Trip Report; Jan. 19th - Jan. 23rd

The trip was to celebrate my 35th birthday and it turned out to be just the wife (M) and I after my best friend of 31 years (his birthday is Jan. 14th) decided to get his wife pregnant and they had to back out. He told me she was pregnant in a conversation that went like this
Friend 'Hey, I have some good news'
Me 'What is it'
Friend 'Jenny is pregnant'
Me 'Fantastic, Congratulations!!'
Friend 'The only bad thing is we won't be able to go to Vegas for our birthdays'
Me 'You are a #$%hole, why couldn't you keep it zipped for another few months?'
I was half way joking, but I had to give him a hard time about it. Anyway this now meant that M and I would be hitting Vegas by ourselves for just the second time ever. The last time was 12 years ago when we had only been married a year or so and we were both in our early 20's. Now, after 3 kids and a dozen or so trips with family, friends, and a few solo trips for me, we are giving it another go.
I would usually not bore you with details on the travel out, but this turned out to be the worst flying experience I have ever had, and I learned some things that maybe a few people might not know. I had originally booked on Northwest flying out of Indy at 11:40, Saturday Jan. 19th, non-stop to arrive in Vegas at 12:45 PM. I checked the flight about 3 weeks after booking, and they had changed the flight to 7:00 AM departure. OK, normally this would be great, another few hours in Vegas. The problem is that I live in Cincinnati and it is about 2 hours to get to Indy airport from where I live. The wife and I now had to get up at 2:00 AM and be out the door by 3:00 AM. Oh well, small price to pay; I will sleep on the plane. Friday night, while I was, finishing packing, M leaves to take the kids over my parents. I get a call about 15 minutes later and she tells that she got rear ended. Everyone was OK and the car her car was still drivable but needless to say this was not a good sign.
We were up and out the door by 3:00 as planned and arrived at the airport with problem. While waiting at the gate we end up talking to a group of 7 people going out to celebrate a birthday. A little side note; I find people are much friendlier on flights to Vegas, for obvious reasons. We are all chatting and talk about shows, hotels, etc. We bored the plane on time and the Captain makes the announcement to prepare to pull away from the gate, this is as close to taking off as this plane would get. We sit there for about 10 minutes and finally the Captain tells us that there would be a 'slight delay' because the aft door will not close. OK, I will wait while you fix that because we do not door flying open at 30,000 feet. Everyone remained in pretty high spirits for the first 30 minutes. We were even cracking jokes with guy offering to hold the door closed the entire flight and then another guy yells 'get some duct tape, duct tape fixes everything'. Well this got a big laugh and then an even bigger laugh when not 2 minutes later a maintenance guy walks on the plane with big industrial size roll of.... You guessed it duct tape. Obviously duct tape can't fix everything because after being on the plane for 2 hours they finally tell us to get off.
We sat back down at the gate and we were joined by the group of 7 that we were speaking to before boarding. All of us except for 1 guy in their group's wife were still in good spirits but we were definitely in the minority. I felt sorry for the Northwest lady working at the gate. She was being bombarded by people blaming her for the door not closing, and to her credit she dealt with it pretty well. I guess after about an hour and half of being yelled at she had enough and she called for backup. She was replaced by a huge guy that came with the look 'I am not taking your crap' and he didn't. I laughed listening to him shoot people down. He even told one guy 'would you prefer taking off before the door is fixed'? We did tell the lady as she made her escape that we felt sorry for her and she just kind of gave us that 'Thank You' smile.
Well now it is 10:30 and we are still no closer to taking off. The first Northwest gate agent came back and she stopped at our group and told us that she would be surprised if this flight left at all today and she gave us a number to call to make alternate arrangements and suggested we did not wait. She then went up and spoke to the 'No Crap' guy for a minute and then she went to another gate. I went down a ways along with 1 guy from the group of seven so we could hear and we called the number. I first had to convince the girl I talked to that this flight was going to be cancelled because she kept telling me it was going to take off at 10:55. I finally got it through to her that since it was now 10:45 and nobody was on the plane that 10:55 was not going to happen. Finally, while I was on the phone, the guy at the gate announced the flight was delayed indefinitely and told people to see him or call the same number I had been given to make alternate plans. You know what happened next, all but about 4 people go running up to the counter to yell and scream at him. I was told by the clueless girl I was speaking to on the phone that they had a flight leaving Indy at 6:30 with a layover in Minneapolis and we would arrive in Vegas at 11:00 PM. Ouch, that is 2:00 AM my time and means I would be awake a full 24 hours before even landing. I asked her to check all other airlines and she told me that was the only flight. I decided to take the 7:00 AM flight for Sunday instead of being miserable all day. When I got back and told my wife she said that the guy who called from the group got them on an American Airlines flight that left at 1:40 PM and after a layover in Dallas would get us to Vegas by 5:30. I immediately called back and I was able to get on that flight. I was not sure what I had to do about luggage and I really did not want wait in the mob line to talk to 'No Crap' that is when the first agent saw me and waived me over to her gate. She asked if I had found another flight and told her 'Yes' and I thanked her. She helped me with our luggage arrangements and then she gave me and the gut from the group $25 food vouchers for everyone in our party, $100 off of our next Northwest flight for everyone and an additional 1000 FF miles. Her name is Lisa and she thanked us for understanding. I must say she probably saved my vacation because I would have had a hard time getting over the whole mess.
We did get to Dallas on time only to find a refugee camp at our connecting gate. They had over booked the flight by 24 people. We received our boarding passes in Indy so we were safe. I felt bad for anyone that got bumped but after the day I had, not that bad. I did get nervous when they starting delaying this flight. I look up and they now have it taking off 45 minutes late. The flight crew was coming in from Mexico and was stuck in customs was the reason we were given. We finally arrived at our hotel, after an interesting cab ride, (see separate post, bold cab driver) at 6:30 Vegas time. We had been traveling for a total 18 ½ hours from house to hotel.
I know this was long and if you stuck with it I hope you take a couple things away from it. You get a lot more help from people if you are patient and do not act like a jerk. I would also tell you that if you have to re-book by telephone and the first person tell you they have nothing available, hang up and call and talk to someone else. You will probably be told something completely different. We encountered this when we re-booked our return flight because we decided to stay an extra day. Finally, talk to follow passengers and see what arrangements they were able to make. I will put the fun part of the trip in a separate report.
After arriving in Las Vegas and after all that had happened I was surprised our luggage showed up, I had this cab ride to deal with. (I added this from a post I had earlier put in for anyone that missed it)
I returned from Las Vegas on January 23rd and I had an interesting cab driver experience I thought some of you would like to know about.
I am not a Vegas rookie and through experience, and also Las Vegas forums, I am well aware of getting "Tunneled". The wife and I arrived at McCarron on Saturday the 19th (my birthday) after a horrendous adventure that saw a 4 hour non-stop from Indy to LAS turn into a 15 1/2 nightmare with a layover in Dallas. (More on that in the upcoming trip report)Anyway, I was in no mood for BS so upon entering the cab I politely said "Imperial Palace, no tunnel please!" Well to my shock the arrogant SOB takes the tunnel. So, while my wife and this jerk are carrying on a conversation (she is unaware we are being ripped off), I am sitting there fuming. Finally, after we are stuck in traffic after getting off of I-15 and the meter creeping toward to $20.00, I ask the guy why he would take this route when I told him not to. He replied, "I thought you would want to get there as fast as possible and traffic would be worse the other way". I told him he was fool of crap and he might as well turn off the meter because I was only going to pay $20.00 for the cab ride (which should have been 14.00 - 15.00 dollars) and that was including his tip. He mumbled something I could not hear and then I a pulled out my cell phone and told him I could call the Las Vegas Cab Authority if we were going to have any trouble. He turned the meter off and then tried to pick up his conversation with my wife. She knew what was going on by now and wisely just sat there, holding my hand, not paying him any attention. I was just shocked at the outright nerve of this guy. I guess I shouldn't have been though.

OK, enough with that, let's get to the fun stuff. We have stayed at the Imperial Palace several times. I do like the place as far as price and location you cannot beat it. I even like the casino. I always seem to do well there. I will not stay here if it is pool weather because their pool area is awful, but since it is January, no worries. I had called ahead and told them we would be arriving late because of the flight change and there was no line when we arrived at 6:30. I was greeted by a nice lady named Tresis and I handed her the $20 dollar sandwich and said 'I know it is late on a Saturday, but would you have any upgrades for a travel weary birthday boy?' She looked at my license and saw that it was my birthday and she also the $20 dollars which she slid halfway back to me. She said she would see what she could do and then asked why I was travel weary. I proceeded to give her the shortest most pathetic version of our 18 ½ hour adventure as I could. She laughed and said she had to do something for me then and she ended up putting us in a suite. We were on the 2nd floor which was fantastic because we did not go on an elevator once and we all know about IP's elevators. I thanked her and I went to leave and she said called after me saying 'Sir, your money'. I just looked back and waived and I remembered someone else saying the $20 trick was handled the same way at the IP when they used. The room was large but a suite at the IP would not even to a deluxe room at most properties. I didn't care of course; I just wanted to get my birthday started. I had told my wife that I wanted to be at The Fontana Bar, with a drink in my hand, and watching the fountains on my birthday. So, even though we were both tired from the trip, the Las Vegas adrenaline kicked in and by 8:00 I was right where I wanted to be. We stayed until about 10:00 and then we went and gambled a bit. She went to bed around Midnight so I decided to play a little blackjack. I cashed out about 2:30 up $180.00 dollars and feeling a lot better after such a hectic day.
I slept until 9:00 AM on Sunday which was later than I wanted but I think I could have slept all day. Saturday took a lot out of me. I was up and did the 3 'S's' before the DW was even stirring so I decided I would head down to the Casino. I played a little BJ and was up about $60 when the DW found me and wanted some breakfast. I guess this would be a good time to mention that my wife is very low maintenance. She had a short list of things she wanted to do in Vegas; drink, smoke, play slots, eat breakfast at Denny's and eat dinner one night at Outback. I think it is hysterical and so do all our friends when we talk about going to Las Vegas and eating Denny's and Outback. The DW is a very picky eater though and she likes these two places for their Bacon and Egg's and Prime Rib. So after Denny's I wanted to get some bets in on the football games. We headed over to The Mirage and it was only about 15 minutes until kick off. I did not have any current info on weather and who was in and who was out for the Patriots/Chargers game and I was unable to get a hold of anybody at home for an update, so I scrapped the bet for the first game and figured I would double up on the second game. We walked around Caesars for awhile and the wife played an occasional slot machine with no wins. The DW is the type of gambler Vegas was built on, she never wins and when she does she gives it all back. We went down and signed up for the Wynn slot card and received our $10 free play and then we were off to try to earn our 25 points apiece for the free buffet. We decided to watch each other play to fill some time so the DW went first and lost her FP plus $30.00 of her own pretty quick. I then played mine and ended up winning $40.00, so we escaped the Wynn with 2 free buffets and up $10.00. I will take it, Thanks Steve.
We then walked down to the Palazzo, It was OK but I wasn't blown away. We went back to the IP and I placed a bet on the Giants +7 for $200. We watched the first quarter and then went up to the room because the DW was tired and she didn't want to go to bed early that night so she needed a nap. I walked her back to the room and she threw out because I was making too much noise watching the game. I changed clothes for the evening and then went back to the sports book and told her to meet me there. She showed up with about 2 minutes left I told her we will win as long as Green Bay doesn't win by 7. The game went to overtime and I told her we one and it was like a 'Who's on first' routine with me trying to explain how the Giants can't lose by more than 6 now because they do not kick extra points in OT. I wasted 10 minutes trying to explain it, and after losing countless brain cells, I gave up before one of us had an aneurysm. I collect my $200 and we are off to Outback(Woo-Hoo Big Spender). She enjoyed her dinner swearing that this Outback tastes better than any other (yeah, you're in Vegas). We then gambled some more, I win/she loses. She then decides she wants to go the piano bar at hurrahs, fine with me. We actually get a table and order 2 drinks and then when the waitress comes back DW decides she will get this round and the waitress tells her that will be $18.00 my wife swear to God did a spit take. I was rolling, well after that she couldn't stomach to pay that much for a drink saying she would rather put $20 in a slot and get the drink for free. I certainly didn't argue since about 1hour of dueling piano's is all I can stand. I ended the night with a $600.00 run at the blackjack table so I was now up about $1000.00 for the trip. I know this is way too long, sorry this is my first TR, so I promise I will condense Mon and Tues.
The gambling Gods took their revenge on Monday. I couldn't lose Sunday and I couldn't win Monday. I packed up the gambliny 3:00 that day and decide I would drink. The wife and I hit a Harrah's,Casino Royale($1.00 Michelob),O'Sheas(buy 1 get 1 free), Flamingo, Bills Gambling Hall, Paris, and Bellagio. We went to see Big Elvis at Bills Gambling Hall and I loved it. I could kick myself for not seeing him sooner. He was the highlight of Monday. I lost a lot, drank a lot, didn't eat anything, and passed out early.
We were supposed to leave this day but since Saturday was so screwed up and we hadn't lost anything so far on the trip, we decided to stay until Weds. I called Northwest and they put us on the same flight for Weds that we had booked for Tuesday at no charge. The IP gave us the same room for only $29.00 for the extra night so it was a no-brainer.
I learned my lesson from Monday and I ate a hearty breakfast. We then hit the MGM and worked our way down the strip: Tropicana,NYNY, Monte Carlo, PH until we ended up back at Bills just in time fro Big Elvis. We watched his show again and I decided it was safe to start drinking again.
We headed down to Slots O'Fun. I had never been here before and I love the coin machines. It makes the play last a lot longer. We then went to the Wynn to use our Buffet comps. The buffet was really good but I do not think I would spend $37.00 on it. We gambled and drank after dinner until about 3:00 and then to bed.
The flight home was uneventful, PTL!
I must say that Vegas is different when it is kust my wife and I. We had a good time but we didn't crazy like we do when we go with a group. We came home with almost everything we took, so that is a bonus.
I think we spent more time together on this trip then we have in the last 4 months since we work opposite schedules. Our friends said we would come back divorced or pregnant, and since we didn't fight once, I guess we will have kid #4 in 9
Thanks for reading!