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Post Posted: October 4th, 2013, 1:45 pm 
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This is just going to be a list of things and places. No photos really, other than a few on my phone, so don't ask. This trip was with my wife, so we did more touristy things; things I never do on my normal solo trips.

Arrived late morning Sunday and got the car (Chevy Malibu) quickly and easily at Dollar Express.

Had first meal at Tropical Smoothie by the Outlet Mall. Last healthy food for a week.

Check in at Mirage. Dropped the car at the north valet and gave the luggage and case of water we'd just purchased at CVS to the bell desk folks. At registration there was a long line between the velvet ropes; three back and forths, but thanks to plenty of desk personnel and three young men directing folks, it moved swiftly. I had upgraded to a King Tower Deluxe for an additional $20 a night. The upgrade had two major worths. A separate glassed in shower, which I love in a room, and two private elevators for floors 24 and 25. One was nearly always there when you pressed the button and they never stopped between the lobby and our floor or vice versa. Room 25021, which was very nice, faced TI, Venetian and Wynncore. Also, the included in room WiFi (strong signal) kind of took the sting out of the resort fee.

Had dinner that night at In N Out, Blue Diamond Rd. If you have a car it's a neat little trick to avoid the long lines at the very busy In N Out at Dean Martin and Tropicana. Then right down the street to Silverton to keep my club status, with little VP at the Shady Grove Bar. Walked out with with about $150 of their money. But now it was my money.

In bed by 9PM that first night as we'd been up since 3AM east coast time, or about 21 hours. Just as I was nodding off, this loud sound invaded the room. A very strong bass roar followed by some loud percussion, WTF? Some electric club DJ showing off as a show began? It lasted about two minutes. After that I could still hear music, but not bad. About a half hour later it happened again. I'm thinking, hmmmm, I may need to change rooms tomorrow. I wasn't even sure if Mirage has an ultra club, but, I'd find the location and ask for a room away from it. The next morning, as I suspected we were up early, around 5:30AM, or 8:30AM east coast time. I walked to the window to welcome the world as the sun rose over Frenchman Mountain (aka Sunrise Peak) and looked down towards the Strip. Wait! What!? The volcano!? Duh. Well, knowing that, I learned to live with the loud noise. It seems to erupt only a couple of times a night during the week. It didn't bother me after that.

Back in a bit. Okay, maybe two bits.

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Post Posted: October 4th, 2013, 8:40 pm 
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Keep it coming. So far so good.


Shame you don't have pics of the room.

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Post Posted: October 4th, 2013, 11:26 pm 
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The first morning we headed out W. Tropicana to the Black Bear Diner, about 2.5 miles west of the Orleans. I'd heard much good about this place and it didn't disappoint. Hash and eggs with red potatoes for me and a bear claw on the side. The latter was amazingly flaky with a generous layer of cinnamon goodness spread within. Served hot. The hash was superb. The corned beef had been 'pulled' and not ground-up like you get nearly everywhere else. My wife had eggs Benedict with the potatoes and a fresh fruit dish side. The coffee was excellent and always there. The waitress was working about a half dozen tables at that early hour and I noticed she wrote nothing down, but the order came out perfectly. The theme is bears everywhere. It's a nice place. Go.

Then off to Boulder City. First Hoover Dam though. My wife hadn't been on the interior passageways tour which had been reestablished about three years ago after being eliminated when the WTC was attacked. Unfortunately those interior walks have once again been eliminated, this time due to lack of funding to the Bureau of Reclamation. Only the power house tour, which she has already been on, was operating. I imagine the next day, this past Tuesday, and since then, there are no tours at all.

We returned to Boulder City and checked out a few neighborhoods for next year's relocation. We parked in the downtown area (free diagonal parking, no limit) and walked around there. A very nice small town atmosphere with lots of shops, restaurants and galleries. Much of the Spanish mission style architecture going back to the early 30s when the Boulder City was built, still survives. They even have a micro-brewery to call their own.

http://www.boulderdambrewing.com/

We stopped in to The World Famous Coffee Cup for, what else, a cup of coffee. Yeah, I had a cinnamon roll. So what? It was vacation. No training table rules.

http://www.worldfamouscoffeecup.com/

We spoke with some locals. Very friendly place in a very friendly town.

Then we did some more walking, up the hill around some of the beautiful little homes which are original to the town. They were thrown up helter skelter to provide living space for the Dam workers and their families back then. Mostly two and three bedroom, single bath shacks in the sand in those days. Today most of them are beautiful quaint small houses having been improved and personalized over the last seventy years. And the town itself is very green now with open parks and plenty of shade trees.

The last stop in BC was the Boulder Dam Hotel (it has retained the original name of the project even after the official name of the Dam was permanently changed to Hoover in 1947) and the Hoover Dam Museum within. A small but nice display in about five rooms. The admission is only $2 and if you don't want to read an entire book on the project, this is a good alternative.

http://www.bcmha.org

Then back to Las Vegas. To be continued (when I can remember what we did later that day).

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Post Posted: October 5th, 2013, 9:58 am 
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Okay, I remembered. We didn't do much really on Monday evening. After a day of walking around Hoover Dam and Boulder City, we crashed for awhile. That evening we ate at Cravings, the buffet at Mirage. It was a 2for as I had 'purchased' one via My Vegas Slots. It was very good, and I ate too much. But that was the story throughout this trip. I didn't worry about it. I just now weighed myself and was not surprised to see I went from 188 the day we left to 198 this morning. No biggie. I can drop that in a couple of weeks.

A comment on MVS. We arrived there with three comps. I ended up only using one. Because I had upgraded the room, they were willing to honor the one night room comp I had, but it would have meant jumping through a few hoops. It could not be done at the registration desk, but would have required contacting MVS, (which I did) canceling and rebooking one night. I didn't want to deal with it. However, it was easy to have them just refund the loyalty points to my account (as I've mentioned before, I'll probably never use all those I have banked already), and repurchase. My wife said she wouldn't mind seeing The Secret Garden. So I got it for her. I figured I'd just do some gambling while she was wandering among the beasties. But then I found out at the M Life desk that because it was in my name, she couldn't use it. So, that was one of three we didn't use. And the last was for the Bellagio lunch buffet. We just never found a convenient time for it. But, hey, it's not like it cost me anything.

After Cravings, we just walked the Strip a bit, ending up at the Walgreen's on the corner of Harmon to pick up a couple of things. Then back to the Mirage. The crowds seemed to be small for nearly October (it was the last day of September), but perhaps the trade show/convention crowd arrives a bit later in the month. The sidewalks were fairly easy to negotiate. She went up to the room and I sat at The Sports Bar for some VP (.25). I had a loose and somewhat warm machine. Lot's of trips, a good number of boats, a couple of 4oaks and a straight flush (to the king; WTF!?). After one Jack and Coke, I cashed out $250 up and walked away. Maybe I should have stayed, and maybe not. We'll never know, though I did notice the next day that someone had hit the progressive Royal. That kind of stuff always makes gamblers wonder. It's our nature, I suppose.

To bed for the next morning, bright and early, bound for Californee and a desert hike at China Ranch.

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 11:14 am 
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Well?

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 11:19 am 
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I am a little surprised you are staying on the strip! Did you get a really good deal?

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 12:57 pm 
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Lost my motivation for a bit, pebs. I'll get back on it.

Yes, sky. $39 per night for 3 and $49 for 1 initially. That's when I signed on, Then they offered the nicer King Tower Deluxe for an additional $20 per, so I grabbed it. Also the fact that it was one of my wife's infrequent Las Vegas trips (she likes Walt Disney World), I thought I'd make it a bit upscale. The last time she was with me we stayed at Encore.

On Tuesday morning we grabbed coffee and a muffin each at The Roasted Bean to take on the drive to China Ranch in the Tecopa, CA area.

http://www.chinaranch.com

I've posted reports on hikes out there as well as photos in the past, so I won't go into detail. It was a first for my wife and also her first serious hike (about five miles). She got upset when her brand new hiking shoes got all muddy as we forded the Amargosa River. All I could think of was a Tom Hanks voice saying, "There's no whining in hiking."

It was harvesting time for the dates and after our hike we got to watch the packing process a bit. The ride out there is about an hour and fifteen minutes and pretty straight forward. If anyone ever thinks of heading to CR, I'll be happy to provide directions.

We got back to Las Vegas around lunch time and had thought we would split a sandwich at Carnegie Deli. After cleaning up and changing clothes we went down to discover it was closed (had been open the night before) for the installation of a new floor. So we ate at BLT Burger. It was good, but not spectacular. A burger is a burger. I think I enjoyed the burger at the Country Club Grill at Wynn about three years back much more, so I have to suspect the setting has a lot to do with an appreciation of ground beef.

Tuesday evening we had tix for The Jersey Boys at Paris. I had learned the Mandarin Bar has what they call Shanghai Nights each Tuesday, so it sounded like a good place for pre-show drinks and a light bite. It was my first sojourn into City Center so I'm glad my intent was to get there early. By the time we found the elevator up to Mandarin Bar, we arrived right on the dot of the reservation time, 6:30. There was a quartet playing. Not jazz, but close to it. Easy listening contemporary stuff, I suppose. They were by the north windows so we took a seat by the south glass. The waitresses were attired in traditional Chinese silk dresses, buttoned to the neck, but with a slit on the left side which reached high on their thighs. It was very attractive.

Three cocktails (one for her, two for me) and an order of sliders and one of chicken satay came to $74. My first drink was a cognac cocktail served in a snifter glass. She had the Amber Aztec, a chocolate concoction. My second was a Sazerac;

Image

It was made with six year old Sazerac rye and absinthe. That one snuck up on me. Normally, I can consume a fair amount of straight whiskies before feeling any effect. This was my first experience with the absinthe though, so I suspect that was the culprit.

We had plenty of time so we took it and enjoyed the view towards NYNY and MGM. The Jersey Boys was a 9:30 performance.

Now perhaps it's because I was a high-schooler of 60s, when The Four Seasons were at their most popular, or perhaps it's because I grew up in a neighborhood outside of Boston with a large southern Italian population similar to the New Jersey area where Frankie Valli was from, but I absolutely loved this play. However, my wife, who is of a Celtic heritage and grew up in a more WASPish New Hampshire, said it was the best play she has ever seen. And that includes, Cirque's Love, from a woman who owned every Beatles song and saw them live, when she was a kid. TJB is a great play and I recommend it highly.

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 4:39 pm 
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Just to add for the Tuesday evening; I had used discounter Best Of Vegas on pebbles recommendation for the play tix. They were $99 per and that put us left side orchestra on the aisle eight rows back fron the stage. I'll use them again if I need play tickets. On a related note, after having walked to the MO from Mirage and being seated, I realized I'd left the printouts of the confirming emails in our room. My first thought was to leave in time to walk my wife as far as Paris and have her wait while I hustled back to get them. Not something I really wanted to do. Then. .. Wait! I can pull up the emails for the box office on my phone. I checked to confirm they had been saved to my drafts folder and I was feeling pretty damn smug. And the way the absinthe was stroking my gray cells I may not have been able to find the Mirage anyway. Okay, it wasn't that bad. However I may not have hesitated to throw someone in front of the Deuce if they got in my way. In any event, when we arrived at the box office and I was ready to go all high tech on them, the very nice young man said all he needed was my ID. So pay no attention to those middle man purchase confirmations that say you have ti produce paperwork. Well at the Paris Theater anyway

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 6:55 pm 
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Glad my tip delivered. I'm always nervous recommending stuff because I feel responsible for the experience. MO sounds nice. I'm hoping to go next time. Tony went with rog after I left for my mum's funeral. I have to catch up.

I love Jersey Boys. Seen it twice, (both at Palazzo) We might check it out again next trip because Tony has only seen it once, and neither of us have seen it at Paris. Saw Barry Manilow twice in that theatre. It's a good place.

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 7:02 pm 
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Yes, it's a nice theater. Perfect size for me. My wife and some of the other gals on her floor at the hospital may go see TJB in Boston soon. And your advice was perfect.

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Post Posted: October 6th, 2013, 7:09 pm 
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Thanks, good to know.

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Post Posted: October 9th, 2013, 11:00 pm 
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Nice report!!

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Post Posted: October 9th, 2013, 11:35 pm 
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Good info on the Tue night thing at MO, I will have to check that out. I am not usually there on a Tue night, but this next trip I will be. Was the band a trio with a guitar, drums and cello? I noticed last time on Sunday that they were doing less jazzy stuff, and more instrumental versions of recognizable songs. Unfortunately.

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Post Posted: October 9th, 2013, 11:48 pm 
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I'm not sure how the make up of the group was, rog. They did have a male vocalist. We were across the room from them and they were on a break when I passsed that area enroute to the latrine.

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Post Posted: October 10th, 2013, 9:17 am 
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On our last full day, the plan was to visit the Las Vegas Springs Preserve and a daytime trip Downtown. We got, as usual for folks from the right coast, an early start. I knew the Ports O Call buffet at the Gold Coast opens at 7AM and with the B-Connected card is only $5.99. So that was our first stop. We also had a backpack stuffed full of clothes we thought we might run through a wash cycle at a local Laundromat. They came home still stuffed in the backpack.

The buffet at the Gold Coast was basic and good and very much worth the price. They do have an omelet station and the line was short. After breakfast we did a little gaming. Good play time on VP, but in the end, my money was their money.

My wife had not seen the Preserve before and I have not been since the Nevada State Museum was relocated to a spacious new building there. Unfortunately, Wednesday is the one day of the week it is not opent. However there was still plenty to see. It's focus is water, and how its discovery by the Fremont expedition of the 1840s (Fremont attended Charleston College in SC, hence...) was the springboard of Las Vegas's existence. What it looked like back then:

Image

Most of the pools and springs are dry now, Las Vegas switching over to Lake Mead water in the 1950s. However one of the guides told us there are still two wells on the grounds pumping, feeding a limited number of homes on the west side.

After a couple of hours of walking around at the Preserve, we hopped on Alta Dr. eastbound and headed Downtown. Du-Pars for lunch. Good, but not great. Three stars out of five if I was a Yelper. A Ruben for her and open faced turkey for me and a shared slice of lemon meringue pie. Good basic diner food. However the throw-back decor and atmosphere (waitresses wear traditional 50s uniforms) was interesting.

Then over to MSS and the Boars Head for more VP and a couple of Triple 7s pale ales. Same story on gambling as earlier at the Gold Coast. Time to walk off lunch on Fremont St. Slotzilla? Ugly as $%^&*. Tear if down. I had to pick up some ibuprofen at ABC. Grabbed it, paid for it, began to walk out only to realize she was slowly working her way towards the back 'shopping'. So I waited. And then she slowly made her way towards to front on the other side. So I waited. Finally done, she emerged with a bag full of god knows what and we headed back to the MSS valet to get the car.

Her afternoon was spent at the Mirage pool. I got on the computer to check in with SWA for the next days flight. Early Bird got us A53 and A54. Not bad since it was somewhat less than twenty-four hours to the flight. Then I lost a few more bucks at The Sports Bar while enjoying a coffee spiked with Sambuca Romana. Located her at the pool, hung around a bit and then back up to the room.

The evening plans were for a return to the Black Bear Diner for dinner. She really likes the place and I would agree with her. She had a sirloin strip which she said was very good and I went with fried chicken. We had considered desert, but the entrees are of a proportion that changed our minds. After dinner, down Tropicana Ave we went to the Orleans, a place which is always dear to us. Dear does not necessarily mean kind and generous. More like familiar and comfortable. At the Mardi Gras Bar we played and ordered Long Islands. The drinks were good (two each) and the VP was okay. About 90 minutes later we both cashed out up; her about $60 to the good, me about half that. Not great, but it was a nice day to end the gambling and wind down the trip.

Nothing left to say. Just packed up that night and headed to the airport the next morning. A coffee and bagel at Dunkin Donuts and a stop at Subway for sandwiches for the flight before dropping the car off, and farewell to Las Vegas until the next time.

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Post Posted: October 13th, 2013, 12:51 pm 
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Good job man! Keep up the pack mule saga for the wife; I know I do.

You are gonna need a few pairs of xtra hiking boots when you motor over permanent to the silver state.

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Post Posted: October 13th, 2013, 2:01 pm 
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Thanks, Mark. And I've already scoped out the good deals the Bass Pro Shop at the Silverton has on outdoor walkabout gear.

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Post Posted: October 13th, 2013, 3:24 pm 
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Looks like another great trip. I hope to see you in April

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Post Posted: October 13th, 2013, 5:21 pm 
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Looking towards arriving on 4/6 right now E.

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Post Posted: October 13th, 2013, 5:52 pm 
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me too 4/6-9 (assuming I go)

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