Trip Report: 12/20/03 to 12/29/03

Cast of characters:
Mike (43), Rachel (30), Samantha (4 yrs), and Alexandra (2 yr, 6 mos).
Supporting cast:
Pastor Matt (Rachel's bro), Kelli (Matt's wife), Noah & Caleb (their kids, 4 & 2),
Nathan and Tim (Rach's bros),
Becky (Rach's sis), Kris (Beck's husband), and their baby, Amanda (6 months)

Here we go. This is our annual 'family' Christmas trip to Matt's.
In a nutshell, we stayed at Gold Strike (in Jean), Stardust, Orleans, Silverton, and Fiesta Henderson, all for free.
Highlight of the trip was Blue Man Group.
Didn't gamble a whole lot, but did enough to take care of my jones.

jones (jÔnz) n, vt. A habit of an activity, performed often to the point of excess. An addiction, esp. to drugs, sports, gambling, and other enjoyable acts. Borrowed from the cartoon 'Fat-Albert' and the drug-ladened 60's and 70's.

SATURDAY 12/20/03

After celebrating an early Christmas at my sister's house in Dana Point, CA, we left for Vegas area at around 8:00pm.
Movies of the night were Zaboomafoo, Dora the Explorer, and Dragontales.

We arrived in Jean at around 11:45pm and stayed the night at Gold Strike.

Regarding the drive, there was zero traffic, but it was very uncomfortable. We had the car packed to the brim with Christmas presents. All I had was my one travel bag, which was under my legs while driving.

Regarding the room at Gold Strike, they're decent and slightly larger than your standard Vegas room. Nice touch with that wall-dispensing liquid shampoo.
After getting everyone to bed, I went down to play a bit.

FPVP: -$40
BJ: +$7.50
Food, accommodations, and misc: -$3

SUNDAY 12/21/03

Matt's church service started at 9:30am, and we were still 25 minutes from Vegas. So, I figured that we needed to be all packed, checked out, and ready to go by 8:00am in order to take advantage of the two free buffet coupons.

Chatted with Mike Shackelford (Wizard of Odds) for a bit, who was sitting in the booth next to ours. He and his family were heading to California for the holidays.

After the decent breakfast, we headed out and made it to church at exactly 9:30.
Hung out for a while, ate Papa John's pizza for dinner (2/1, of course), and then checked in at the Stardust for the evening (west tower).

After getting everyone settled in to bed, I headed out to meet up with James 'stungazed' at The Palms.
We go on a mini-coupon run to Castaways and over to Terribles. Did well at Castaways, but let me tell you, Terribles is on my sheet list. They were sweating $10 MP's again, and will let you only play one MP per day of ANY type of coupon. After giving the pit a hard time, I got my free shirt from the club and went around to the tables giving all my extra MP's to patrons, hoping to get kicked out. No dice.

Back to the Palms. Played a little FPDW progressives and called it a night.

FPVP: -$15
BJ: +$65
MISC GAMES (Roulette): +$50
Food, accommodations, and misc: -$18

MONDAY 12/22/03

Packed up and headed over to Matt's for a while. Rachel hit the gym in the morning. I hit Silverton for a short VP session. Met up with the family at Matt's new church site (beltway and Trop). They recently broke ground and are currently in the grading stages. The contractor let all of the kids take rides on the grader (photo ops). Man, this area is growing like you wouldn't believe.

Shortly after, Becky and I head over to check in our rooms at The Orleans. Then we headed over to The Riviera to pick up tickets for the Comedy Club. These were Christmas gifts from Rachel to Nate and me for the evening.

Since we had a few hours before dinner, Matt, Kris, Tim, Nate, and I played a quickie round of golf at Angel Park (with 2/1 coupons, of course).

Post dinner and after getting everyone settled in at the Orleans, Nate and I headed over to The Riviera for the late show. It was the second weakest comedy show that I've ever seen in my life. Comedian #1 was OK, but #2 just plain sucked.

Back to The Orleans to end the evening with a short VP session.

VP: -$10
Food, accommodations, and misc: -$24

TUESDAY 12/23/03

Treated everyone to breakfast. Kris, Beck, Nate, Rach, Kelli, myself and the 5 kids did the Orleans buffet (with 2/1's of course) (-$19 total). Decent bacon.

After breakfast, I treated Rach and Beck to a full-body message at The Palms Spa (using two 50% off coupons, of course) (-~$100). Kris and I watched the kids back at Matt house.

Since Kris was doing so well with the kids, I headed back over to The Palms to hit the FPDW progressives (+$20). The prog was at $1600 at the time, and I heard it went over $2000 before it got hit.

I hated to leave, but the gals were refreshed and ready to be pick-up, so I retrieved and headed back over to baby sit at Matt's for a while, while the others went to choir practice. Rach plays the piano/organ.

The original plan was to hit TEXAS Station (not Santa Fe, nice catch Westie) to use 2/1 coupons and my points for their killer buffet, and then go do Opportunity Village afterwards. We ended up running short of time so I treated everyone to Red Rock Pizza (with a 2/1, of course) (-$19).

Off to Opportunity Village. Let me tell you about Opportunity Village (-$14). It's kind of fun for the kids. Many of the local businesses do their share with nice exhibits. It's a great cause and all, and it's a family activity, but IMHO, it's basically a tourist trap for locals with kids. The place was TOTALLY packed. It's outdoors and it was freezing (well, not really). Just too many people, and parking was not easy.

Back to the Orleans.
The kids went right to sleep. Rach took care of her nickel Wheel-of-fortune fix.

I went down for a quick session of DDBJ (-40), craps (+15), NSUD (-60), and 8/5 Bonus (-20).

BJ: -$40
CRAPS: +$15
VP: -$60
Food, accommodations, spa, Opportunity Village, and misc: -$167

WEDNESDAY 12/24/03

Treated everyone to breakfast. Kris, Beck, Nate, Rach, myself and the 3 kids did the Orleans buffet (with 2/1's of course) (-$16). Weak bacon (hit or miss).

After checking out of the Orleans and dropping off Rach and the kids at Matt's, I headed over to Silverton to check in, move our stuff in, and play 3 hrs of FPDW (0).

The toilet in the Silverton room was a low-flow compression tank type. I've never seen this before. You push the button and the actuated valve noise will scare the crap out of you... like an M-80 went off in the tank. They only give you one wash cloth, two towels, one hand towel, and that's it. Pretty frugal except for the 'Bath and Body Works' stuff. I guess that made up for that scary toilet. The rear entrance through the pool area is the way to go if you're staying there. The Jacuzzi is a hole in the ground. That's enough about Silverton.

Headed back over to Matt's to pick up Rach and the kids to get ready for Christmas Eve service. Decent turn out. There were over 100 in attendance.

After service, we headed back over to Matt's for finger foods and gift opening/kids time.
What a zoo. Waaay too many gifts (over 100 total). So much for the 'secret Santa/$40 max' rule.

What a contrast to Christmas at my sister's just a few days earlier.

It was getting midnight and we still weren't done with the gifts.

The kids were getting cranky, so we decided to finish it up Christmas morning.

Back to Silverton. It was freezing out there (well, not really).
After getting everyone to sleep, I went down for a quick session of 8/5 bonus and craps ($3 w/ 10x). Hit quad aces on Bonus.

CRAPS: -$60
VP: +$80
Food, accommodations, gas, and misc: -$31

THURSDAY (12/25/03)

Merry Christmas!
The Christmas morning service was at 10:00, so I got to sleep in a bit.

Martin (MM San Diego/Martimus) showed up for the service. Glad he made it. We chatted a while and then he headed over to Summerlin to do Suncoast and JW Marriott.

Back over to Matt's to finish opening presents and for some minor grub.

Slow day today, so Rach and the kids wanted to head back to Silverton for a nap.
While they napped, I hit deuces (+$160).

Back over to Matt's for Turkey dinner and Noah's birthday party, complete with hats. I hate hats.

After opening more presents, we headed back to Silverton to call it a day.
Gave back 100 on deuces and called it an early night.

VP: +$60
Food, accommodations, and misc: -$20

FRIDAY (12/26/03)

We packed up and moved over to Fiesta Henderson for early check in. No problems.

Plans for the day included Mt. Charleston and Blue Man Group.
Earlier in the month, Matt & Kelli had 2/1 local's coupons sent to them, so I treated Kris, Becky, Rachel, and myself to an adult's night out. We could have gotten front row seats, but opted to stay clean in row ~10. Should have gotten the front row seats. It's really not that messy. If it were not for the 2/1 coupons, I probably would not have done it.

The gals wanted to go shopping in the morning. I boycotted that idea. BMG was at 4:00 and we still 'had' to do Mt. Charleston. I said screw Mt. Charleston today and let's do it when we have more time. They insisted to go, and I insisted that in order to do Mt. Charleston (1 hour away with traffic), we had to get scootin' by at least 11:00 to have at least a few hours in the snow and have enough time to come back, change, and get ready for the show. Nobody wanted to listen to me and I was a prick about it. We finally left after 12:00, only to play for less than an hour in semi-snow.
What a wasted drive and effort. Maybe next time, they'll listen to reason.

We make it back to Matt's at 3:30 after rushing the semi-snow trip, changed, and made it into our seats at BMG at exactly 4:00pm.

Regarding BMG, let me tell you, I've seen dozens of Vegas shows, and this one is now my favorite. Forget Danny Gans. Forget Mystere. Forget any of the headliners. Fork out the bucks and see this show.
It's about an hour and 40 minutes of top quality entertainment. There are two sets of 3 percussionists above each side of the stage. There is this blonde female percussionist on the left side of the stage (in red) that did it for me. Her moves were incredible. After the show, all the performers were out front for photo ops and the usual. I didn't get a good look at the blonde percussionist, but man, can she move.

After BMG, we headed over to Ellis Island for dinner and free unlimited drinks (using coupons, of course). You can knock Ellis Island for their small smoky casino, but you can NOT knock Ellis Island for their food. The atmosphere in the restaurant is pleasant, and the prices are totally reasonable. Kris paid something like $25 total for 4 satisfied adults.

After dropping them off at Matt's and picking up the kids, we headed to Fiesta Henderson. After putting the kids to sleep, I finished the night with a few sessions of FPDW and craps.

CRAPS: -$100
FPDW: +$65
Food, accommodations, BMG, and misc: -$210

SATURDAY (12/27/03)

Rachel granted me one full day for myself. This was the day.
They headed over to Matt's to let the kids play, and I'm sure the gals went shopping.
I proceeded to do some FPDW slant-top therapy (-160).
James 'stungazed' came down around noon and we played for a few hours more.

Craps was calling, so we headed over there before it got too crowded (+$270).

I was up well over $350, but then, Richard 'It's Been Such a Long Time' Boston, his wife, Dawn, and Kiddo show up, buy in, and killed the mojo. Where were you BigTom?

Time for some food. Our original plan was to have a 'Feel Good Soup' meet at the Baja Beach Café at 6:00pm, but realized that we had to use up our free buffet coupons. So, if anyone showed up for the meet, sorry. In general, the buffet was good, as usual, but the egg rolls went downhill. Here's a hint for you Mongolian BBQ shrimp fans. Pone su orden con doble de camarones, temprano. La espera es un desmadre, entonces regresa despues quince minutos.

After dinner, we all headed down to get butchered at the craps table (-375).
To slow things up, we decided to get butchered at FPDW instead (-140).

Rachel and the kids came back around 9:00, so I went to get them out of the car and in to their room for bed.

I went down for a few more hours of therapy and finished up early.

BJ: +$40
CRAPS: -$105
FPDW: -$300
Food, accommodations, and misc: -$2

SUNDAY (12/28/03)

Went down to the café to order some breakfast to-go and also picked up a $25 gas voucher.
Hit the 9:30 service.
Afterwards, we went over to the Krause's and Wigg's for food and football.

For dinner, Rach's aunt Mary gave us $100 to go to dinner.
We went to Roadrunner (right off the beltway on Flamingo). Decent grub.
By now it was getting late, so we headed straight back to Fiesta.

While I put the kids to bed, I gave Rach a $20 to play her nickel WOF. She came back with ~$160 and paid me back my $20!

My turn. Hit the FPDW slant-tops for a few hours, in between a few craps sessions.

The deuces weren't that nice to me, but had a nice run on the tables. There were only three of us on one of the two open tables, so they flipped the placards on our table. But we didn't have any intentions of walking away from a good opportunity, so just us three setters had our own little private game going. We just kept shooting and shooting and shooting until they closed down the other table and got invaded in the middle of a nice session.

BJ: +$20
CRAPS: +$325
VP: -$200
Food, accommodations, and misc: +$15

MONDAY (12/29/03)

Every trip is the same. You can't wait until the trip, and before you know it, it's over.
We packed up, hit Jack-in-the-box for a quickie, and went over to Matt & Kelli's to load up the car and say our good-bye's.

We finally hit the road by 1:00.
Movies of the day included Winnie the Pooh, and Little People.
Traffic was light-to-moderate and we got home in 5 hours.

Food, accommodations, and misc: -$10

VP: -$420
CRAPS: +$25
BJ: +$92.50


* misc includes all shows, tips, offerings, golf, spa, and all other out-of-pocket, 'uncatagorizable' expenses.


- Good thing I didn't gamble so much on this trip. VP killed me.

- Whoever pays for meals, the others should at least offer to tip.

- Resident VP addicts need to check themselves.

- According to the ladies, The Palms spa is '100 times' better than the Orleans spa (100x?).

- Don't bother with the Riviera Comedy Club. Go See Mac King instead.

- Man, that blonde percussionist was hot (I think). Nonetheless, Blue Man Group was well worth the money.

- Christmas in Vegas is getting pretty old. I think I'll take the next one off.

- I wanted to put Sam in the backpack and go for a long walk along the strip. Just ran out of time. There's always next time.

Thanks for reading.
God Bless America.