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Old 07-01-2011, 09:27 PM   #1
Kirby
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Las Vegas/Grand Canyon PTR and Trip Report - Finished

I've written trip reports before but never a pre-trip report so I thought I would give it a try. You won't find this one written cleverly or funny but maybe it will bring a smile to your face a time or two. If I can help someone else out with their trip, then it's all worth it.

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. It was spent in Arkansas at our niece's wedding and my husband's, Joe, first family reunion at the Degray Lake Resort. It's a beautiful venue for a wedding and a great place to stay by the way.

I kept telling myself that a 30th anniversary warranted something special and I thought back to a conversation that Joe and I had in February. His cousin, Charles, lives in Henderson, NV and he and his wife, Mary, have been wanting us to come and visit for about 12 years now. They came to Texas to check out property down around Austin/San Antonio in February and we drove down to visit them at the beginning of their trip. They're thinking about moving in the next year or so and becoming snowbirds living in Nebraska during the summer and Texas (maybe) during the winter.

After we heard that they were probably going to move in the next year or so, we thought that, hey, we better get on the stick and go see them. We decided to give it some thought and bring it back up in a couple of months. Neither one of us have been to LV and I've never been to the GC. It's on my bucket list of things to do. Joe went as a child and gave his mom grey hairs when he and his brothers played on the edge.

Fast forward to June and our anniversary. It's our turn to plan the next family reunion. Joe favors having it in New Mexico so we decide instead of taking one big trip for the big 30, we'll take a couple of smaller trips, one of which is to go to Ruidoso and kill two birds with one stone. Celebrate our marriage and check out reunion spots. This is fine with me but I have that Las Vegas trip in the back of my mind.

You see, I don't like to fly. I have flown but it gives me the heebie-jeebies to even think of getting on a plane. And it gets worse the older I get. My last flight was to New York about four years ago with my daughter's high school band. My doctor was kind enough to prescribe Xanax, five little pills, to help me on the plane but I can tell you that was not enough. I had to start taking them a day in advance. I should have called my doctor for more but one of my friends just happened to be chaperoning also and she had a bottle full enough to share with me.

Then this deal with Southwest came up last week and we can each fly one way to LV for $80. What a deal! I know that Joe is not wanting to drive to LV, not this time around. After waffling and hesitating for two days, I bite the bullet and tell him about the deal the last day it's offered. He says let's go for it and we do. Once we get in touch with his cousin and find out when would be a good time for them, I get the flight booked in about the eleventh hour, Thursday, September 22 - Tuesday, September 27. We get air fare plus a car for a week for about $600. I also tell Joe that if I'm going to fly, then we're going to stay at what ever hotel I want to on the Strip, no matter the cost. That was fine with him. I know what he's thinking, that if he can get me in the air this time, he can get me in the air another time. Hhmmph!!

The excitement sets in! And the trepidation. We're heading to Las Vegas!!!! I can't sleep, my stomach is going round and round with the thought of flying. Surely this is not going to be the norm for the next three months!

The next day, I was finally able to get my nerves under control. If I think about the trip and not the flight, I do fine. So that's what I've been doing. And when I go see my doctor in a couple of weeks, we are going to have a nice little chat about giving me drugs. Definately more than five little pills.

I'm a planner, so guess what I've been doing for the last week? Spending all my available time here, on Trip Advisor and where ever else I can get info about Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. It's mind boggling, all that information out there. One person likes this, another doesn't. One like this hotel, another doesn't. Yikes!

First off, where on our trip do fit in the Grand Canyon? Do we do it all in one day? Not likely. Neither of us want to spend eight plus hours on the road. At first we think that we will go there first, on Thursday, spend the night and then head to Charlie and Mary's on Friday. After perusing the internet for hotels in the GC area, I pick the Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn in Tusayan. It doesn't always have that great of reviews but they're no worse than than reviews for the other hotels there. It's not that far from the park either, we don't want to spend any more time driving than we have to. I also like the fact that it has it's own restaurant plus a bar. Joe might want a beer in the evening. I'm not a drinker but I do have a marguarita every now and then.

Then I get an email from Mary. She suggests that we hold off renting a car and let them pick us up, take us out to breakfast since we get in about 8:55 am and do some sight seeing. I talk it over with Joe and since I know I'll be starving by then (I doubt I'll be able to get a thing down before we fly), we decide that we'll spend a couple of days with the relatives, then rent a car and head out to spend four days tootling around. This was such a better idea than doing the GC first and then having to rush to get to Charlie and Mary's house at a decent hour on Friday.

Once this was decided, I canceled our car and hotel reservation. I rebooked the Best Western for Saturday night with no problem. I had been reading a lot about the GC on the internet and about the hotels in the park on the South Rim. I looked them up online and it showed them all booked. But I had read that if you called, there was a chance that there would be a cancellation. I was completely happy with my hotel choice but that idea of staying in the park and near the rim kept kniggling at me. So finally I called Wednesday and guess what? I got a Saturday night reservation at the Kachina Lodge! How cool is that?????

After yelling a happy whoopee!!!! loud enough to spook my dogs out on the patio, I canceled our Best Western reservation. I lived off the excitement of staying inside the GC Park all day.

So, today is Friday and I'm writing this pre trip report. It's only been a week. A week!!! since I've started making plans. Can I last for the next three months?? I received an email from Mary tonight. She said that they were planning to take us to hit some high spots and go down on Fremont. I hope we go at night! Then we can go back on Sunday and Monday and tootle around on our own.

So, where do we stay? Hmmmmm, I first thought the Bellagio. It would be so romantic to have a fountain view room. Joe was leaning toward that one. Caeser's Palace appeals to me. But I'm wavering. Where do we want to stay? I read and read online but nothing helps. We've decided against the Bellagio just for the cost factor. Now the Mirage is more attractive. But I'm also looking at the Monte Carlo. I want to stay at a hotel that I can't stay at here so Harrahs and Bally is out. It's hard to decide when it's your first visit.

Then I start thinking about where I might feel most comfortable. I read threads about what to wear and what not to wear. We really don't want to take dress clothes with us so we're not planning to try any upscale restaurants or clubs. We're just plain old jeans people.

And then the issue of gambling. Neither of us has gambled before. I only want to play the slots for fun. I told Joe tonight that I would take only $100 to gamble with. He looked at me and said "but it takes me an hour of work to make". I told him it would be the money we were saving by not staying at the Bellagio.

I'm determined not to stay up late tonight researching LV. It's getting to where I am having a hard time waking up in the morning from my late nights on the computer. This has gotten to be quite lengthy so maybe it's a good start for a report.
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Last edited by Kirby; 11-12-2011 at 05:24 PM. Reason: To add trip report
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Old 07-04-2011, 02:09 AM   #2
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Mirage would be good. Maybe Paris but not a base room.

Monte Carlo really never has sounded good to me even though it can be cheap.


I wouldn't do slot nessecary but setting an amount is a good idea just to try out something. I find the table games more fun because they are social. Try Black Jack(21), craps or Roulette. They are a bit more social. But you may have to gamble $5 to $15 a roll or hand so take note of the suggestions you got for cheaper casinos. Don't be afraid to ask the dealer and even other players how to bet/play. Dealers and most players are very friendly.
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:52 PM   #3
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I've decided to stay at the Mirage. Joe doesn't care where we stay for the most part, so the Mirage it is. I feel most comfortable about staying there over the Bellagio or Caesers. And we are close enough to them that we can go look.

I briefly thought about Paris, but after seeing pictures of the place, all I could think of was Disney World and that threw that hotel out of the running. If I'm going to stay in a place that looks like DW, I want it to be DW.

Speaking of Disney, I told Joe a couple of days after I had booked our flights that we weren't all that far from Disneyland. I wish I had realized that fact before I confirmed the flights. We could have flown out of LV for LA, spent a couple of days at Disneyland and then flown home. I've never been to Disneyland. I guess it will be a while longer before I go.

Joe might try the tables. He's not really a game player unless it's a physical game like baseball, basketball, etc. Board games, cards, etc are not really something he is interested in. But he is a very social person. Me, on the other hand, I do like games but those that you don't have to think about. That's why I think I'll like slots better. We shall see...............

I'm also trying to make a decision about car rental. We are going to rent a car for our two days at the Grand Canyon. I don't know whether to turn it in when we get back to Vegas and take a cab to the airport when we leave or keep the car at the hotel and then turn it in when we leave.
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Old 07-05-2011, 06:05 PM   #4
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Booked our stay at the Mirage. One more thing off the check list.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:40 PM   #5
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Congratualtions on your 30th anniversary! We're also taking an anniversary trip to Vegas and California. For our 10 year though. I'm so excited.

I love the Mirage, it's the last hotel we stayed when we were in Vegas last. Nice, comfortable rooms. Beautiful Pool and grounds. Great Location! My goal is to stay at as many different hotels in vegas as possible. This year we're going to stay at Planet Hollywood West Towers.

Anyway, I look forward to reading more about your trip!
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Old 07-06-2011, 09:30 AM   #6
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Thanks reyasmommy! Time is passing slowly, I'm ready to go right now! But I know that our trip will be here and gone before we know it.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:20 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirby View Post
I'm also trying to make a decision about car rental. We are going to rent a car for our two days at the Grand Canyon. I don't know whether to turn it in when we get back to Vegas and take a cab to the airport when we leave or keep the car at the hotel and then turn it in when we leave.
I flown to LV once. Went with a few friends and we wanted to drive into the desert a bit. So we went from airport on the rental shuttle, took rental to hotel to check in and drop bags. Returned cars and rental shuttle wasn't busy and took us to our hotel.

The Mirage is a bit further so it may not work out as easy for you. The rental shuttle may not be able to get that far away in your case. So you might need a cab, and certainly a cab to get back to the airport. This could work out to $50 to weigh against keeping the car. Also being able to look out the windows rather than driving in LV is rather nice too.

A good tip with taxis in LV is they will rip you off if they can, they know they are taking tourists not locals. Going to and from the Mirage should not involve the much longer route on the freeway. Ask that they go behind the east side of the strip on Koval or Paradise as they see fit. It's faster and shorter.

Mirage should be great, did you ask for a strip view? It usually costs more but never the less Mirage is very pleasant to walk around.
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Old 07-07-2011, 08:50 PM   #8
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Thanks for the tip about the cabs.

I've made reservations for a strip view room. I thought it would be worth the little extra. When you make reservations for that kind of room, what's the likelihood of not getting it?
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Old 07-08-2011, 06:46 AM   #9
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If you are not gamblers and are thinking of trying the tables, please spend a little money now to get the American Casino Guide or the Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas. Lots of great info, including basic strategy for games such as Black Jack. I hate to see people sit down at tables without a clue as to what they are doing ... it is their money, but why would you just "throw it away" like that?

Before we went to Vegas for the first time, we studied up on the basic strategy for BJ and then watched the etiquette and play of others at a table before sitting down. Most dealers are helpful and the other players are happy to give advice if you wish. However, you will be much better received into the group (and you'll be happier with your play) if you've done a little homework first.

I prefer BJ over slots because you do have "some" control over your play. Your odds go down significantly if you do not play basic strategy, however.

Have fun - but I highly recommend one or both of the above mentioned books. We spent one LV vacation going from casino to casino joining slot clubs using the coupons in the book and getting "free play" by joining. A great way to make the $$ stretch and get exposure to the various properties in LV.

Some coupons can be found at:
http://www.vegas4locals.com/coupons.html

LV trip reports at:
http://www.lasvegastripreport.com/

Restaurant.com has some certificates for Las Vegas restaurants.

Try the Entertainment Book for car rental, food, attraction coupons. I save a ton of money using their car rental coupons which are usually good for 1-1/2 years, so I can book my rental early.

Another thing is there are ways to get around on the strip if you know about them. There is a free tram in the back of Bellagio that connects with City Center and Monte Carlo. Also a free tram that connects Excalibur-Luxor-Mandalay Bay + a interior walk-way that connects those three. Also a free shuttle from the strip over to the Orleans and Gold Coast casinos. All this stuff is talked about in the Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas. Enjoy.

When checking in at a Las Vegas hotel, the "$20 Trick" usually works to get an upgraded room. We've been upgraded to a suite on a few occasions for just the $20 tip at the registration desk.

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Old 07-08-2011, 11:45 AM   #10
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Thanks for the info VAN. I'll definately check the books and websites out.
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Old 07-11-2011, 12:00 AM   #11
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Quote:
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I've made reservations for a strip view room. I thought it would be worth the little extra. When you make reservations for that kind of room, what's the likelihood of not getting it?
Usually you pay for the veiw. So you should be fine on getting the veiw. Though what you will see out the window may be great or not so great, so don't get your hopes up.
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Old 07-11-2011, 10:27 AM   #12
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Usually you pay for the veiw. So you should be fine on getting the veiw. Though what you will see out the window may be great or not so great, so don't get your hopes up.
I'm going to treat it just as if I were going to WDW, not expect a thing. I'll enjoy it more that way.
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Old 07-16-2011, 01:07 PM   #13
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I realized today that we have only nine weeks to go! Yahoo!!

I decided to hold off getting show tickets. Joe's cousin told us that he might could get us some Nevada resident prices. We'll see what he can do for us. Joe is leaning towards a Cirque show but Mystere is the only one showing on Mondays (I think). We've seen OVO and I'm just not sure.

I've told Joe about Jersey Boys but I don't think that he is too interested. I'd like to see Fator too but both are dark on Mondays from what I'm seeing.

Oh well......

Still haven't decided on the car reservations yet. I've still got a little time but need to get it done.
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Old 07-17-2011, 01:55 PM   #14
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I've had this Disneyland thing in the back of my head for days now. So I approached Joe earlier today with the idea of seeing if we could change our trip to include DL. It would be doable, just drop our last two days in Vegas and add another day to our vacation for DL. He was interested but after talking it out, we decided to do DL another year and just focus on Vegas and the GC. It's probably better in the long run......

The nice thing is he mentioned maybe going to DL next year!!!!
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Old 07-29-2011, 10:25 PM   #15
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Down to a little less than eight weeks! Waiting is so hard........
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