blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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July 28th, 2014 at 12:18:56 PM permalink
As explained in my Summer 2013 and Winter 2013 trip reports, my son and I have been enjoying visits to Las Vegas every six months since he turned 21 a few years ago. However, that particular streak has now been broken in conjunction with a nice family vacation to Reno-Tahoe that I took this summer with my wife and daughter.

I have been taking trips to Reno-Tahoe with my wife (and later my daughter) every five years or so since the mid 1990’s. We have always thoroughly enjoyed our trips to Reno, and since the last time we were there was in 2009 we were very excited that it was time to go again!

Our Reno vacation lasted from Thursday, July 17th, through Monday, July 21st. We flew Southwest from Nashville, stayed at the Silver Legacy Hotel in downtown Reno, and had a rental car. The weather during our trip was quite warm during the day, and unfortunately there were also some thunderstorms that threw a monkey-wrench into a few of our plans. Overall though, the trip was fantastic and we had a wonderful time!

This was primarily a family-type vacation, so my report will include quite a few activities unrelated to gambling and such. I was actually the only one who did any gambling, and it was primarily early in the mornings or later in the evenings. I had some semi-nice hits here and there on the machines, but nothing life-changing (or even “day-changing” for that matter).

And although I did play my usual penny slot machines, I also spent some time before the trip practicing on an online video poker trainer for Jacks or Better. I played quite a bit of Jacks or Better VP (nickel level) on this trip, and found it to be a totally different experience having learned the strategies beforehand. I will be encouraging my son to learn/practice in anticipation of our next trip to Vegas.


In keeping with tradition, I’ll be making a separate post for each day and will give details on how each day transpired and what all activities were enjoyed. I’ll be listing the various costs/prices where appropriate, and will also include some photographs to hopefully enhance the report. As in previous reports, I’ll blur out our faces in the pictures to both protect the guilty and not offend the viewer.

;)
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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July 28th, 2014 at 12:19:07 PM permalink
DAY 1 OF 5 - THURSDAY, JULY 17TH

It had been five years (2009) since we last vacationed in Reno-Tahoe and we were really looking forward to visiting there this summer. I had been watching the flight prices on Southwest since the beginning of the year, and at the end of March I went ahead and booked three roundtrip tickets to Reno right before Southwest’s devaluation of their Rapid Reward points on March 31st.

During the months leading up to the trip, I went through my normal “trip planning process” of preparing a tentative itinerary, researching & printing out restaurant menus, making reservations, looking for coupons/deals, etc., etc. With this being a more family-oriented trip (and my wife restricted to a gluten-free diet), the process was a little more challenging than when I plan my Vegas trips with my grown son. But perseverance pays off, and I developed what I felt was an appropriate schedule of activities and events for our Reno trip.

Our flight on Southwest was scheduled to depart from Nashville at the fairly early time of 7:00am CDT. We arrived at the airport around 5:15am, left the car in long-term parking, and caught the shuttle to the terminal. The early hour allowed for a pleasantly short line at security which translated to us being inside the gate area right before 6am. As has become my tradition, we enjoyed a nice breakfast at Whitt’s BBQ inside the terminal. My daughter and I each got a bacon/egg/cheese biscuit, and my wife had an order of scrambled eggs ($14 total).





We boarded the plane on time and settled in for the first leg of our flight. In a somewhat cruel twist of fate (for me anyway), our connecting flight on both the trip out there and on the trip home was in… you guessed it: Las Vegas!! It was kind of tough for me to see Vegas and be so close to it without being able to actually go out and enjoy it.



The flight was nice and smooth, but right before landing at Vegas we were informed by the flight attendant that the connecting flight to Reno was delayed by about 30 minutes. It was originally scheduled to depart at 9:45am, but had been changed to 10:20am local time.

This short delay gave us a little extra time and allowed my daughter and me to split a piece of pepperoni pizza & a drink from Sbarro’s inside the Vegas airport ($9). Although we had enjoyed some snacks on the 4 hour flight from Nashville, we were both happy to eat something a little more substantial.



The flight delays continued a bit more, and we ultimately boarded the plane around 10:30am. The flight from Vegas to Reno was short and smooth, and we got into Reno around noon which was about an hour later than originally scheduled.



After going to the baggage claim area and getting our luggage, I walked over to the Enterprise Car Rental counter to handle the paperwork for the rental car. The line at Enterprise was not super long, but it was very slow moving. My turn eventually came, and after signing the various forms we walked across the street to be assigned a car. We were given a brand new dark blue VW Jetta that had less than 200 miles on it. The car seemed very nice, but we would ultimately return to the airport the following day to exchange it for a different car due to the rough ride.



Upon securing our transportation it was time to drive to our hotel, the Silver Legacy. We really like the Silver Legacy and have chosen to stay there on all of our visits (except for the very first visit when we stayed at the JA Nugget).



We arrived at the Silver Legacy around 1pm and inquired about the possibility of an early check-in (which we have always received in the past). Unfortunately, we were told that they had been having water problems that morning and that an early check-in would not be possible. The desk clerk said to try back around 2:30pm and they might have a room available by then.

Since we had already brought our luggage from the car, we decided to leave most of the bags with the bell desk and go get some lunch.

We left the Silver Legacy and drove a few miles over to the In-N-Out Burger on Pyramid Way in Sparks. I had enjoyed the burgers from In-N-Out on my last two trips to Vegas, and was eager to try them here in Reno. The restaurant was very busy inside, but they were really efficient and were moving things along quickly. I chose a Double-Double combo, and my wife had a single cheeseburger prepared “protein-style” (i.e. no bun) in conjunction with her gluten-free requirements. In-N-Out has a great reputation for preparing items gluten-free when requested, and they did a great job on her order. Total cost for our meal came to $12.





Our meal at In-N-Out complete, we got back in the car and drove around a bit to re-familiarize ourselves with the layout of the city. We then decided to head back to Silver Legacy to check on the room situation. People were still hanging around in the lobby and nobody was being checked in. My wife said she would wait there in the lobby with my daughter if I wanted to take a few minutes and walk down to peek at the casino. I told her that sounded great and to give me a call or text if things started moving up there in the lobby before I returned.



I walked through the hotel lobby and took the escalator down to the casino to check things out. I made a loop around the casino floor and then went to the player’s club counter to get my players card reprinted. It only took about three minutes, and as I was walking away from the player’s club my wife called and said they were starting to check people in.

I hurried back up to the lobby and my wife was next in line when I arrived. Everything was reserved under my name, so I gave the desk clerk my ID and credit card and she pulled up the reservation and assigned us a room on the 17th floor. We retrieved our luggage from the bell desk and headed on up to the room around 2:20pm.

Our room was a good size and had a nice view of the mountains, so we were very pleased with it. At a total of $438 for the 4 nights it was a bit more expensive than the rooms I’ve been able to get in Vegas, but I suppose room rates in Vegas are going to be hard to beat!



After getting unpacked, my wife and daughter decided they wanted to rest up from all the traveling and relax in the room for a while. Not me!! So after going to the vending machine to get them some sodas, I proceeded to head down to the casino for a little first-taste of some gambling!



I played some VP for a while as well as playing some of my favorite slots such as the Stacked Lions, Dragon Orb, etc., etc. I hit a few things here and there, but the nicest one was a $40 jackpot on the Stacked Lions.





A note about the video poker. The VP machines I played were the kind that have multiple types of games, and I eventually realized that there were times when I wasn’t playing regular Jacks or Better. One time I noticed that I only got paid 5 credits for two-pair (I was expecting to be paid 10 credits), and it turned out I was not in a regular JoB game. I finally learned to make certain that the correct game was selected before I started playing!

I had also printed out a JoB strategy guide from the WOO site to bring with me. I referred to it whenever there was a play I was unsure of, and it was very handy to have. I would keep it stuck under my leg as I was sitting in the chair, and one time I inadvertently forgot the strategy sheet and stood up and left it. I went back about 10 minutes later, and luckily it was still there. Anyway, the strategy sheet was very helpful and I was glad I had brought it.



Below are a few pics of some decent “low-roller” hits I enjoyed. :)









After playing in the casino for a while, I went back up to the room around 4:30pm to rest and regroup for a bit.

The evening activity on the agenda was to enjoy some bowling at the Grand Sierra Resort. My wife still needed to rest and decided she would pass on the bowling plans, so my daughter and I retrieved the car from the Silver Legacy parking garage and headed over towards the Grand Sierra Resort (which was only around 5 minutes away).



We arrived at the GSR around 6pm, and proceeded inside to locate the bowling center. The center was very nice and was not crowded at all, which I suppose is not unexpected for a Thursday night. We bowled two games each, and although neither one of us is very good at bowling (as evidenced by the scores below) we had a wonderful time! Total cost of $24 for two shoe rentals and two games each.







We were considering bowling a third game, but my daughter said she was hungry (and my thumb was kind of sore from the first two games) so we elected to call it a night and depart the GSR. We headed over to McDonald’s on Kietzke Lane and enjoyed a modest dinner of cheeseburgers and chicken mcnuggets ($10). I called and checked on my wife, and she asked us to please bring her another “protein-style” burger from In-N-Out, so we swung by there after leaving McDonald’s and picked one up for her ($3).

We got back to the room around 8:30pm and, after delivering my wife her burger, I went back down to the casino for a little more play.

They had several $5 Pai Gow Poker tables open, so I bought in for $100 and proceeded to play for a little over an hour or so. I sat down at a fairly lively table and enjoyed a few rounds of my favorite cocktail (white russian) while playing. As usual, there were a lot of pushes on the hands and when I got up to leave around 10pm I was only down $10 or so.

I went to the cage & cashed out and then headed back up to the room to get a good night’s sleep. The beds were very comfortable and we didn’t have any problems with noise during our entire visit, which was nice.
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Soon to Follow: Day 2 of 5…
You serious, Clark?
Buzzard
Buzzard
Joined: Oct 28, 2012
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July 28th, 2014 at 1:13:01 PM permalink
Please refrain from posting anymore bowling pictures. They make me feel old.

Not, not the automatic scoring. I was a pin boy for duckpins on Charles Street as a teenage Baltimoron.
Shed not for her the bitter tear Nor give the heart to vain regret Tis but the casket that lies here, The gem that filled it Sparkles yet
Ayecarumba
Ayecarumba
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July 28th, 2014 at 5:58:39 PM permalink
Quote: blount2000




Thanks or posting Blount! I really enjoy your travelogues.

Your picture really makes the new observation wheel look gigantic. It appears to tower over the Bellagio.

The weather really seemed to cave in between the clear sky shot from the room at 2:20 and the GSR parking lot shot less than four hours later.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication - Leonardo da Vinci
speedycrap
speedycrap
Joined: Oct 13, 2013
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July 28th, 2014 at 7:28:33 PM permalink
Great post.
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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July 28th, 2014 at 8:07:57 PM permalink
Quote: Buzzard

Please refrain from posting anymore bowling pictures. They make me feel old.

Not, not the automatic scoring. I was a pin boy for duckpins on Charles Street as a teenage Baltimoron.


I'm glad I could help bring back some good memories from the past, Buzz. :)


Quote: Ayecarumba

Thanks or posting Blount! I really enjoy your travelogues.

Your picture really makes the new observation wheel look gigantic. It appears to tower over the Bellagio.

The weather really seemed to cave in between the clear sky shot from the room at 2:20 and the GSR parking lot shot less than four hours later.


Thanks! Yeah, the weather was kind of sketchy every day we were there. It seemed like it would be nice and sunny in the mornings, and then things would take a turn for the stormy in the afternoons. Maybe that is normal for Reno during the summer months?


Quote: speedycrap

Great post.


Thanks, I appreciate that!
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
Joined: Oct 15, 2010
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July 28th, 2014 at 8:08:29 PM permalink
DAY 2 OF 5 - FRIDAY, JULY 18TH

I’m an early riser, so I woke up around 5:45am on Friday and quietly sneaked out of the room to go downstairs for my “morning tradition” of enjoying a caramel macchiato from Starbucks while slow-playing some machines. I strolled around the casino for about 5 minutes waiting for Starbucks to open at 6am, and then purchased my coffee once they opened up ($5).





While sipping on my coffee, I played some of my Dragon Orb penny machines for a spell but they were not very kind to me and quickly absorbed $20 of my bankroll. I moved on to a Lucky Lemmings penny machine and hit a nice bonus round for 755 credits.



I then got on a nickel JoB video poker machine, and proceeded to have a nice streak of luck. I hit three 4-of-a-kinds and two full-houses in a 20 minute period. I know this is all small-potatoes for the folks who play real VP, but it was a treat for someone like me who is just starting out playing video poker.












I went back up to the room around 7:45am to rouse the troops and get ready for our scheduled activities for the day. Our itinerary for Friday included a scenic drive around Lake Tahoe, as well as a gondola ride up to Heavenly Ski resort. It also included a zip-line ride once at the top of Heavenly.

We got the car and left the hotel around 9:15am. Our first stop was to get a nice breakfast at the Squeeze-In Restaurant on Foothill Road. We arrived at the restaurant around 9:30am and there was a short 10-minute wait to be seated.



This was our first time to eat at the Squeeze-In, and we were very pleased with the food and the service. My daughter ordered a couple big ol’ pancakes, my wife chose one of their gluten-free omelets, and I went with the biscuits & gravy (with an over-indulgent two eggs on the side). What can I say, traveling makes me hungry! Total for the meal came to $34.



Once we were finished with breakfast, we continued on up the mountain for our scenic drive around Lake Tahoe. The views on the drive were spectacular, and it was neat seeing everything in the summer time. All of our previous visits have been in the winter when there was snow everywhere, so it was interesting to see the differences in the seasons.












There was a bit of construction in various places on the California side of the lake, and we didn’t make it around to the Heavenly Ski Resort until almost 2pm. We parked the car and walked to the booth to purchase gondola and zip-line tickets.

In the process of speaking with the clerk about buying the tickets, she informed us that there was a good possibility that the gondola and zip-line were going to be shut down soon due to lightning from a storm which was heading into the area. This was quite disappointing to hear since the gondola ride to the top of the mountain is one of our favorite activities when in Tahoe. The clerk suggested it would be better to come back early on Sunday morning since that was the best weather day in the near forecast.

We decided to embrace the change of plans to Sunday, and went back to the parking garage and got the car so we could drive over to Zephyr Cove. In order to do the gondola early on Sunday, we needed to try to reschedule a lake cruise we already had planned for Sunday morning.

We drove to Zephyr Cove and my wife dropped me off so I could walk over to the cruise’s ticket booth to speak with someone about trying to reschedule. We had already purchased tickets for the 11am cruise on Sunday, but they were happy to shift our tickets to the 2:30pm cruise when I explained about our issues with the gondola and the weather.

With those logistical matters settled, my wife picked me back up in the car and we continued our scenic drive up the Nevada side of the lake and eventually made our way back down the mountain. We got back to the hotel around 4pm and all three of us rested for a while to recuperate from the long time spent in the car that day.

After resting up, my daughter said she would like some Pizza Hut so around 5:30pm we drove over to the one on Prater Way in Sparks. My wife was not hungry, so my daughter and I shared a medium pepperoni pizza which was very tasty and hit the spot ($9).



During the meal at Pizza Hut, we all discussed and agreed on how rough and jerky the ride was in the VW Jetta the rental car company had given us. The car had a very peppy engine, but both the accelerator and the brakes were VERY touchy, and this made for an unpleasant ride. My wife suggested calling Enterprise to see if they would let us exchange the car, so I gave them a call. I was on hold for about 10 minutes, but when somebody finally answered the phone they took care of the situation right away. They took my contract number, and told me I could just come back and exchange the car for another one at my leisure. So I told them I’d like to exchange it immediately if possible, and they said to come on.

We drove the short distance back to the airport, and they were ready for us and had a nice white Chrysler 200 to swap for the Jetta. It took less than 5 minutes and we were back on our way!



After picking up the new car (which drove MUCH more smoothly), my wife wasn’t feeling too great and asked if we could drop her off back at the hotel before we embarked upon the next activity on the agenda (which was some mini-golf at the Grand Sierra). We drove back to the hotel and dropped her off and then headed over to the GSR.

My daughter and I played a round of outdoor mini-golf, and although the temps were kind of high there was a nice breeze blowing which made it very pleasant and enjoyable. We both played and scored about the same, but I got lucky and hit a hole-in-one on #17! My daughter later said that the game of mini-golf was one of her favorite activities from the trip, so that was nice. Total cost for the golf was $12.







We turned in our golf clubs and walked back to the car to head back to the hotel. My wife had texted saying she was feeling a little better and was wanting us to please bring her another In-N-Out burger if possible. So after leaving the GSR we picked up a Double-Double and took it back to the hotel for her ($5).

Once everyone was settled in the room for the evening, I headed down to the casino around 9:15pm. I knew I wasn’t going to be down there for very long, so I didn’t get on any table games and just stuck with my machines. The nickel VP machines I liked were all taken, so I went with my penny slots and hit a couple of mini-jackpots on a Vibrant 7’s machine and had a nice hit on a Hot Roll machine as well.







I called it quits around 10:30pm and went back up to the room. My wife and daughter were already asleep and were frowning a bit at having to wake up to unlatch the door for me to get in. But all was well and everybody enjoyed another good night’s sleep!
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Soon to Follow: Day 3 of 5…
You serious, Clark?
blount2000
blount2000
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July 29th, 2014 at 9:24:26 AM permalink
DAY 3 OF 5 - SATURDAY, JULY 19TH

I woke up around 5:30am on Saturday morning and proceeded down to the casino to enjoy some quiet slow-play and some hot coffee. This morning (and each morning thereafter) my caramel macchiato from Starbucks was free since I worked up a small comp balance each day and then applied it to my coffee purchase the following day.

I had a nice little hit on my Stacked Lions, as well as hitting 4-of-a-kind and a full-house on the nickel video poker machine. The casino at Silver Legacy was usually fairly empty early in the mornings, so I was pleased to find my favorite machines available each time.







I headed back to the room around 7:30am and woke everyone up so we could get ready for breakfast and the activities for the day which were to follow.

For breakfast, we decided to try one of the restaurants located in the Silver Legacy. We went downstairs and were seated in the Café Central Restaurant around 8:30am. Café Central had a lot of different items on the menu, and I ended up choosing an “All-American Breakfast”, my wife chose scrambled eggs & bacon, and my daughter went with a Belgian waffle. Each of our breakfast items tasted very good, and the service at Café Central was speedy and attentive. Total cost for the breakfast came to $30.







We finished up with breakfast around 9:15am, and then went directly to the car so we could travel to our first activity of the day which was a trail ride at a local horse ranch. We had arranged for a 1½ hour ride at Verdi Trails Ranch which is located about 10 miles west of Reno on I-80. Our ride was scheduled to begin at 10am, but we arrived a little early and were able to watch them preparing the horses for the ride. There were a couple other people who had signed up for the ride who were a little late getting there, but we started not long after the appointed time of 10am.

The trail ride was extremely fun and we really enjoyed it. The horses were very gentle, and there were some beautiful views and several wildlife sightings (deer and jackrabbit) during the ride. Our ride lasted from around 10:15am to 11:45am, and that seemed to be the just the right amount of time. By the time the ride came to an end, it was starting to get mighty hot for both us and the horses and it was the perfect time to stop. We will certainly look forward to enjoying this ride again next time we are here. Total cost of the ride was $135 for all three of us.












After finishing the trail ride, we headed back to the hotel to cool off and rest for a while. We spent an hour or so recuperating, and then decided to walk downstairs to stroll around the property for a while. As some of you know, the three properties of Silver Legacy, Eldorado, and Circus-Circus are all connected and you don’t have to go outside to traverse between them. We walked around and checked out the various restaurants, gift shops, etc., of each one. While strolling through Circus-Circus, my daughter wanted to play some of the games at their midway, so we eased down to peruse the available games. We had a great time playing some skee-ball, tried some video games, did the ring-toss, etc. My daughter won two stuffed fish at a ping-pong ball tossing game and she was quite proud of them.



We finished our “property exploration” around 2:30pm and decided it was time for some lunch. We retrieved the car and drove over to a restaurant called Burger Me over on Sharlands Avenue. This place has been featured on the Food Network, and is also known for its gluten-free menu offerings. I had a bacon cheeseburger (with garlic fries), my wife had a cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun, and my daughter enjoyed a cheeseburger slider. The burgers were delicious and we would definitely eat here again! Total cost of $29.







Our stomachs full (and still somewhat tired from the trail ride), we drove back to the hotel to catch a little nap in preparation for the evening’s activities. On the way to the Silver Legacy, my wife dropped me off for a moment in front of Harrah’s so I could run inside and put a reward credit on my player's card so the existing points would not expire. We got to the hotel around 5pm and although I was debating between the nap and going down to the casino for a little while, the nap won out.

Feeling refreshed, we left the Silver Legacy around 7pm and headed over to the Grand Sierra Resort. We had tickets for their 8pm show called Masters of Magic. We arrived at the GSR around 7:15pm and were seated in the showroom around 7:30pm.

I had purchased the tickets online in advance, and we had a nice soft booth that was fairly centered and located about 5 rows from the front. I always prefer a booth versus sitting sideways at a table for shows like this. The magic show was very entertaining and all three of us loved it. Total cost of $69.








Following the magic show at GSR, my daughter was hungry so we stopped by McDonald’s on Oddie Blvd and picked her up a cheeseburger and a sprite and took it back to the hotel.

We got back to the room around 10:15pm, and I immediately headed down to the casino to enjoy a short run of gambling. It was fairly crowded and I wasn’t able to get on my nickel VP machines, but I did have a decent hit on my Stacked Lions as well as having a very nice 20 roll streak before the 7-out on the craps bonus game on a Hot Roll penny machine!





I made my way back to the room around 11:15pm, and my wife & daughter were both still awake reading their Kindles. So I was able to avoid the “death-stare” I received the night before when I woke them up to unlatch the door.

We once again enjoyed a nice quiet night of sleep with no problems or concerns.

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Soon to Follow: Day 4 of 5…
You serious, Clark?
speedycrap
speedycrap
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July 29th, 2014 at 9:42:56 AM permalink
Great post again. But I have a question. Total cost of a meal. Does it include the tips?? And by how much? I am trying ti figure out the true cost of a meal please.
blount2000
blount2000
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July 29th, 2014 at 9:59:46 AM permalink
Quote: speedycrap

Great post again. But I have a question. Total cost of a meal. Does it include the tips?? And by how much? I am trying ti figure out the true cost of a meal please.


Thanks again! The total cost of the meals include tax and tip (which for me is between 18-20%).

My wife and I typically only order water (with lemon) for our restaurant meals, which adds up to some decent savings when drinks can run $2.50+ each.

I haven't gotten my daughter fully trained yet on the water thing, so she usually gets a Dr. Pepper with her meal. For now anyway.

:)
You serious, Clark?

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