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A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

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Boston...
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A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

First a disclaimer, this won’t be my normal overly detailed trip report. Not much went according to plan thanks to my travelling companion and it served to reaffirm my love of solo trips. I also managed to catch a cold the day before we left. That cut down on my drinking and my flirting as I was coughing and honking all over the damn place! Instead of a day-by-day format, I’ll do this trip report by categories so everyone can jump to the parts that interest them. As always I look forward to any questions and comments!

MAIN CHARACTERS:

Me, the Diva. Early 40’s, 19th trip to Vegas in the past 14 years. Last 4 trips have been solo and I absolutely loved them. I pretty much stick to slots and VP and bring a daily gambling budget of $300-500.

PFS, my friend and co-worker. Same age, this was her 3rd trip to Vegas, her 2nd with me. We travel together a lot (Alaska, London, Nova Scotia, Ireland, Greece) and never have an issue. Well this time around, PFS had (a) no money and (b) a new man whom she texted with CONSTANTLY over our 5 days in Vegas. When I say constantly, I mean “took her phone with her when she showered/slept with the phone in the bed/never once turned the damn thing off.” More on this later.

Boston...
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1. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

FLIGHTS:

Southwest out of Boston. $271 roundtrip, per person. We flew out on Wednesday, October 17 at 4pm (after working half a day). Early Bird got us A31 and A32 boarding passes. Stopped in St. Louis, but didn’t have to change planes. Arrived in LV 10 minutes early at 8:20pm.

Our flight home was on Tuesday, October 23 at 8:10am. Early Bird got us B15 and B16 (then A51 and A52) boarding passes. Yikes. We had a 90 minute layover in Nashville, TN. Just enough time to stretch your legs, shop, get a bite to eat and get back on the plane. Arrived home in Boston at 6:40pm (time difference makes for a long day). Both flights were smooth and uneventful. I do love SW and their laidback attitude; they are definitely my preferred airline.

RENTAL CAR:

I reserved a mid-size SUV through Dollar for $188 a few months ago. The prices fluctuated, but never went significantly below the rate I had. I am a Dollar Express member so after collecting our luggage and catching the shuttle to the rental center, we went down the escalator, found my name on the screen and our car was waiting in spot #19. We ended up with a white 2012 Chevy Captiva with just over 13,000 miles on it. It was a nice car with a moon roof, plenty of data ports and an iPod hookup. No complaints at all.

HOTELS:

We stayed 6 nights (including a weekend) and stayed in 3 hotels in order to take advantage of comp offers. First hotel was PLANET HOLLYWOOD. I’ve stayed here 4 or 5 times as both Aladdin and PHo. Wednesday and Thursday nights were $0 and $32. We had a standard Hollywood Hip room(Empire Records themed) on the 23rd floor. View of the air conditioning units. Everything was in working order and clean.

Friday and Saturday nights were both comped at ORLEANS. This was my first stay at the Orleans and I look forward to staying here again. The room was average, with some slight wear and tear, but comfortable and well appointed. We were on the 19th floor with a view of the parking lot and a tiny corner of the pool.

Our last 2 nights were at TREASURE ISLAND ($0 and $65). I’d never stayed at TI before either, but I enjoyed it and would stay here again. We had a great room on the 33rd floor with a fantastic view of the entire southern end of the Strip. Beds are super comfortable, bathroom average, but I found it odd that there was no trash bin in the bathroom! They could also use a food court at TI. The pizza place is ok, but overpriced and sometimes you just want Panda Express or McDonald’s without leaving your hotel.

All in, we paid $97 for 6 nights, including a weekend. I didn’t think that was too bad at all.

Boston...
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2. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

SHOWS:

Friday night we went to see CHIPPENDALES at the Rio. We’re both huge fans of the Amazing Race TV show and once we saw James & Jaymes on there this season, we decided we’d go see the show. They have billboards all over town with the 2 of them on them that say “Take an Amazing Race to the Rio to see Chippendales features James & Jaymes!” Tickets were $74 per person and we were in the 2nd row.

Blond Jaymes is the MC of the show and only dances a few of the numbers. The other James plays guitar and dances in a few numbers. The show is totally cheesy, but we really had a great time. I don’t think we stopped laughing once. We weren’t one of the “lucky” girls chosen to go on stage or be molested in our seats, but we still enjoyed it. I spoke to one of the bouncers (who could have been on stage himself – hubba hubba!) and he said they are sold out almost every night now thanks to James & Jaymes being on the Amazing Race.

If you stick around after the end of the show, you can have your photo taken with all of the dancers for $20. After that, all the dancers are in the Flirt lounge attached to the theater. They’ll chat, sign autographs and pose for photos (for free) in there also.

Saturday night we went to see JIMMY BUFFETT at MGM. I am a HUGE, die hard Parrothead and I’ve been to 20+ Buffett shows. Drunk people are a given at any Jimmy Buffett show, but the crew at MGM was a bit over the top even for me. So many people were stumbling and bumbling around, I was afraid someone was gonna break a hip! I love to drink and I enjoy a cocktail or 4 at a concert, but I don’t understand being so drunk you don’t even know where you are. Stay home and put on a cd if you’re going to be that blotto.

Anyway, our seats were pretty good in Section 105 with a great, unobstructed view of the stage. I have to say, set wise, it was probably the best Buffett show I’ve ever seen. He still did the tired, boring songs that I’ve grown to hate (Margaritaville, Volcano, Cheeseburger, etc) but he did a great selection of older material (including Savannah Fare You Well, my absolute favorite) and covers that was just fantastic. I was a very happy Hula Girl at the end of the night.

GRAND CANYON:

Thursday, our first full day in town, we decided to drive to Grand Canyon National Park. If anyone is considering a trip to GCNP, let me just say DO IT!! The drive from LV is super easy. Flat, well paved roads, nothing strenuous. A lot of nothing to look at, but the scenery is so different from here on the East Coast that we enjoyed it. We saw elk, donkeys, mule deer, cows and horses. We left from the M Resort and it took us only 4 hours and 15 minutes to reach the GCNP and that included a 15 minute stop in Seligman for photos, gas and coffee. Yes, we exceeded the posted speed limit, but you are literally in the middle of nowhere – what better time to drive fast? Besides, I drive 85 mph on the highways here in Boston. We did stop in Seligman for gas and to take some photos of Route 66.

We arrived at the GCNP around 2pm. A friend has a season pass for the National Parks and she lent it to me before we left so we didn’t have to pay the $25 entry fee. We parked, checked out the visitors’ center, picked up a map of the bus routes and just hopped on the first bus that showed up. I will say that no words can do justice to that first peek at the Grand Canyon. It is one of the truly breathtaking sights.

We did all of the Yellow Bus route and all of the Blue Bus route, getting off at each stop and exploring and taking pictures. We looked at El Tovar and Bright Angel and would definitely do an overnight trip sometime to see sunrise at the Canyon. Unfortunately, we missed the last bus to Hermit’s Road by 3 minutes. Hermit’s Road is supposedly the best place to watch the sunset, but we did fine watching it from Mather’s Point. Sunset was at 5:48pm and we left the park around 6:15. I hit the bathroom before we got on the road and when I came out, there was a family of mule deer standing outside the door – I mean right outside the door! They weren’t skittish or afraid of me. They were beautiful, but man did they stink!

The drive back to Vegas took a bit longer, mainly because we were afraid of hitting an animal that might wander onto the road. Looking at all the stars through the moon roof was incredible. You do get the feeling that you are in a horror movie at times. Like if your car broke down you’d be royally screwed. There was a good 45 minute stretch outside Kingman where we had no cell service. So if you breakdown, you have to hope the person who stops to help you isn’t a serial killer. We made it back to LV by 11pm, meaning the whole excursion from start to finish was just over 12 hours. A long day, but very rewarding and well worth it.

Boston...
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3. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

RESTAURANTS:

IN-N-OUT I start and end just about every trip with a visit to In-n-Out. Grilled cheese and a shake, $4.73 and it never disappoints.

HASH HOUSE A GO GO at M Resort. We went here for breakfast before our Grand Canyon trip. PFS had the griddled banana French toast. I had the brown sugar banana pancake. Both were huge and delicious. We each had an order of bacon. Service was very good and the restaurant was practically empty at 7:30am. I had a $10 off coupon from the M Player’s Club and the bill came to roughly $24 after the coupon.

VIA BENNE at Cosmopolitan. Just the quick stop coffee/pastry place on the 2nd floor. 2 lattes and 2 pastries was $26. Yikes. Pastries were fresh and tasty, lattes were OK, not great.

TWIN CREEKS STEAKHOUSE at Silverton. This is my absolute favorite steakhouse in LV. We had a 6:30 reservation before Chippendales. It was empty when we arrived and they were turning people away at the door when we finished. Atmosphere is lovely, service was impeccable, not stuffy, very friendly but not phony. The food is EXCELLENT. PFS had a special which was a 14 oz. bone-in NY Strip with lobster mashed potatoes and I had the 8 oz. filet with a baked potato. PFS had a Caesar salad, I had the house salad. She had 2 strawberry something something cocktails and I had 2 pineapple infusion martinis. I devoured the bread basket (the pretzel rolls are HEAVENLY!!) No desserts. Check with tip was $143. I’ve eaten at all the big name steakhouses – Cut, Craftsteak, Carnevino, Circus Circus, Hank’s, etc. – and I think Twin Creeks is better than all of them.

COURTYARD CAFÉ at Orleans. We had a quick breakfast here before hitting the pool. Cheese omelet, hash browns and toast for me, chicken quesadilla for PFS. Food was good, service was good. Had a 10% coupon that they gave us at check in and a $10 food credit. After those were applied, check was $11.45 including tip.

GRAND CAFÉ at Green Valley Ranch. I needed 298 points on my Station card to move up to the next level. Saturday they were offering a 6x points multiplier so we stopped in on our way to the Buffett show. Took $20 and about 10 minutes to get the necessary points. We debated heading to MGM early and eating there, but decided on the Grand Café instead. The food here is consistently good and reasonably priced. Donna, our waitress, was a hoot. Very funny, told me I could skip the tip and leave her my earrings instead. PFS had a Philly Cheesesteak, I had the macaroni and cheese with a house salad. PFS raved about the cheesesteak. My mac & cheese was delicious, made with real cheese (not Velveeta) and came with 2 pieces of yummy garlic bread. We both cleaned our plates. Total with tip (not my earrings) was $42.

JAZZ BRUNCH at COUNTRY CLUB GRILL at Wynn. If you’re going to do a high-end Sunday brunch, I’d highly recommend this one. At $65 per person it isn’t cheap, but the spread is fabulous. For an extra $25 you can add unlimited champagne or prosecco. We spent a good 2 hours here stuffing ourselves. We never felt rushed. They had crab legs, oysters, several different shrimp preparations, beef tenderloin, brown sugar glazed pork (yum!), house-made Andouille sausage, mac & cheese, roasted vegetables, several different salads, red beans and rice, mini burgers, gumbo, succotash and on and on. Plus you can order from the set menu at no additional charge. The dessert spread included strawberry shortcake, chocolate bombs, chocolate lollipops filled with hazelnut crème, fruit tarts, fresh fruit, crème caramel, lemon mousse and 3 different types of cookies. There was also a bowl filled with individually wrapped house-made salted caramels. They were divine! Soft, creamy with a touch of salt – I took about 10 and put them in my purse! Service was exactly what you would expect – attentive but not overbearing, we wanted for nothing. The jazz combo was very, very good and did a great cover of Van Morrison’s “Days Like This”. The restaurant is very lovely with a fantastic view of the waterfall and the 18th green of Wynn’s golf course.

FRANCESCO’s PIZZA at TI. Nothing special. We were tired and decided to grab a few slices of pizza and eat in our room while watching The Amazing Race on TV. 3 slices of mediocre pizza and an order of garlic bread, one soda and one water was a ridonkulous $30. It filled the whole, but nothing more.

NATHAN’S at Flamingo. Treated myself to an order of delicious French fries with lots of salt and ketchup and a bottle of water. $7 and just fabulous!

Boston...
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4. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

BARS:

FRANKIE’S TIKI ROOM. I love this place. So dark inside that it takes a few minutes for your eyes to adjust. Fantastic and STRONG drinks. Reasonably priced too. Great bartenders, great patrons, decent VP at the bar too. I’m partial to the Polynesian Pile Driver.

CHANDELIER BAR at Cosmo. Always good drinks here. I love that their specialty drinks are a little different than what you’ll find everywhere else. Brandon and Tami took excellent care of us and there is usually someone interesting to talk to at the bar. 2 Mai Crooked Tais and 2 Tom Collins was $48, not including tip.

EASTSIDE DOWN at Encore. We slipped into this place to watch the Patriots/Jets game on Sunday. It was almost game time when we finished with brunch and the sportsbook was packed. Walked over to Encore and got 2 of the last spots here. Our waitress was fantastic (and gorgeous) and kept our glasses full for the entire game. My Pats played like crapola, but still managed to pull out the win.

Boston...
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5. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

GAMBLING:

Due to PFS not budgeting better for the trip, my gambling took a hit. When I go solo, I gamble 6-8 hours a day. I was lucky if I got an hour or 2 in a day this trip. She brought $50 a day to gamble, I brought $400 a day. I hate when the person you are with runs out of money, then hovers behind you watching you play. Urgh!

I was all over the place. I played very little VP this trip, not even enough to really mention. Not even any quads, yikes. Bellagio continues to be good to me. I hit $60 right off the bat on The Hangover. I just adore this machine and can play it for hours on end. I moved over to the new Elvis machine and playing max bet of $2, I got 3 wild reels and 2 Fat/Old Elvis symbols for a $141 win, then the Heartbreak Hotel bonus for another $85.

Rio was a total money suck. It was just ugly. Lost $40 on Clue, lost $100 on the new Ghostbusters, lost $40 on Dean Martin (playing max bet and won NOTHING in the bonus), won $62 on Aladdin.

I won a bit at Orleans. We went to the pool and I left PFS there and came in to gamble for a bit. Won $80 on an original Goldfish machine, then another $60 on Elvis. Sunday morning I got up extra early and played at Orleans while PFS slept and got ready for the day. I played on the same $20 on Goldfish for nearly an hour, hitting every bonus imaginable except the Fish Food bonus. I cashed out with $12 on the ticket which I used to buy coffees at the Java Vegas (which is really a Starbucks) in the Orleans lobby.

I lost $60 betting on football too.

PFS was driving me crazy because she didn’t want to spend any real time gambling. She only likes a few machines, she didn’t have much of a budget and she wouldn’t put her phone down long enough to focus on the machines. Finally on the last day, I’d had enough. She wanted to go to the pool (and text!), so I told her to go ahead, I was going to head over to Mirage and Flamingo and do some serious gaming. Worked out great as I had my luckiest day of the trip and it was stress free to boot!

So I grabbed a coffee at Starbucks at TI and walked over to Mirage (tram doesn’t run until 9am and it was about 7am when I left). Cruised into the section in front of the Love theater and took a seat at the Hangover. $3 max bet and I was off. You get less bonuses with max bet, but when you do get them, you are guaranteed any of the progressives (i.e., if you get the Phil Bonus, you are guaranteed to get the Phil Progressive). I was hitting ok, but getting crappy bonuses. I ended up putting $60 into the machine when I got the bonus and managed to find all 5 Alans for the Alan Progressive of $441.05! I played that machine for about 90 minutes and managed to clear the Alan, Phil, Doug and Stu progressives (hitting Doug several times) but I could not, for the life of me, get a Mr. Chow’s Freaky Free Spins, which is my favorite bonus! I finally cashed out with $663.76, a healthy $603.76 profit.

Moved over to the section near Carnegie Deli and spotted an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland machine. I love these machines and saw very, very few of them in LV this time around. Alice was being very stingy with the bonuses, even though I was playing max bet ($2.40). I started talking dirty to her and calling her bad names and she started giving up those bonuses! Good girl. Took an hour, but I hit all 6 bonuses, even completing the Queen of Hearts bonus and selecting the Caucus Race at the end so I got 2 bonuses in 1. How much was I up when I finally cashed out, you ask? 6 cents! Fine by me and better than a loss. I put a good amount of points on my MLife card and enjoyed my time with Alice.

I made my way across the street to Harrah’s and walked through the destruction zone at IP. It wouldn’t be so bad if ignorant people didn’t stop in the tiny walkway to make phone calls and wait for people. Common sense is such a rarity these days. I ended up at Flamingo, playing in the Margaritaville section on a new Ghostbusters machine. $1.50 a spin was doing pretty well. Guy next to me was betting $.50 a spin and thought he was a pimp when he hit for $30 on a spin. Next spin I got a 5x multiplier and hit for $177, then got the bonus for $230. That kind of took the shine off his crown.

Moved over to the Michael Jackson machines in the regular part of Flamingo. Not a great game, but a girl does appreciate the vibrating chairs with the bass turned way up. No wins to speak of, but managed to cash out even. Over to Battleship (the only one left, I think) and won $12. Took a break for some lunch, then lost $100 on the Hangover ($6 max bet, I was playing $4).

Ended up at Bellagio next. Guy next to me was a freak show! I was playing the Hangover (of course) and he was next to me. He was rocking back and forth on his chair (and he was a husky fella) and the whole chair was swaying. He was dragging his hands through his hair and over his face and mumbling to himself. It was like Rain Man mixed with a guy on a 3 day bender. I was just afraid that chair was going to collapse and he was going to take me down with him!

He had me so rattled that I couldn’t concentrate. I hit a few bonuses on Hangover and cashed out $100 ahead and that was the end of that. Went back to TI to pack up and played Hangover there for another hour or so. Max bet was $3 and the Alan Progressive was over $600, but I couldn’t get it. I had 4 out of 5 Alans at one point but that was a close as I got. I did get a very nice Stun Gun bonus for $75 and a Mr. Chow’s Freaky Free Spins for $287. I ended my gaming with the Mr. Chow bonus and called it a trip.

When I did the final count, I somehow managed to only lose $220, $60 of which was bet on football (damn point spreads!). Not bad at all.

Boston...
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6. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

MISCELLANEOUS:

Valet at Planet Hollywood is still a joke. It was full both nights we were there. I got them to let us in when we were checking in, though they wanted a confirmation number from a reservation first! 2nd night we had to park in the self parking and take the long hike through the Miracle Mile shops.

MLife is a mess. It takes forever to earn points on slot machines now. That counter just crawls no matter how much you are betting. They did spend a lot on advertising for the MyVegas game, so I’m hoping that will stick around for a while.

If you are going to a concert at the MGM Garden Arena and you are driving, use the Event Valet in the back of MGM (just follow the signs). Super easy and convenient. The valet will even tell you the shortcut to the arena. From the time the Buffett show ended until we were back on Tropicana heading to Orleans was 15 minutes, maximum.

We took a drive through downtown one morning and I am still amazed at the line outside Gold & Silver Pawn. The new Neon Museum looks great. It looks like they’ve moved some of the signs around out back. I might have to go on another tour on my next trip.

We also took a quick trip to Acrylic Tank Manufacturing, the company on the Animal Planet show “Tanked”. I don’t watch it, but PFS’s new man does, so we just HAD to go. It was a fun hour. We saw a bunch of fish, birds, frogs, etc. Met the General, whoever that is and some cat who starred in one of the episodes of the show. The 2 guys who run the retail side were a total hoot and very, very nice. Brett and Wade weren’t there as they were in New Jersey installing a new tank.

For some reason, we saw people falling down all over the place. We saw a girl fall off her platform shoes at Bellagio. We saw a woman trip over a valve in the sidewalk at Flamingo. Some old dude almost fell on me at Wynn sportsbook (no idea how, he just toppled over). Then we saw 2 people trip over the sidewalk downtown. It was an epidemic of clumsiness.

I am definitely going back to solo trips. I love my friend (though I was ready to kill her this trip), but she was totally cramping my style this trip. I’m an independent person and I don’t like having to worry about someone else’s bankroll, happiness, contentment, sleeping patterns, drunkenness, etc. I am on vacation after all.

Dallas, Texas
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7. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

Sounds like you had a blast, thanks for posting

Boston...
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8. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

NOW THE ABSOLUTE HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP:

I MET JIMMY BUFFETT!!! It was totally random too, which makes it even better. I’ve never even imagined a scenario in which I would meet him and I’ve met a ton of famous people in my life.

Went to the Buffett show on Saturday. Sunday morning we were walking through Wynn to the Country Club brunch. I was focused on the long line at the hostess stand when PFS says “Didn’t that guy look just like Jimmy Buffett?” I had no clue who she was talking about. She says the guy in the pink shirt and sunglasses that went in that store (golf store next to the restaurant). I walk over and look through the front of the store and there is Jimmy Buffett looking at rain jackets!

I throw my camera at PFS and walk right up to him and ask if I can be one of those annoying people who bothers him on his day off. He laughed and said sure. He was great to talk to, which kind of surprised me. He asked where we were from, I said Boston, he asked if we go to the shows out there and I said “Great Woods is the best parking lot in the world” which he agreed with! I told him I thought the show the previous night was just incredible and that I loved all the old songs they did. He was just super chatty and gracious. But when I asked if I could get a picture, he said no!

I had to beg and said “no one will believe I met you!” and he finally relented. It isn’t the greatest picture (I look like a total goober) but it is me and Jimmy Buffett hanging out at the Wynn! I thanked him profusely, wished him safe travels and left him to his shopping. It was fabulous!

So that is my trip report. Turned out longer than I imagined it would. Ha! I am already booked for a solo trip in January for NFL Championship weekend (19-23) at Silverton and Flamingo. The 19th is the last day of the Adult Entertainment Expo, so that could possibly be my most interesting trip yet!

Here is a link to a smattering of photos (I hope the link works): …photobucket.com/user/…202012

Thanks for reading and please feel free to ask questions and/or comment!

Diva21

Kenosha, WI
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9. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

Diva....excellent report!!!! Seems like you had a decent time, despite the cold and the "friend". Was sorry to see that you didn't even get to the Lion's Share machine. Was really looking forward to that 12.5% share you promised me. Guess I will need to call my realtor and cancel the condo in Vegas for now. :(

Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the shopping experience with Jimmy!

Boston...
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10. Re: A Diva21 TR - GCNP, Jimmy Buffett, etc.

Thanks for the report Diva! This is the style of TR I planned on doing for my trip in a couple of weeks

So jealous you met Jimmy! I am a big parrothead as well and have been to well over 20 shows...probably over 30 at this point. Some day I plan to make it out there to see a show.