does this for all tickets), but my seat wasn’t actually reserved – rather, an usher directed me to a seat right in the second row!

    [​IMG]
    From Margaritaville, looking over to Caesar's.

    [​IMG]
    And the Mirage.

    [​IMG]
    All ready for Crazy Girls!

    [Spoiler notice – if you haven’t seen the show yet and don’t want to know specifics, I would advise you skip this next section!]

    At 9:00 PM sharp, the curtain went up. First, our host/emcee/mistress of ceremonies, Dani Elizabeth, enters and starts teasing us, telling jokes, making fun of couples in the front row, all that jazz. Then, she herself sings the Crazy Girls theme song (written specifically for the show, I think) which was absolutely stunning! I couldn’t quite tell at first if it was just pre-recorded or what, but I soon realized “that’s definitely a real mic she’s holding…” Again, a wonderful performance!

    Then, the various acts with the girls come on. I’d say the show couldn’t have had a cast much larger than 8 girls (on stage) or so, which was also neat. You could REALLY tell they’ve practiced this a time or 3 before (over the last 30 years!) which just added to the pure amazement. Needless to say, I was very impressed! About halfway through the show, Tony Douglas the magician comes onstage for some light “comic relief,” which I wasn’t expecting. Some of the tricks were fairly obvious – “Spin this handheld wheel – oh, it landed on ‘Free Pen’ and not ‘Free Steakhouse Dinner for 6!” Surprise surprise… All in all though, pretty entertaining with a copious amount of inappropriate jokes.

    For his last act, he calls for a “young man from the audience,” of which I gladly raise my hand…and he picks me!!! I go onstage and he dresses me in a Mickey Mouse-esque robe and wizard hat for some various shtick – maybe someone who’s seen the show before could explain to me what exactly that included…I couldn’t really tell with a blinding spotlight in my face! All in all, a hilariously wonderful experience as he thanks me, hands me a free poster of the Crazy Girls, and directs me back to my seat. The second half of the show was even more impressive – now they add things like poles, and whatnot…

    Before I knew it, the hour-and-a-quarter long show was over and Dani Elizabeth comes out to introduce all the girls during the final curtain call. As we exit, the entire cast is waiting out in the lobby to meet us, take photos with us, etc. I always think it’s nice when performers meet you offstage after the show is over – it adds that really cool (IMO) “See, we’re just normal people now” aspect, so that was fun. Best of all, I thank Tony for having me onstage, in which he shakes my hand and replies “Show that poster to the girls – you get a free photo with them!” :-O

    This opportunity was almost as exciting as the show itself, so I hand my iPhone over to one of the girls who has me pose with the rest of the cast. She then takes a few with her camera for their Facebook page, after requesting my permission…hopefully, you’ll see me up there soon! I almost didn’t want to post this mainstream, but my coworker convinced me otherwise…and plus it’s way too cool not to share. I think this 1 x memento to take home with me made just about the entire trip worth it! Anyways, enjoy…

    [​IMG]
    Speaks for itself. ;) From left to right, we have (I THINK) Crazy Girl Bell, JoJo, myself, Sarah and Jenna.

    Next, I went to go talk to Dani who was manning the merchandise table. As a fellow vocalist, I complimented her on the opening number of which she was very appreciative of. We chat for a little while about the show, its history, etc. before saying our goodbyes. Too bad I didn’t get a photo with her as well, and I was tempted to give my number…

    Still on an energy high from the show and that whole experience (going onstage, photos with the girls, etc.), I walked down the Strip headed back towards the Mirage. On my way, I stopped for a little while to watch the Fountains of Bellagio…WOW. Not only are they impressive at night, they’re about 100 times more impressive in real life than in the movies. Since it was late enough in the evening, shows were only 15 minutes apart so I stayed for 2 of them – All That Jazz (Catherine Zeta-Jones, from Chicago) and the LSD hallucinations song…er, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I was really hoping for Handel’s Messiah or something like that, but I figured that’s a bit out-of-season… If this entire vacation had a pure, jaw-dropping, “Holy s***, I am legitimately in another world right now” moment of pure awesomeness, hands-down this was it!

    [​IMG]
    Planet Hollywood main entrance.

    [​IMG]
    The Bellagio, as seen from Planet Hollywood.

    [​IMG]
    All ready for the fountains!

    [​IMG]
    And away we go...

    [​IMG]
    Looking over to the Cosmopolitan, by night.

    [​IMG]
    A mist comes across the Bellagio lake...

    Over the last day or so, I really studied up on blackjack strategy (again, wanting to turn my luck in the casino around) and after reassuring myself, it was time to make my comeback. Since TI has cheaper 3:2 blackjack (and feeling a bit “burned” by 6:5), I took the tram over from the Mirage and spotted a $5 3:2 table, which I didn’t even know existed! Setting down my $80 of remaining “fun” money or so, I actually played with STRATEGY this time – instead of my previous “Dealer is showing a 4, I have 14, what the hell, I’ll hit!” approach which didn’t seem to be getting me very far. Sure enough, this worked awesome, and to my excitement I started winning. Over the next 3+ hours, I got to hang out with some truly great people who joined me at the table, and never a shortage of good banter with the dealers. I was thrilled when I walked away with almost $300 at the end of the night! Really goes to show how much learning game strategy makes a difference, and I already feel more confident that I won’t go home penniless next time, like I did my first trip.

    I thought about going to Spearmint Rhino, but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it – half hour wait for a Limo (so as to skip the cover charge), I didn’t want to blow a ton of money, and “it’s not like we don’t have strip clubs at home.” (Better still, maybe making an online dating profile when I got home would be an even more effective use time than all of the above!)

    As you can see, this was a good day with a great many things finally crossed off my bucket list – White Castle, Margaritaville, Showgirls, photos with Showgirls, Fountains of Bellagio, winning at blackjack, and so on. Feeling like I had finally redeemed myself after Friday and Saturday’s losses, it wasn’t until almost 5:00 AM that I was in bed, just as the sky was starting to brighten…

    Monday, July 24, 2017
    Breakfast: N/A
    Lunch: LVB Burgers and Bar
    Afternoon: Hotel check-out, Strip walk, Margarita Bar, blackjack at Treasure Island.
    Alaska Airlines 621 LAS-PDX

    Last day in Vegas, I slapped myself awake at 10:00 AM, so as to have time to get ready and pack up for the 11:00 AM room checkout. Dropping off my keys at the front desk, I was pleased to see no big $$ hits on my room folio. The clerk then directed me to the bellman stand, where I could leave my bags for the day since my flight wasn’t until the evening. That was awesome, since I still had the whole day to myself.

    First up, I needed my $19 yard glass refill from the Margarita Bar, so I headed over there and got a strawberry daiquiri this time, made with Cruzan White. Time for 1 x final Strip walk with my cold beverage, so I went on another longer one to about Planet Hollywood / the ARIA or so. On the walk back, I made a special point of going through the Bellagio which was just incredible – I really need to stay there sometime. The “Chihuly Ceiling of Glass” in the main lobby was quite a sight, as well.

    [​IMG]
    Strawberry daiquiri refill at the TI Margarita Bar.

    [​IMG]
    People back at home were saying I wasn't taking enough selfies, so what the hell...

    [​IMG]
    Walkway up to the Bellagio with service boat out to work on some of the fountains. Unfortunately I couldn't find a photo of the whole lake drained out (I can't imagine they'd ever have cause to do that...) but you'll see some cool behind-the-scenes videos out there of the "Oarsmen," and so on.

    [​IMG]
    Walking back down to the Strip.

    [​IMG]
    The Monte Carlo.

    Hungry for lunch, I went back to the Mirage and headed for LVB Burgers and Bar, another newer restaurant (formerly BLT Burgers?) on-site. I ordered their house veggie burger with fries, and took some of the (BIG) sandwich with me to nibble on later. Yum! They even have “adult ice cream shakes” there…

    [​IMG]
    LVB Burgers and Bar.

    [​IMG]
    Veggie burger with fries.

    Refreshed, nourished, and exercised, I still had maybe 2 hours to kill before heading to the airport. That meant it was time for more blackjack! I found another $5 3:2 table at Treasure Island and set down my $100. I did OK this time, not as well as the night before, but after a few hours I still broke even. Saying goodbye to my table buddies, I walked back to the Mirage, picked up my bags from the bellman, and requested an Uber ride to McCarran. Of course, my Crazy Girls poster and souvenir yard glass were too big to fit into any of my bags, so they were carried all the way home with me. In one of the most Vegas moments ever, I experienced the “I need to step away from this table now so I don’t miss my flight home” – between that, going back to the Mirage (the tram was out of service and was pretty intermittent that entire trip…maybe from the heat?), and heading to the airport, I was a little shorter on time than I had planned on so I was slightly on-edge. Asiah was a great driver though, with some more nice company.

    Checking in at McCarran Airport, I headed for security where there was a reasonable line, so again I was nervous, Sure enough though, 2-3 additional lanes were opened shortly after I got in line so I made it through in a breeze. “Walking with a purpose” down the main terminal hall to gate E14 about 10 minutes after boarding was scheduled to start, I was pleased to see our Boeing 737-800 (which had just arrived from Portland) hadn’t even finished offloading yet so I could relax. I checked in my bag, nibbled on my sandwich, and waited patiently (unlike everyone else…) to board.

    [​IMG]
    Waiting in line at Terminal 3 security screening.

    [​IMG]
    TSA checkpoint.

    [​IMG]
    Not as many photos this time, since I was hustling. Back at gate E14 - so far, the only gate in Terminal 3 I've ever flown in and out of!

    [​IMG]
    E14 departure lounge.

    [​IMG]
    Boeing 737-800 arrives from Portland - now headed back there!

    [​IMG]
    On board, situated in seat 21A with a great view of the McCarran control tower!

    Settling into 21A, we pushback at 7:45 PM and takeoff at 7:55 PM. I had about enough of over-priced drinks over the last 4 days (ha, ha), so I just got Diet Coke from the cabin service and started writing my trip report. That was about all for this one – upon landing at 9:43 PM, we taxi to gate B1 getting us there at 9:49 PM, right on schedule. I picked up my bag at carousel 3, rode the parking shuttle back to my truck, and headed on home.

    [​IMG]
    Bye bye, Las Vegas!

    [​IMG]
    Cabin interior.

    [​IMG]
    Beverage service.

    [​IMG]
    Nothing like watching a sunset at 34,000'!

    [​IMG]
    Descending into Portland.

    [​IMG]
    Taxing past the C concourse.

    [​IMG]
    Safe arrival at gate B1.

    [​IMG]
    B1/B2/B3 departures area...getting a new ceiling with some late-night construction activity?

    [​IMG]
    New exit lane in the south concourse.

    [​IMG]
    Baggage arrives at carousel 3.

    Wow, what an amazing adventure! Really…wow. I got to see and do so much on this vacation there are few things I would even want to do differently! Above all, I’m really happy that I have closure not only from this trip, but also from my first trip. I was still in school then, meaning I was short on 2 very important things – time and money – to really make the most of it. 2 nights Monday-Wednesday really isn’t the way to go, especially for a newer traveler like myself. Plus, last time I went home broke and pretty disappointed, feeling like I had missed out on too much. This trip resolved ALL of that, and so much more.

    Not sure just when yet I’ll return, but this DOES seem to be becoming an annual tradition… Again, feeling so satisfied from this one, the desire to dash back there as quickly as possible isn’t as strong which is kind of a nice change. I’m thinking about maybe giving CET a go for the next adventure – and Harrah’s DOES seem awfully nice for my purposes – Mardi Gras theme, location, Carnaval Court, Piano Bar, etc.…we’ll see.

    If you’ve read all the way to the end of this, I applaud you for sticking with me. For now, I think I’m all done – if I remember any missed details, I’m certain to add them! Thanks again for stopping by.
     
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  2. Richard Alpert

    Richard Alpert LOST

    Joined:
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    Awesome report, Wilson! :thumbsup:
    Pictures and commentary were A+++ (stopping now so I don't wear out the + key on my computer!)
    Thanks so much for sharing your TR! :D

    Stay cool this week. :cool: Looks like record high temps coming to your part of the country!

    RICHARD
     
  3. LilyJDragonfly

    LilyJDragonfly Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Holy moley! Big props for all the photos and the detailed TR! :nworthy:

    As to Harrah's/CET - go for it if you like the Strip. They've been super generous to me with room comps (I get like $5 in freeplay but I always get rooms comped!) and at this point, I only hit them once a year or less.... but still I get rooms. I've had zero love from MLife.

    But maybe for your next big adventure you could stay downtown.... if you're a beer guy, Main Street Station (a Boyd casino) has a great selection of in-house craft brews on tap. It's a whole 'nother vibe downtown and lots of live 80s music on Fremont Street! And I get comped rooms from Boyd year-round, plus tournament invites!
     
  4. breanna61

    breanna61 Super Moderator

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    Thank you for all the work in putting your trip report together; I enjoyed the report and fabulous photos!
     
    Lady Gaga and Dierks Bentley Concert Trip
  5. Gino

    Gino "The King of Inappropriate."

    Joined:
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    Great TR! Thanks for taking us along.
     
    10 Year Anniversary Trip
  6. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever Vegas Lover Extraordinaire!

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    Fantastic report! So much detail and such wonderful photos! Thank you.
     
  7. bshowell

    bshowell VIP Whale

    Joined:
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    Great job on the TR. Fabulous view from your room w/the High Roller in the background. Did you make it any further South than NYNY? Anything remaining on your bucket list?
     
  8. AlnessW

    AlnessW Tourist

    Joined:
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    THANK YOU Richard for the kind words! Much appreciated! Always the best when hard work doesn't go unnoticed.
    Yes indeed, I fear as though I've brought the "Vegas heat" home with me...weren't not used to this sort of thing around here very often!

    Thanks Lily - you can tell I enjoy photography. :) Indeed, I quite like the Strip (even more so after this go-around) but glad to keep my other options open. I DO love craft beers (I certainly live in the right city for them...) and like 80s music! I hear you on the "zero love from MLife"...

    Thank for for the nice note, Breanna. Appreciate the feedback and glad you liked it! Was several laborious hours of effort indeed, but having it here to share with you all can't be beat! (Plus now I won't forget everything, either...)

    Always a pleasure! "What happens in Vegas...goes on Vegas Message Board," right? :p

    Yeah, room view this trip was hard to beat - and seeing all the flashing lights/colors on the High Roller was pretty cool. No, not much further south than New York, New York - I got to check out the MGM Grand last trip (monorail, plus we saw a show there) but not this go-around. Would love to stay there or at Mandalay Bay sometime. Other things still on my bucket list (though this trip certainly took care of many of them!) - Fremont St experience (see above), KA, Absinthe, winning big on Wheel of Fortune, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting. Oh yeah, and meeting my future wife there. ;)
     
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  9. ardee

    ardee VIP Whale

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    Great Trip Report! A very engaging story and I loved the pics.
    The view from your room at the Mirage is really neat. I've never seen the
    High Roller from that angle, so thanks for posting. :beer:
     
    Thanksgiving in Vegas!
    Christmas in Vegas!
  10. Red36

    Red36 Tourist

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    Great trip report, glad you had a great solo visit.

    As for your friends who don't get Vegas, point them to your TR. It will let them know what Vegas is about.
     
  11. emmas

    emmas Low-Roller

    Joined:
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    Really wonderful job on the report. I felt like I was right there with you. Great after such a disappointing first trip to have the chance to do it it right. Congratulations on a fantastic trip.
     
  12. MikeOPensacola

    MikeOPensacola VIP Whale

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    Great TR!!! You obviously spent a lot of time on it; props to you for making the effort. :clap::clap::clap: Looks like you had a great time, thanks for sharing your trip with us.

    :peace: :beer:
     
    Christmas at Cosmo!!!
    Summer Fun!!!
  13. Miller12pack

    Miller12pack Low-Roller

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    Great trip report. I'm glad this trip was better than your last one. Extra days and more money always make for a great trip. I would be exhausted if I tried to do everything you did.
     
  14. Loluvsvegas

    Loluvsvegas Tourist

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    Great read! Glad you had fun! Really enjoyed your pics too!
     
  15. drdestructo

    drdestructo Tourist

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    Thanks for sharing your trip report! Great to hear you had some good results after learning more blackjack strategy.
     
  16. oldcrabtom

    oldcrabtom Low-Roller

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    Gr8 report , enjoyed it...........thanks
     
  17. Fuzzy

    Fuzzy Newbie

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    Philadelphia, Pa
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    Excellent trip report, really enjoyed the read.
     
  18. AlnessW

    AlnessW Tourist

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    Thanks everybody for the kind words! So glad you all are enjoying this.

    Glad you liked it - and always happy to share. Cheers!

    Heh heh... Good plan, I can now show them this and say "HERE'S what you missed last weekend..."

    Wonderful! Yep, first trip was fun and all, but like anything else, you really need to get a feel for things in order to know what to do and what not to do. Call it a dry run? :) It definitely had its let-downs, but not this time.

    You are most welcome, and thanks for the note. I love writing but it's best used when I can share it with the world!

    Exactly - made a huge difference I wouldn't think to do it any other way now. And that's what I loved about this solo trip - no one else to worry about but myself!

    VERY much so - now to learn craps and come back next year to win big, right? :)
     
  19. CaptCampion

    CaptCampion Low-Roller

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    Trips to Las Vegas:
    22
    Best airport in the US, like 5 years running.

    I'll be flying that same return flight next week, but going down earlier. Love PDX
     
  20. IWannaBeInVegas

    IWannaBeInVegas VIP Whale

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2002
    Messages:
    3,124
    Location:
    Between here and there
    Trips to Las Vegas:
    20
    Great report. I thought I took a lot of photos and made a detailed report but you hit the nail on the head. If you go back and stay at Harrahs, make sure the room is a remodeled room, the non-remodeled rooms are about motel 6 quality.
     
    Tentative arrival: