OK all, better late than never I guess. Players: Randy, my husband of 8 months (41) and me, Cheryl (44). Our first trip together was back in April which was also Randy's first flight and first trip to the Mecca. This trip August 2nd-August 6th. Two nights at Paris and two nights at Venetian - both courtesies.

Got up at 4:00 to make the 2 ½ drive to the airport and catch our 8:00 a.m. AW flight out of Indy to LV via Phoenix. Flight left on time but there was quite a bit of turbulence and certain rows couldn't watch the movie (Matters of the Heart, or something like that - Naomi Judd was one of the main liners - looked like it "would have been" a good one) due to problems with the speakers. Breakfast (Randy's first inflight meal) consisted of an egg and cheese twist (similar to nothing I've ever eaten before - thank God!) and a small bowl of fresh fruit. For those of you who remember our trip back in April, Randy absolutely loathes flying (that was his first flight back then and he swore he'd never fly again - "yeah right...") so needless to say, he was loading up on the Budweisers 2 at a time.

Once in Phoenix we got to our gate and found that they were looking for volunteers to be bumped. What the heck, volunteered and were accepted (after all, it would only put us 3 hours behind). We each got $400 travel vouchers and a free meal (that way we could end up "winners" before we got to Vegas). Ended up spending the 3 hours at Tequileria' (bar/restaurant) on A-22 concourse - cold beer and a smoking section. Besides numerous "cocktails", we got the Big Blue Burrito for $7.69, which was absolutely wonderful, but so huge that we both couldn't finish it. Our first trip into the bar, we met Betty Campbell from Denver. She was on her way back from Vegas on stand-by and had been in Phoenix since 8 a.m. that morning. (Lucky woman was just finishing closing on a house in Vegas!) Little did we know during that first quick chat that we would be running into Betty quite a bit during our Phoenix stay; however it was pretty weird because Randy had one of those deja'vu flashes while talking with her. Actually, we talked to several very nice people while making our temporary home in Tequileria'. When we left to catch our flight, poor Betty was still waiting...

Our flight from Phoenix to LV ran a little late, and it too was a pretty turbulent ride. But FINALLY we arrived. And believe it our not, our checked luggage was there to greet us! (Note, we packed a little differently this time - all clothing and essentials were packed in our carry ons - the checked bag was empty - that way we could separate our dirty clothing and have plenty of room to bring home souvenirs and money??? - another, "yeah right".)

Got our luggage, made it to Door 5 and were quickly ushered into a waiting LVL along with 5 other people. Now imagine this - 6 tired, anxious people squashed into the back of a limo with NO/BROKEN air-conditioning heading down the strip at 5:00 p.m. in 108-degree temperatures. Move 2 car lengths, wait... move 2 car lengths, wait...We're all drenched with perspiration and the air is so close you don't even want to breathe. JUST GET US OUT OF HERE! Needless to say, no tip this trip.

Get to Paris around 5:00 p.m. head to the Invited Guests check in (our 2 night stay here was courtesy of our Casino Host, Mi Yi). Very quick, very friendly check in - not more than 5 minutes. We were given a king size/smoking room - #2001 (2nd room off of the elevator, ice and vending machines right across the hall). Room was very nicely decorated. The bathroom had a separate tub/enclosed shower, basic shampoo & conditioner in bathroom, 2 bottles of water (with a price tag of something like $3.99 if opened), very large, soft fluffy towels, blow drier and magnified (2 sided) make-up mirror attached to the wall. There was also an iron and in-room safe. And THE VIEW!!! Look straight out the window and there was a perfect view of the Bellagio fountains sided by the Eiffel Tower; look below and it was a perfect view of the pool (Randy liked this view better than the fountains...). Since we'd had a long day already, we just decided to relax in the room for the evening. "WHAT?? YOU'RE IN VEGAS!" I know, I know. But we "thought" it would preserve our money a bit longer and we knew the casinos and big jackpots weren't going anywhere and besides, with the wonderful view, it was so very relaxing to lay in that bed (very, very comfortable by the way) and fall asleep watching the dancing fountains of the Bellagio.

Side note: We brought the first rain Vegas had seen in 147 days that night.

Thursday morning we were up about 5 a.m. - had a few cups of coffee, showered and were off. After our trip in April, and spending $13.00 a morning for a carafe of coffee at the Venetian, this time we invested $5.00 in a small 4-cup coffee maker and brought it along (gotta love that garage-saleing!) However, I did notice that Paris had coffee for $4.50 plus a $2.00 service charge from room service. Oh well, better to be prepared...

I just love Paris' casino. It's so bright and "friendly". I can't seem to stress enough how much I truly enjoy this place and the sincere friendliness of its staff. The one thing that I was not prepared for, however, was the frigid temperature in the casino. BRRRR... I had to go outside a couple of times during the day to warm up in the 108-degree sun since I didn't even think to bring a sweater.

I played DBJB and slots all day - up and down, down and up - ended this session DOWN (In fact, we'd only been in Vegas one day and my entire trip budget was almost gone. A word to the wise here. Back in April we both stuck to daily budgets because we had a combined pool of money. This time, we took our own money and it was up to each of us to budget our respective monies. BAD IDEA. Neither of us has that kind of control when it comes to gambling and Vegas.) I think Randy started off with blackjack (back in April, he cleaned house at BJ here) but must have lost because he found me at the slots and said he was "going to the pool for awhile" (note, Randy has never left a bar or casino to go to the pool). About 3:30 we met back up in the room. Plans were made that Randy would take a nap and I would be back at 7:00 so that we could go to the Village Buffet for supper.

Since my money was almost gone I thought this would be a good time to find my way to Bally's and check it out since I hadn't been there in April. This is such a great idea the way the two casinos are joined by shops and eateries - you don't have to step foot outside to get from one to the other. Anyway, make my way into Bally's and "waste" a $20 in a triple play JB machine. Stupid idea, since I cannot seem to figure this game out. Jeez, it's so hard wandering around a casino and not playing... So, I see a bank of theses 45-play nickel machines and think "I don't have to play 45, I can just play 5 or 10" and my money will last longer. Once again, I have no idea what in the world I'm doing, just betting and hitting the buttons. Third spin I decide to bet the big kahoona of 45 and (though I have no idea what happened or what I hit) the bells and whistles went off. 2,000 points! My first hand pay ($100) ever. Damn, I just wish it would've been quarters or dollars instead of nickels! I know, I shouldn't bitch - at this point a win is a win and I was playing on prayers going in. Then I decide to get brave with my new-found money. At the entrance from Paris into Bally's casino was a bank of $1 Wild Party machines that were just calling my name. So I figured I'd make my $20 contribution and head back over to Paris - WRONG. Started off betting $1 a spin and got up to around $35 and started betting $3. It started hitting. OK, so you all know what it's like when you have a minimal amount in a machine and you start saying to yourself "okay, I'll quit when I hit x-amount of dollars and then start over". Well, I kept doing that. "I'll quit when I get to $100" then I'm up to over $200 and say "I'll quit at $300 or when I'm back down to $200". Anyway I played - up and down, then back up again, and FINALLY quit at $800! My second hand pay ever - and all within a couple of hours. That helped get the budget back (somewhat) on track. I happily took my money and headed back to the room to meet Randy for dinner.

We had a comp for the Village Buffet left over from April (Randy had gone to a casino host earlier in the day to see if we could use it this trip and they gave us a new one). It was great being able to bypass the hundred or so people in the regular line to go right on in. I was very impressed with this place - the atmosphere and the food. Now mind you, I love prime rib and crab legs and all that, but given a "free" opportunity to try foods that I've never had and probably will never have again, I'll take it. That's what I like about (the better) Vegas buffets. If you ever go here, you must try the Veal Sausages with Onion Marmalade and their Apple Crepe with Raspberry Sauce. Yum, yum. Nothing I tried was a disappointment. Even if it's not a comp, I will eat here again (but I will ask for a line pass).

After dinner it was back to the room. Randy wasn't feeling very well (I think the combination of free Coronas, the fear of flying, and big meals don't set well with him) and I was not overly anxious to rid myself of my new budget money, so we just kicked back and called it a night.

Funny how a night's sleep makes you want to jump right in and spend that money! Got up early and was just getting ready to leave when the phone rang. OK, so who in the world is calling us in Vegas? It was Randy's mother. Oh shit, I'm thinking, something is wrong with our dog - something dreadful has happened to the dog - that's why she doesn't want to speak with me. Thank God, it wasn't the dog. Randy timidly confessed to me that he had spent all of his money and was having some wired to the hotel. (Now I didn't feel so bad...at least I wasn't the only one.) This was our last day at Paris and we needed to check out by 11a.m. so we planned to meet at the room at 10:30, check out and head over to the Venetian for the next 2 days. So while he waited for his money to arrive, I headed down to gamble.

First stop was the DBJB machines. After I'd fed about $100 in this machine, the woman next to me informed me that she'd hit a royal on that very machine the night before. (Thanks, Lady.) Exit that machine and head toward the slots. Once again, I find a $1 slot (Wheel of Fortune) calling my name. So I throw in a $20 and try my program of single bets until I get up around $35 then start in full bets. This machine was on fire. Keeping an eye on my watch and the machine, I finally cash in at $400 and head toward the room to meet Randy. (Damn! I hated having to quit on that machine!) As I'm passing the center bar in the casino, I hear someone yelling my name - there's Randy sitting at a table with all of our luggage. Somehow or another (J) I'd managed to misread my watch and instead of it being 10:45 (which would've made me only 15 minutes late), it was now 11:45. OOPS! Randy had spent the entire morning running from Paris to Ballys and back trying to chase down his wired money and then had to carry all the luggage down and check out on his own. I'm sure I can find someway to make it up to him...

We decided to sit there and relax for while then grabbed a taxi to Venetian. Check in at the Invited Guest room was not nearly as quick as the Paris (this was about 12:30 p.m.). Randy got his information for the BJ tournament the next day (the main reason for our visit - free room for 2 nites and free entry into the tournament) and we checked into our king size/smoking room (25137). This room was miles from the elevator and had a good view of many parking lots and the airport off in the distance. Even though the rooms are nice (for those of you who haven't read a report on the V rooms - they're huge with a separate living room area, 2-27" televisions {living and bedroom area}, separate tub and shower with enclosed toilet area, double sinks, vanity with make-up mirror, blow drier, in room safe, iron, etc.) I still like Paris better.

As we started looking at the info on the BJ tournament we realized that, although the invitation we received stated the tournament was on Saturday, the info we now had said the tournament play was on Saturday and Sunday with prizes awarded Sunday night. Our scheduled departure was 12:55a.m. Sunday morning. That was to be dealt with later.

We both went our separate ways and were to meet back in the room at 4:30 to get ready for the BJ reception. I played DBJB and Randy practiced up for his BJ tourney. No big wins.

The reception was very nice - free drinks and hors'devoures (wonderful dessert trays!) and each player received a free travel tote (it's mine now). Everyone was pumped for the tournament. It was quite obvious that most took this much more seriously than Randy (particularly once he found out that the tournament would be non-smoking). We did get ahold of "someone in charge" and asked about the change in tournament days. They were quick to point out the small print about "the right to make changes by Management". They did say, however, that if it looked like Randy would make it to the final rounds on Sunday, they would try to "help us out" with rescheduling a flight (and pay the extra $75 per person??).

We left the reception and parted ways. To those of you who read my April trip report and remember that the trip almost ended in divorce (well, sorta), please notice that we are spending very little time together this trip - the perfect solution! Anyway I continued to hunt for the JB machine that was ready to hit the royal. I hunted and I hunted and I hunted. Well, it got to the point where it was hard to hunt without any ammo. Time to turn in.

When I got up Randy was already gone (once again practicing for the tournament). I decided since it was early enough that the sun wasn't in full force, I'd make my last trek down to the Desert Inn. Sad, very sad. There were possibly a dozen people in there (other than those working). The employees were still very friendly and cocktails were there in a heartbeat. I searched for, and found my DBJB machine ($1) and went to work. At this point I was down to $100 for the remainder of the trip. Once again, I played the "if I get to this point I'll quit" game, but this time didn't listen. I had some really good hits (several FOKs), but got stupid. Then I REALLY got stupid. Never in my life had I used a credit card for a cash advance - that is until now. Got a "hefty" (I'm ashamed to say how much) advance and raced back to that machine. My cocktail waitress tapped me on the shoulder and said "here, maybe this will bring you some luck, someone left it in the tray" and handed me a $5 chip. I tried to give it back to her, but she said she wasn't allowed once she removed it from a tray. My angel, she was. My machine went nuts! I didn't get that almighty royal, but got 5 handpays and walked away with my cash advance (plus the fee) in tact as well as another $1,100. Time to QUIT. I cashed in the points on my DI card and went to the gift shop to pick up some DI memories. Goodbye, old friend, I will definitely have fond memories of my last visit.

Walked back to the V, stopping by one of those tacky souvenir shops to pick up some cheap Vegas tshirts for the neighbor kids and paperboy. Couldn't find Randy at the tournament (bad sign) so headed up to the room. Here it is, noon, and he's sound asleep. I did manage to get out of him that he lasted 3 hands in the tournament. (Each player was given $5,000 to bet in 30 hands. His strategy was "play big, win big". Never mind how the cards fall...) So I played a few slots, no luck again, and did some window shopping on the 2nd floor. I didn't really take the time to look around back in April, so was glad I did this visit. Went back up to the room about 5pm to see if Randy wanted to get something to eat with me, and he was still sleeping. The heck with him, then. I stopped down at Enzo's, ate a calzone (they are really good!) and just watched people. After my "stupidity" that morning at the DI, I figured my luck was up so why chance it. It'd been a good trip overall, I'd had a good time, and still had some money left so just take in the scenery.

I headed back up to the room about 7:30 (Randy "still" sleeping) left a wake-up call for 11p.m., and hit the couch. After the wake-up call came in, I roused Randy and told him it was time to get up and go. "Where? Whatdaya' mean?" he says. "Home, ya know, Illinois - our flight leaves in less than 2 hours" I say. "Since when?" he says. Come to find out, the reason he slept all day was so that he could get up at midnight and do the "all night thing", play all morning Sunday and sleep on the plane when it left at NOON. "Sorry, honey. Maybe if you'd listen to me on occasion..." So here we are rushing around to leave, he still has to cash in chips, cash out his points, etc. We get outside about 11:50 to catch a cab to the airport. Yah, us and about 100 other people that were in line. I sweet-talked our way to the front of the line, explaining the situation to those who let us pass, and thanking them the best I could. We get our cab all right, but man, we didn't even begin to think about the traffic at midnight on a Saturday night (just paint MIDWESTERN HICKS on our foreheads). We were just beginning to think we were sunk, until out of nowhere, our cab driver became a man with a mission. He put the pedal down, weaving in and out of traffic like he was on the Indianapolis Speedway, and never looked back. WHAT A MAN. We made it! Unfortunately, I didn't even think to get this driver's name so that I could post it and all of Vegas would be asking for him by name. Suffice it to say he got a tremendous tip, however.

Well, the trip home was uneventful - a little turbulent, but not so much so considering all the storms we flew around. The third seat in our section was free and I (having not slept all Saturday away) snoozed soundly.

Until next time (hopefully December or February) - may the Mecca Gods be with you all!