We just returned from one of our best trips ever. We flew into Phoenix a few days early and drove to LV to meet friends flying in on United. We checked in to the Stratosphere (we had gambled there for 30 minutes on their promotion last fall and received 3 free nights, $52 rebate for my husband and $54 for me - what a great deal!) We went over to the Orleans to pick up 4 tickets to Roy Clark for the 8:00 performance. We played awhile there and joined the slot club. There's a coupon for a free $5 if you have a 200 coin pay. We found another version of Monopoly called Money Grab. It was a lot of fun and I played on it quite a while before we had to leave to go meet our friends at the airport. We got to the airport at 4:00 and went to their gate. The plane came in and they were not on it! United wouldn't give us any information on what had happened to them. We made phone calls but couldn't get any information on their where abouts, we hung around and checked the next plane to see if they would be on it (NO, they weren't) and finally at 6:30 we left the airport to head for the Orleans to see Roy Clark. We regretted having the two extra tickets and I set out to work the buffet's long line to see if I could make someone a deal on them. Luckily I was able to sell them for almost as much as I had paid for them. While my husband was in the long buffet line I sat down at a Monopoly game. I wasn't having any luck when I looked up and saw my husband ready to pay for our buffets. I rushed to lose the rest of my coins so I could join him and went into the bonus game and won 1300 credits! Now I was stuck, so was he! He had paid for the buffets but I had to wait for a hand pay. He came over and watched my machine while I went out to track down a slot attendant. Finally at 7:30 I got my hand pay and we rushed into the buffet to eat fast so we didn't miss the concert. We woofed it down and ran to the show room. Roy had already started when we got there. I don't know if he had a sore throat or is past his prime, but he couldn't hit the notes and the songs just didn't sound the same. He is still an excellent guitar/banjo player however, but we were disappointed in the singing. After the concert we stayed around for a couple hours hitting the slots. We went back to the Stratoshere about midnight and found that our friends had checked in. We hung out with them until 4AM then we drug our bodies out of bed at 7AM. Felt like we hadn't gone to bed at all. We were wasted.

We went to the MGM, joined the slot club and ate at their buffet. It was great. Afterward we went to the Lion Habitat. What a joke from when we saw it a year ago. Last year there were 3 lions running, roaring and playing with a ball and jumping all over the place. There were also a bunch of lion cubs playing in the playpen. This year all they had in the Habitat was one lethargic (possibly drugged?) lion who just layed there. There was a recorded roar that was obviously not coming from the lion in the Habitat. The trainer kept tossing the ball to him trying to get him to move and he just seemed drugged. Also there were no cubs anymore. We went by the Habitat twice more and he was still lust lying around. We had a ball on the Family Fued nickel slots. Kept going in the bonus game. I left with 4 teeshirts, cards, and a coffee cup - plus $75 of their money. We left there and went to Luxor to buy tickets to Blue Man Group. They were sold out except the very back row and we didn't want to pay $86 to sit there, so we went over to the Tropicana, spent $49 and got tickets for Follies Bergier. Good show, we had seats right up in front of the stage.

We went to the Rio and saw the Carnival in the Sky. The best seats are at the nickel slots right in front of the stage. If you go into the bonus round 1/2 hour before the Carnival show you can win tee shirts, beads, and lots more junk. I came out of there with 2 more teeshirts and a ton of beads and another coffee cup. I had pretty good luck with their diamond jewel box nickel slots before the show.

We went downtown and saw the Freemont street experience one night. Entertaining as always. Went back to the strip and took in the fountains at Bellagio. We saw 3 of them, beautiful, wonderful, magnificent! We went to Paris where I had a near meltdown at the nickel Monopoly slots. I played max coins for 2 hours on Monopoly and couldn't get in the game once. People around me kept getting in. One gal had one coin per line and went in twice back to back and had to have 2 hand pays. Finally - I got into the game - I knew it had to be good with max coins, I couldn't wait to see what I would get! I got the lowest amount possible to pay - 2 coins per coins bet! 50 **$##*&%#$ coins. I nearly melted down. Hubby drug me out before they could throw me out! I couldn't believe it. I didn't know you could get that little! I was livid!! Makes me mad even now!

We went to the NASCAR cafet in the Sahara. They have a memorial for Dale Ernhart there with a replica of his car. It's covered with flowers, notes and momentos from fans, very touching. We ate at the buffet in the Sahara, not much, but it was only $4.95 with the coupon.

I found the BEST investment of all at the Stratosphere. It was a hydrosage machine. It's located on the second level with all their shops. It's like laying in a padded tanning bed. You take off your shoes but leave your clothes on and the machine covers you with a plastic piece and you get a wonderful water masage. $10 for 7 minutes and worth every cent! Think about how long $10 lasts in some slot machines! Look for this machine.

The best deal on the strip has to be the Westward Ho Hawaiin Luah. $16.95 buys the dinner buffet and show. Go at 5:00 and be one of the first in line in front of the escalaters. This is important because they seat about 800 and the people in the front have only 8 at there table as opposed to 10 at the other tables), a great view and get to eat first! The food was good and I can't imagine a luah in Hawaii being any better. We loved it, it was great. The Westward HO takes a lot of put down from people but this is a great, cheap show for people on a budget. Don't wait to the day of the show to get a ticket as they sell out. Shows are on Wednesday and Saturday.

We won a lot, lost a lot and in the end probably ended up about $500 down for the two of us. But we played, and partied and had a ball! You've got to put a Vegas trip into perspective. If you went to New York, Chicago, Orlando or Kansas City for a trip you'd spend money for food and play - only there you wouldn't have a chance of getting any of it back. You've gotta go to Vegas, planning on playing and leaving money there and consider yourself lucky if you happen to get to bring some home with you! We can't wait till fall when we go again!