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Recap Three Sides of Vegas: A Family TR 7/17-7/22

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by M_ILIS, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Prelude: Each of the last few summers, my wife, daughter and I have done a Vegas vacation, and this year was no different. We started putting this trip together by choosing which hotel we wanted to use some free nights from myVEGAS, and we settled on Monte Carlo. It might seem an odd choice, but seeing that a majority of this trip was to be spent at the pool, we chose it for what I think is a great pool complex. We’d stayed there a couple summers ago and while the room was rather ordinary, nothing about it turned us off. So Monte Carlo it was, and there were consecutive comp dates available via myVEGAS for the nights of 7/19-7/20.

    With those nights booked, we then added two nights at Downtown Grand prior to Monte Carlo to extend our trip and provide us a change of scenery. Priceline Express deals seems to frequently offer DTG at a great price and with full transparency of which hotel is being sold, so we booked through them for 7/17 and 7/18.

    A few nights before our trip, I was snooping around the Internet in search of a way to economically extend our trip even more, and I found it when Priceline had the Westin Lake Las Vegas at an almost unbelievable price of $65/nt. plus resort fee for Thursday, 7/21. In fact, when I first searched, it would have let me book both Thursday and Friday nights at that price, which seemed very surprising to me. However, once I talked it over with my wife the next day and we decided to do it, only Thursday night was available at that price (which would somewhat come back to haunt us later).

    This was intended to be a fairly budget-minded trip, so we planned no big fancy dinners or pricy shows on this trip. I did, however, pick up three tickets for magician/musician Tommy Wind via LivingSocial for only $12 per person. We also grabbed myVEGAS rewards for the Aria buffet and another for a $35 credit at Nine Fine Irishmen.

    Finally, I wanted to play golf at least once on the trip. I was leaning toward Desert Pines and eventually pulled the trigger on a $48 rate, but shortly after booking that, I received an email from Coyote Springs for a Monday special of $25, including a hot dog and a drink at their brand new bar & grill next to the pro shop. I’d never played Desert Pines and it was only about three miles from Downtown Grand, but $25 at Coyote Springs was too good to pass up, despite being ~55 miles out in the middle of nowhere. I love the course and had been wanting to get back out there, so I canceled at Desert Pines and snatched a 7:20 tee time for Monday morning at Coyote.

    We were all set! Join us for the ride…
     
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  2. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Day One: Sunday, July 17, 2016

    We left our South Orange County home at 9:38 (yes, right in the midst of a fantastic final round at the Open, and I’ve been a huge Phil Mickelson fan since his time at ASU), and even with a stop in Barstow, were reaching the outskirts of Vegas less than four hours later. I exited the 15 in Jean and took that side road in order to hit our first stop of the trip: The “7 Magic Mountains” art installation in the middle of the desert approximately midway between Gold Strike and the M Resort. This is a Stonehenge-like series of seven rock piles, painted vivid colors, by artist Ugo Rondinone. We parked the car, stepped out into the incredibly dry, windy heat of the high desert, and trekked through the dust out to these monuments. We snapped some pictures and were ready to move on within five or 10 minutes. Cool place, but we were ready to get to Vegas and weren’t quite in the mood to contemplate the artistic merit of flourescent colored rock piles in the raw desert.

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    We jumped back on the 15 and headed to our next stop, the M Resort. They had sent me $10 in freeplay and also a buy one entree, get one free coupon for the Vig Deli, so we decided to stop and take advantage of those offers for lunch.

    We headed to the Vig deli and got in line just in time, as a huge line formed behind us. I chose a BBQ brisket sandwich, my wife got a chicken salad pita sandwich, and my daughter got a grilled cheese and fries. While waiting for the food, I went and played my $10 FP in a nickel DDB machine (oh yeah, if you haven’t read my TRs before, I’m the micro-est of micro-rollers). Good news! I hit a quad and cashed out for $21, which nearly paid for our entire lunch.

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    Just as I rejoined my wife and daughter, our number (666 – an omen?) was called and I fetched our food. It all looked delicious!

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    My sandwich was terribly messy, but really quite tasty, although it seemed more like tons of thin sliced roast beef doused in BBQ sauce rather than proper BBQ beef brisket. My wife’s chicken salad pita was decent and my daughter enjoyed her grilled cheese. Nice start to the trip.

    Onward we went to Downtown Grand. We checked in shortly after 3:00 and settled into our 8th floor room in the Casino Tower. Here was our view:

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    We hit the pool not too long later and enjoyed the extremely cool water temperature. I’m not sure how they keep the DTG pool so cool when it’s 100+ every day and the lows are in the upper 80s, but whatever they’re doing makes it one of the most refreshing pools around.

    It seems every year the pool has a different name and/or theme, but I really like the current setup. Great, fresh color scheme and some interesting planters made from wood pallets that are home to various herbs and vegetables. They also have a foosball table and cornhole things in one section of the pool deck, which were both fun. Plus the rooftop setting always makes it enjoyable to peer down below and at the Fremont St. skyline.

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    After maybe 90 minutes, we retreated to the room. They gave us a $5 freeplay coupon upon check-in, as well as a $10 free table game coupon. I also had $5 in freeplay from an online survey they’d sent me shortly before our trip. While my wife and daughter were getting ready for dinner, I went down to play through the $10 machine FP. I did well again, hitting quad 4s and cashing out up $27 on the session.

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    Tonight’s dinner was to be Pizza Rock, which we entered just as the sky was darkening. They said there was a little wait, but they’d text us, so we wandered over to Fremont St., where my daughter degen-ed out and blew her entire $30 souvenir budget she brought within 5 minutes. Three stuffed animals later, we returned to Pizza Rock to inquire on our progress, and they said they texted us but we never responded. Well, we never got the text, but they seated us right away, so no big deal. At some point during all this I got maybe my favorite photo of the trip:

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    We decided on some garlic green beans for an appetizer and then the New Yorker pizza to split. The New Yorker (sliced mozzarella, tomato sauce, house made fennel sausage, pepperoni, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, pecorino-romano and ricotta) was simply amazing. I wish I had a slice of it right now. The green beans were really good, too.

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    As soon as I exited the restaurant, a woman asked me if I planned to eat my leftovers in the box I was carrying. I said yes, because I really wanted more of that pizza as soon as it could fit in my stomach, but then I offered it to her and she took it and bolted with it quickly. Hope she liked it as much as we did.

    After dinner my wife and I took turns in the casino, neither one of us having any luck. I turned my +$48 trip total into -$18 with a long, un-fun nickels session that produced nothing of note except the requisite play to earn free valet parking vouchers for not just one, but both nights of our stay.

    With Coyote Springs looming bright and early the next morning, I brought day one to a close around 1:00 am and went to bed.
     
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  3. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Day Two: Monday, July 18, 2016

    To get to Coyote Springs, you go north on the 15 for about 20 minutes until you see a Love’s Truck Stop at the 93 junction. There, you get off and travel a desolate road that looks just like this for the next 32 miles:

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    Finally I saw the oasis of developed land and pulled into the parking lot. I paid my paltry $25 and was given a coupon for the hot dog and drink after the round. I was paired with two guys, one of whom was a regular and said he’s probably played Coyote Springs as much as anyone. Having only played the course once nearly two years ago, it was nice to have his guidance when needed. Not that it helped all that much. I had very few highlights but I had a great time thanks to the fantastic course and conditions this beautiful, windy morning. Pace of play was under 4:00 and I bought a hat in the pro shop after devouring my hot dog. Here are some course pics:

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    Whenever I play golf on a family Vegas trip, I’m eager to get back to my wife and daughter because I somewhat feel like I’ve deserted them. Thankfully, they took the opportunity to sleep in and just enjoy a lazy morning, so I didn’t miss out on much or hold them back this time.

    Today’s agenda was all about the pool, so not long after I returned, we ventured out there and found three nice, padded chaise loungers under the overhanging shades. My daughter prefers being in the pool and being active every possible second, so most of our time was spent swimming together. I did get some nice relaxation time, though, as well.

    At one point we took a break in the room and then later headed back out to the pool during Happy Hour (4:00-7:00). One cool thing about the DTG is that they have some styrofoam noodles and other floatation devices in the pool for guests’ usage, which was kinda fun. The soundtrack could be modernized a bit, as it felt like every song was off a compilation called “Is This Chicago?” – lots of late ‘70s, mellow jazzy rock. But to their credit, they play the music at an infectious volume. During Spring Break this year at the Mirage, I could barely hear the music at all.

    Again we took advantage of the foosball table and had a fun, full day at the pool. Eventually we made it back to the room to get ready for dinner.

    Call us country bumpkins, but we’d yet to ever try Pho, so for tonight, we had 8:30 reservations at a somewhat new place called Le Pho Vietnamese Kitchen, which is a collaboration of the owners of Le Thai and District One Kitchen & Bar. I’d heard quite a bit of buzz about this place, but it was very low-key and pretty dead when we arrived. Encouraged by our waiter, we decided to order family style and selected the Oxtail Pho, some black pepper chicken wings, pork and crab egg rolls, and a pork chop dish that was the night’s special.

    Results were mixed. The egg rolls were very good, fried just right so they were lighter than they were heavy and with very tender and tasty ingredients within. The so-called black pepper chicken wings surprisingly lacked much spice or flavor. The pork chop special was not very good at all, with overcooked chops on a bed of gloppy sticky rice. The Oxtail Pho was delicious, however it was very difficult to eat. I expected the oxtail to be “fall off the bone” tender, but it wasn’t quite there, so getting any meat off the bone was an unpleasant chore. Otherwise, the seasoning, the broth, the accoutrements were all delicious. We finished with a rather bland piece of flan.

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    I left Le Pho a little bit underwhelmed. I wanted to really love it, and on flavor alone, I did love the Pho. But there were few other redeeming values, and the chore of pulling meat off the bone soured even that highlight of the meal.

    After dinner, we headed back to the room. My wife might’ve gambled some more at this point, or maybe not. I can’t remember. I know that when it was my turn, I went over to El Cortez to play there for my first time ever.

    I parked myself at a nickel DDB machine and lost $25 over the next couple hours, but it was much more fun than the previous night’s play. I was dealt four to a Royal at least three (if not four) times, which really gets your blood pumping. I know it’s silly to think this way, but it was one of those sessions that just felt like something big was always just a fraction away. Here’s an assortment of quads I hit:

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    After cashing out, I remembered they had 25 cent live roulette at ElCo, with only a one dollar minimum per spin. I bought in for $15 and had nothing to show for it until with a few dollars left, my precious No. 11 hit with 50 cents on it and maybe a corner or two as well. I ended up winning $8 at roulette.

    Then I returned to nickel VP, where I was dealt quad 6s and then moved to STP where I was dealt a 4X multiplier flush.

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    Those gained back some of my earlier losses, and I ended up only losing $13 over the span of two or three hours at El Cortez.

    Not quite ready for bed, I traipsed over to the D and took the outdoor elevator up to the Sigma Derby machine. I’d stood there and watched a packed table play previously, but never been able to get a spot myself. Well, it was no problem at 1:30 am on a Monday night, so I sat down with $5 in quarters and played for a while. A guy to my left was seemingly hitting all the longshots, but very few of my bets paid off. I did get a Corona and really enjoyed myself betting 25 or 50 cents per race. That’s the kind of gambling I can accept the rationalization of “Well, it’s entertainment,” while I don’t really view VP or table games that way.

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    Having been up since around 5:00 for golf, I returned to my home base of Downtown Grand around 2:30 to go to bed. But as I was walking through the casino, I remembered I hadn’t used the $10 table game free play coupon yet. Thankfully, the cashier and player’s club are one in the same at DTG, so they were able to process my coupon and give me a voucher to take to a table. I waited for a new shoe at the $5 BJ table and was dealt a 12 to the dealer’s face card. I hit, got a 2, hit again and got the 7 I needed! The dealer flipped another face card for his 20, and I was $10 richer.

    I then took that $10 to a DDB nickel machine, but after a few hands I realized I was too tired and needed to go to bed. Yet another fun-filled day in Las Vegas was under my belt!
     
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  4. M_ILIS

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    Day Three: Tuesday, July 19, 2016

    The “ideal” plan for today was to squeeze in one last trip to the DTG pool before the 11:00 am check-out time. But we all slept in and that didn’t happen. I did get up in time to get free coffee and tea in the Commissary prior to the 10:00 cutoff, but then we needed to pack and get ready to move Stripward. We knew were were going to spend the afternoon at the Monte Carlo pool anyway, so it was no big loss.

    During our Spring Break trip (Vegas-Zion-Vegas, but I never finished/posted my trip report), we tried downtown’s Donut Bar, which I believe occupies the space formerly home to O Face Donuts. Well, my daughter loved it, so she couldn’t wait to go back again this trip. So as soon as we checked out, we drove over to the John E. Carson Hotel and got her a “Homer” and a draught chocolate milk.

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    There’s a cool little courtyard out Donut Bar’s back door where we sat and she ate. We had other culinary plans in the works, so neither my wife nor I got any donuts. (I did snag a few bites of the Homer, however, and it was delicious.)

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    Next we headed straight to Tacos El Gordo, which was packed with hungry people at lunchtime. When it’s super busy, their unorthodox ordering system only compounds the hassle, so it was probably 30 minutes before we had gotten all our tacos and paid for everything. Then there were no tables available, so we had to eat standing in 100 degree sun with trays of food resting on the trunk of our car. Wanna know the crazy part? It was worth it. These tasty asada and al pastor tacos are so delicious, we didn’t mind eating like hobos in a dirty parking lot that is always teeming with weirdos.

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    Our bellies full of tacos, we headed straight to Monte Carlo. We got checked in with no problems and were in our room by around 1:45. Decent room and great view of NYNY and T-Mobile Arena, if that does anything for you:

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    After settling in, I inflated our three innertubes by mouth, and after regaining consciousness, we all hit the pool. The Monte Carlo pool area is much like Mandalay Bay, with a wave pool, lazy river and a regular pool. Everything at Monte Carlo is on a smaller scale, however, and I’m fine with that. One of the nicest things about it is that you can get from your room to the pool in about two minutes. I hope the transformation to Park MGM leaves the current pool area intact.

    My daughter called most of the shots, so we moved back and forth mostly from the lazy river to the wave pool. We swam around the regular pool once, but the lazy river and wave pool are the main attractions. The wave pool had beach balls flying around, which made it extra fun.

    After a couple hours, we headed back to the room to prepare for another adventure long-awaited by my daughter: visitng the Coca-Cola Store across the street. We’d done the M&M’s Store and Hershey’s Store in the past, but never the Coke store. We considered it on our last trip, but when it didn’t work out, I promised my daughter we’d do it on our next trip. So off we went.

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    The real lure of this visit for me was the chance to sample various colas from around the world, which a friend had told me about. His description of one as “carbonated bile” always scared me off a bit, but how bad could it be? We looked at all the knick-knacks for sale and my daughter posed for pictures with the Coke polar bear, but then we made our way up to the second level. It turns out the $8 “International Tray” isn’t colas from around the world, it’s just various sodas from around the world. They give you about 6 oz. of 16 different sodas, so it’s easy to split amongst a group. Between the three of us, we had way too much.

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    This was actually really fun. The cups sit on numbers on the tray, which correspond to a flier they give you with the name and country of origin. Many of them were quite good, some of they were head scratchers, and then one was downright awful, called “Beverly” from Italy.

    After our tasting, our daughter picked out a couple souvenirs and we headed off to dinner at VB’s favorite dining hall, Ellis Island. Like I mentioned in last month’s golf trip TR, I had never been here until last month, and I really enjoyed it for what it is – good food at great prices. Last time I wanted to sample some different things on the menu, but only had so much room in my stomach, so I took my wife and daughter back this trip.

    (Hopefully ken2v hasn’t blown his stack yet … not sure exactly what his beef with Ellis Island is, although I think it just goes back to being a VMB topic that simply became over-exhausted. Anyway…)

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    Having learned my lesson last time, I went straight to the cafe hostess first thing and put our name in for a table. Just like last month, they told me it would be an hour wait. Then my wife got a player’s club card and did some gambling to earn the steak special coupon and some freeplay. Meanwhile, my daughter and I looked around at the giant tanks within the brewery, and walked around to kill time. Maybe 25 minutes after checking in, I received a text that our table was ready, and it was perfect timing as my wife had just finished her freeplay and done pretty well on a Buffalo slot, making $17 on the session.

    We ordered the steak special and the homemade root beer for my daughter. My wife got a patty melt, and I chose the fish and chips. My wife and I each ordered a Hefeweizen, too.

    All of it was delicious. My daughter’s steak was cooked more properly medium rare than mine last month, my wife’s patty melt was fantastic and my fish and chips was some of the best I’ve had in years. Better yet, the bill for three meals, a homemade root beer and two large beers was $39.

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    Where I live, I either am unaware of any decent non-chain coffee shops, or they don’t exist. So to find somewhere like Ellis Island Cafe is somewhat of a revelation in 2016 for me. It’s very much a throwback in that nothing is fancified, but everything (so far anyway) is done well and at a tremendous value. I would love to have this cafe within five miles of my home.

    Oh shit, I just remembered that $39 tab also included a delicious and gigantic brownie sundae that we all split. (Ken’s gonna kill me! Okay, I’m done talking about EI. You can continue reading now.)

    For some reason the remainder of this night is a complete blur. I don’t think I did any gambling, nor did my wife. I think we all just returned to the room, hung out and went to bed. Weird, huh?
     
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  5. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Day Four: Wednesday, July 20, 2016

    I awoke before my wife and daughter and hurried down to the pool to reserve some chairs for later. It was calm, uncrowded and felt great, so I actually stuck around for a while and did some solo laps in the lazy river.

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    Upon returning to the room, the rest of la familia was still asleep, so I went down to the casino. I got a bloody mary and hit quad 8s, but lost $10 over the span of maybe 30 or 45 minutes. Decently fun session, though.

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    Eventually the sleepyheads got up and after a quick Starbucks run, we hit the pool. Our nicely shaded loungers underneath the tram station were now directly in the hot summer sun, so we spent most of our time in the water. While doing some laps in the lazy river, we heard lots of cheering and crowd noise coming from the wave pool. My daughter wanted to go check it out, so we did.

    It turned out the beach ball game from the previous day had escalated to a more serious pursuit. It sounds ridiculous, but the object of this impromptu game was simply for everyone in the wave pool to keep the beach ball airborne. There were probably 100 people or so participaing in this game, and each of them would shout the number of hits in unison as the count rose. The catch was, whenever the streak was stopped and the ball hit the water, whoever was deemed at fault got furiously splashed by everyone around. It was hilarious, and for some reason incredibly fun. By the way, the “record” score we witnessed was 39.

    We spent the majority of the day at the pool, swimming, sunbathing and enjoying a bucket of Stella Artois as well as a slushie virgin pina colada for my daughter.

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    Eventually the afternoon sun became overbearing, but we had early evening plans anyway, so we retreated to the room to prepare for Tommy Wind’s magic show at the Tommy Wind Theatre, almost directly across the Strip from Monte Carlo.

    We arrived for the 6:00 pm showtime around 5:45 and waited in the bar for a few minutes before we were escorted to a great semi-circle booth just for us, while nearly everyone else was in ordinary chairs.

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    Within a couple minutes, the show started. Put bluntly, it was not very good.

    Tommy Wind brings a diverse skill set to the show – small-scale illusions, large-scale illusions, musicianship and storytelling. The problem is each of those skills seems to be on a “not ready for prime time” level. Early in the show, I’m quite certain a large-scale illusion went completely off the rails, because I never knew what the “trick” was supposed to be, and then Tommy ran out to the side of the audience and yelled, “Hey everybody, look over here!”

    His showmanship was lacking, and very few of the magic tricks “landed” with authority. It seemed like they just sort of fizzled out instead of reaching a crescendo. At another point, he launched into about a two-minute commercial for a travel company he recommends. Bizarre.

    It wasn’t all bad. He did some cool tricks with the aid of his assistant/“wife,” where she’d get in a box and be gone a moment later. His “mom,” “dad,” and “grandpa” are all also in the show. (Quotes will remain until I see proof of actual family ties.)

    Hilariously, my wife and I both developed the same exact theory during the show: Either he or his parents are very wealthy, and they bought him this theater, named it after him and gave him his own show to satisfy his desire to be a professional magician. That’s exactly what it felt like.

    This was the first Vegas show of any kind we’ve seen – family-friendly, variety, Cirque, comedians, musicians, etc. – that we left feeling like it wasn’t worthwhile. Fortunately the tickets were only $12 each through LivingSocial. Before the trip, I was debating between Nathan Burton and Tommy Wind, but Tommy won out due to proximity to Monte Carlo. Next time we take our daughter, we’ll likely do Nathan Burton.

    Tonight’s dinner destination was the Aria Buffet, so we walked down the Strip in search of a crosswalk, but none came until we were past Aria at Cosmo. It worked out well, though, because my wife found a dress she liked in a shop we passed, and we bought our daughter another souvenir on the way.

    We walked through Crystals into Aria and were reminded of how much we like Aria.

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    I don’t think we’d stepped foot in there since we stayed there in August 2013. We hit the Mlife desk for the myVEGAS redemptions and waited in a short line for the buffet before being seated.

    We all really enjoyed it. Highlights for me were the grilled salmon, the fall-off-the-bone tender BBQ pork ribs, the salad bar and the desserts. My wife loved her shrimp street taco, ahi poke bowl, dim sum custard ball and made her own Pho with all sorts of great-looking ingredients. My daughter relished being able to pick and choose her own food, and I think she enjoys that process as much as eating it. She kept scurrying back and forth to the sweets section to bring us various dessert samples.

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    After dinner, my daughter and I hung out in the room while my wife went to gamble. She made some money to bring her back near even on the trip, so she went and bought some earrings in the gift shop. She brought a TITO back for me to take to the casino for $33.

    I took that downstairs and found a single line nickel DDB machine, slipped in the TITO and the machine was extremely hot – at first. I hit a quad and built the credits up over $50 at one point.

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    For a while, any hand that didn’t pay back at least something was a rarity, and I seemed to hit a 3OAK every other hand. But then it all went away. I went on a 90+ minute quad drought, and in addition to losing the $33 initial stake, I had put $70 of my own cash in the machine. Finally I hit another quad, and then a few more, but overall the night was a disaster. I lost the $33 plus $80, taking my trip total to -$149. Aside from quad 4s at DTG early in the trip, I hit no premium quads, which killed me. I did have several four-to-a-Royal deals toward the end of this night’s marathon session, but obviously nothing came of them. Still sorta fun to have those, though.

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    I got back to the room around 2:30 or 3:00 and crashed into bed in anticipation of one more lazy river visit in the morning.
     
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  6. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Day Five: Thursday, July 21, 2016

    My daughter and I hit the pool for a few more spins around the lazy river, while my wife opted to sleep in a bit later. After maybe 45 minutes at the pool, it was time to say goodbye to Monte Carlo – for good this time. Who knows what exactly Park MGM will bring, but here’s hoping it’s more of a room refresh than a total overhaul to create an upper-tier “luxury” hotel. As is, I think it’s a great mid-range option and I’d hate to lose that. (Although admittedly, returning to Monte Carlo after visiting Aria the night before exposed some of its weaknesses.)

    We grabbed my wife a coffee at Starbucks and headed up to the room to pack up. We checked out at noon and I took all our suitcases out to the car so we didn’t all have to backtrack, because we had lunch plans at Nine Fine Irishmen next door. Upon arrival at NYNY, I survived an obnoxious, heavy breathing guy who stood too close behind me in line to obtain the myVEGAS credit for NFI. We were then immediately seated.

    I ordered a 20 oz. Harp and my wife went with a Stella. For lunch, I got the corned beef sandwich, our daughter ordered chicken strips from the kids menu, and my wife got virtually the same sandwich she had last September, our only other visit here. Since that time, the bacon on her sandwich has been replaced with eggplant, (probably smartly) making it a true vegetarian option.

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    While waiting for our food, we saw a very odd, souffle-looking dish being served to a nearby table. Turns out it’s NFI’s version of bread pudding, which is one of my wife’s all-time favorite desserts. So despite being stuffed and having already packed up half our food in doggy bags, we had to try it. And it was so worth it. Normally I’m not that into bread pudding, but this was scrumptious.

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    After lunch, our route back to the car took us right through The Park, which we had yet to explore since it opened one day after we were there during Spring Break. The restaurant offerings don’t do much for me, but we did enjoy the rock waterfall wall, the artwork and the “Bliss Dance” sculpture.

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    At this point, it was blazing hot out so we didn’t dawdle en route to our car. I asked my phone to navigate to the Westin Lake Las Vegas, and off we went.

    One pit stop for snacks and drinks and 40 or so minutes later, we arrived.

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    While checking in, I inquired about available room types and mentioned what was most important to me was some sort of view. The friendly clerk said because they weren’t full, he could get us a two queen lake view room. Behold:

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    We very quickly fell in love with this resort, and I immediately regretted not booking two nights when I had the chance at the incredible $65 rate we got on Priceline (+$32/nt. resort fee). After a bit, we sampled our third pool complex of the trip, all of which were great and fun in their own way. I’m pretty sure my daughter would tell you this one was the best, however, due to a fantastic water slide that snakes its way into the lower of the two pools. At first she was afraid to try it, but after the lifeguard allowed my daughter and I to go on it together, my daughter realized how fun it was and spent just about every available minute climbing the stairs or descending the slide.

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    That lower pool closed at 7:00, but the upper pool remained open until 10:00. We went back to our room after the lower pool closed, ate our leftovers from NFI that served as dinner, and then returned to the upper pool until closing time. A gigantic moon appeared out over Lake Las Vegas that made the night even more magical. What a great place!

    After the pool closed, we changed clothes and spent some time out by some raging outdoor fireplaces, but then some sort of giant bug emerged and frightened my daughter to death, so we headed back inside.

    We watched some TV in the room and fell asleep with the drapes open overlooking the moonlit lake.
     
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  7. M_ILIS

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    Day Six: Friday, July 22, 2016

    You know that feeling like someone is looking at you when you’re sleeping? That’s the feeling I had when I woke up around 5:40 Friday morning. In reality, it wasn’t someone looking at me, it was the bright sunrise beaming in on my face. And I was so glad it did!

    I grabbed my camera and took this sunrise picture from our tiny balcony:

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    Energized by the beautiful morning, I closed the drapes for my wife and daughter and slipped out the front door to go shoot some more photos. I wandered around the resort for the next 90 minutes or so, reveling in the gorgeous sun-drenched architecture, landscapes and gardens.

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    Somewhat surprisingly, the staff at Reflection Bay Golf Club takes the flags in at night, so I waited around for morning maintenance crew to come cut the holes and set the flags on the 8th and 9th holes, which run adjacent to the resort. Finally they did, and I snuck out before any golfers arrived to snap some pictures in the early morning sun. (Photos of golf courses without a visible pin do nothing for me, hence the need to wait. The earlier sunlight would have undoubtedly been more dramatic.)

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    With the pool and water slide slated to open at 9:00, I woke up my daughter around 8:30 to maximize our morning before check-out. She certainly made the most of it:

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    By not staying an additonal night, we missed out on a lot of great amenities we could have taken advantage of throughout a full day at the resort, like free kayak rentals for the Lake, ping pong tables in the family fun center, a taco bar and outdoor movie slated for later that night, etc. This trip was more of a sampler, and we’ll definitely be back for more at some point.

    When you look at Lake Las Vegas on a map, it’s very near Lake Mead, and there’s a road that leads along Lake Mead right to Hoover Dam. In all our Vegas trips, I’ve never had much interest in visiting Hoover Dam, but this seemed like the ideal time to do so. So after we checked out of the Westin and ate lunch at Seasons Market in the Lake Las Vegas Village, we turned toward Lake Mead en route to the Dam. But just a few miles down the road, it turns out Lake Mead is a state or national park with a $20 entrance fee that covers seven days. I wasn’t about to spend $20 just to shave a few minutes off the drive, so we turned around and took a different route. At this point, my wife and daughter sort of lost steam for visiting the Dam, but I figured we’re still close and we’re unlikely to visit any other time, so let’s just do it.

    We arrived first at the Pat Tillman bridge, where you can traverse some stairs and switchbacks to get a decent view of the Dam. We did this, but 115 degree heat nearly killed my wife in doing so. She’s never handled heat very well, and extreme heat like this sapped any energy or enthusiasm she had for seeing the Dam. We took a few pictures, hurried back to the car and basically said “Eff this” and headed towards home rather than explore the Dam further.

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    We took the 95 to Searchlight and then the Joshua Tree Highway over to Nipton, giving the drive a little variation from the norm. We then slipped back into our routine by eating at Freddy’s in Victorville on the way home. All in all, it was an excellent trip and a ton of fun!
     
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  8. M_ILIS

    M_ILIS
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    Postscript: Shortly after we got home, the new Prisma app was all the rage on Android forums I read, so I downloaded it and started playing with some of the photos from our trip. Here’s a sampling of what it created:

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  9. captain mariner

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    What a great trip report and the pictures were outstanding and beyond perfect and the details from the top of the report to the bottom is just as great.
    This trip report is the perfect model of how a trip report should be done and its nice to see how your family enjoyed numerous places and various resorts.
    I'ts great to see a family having so much fun together and its obvious that your prior research paid off in many ways ,so just want to tell you once again great trip report and enjoyed your format and those great photos you shared.
     
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  10. PayTriple

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    Thanks for a great TR! I love the pictures but your writing is the best part. You've given me some ideas for future trips to Vegas.
     
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