blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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December 30th, 2013 at 5:13:37 AM permalink
For some time now I’ve been making pilgrimages to Las Vegas twice per year. Once in the summer and then once in the winter. I submitted a trip report back in July about my summer 2013 travel to Vegas, and what follows below is the report for my winter 2013 trip.

First, I need to confess something that will become apparent as this winter trip report unfolds: I told a couple of lies in my previous summer trip report. Not in the report itself, but during the subsequent conversations in response to the report. With good intentions and an honest heart at the time, I stated that I was going to re-evaluate my gambling mix to move away from being so heavily weighted on the penny machines. I even indicated that I was planning to learn some video poker strategies and add them to my repertoire for my next trip.

However, I ultimately did neither of these for my winter Vegas trip. I played those penny machines again like somebody was paying me to do it! And I did not learn (nor play) enough video poker to say grace over! Although I did play a little Jacks or Better VP. Anyway, I will try to prepare more diligently for my next Vegas trip this summer.

It has been said that confession is good for the soul, and now that I’ve gotten those items off my chest I will proceed with my report with a clear conscience. ;)

A brief overview before beginning the “official” posts for each day of the trip…

The winter 2013 trip consisted of three people: Myself, my son, and my cousin. As I’ve stated before, I’m in my early 40’s and my son is in his early 20’s. My cousin is a few years younger than me. We were in Vegas from Thursday December 12th through Monday December 16th, and the weather was very pleasant during our trip with highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. The ten-day National Finals Rodeo was finishing up while we were in town, and Vegas was filled with folks dressed in western wear and cowboy hats. I’m somewhat of a country boy myself (from the southeast as well as Texas) so the heavy western presence was fine with me.

Logistically, we had non-stop flights on Southwest, stayed at the Rio, and enjoyed a rental car for our transportation needs. We partook of some mighty fine eating, enjoyed a show, did some fabulous sightseeing (both on and off the Strip), and had a great time with our gambling. The only real downer was the fact that a couple of us got sickly at one point or another during the trip, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes!

Like my previous report, I’m just going to make a separate post for each day and describe what all we did. There will be a certain amount of similarities when compared to the summer trip, since there are several things that we always like to do on every visit to Vegas (i.e. Frankie’s Tiki Room, Battista’s, etc.). As before, the report will disclose prices and such where applicable for anybody who is interested.

There will also be some pictures included here and there to hopefully add a little variety. I’ll be blurring out our faces on the pics like I did last time, just in case the Feds are still looking for us.

:) 
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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December 30th, 2013 at 5:14:02 AM permalink
DAY 1 OF 5 - THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12TH

We had been planning and looking forward to our winter 2013 Vegas trip from the moment we got home from our summer trip. I always keep a close, constant eye on the flights/prices on Southwest for months ahead of a trip in an effort to get us the best flights at the best prices. On past trips, it seems like our flights out to Vegas departed either very early in the morning or quite late in the afternoon. However, this time we were able to snag tickets for a non-stop flight that would depart Nashville at noon and arrive in Vegas at 2:20pm local time. This was, to me, the best of both worlds since it meant we wouldn’t have to wake up super early to get to the airport and we would also arrive in Vegas with plenty of the day still remaining to do things.

We arrived at the Nashville airport around 9:45am to drop our car off in the long-term parking and then catch the shuttle to the terminal. The lines at both the ticket counter and security were not especially long, and we were inside the terminal around 10:20am. This gave us time to sit down and enjoy something to eat from Whitt’s BBQ, which is a local restaurant chain in Tennessee. They were still serving breakfast, so all three of us opted for a bacon/egg/cheese biscuit and a coke ($21 total) which satisfied our hunger in anticipation of the 4 hour flight.

Our flight took off on time, and we were officially on our way! The flight was totally full, but we were able to all sit together on the same row near the very back of the plane. Based upon the attire (and overheard conversations), there were quite a few people on our flight who were headed to Vegas to attend the rodeo finals. We had a nice view of the Cumberland River in Nashville as we took off.



We had a group of younger guys (early 20’s) sitting behind us on the plane who were a little loud, somewhat drunk, and a bit obnoxious. I’m very easy-going and can pretty much just ignore stuff like that, but the dude sitting right behind me was violently coughing every few minutes for the entire flight. And he was coughing like he MEANT it. I’m not particularly a germaphobe (and I’m quite sensitive to other peoples’ dilemmas when they are sick), but I was a bit unhappy about being stuck in an aluminum tube for 4 hours with what sounded like patient-zero of the next tuberculosis outbreak seated directly behind me barking like a seal. I was just hoping I wouldn’t catch whatever he had and get ill like him in Vegas (which I didn’t) or later on get sick before my Christmas travels (which I did). :/

Anyway, our flight landed in Vegas about 15 minutes early but we had to wait for about 10 minutes for a gate to become available. After deboarding the airplane and claiming our luggage, we took the shuttle over to the rental car center to pick up our vehicle. I had previously reserved a full-size car, and we ended up with a Chevy Impala that had a nice big trunk and served us well for the trip ($109 total). I put my son on the contract as an additional driver since it was free to do so, and I liked the idea of splitting up the driving duties a bit.

After picking up the rental car we drove straight over to the Rio to get checked in. The registration desk had nobody at all in line when we got there around 3:15pm, so it took less than 5 minutes from start to finish to get our room. We received a 2-queen deluxe studio suite on the 9th floor of the Ipanema tower. This room was quite large and included a mini-fridge, a sleeper sofa, and had a very nice view of the Strip. I had reserved the room online several months before, and the total for 4 nights was $238 including all taxes and resort fees.

We spent about 30 minutes in the room getting unpacked and settled in, and then left to go enjoy a late lunch / early dinner. Our plans for dinner centered around trying one of the gourmet burgers at BLT Burger in the Mirage, so we got in the car and headed that way. We parked in the self-parking garage at the Mirage and proceeded to use the walkway bridge from the garage to enter the property. Once inside, we made our way across the casino floor to find the restaurant which is located close to the sports book. The Mirage had some nice Christmas decorations up as seen in the pics below.





BLT Burger had recently won the “Las Vegas burger wars” on the Cooking Channel’s show Best in Chow, so all three of us decided to order the exact burger that won the competition: The I-80 burger. This burger was cooked medium, came with caramelized onions & smoked bacon, and was definitely in the top five burgers I’ve ever eaten. My son and I got skinny fries with ours, and my cousin chose the sweet potato fries. Both styles of fries were nice and crispy and tasted delicious. The cost for all three burgers and fries came to $72 including tax and tip. I will definitely come back and eat here again on future trips!





When we were finished with our meal, we left the Mirage around 5:30pm and proceeded to one of our “regular” Vegas spots… Frankie’s Tiki Room over on Charleston Avenue. We typically save our visit to Frankie’s for whichever day we go downtown, but since we had the car we were able to go ahead and hit Frankie’s right away at the beginning of our trip. Because it was fairly early in the evening (and a Thursday), the crowd at Frankie’s was very light. There were only four or five other folks in there when we arrived, although business had started to pick up by the time we left.



My son volunteered to be the designated driver for the evening, so my cousin and I were both able to have two of Frankie’s tiki drinks each. The two drinks I selected were the Nakalele Knockout (a 5-skull strength rated drink that was VERY strong), and a Malekula (a 3-skull strength rated drink that was much milder). Both of my drinks were perfect and my cousin was very pleased with the two drinks he chose as well.





I was also able to pick up their newest ceramic tiki mug to add to my collection (this is the mug that was listed on the menu back in the summer but had been delayed in production). I have mentioned before that I feel like the mugs from Frankie’s make great Vegas souvenirs since they are unique and also have “Las Vegas” on the back of each one. Below is my current collection to date (along with one tiki mug from Rhumbar in the Mirage). I’m certain I’ll be adding to them in the years to come as Frankie’s releases new mugs every now and then ($75 for 4 drinks and 2 tiki mugs).





We socialized at Frankie’s for about 1½ hours, and then around 7:30pm decided it was time to go hit Casino Royale and play our favorite Star Wars penny machines. On the drive to Casino Royale my son decided he wanted to go back to the Rio instead, so he just dropped off my cousin and me in front of Harrah’s and took the car back to the Rio to play. We told my son that we’d catch the free shuttle back to the Rio after we were done at Casino Royale.

Upon entering Casino Royale, my cousin went and signed up for their player’s card. They gave him $50 of promotional slot free play and a sheet of coupons. He ran the $50 free play through one of the eligible machines that were sitting right outside of where he got the card, but did not hit anything that would qualify as a cash prize. He then took one of the coupons to the bar (2 Michelobs for $1) and got us set up with a couple of cold beers in preparation of sitting down at the machines.

Beers in hand, we rounded the corner at the back area of Casino Royale to find 3 of the 4 Star Wars machines empty and waiting for us. I’ve commented before that these Star Wars machines are usually empty every time we go there, which makes we wonder how long they will actually keep them if they get so little action? My cousin and I each put in $20 and started our play. We both stuck with betting the minimum 30 cents per roll, and actually got quite a bit of play (as well as a couple of white russians) out of our buy-ins. He hit several bonuses and I hit several decent regular payouts, so we were able to play those machines until we were kind of tired of them and ready to try something else.

We cashed out of the Star Wars machines, and walked about 15 feet to one of those “bubble” craps games at the back of Casino Royale. The minimum was $2 on the pass line, and it would let you bet $1 on other bets like the field and such. Although not as fun as regular craps (since you can’t hold/roll the dice), both of us really had a good time playing this type of machine. Since the minimums were low we were able to try several different bets at a $1 level versus a $5 level. We played the bubble craps for about an hour, and decided it was time to start heading back towards the Rio.

We left Casino Royale around 9:45pm, and stopped in at the pizza place between Casino Royale and Harrah’s. I selected a slice of my normal pepperoni & mushroom, and my cousin chose a piece of regular pepperoni (total cost of $13 for both). We took the slices “to go” and walked with them through Harrah’s and ate them while waiting for the shuttle that would take us to the Rio. The pizza tasted very good and was the perfect snack (although it came back to haunt us later).





On the shuttle ride back to the Rio, I texted my son and asked if he would be interested in playing the 11pm session of bingo at the Gold Coast. He decided that he would pass, so my cousin and I hopped off the shuttle at the Rio around 10:30pm and walked across the street to the Gold Coast. I’m somewhat a creature of habit, so upon arriving in the bingo room we purchased the typical buy-in that I choose when I play bingo which consists of a blue paper pack for each person plus an electronic machine to share. Total cost was around $28 including the purchase of the daubers for the paper packs. This actually turned out to be the only bingo session I played during this trip (I normally like to get two or three sessions in).



It was a mighty thin crowd at the 11pm game, which didn’t surprise me too much since it was so late on a weeknight. I was hopeful that the smaller number of players would translate into a better chance of winning for my cousin and me. We both enjoyed a Coors Light as the session began, and our spirits remained high as we each got fairly close on the first couple of games. But as the games moved on, we never did get it done all the way to hit a bingo. At one point I had three separate cards on the electronic machine that were only 1 number away from hitting, and I thought for sure I was going to bingo. But it just wasn’t meant to be. We ended the session around 11:55pm and decided it was time to call it a night.

My cousin and I walked back across the street to the Rio and went on up to the room. It was a little after midnight, and my son was already in there asleep. I had volunteered to be the one to use the sleeper sofa, so I began the process of getting it pulled out and set up. I had previously seen a review online where somebody said there were not any sheets on the sleeper sofa, and they were absolutely correct. Luckily, I had brought my own bed linens from home just in case, and I was able to get it all set up and ready to sleep on. The sleeper sofa wasn’t quite as comfortable as a regular bed, but it was not bad at all and it suited our needs just fine. I read my book for about 20 minutes, turned off my lamp, decided all was well, and then laid my head down on the pillow in anticipation of a fine night’s sleep.

And this is where the first day’s activities should have ended, with me peacefully sleeping the night away on a pull-out sofa at the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. But it did not work out that way.

***T.M.I. ALERT BELOW***

The lamp had been turned off for maybe two minutes and I started feeling funny. And by funny I mean bad. And by bad I mean EXTREMELY nauseous and like the room was over 100 degrees or something. I knew I wasn’t drunk or anything, because although I had enjoyed a few cocktails over the course of the evening, they had been spread out across nearly five hours. I tossed and turned and took deep breaths over the next five minutes or so trying to convince myself that it wasn’t going to happen, but deep down in my heart (and stomach) I knew that it was indeed going to happen.

And of course it did. But afterwards I immediately felt better and the room felt nice and cool, and I was able to get back on the sleeper sofa and go right to sleep for the night. Looking back, I’m thinking the culprit was probably the pizza from the place by Harrah’s. Mainly because my cousin also got sick the following morning/day (much worse than me), and all three of us had eaten the exact same things from the exact same places since breakfast that morning. The only different item was the pizza that my cousin and I ate, which my son didn’t since he wasn’t with us at that time.

Anyway, once I finally got to sleep the remainder of the night went well and I slept fine!
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Coming Soon: Day 2 of 5…
You serious, Clark?
boymimbo
boymimbo
Joined: Nov 12, 2009
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December 30th, 2013 at 6:22:10 AM permalink
Dude, what is wrong with your face! You gotta see a plastic surgeon for that problem! How do you eat and breathe!?
----- You want the truth! You can't handle the truth!
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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December 30th, 2013 at 6:32:01 AM permalink
Quote: boymimbo

Dude, what is wrong with your face! You gotta see a plastic surgeon for that problem! How do you eat and breathe!?


LOL!

Unfortunately, those are the "after" pics from my existing plastic surgery. You do NOT want to see the "before" pics.

;)
You serious, Clark?
PapaChubby
PapaChubby
Joined: Mar 29, 2010
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December 30th, 2013 at 7:30:12 AM permalink
Thanks for the report. I look forward to reading the rest. I really love your tiki mug collection. What a great conversation piece!
Beethoven9th
Beethoven9th
Joined: Jul 30, 2012
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December 30th, 2013 at 7:50:22 AM permalink
Great report! Enjoyed reading it.


BTW, I think I've seen your brother before (haha):

Fighting BS one post at a time!
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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December 30th, 2013 at 12:09:38 PM permalink
Thanks for the kind comments on my report so far!
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
  • Threads: 42
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December 30th, 2013 at 12:09:55 PM permalink
DAY 2 OF 5 - FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13TH

On Friday morning I woke up around 7:15am local time. I usually wake up and get moving much earlier than this, but I guess I must have needed the sleep after the previous day’s activities. The morning view of the Strip was mighty fine looking out the window.



On my Vegas trips, I typically treat myself to a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks each morning and then drink it while slow-playing a penny machine by myself. This is usually due to my being up much earlier than everyone else. However, since I didn’t wake up until after 7am this morning, everyone else was pretty much awake and moving by the time I was ready to slip out and go downstairs for my little “tradition”. So I just went on down and got my Caramel Macchiato as well as everyone else’s coffee order and brought them straight back to the room. ($16 for a caramel macchiato, a peppermint mocha, and a dark roast coffee).

After everyone had finished their coffee and completed getting ready, we went to the car and headed out for our first activity of the day which was breakfast at the Hash House a Go Go in the M Resort. The M Resort is about 10 miles south of the Strip, and is one of the places we like to visit when we are on a trip that includes a rental car.

We arrived at the M Resort around 10am and were seated immediately in the Hash House a Go Go. Although I had branched out a bit on my last visit to HHAGG, on this trip I went back to my old faithful and ordered the sage fried chicken. My son and my cousin decided to split a blueberry pecan pancake & eggs combo. All of the dishes tasted fantastic, and the portions here are enormous so there was plenty of food for all of us to share ($45 total for two breakfast entrees and a bloody mary).

My cousin had ordered a bloody mary with his meal, but by the time it arrived he wasn’t looking or feeling too well so he did not drink much of it. In fact he wasn’t able to eat much of his breakfast either. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was starting his downward spiral that ultimately made him take to the bed for almost 24 hours.

We played various slot machines at the M for a while, and decided to head back to the Rio since my cousin was feeling progressively worse. Once we got back to the room, my cousin didn’t leave it until mid-morning on the following day. We concluded that he must have had the same situation that I did earlier since he said he didn’t feel real great the previous night either. However, where in my case the offending food had been “gotten rid of” fairly quickly the night before, in his case the offending food got all of the way into his system. I guess that may be a good argument to get the poison out as quickly as possible whenever the situation arises!

It was around 12:30pm, so we decided that my son and I would go downstairs and play for an hour or so there at the Rio to see if my cousin would be feeling well enough to take part in the next item on the itinerary for the day (which was to do some eating & gambling at some of the South Strip properties). We went back up to the room around 2pm, and my cousin said he was not feeling well enough to join us, but that he would hopefully be feeling better later that afternoon for our plans to go downtown.

My son and I decided to let my cousin rest in the room, and we retrieved the car and headed on down to the South Strip. We parked at New York New York, since getting a slice of pizza from NYP there in NYNY was the next item on the agenda. We walked out of the NYNY parking garage, across the casino floor, and then up to the food area that houses NYP. This is one of our favorite pizza places in Vegas, and we each got a slice of their pepperoni and a drink (total of $18). The crust on the pizza this time was a little lighter than normal (I like it dark and crispy), but it still tasted great and was very satisfying.

At this point my son and I split up for a short while. He walked over to Excalibur to look for the “Seven Rush” machine that he did so well on last time, and I walked over to the MGM on a mission of my own. I love the movie Vegas Vacation, and I had decided before this trip that I was going to get myself a Keno ticket from the MGM with the exact same numbers that were called in the Keno game during the ending scene of the movie when Sid Caesar won (and then proceeded to die). I walked around the casino floor for a while and couldn’t find the Keno room so I finally asked one of the floor men where it was located. He said the MGM, as well as most other Strip casinos, no longer have a regular Keno room.

Well shoot, that was a fairly long walk for nothing. :/

Brushing off my frustration with the failure of my apparently ill-conceived Keno plan, I headed on over across the street to join my son. I walked out of the MGM to the Tropicana and then over to Excalibur.



I found my son on the Seven Rush machine that he had left in search of. Although this machine was kind to him last trip, it was putting a serious beating on him by the time I got there. He was down to his last few dollars of a $40 buy-in, and Seven Rush finished him off within the next five minutes. You win some and you lose some, and this time he was on the latter half of that particular expression.

We strolled around inside Excalibur for another hour or so playing several other machines here and there, and ended up about even on that stretch of play (not counting his $40 loss before I got there). It was around 4:15pm, so we decided to head back to the Rio to check on my cousin and prepare for our trip Downtown. As we walked back through NYNY to go to the parking garage, I stopped by their gift shop and picked up a very nice 2-year (2014/2015) Vegas calendar to hang on my wall at home ($10).

The drive back to the Rio was quick, and we spent an hour in the room relaxing and getting ready to go Downtown. My cousin was still feeling terrible and said there was no way he would be able to join us that evening, so my son and I got the car and started the drive towards Downtown around 6:00pm. Traffic was not too bad, and it did not take long at all to get down there and get parked. We chose to park at Main Street Station and although the sign at MSS said there was a $3 fee to park, we were able to get the fee waived by showing our B-Connected players card.

After getting the car parked, we walked on over towards Fremont Street. We decided to try out the Golden Nugget first, and found some fun goldfish bonus penny machines in there that gave us a lot of play for our money. We both bought in for $20, and played those machines for about 40 minutes and neither won nor lost anything significant during that time. We cashed out even and went out to Fremont Street to check out the sights and pick another place to play.



Unlike my previous trip in the summer, Fremont Street was not super crowded this time. There were plenty of people, but we were pleased to not see the unpleasantly crushing crowds that we ran into last time. I have a young nephew who loves the band KISS, so when I saw a group of street performers dressed like them I knew I had to get a picture for my nephew!



I also snapped a pic in front of Carl “Safe Sax” Ferris. I’m not sure how long he has been down there on Fremont, but it seems like we have seen him on every trip. He plays very well (and very loudly)!



My son and I moved on over to Binions to play, and when we went inside were extremely pleased to find a bank of the exact same Star Wars machines that we like so much at Casino Royale. These Star Wars machines were paying out very nicely, and we cashed out of those machines $25 up between the two of us. I like Binions, and the only minor downside was when I ordered my white russian drink while I was playing. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, but in the past Binions had served my drink in a larger plastic cup (sort of like a mid-size Solo cup). But this time my drink came in the narrow small glass that I’m so familiar with from most other casinos. Like I said, this is a VERY minor complaint and the drink tasted as good as always. There was just less of it!

We played at Binions for about an hour, and decided to move on after I hit a nice little $20+ “big win” on a new Zombie machine we had decided to play.



We strolled around and took in the sights, and did some minor play at the 4-Queens where we ended up losing around $10. Since it was about time to head back to the Rio, I decided I wanted to go over to Mermaid’s so we could try one of their fried Oreos. There were a couple of showgirls at the entrance to Mermaid’s that were doing some fairly aggressive tip-hustling, but we scooted on past them and entered in search of fried goodness. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones with this idea and the line inside to place an order was crazy-long. Definitely too long for us to wait, so we walked on back to Main Street Station to get the car.

It was around 9:30pm, and on the drive back to the Rio my son said he wanted to stop and get an In-N-Out burger. We punched the name into the GPS, and it took us to the In-N-Out located on West Sahara Ave. My son got a double-double combo, and I ordered a regular single cheeseburger (total cost of $11). They tasted delicious, and reminded us of the burgers from Five Guys which we have here in the southeast.





We called my cousin to see if he wanted us to bring anything back for him, and although he did not want a burger, he did ask us to swing by CVS to pick up a few things for him. Luckily for us, there was a CVS just up the street from In-N-Out so it was just a short detour.

Back at the Rio we hung around in the room to rest for a bit, and then my son and I headed downstairs to play a little more. We played bubble craps for a while, and I decided to go over to the video poker machines to see what was up. This is where I wished I had done some research in advance, because they had many different types of video poker games to choose from. I selected a game that I was somewhat familiar with (Jacks or Better), and played at the quarter level to try it out.

Since I was playing only 1 credit per hand, the $20 I put in the machine seemed like it would probably last forever. I hit what seemed like a bunch of hands that paid back my 1 credit, but didn’t hit anything higher than three of a kind during my play. I was one card away from a straight flush in hearts one time, but it didn’t come through. I saw other people playing games with a bunch of hands on the screen (as opposed to my one hand), and those looked like fun. I’ll try to be more proactive next time in learning the various VP games.



I headed back up to the room around 11:15pm, and my son showed up about 10 minutes after me. We called it a night and got some good sleep in anticipation of another full schedule the following day!

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Coming Soon: Day 3 of 5…
You serious, Clark?
Alan
Alan
Joined: Jun 14, 2011
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December 30th, 2013 at 12:30:27 PM permalink
Looking forward to more.

Just curious, is your itinerary planned out in advance?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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December 30th, 2013 at 12:49:38 PM permalink
Quote: Alan

Looking forward to more.

Just curious, is your itinerary planned out in advance?


Thanks!

Yep, I always work up a "semi-loose" itinerary for each day of the trip in advance before we leave for Vegas. I try to arrange events somewhat geographically so activities that are close together will hopefully be scheduled on the same day.

Vegas has so much to do and so much to offer that a person (like me) can sometimes find themselves overwhelmed and get bogged down in having too many options to choose from. Developing a general itinerary in advance seems to work well for us, and lends some structure to the trip.

Since the itinerary is flexible, we don't always follow it to the letter but it is always nice to have as a fallback plan of action!
You serious, Clark?

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