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May 28 to May 31 at the Sands
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: May Wed 25, 2016 7:18 pm    Post subject: May 28 to May 31 at the Sands Reply with quote

At 10:00 AM Saturday morning, I should be arriving in Reno.

Attending the Dana Carvey show at the Atlantis on Saturday evening.

I bowl the USBC Open Championships at the National Bowling Stadium at 1:00 PM on Sunday. This year I am bowling all 9 games in succession (instead of the standard 3 games on one day and six the next).

On Monday (Memorial Day in the States) my uncle, wife and I will take a leisurely drive around Lake Tahoe... stopping to smell the roses along the way.

The men's National Tournament will not be in Reno again until 2020, so hopefully my wife decides to bowl the women's National Tournament in 2018 (she just bowled her first tournament in Las Vegas this past April, and she may be hooked) If she doesn't, it is likely I won't be back in Reno for four years.
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BC Dave



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1350

PostPosted: May Fri 27, 2016 8:57 am    Post subject: Cool! Reply with quote

Looking forward to your trip report MJames! We don't get many reports from the Sands - looking forward to your comments on that too!
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Jun Wed 01, 2016 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So nobody else is curious?
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Zydeco



Joined: 03 Sep 2008
Posts: 209

PostPosted: Jun Wed 01, 2016 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

YES!
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BC Dave



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1350

PostPosted: Jun Wed 01, 2016 8:54 pm    Post subject: So how'd it go? Reply with quote

How was the Sands? I have a special affection for the old place. Stayed there many, many times - kind of a home away from home. Curious about your drive around Tahoe too. I've only driven the California side once. I was on my way home and found it a bit too slow going - very windy road.
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Jun Thu 02, 2016 7:42 am    Post subject: Re: So how'd it go? Reply with quote

BC Dave wrote:
How was the Sands? I have a special affection for the old place. Stayed there many, many times - kind of a home away from home. Curious about your drive around Tahoe too. I've only driven the California side once. I was on my way home and found it a bit too slow going - very windy road.


I am working on a trip report, but to answer quickly, the hotel was pretty unsatisfying.

* Charged credit card for full amount on check-in, however the amount was incorrect and I was not given a breakdown of charges.
* Folio was not opened for incidentals (and I wasn't given an option, which meant that maybe that overcharge WAS an authorization for incidentals.) I didn't learn that my room was locked out until I tried to charge a meal at Mel's Diner to my room.
* At some point Saturday evening or Sunday morning, they were down to only one working elevator for the Regency tower, and that wait was unacceptable. With the high occupancy over the weekend, maintenance should have been on call. The two other elevators were still down when I left Tuesday morning.
* I did not get proper housekeeping on Sunday. Though the bed was made, all of the dirty towels were left (including two washcloths in the shower) and only one new set of hand towels was given to us. I had bowled all nine games of the tournament on Sunday (between 1:00 PM and 8:30 PM) and I really wanted a hot shower.
* I was told that no housekeeping was on staff to give me towels until Monday morning.
* Upon check-out on Tuesday, hosts were difficult to find to discuss charges and comps. The front desk tried to "find somebody" but after 20 minutes we just left for the airport. I did make contact with my host (Dennis Young) via E-mail yesterday and he did review my play and comp all charges.
* Finally, as I was standing in the check-out area as the front desk was trying to find a host, three other guests all had complaints about their weekend stay. One had a reservation that couldn't be found and he ended up paying a higher rate and he felt the desk clerk disrespected him. Another had issues with the shower cutting off in mid-shower, and he also was upset about the Regency elevator situation. Finally (and I didn't catch this completely) a guest trying to balance two large guitars and a suitcase could not access the parking garage elevator and the employee (looked like someone in maintenance) was not gracious when the guest got upset that the elevator was out.

The Sands clearly can't handle a full house, as it was on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. There was NO reason that with two elevators to the same tower out that a maintenance guy wasn't on call for repair. No reason to not have housekeeping on call (or at least someone with access to housekeeping supplies) either.

On the other hand, the casino was wonderful. Brightly lit, all games working and open, low limits despite the full house and very courteous dealers and pit bosses. Even the host was apologetic and quickly resolved the billing and comps once I contacted him. The casino portion of the business had it dialed in.

The hotel, on the other hand...

I sent an E-mail to the Hotel Director, Rosa Churruca (copying Ferenc Szony), and was very frank in the standard E-mail "Take our survey and tell us how we've done". I have yet to receive a response.
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stan_allen



Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 1128

PostPosted: Jun Thu 02, 2016 9:58 am    Post subject: Sir, may I have some more, please? Reply with quote

We are indeed all curious - especially when we can learn what specifically to avoid, or draw towards. Continue on!
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BC Dave



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 1350

PostPosted: Jun Thu 02, 2016 1:17 pm    Post subject: Sorry to hear... Reply with quote

Sorry to hear the old place has gone downhill. With it's out of the way location I've wondered about it's survivability. It once was a very pleasant place to stay - but i guess I'm thinking of the 80's and 90's. Too bad things they've let things slide. Glad you got some satisfaction from your host at the Sands.
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spdmrcht



Joined: 12 Oct 2012
Posts: 459

PostPosted: Jun Thu 02, 2016 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That pretty much is the same as my one and only stay there, only difference
was I had a drunk got locked out of his room by his girl friend, and he wondered up and down the hall yelling and trying every body's door, that went on for 2hrs Started about 2am, I called Security twice, never did show up. Finely he laided down in the hall and went to sleep and snored all the
rest of the night.
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Jun Thu 02, 2016 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't write short trip reports.

I also used to write them on my personal blog, but the company that owns the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's boards decided that they didn't want the unpaid help, so I no longer have that forum. I am a contributing author for Vegas Bright and I will have some nuggets there, but that is not a proper forum for long pieces.

Therefore I will write my full trip report here. I will break it up into days so no one read is too long. I will include links and photos that I normally would.

Saturday, May 28 -

The often-used 6:25 AM CDT departure from Milwaukee was in play (again) (Side note; I wish there was a flight that would get me into Reno at 10:00 AM PDT without me having to set my alarm for 3:30 AM CDT). My alarm went off and my lovely wife was already up. I had assumed that she was too excited to sleep and was already dressed and ready to go. I grab my robe, schlep to the bathroom, then go to the living room to see her in her pajamas with ice on her knee (she had knee surgery three weeks earlier) and watching Law and Order (Side note; That show is ALWAYS on). I ask her why she is up, and she said that her knee was sore so she wanted to ice it a bit before going back to sleep for an hour.

Turns out she did the math wrong in her head and had her alarm set for almost 5:00 AM CDT. Thank goodness I had my alarm set!

But we did get ready, left the house on time and arrived at the off-site parking by 5:00 AM CDT. We knew that the holiday weekend might be busier, but there were about 15 cars ahead of us. Suddenly I was worried about the security line and even being at our gate in time to pre-board (we get the authorization with my "Customer of Size" extra ticket on Southwest).

Regardless of how bad it looked, we were inside the airport by 5:20 AM, and through security by 5:45 AM, and to our gate just as they called for the pre-boarders. Apparently we left at the right time!

About two years ago, I began to re-watch every episode of the HBO series Treme. I had almost finished season two six weeks earlier when we arrived in Milwaukee after our trip to Las Vegas, but the DVD player ran out of juice just before the end. So a week before this trip, I made sure the battery was fully recharged. But what I neglected to do was make sure the power was off. By the time I was ready to watch the show, I tried to turn the DVD player on but the battery was again dead. I had five hours to kill and no entertainment.

I did manage to doze a bit, but I woke up halfway to Denver. I resorted to using Southwest’s free TV service – which is great when flying during prime time, but not so much when it is barely 7:00 AM in New York. Southwest’s free TV service also includes some on-demand titles, so I watched a couple of Simpsons episodes and about three full episodes of NFL’s Top Ten by the time we got to Reno.

(Note that I am at over 560 words and I just arrived in Reno. You might want to pause here and grab a beer.)

My Uncle John, who has bowled with me for years, picked us up at the airport. For this trip, it was just my uncle, my wife and myself. In October, I had my own knee surgery, and not knowing how long the recovery would be, I told my team to replace me for this year and I’d just catch on with another team that posted a need on an internet sub forum. My uncle wasn’t crazy about that me dumping him and the team, so I had to find a group for him as well.

Our first stop was the former John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks. I am not sure of the proper new name, and I am certainly not sure how to differentiate it from the little Nugget on Virginia St. The reason we were at the Sparks Nugget was because I wanted an Awful Awful. Although I like the one at the Sparks Nugget better, the real reason we were there was because my wife’s recovering knee wouldn’t really allow her to walk from our hotel (the Sands) to the Nugget on Virginia St.



The Awful Awful certainly did not disappoint, and I even won $2.50 at Keno… well, as my wife would say, it’s not a win when it costs you $20 to play. I love her, but sheesh… what a buzzkill.



After lunch, in a surprise “Separate Activities” portion of the trip, we dropped her off at the Gold Dust West Casino. I had been tipped off this promotion…



For earning 150 points, my wife could get a stuffed animal with a prize inside. So I dropped her off and went to check into the Sands and take the luggage up. Shortly after, I got the call that (dum-da-da-duuuuuum) the stuffed animal promotion was only the previous Monday. I turned around, picked her up and we then headed to Walgreens for some room supplies.

Remember this TR from a couple of years ago when I decided to honor the signs of local motels that really should be condemned and demolished? Well, having a car allowed me lots of opportunities to photograph away…



















After some gambling time at the Sands, we headed to the National Bowling Stadium as my uncle was scheduled to bowl Saturday evening. We watched him for a while, but bailed on him before the first game was done because we had to get to the Atlantis for dinner and the Dana Carvey show.

Where I had gotten lucky underestimating the crowd on the way to the airport, I didn’t do such a bang-up job at the Atlantis. The resort’s valet was full, and I drove around for 20 minutes looking for a parking space before settling on one close to Circus Circus. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen Reno so busy as this past weekend. I mean, I knew it would be busy when the best hotel room that I chose to afford was the Sands, but this was ridiculous. The worst part was that it was for a (mostly) kids basketball tournament, which meant tripping over obnoxious, oblivious kids traveling in groups of four to seven.

Now way behind schedule, it was going to be a challenge to eat separate meals (in hindsight, I didn’t actually spend a lot of time with my wife this day) and get to the show in 90 minutes. She headed to the Painted Parrot, while I first went to pick up the tickets, then went to the Sky Terrace Oyster Bar.

I got to the Will Call area of the theater – well, I thought it would be a theater, turns out it was their Grand Ballroom – and excitedly opened my envelope to see my seat location. Turned out my $75 (each) tickets were General Admission. Looking at my watch turning 7:00 PM (and on a “5-10 minute wait” for a bar seat) and having been craving a Lobster Pan Roast for years, I had to weigh a decadent dinner with decent seats… and becoming frustrated that nowhere had the “General Admission” part of the VIP Pricing Level been identified.

I went with dinner at the Oyster Bar, and when my wife texted me that she was done with her meal, I asked her to come up, get the tickets and go snag some seats.

While my pan roast was absolutely to die for, I inhaled it so that I could get to the show on time. I did taste it, but I wasn’t able to properly savor it.



Next time…

As I was walking to the ballroom, I received a text “Last Row of Sect B”. Dammit. Now I really wish I knew about the GA seating in advance as I would have never stayed around to watch my uncle bowl. Even worse than the last row was that because it was a ballroom, the floor was flat, and the seats were those horrible banquet chairs that don’t fit a man of my ample carriage in the first place, much less when squished in the middle of a row of them packed frame-to-frame.

The show was really great, I think, though I became even more frustrated that I could see the show better on the big screens they had set up next to the stage. Here I was, spending $75 each (plus fees) to lose feeling in my left arm (as I kept it on the back of my wife’s chair as it was the only way I fit on the chair) and watching the performance on TV.

One other thing about the show… Dana Carvey owes me a drink. He lives in the Bay Area and is obviously a Golden State Warriors fan. He came on stage while the game against Oklahoma City was in the fourth quarter, and was obviously watching the game while doing his set. When it got down to the last minute or so, he started doing a play-by-play and during a commercial break said “Sorry about this… but if the Warriors win, I’ll buy you all a drink”.

I’m still thirsty, Dana…

Atlantis is really good to bowlers, so I had stopped at the desk for my packet of love, which included a $5 table game match play. The Dana Carvey tickets also had a $5 match play, so I decided to play a few hands of blackjack. I sat down and used the first coupon (the green bowler’s coupon) with my $5 bet had an opportunity to double and I lost. So I pulled out the second coupon (the blue Dana Carvey one) and placed it on the spot with another $5 bet. The dealer called over the floor supervisor, who said that I could only play one coupon per day. I tried to argue that they are different coupons, and I swear to God he pulled out a small penlight and showed me the fine print about one coupon per person per day. It had been a very, very long day (remember, I had gotten up at 1:45 AM PDT time and by now it was after 9:30 PM PDT) and I had been frustrated by horrible seats to the show, and so I said a few choice words (that I probably regret) and stormed out before they threw me out.

How in the Goddamn Hell, on a weekend when the casino is packed to the gills, can they be sweating two $5 match plays? I still don’t get it. And I am still not convinced that you can't use two different match plays in one day. I can see not being allowed to use two of the same ones, but different ones?

After walking back to the Circus Circus to get my car and driving back to the Atlantis to get my wife, we went back to the Sands. We gambled a little bit, but I was pretty tired so we went to the room. That was the first instance of having only one elevator working in the Regent tower. I had pressed the button to call the elevator, when it arrived, people started falling out as if they had been in a clown car, then the door closed before ANYONE could get in. There were at least five of us, and we all agreed on “That’s *bleep*ing *bleep* *bleep”. About five minutes later, the elevator came back and we made sure to keep the door open long enough for people to get on, but by this time there were so many people that a few got left behind due to capacity.

Evening came and morning followed, the first day.


Last edited by mjames1229 on Jun Sat 25, 2016 7:29 am; edited 6 times in total
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 12:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunday, May 29

Knowing that I had nine games to bowl on this day (and the likelihood that I’d be dead tired when I got back) I had to pound my daily gambling bender early and hard.

I was only down about $200 (only) when my wife and uncle found me and we headed to Mel’s Diner for breakfast. I’ve stated my dislike for eggs often which makes breakfast a challenge. I mean, how many pancakes can one eat? There is a local bowling writer in Wisconsin who famously touts the Mel’s Diner banana shake (well, he is also a USBC Hall of Famer and five-time champion… but he loves his banana shakes!) and I decided that 10:00 AM would be the perfect time to try one so I ordered it with a BLT. The breakfast of champions!

After losing the rest of my daily gambling stake, I got ready for bowling and we arrived at the National Bowling Stadium around Noon for our shift that started at 1:00 PM. (Side note; considering I blew through 600 words about Saturday before we even landed in Reno, Sunday morning was unremarkable. I could even condense it to this “Woke up, gambled, had a banana shake, gambled, went bowling”. But that looks a little sparse, so I will keep everything as is.)

Because of my October knee surgery, I had told my team to replace me for the season and I would find a different group to play with… In other words, I was the famous “Internet Sub” that everyone seems to contact when they have a bowler who had committed but not yet paid, then decides very late that he can’t afford plane fare either. For the first set of events (six games of doubles and singles) I was paired with a group from Colorado.

For the 2013 and 2014 tournaments in Reno, the USBC had the bowlers compete on a relatively easy pattern. Relative, that is, to last year and this year. For last year’s tournament in El Paso, the Congress decided to really put out challenging patterns, so that you really had to perform to win. From 2008 to 2014, I averaged 198 at the National tournament. In 2015 for comparison I averaged 186.

My doubles partner was not competitive, so my main focus was my 9-game All Events score and any side jackpots that I entered. When the event was complete, I had averaged 184 (which was on par with the previous year). When we started singles, I got locked in early, started with a 250 game and ended with 215 average for those three games which will give me a nice cash once the tournament ends.



Normally, a player’s day is done after the six games of singles and doubles. But I am not normal.

The Central-Illinois team that needed the famous Internet Sub just happened to bowl the Team event scheduled right after my singles event. Though I am 48, overweight and recovering from knee surgery, I didn’t think that nine games straight through would be a problem. And physically, it wasn’t.

But there was about an 80 minute gap between when I finished singles and started Team, and my mind went to mush. For all the great work that I did managing the lanes, keeping the focus, repeating shots and making spares, I was useless in the Team event. I felt horrible for my team for misreading my own abilities (then again, my horrible, horrible score was high on the team, so they thought I had bowled well). Bottom line is that once I was through, my nine game score averaged 189. Still better than the previous year, but all I could do is stew about my collapse in the Team event.

By this time, it was 8:00 PM and I hadn’t eaten for 10 hours. I wanted a pizza, so we went over to Noble Pie (in the decrepit Hotel El Cortez). The restaurant was full and the line to order was long, and by the time I got to the front it was almost 8:30. The order-taker-guy said that they could only give it to us “to go” as they close at 9:00.

Now in Wisconsin, “close at 9:00” means the kitchen and the bar closes then, but you can take as long as you need to eat.

At Noble Pie, our pizza came out at 8:45, so we stayed and began eating. Very soon after, they started shooing people out. We finished eating right about 9:00, and though they didn’t kick us out, the look on the guy (who was adorned with a man bun) was clear. I really like their pizza, so it was a little disappointing that we had to race through our meal, but I was beat and was fine with going back to the hotel.

After managing to get on the first elevator (as they still hadn’t fixed the other two), we went to the room to assess the evening. That innate “I am in Nevada” vibe told me to go gamble, but both the mind and body weren’t willing. I was asleep – in Nevada – by 10:00 PM. That didn’t stop my wife, though, from cycling through a few late-night dollars.

Evening came and morning followed, the second day.


Last edited by mjames1229 on Jun Fri 03, 2016 5:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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JD



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 928

PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 4:20 pm    Post subject: Sand's bust Reply with quote

Great report, MJames. But I would have been more pissed off paying $ 8.50 for the Offal Offal than the towels at the Sands. Was it the SAME as at the Little Nugget (with a better class of patron?

My experience at the Sands the end of March was so totally different. But then I deuced "AUBREY" at the hotel front desk (her Mom, Missy is my beertender at the Oyster Bar BAR at Atlantis.....and longtime $ 2 bill club member. And my check in was a breeze. Funny, because I don't want housekeeping in the room when I'm gone. If I need more coffee, I catch them in the hallway and they normally love my note I leave for their boss....(they get a deuce & credit for cleaning a room without the hassle). The elevator...well NO EXCUSE. THose are slow enough when they are all working.

Did I miss your trip to the Cal Neva? I LOVE that joint. I am always the most sober one there. But that doesn't take much.

Rest up....the Italian Festival is around Oct. 12. Best street festival EVER !

But even I get the Heebie Jeebies drinking at the El Cortez. I used to hang out with the Comstock's Craps Dealers there. But never alone.
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 4:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Sand's bust Reply with quote

JD wrote:
Great report, MJames. But I would have been more pissed off paying $ 8.50 for the Offal Offal than the towels at the Sands. Was it the SAME as at the Little Nugget (with a better class of patron?


What attracted me to the Sparks Nugget was the Travel Wars, um, war of the two burgers. The little Nugget won, but that made me want to try the one in Sparks (which I did two or three years ago). And I liked the Sparks one better.

The Sparks burger is two 1/3# patties on their bakery bun and the Nugget's is one 1/2# patty. Each has a different "secret" sauce.

This newspaper article says it better than I can.

I think part of why I like the one in Sparks better is because the civilizedness of the restaurant and an actual plate with waitress service.
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mjames1229



Joined: 23 Dec 2009
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 4:57 pm    Post subject: Re: Sand's bust Reply with quote

JD wrote:
Did I miss your trip to the Cal Neva? I LOVE that joint. I am always the most sober one there. But that doesn't take much.


No spoilers!
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JD



Joined: 18 Dec 2005
Posts: 928

PostPosted: Jun Fri 03, 2016 7:10 pm    Post subject: Hi, Jack Reply with quote

Not to highjack your trip report, but I had to take Mr. Peabody's Way Back Machine back to 2004 where I recovered MY Little Nugget Offal Offal review.

Compare and contrast.... you have 15 minutes. Pencils UP....BEGIN:

------------2004 Little Nugget Review-----


LITTLE NUGGET RESTAURANT REVIEW:
Sometime in the last few days, I had occassion to walk on the wild side and try the "AWFUL, AWFUL" burger at the little Nugget accross the street from Harrah's. This is not so much an adventure in fine dining, as it is a training film for restaurant health inspectors. As a bachelor, I've been known to follow the five second rule of food handling (if food item is picked up off the floor in under five seconds, it need not be discarded since germs had inadequate opportunity to find and invade such items).

The diner in the back of the little Nugget tests even my sensibilities. You see, one of my first jobs in High School was busboy/diswasher/food prep in a local pancake house. When I see diners behave rudely to a waitress, I usually make it all better if I say, "....before you are allowed to EAT in a restaurant, there should be a law you must first WORK in a restaurant."

That said, my review of the Awful Awful includes the words of Otto Von Bismark who said, " People should not watch how their laws or sausages are made". The burger was the best $ 3.50 buy one could expect. Loaded with a small salad between the bun and huge patty and a large basket of fries. My advice for any other adventerous spirit is do not sit where you can watch either the cashier (you will be distracted by the need for emergency dental work, handling of food/money/food/money, and the bloodstains on the white uniform. Do not look at the digital thermometer on the refrigerator or the illegal immigrants on the food prep line. Just enjoy your burger and hope for the best. It was very good and I never had any ill effects.... but I was expecting some. As I said, walk on the wild side.
---------------------------------------------

$ 3.50????
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