I decided to move from the standard text based type trip report and spice this one up with photos taken during our vacation. These images are linked to the full sized versions, so if you would like to view those, just click on the image.
I just thought it would be a nice change of pace, and help add a little spice and interest to the report.
So, without further ado.....
We departed Spokane International right on time. Thanks to a tip from a Las Vegas Talk forum user, we were able to modify our original Southwest airlines reservations to allow us to use their online check in. This enabled us to score the coverted "A" boarding pass. Though we were running a little late, there was no one in line for checkin and only 1 person ahead of us for security so we breezed right though.
During the planning of this trip I had made arrangements for an airport pick up by Dear Cabbie. However, a few days before we left I got an email from him explaining that my arrival day was his day off, but he still planned to meet me.
Thanks DC, but no thanks..... I know my days off are important to me, thus I would feel terrible knowing your day off might have been messed up. So I emailed him back and told him to forget the promise to pick me up and just enjoy his day off. Afterall, there's always next trip.
Following up on one of the many tips I picked up from the LVTalk forum, I decided to try the airport check in for our hotel, the MGM. As it turned out, this was a verey wise deceision.
Walked up to their airport facility and found there were 5 desk clerks on duty and no one in line. We arrived at about 12 noon, and I was told me room would not be ready until 3:00pm. I did get my room keys and the clerk gave me a card with an in-house phone number to call. She told me to use any house phone and call after 3:00 and they would tell me my room number.
I suspect they already knew what room I was going to be in, since they gave me my keys. But I thought what the heck. No big deal. We collected our luggage and made the mad dash for a taxi.
After a no tunnel route, $8.00 + tip cab fare and short ride
we arrived at the MGM.
Since we had a few hours to kill, we checked our luggage with the Bell Desk and paid a visit to the Studio Cafe to refule. I like that place. The service has always been good, the prices are fair and the food good. I really like the coffee there.
While coming into town I saw a sign on the Tropicana that said you would get a free T-shirt for signing up for their slot players card.
We walked over and I signed up. When I asked for my t-shirt, the lady told me I needed to rack up 30 minutes of play on any slot first. Ok I thought to myself. Thats easy enough.
Sat down at a nickle Blazing 7's popped in twenty and began to play. After a little over an hour, my 20 bucks was gone. Went back up, handed my card over and asked for my t-shirt. Lady checked and told me I still needed 19 minutes.
That's when I concluded that 30 minutes of slot play means 30 minutes of reels actually spinning. I was already twenty dollars into my "free" t-shirt, and figured at this rate my "free" t-shirt was going to cost me $40.00. I said the heck with it, already had enough t-shirts, and we left.
After putzing around for a little while more, we went back to the MGM as it was 4:30pm. I used a house phone, called the extension on the card I got at check in, and was told my room, 28-125 was ready and we could go up any time.
Regardless of what their web site might say, this was a standard MGM room. King sized bed, cabinet with TV and extra drawers for clothes. 2 Bed side tables, a writting table, couch and closet.
As the number implies, it was on the 28th floor, not too overly long from the elevator. As you enter, the bathroom is on the right, followed by the closet. Then you enter the room proper where we had a king sized bed on one side and the TV cabinet thing on the other. The table, 2 chairs and couch completed the furnishings.
The first thing we did was to call down to the Bell Desk and have our luggage brought up to the room. It arrived within 10 minutes, and we unpacked. It took a litte looking around, but I finally found the room safe, located inside the TV cabinet. I had budgeted $500.00 a day for myself, so I used some of the envelopes in the room, split my cash into individual packets stuffed in the envelopes, and into the safe they went.
The safe was large enough for small items, jewlery, cash, camera but nothing big like a lap top or something like that. When checking out, I was pleased to see there was no charge for the use of the safe.
One of my wife's favorite places to visit each day was the Lion Habitat at the MGM. She liked to stop by to see what they were up to.
There are basically 2 buses that run the Strip. The 301 is a local and stops at all the bus stops on the strip, enroute to Freemont St.
The next stop is announced over a PA system by the names of the casinos you can get to from the stop.
The 302 is an express bus. It only stops at a few stops along the Strip on it's way to Freemont St. As you can see either bus will take you from the Strip to Freemont St, the 302 will get you there a little quicker.
Now, sure, you are probably going to have a little walk from the bus stop to the casino, but you are also going to save a ton of money on taxi fares. And since it's a bus, you don't have to worry about getting long hauled along the way.
If your not in a hurry and don't need door to door service, this is the best deal on the Strip. Trust me, this baby is GOLD!
After getting skunked our first night at the MGM I decided to try my luck at the Flamingo. I've always good luck on their Blazing 7's slot machines. So next morning (my birthday) we grabbed a quick breakfast at the Studio Cafe.
We walked outside the MGM to the bus stop, and when the 301 came along boarded. Giving the driver a $10.00 bill, I asked for 2 bus passes which were printed right there. We were now off.....
We arrived a few minutes later, feet well rested from our bus ride at the bus stop right outside the Flamingo.
Now first, let me explain my "system" for playing slots.
I should mention at this point that my absolute favorite slot to play in Las Vegas is the Blazing 7's, 25 cent machines. I will sometimes play the $1.00 ones, but in any case I will play the Blazing 7's to the exclusion of almost every other slot in the city. I'm just funny that way.
Anyway, I'll play $10.00. If I don't get any wins, I'll move to another machine.
If I get a few small hits, I'll continue to play until either the $10.00 is gone, or I line up 7's along the pay line, at which time I'll cash out and move on to another machine.
Thats it! My system is pretty simple, but it works for me.
I always play the maximum coins and at the end, if I have less credits than needed to play the max, I cash out. Murphy's Law tells me if I play less then the max, that is when I'll hit the big one and not get paid cause I wanted to save 25 cents... :)
About this time, the machines had started to cool off some.
Like Kenny Rogers sang in his song, "You have to know when to walk away"... and I did. With a little over $500.00 in ticket out slips in my pocket, I was a happy camper. Besides, it was getting time to head over to the meet at the Brew Pub in the Monte Carlo.
For those who might not be familiar with the Ticket In/Ticket Out system being adopted by more and more casinos in Las Vegas I'll explain it.
In the old days, when you cashed out of a slot machine, the credits (coins) would fall out into the coin tray with a very very please "noise".
However, in an attempt to cut costs many casinos are modifying their machines to issue a ticket when you cash out.
The above ticket is from the MGM and as you can see it is worth $52.25.
Now, to be honest, I didn't think I would care for this system very much until this trip. I'm now sold on them. They are so convieient, it's not even funny.
No heavy buckets of coins to lug around.
No worrying about having your coin bucket stolen should you be distracted for a few seconds.
You just cash out, stick the ticket in your pocket and move on. I even saw some machines that no longer had a coin slot. You have to use either paper money, or one of these tickets that are inserted into the same slot as if you were using paper money.
And heres another good point. These tickets are interchangable between different denomination machines! So no waiting on cashier lines to change nickles into quarers.
Let's say for example you are playing a nickle slot machine and cash out. The machine prints you a ticket for $10.65 cents.
Now, you decide to play a quarter slot. So you insert your ticket. The machine accepts it and immediately prints out another ticket for 15 cents, because that 15 cents can't be used in a quarter slot. Of course now you have to find a nickle slot to play your 15 cents, but that's another story.
Anyway, we left the Flamingo and walked over to the Monte Carlo. The meet was scheduled for 3:00pm and it was only about two when we arrived so we walked around a bit. This is when my wife found her "new" favorite slot machine.
A 3 coin 25 cent machine called Fee and Easy. This was a really fun slot machine to play. And simple too. Basically it works like this:
On the 3rd reel is a Free Spin symbol. If your playing 3 coins, and this symbol stops on the pay line, you get Free Spins. There is a bullseye sort of thing on top of the machine with numbers 5-10-15-25. You hit the Free Spin button and the machine cycles through these numbers.What ever number it stops at, thats how many free spins you get.
Now, you hit the Free Spin button again, and the machine will play these spins on it's own. It's called Free and Easy because during this time you will always win at least 3 credits (a Free Spin, get it???)
If during this Free Spin segment, the Free Spin button shows up on the payline again, you press the Free Spin button and the cycles repeats itself. How ever many free spins it stops on this time is added to what you have left and the game continues.
My wife did really good on these machines, taking almost $200.00 out of 1 initial $10.00 in. I found one a few days later at the MGM. I was down to 6 credits on a $10.00 in, and hit the Free Spin symbol. From that single free spin, I built my credits up to 206. $51.50 for $10.00. Not a bad return. Needless to say I cashed out at that point.
But getting back to the story..... We finally made it to the meet and thereallasvegas and LV Norm were there. We chatted for a while and another couple (sorry I don't recall their names) stopped by. They are stationed at Nellis AFB.
After about an hour and a half, we said our good byes and left. We must have made a wrong turn (or perhaps it was a right turn) and came to an exit. Leaving the MC, I realized this was not the exit we wanted to leave by. So we turned and re-entered the casino.
It was than that it happened. My baby blues spotted 2 little old Blazing 7's, sitting way back in the corner. They looked so sad and lonely sitting there all by their lonesome.
I can't seem to pass one of these machines, without sticking a 10 into them. I picked one and put 10 bucks into it. A few spins later it happened!
The following day, we returned to the Flamingo to cash in the tickets I had won and we found some more Blazing 7's up near the front lobby.
Well like I said, I can't walk past these machines without sticking a 10 spot into them. Guess what?
From there we trekked (no pun intended) to the Hilton, which turned out to be a longer walk then we expected, but not too bad.
Cost of the show was $29.00 per person. I thought that was a little spendy, but this price allows you entry to the show as many times as you want for that day.
Now the show is actually split into 2 phases. First there is a museum sort of walk that you take. Along the way there are lots of displays showing uniforms, weapons, equipment, etc from the different shows. There is also a complete time line starting from our first steps into space and continuing into the ear of Star Trek.
Phases 2 is the "experience".... Here is the basic permise.
You are about to board a ride at the Hilton hotel. All of a sudden, all the lights go out. You feel shaking and cold air blasts over you. When the lights come back on, you find youself standing on a transporter pad aboard the USS Enterprise.
Your confronted by a uniformed Transporter officer who takes your "guides" away, while another uniformed officer escorts your group to the bridge for a briefing from Commander Riker.
(Note: Due to copy right restrictions, there is no type of photography allowed during phase 2.) Once you arrive on the bridge (which is an exact replica of the bridge from Star Trek The Next Generation) one of the bridge officers activates the Main Veiw screen and Riker gives you your briefing.
It seems that the Klingons and Federation are at war. A Klingon commander has discovered that one member of your group is a decendent of Capt. Picard. In order to do away with Picard, the klingon "kidnaps" your whole group but the Enterprise was able to intercept the attempt and you were beamed aboard instead of winding up on board the Klingon ship. (Lucky break huh?)
So now it becomes the mission of the crew of the Enterprise to get you and your gruop back to a space time distortion and return you to your propert time line.
Your group is led into a turbo-lift to be taken to the Shuttle Cradt Desk. Along the way, the Enterprise comes under attack by the Klingons. Your group is shaken up, but otherwise unharmed.
After a safety briefing by Gordi LaForge, everyone boards a shuttle craft like good litte Star Fleet cadets. You strap in and head out into the "Final Frontier".
I won't spoil the ride by giving too much away, but there are some space battles, a trip through the distortion and a final battle back on earth.
Now I have to admitt, I liked this ride. I'm not a hard core trekkie by any streach of the imagination, but I did like this ride. In fact I took it a few times.... :)
At the end of the "experience" you wind up on the Promanade of Deep Space 9 where you can visit Quarks Bar. There are shops but bring your credit card. They are spendy.
While sitting in Quarks, or strolling around the
Promanade, expect to run into visitors such as Klingons and
"friendly" Borg. They will pose and allow you to take pictures
with them, but a word of caution... Ask first. Those Klingon's
can get awful cranky.....
One of my favorite places to find some peace and quiet in Las Vegas is the gardens at the Flamingo. Not only is it a haven from the hustle and bussle of Las Vegas, but it's a great place to people watch.
Nothing says Vegas like Neon. And nothing says Neon like
Freemont St after dark.
Well there you go.... My trip in words and pictures. I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me, and I hope some of the pictures brought back fond memories for you.
Viva as Vegas baby!!!!!