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Las Vegas Trip Report

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  • Las Vegas Trip Report

    On the Road Again – TR

    December 5-19, 2007

    Warning: the following TR has been rated PG-13 by AA, GA and WW due to its underlying theme involving alcohol, gambling and binge eating. Parents should exercise caution before allowing their babies to read this TR or grow up to be cowboys.

    On the road again
    Like a pair of gypsies we go down the highway
    The Westies are the best of friends
    Insisting that the world be turnin' their way
    And their way
    Is on the road again

    (Willie Nelson)

    Once again the Westies have decided to follow the money and head to Las Vegas. We were booked on Southwest Airlines using Rapid Rewards credits for Ms. Westie’s flight while I paid full freight. Ziggy-the-Cat was staying in the “La Garage Suite” at our neighbors while Max-the Schipperke secured advance reservations for a king, nonsmoking room on “Alligator Alley” at the Cromwell Vet.

    'Twas the night before Las Vegas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

    Our slot cards and coupons were packed with much care,
    In hope good fortune we would continue to share;

    Max was all snuggled in his own little bed,
    While visions of Ziggy and bones danced in his head;

    Ms Westie in her nightie and I in my cap,
    Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

    When to my dismay an alarm went off in my head.
    ‘Twas time for me to leave our warm and cozy bed.

    12/05 I awoke early as is my custom and reviewed several Las Vegas related discussion boards before printing our final trip notes. This was Ms. Westie’s birthday so she was allowed to sleep in until around 7:30AM. We departed from home at 10AM dropping Max off enroute to Bradley International Airport. Bags were checked, security cleared and we were soon seated waiting for our plane to arrive. Ms. Westie needed a booster shot of caffeine so I purchased a hazelnut coffee at the adjoining Einstein’s Café. ($2.32, 3 Forks out of a possible 5)

    As time for departure approached an announcement was made that our plane would be delayed 50 minutes due to snow in Chicago. We decided to consume the ham and cheese sandwiches I had packed earlier in the morning while waiting for the skies to clear. Not at all surprising, a second announcement was made that the storm had taken up residence and our flight would be delayed an additional hour. We were finally allowed to board and the flight went smoothly until the pilot announced that we were being stacked over Chi-town for 30 minutes until a runway would be available, but not to worry since all flights were being delayed and we all would likely make our original connections – sure, when pigs fly.

    We finally landed only to discover our connecting flight had been cancelled and were directed to another flight scheduled to depart at 3:50PM. Passengers were boarded on time, but this saga continued when we were told there would be a delay because 20 bags waiting to be stored on the plane had been carted off to parts unknown. Following another long delay, the captain announced those were not our bags, but we were going to be further delayed in order to add 1,000 gallons to the fuel tank as well as to de-ice the plane. He assured us our bags were safely on board, but I again thought when pigs fly.

    We went directly to the baggage carrousel upon arrival, but after watching the same bags circle round and round we concluded our luggage had taken an alternative route. The Westies with a combined 80 years of flying experience have learned two valuable lessons. One, do not get your skivvies in a knot over flight delays, cancellations or lost luggage because nothing you do is going to amount to a hill of beans. Second, always put a pair of skivvies and other necessary items in your carry-on luggage. On this trip our skivvies remained wrinkle free, but neither of us was toting a pair in our carry-on.

    After completing the necessary form to have our luggage delivered to the hotel, we caught the shuttle to the consolidated rental facility (CRF). As Quicksilver members we bypassed the desks at both the airport and CRF and headed directly upstairs, but on arriving at the kiosk, were told the contract was downstairs. Yet another delay as the attendant printed out our contract. I selected a 2007 black Saturn and exited stage right on to Gillespie followed by another right on Warm Springs Road and a final right on Las Vegas Boulevard.

    We arrived at McCormick & Schmicks, after yet another right on Flamingo, approximately an hour after our 7:15PM reservation, but were greeted with Happy Birthday wishes and seated in a booth as requested. A bountiful mixed green salad with bleu cheese and candied walnuts in a light vinaigrette dressing was shared. Ms. Westie’s entrée was cashew crusted tilapia with Jamaican rum butter and tropical salsa which came with crisp green beans and white rice. I ordered the pecan crusted catfish with Cajun remoulade sauce that was served with mashed potatoes plus a mix of crisp green and yellow beans. Service was attentive and the food delicious. I used a $25 gift certificate received after joining this chain’s Preferred Guest program. ($26.18, 4 Forks)

    We stopped at a nearby Walgreens to pick up mouth wash and toothpaste before checking in for 14 nights at the Gold Coast. The desk clerk was out of funbooks and told us to check back later in the week – yeah when pigs fly. We did score a couple of cheap toothbrushes. We were both exhausted and just falling asleep at 2:15AM EST when we received a telephone call that our luggage had been found and was currently in transit to our hotel. We decided to not wait up for its arrival.

    12/06 I woke up around 2AM local time and drove to the Fiesta-Rancho for an extended and very unprofitable video poker (VP) session on the full pay deuces wild (FPDW) slant tops. On my return I checked with the bell captain who was reluctant to release the luggage because Ms. Westie had completed the airport paperwork and both baggage tags had her name on them. He finally relented after I retrieved a copy of my driver’s license from a bag and he confirmed the room was in both our names.

    Breakfast this morning at the Gold Coast buffet consisted of OJ, skim milk, baked ham (dry), a blueberry pancake (dry), a piece of French toast (dry) and grapefruit sections. ($5.33, Las Vegas Advisor (LVA), 1 Fork).

    I previously printed a coupon for a $44 massage at Massage Nirvana located on Fort Apache from the City Search website so we made the short drive to check it out. Ms. Westie talked to the attendant and made an appointment for Tuesday of the following week. Our next stop was the Las Vegas Premium Outlets where I purchased 9 pairs of much needed athletic socks and a T-shirt at Nautica. Meanwhile Ms. Westie found a jacket at Chico’s that she had priced back home at $99, marked down to $69 and then subject to a further reduction to $49. The clerk questioned the price and called over a supervisor to confirm, but the coupe de grace came when Ms. Westie pulled a 25% off coupon from out of her purse. I suspect there will be no year bonuses awarded at this location.

    The remainder of the afternoon was spent resting in our room though Ms Westie managed a short VP session while I primarily napped. Since this was her birthday month, she was credited for a bonus of 7,500 Club Coast points.

    Being the last of the big spenders, I decided to treat Ms. Westie to drinks, dinner and a show as a belated birthday gift. We started off with merlots at the very quiet west bar of the Gold Coast using drink coupons from a pair of Orleans funbooks. Note: all drinks mentioned in this TR were free courtesy of coupons.

    We next drove out to Patsy Grimaldi’s Coal Fired Pizza on Eastern. This rapidly expanding pizzeria franchise originated in Brooklyn and currently operates 6 restaurants in Arizona and Las Vegas. Prior to departing for this trip I signed Ms. Westie up for their e-newsletter and she subsequently received a certificate for a free large one item pizza as a birthday gift. We chose the white pizza with fresh tomatoes. The place was very busy so it took a while for the pizza to be served and we immediately noticed a piece was missing. The manager accidentally dropped a piece on the floor while slicing our pizza. Rather having us wait for another pizza to be prepared, they served us the original and offered to prepare a personal pizza. I protested and told him we probably wouldn’t be able to finish the pizza anyways and couldn’t take the second pizza with us since we were on vacation. The pizza was very good, but the crust was not quite as crunchy or tasty as those prepared on Wooster Street in New Haven. Just as we were about finished a personal pizza arrived that we were encouraged to take it with us. ($5, 3 Forks)

    The entertainment portion of this evening’s package was the Henderson Symphony Orchestra’s “Sounds of the Season” at the Henderson Events Plaza Amphitheatre. This was the kickoff for the city’s annual Winterfest weekend. A number of classic pieces were performed, but the highlight followed the intermission when the orchestra was joined by both the Silverado High School choir and Schofield Middle School’s Madrigal singers. ($0, 3.5 Claps)

    Prior to returning to the room we stopped for a case of water and a 12-pack of Pepsi at Wal-Mart. In the elevator on our way to the room a gentlemen remarked on seeing the water and soda that someone, presumably Ms. Westie, had a cheap date, presumably me. He obviously did not know that earlier in the evening I treated Ms Westie to a night of drinks, dinner and entertainment.

    The minute you walked in the joint
    I could see you were a man of distinction
    A real big spender

    (Peggy Lee)

    12/07 I mistakenly thought the Fiestas were offering 5 times points this day so I drove over to the Rancho location via Valley View for my early, 4 AM, VP session. It was better than yesterday’s session, but still unprofitable though maybe I can make it up in volume?

    Breakfast this morning was at the Le Village buffet at Paris. My plate(s) was soon filled with fresh berries, Lyonnaise potatoes, assorted cheeses, egg Benedict, poached pear, bacon and scrambled eggs with peppers. Most of the dishes were overcooked and left uneaten. The problem with the buffet since the Harrahs’ takeover is food is now prepared in large batches beforehand and kept warm until served. ($10, Las Vegas Advisor (LVA), 1 Fork)

    After breakfast we drove to the Mandalay Bay convention center to take in the Cowboy Marketplace. It turned out to be a total waste of time with nothing of interest. On returning to the room I spent the remainder of the daylight hours snoozing. Ms. Westie’s afternoon proved a bit more productive when her #1 quad deuces of the trip was registered. For those unfamiliar with full pay deuce wild (FPDW), quad deuces pays a total of 1,000 coins.

    Prior to dinner we returned to the west bar at the Gold Coast and I ordered a Wet Pearl, but John the bartender was clueless. We each ended up consuming a pair of merlots before departing for the Agave on Charleston Boulevard. We first dined at this gorgeous Mexican restaurant on our September trip. Warm blue and white corn tortilla chips were served with a pair of salsas and a warm bean dip. Ms. Westie ordered the blue corn chicken enchiladas and a soda. I opted for the taco sampler again, this time receiving what I ordered, namely birria (goat), rock shrimp and carnitas (pulled pork). In order to meet the $35 minimum purchase requirement on our ( gift certificate we were forced to order a coffee flan. Our bill exceeded the requirement by a mere 81 cents before tax and gratuity were added. ($18.59,, 4 Forks)

    It was a short drive to the Suncoast where we saw the Clint Holmes and Friends Celebrate Christmas show. Clint is my favorite Las Vegas entertainer and he did not disappoint us this evening. His friends included his sister Gayle Steele, his mom, best buddy and accompanist Bill Fayne, the Las Vegas Tenors and wife, Kelly Clinton. As expected, Clint and friends put on an exciting show with just the right mix of holiday and original music. ($0, 4.5 Claps)

    The ticket stubs are good for a free drink at any of the Coast Casinos bars so I managed to score a few that had been left on tables as we departed the showroom. Since this was my wife’s birthday month, she played a little in order to qualify for the bonus points, but the points failed to register. We went to the club booth and were informed that the birthday promotion was no longer being offered though locals would probably receive some form of bonus via a mailed coupon.

    12/08 This was the day the Fiestas were offering 5 x points so I trekked over to Rancho for my morning session. This turned out to be my first profitable VP session of the trip after I hit quad deuces #1 and #2.

    That's the way, I like it
    That's the way, I like it
    Ah-ha, ah-ha
    (K.C. and the Sunshine Band)

    Today’s breakfast provider was the ever so beautiful Ellis Island Casino on Koval. We ordered the cinnamon vanilla French toast which was cooked to perfection. ($6, ACG, 2.5 Forks) Ms. Westie needed a few more points on her Amigo card so it was off to Fiesta-Rancho where she hit her #2 quads of the trip and I hit my #3. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in our room reading, napping and counting our money.

    In the late afternoon we drove to Ellis Island and each ordered nog on the rocks followed by a glass of merlot. The 2007 nog was smoother than 2006’s, but not quite as up to the standard set by the highly acclaimed 2005 vintage. The entire casino was relatively quiet throughout our trip so getting a stool at the bar was relatively easy.

    We then drove out to Henderson to dine at Gaetano’s on Eastern. This restaurant is very much a family affair with the wife serving as maitre d, the husband reciting the night’s specials and the son serving as our waiter. We shared a Caesar salad that was disappointing, but our pasta entrees saved the evening. Ms. Westie ordered ravioli do zucca al burro e salvia - homemade ravioli stuffed with roasted butternut squash, topped with brown butter and sage. I ordered the mezzaluna di vitello con Porcini - homemade half moon pasta filled with veal, served with peas, prosciutto and porcini mushrooms in a light cream sauce. Both pasta dishes were bursting with flavor and I rated mine as the best entrée of the trip. We used a coupon for 50% off a second entrée that I located on the Las Vegas Review Journal’s (RJ) website: ($40.89, 4 Forks)

    The night concluded at the Gold Coast lounge where we watched a rerun of the evening’s National Final Rodeo (NFR). Ms. Westie chose Kaluha and cream while my beverage of choice was Sambuca straight up.

    I grew up a-dreamin' of bein' a cowboy,
    and Lovin' the cowboy ways.
    Pursuin' the life of my high-ridin' heroes,
    I burned up my childhood days.
    (Willie Nelson)

    On returning to the room I poured each of us a glass of milk, but accidentally spilt mine all over the night stand and carpet. I yelled and screamed, but I did not cry.

    12/09 In the early morning hours I drove to the Tuscany Suites & Casino to check the VP inventory and to play off $25 in bounceback cash while earning 5 x points. I took my $20 in winnings and made the short drive to Terrible’s in order to bolster my slot club point balance, but became bored after about 20 minutes playing the 9/6 JOB (jacks or better) machines. It was still too early to return to the room so I drove once more to Fiesta-Rancho where I hit my #4 quad deuces.

    Breakfast on this Saturday morning was at Bonito Michoacan on Decatur. We have enjoyed a few dinners at this Mexican restaurant in the past, but breakfast this morning was a disappointment. As one of the first to arrive, we were promptly seated and provided menus. The complimentary chips were commercial grade and both salsas probably originated in a factory. We ordered the breakfast of champions, huevos rancheros, but both dishes were slightly overcooked and unremarkable as were the accompanying frijoles refritos, salad and rice. My disappointment was only nominally tempered by the use of another 2/1 coupon found on the RJ’s website: ($12.21, 1.5 Forks)

    We were both tired so we returned to the room and spent much of the remainder of the morning reading the Sunday paper and dozing. In mid-afternoon we took a drive out to Boulder Station in order to keep our slot cards current, but I soon tired so I went to the sports book and watched the Patriots versus Pittsburg game.

    On our return to the Gold Coast Ms. Westie played a little more FPDW managing to hit quads #3 of the trip before it was time to visit the Orleans for drinks. Ms. Westie continued her assault on the merlot grape crop while I opted for a lemon drop martini and a Stella Artois.

    Dinner was at Hummus Mediterranean Grill on Durango. This small unassuming restaurant was virtually empty on this Sunday evening. Ms. Westie ordered the chicken shish kebab that was served sans the kebab, but included rice pilaf, a grilled pepper, grilled tomato, sumac onion and Greek salad. The rice pilaf was very bland and the grilled items had been prepared hours in advance. I ordered the chicken sharwama – an enormous serving of what was billed as sliced, but looked like pulled dark meat chicken that had been marinated in special shawarama spices and served with hummus, Greek salad and garlic sauce. The latter was a solid mass of something that I have never seen and only mildly hinted of garlic. The entire dish was visually unappealing and not particularly flavorful. In the restaurant’s defense we dined on a Sunday night only an hour or so before closing time. ($16.98, R com, 1 Fork)

    Our next stop was the Orleans to attend the Lee Greenwood Tennessee Christmas show. This show was almost 100% Christmas music with the exception of the obligatory God Bless the USA. Lee’s voice was never very strong and it has not improved with age. (1.5 Claps) After the show, Ms. Westie earned a few points playing 8/5 bonus poker and received the 7,500 point birthday bonus before we departed.

    12/10 Today was seniors’ day at the Fiestas so I drove to the Henderson location for 3 x points, but the slot card reader kept flashing that the system was attempting to verify my card. I decided to leave and went to Boulder Station, but the system there was down as well and it would not even accept money so I exited quickly, too quickly, because my head bounced off the roof of the car a few times as I hit one after another of those ^%$# speed bumps. I concluded the morning session playing at Sam’s Town where I soon hit my #5 quad deuces of the trip.

    The Orleans buffet received the nod this morning – OJ, skim milk, grapefruit and orange segments with strawberry yogurt and an eggbeaters’ spinach omelet. ($0, comp, 2.5 Forks)

    We had advance computer reservations at the Green Valley Library so we checked our email before making the short drive to the Fiesta-Henderson. An hour of uninspiring play was completed before we departed for The Cupcakery on Eastern Avenue. Ms. Westie chose a chocolate passion while I settled on a mocha, mocha. These moist and tasty morsels were consumed in our room with a glass of milk immediately on our return to the room. ($2.50, LVA, 3.5 Forks)

    I spent the remainder of the afternoon hibernating before we drove to Ellis Island for drinks, nog straight up for each of us followed by a glass of merlot. We departed reluctantly for our early dinner reservation at Origin India on Paradise. I have said before and I will say it again, this is the best Indian restaurant in Las Vegas. We were served housemade papadum with mint and tamarind sauces followed by a complimentary sweet potato salad that managed to be both spicy and cooling. Ms. Westie ordered the lamb chop masala - small tender chops that had been cooked in masala sauce. My entrée was chicken makhani, aka butter chicken, - melt-in-your mouth pieces of chicken cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. Both entrees included basmati rice, a black lentil dipping sauce, naan and an unadorned salad. I signed up online for the restaurant’s VIP club and used a 2/1 entrée coupon that was emailed to me shortly before we departed for this trip. ($30.86, 4.5 Forks)

    On returning to the Gold Coast we watched the end of the evening’s NFR telecast and listened for a very short time to the group Broadband in the lounge. This 5 female member country band played in the lounge each night during the NFR, but was way too loud for us to enjoy. (1 Clap)

    12/11 I drove out to the Fiesta-Rancho this morning to take advantage of the 5 x points being offered. After a few hours of play I was dealt Jack and Queen of spades and quickly filled in the Ace, Ten and King of spades for a royal! For those unfamiliar with video poker, a royal pays 4,000 coins and occurs, on average, once every 45,282 hands in FPDW. Approximately 5 minutes later I hit my #6 quad deuces of the trip.

    On my return we went downstairs to the buffet where I enjoyed grapefruit segments, OJ, skim milk, bacon and, to a lesser extent, Lyonnaise potatoes. One adverse change, are there any other, that occurred today was Club Coast members using a 2/1 coupon will no longer receive the $1 off member discount. This effectively increased the cost of the breakfast buffet by $2 since in the past the cashiers accepted both of our cards. ($7.49, LVA, 2.5 Forks)

    I drove Ms. Westie to Massage Nirvana on Fort Apache for her massage and then continued on to Ararat Bakery on Sahara. This small bakery is owned by an Armenian couple, but the desserts are made by a Brazilian man who was trained by a world famous French pastry chef. The choices were mind boggling and Ms. Westie wasn’t available for consultation so I winged it by ordering a white chocolate mousse and an Armenian Napoleon.

    I hastily drove to the Riviera to pick-up tickets for the Barbara and Frank: The Concert That Never Was show, but discovered the box office was did not open until 3PM because of the reduced number of shows currently being offered. I left the car in the back parking lot of the Riviera and, taking life in hand, crossed Paradise and entered the LV Hilton to purchase tickets to the Hitzville show.

    The clock was ticking down so I jogged back to the car and put the pedal to the metal to get back on time to pick up Ms. Westie. On entering Massage Nirvana ($44, 3 Claps) I was told my wife had already left and was likely prowling around the shopping center. After checking out a few possibilities, I found her having her hair done at a recently opened hair salon. Ms. Westie exited some 15 minutes later looking relaxed, limber and great.

    On returning to the room we shared the Armenian Napoleon, a light, layered concoction with custardy cream in phyllo dough that was pure heaven. The white chocolate mousse, consumed the day following, was not as successful being more like a cheesecake with hard pieces of chocolate throughout. ($5.50, 5 Forks for Napoleon, 2 Forks for the mousse)

    Ms. Westie spent the remainder of the afternoon reading, exercising and playing a little VP while I conserved energy by napping. In the late afternoon we stopped by the lounge to listen to the Las Vegas Classic Jazz Band. ($0, 2 Claps)

    When the chimes rang signaling the official beginning of the drinking hour we departed for the Orleans. I requested Stella (Artois), but she was not available this evening so I settled on a Fat Tire amber ale draft while Ms. Westie stayed with a more dependable merlot.

    Dinner tonight was at the Food Express on Decatur. Neither the name, location in front of the Fantastic Swap Meet nor physical appearance would suggest fine dining, but fine dining is what we enjoyed. Unlike many Asian restaurants, service was both cheerful and attentive. We shared orders of sautéed shrimp coated with mayonnaise with honey walnuts, Singapore rice noodles and pea leaves with garlic. The latter was not on the menu and relatively expensive at $11, but delicious. It is going to be hard to believe, but I had no discount for this restaurant, but I suspect we will be returning on our next trip. ($35.68, 4.5 Forks)

    We next drove to Fiesta-Rancho where Ms. Westie hit a ROYAL on a progressive FPDW machine. This represented a first for us, both hitting a royal in the same day albeit some 19 nineteen hours apart. On returning to the Gold Coast we celebrated by enjoying a Kaluha and cream (Ms. Westie) and Wet Pearl (me) while listening to the band
    West of Nowhere in the showroom. ($0, 2 Claps)

    12/12 Only a little pain, no gain this morning at my pre dawn VP session. We had reached the half way point of the trip so the first order of business was to visit our favorite wash and fold before breakfast at Ellis Island. Ms. Westie ordered the pancakes while I went for the Full Monty by ordering the eggs, home fries, bacon and sourdough toast special. ($5.75, American Casino Guide (ACG), 2.5 Forks)

    We drove to Palace Station and attended a health and wellness exposition. It was more than a little presumptuous to bill this as an expo since there could not have been more than two dozen exhibitors. While Ms. Westie enjoyed a chair massage, I was busy picking up bottles of water, pens, pillboxes and anything else that wasn’t nailed down including 2 cookies.

    Next stop was Fiesta-Rancho where we experienced a financially painful VP session. On returning to the room we devoured the white chocolate mousse previously purchased at the Ararat Pastry shop. In the late afternoon, we picked up our laundry and returned to Ellis Island for pre dinner libations of nog and merlot.

    Ain't but three things in this world that's worth a solitary dime
    But old dogs and children and Ellis Island’s nog and wine

    (Tom T. Hall assisted by Westie)

    We made yet another cross town trip to dine at Paymon’s Mediterranean Café on west Sahara. We shared a flaming saganaki appetizer served with pita bread – a slice of Kefalotyri (Greek) cheese that has been sauteed and then flambéed with rum and finished with a sprinkle of fresh lemon juice. This dish was not flambéed tableside as is customary, but it was quite tasty though very filling. Ms Westie’s entree was moussaka - a layered casserole of sliced eggplant, onions, potato and ground beef topped with a bechamel sauce. It was accompanied by a small cup of Mediterranean vegetables and plain basmati rice. I ordered fesenjan, a Persian dish – pieces of boneless chicken slowly cooked with crushed walnuts in a tangy semi-sweet pomegranate sauce and served with a large mound of plain basmati rice. In order to meet the minimum dollar amount required under the terms of our certificate I was forced to consume an order of Athens fries as well. Overall we were under whelmed by this dining experience. ($21.66,, 2 Forks)

    The traveling show continued with us driving to South Point to put on a few points so Ms. Westie would earn the 2,500 bonus point birthday bonus. This night’s live NFR broadcast had just concluded so we joined another couple at a table in the beautiful and intimate showroom and listened to Blaine Gray for one set. His voice was somewhat reminiscent of fellow Texan George Strait which means he was real good. (3.5 Claps) ($25.65, 4.5 Forks

    12/13 Terrible’s was offering 3 x points this day so I mossied on over in order to earn enough points to qualify for a $75 McCormick & Schmicks (M'S) gift certificate. When I reached the required 10,000 points I quickly switched over and started using Ms. Westie’s card.

    On my return to the Gold Coast we went downstairs and enjoyed the breakfast buffet. ($8.49, LVA, 2.5 Forks) After reading the newspaper in the room, we decided to take in the Cowboy Christmas Show at the convention center. I dropped Ms. Westie off at the front door and parked in the frugal lot at the Riviera. This show is much bigger and better than the one held at Mandalay Bay so we decided to split up and meet back in an hour.

    On exiting the show we continued south on Paradise and confirmed that Jersey Mike’s would be open early enough for us to pick up a couple of subs on our way to the airport next week.

    Next stop was Terrible’s where I redeemed a LVA coupon for a free T-shirt and purged my slot club balance for the aforementioned M'S certificate. I was very much surprised to discover the certificate was set to expire within one week, not a problem since we were planning on dining there two more times on this trip. I also redeemed a pair of discarded free drink certificates, probably from someone cashing a paycheck, that I found earlier in the day for 2 bottles of water.

    Later that afternoon, Ms. Westie hit her #4 quad deuces of the trip during an abbreviated VP session at the Gold Coast while I added a few more points on her Terrible’s card. We continued our holiday tradition of enjoying nog and merlot at Ellis before departing for dinner at M'S. We shared a spinach salad with fennel and cranberries tossed with a basil dressing that sounded much better than it tasted. We each ordered the seafood fettucine – rock shrimp and bay scallops in a garlic cream sauce. This dish was very tasty, but the bay scallops were the smallest I have ever seen. ($27.90,, 2.5 Forks)

    We next drove to the LV Hilton to attend Hitzville in the intimate Shimmer Cabaret. This show features Jin-Jin Reeves and a group called Fair Play. The latter have appeared in the Legends in Concert show as both the Temptations and Four Tops. Jin-Jin was clearly the star of the show performing tributes to Gladys Knight, Diana Ross and Tina Turner. The Shimmer Cabaret was freezing, but the performers were hot. I used a 2/1 coupon received via email from the LV Hilton. ($43, 3.5 Claps)

    12/14 The “Last Thing I Need First Thing This Morning” (Willie) was a VP session like the one I experienced today. On returning to the room Ms. Westie was not ready to greet the day so I departed for the bar downstairs because “It's a Bloody Mary Morning” (Willie),

    Breakfast at the Orleans buffet was the same old the same old. ($0, Comp, 2 Forks) We then drove to the Clark County Library to check our email and also viewed a small photography exhibit titled FAUX - art and architecture in the new Las Vegas. ($0, 2 Claps)

    Next stop was Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall where we parked and walked over to Bellagio. The Christmas display in the Conservatory and Botanical Garden was wonderful with Emperor penguins assisting Santa including one that was teetering on a tall ladder, flying reindeer finished in pecans and thousands of poinsettias. We also window shopped at the Chihuly store as well as the patisserie. ($0, 4 Claps)

    We returned to the room and spent the remainder of the day relaxing, reading and napping. Tonight’s beverage dispenser was John at the west bar at the Gold Coast. We discovered that when I previously ordered a wet pearl, he thought I said a wet poodle. In either case, John did not know how to make the drink, but I provided the formula and he dispensed the drinks.

    We drove downtown where we had reservations on this Friday night at Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse. On being seated at a table overlooking the downtown area I pulled out my 2/1 ACG coupon and read the small print. Oops, valid Sunday – Thursday only. I apologized to the maitre d’ as we exited. Time was growing short and I started to panic fearing I would have to pay full price for another meal, but remembered I had a coupon for Binion’s deli in the car. We rushed back to the car and read the coupon – not valid weekends. Not to worry, I must have a coupon for the Golden Gate – nope, didn’t bring that sucker with me. Resigned to defeat we returned to Binion’s and went to the deli where we shared a corned beef sandwich on a Kaiser roll with pickles and a side of potato salad plus 2 sodas. The corned beef these days is nuked prior to serving which is yet one more example of the continuing decline of Binion’s. ($8, 1.5 Fork)

    While seated at the deli Ms. Westie pulled out our certificate for 2 tickets to the Country Superstars show at Fitzgerald’s and discovered it expired two days prior, not at all surprising given the way my luck has been running today. We decided to take it to the showroom box office anyways and it was accepted by the clerk with nary a glance – phew!

    I pity those who paid $100-$200 to see Brooks and Dunn at the LV Hilton this evening because unbeknownst to them the duo were performing an early show at Fitzgerald’s for a fraction of the price. In addition, Shania Twain, Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw were on the bill. Everyone was very good, but the individual impersonating Ronnie Dunn was just exceptional. ($24, KSHP, 3.5 Claps)

    On exiting Fitzgerald’s we walked about three yards and watched the 8PM performance of the Bright Lights on Ice show. There were probably 10 ice skaters plus 2 acrobats performing on a very small stage. It was well worth 15 minutes of our vacation time. ($0, 2 Claps)

    Continuing up Fremont Street we stopped to enjoy the music of Carl “Safe Sax” Ferris, one of the FSE light shows and one of the spray paint artists. ($0, 3 Claps) Our last stop was the Golden Gate where we enjoyed a pair of 99 cent shrimp cocktails while waiting for the piano player to return from break. ($2, 1.5 Forks) We were hoping to see Barbara, but she had the night off and by the time this night’s performer was ready to play we were on our way out the door.

    Oh, the night life ain't no good life
    Oh, but it's my life


    12/15 At this morning’s VP session I was dealt my #7 quad deuces of the trip, but managed to give it all back plus some over the next 2.5 hours. I stopped at Smith’s for a pair of apple fritters ($1.50, 1.5 Forks) which we enjoyed in the room.

    First stop this morning was the Reed Whipple Cultural Center in North Las Vegas in order to view the Meta-Morph’ art exhibit. This exhibit featured the works of two local photographers, James Cho and Atsuko Parker, who captured the natural and artificial landscapes of the Las Vegas. ($0, 2 Claps)

    Since we were in the immediate area, we made the short drive to Jerry’s Famous Coffee shop at Jerry’s Nugget. We ordered a bread pudding and a piece of chocolate swirl cheesecake to go. We had to wait a few minutes because the bread pudding was not quite ready. The cashier seemed confused on how to handle my coupon and when I suggested she just deduct the cheaper item she grew a little testy. Instead of deducting the cheapest ($2.50), she deducted the most expensive ($4.50). Maybe this is what makes Jerry’s Cofffee shop famous? ($2.69, ACG, 4 Forks)

    Our next stop was Boulder Station for a short session of FPDW before departing for lunch at Origin India. We were the only customers this Saturday afternoon so I suspect luncheon hours may be curtailed in the future. We each ordered chicken kebab roll – grilled tandoor chicken wrapped in a Romali roll. Lunches include a choice of ice tea or soda, we chose the ice tea. The flavor was truly amazing, but the amount of food was more than we needed. The cost of the meal is net of a $10 coupon received after I provided feedback on our experience in September. ($11.62, 4.5 Forks)

    We returned to the room and rested before heading to Mandalay Bay for the 6PM performance of Mama Mia. I parked in the convention center lot and we arrived at the events center to find we were the only ones in the immediate area. Initially we thought this night’s performance was cancelled, but why weren’t signs posted or other ticket holders in the immediate area? Finally a light came on and we realized we were in the right church, wrong pew. On arriving at the theater, we found the remainder of tonight’s audience and then quickly located our seats 2 rows from the stage and almost dead center. This was our second time seeing this show, but previously we were seated one row from the back so we missed the actors’ facial expressions. Though I have never been, nor will I ever be, a fan of ABBA, this show was a blast from start to finish. Tickets were purchased at 50% off retail on a fall special sent out by Mandalay Bay. ($117, 4 Claps)

    We both were a little hungry on exiting the theatre so we drove over to Pho Kim Long on Spring Mountain Road. Ms. Westie ordered bun tom thit nuong, also known as old #43 - charbroiled shrimp & egg roll with rice vermicelli served cold. I ordered pho tai, #10 – rare steak noodle soup with basil, sprouts and lime. I requested the steak on the side and cranked up the spice level through a liberal application of hot chili sauce. I shudder to think of the battle taking place in my stomach that night having consumed Indian for lunch and pho for dinner though I slept like a baby. ($17, 4 Forks)

    12/16 Terrible’s was offering 3 x points and Ms. Westie’s slot card balance was a few thousand points south of 10,000 so I put in a few hours this morning playing 9/6 JOB. No loss or gain was registered though hitting natural quad deuces made me feel like I had lost money. It was still too early to wake Ms. Westie so I drove over to the Orleans to play some low denomination blackjack (BJ). The Orleans has installed a large screen video BJ game that offers decent rules though it shuffles continuously. I did not receive the 7 x points that began today, but after an hour of play managed to walk away with an extra $30.

    We read the Sunday edition of the RJ before driving to Orchids Garden on Sahara for dim sum. We were one of the first to arrive this morning, but the room filled up over the next hour. I failed to write down what we ate, but 5 of the 7 dishes we tried contained pretty much the same ingredients of ground pork and shrimp. The best dish was the egg tarts with the worst being the barbecued pork bun which was all bun, no pork. ($16.40, 1 Fork)

    Next stop was the tickets4tonight outlet in the Peppermill parking lot only to find out tickets to this evening’s Las Vegas Tenors’ show were not being offered. We then drove to Fiesta-Rancho for a short VP session where I won, but less than Ms. Westie lost.

    At 4PM we met Buddha and his wife Nancy at the west bar at the Gold Coast for drinks and a very enjoyable conversation. The time went by quickly and they departed for the South Point while we lingered and had a second drink. There was a table of appetizers set out for people who were registering for a 3-day slot tournament. I received the same invitation so I felt compelled to check out the freebies.

    We decided to dine tonight at Chapala’s on Decatur after I found a 2/1 coupon in the print edition of the RJ. We dined at the Tropicana location approximately 4 years ago. It took awhile for anyone to wait on us after being seated, but we eventually were served industrial taco chips and two bottled salsas. Our cheese enchiladas were accompanied by the usual refried beans, dried out Spanish rice and iceberg lettuce salad. The enchiladas were tasty, but everything else was very mediocre. ($12.70, 1 Fork)

    Our last stop of the evening was the Riviera to see the Barbara and Frank: The Concert That Never Was. There was no notice advising the audience that stand-ins would be performing, but having seen the show previously we knew the B team was on stage. ($24.67, ebay, 2 Claps)

    On returning to the room we shared the bread pudding previously purchased at Jerry’s Famous Coffee shop. Ms. Westie gave a qualified two thumbs up, but I thought it was worth a least 2 thumbs, an index finger and two toes. IMHO Steve Wynn’s mom cannot hold a candle to Jerry’s mom.

    12/17 I would sooner pass a kidney stone than endure another VP session like I experienced this morning. The Gold Coast buffet was pretty much the same though turnover was more of a problem now that the NFR was over. ($7.49, LVA, 1.5 Forks)
    As we were departing the buffet, I thought I recognized someone from across the room. He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. Oops, that was my reflection in the mirror.

    I had a short chat with Buddha and Nancy as they were heading out to the Cannery for 5 x points. Ann and I played a little, but were beaten to a pulp so we retired to the room to lick our wounds.

    Later in the morning we drove to Fiesta-Rancho for an additional licking, but the Westies kept on ticking. As Bob Dylan said “you don’t need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing, so cut our losses and drove to UNICA on Dean Martin Drive. The road was in process of being repaved so the driving was painfully slow. We mostly window shopped, but did purchase two Chilewich placemats.

    On our return to the room we shared the chocolate swirl cheesecake from Jerry’s – excellent. After a long rest, we ventured once again to Ellis Island for nogs and merlots.

    On arriving at Origin India this we were served complimentary papadum with mint and tamarind sauces. Orders of chicken Chettinad - boneless thigh pieces cooked with pounded southern spices with a hint of coconut and lamb Rajwari - boneless lamb cooked with spices, tomatoes, yogurt and a touch of cashew. Both dishes included a vegetable dish, naan, rice and salad. We used a printable 2/1 coupon that had been emailed to members of the restaurant’s VIP club)

    12/18 I only lost a few dollars this morning, but realized it has been 3 long days since my last quad deuces. Breakfast was at the Orleans. ($7.49, ACG, 2 Forks) Our next stop was the Liberace Museum which we toured in approximately 1.5 hours. We enjoyed reading about his career as well as seeing his vehicles and furniture, but the most interesting part for us was his outrageous costumes. ($8, KSHP, 3 Claps)

    We then drove to the Clark County library to return books, check our email and checked in online. Our next stop was Fiesta-Rancho where we put in an unproductive hour before retiring to the room.

    This was our last night so we drove over to Ellis Island for nog and merlot before making the short hop to M'S to use our $75 gift certificate. We started off with the fried calamari appetizer with three sauces which were light and flavorful. Ms. Westie ordered the swordfish “au povre” which was finished in a pomegranate demi glace, chanterlles, asparagus and a truffle potato cake. I ordered corvine devon port, similar to seabass, which was roasted in pecan honey butter and accompanied by Brussel sprouts and fingerling potatoes. Both dishes were excellent though on returning home, I googled corvine devon port unsuccessfully. We finished the meal by sharing a gingerbread crème brulee. The total bill pre tax and gratuity after deducting the gift certificate came to 75 cents. After this meal you could have trussed me up because I was already stuffed.
    ($17.61, 3.5 Forks)

    12/19 My early morning session was quite unique with (7) wild royals and (6) 5 of a kinds during the first hour. Just before quitting time, I was dealt my second quad deuces, 8th overall, of the trip. We enjoyed a bountiful breakfast at the Gold Coast before checking-out. ($7.49, LVA, 2 Forks)

    On the way to the CRF we stopped at Jersey Mike’s on Paradise for (2) Italian subs to go ($6.41, Entertainment, 2 Forks). The car return process went smoothly, our plane was on time and our flight was stress free.

    The stars were again aligned for Team Westie as we defied the odds and beat the houses that Gaughan and Maloof built for the 8th consecutive time. Ms. Westie led the way with an Estimated Hourly Wage (EHW) of $25 up from $19 on our last trip. My EHW also improved from the pitiful 62 cents registered last trip to just over the minimum wage at $9.13.

    Thanks again for taking the time out to read this TR and expect the sequel, “O Westie, Where Art Thou” in May, 2008.

    Addendum: Shortly after returning home I began experiencing dizziness and a high grade fever. My doctor’s diagnosis is that I am going through nog withdrawal,

    TR Credits

    Producer and Director Ms. Westie

    Author: Westie

    Editor: Max-the Schipperke

    Lead Mouser: Ziggy-the-Cat

    Casting by: the Big Dude Upstairs

    Musial Score by Waylon, Willie & the Boys

    Ms. Westie’s wardrobe furnished by Chico

    Westie’s fashion consultants: Levi Strauss and F. O. Loom

    Legal Services provided by: Law firm of Dancer, Prancer, Comet & Vixen

    Cast Nutritionists: Mr. and Mrs. Jack Sprat

    Staff Physicians: Drs. Ernest and Julio Gallo

  • #2
    Re: Las Vegas Trip Report

    After reading your report of your trip, it sounds like you got into one of the storms that we have been having. Close to Rockford, we got over 5' of the white stuff today. It sure messes up all travel in the area.
    Thanks for taking the time to give us a good read.


    • #3
      Re: Las Vegas Trip Report

      Sounds like you had
      a absolutely fun time. Since you flew out of Bradley, you guys must be CT. Down around the shoreline, I would use PVD. Got to get to Vegas this year. Take care and Happy New Year!


      • #4
        Re: Las Vegas Trip Report

        Nice post Westie, it was entertaining, witty, and informative. You should be writing for a travel or casino magazine. Those coupons sure saved you a significant amount of money.

        It was nice to hear that there is still some FPDW and FPJOB left in Vegas, since Laughlin only has a few left now.

        I wonder if the Tropicana still has that FPDW with the royal progressive just outside one of the men's rooms?
        Probably not, but I'll find out next month when I pass through.


        • #5
          Re: Las Vegas Trip Report

          We are from Berlin so BDL is much closer for us.


          • #6
            Re: Las Vegas Trip Report

            Isn't parking at BDL about 5 bucks per day ??