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Trip Report Islands of Las Vegas TR

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September 15-29. 2010

Ahoy Matties! The old seadog Captain Westie and First Mate Annie Merlot are preparin’ to set sail for the Islands of Las Vegas and you are invited to join us as virtual shipmates. We be navigatin’ a Southwest passage by the Cape of Good Hope and around the Horn of Plenty. We are in possession of a treasure map and are expectin’ to have ourselves a profitable and jolly good time.

Should those scallywags Michael Gaughan and his bucko Black Jack Binion attempt to steal our booty, we won’t be firin’ no warnin’ shots. Those wishin’ to join our motley crew should stop by the ship’s store before we raise the Jolly Roger tomorrow to stock up on rum and Ship’s Ahoy cookies. Yo Ho Ho!

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's only casinos to plunder
I'm an over-sixty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

09/15 – Sailing, Takes Me Away

As we be preparin’ to depart Port Westie on the brigantine Lollipop, a “good” ship indeed, we discovered Mad Max Schipperke, our cabin steward, was a landlubber so he be left behind.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1r4bbgv1If8 We caught an outgoin’ tide, enjoyed favorable winds and dropped anchor off the coast of Las Vegas at 19:30. The crew took its jolly good time unloadin’ our cargo, but, once retrieved, it took little time before we were off to the consolidated rental facility (CRF) where we secured a Hyundai Accent at Alamo for the remainder of the trip.

And they sailed their ship across the ocean blue
A Blood thirsty captain and a cut throat crew
It’s a darker tale as was ever told
Of a lust for treasure and a love of gold

Our final destination, South Point Island, is located within the resort fee free triangle and only a doubloon’s throw from the CRF. When the first mate was told totin’ our sea bags was part of her responsibilities, she called me a bad name and it wasn’t buccaneer. Yo Ho Ho!

With 2,163 rooms, the South Point is the largest locals’ casino. Check-in went smoothly and we were soon settled in room 1196; a nonsmoking room featuring 550 square feet of space, a king size bed, a safe, and flat screen TV. We wasted little time unpacking before heading to the Lobby bar with a fist full of free drink coupons in hand. You won’t be finding these old salts drinking Shirley Temples; a merlot for Annie and a salty dog for Captain Westie. Woof, woof!. http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink1723.html

Dinner was at the Silverado Steakhouse where Annie ordered the line caught king salmon with julienne veggies, pressed potato and garlic butter sauce. The Captain’s entrée was an 8 ounce filet mignon served medium rare and accompanied by both mashed potatoes and onion rings. Entrees include a tableside tossed salad dressed with the house champagne vinaigrette. Our server was efficient though somewhat disengaged. I used a 2/1 locals coupon. ($34.53, 2.5 out of a possible 5 Forks) http://www.southpointcasino.com/dining/silverado-menu.php

09/16 – Damn the Tortillas, Full Speed Ahead

As is customary, I found myself unable to adjust to the time differential so I was up and raring to go at 3AM. My first stop was Terrible’s to play the 9/6 JOB machines in order to keep Ann’s points current. I then headed to Sam’s Town to take advantage of the 5x points being offered seniors on Thursdays. In short order I hit the quad deuces for a 1,000 coin payout. Yo Ho Ho!

On my return some 3 hours later, I showered and shaved before we headed downstairs to the Garden buffet. This buffet has been upgraded since our last visit and now includes a free Bloody Mary. We each enjoyed an OJ and fresh fruit with strawberry yogurt. The remainder of my meal included an odd, but tasty egg ranchero as well as a dollop of corned beef hash and some home fries. ($7.51, Las Vegas Advisor (LVA), 2.5 Forks)

There was a quarter horse competition taking place in the equestrian center so we stopped by and watched one horse after another run through it paces; spinning, figure eights and coming to an abrupt halt through the use of verbal commands. (1.5 Saddles)

In mid-afternoon we returned to Sam’s Town to see Toast of the Town, a free variety show. This week’s program included host/singer Mark Giovi (lead singer in Bite), Mark Curry (comedian currently headlining in the Shimmer Cabaret at the LV Hilton), Bill Fayne (LV Tenors and musical director for Clint Holmes), a fantastic trumpet player and a comedian/magician. (4.5 Claps)

On returning to the room and resting, we went downstairs to the Catalina Island bar where we enjoyed a matched pair of merlots.

Today was the bicentennial of Grito de Dolores, a celebration of Mexico’s Independence from Spain, so we headed to Mundo – A Culinary Haute Spot, located in the World Market Center. http://www.mundolasvegas.com/

This Mexican restaurant is very upscale though I think the interior decorator may have pulled a fast one on the owners. Our server, Jose Luis, was exceptionally informative and assisted us as we worked through the menu. We started off with complimentary tortilla chips and 3 excellent salsas. Ann chose the avocado leaf crusted sea scallops with poblano and corn rice, mango relish and salsa verde. I selected the tamarind ancho chile glazed pork tenderloin served with a mango relish and Mexican risotto (double cream, poblano and corn). The tenderloin took around 20 minutes to prepare so be forewarned. We both agreed that this was our best dining experience in a very long time. ($40, Groupon, 5)

On exiting, we decided to play a little more video poker so we headed for Sam’s again. I hit (5) 5 of a kinds (OAKS) in 15 minutes, but decided I was too tired to concentrate so I made my way to Roxy’s Lounge where the band In A Fect was playing. The band’s membership and play list have changed, and not for the better, since we first discovered them. http://www.inafect.com/tresure.html (2 Claps)

Roxy’s has always been a great venue for people watching and this visit was no different. There was one old codger, defined as anyone older them me, who navigated by holding on to tables, but was able to boogey on the dance floor with his sprightly spouse.

09/17 The Woman Who Walks Into Doors

On this trip my video poker (VP) playing was primarily concentrated in the Fiesta-Henderson unless otherwise noted. This morning’s session featured many 5OAKS, a few wild royals and a modest loss. On exiting the casino I made a short detour and stopped at Ronald’s Donuts for an apple fritter that we enjoyed in the room along with OJ. ($2.70, 3.5 Forks)

Our favorite activity each trip is a visit to Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden, but our timing could have been better because the change over to the fall exhibit was in progress. After making a quick tour, Ann headed for the Giordani Garden Store while my feet directed me to Jean Phillipe’s Patisserie.

As I was checking out the desserts, I heard Ann calling out to me. She had tried to open the heavy glass doors to the shop using her noggin and a large welt was rapidly developing over one eyebrow. A Bronx cheer is extended to the store clerk who turned away from Ann rather than offering assistance.

We stopped at the nearby piano bar where a very kind and accommodating bartender provided her with ice wrapped in a bar towel. She continued to administer the ice pack to her brow on our return to the room and fortunately the injury was more painful than serious.

Shortly after noon, we decided to obtain a little sustenance at Yayo Tacos which is located across from UNLV on Maryland Parkway. This is a college hangout that serves small, but very tasty street tacos. We shared a platter of pollo, carnitas and (2) pastor tacos. ($3. KSHP, 3 Forks) http://www.myspace.com/yayo_taco

Our next stop was the Clark County Library where we were advised that non residents are no longer welcome. Since we have been long-time members, we were allowed to renew for 3 months.

Half Way to St. Patrick’s Day

On our return to the South Point I lost a few dollars playing a 50-line, 5 cent 9/6 JOB machine while Ann headed for the ice machine. In the late afternoon we could have been found at the Silverado Lounge nursing a pair of merlots before departing for Auld Dubliner in MonteLago Village at Lake Las Vegas. http://www.aulddubliner.com/LLV/index.html

I was surprised how small the pub was, but additional seating is available on the outside patio. Even though there was a concert scheduled for later in the evening, there was very little pedestrian traffic on the street this evening. We each ordered fish and chips; the former was heavily battered and the latter was from the freezer case. ($26, Groupon, 2 Forks)

A U-2 tribute band was in process of setting up as we finished dinner, but we decided to take in the lakeside concert offered each Friday night through October. This evening’s concert featured the group Zanzibar. http://zanzibartheband.com/band.html (3.5 Claps)

09/18 Man Who Misplaces Wallet

My early morning VP session offered much potential with numerous wild royals and 5 OAKS, but I basically broke even. On the ride back to the South Point I swung by Chef Fleming’s Bake Shop in downtown Hendeson for a pair of mini chocolate covered pistachio cheesecakes. http://www.chefflemmings.com/

We drove to Summerlin for breakfast at Siena Bistro at the Siena Golf Club. This restaurant is located in the Tuscan-styled club house and overlooks the beautiful golf course. http://www.sienagolfclub.com/ We both ordered a short stack of strawberry filled pancakes which were very light and delicious. I used a 50% off a second entrée coupon from the citycoops website. http://www.citycoups.com/sienabistro.html ($11.15, 4 Forks)

Our next stop was the Las Vegas Premium Outlets, but on exiting the car I realized I was without my billfold. We quickly retraced our tire tracks to the Siena Bistro where, to great relief, I was reunited with my money and credit cards.

Our second scenic trip to the outlets netted me 3-packs of shorts and socks. On our return to the South Point I used another drink coupon for a pair of colas which were paired with Chef Fleming’s cheesecakes. ($5.25, 3 Forks)

In mid-afternoon I left Ann and visited Jack’s Big Boy Toy Box show outside the equestrian center. This year’s show included several wrestling matches plus the usual assortment of assault weapons, SUV’s and a helicopter in case one wanted to invade a South American country. The typical attendee was sporting greasy hair, tattoos and a foul mouth; the men were even worse.

I also made a quick stop at the quarter horse show; the participants were will still doing spins and figure eights. Yawn.

The South Point was featuring Black Star beer from Whitefish, Montana so I said to myself, why not?
http://blackstarbeer.com/ (3.5 Sips)

We returned to Lake Las Vegas this evening. There was a notable increase in pedestrian traffic because a wine walk was in progress as well as the weekly Jazz concert. Note single guys: the average wine walk attendee was young, female and attractive. http://winewalklv.com/

We held dinner reservations at Bernard’s Bistro, a small Cali-French restaurant with an expansive patio overlooking both the lake and concert venue. http://tinyurl.com/2ubukx5 The maitre d’ welcomed us with “Bonjour Monsieur, Bonjour Madame”. To which I responded “Alouette, je te plumerai”; he seemed somewhat surprised that I spoke French.

It was very hot this evening so we opted for an inside table near the bar. We were provided menus and a basket of warm, crusty bread. Ann chose the pistachio crusted salmon with lavender sauce and pesto mashed potatoes. My entrée was Provencal seafood (shrimp, scallops and mussels) in a lobster Creole sauce with spinach/cheese ravioli. Both entrees were delicious. ($25.65 Restaurant.com (R.com), 4 Forks)

09/19 Talk Like a Pirate Day http://www.talklikeapirate.com/piratehome.html

Avast! I had a bitch of a time locating my spectacles this morning, finally locating them under my pillow. This morning’s VP session generated my #2 quad deuces and a nominal, though highly appreciated, profit.

Breakfast was at TC’s Rib Crib, a small locally-owned soul food restaurant situated in a shopping center on W. Desert Inn Road. http://www.usmenuguide.com/tcsribcrib.htm Ann ordered the New Orleans French toast with fresh strawberries while I selected the bayou buttery buttermilk waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. Both dishes tasted good, sounded better, but were not worth the drive. ($13.05, citycoops, 2.5 Forks)

On departing we made the relatively short drive to Calico Basin and Red Springs. http://www.vegas4locals.com/freecalicosprings.html We enjoyed the scenic ½ mile walk on the boardwalk that circumvents this relatively plush area though the temperature was approaching 100 degrees. We then toured the new visitors’ center at Red Rock Canyon where I got to meet Chuck Walla and friend. http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/ (2 Lizards)

The remainder of the afternoon was spent hibernating in our room. In the late afternoon we departed for Sam’s Town where I hit my #3 quad deuces quickly followed by a pair of merlots at the Winchester bar.

I’ve Never Been to Spain, But I Kinda Like the Tapas.

We departed for the Firefly in the ever so depressing Plaza. As we approached the parking garage I saw a sign advising customers of a $5 nonrefundable charge for parking in the garage so we used the valet. http://www.fireflylv.com/menu.html

It was anything but surprising to find the escalator inoperable so we used the elevator. Our waiter provided menus and a complimentary plate of olives, bread and an almond cream cheese spread. The first order included a pair of mojitos (4.5), the mandatory bacon wrapped dates in a red wine reduction and blue cheese (4.5) and a disappointing roasted beet salad (2). Our next order was a mushroom tart (puff pastry and boursin cheese) that burst with flavor (4.5) and a seafood paella (3.5). We finished our meal with a banana nutella sandwich (4) while watching the FSE light show. ($29.75, radio station)

We concluded this evening by attending Dao – The Asian Celebration at the Riviera. This show includes acrobatics, dance and martial arts, but it is unoriginal and poorly executed. I would recommend taking a pass on this show if favor of Matsuri. ($18, KSHP, 1 Clap) http://www.rivierahotel.com/entertainment/dao.asp

09/20 When the Saints Go Marching In

This morning’s VP session was both protracted and painful – enough said.

At 8:30 AM we met our friends Buddha and Nancy at the entrance to the South Point buffet. Over the next hour we enjoyed both the buffet and their company. ($7.51, LVA, 2.5 Forks)

Ann was coming down with a cold so after breakfast she returned to the room while I headed to the Fiesta to check the VPFree2 inventory of full pay VP machines. http://www.vpfree2.com/casinos/by-region/las-vegas.html After completing the inventory, I played for an hour and hit my 4th quad deuces.

On my return to the South Point I swung by the sports book and downed my first hot dog of the trip. ($1, 2 Forks)

The evening’s libations were merlots at the South Point’s recently opened Grandview Lounge.

In response to the New Orleans Saints/San Francisco Giants’ Monday night football game, we drove to Rhythm Kitchen Seafood & Steaks on Decatur for an early (5:15PM) dinner. This Creole/Cajun restaurant was reasonably busy and the bar was packed with Saints’ fans. http://www.rhythmkitchenlv.com/aboutus.html

Our waiter took our orders and returned shortly with a basket of hot hush puppies that made me want to howl in happiness. I started off with a bowl of seafood gumbo while Ann ordered a ½ dozen oysters. For a main course Ann selected the crawfish etouffee served with rice. I did her one better by ordering the Atchafalaya Crawfish Delight – blackened catfish over Cajun rice covered with crawfish etouffee. Combined with the seafood gumbo, my dinner was a little too much of a good thing. ($30.80, R.com, 2.5 Forks)

On exiting we drove to the Las Vegas Hilton for Steve Dacri’s – In Your Face magic show in the Shimmer Cabaret. http://www.stevedacri.com/ This is an excellent venue for Steve who specializes in up-close magic. There is not a bad seat in this intimate showroom, but the closer you are to the stage, the more you will appreciate his performance. This show was very entertaining and would be appropriate for families with young children, but it is rumored to be closing soon. ($10, KSHP, 3 Abracadabras)

We concluded the evening with Irish coffees at the Lobby Bar.

09/21 Adios Summer

I managed to catch every 4OAKS in the deck this morning with the exception of the one that counts the most.

I attempted to use both points and the LVA 2/1 buffet coupon at Sunset Station, but was told they could not be combined. I filled my ample belly with OJ, fresh cantaloupe, ambrosia, easy over eggs, corned beef hash and a tiny spoonful of bread pudding. Overall, I felt this buffet has slipped a notch since our December trip. ($7.56, LVA, 2 Forks)

Later this morning I deposited Ann at Ritual Spa on Eastern where she enjoyed a hot stone massage. http://www.ritualsalonandspa.net/ ($64, Groupon, 4 Hands)

In the meantime, I played a little at the Fiesta before returning to pick her up. We next headed to Atomic #7 in the Galleria Mall where we shared a Colada (banana, pineapple and coconut milk) smoothie.
The ice cream and other treats are created before your eyes and there are almost unlimited options to customize your order. I felt our smoothie was a little light on flavor, but it also left no aftertaste. http://www.atomicnumber7.com/ ($3, KSHP, 3 Sips)

After a mid-afternoon siesta, we started our personal fiesta with a pair of margaritas at the Lobby bar. We continued this theme at the Border Grill in Mandalay Bay. http://www.bordergrill.com/bg_lv/bg_lvwel.htm Warm taco chips and 3 excellent dips were served. Ann’s entrée was a chile relleno (a roasted poblano pepper, manchego cheese, panela, cotija cheese), tomatillo salsa, Spanish rice and refried black beans. I settled on Yucatan Pork - achiote pork roasted in a banana leaf, grilled pickled onion, guacamole, fried plantains, refried black beans, Spanish rice and 3 handmade corn tortillas. We have enjoyed both of these entrees in the past and were not disappointed this evening. I had a few extra dollars left to use on our gift certificate so we ordered half slices of flan and a tres leches cake with passion fruit and prickly pear sauce. ($27.49, radio station, 4 Forks)

On exiting, we toured the casino proper for a half hour while I attempted to breath after this belt busting meal. Our next stop was Sam’s Town where Ann played VP while I listened to The Nitekings who perform weekly in Roxy’s Lounge. http://www.nitekings.com/The_Nitekings/Welcome.html I am still underwhelmed by this R&B doo wop group, but they do enjoy an excellent following. (2 Claps)

09/22 Buongiorno Fall

This morning’s VP session was held at Green Valley Ranch Resort (GVR) where I earned a free breakfast for both of us, but I could not face another buffet.

Our first order of business this morning was dropping off our clothes at a wash and fold followed by breakfast at Ellis Island Casino. Ann ordered the cinnamon French toast and I went with easy over eggs, whole wheat toast and potatoes. Service was excellent and both meals were well prepared.
($8, ACG, 3 Forks)

We each used an ACG, play $10 receive $10 in free play, coupon. Ann cashed out at $7.50 and I managed to walk away with $17.50 after hitting a 4OAK on the 9/6 JOB machines. Our $10 in free play was not immediately available so we will download them on our next trip.

Station Casinos offers seniors 5 x points on Wednesdays so we returned to GVR. Ann hit her #1 quads of the trip while I managed to lose a few dollars. We then made the short drive to Pizzaria Enzo on Eastern. http://pizzeriaenzo.com/ This is the reincarnation of La Golosita which during its short existence offered excellent gelato. One of the owners dummied down the restaurant, but continues to offer housemade gelato We ordered small cups of chocolate (Ann) and amaretti (me). ($6.38, 4.5 Spoons)

There was a Paul Mitchell School in the same shopping center so Ann had her hair washed and blow dried while I patiently waited and waited some more. I feared she had been Shanghied by a band of privateers, but an hour and 15 minutes later she emerged looking good. ($13, 4.5 Snips)

What remained of the afternoon was spent recuperating in our room before it was time for our personal happy hour at the Island bar where I enjoyed a Black Star beer.

Dinner tonight was at Brio Tuscan Grille in Town Square where we started off with a shared Caesar salad. http://www.lvrj.com/neon/27901339.html Ann ordered the crab and shrimp cakes that were accompanied by roasted vegetables and creamy horseradish. My entrée was blackened ono served over garlic mashed potatoes with a trace amount of Hollandaise sauce and topped with a spoonful of a delightfully spicy charred tomato relish. My fish was overdone and there was very little, if any, garlic in my tatas.
($36.81, radio station, 2 Forks)

We made the short drive to the Tropicana’s parking lot and walked down the hallway past the garden rooms (depressing) to the recently renovated casino floor. The transformation is very impressive.

Our show tonight was Cirque du Soleil’s Ka at the MGM. This is a visually spectacular show that we once again enjoyed immensely. http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/ka/default.aspx I purchased our tickets for $55 each under the Summer of Cirque promotion and we enjoyed an excellent view from seats
#1 and 2, Row BB, Section 203. (4 Claps)

09/23 Harvest Moon

Sam’s town was rewarding seniors 5 times points and I managed to hit my #5 and #6 quad deuces of the trip. On returning to the South Point I swung by and picked up our clothes at the wash and fold. ($9, 4.5 Cycles) We decided to go light today so we shared a toasted bagel from the Del Mar Deli plus OJ in our room. ($2.85, 2.5 Forks)

Later in the morning we drove to the Paseo Verde Library in Green Valley and checked our email accounts after obtaining temporary library cards.

On returning to the room we read the newspaper and relaxed before it was time for the Dennis Bono radio show, now broadcast live from the South Point’s showroom. Today’s guests included Denise Clemente, Vince Falcone, Clint Holmes, a comedian (Big John Nicolson?) and a few other performers. The weak link IMHO was Dennis Bono who is no Bono. (2.5 Claps)

After the show the audience was invited to a wine tasting in the Silverado Lounge and I got to talk to Denise Clemente who we have previously seen in the Sahara’s Casbar Lounge.

Dinner this evening was at M Resort’s Studio B buffet. See the addendum at the end of this TR for the gory details. ($24.81, LVA, 3 Forks)

After dinner we drove to the Orleans to play the LVA’s play $10 get $10 in free play coupons on the 8/5 bonus poker machines. Our net result was a $16.25 profit. We also enjoyed a set by The Fab, a Beetles tribute band, in Brendan’s Pub. http://www.thefab.com/ (3 Claps)

09/24 Regularity

I experienced another losing session at the Fiesta. On my return to the room I realized Ann had not slept a wink so I went downstairs and played a little 50-line JOB. She finally peaked from under the covers at 10AM, but by the time she was ready for breakfast it was too late so we used our funbook coupons for free luncheon buffets. I made up a small plate of vegetables for the Mongolian grill and asked for ½ the usual quantity of chicken. I think the cook misunderstood and served me ½ a chicken. ($3, 1 Fork)

Ann was still suffering from a cold so she spent the remainder of the afternoon in bed while I traveled to the Gold Coast for the 2PM Variety Cavalcade show. I arrived at 1:30PM and found a table close to the stage. I have two suggestions for those planning to attend this show: 1) leave your hearing aids at home because the sound system is cranked up and 2) have your ID available because anyone under 60 years old must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Nearby tables were filling up when an elderly lady asked if the two seats next to me were available. She sat down and after a few minutes of where are you from type conversation, she began a monologue on her recent cataract surgery. She barely paused to acknowledge her friend before continuing for another 10 minutes. After she came up for fresh air, I became worried the next topic was going to be her regularity, but I was saved when the curtain rose.

The show was very good and featured performances by co-hosts Macalena (sp?) and Danny Walton (sp?) plus Tony Sacca, Sandy Hackett and a few other entertainers. (3 Claps)

Dinner was at Match on Silverado Ranch Boulevard http://www.matchfusiontapas.com/ This restaurant offers Korean BBQ and Cosmopolitan tapas (e.g. small plates). We decided on the latter and ordered potato croquettes (very crisp on the outside and soft inside - 4), dragon balls (deep fried spicy tuna with peppers and onion and eel sauce – 4 ) and noodle wrapped shrimp (2.5). We next ordered pork belly with garlic and chef’s sauce (too fatty - 1.5) and pineapple fried rice (bland – 2). We also shared an order of green tea and strawberry mochi (almost uneatable Japanese ice cream – 0.5) Overall our experience was satisfactory, but I am not inclined to return. ($8.92, Groupon)

We returned to the South Point for the Tony Orlando show. We have seen his show in the past, but this night’s performance was much improved because he spent more time singing oldies and less time showcasing members of the band. His wife, mother and daughter sat at a table adjoining ours and seemed to be enjoying his performance as well. (3 Claps)
09/25 Fish Amnesty Day

I managed to hit my #7 quads shortly before it was time to depart. Captain Westie has largely treaded water on this trip, managing to hit just enough quads to keep me optimistic that I have a fighting chance to come out ahead.

We returned to Lake Las Vegas for brunch on the patio of Bernard’s Bistro; securing a table overlooking both the lake and village on a gorgeous morning. We were served warm crusty bread and a complimentary glass of champagne; the Westies were living large this AM. Ann chose quiche Lorraine which included a bountiful mesclun salad garnished with a strawberry and a cantaloupe wedge. The quiche was the best we have ever experienced, but I was only allowed one small sample. I ordered the Caribbean Chicken salad served over mesclun greens and garnished with large wedges of ripe cantaloupe and papaya.
($18.01, R.com, 4.5 Forks)

We put in an abbreviated VP session with me losing (again) and Ann hitting lots of 5OAKS and wild royals. We finally quit when it was time for us to redeem a free $10 gift certificate at KSHP’s road show being held at Anna’s Linens on Stephanie Street.

I napped for the remainder of the afternoon until it was time to return to the Grandview lounge for a pair of merlots. It may have been Fish Amnesty Day, but we had our hearts set on fresh seafood so we headed to Sabor, an upscale Cali-Oaxacan restaurant on Stephanie Street. http://tinyurl.com/y8jdkoc

Shortly after our arrival, Chef/owner Scott Sousa came to our table to welcome us and offer a few recommendations. We started with complimentary housemade tortilla chips served with a trio of delicious dips - cilantro salsa, black bean and a chili sauce. For an appetizer we chose to share a chicken mole tamale steamed in banana leaf. Ann ordered the coconut crusted Ahi tuna served rare with a fresh coconut and pumpkin seed sauce, mint rice and broccoli. I took the chef’s suggestion and ordered Guajillo scallops; four sea scallops rubbed with quajillo (chile) before being sautéed and finished with roasted sweet corn, caramelized onions and sundried tomatoes. We concluded the meal with a piece of flan accompanied by a rich and flavorful housemade caramel sauce. ($41.57, R.com, 4.5 Forks)

We next visited the Skyline Casino on the Boulder Highway. Though I have driven past this property 100’s of times, I always pictured it being larger and now believe I was confusing it with the former Showboat casino. Ann found some FPDW coin droppers and quickly hit her #2 quads of the trip while I retired to the lounge to listen to King Creole, aka Vic Salerno, and friend, aka Skip Easton. I was expecting them to sing the blues, but I got country and a karaoke machine. (1 Clap)

While I was nursing a beer at the bar, one of the patrons started to exit the bar, staggered into one wall, bounced off a second and finally landed flat on his maracas. Security came to his assistance and gently placed him on a couch, nursed a cut he sustained and eventually took him to parts unknown in a wheelchair.

It was getting late for this old gent, so after finishing my beer, we returned to the South Point where we called it a night.

09/26 TheVillage Idiot Returns

I managed to hit my #9 quads of the trip this morning, saving an otherwise disastrous session.

We drove to the Paseo Verde library first thing this morning only to discover the library is closed on Sundays. This left us with over an hour before brunch started so we drove to Town Square only to discover the stores wouldn’t be opening until 11AM on Sundays. We settled on a little window shopping with me stopping once to take a photo of some munchkin cheerleaders. Further along on the walk I discovered the car keys were missing so we returned to the car.

The good news was a back door was left unlocked; the bad news was the keys were not in either the ignition or anywhere else in the car. I retraced our steps and asked the cheerleader’s chaperone if anyone had found a set of keys – no luck. A minute or so later I heard a man call out to me; the good news is he had found a set of car keys this morning, the bad news is there’s was a 2nd idiot roaming Town Square. We finally decided to go to check the security office in the unlikely event someone returned our keys to lost and found. After being misdirected, we eventually arrived at the security office and were reunited with our keys.

Brunch was at Grape Vegas, a very small wine bar that was otherwise empty with the exception of the bartendar/waiter. Ann ordered the challa French toast with bourbon maple syrup and maple pecan butter. I ordered the crab Benedict, two poached eggs on a grilled French roll, topped with Hollandaise sauce and accompanied by home fries. Both of our dishes sounded way better than they tasted. ($6, KSHP, 1.5 Forks)

Our return to the South Point was uneventful other me stopping for a well deserved Blood Mary. After reading the Sunday paper and napping, we drove to Sam’s Town for a short VP session before enjoying a matched set of merlots at the Winchester bar.

Our next stop was Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen on Rampart Blvd. in Summerlin, but as we entered the parking lot I realized the restaurant was closed. With the clock ticking I considered our limited options and decided on the buffet at the Rampart Casino.

I was surprised that there was no line and on entering there were very few diners. It soon became apparent why; there were only a few dishes offering anything close to eye appeal. I don’t mind sacrificing a little quality for variety, but this buffet included canned corn and peas/carrots. I stopped whining long enough to eat a salad with bottled blue cheese dressing, overdone mahi mahi, one bite out of a dried out BBQ pork rib,2 slices of overdone pork loin, a chocolate covered strawberry and a tasteless Napoleon. I had no desire to memorialize this disaster so photos were not taken. ($15.22, LVA, 0.5 Forks)

On the short drive to the Suncoast casino for the Giovanni show, it dawned on me we could have used our points to dine for free at any of its restaurants. Duh!

You could not dance or sing to the music played this evening so I guess it falls into the category of New Age. It was enjoyable, but seemed somewhat repetitive and way too loud. (2 Claps)

09/27 The Secret Kitchen is a Secret No Longer

I hit my #10 quad deuces this morning so, feeling flush, I stopped at Einstein’s Bagels for a cinnamon raisin bagel with a smear of cream cheese that we shared in the room with OJ. ($2.69, 2.5 Forks)
I also picked up a hazelnut coffee for Ann at Seattle’s Best using a 10% off coupon from the locals’ mailer. ($2.64, 3 Sips).

Ann went to the Costa del Sur Spa for a massage using a 30% off locals’ coupon ($90, 4 Hands) while I drove to Bellagio. I toured the Richard MacDonald sculpture exhibit (4 Claps) outside the O’ Theater and then the fall exhibit at the Conservatory and Botanical Garden. (4 Claps)

My next stop was the Forum Shops where I caught the end of the Atlantis fountain show (1.5 Claps) and taste tested a few samples of gelato, toured the Peter Lik photography shop and generally goofed around until the Palm Restaurant opened. I had a free gift card with an unknown value that I brought to the hostess stand. Not surprisingly it was worth the minimum value of $10 and could not be used in conjunction with the happy hour menu.

On returning to the room I treated Ann to a hot dog at the cart near the sports book. ($2, 2 Buns) We then drove to the Silverton where I put a few points on her card to keep it current while she visited the Bass Shop in search of a pair of shorts. We met in front of the 117,000 gallon aquarium and watched a diver hand feed the stingrays. (3 Claps)

After a couple of merlots at the South Point, we had to make the tough decision – Nittaya’s Secret Garden or Marche Bacchus, the former won the coin toss. http://www.nittayassecretkitchen.com/home.htm Nittaya’s is a recently opened Thai restaurant specializing in small plates. We started off with the tempura spinach salad with ground chicken, shrimp and lime dressing (4.5 Forks) and white fish cake with lettuce, Thai spices and a sweet chili sauce (2 Forks). Our second order was a stuffed chicken wing (4) and a crab cake in shell (3). For dessert we enjoyed the housemade coconut ice cream (4). ($23.08, R.com)

The night was concluded at Sam’s where Ann played some VP, hitting her #3 quads, while I listened to Latin dance queen Claudine Castro in Roxy’s Lounge. (1.5 Claps) http://www.valentinaonline.com/claudinecastro.html

09/28 Nuts and Berries

I played 3 hours this morning without registering a wild royal until 5 minutes before I had to leave.

A breakfast buffet is temporarily being offered at M Resort pending the opening of a Hash House A Go Go restaurant so we decided to give it a try. It was not what I envisioned being smaller and without any specialty items. I did manage to avoid a case of scurvy by dining on OJ, a nice assortment of fresh fruit, an egg Benedict and some crispy bacon. Overall the quality and variety of this buffet was comparable to those found at Sunset Station and South Point, but it was slightly more expensive. I did not take any photos because the camera batteries died. ($13.80, 2.5 Forks)

Next stop was Frys Electronics where we checked out a DVD camera for our niece’s upcoming baby shower. We stopped at a CVS for batteries and then drove to Madame Tussaud’s. http://www.madametussauds.com/LasVegas/

I was prepared for the worst, but I found it fun to pose with the various wax figures though some were barely recognizable. ($19.95, dinelv.com, 2.5 Claps)

We spent the early afternoon reading (Ann) and dozing (me) before departing for a short VP session. We then stopped at the Clark County Library to return the 3 books Ann read on this trip. My reading was confined to the R-J and a few weekly publications.

This was followed by a pair of nuts and berries at Ellis Island. http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink665.html
Usually when redeeming coupons at Ellis, the bartender will ask for my slot card, but this was the first time Suzie asked to see the ACG card as well. We enjoyed our drinks and conversation at the recently refurbished karaoke bar. (4 Sips)

Dinner tonight was at McCormick & Schmicks on Hughes Drive. http://www.usmenuguide.com/mccormickschmickslv.html We shared a spinach salad with shaved fennel, dried cranberries, carrots and basil dressing. Ann ordered grilled Coho salmon accompanied by chayote squash and shrimp sauté. My entrée was English sole with a citrus cilantro gremolata crust and beurre blanc with chili oil plus sautéed spinach with mushrooms and onions. Both entrees were done to perfection. I used a $50 reward from participating in their reward program. ($12.16, 4 Forks)

Dessert tonight was at Kate’s Corner at the South Point where Ann ordered a scoop of almond praline ice cream and I had espresso chip. ($1, 2.5 Spoons)

While enjoying the free ice cream courtesy of a locals’ coupon, we met a couple who were enjoying a staycation using coupons from this same mailer. Over the course of this trip we probably met a dozen other locals utilizing these same coupons to great advantage.

09/29 That’s Life

My last VP session resulted in my #11 quad deuces, but, Team Westie experienced a small gambling loss due to my play. Our record now stands at 11 wins in the last 15 trips.

Our return to Port Westie was uneventful though the ship rode low in the water and listed to one side thanks to my dining excesses. Captain Westie has already started planning our December trip because:

I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
A poet, a pawn and a king.
I've been up and down and over and out
And I know one thing:
Each time I find myself, flat on my face,
I pick myself up and head back to Las Vegas

I want to thank those of you who chose to sail with us on this extended voyage and hope the experience was enjoyable. We failed to fill our treasure chest with gold so there is room for you to add your comments and questions.

Addendum – Studio B ratings:

Cabernet sauvignon – 2.5
Shrimp cocktail – 2
Marinated artichoke salad – 3.5
Beet salad – 2
Spinach with fennel and oranges – 2.5
Kimchee – 3
Stir fried bok choy – 3.5
Thai cucumber salad – 3.5
Oxtail soup – 4
Cucumber salad – 2
Tofu with soy and shitake mushrooms – 2.5
Mahi mahi in banana leaf – 3.5
Tri tip – 2
Sweet potatoes with marshmallow – 4
Cappuccino with Baileys – 3.5
Tiramisu – 2.5
Crème brulee – 4
Panna cotta - 1