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Making the Loop: The Trip Report

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Joined: 23 Feb 2006
Posts: 316

PostPosted: Sep Wed 24, 2008 7:08 am    Post subject: Making the Loop: The Trip Report Reply with quote

Iím sitting at my desk, a mere 22 hours since I was on vacation, wondering where the cocktail waitress is? Room service? The cabin steward? Hell, Iíd even take a drunk bumping into my chair at the casino. Anyway, Iím home, and this is how it went:

Sunday, the 14th of September begins a loop around California and Nevada, with a little Mexico thrown in. We have access to a casino the whole time, and itís going to last 8 days. Letís get started.

The drive from Davis to Long Beach is about 6 hours away, a lot less if you take your own snacks, have a large bladder and feel risky with the speed limit. Since we were none of these things as a group of 40-70 year olds, it took 6 hours. The drive is okay. Highway 5 through the central valley, old towns with new subdivisions ($400,000, what were they thinking?) Happy, stinky cows, and windmills, through the grapevine and voila! LA. R was driving, I was the co-pilot/navigator, we made our hotel without discussion of divorce, well, the other two passengers were his mother and my older sister, so we behaved, and got there by 3:30 PM.

This was our jumping off point for a 4 day cruise to Baja, but we wanted it to be nice, so finding the right room (at the right price) was hard. After really getting the hang of price line, I won a bid for a 4 star hotel on the harbor in Long Beach, the Renaissance for $70 a night. The web was asking $269. It was a Sunday, they were not busy, so I tried the free upgrade question. She said she had no harbor views, I whipped out my Marriottís card, old and tired, but it worked and she found the upgrades, and we were looking at the Queen Mary from our window.

Since it was early, we headed to the pool and had a drink checking out the view. At 6:30 we went to dinner at the Crab Pot. I discovered it out on tripadvisor, and folks liked this place. It was the only outside eating on the harbor in Long Beach. It was pretty cool. Rís mom liked the way the waiter covered our table in blank newsprint. She knew good things were to come. After a round of drinks and clam chowder, they brought out a bucket of stuff. The stuff was tossed on the paper in front of us. Clams, oysters, crab, salmon, mussels, red potatoes, sausages and corn on the cob. We grubbed, watched the sunset and went back to the room for some brandy to take to the Jacuzzi. This was a good night.

The next morning R checked out the window, yup, our ship was in port. We dressed and went across the street to a deli for breakfast sandwiches. We stopped at Starbucks and then went to his momís/sisís room to get them up. We breakfasted, finished the morning at the pool and left to check in for the cruise at 11:00 AM .

Now this Embarkation was a pain. But I donít want to remember that, so anyway, a couple of hours later we were on the Lido deck, grazing on the buffet. All food is free on this cruise (Carnival/Paradise), and it comes in all forms. After lunch we went to our rooms, found our luggage had arrived with smuggled booze intact. Carnival letís you bring on a bottle of wine each. We each carried one on for our dinners. We also checked a bottle each in the luggage the porters handled. R had dumped out the wine in the Woodbridge Chardonnay bottles, as that bottle has no foil on it. He then filled them with assorted vodkaís, rum and brandy, and we had a bar, Including olives and vermouth.

After unpacking, we made a drink, and waited for muster. After this safety drill, we changed, went up to deck, watched Long Beach become smaller, stifled the unease of motion, and went into dinner. Dinner was fun with nice table mates, silly waiters and many food choices. Rís mom was suitably impressed and rapidly became used to being fussed over. After dinner we checked out the bars and settled on a karaoke bar. Something my sis loves and R hates. Itís like nails on a chalkboard to him. She used to run a karaoke show as a moonlight gig to her nursing. We watch a couple of performers and then itís time for the ďBroadway ShowĒ portion. It was alright, mildly entertaining and then we did what I WANTED TO DO. Hit the casino. That lasted about 5 minutes. Iím a slot player, but the slot choices were few . I now know where Nevada coin slot machines have gone to die. Cruise ships. The video poker was Tahoe type payoffs, and didnít return at all. The drinks were expensive and you couldnít smoke in there, bye bye.

The next 3 days were basically the same, with some lounging at pools thrown in. We didnít do much at the ports, as Rís mom was limited in her walking. R went scuba diving, but said he liked our snorkeling trips better.

By Friday, we were ready for our third component to the trip. VEGAS! It took about 5 hours to get to the Rio. Since this was a suite (code: big, not two rooms), we shared, the 4 of us. Sis didnít want to get up close and personal with Rís mom, so she took the big sectional. We had some room temperature grumblings, but the peri-menopausal women beat out the man and old lady, and it was chilliní in there. Shad up.

We had the traditional ď arenít we happy to be in Vegas and still have our moneyĒ drink, and then left for our other tradition, the BBQ at Ellis Island. Itís just down Flamingo and across the strip. Big platter of food, small money, greasy hands, brewed on the premises beer, and fair game choices. Oh, you can actually hear the music in here too, a nice blend of early rock and easy listening that doesnít offend anyone. This is their 40th year anniversary, so they have some specials going. One thatís lasted a while is 6 machines that gives 40 times points on your playerís card. Yes, I said 40 times. I played low risk games like deuces or joker poker and earned $30 an hour. We paid for no food here. We also won money on these machines, but the locals avoided them.

After dinner, we went to the Fontana bar at the Bellagio to watch an hourís worth of water shows. The Fontana bar has a patio that sits in the middle of the viewing. The catch is the cost of the drinks, $6 for a beer, $20 for a liquer. Oh well, Rís mom wasnít up to walking and standing, so it was $48 for a round of drinks. Incidentally, the best view is still from the street.

Since the Rio had significantly discounted our room ($90 weekend night-rack was $279), we had to put some play time in. We did, we lost, we were asleep at 2 AM. The next day began at Ellis with their $4.99 steak and eggs, (first playing the 40 times pay machine so it was free). We won again, and then visited Silverton, another localís place with a Bass pro shop and huge aquarium. Did I mention that my sis doesnít gamble? She doesnít like it. Sheíll go up to a bar and lay down $10 for a drink, but wonít risk it in a machine to get a free one. Itís not moral, or cheapness, she actually doesnít enjoy gambling. I think she should see someone.

Anyway, she is fine watching us, or watching the fish, as long as booze is a factor. Now quit thinking sheís a drunk, I didnít say that. You did. So sheís watching the fish at Silverton, sipping a (gasp!) paid-for drink, and Iím losing $60 in an hour, hmmmÖ.maybe I should see someone.

Back to the room for a nap (it was for Rís mom, okay?) Time for dinner, letís go downtown! We park at 4 Queens, never leave there and have dinner at Magnolias. Prime rib, damn good, and gumbo. If itís your b-day month like sis, buy one/get one free. Since she had to sign up for the playerís card to get the food thingy, they also told her 40 points got her a free tote back. Hers had been left behind as a casualty of overloading so the new one was happily won with R and my gambling dollars. Which, we would have gambled anyway, as the 4 Queens houses a Chicago Brewing Co. and some mighty fine IPA. Sis checked out the Fremont experience, we labored away at the beer, cigars and winning of the tote bag, and left after a couple of hours.

Rís mom and I played at the Rio for hours to accumulate more points on the card; sis and R caught a movie and we all turned in around 1:30 AM. We got up at 8 AM the next morning, packed up and had one last breakfast at Ellis before leaving town. Rís mom hit a joker Royal flush as her last play of Vegas, and left $100 up for the trip. Sis spent $70 for EVERYTHING in Vegas, including food and tips. She drank free when she was nearby watching us. I made her pay the tips though.

We drove the 7 hours to Tahoe the next day. It was an easy ride stopping at little casinos along the way and watching movies in the car. At Harveyís we had two comped room: one in Rís name with his mom; and one in my name with my sis. Now Harveyís ALWAYS tries to give you a lesser room than what youíve booked, at least for me. They make me get scary, which I donít like, but will do to get my promised room. R and I went to the counter together, the clerk started the searching, puzzled, canít get what you ordered crap, and I started gathering the testosterone. R saw my expression, we both told each other to back off (each wanting to take control) him as a anything goes Iím tired; me, I want my premium room dammit!

When the clerk mentioned the 7th floor, I asked if it were above the tree line and a ďPremiumĒ room as they define it. He said no, saw my face, and excused himself. When he came back, he was smiling, we had keys and headed up. We were tired, our butts were hitting the floor, until we opened the first room. It was a suite! I mean a SUITE! Not one of those Rio pretend suites, with a big couch in the same room as the bed, but a suite with an entry of chandeliers, wood floors and a extra full bathroom, (in case you couldnít make it to the other one?) The living room had bookcases, a 60Ē plasma, a dining table, wrap around windows showing the lake, and then we went into the bedroom.

It was a large room with a BALCONY! Table and chairs out there too. The bathroom in this part of the suite had a Jacuzzi and wrap around windows with automatic shades on them. Yup people, yesterday I was in that Jacuzzi, looking out at the lake, feeling like the world had finally realized my place in it. Then, I heard the other members in the suite, wanting to head out, as the trip was over.

We actually gave the room to Rís mom and sis, and took the other nice regular room. We hung out for awhile in the nice room, sis set up appetizers, a bar, and wouldnít leave again until the next day at checkout. Rís mom helped us earn some points so this may come our way again. We had breakfast in the way of room service in the dining area viewing the lake the next morning, earned with playing on the Harrahís card. I mention the room and free food to preface the fact that we did not win this trip. However, the losses were small and planned, Rís mom won, and sis got drunk.

Next trip with Rís Spokane Brother in October in Reno at the FitzÖ.
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 1129

PostPosted: Sep Wed 24, 2008 12:04 pm    Post subject: Let's open another bottle of "Wine" Reply with quote

Great stuff; thanks for sharing!

It definitely fits our board, even though it did include Vegas and other inferior places.

And very nice work on that Harrah's suite - it sounds like you have to practically draw blood to get what you want, but if you're happy in the end, that's the important part.

What route does one take to get from Vegas to Lake Tahoe? I've never done this, but am certainly curious...
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Joined: 17 Dec 2005
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sep Wed 24, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great Trip Report - Enjoyed it all! Sounds like you have a family that is diverse and get along great. All families should enjoy the times together like you have.

Liked the part where your sister will pay $10 for a drink and think nothing of it at a casino. Where I'll spend a couple of $20s for the same end result. You're right who should seek treatment? Very Happy

Thanks again for sharing
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PostPosted: Sep Wed 24, 2008 4:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sharon: You know, she spends less the way she gets her booze, but as you know, our way is more fun! (and sometimes, more profitable)

Stan: R and I actually enjoy the drive between Reno and Vegas, we must, we do it about 3 times a year. It looks like this:

It's really about 3 segments. The first, Reno to Hawthorne is pretty nice. You take either 50 or 80 to 95 highway. The small towns are cute and un-Nevada-like (trees and rolling gentle hills). Before you hit Hawthorne, you traverse a 20 mile beach front called Walker Lake. In Hawthorn is a little casino called El Capitan, we drop a few quarters in here, as they still take coinage. good for a leg stretch and bathroom break. COULD go straight to Beatty, only another 3 hours, but Tonopah is the next city. We don't like it. It's a speed trap, with high gas and odd people, avoid unless you need gas (or have gas).

Beatty has a nice little casino called the Stagecoach, rinse/lather/repeat from the Hawthorne experience and stop. Now you are only about 100 miles from Vegas. time for the Vegas music, stories and scanning the horizon for signs of the Stratosphere.
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