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View Full Version : Las Vegas/Grand Canyon PTR and Trip Report - Finished


Kirby
07-01-2011, 09:27 PM
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. :laughing: 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! :cool1: 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.:laughing:

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.

skiingfast
07-04-2011, 02:09 AM
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.

Kirby
07-04-2011, 12:52 PM
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. :goodvibes

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.

Kirby
07-05-2011, 06:05 PM
Booked our stay at the Mirage. One more thing off the check list. :cool1:

reyasmommy
07-05-2011, 10:40 PM
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!

Kirby
07-06-2011, 09:30 AM
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.

skiingfast
07-07-2011, 06:20 PM
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.

Kirby
07-07-2011, 08:50 PM
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?

VAN
07-08-2011, 06:46 AM
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.

Kirby
07-08-2011, 11:45 AM
Thanks for the info VAN. I'll definately check the books and websites out.

skiingfast
07-11-2011, 12:00 AM
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.

Kirby
07-11-2011, 10:27 AM
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.

Kirby
07-16-2011, 01:07 PM
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.

Kirby
07-17-2011, 01:55 PM
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!!!!:cool1:

Kirby
07-29-2011, 10:25 PM
Down to a little less than eight weeks! Waiting is so hard........

skiingfast
08-05-2011, 01:26 AM
Time is going to be flying by.

Kirby
08-05-2011, 11:36 AM
Seven weeks to go!

We've decided to see Mystere. Joe would like to see Ka but it is black on the night we can do a show.

Kirby
08-06-2011, 04:49 PM
Ordered our Mystere tickets today. Got the 2 for $100 deal through Cirque.

Kirby
08-22-2011, 05:41 PM
I made our car rental reservations today. Now I'm done with all the planning I'm going to do. We're just going to wing it for the rest. I'm having to fight off little bits of panic every now and then concerning flying. It's manageable for the moment.

Just a little over four weeks to go!

skiingfast
08-22-2011, 06:10 PM
Almost under 30 days.

What other things could you plan at this point?

Kirby
08-22-2011, 08:51 PM
Almost under 30 days.

What other things could you plan at this point?

Ohhh, spa, dinner, tour, another show, stuff like that.

skiingfast
08-22-2011, 09:42 PM
Ohhh, spa, dinner, tour, another show, stuff like that.

So just the do it as you feel you want to things. Sounds good.

Kirby
09-02-2011, 08:30 PM
Three weeks and counting! Got my Xanax prescription filled. I asked the pharmacist if I could take it with Dramamine. He said that I might fall asleep and I told him that's exactly the result I wanted.:laughing: He looked at me sort of funny until I told him the reason why.

Kirby
09-15-2011, 08:35 PM
This time next week we will be in Vegas!!

Kirby
10-01-2011, 01:40 PM
I can't believe that our trip has come and gone. One week ago today, we were getting ready to leave the Grand Canyon and head back to Vegas. It's almost as if we were never there except for the memories and pictures.

Day 1

We got up bright and early, very early, to head to Dallas Love Field for our 6:20 am flight. I was feeling pretty good, not too nervous as I had taken a Xanax before going to bed but I made sure to take another one before we left.

We found a decent parking spot in the parking garage at the airport and swore to remember where it was. Even though we don't fly often, hardly at all, Dallas Love Field was easy to get around for the most part. We did have to ask where to go to check our bags. It's past the security checkpoint which is a little awkward since you have to backtrack to security but we did it with out much problem. We did have to inquire where to go and the airport official was not too kind about it. Oh well.....

Joe had asked me earlier why we had to get to the airport so early and once we got in line to go through security, he understood the need. It went fairly quickly though and we got to our gate about 30 minutes early. His hunting buddy stocks the planes with drinks and stuff and was working the next gate so he came over and talked with us a while.

We had paid an extra $10 to board early on both our flights and was glad we did. We had full planes both ways and it was better for me to sit towards the front.

We arrived in Vegas about 8:30 am. We wound our way through all the slot machines to baggage claim and met Joe's cousin and his wife. They had two for one coupons for the breakfast buffet at the South Point Hotel/Casino. We had a good breakfast, enjoying each others company.

After eating, we headed for a whirl wind introduction to the strip. We parked in the Bellagio parking garage and headed toward the conservatory. All I can say is it's Amazing!!!! It is so beautiful! I love the Bellagio! It was all decorated up for Fall. We walked around looking in the shops then headed across the outdoor walkway to Caesar's Palace.

The ground of CP are so pretty. And all the statues. We really didn't go into CP to look around, just went in the main door and headed straight into the Forum Shops. We walked around just window shopping. They had hoped to see both the shows there but only one was working, the one about Atlantis. I kept trying to take pictures indoors but most of them did not turn out if there wasn't much light. It was a couple of days before I figured out how to work my camera.

After the Forum Shops, we walked over to Paris. This was a fun place to walk through. And then we went through Ballys just because it was connected to Paris.

Once we got outside again, we caught the tail end of the fountain show across the street at the Bellagio. We crossed back over to the Bellagio and went to the car.

Our next stop was a side trip to pick up some tickets for Joe's cousin at the local university so we got to see some side streets behind the casinos. There I saw the most lovely plant in bloom. They said is was a Mexican Bird of Paradise. I wonder if I can get it to grow here?

After picking up the tickets, we went to New York New York. I felt it was much the same as Paris, just different scenery. We walked outside to the Brooklyn Bridge and down to the Statue of Liberty for some pictures.

Joe and I were fading fast, it was about 3:00 Nevada time, 5:00 for us and we had been up since about 3:30 am. I wanted to play the tourist so we went to the Welcome To Vegas sign for a few photo ops. Elvis was there waiting on a wedding party. They arrived just after we did. We saw a number of bride and grooms that day on the strip.

We went to Joe's cousin's house to freshen up and take a load off of our feet. We ate dinner and headed back out, this time to Fremont Street.

We parked in the Golden Nugget garage and entered through the Golden Nugget. Once on Fremont, we headed down to the Plaza for a look see. We had just missed the show overhead and wanted to kill some time.

Back on Fremont, we arrived just in time for the hourly show. It's fun to watch and last's for a good bit. If you like to people watch, it's a good place to be. There were people dressed up like all different kinds of characters. If I had seen one dressed up like Batman I would have had my picture made with him. Our daughter really likes Batman.

There were amazing spray paint artists who spray painted amazing pictures. They were selling out of them as fast as he could make them. There was a band playing, music coming from all different directions. And then the zip line down at one end. We stayed long enough to see one more overhead show, by then it was 10:00 pm, midnight Texas time. We were exhausted and dead on our feet. It was time to head back to the house. When Joe's head hit the pillow, he was literally out for the count. So was I.

Thumper_Man
10-03-2011, 12:10 PM
Hi Kirby.

I remember when you were planning this trip. DW and I are headed to Vegas next weekend. We usually go once a year (sometimes twice). This is one of the years we will be going twice. I never thought about trying a TR for Vegas. I've been so many times, that Vegas is like a 2nd home now. :lmao:

I hoped you like the Mirage. I'm sure we'll find out more are you report on down the line. This is one of the places where DW and I usually stay. Through the players card, we are always getting good deals for staying here. The other place we stay is TI. DW's cousin is the financial manager for the hotel, so he can usually get us a room, or get us a good deal on a room.

We love Bellagio to. They change out the conservatory with the seasons. I'll definitely have to go see it. We also love Caesar's. One of the places we always have to visit when we go. The Atlantis show is pretty good. I miss that they took out the ride that went with it though. It was a simulator ride through the lost city of Atlantis.

DW and I have seen Mystere. One of our favorite Cirque Shows there. That and LOVE. We've heard KA is pretty good also, but we have tickets to go see Lion King over at Mandalay Bay. This is the last year for it. Found a pretty decent deal on tickets.

Looking forward to reading more about your trip.

Kirby
10-03-2011, 05:24 PM
Thank you Thumper_Man! We did enjoy the Mirage and our stay there.

One thing that Mary pointed out to us was that each hotel/casino has different door handles on their main doors that are specific just for them. That was pretty interesting.

Day Two

No matter how tired we were the night before, we could not sleep in and was up about 7:00 am.

After a good breakfast at the house, we decided that a trip to Hoover Dam was in order. Charles and Mary took us on a side trip through Boulder City on the way. It is a cute little town to visit.

There's a bit of construction once you hit Boulder City but it didn't take us long to get to the Dam. Charles and Mary didn't want to go through with us but sat out on the patio by the gift shop/restaurant while we went through. The longer tour was an hour and a half wait so we passed on it and went on the shorter power plant tour.

The signs talked about claustophobia but when we asked, it was only on the elevators that there might be a problem. I took a Xanax anyway and was just fine. There was one man though in our group that just about had a panic attack each time we entered the elevator.

After the tour, we explored the museum, walked out on the dam and went into the diorama presentation. Joe touched the toes of the winged statue for good luck and we were done. We browsed through the gift shop to cool off for a bit. It had gotten a little hot walking around outside.

We were all hungry so we headed out and decided to eat at a little restaurant in Boulder City called the Southwest Diner. We all ate something light because we had reservations at the Hash House A Go Go for dinner. The Southwest Diner is a good place to stop and eat if you are ever in the area.

Charles and Mary drove us around a bit showing us different things outside of Vegas in the area where they lived. It was nice being off of our feet for a change after the big day before.

Our reservations were for 5:00, so we headed in that direction. We were not going to the restaurant location on the strip but one at the M Hotel/Casino in Henderson. It is a local hotel/casino that they enjoy going to. We wandered around, Mary pointed out the door knobs. They were Calla Lilys (I believe) for this hotel.

We were seated in the restaurant, the Hash House A Go Go. There wasn't many people so we had the pick of the place. Joe and I decided to share a burger with red peppers and mozarella. Charles and Mary had the meatloaf. What a lot of food! I'm glad we shared. And it was delicious!!

After dinner, we headed out into the casino to look at the slots. Charles has a favorite one he wanted to show us. It is video poker. He plays Deuces Wild for a penny but you can bet multiple lines. He likes a particular one that has maybe about 10 lines on it but he only bets five. He played or rather we all played taking turns on it for over an hour on $1. Charles ended up 65 cents ahead.

Once our gambling for the evening was done, we went back to the house to watch a video of Terry Fator. I had wanted to see his show and am glad that I did not pay to see it. It wasn't that I didn't like it because I did. It was that unless you can sit up near the stage, you miss out on a lot of the facial expressions.

By the time the video was over, we were once again wiped out. Jet lag really catching up to us.

Thumper_Man
10-04-2011, 09:02 AM
DW and I probably have the same video of Terry Fator. It was given to us a present from her grandpa. Even though we've never seen his show in person, we have been in that theater. It's the theater Danny Gans used to perform in. If they haven't really changed it, there's not really a bad seat in the house. They have a large screen on each side of the theater so you can also see the performer's expressions and such. I'll check with her grandpa to find out if it's still like that. He saw the show last time he was there.

Kirby
10-07-2011, 05:34 PM
Day 3

Once again we were up with the birds. Charles and Mary took us to pick up our rental car. I love the set up at the McCarren airport for car rentals.

Anyway, once we said our goodbyes, we set off for the Grand Canyon. The landscape around Vegas is so foreign to us. It's just rock and creosote bushes for the most part. Once we passed Hoover Dam, it didn't change all that much for a long way. But it was all interesting to see.

We stopped in Kingman to top our off our gas tank, got on 40 and headed east. Here the landscape changed fairly frequently. A couple of times the hills were just covered in Cedar trees. You could smell them inside the car. We kept looking for wildlife, certainly we'd see antelope or something. But the only thing we saw was the occasional cow or horse. There wasn't even anything dead on the side of the road. Definately not what you see back home.

Sometimes we would see areas that reminded us of Texas.

I can't remember what time we stopped for lunch in Williams. It is such a cute little town. Wish that we'd had time to explore it. We ate lunch at the Cruisers Cafe 66 Bar and Grill. We sat outside and listened to some live music while we ate. The food was delicious! Joe had a chicken BLT and I had a grilled chicken sandwich. We both had sweet potato fries. Um um good!!!

We left Williams with a full stomach and left for the last stretch of road to the Grand Canyon. We were definately excited!

Once more the vastness amazed us and we couldn't imagine living out there as some people do. We'd see garage sale signs at the end of dirt roads, nothing in sight but the sign and wonder how far you would have to drive to reach the sale.

We reached the GC about 3:00 so, with our stops it took us about six hours. Direction signs were good and we bypassed Mather Point so we could go ahead and check in.

Parking is a nightmare near the lodges. We drove around and around looking for a place to park near El Tovar which is where we had to check in. I finally told Joe to keep circling while I went in and took care of business.

Check in was a breeze and we received a ground floor room at the Kachina Lodge with a view of the canyon. We drove over to the lodge and lucky us, someone was leaving and we got a parking spot almost right outside our door.

Our room was clean and the view was good. We got ourselves settled and decided to walk the Trail of Time to Yavapai Point to watch the sunset. The trail is paved and easy to walk. We just meandered along, stopping along the way just to take in the awesomeness of the canyon.

We made it to Yavapai with 20 minutes to spare. There was already a good number of people there but we found a good spot to sit. All around us were voices speaking in all different languages. Not a word of English did we hear. It was fun listening even though we did not understand what was being said. Everyone was so quiet, words being spoken in hushed tones.

Then the sunset began. It was beautiful! We sat for awhile after the sun passed below the top of the canyon. What should we do? Catch a shuttle or walk back. We had flashlights so decided to walk back. We didn't even need to turn them on until we were almost back at our lodge.

We went to our room to freshen up and then headed back out to find a place to eat. The temperature had definately dropped, the wind was blowing and you could feel a sprinkle now and then. We didn't have reservations at El Tovar so we knew we needed to head down toward the Bright Angel Lodge.

We turned a corner and there out on the grass was a Mule Deer buck, three does and a baby. A ranger was watching them because the buck had charged someone a couple of days before. We walked a little farther and there were female Elk and some babies. We wanted so bad to stand and watch but time was getting late, it was cold and we were hungry. I was able to get a couple of dark pictures of them.

The first restaurant we came to was the Arizona Room. Since we had not explored that end of the rim earlier, I did not know how far the Bright Angel Restaurant was so we went in. We found out the next day that it was on the other side of the wall, basically back to back with the AR. The wait was an hour and I asked the hostess what the difference between the two restaurants were. She told me that the BA was more like spaghetti and the AR steak. Steak sounded good so we put our name in the hat.

Our meal was probably the worst part of our trip. Once we were finally seated, a look at the menu told us that the hostess had misled us. The AR was definately not a steak house. But since we had waited and it was late, we went ahead and ordered. There wasn't much of anything on the menu that sounded good to me. I ordered the salmon and Joe ordered the ribs.

Our waitress was friendly and our tablecloth was not clean, it had pepper sprinkled all over it. Our waitress brought us water and then never asked us if we wanted anything else to drink. I just wanted to get through dinner so we spoke not a word.

Our table was right by the window so I imagine the view was just gorgeous during the day.

When we received our food, I was given the wrong dish, the sampler plate. I sat there and looked at it, told Joe I was given the wrong thing but stated that the waitress could have mistaken the word salmon for sampler. I just resigned myself to eat what I was given and just before I dug in, the waitress whisked the plate out from in front of me and sat the salmon in front of me. Then she tells me she gets them mixed up all the time.

Joe said that his ribs were definately cooked somewhere else and reheated there at the restaurant. My salmon was overcooked and covered with a avocado salsa that was not good. I also had black beans and rice (very spicy) and underdone asparagus. Everything tasted like it was drenched in lemon juice.

Needless to say, we were not happy about our meal. We should have braved the weather and tried to find the BA restaurant. The next day we did find it and saw what was on their menu. It definately was more to our tastes.

After we left the restaurant, we entered a lodge across from it, to escape the cold wind, and walked through the halls hoping that we would find an exit near our lodge. We did and was soon in our room. Not much longer and we were out for the night.

Kirby
10-18-2011, 02:40 PM
Day 4

We decided to not to get up and watch the sun rise and got up about 7:00 am. I had a very sore throat, sinus drainage and a cough. I wasn't feeling very well, my allergies were in high gear, but I wasn't going to let it spoil our day.

Our choice of breakfast venue was El Tovar. It was not crowded at all and we walked right in.

I had read how terrific this place was to eat at and the historic value was right up there. As far as the food, well, not so much. I would have enjoyed a meal at IHOP just as well.

The service was good and our coffee cups were kept filled. Joe's dish consisted of a very large pancake, eggs, bacon, potatos and ham. I had a two egg meal with bacon, potatos and toast. Everything was okay but the potatos. They were so dried out and covered in herbs. I know that you don't go to the Grand Canyon for the cuisine but when you read such favorable reviews, you expect more. Oh well......it was filling.

After breakfast we toured the gift shop and headed back to our room to pack up and load the car. We left the car where it was and checked out of the Lodge.

From there we walked west to tour as much of the Hermits Rest trail as we could. We skipped the Lookout Studio and Kolb Studio since we were short on time.

We decided not to ride a shuttle to start the Hermits Rest trail and began walking it not realizing that the trail to the Trailview Overlook was all uphill. Not a good situation for me with my cough. Seven tenths of a mile took a lot longer than it should have is all I can say but there were some gorgeous views along the way and lots of places to see different parts of the beginning of the Bright Angel Trail.

Well, we finally made it to the Trailview Overlook and decided to ride the shuttle to Powell Point. While we were sitting there, a herd of Mule deer wandered through the woods across the street.

Once the shuttle arrived, it was a quick trip to Powell Point. Looking at the time, we decided we would explore this location and then head back to our car. It was a gorgeous day and the views were awesome. We really regretted our decision to only stay one night.

The shuttle dropped us close to Bright Angel Lodge and we thought we should explore it before we left. There we found out where the restaurant was that we should have ate at the night before.

While we were driving out of the park, we saw deer several times. I wasn't feeling very well and couldn't talk much because I would begin coughing. We took Route 66 from Seligman to Kingman. I had wanted to stop in Seligman for lunch but Joe wasn't hungry and I didn't feel up to it so we drove on.

I like the drive on Route 66 much better than I40. It was just a little more scenic and we avoided the large forest of cedar trees which I think caused my allergies to stir up. Every now and then you would see signs that had two words each on them, one sign following another every so many feet and the last one reading Brill Creme.

In Kingman, we stopped for gas and something to eat. I had wanted to eat only at restaurants that weren't available at home but McDonald's was handy and I didn't feel good. After a Big Mac, Joe drove me over to a Super KMart for some medicine which helped out a lot.

Our drive the rest of the way was mostly uneventful. There was quite a bit of traffic, the first for our trip, once we passed the Hoover Dam area but it was due to road construction.

We made our way to the Mirage and handed our car off to the valet. There is a lovely atrium when you walk in. The wait was short at check in. I had reserved a strip view King Suite. The check in person asked if I was interested in any of the upgrades. I asked what they were and she mentioned she could put us in a Deluxe King Suite for just $20 more a night. The perks were a larger bath room and a floor dedicated elevator. We said, sure, why not. Then she took $10 off each night which was nice. I should have tipped her, I guess, but didn't think about it until later.

Our room was just the ticket and looking out the window, realized that at the Mirage, every room is a strip view room for the most part with the way the building was shaped. And she was not kidding about the size of the bathroom. Wow!!!

After freshing up our travel stained selves, we headed out to the strip to look for a place to eat dinner. On our first day in Vegas when we were given a quick tour, I could have swore I saw a hot dog place very close to the Mirage. Well, we couldn't find it for the life of us. Joe thought he remembered it being in the Forum shops. We had wanted to eat at this particular place because it had been shown in a PBS special about hot dogs.

We finally gave up searching for the hot dog place and walked to the Bellagio Fountains for a show. We lucked out and quickly got a spot almost in the center. It was so pretty.

When the show was over we walked south for a little ways and then headed back to the Mirage. We were just dead on our feet and very hungry at this point.

By the time we got back to the Mirage, the buffet was close to shutting down. We thought BB Kings but it was way too loud with a band playing. California Kitchen had a very short line and we got in it. After a short wait, we were seated in a booth. Boy! Was it good to sit down. We ordered a pizza to share and enjoyed it immensely.

Dinner gave us some energy and we decided to play the slots for awhile. Joe and I have different playing strategies. He puts some money in, plays a while and then cashes out. I on the other hand, play until the moneys gone or win big.

We sort of wander away from each other and I found the Goldfish machine. I stick a ten in and after a couple of plays win $50. Then I cashed out. Joe broke even for the night.

We called it a night and slept well. The bed was most comfortable!

Thumper_Man
11-08-2011, 11:28 AM
Hi Kirby.

Sorry I've been away for a while. DW and I had our own trip to Vegas recently. Getting ready to head out to Phoenix this weekend.

If we ever go to the GC, I'll have to remember to stay away from the restaurants you ate at. DW and I have never been. We will one of these days if we can ever get over our fear of heights. Well so much the fear of heights, I think it's more the fear of falling off the edge. :laughing:

I'm trying to think of what hot dog stand you're referring to. DW and I go to Vegas at least once a year. We'll be on quest to find it next time we go. I want to say I've seen it also, but I want to say not inside but outside Caesar's. :confused3

We have only stayed at the Mirage once. We usually stay at TI and did the last trip. DW's cousin is the CFO of TI, so he usually hooks us up with a room or a great rate on a suite. Good to have family in high places.

This last trip we tried California Kitchen as well. Awesome pizza. Would go there again. I have the same playing strategy as both of you. Depending on how the slots are paying is how choose which strategy to use. If I see them paying but not paying big, I go with Joe's strategy. If they're not really paying, I go with yours and hope for the big win.

Thanks for the update. Hope to hear you hit it big.

Kirby
11-08-2011, 08:41 PM
Thanks Thumper_Man. Most of the trails are along the GC edge but you don't have to stand right at it if you don't want to. I'm afraid of heights also but had no problem for the most part.

The Arizona Room might be better for lunch. There is a great view from the restaurant in the day light hours. I've also read good reviews during the lunch time over on Trip Advisor so we just ate there at the wrong time.

Your post reminds me that I need to finish my trip report. I'll need to get to that soon.

Kirby
11-12-2011, 05:01 PM
Day 5

I had told myself that I was going to sleep in this morning. Not! I woke up at 7:00 am fairly refreshed and decided I might as well get up.

We had breakfast at BB King's. It looked just like a bar after a hard night but was clean and didn't smell of cigarette smoke. Our waitress was friendly and we were seated right away.

I chose the Memphis Scramble. I can't remember what Joe's meal was called but it had the largest pancake I've ever seen. He said that it was good. My meal was good also. I would definately eat breakfast there again.

After our meal, we went back up to our room. Our keys would not work in our door. We trekked all the way down to check in and they gave us new keys. Said if they didn't work then we probably needed new batteries in the door. Fortunately, our new keys worked. Never knew what the problem was.

We tossed around some ideas on what we might do that day. No, we didn't really want to walk back through the Forum Shops. We were just road weary and a lot of walking was not real thrilling but that's what you have to do in Vegas.

We decided to head over to the Venetian, maybe take a gondola ride. I had seen discount coupons for Madame Tussauds in one of our hotel room magazines and grabbed those.

The walk up to the Venetian is so pretty. And we just loved the moving sidewalks! We'd never been to a wax museum before and thought that it might be fun to tour Madame Tussauds. We were not disappointed. We had a lot of fun taking pictures with a number of the figures. Some were done really true to life while others needed a little more work.

Walking into the Venetian was just gorgeous. We didn't go into the casino or the main lobby area. Just where the shops begin. The ceiling was amazing.

We stopped at the Pearl Factory counter and got sucked in. I chose an oyster, did the count, Aloha and I had a pearl. I remember doing this years ago (without the Aloha) at Epcot with our daughter. I thought I would get a pearl, buy a necklace and be on my way. Hundreds of dollars later with the pearl at the end of an Australian opal pendent, I was. They even comped me another oyster. I did the whole bit and then they tried to sell me the little pendant holder for the second "free" pearl. That's the kind of holder I had wanted for the first pearl. I said "no thanks" and walked away with an expensive necklace and a free pearl that I'm not quite sure what I'll do with.

We wandered around in the Venetian shops, saw the living statues and an act. Such a pretty place. We chose not to ride in the gondolas. Seemed like fun but once we saw what it cost to ride one by ourselves, we decided to pass.

Back on the strip, we walked north a bit still looking for that hot dog place. Didn't see it. Then we thought we would walk south back to Paris. When we had originally toured Paris on our first day, my pictures inside did not come out too well and I thought it might be a good time to get some better ones since I had figured out my camera.

The sidewalk was so much more crowded with pedestrians on this side of the strip plus there seemed to be less sidewalk for them to walk on. It was getting hot and we were getting thirsty. A stop at the Flamingo was in order. We walked into the casino from the street and I felt so much at home here. I don't know what it was but I liked the Flamingo.

At the food court we ordered cheese fries and drinks at Johnny Rockets. While we were waiting on our order, some of the JR employees came out and did their little dance. It was fun to watch.

We toured the Flamingo a little and went on to Paris. After seeing the Venetian, the wow factor was there like it was on our first day. In fact, I didn't even take the pictures we had gone there for. Actually, we were just so tired we walked back to the Mirage and our room.

Well, we did stop at the Ghostbusters slot machine (Joe had wanted to try it the night before). I won $10 on my second bet and Joe lost money. I cashed out on my win and then we went up to the room.

We had tickets for Mystere that evening. We freshened up and took a load off our feet for awhile. Joe actually got in a short nap. We knew about the tram from the Mirage to Treasure Island and arrived at TI in short order. If we had known how quick it was to get to TI, we would have eaten at BLT Burger or Cravings at the Mirage. But we didn't and walked around TI trying to decide on where to eat. I guess we could have gone back to the Mirage for dinner but we chose not too which was definately a wrong decision.

Because we didn't know how long it would take to eat at a TI restaurant, we got in line at the buffet. We were seated fairly quickly. It was not a good buffet. Nothing looked appetizing, it all looked like it had been there for awhile. I did eat, mostly at the Chinese food counter. It wasn't all that good. Even the desserts looked old.

Finally it was time for our show. We got in line 30 minutes early and before we knew it, were headed to our seats. We were seated in the top of the second level to the left of the stage. Perfect seats for us.

The pre show act with the old man showing people to their seats was so funny. We enjoyed the show. I was having motion sickness feelings with all the high wire stuff so I didn't get to see those acts. Some of the other acts were amazing. I would definately recommend this show.

We rode the tram back to the Mirage and went back to our room. We had an early flight out the next morning.


Day 6

We checked out with no problem about 6:00 am. Valet had our car to us in no time. And turning the rental car in was easy as pie. We had no problem circumnavigating the airport to our gate. Because we rarely fly, we aren't real good at figuring out our times so we had about an hour and a half to kill before we began boarding. We ate breakfast at Burger King and bought some souveniers. Wish we had done that on the strip but oh well........

Our flight was good and very crowded. A little bumpy over Austin but not too much. It was good to be home.


Final Thoughts

I enjoyed our trip to Vegas. I wish that we could have visited Mandelay Bay.

If we go again, I think I would like to stay off strip or at the Bellagio.

We loved the Grand Canyon. I wished we had booked two nights instead of one.

I would definately take advantage of the Deuce Bus while on the strip. It might take a little longer but you save your feet.

I don't miss the cigarette smoke though I never found it too bad anywhere we went.

SnowWhite09
12-25-2011, 01:00 AM
Great trip report, thanks so much for posting it! :goodvibes

jns
01-29-2012, 04:02 PM
thanks for sharing really enjoyed your TR