This is our first attempt at a trip report. We are both teachers, so we planned this trip in between Christmas and New Year's while we are both on vacation. We so enjoy reading everyone else's report, and we hope you will enjoy this:
Dec. 26, Day 1--
We left our home in Riceville, IA, at 4 a.m. We found traveling difficult the first 30 miles--the wind was blowing at 20-35 mph--since we have about a foot of snow on the ground, it made for near white-out conditions at times. After we got to Rochester, MN, conditions improved, and we arrived at the Minneapolis airport at 6:30. We found there were no seats together left, but we were able to sit across the aisle from one another. While waiting for our 8 o'clock flight, we enjoyed a Cinnabon and coffee. We arrived at the gate only to find out the plane would be delayed--we heard several reasons why. None were accurate. When we finally took off about 9 o'clock, the pilot announced that he was the cause of the delay. The scheduled pilot was sick and the back-up pilot was sick, so he had been flown in from Omaha to fly the plane and had just arrived. Anyway, we were finally on our way! The plane ride was pleasant and uneventful--we had 'breakfast in a bag' and played 'the $ Game' (where you write your seat # on a dollar bill, put it in a sack with all the others, then they draw a winner) which made the time go faster.
We landed in LV and retrieved our luggage with no snags. Purchased a round-trip with Star Transport for $18. It only took a few minutes to fill the shuttle, and we were off to The Golden Nugget ($39 a night). Check-in was a breeze. Even though it was only noon, our room was ready. We dropped off our things in the room and headed for the Golden Gate.
We used our LVA 2 for 1 coupon at the Bay City diner. We both ordered prime rib. The soup that day was Cream of Asparagus--it was very rich and thick--as Jack said, 'you can almost stand your spoon up in it.' I really enjoyed it. The dinner also included a baked potato, rolls, and carrots. It was delicious, and our total bill was about $7.50 plus tip.
From there we headed to the California where Jack collected 3 of the commemorative coins on a $10 investment. We joined the slot club there, but found the free swipe machine had been removed. From there, we moved on to Main Street Station.
We headed for the Triple Brew Pub -- it was margarita time. We tried margaritas all over LV, and I like theirs the best. When I went back to the bar for another round, Jack hit 720 quarters. He had a big grin on his face when I came back.
After the margaritas, we 'staggered' over to Lady Luck. We had a flyer for a free fun book. We used coupons from their fun book to earn free breakfast and dinner buffets. Jack played the match play coupons and lost all his bets. We like the Lady Luck beer glasses. For $4 and their coupon you get a 23 oz. beer, and you can keep the glass. We went back the next day to get another one, but they were all out. Their phone booth for the free 2 minute phone calls was out of order the whole 5 days we were there.
From there we headed for the Four Queens for my favorite shrimp cocktail. I really like the shredded lettuce, lemon, and sauce they use. We played nickel video poker there and had a lot of fun.
Next stop was the Fremont. They had some machines that were new to us. Mine was a double diamond/fishing combination, and Jack's was a 7's/Bingo combination. We joined their slot club and tried the free swipe machine.
We ate supper that night at the Golden Nugget. Part of our GN package was $25 in food credit. We ate in the Carson Cafe. Jack had the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, and I had the burrito. Our total including tip was $20. The food was delicious and way more than we could eat.

Dec. 27, Day 2--
While I was getting ready to begin our day, Jack went to get a paper. He came back with a big grin and 5 commemorative coins. This time all were won on a single $20 bill. It was a great start to another great day. We used a coupon from the Transglobal Airlines fun book for the free breakfast at The Plaza. It tasted wonderful. The breakfast included 2 eggs, hash browns, toast, and coffee. The waitress was very pleasant , and the food was great. From there, we headed to the California where we signed up for their slot tournament--$10 if you have their club card. While we were waiting for the tournament to start, Jack played some new nickel machine and hit a hand-pay jackpot. It took a few minutes for a host to arrive and take care of it, so he missed the first few minutes of the tournament. It was our first experience entering a tournament, and Jack just missed being in the finals. We tried their margaritas at the bar, and they were excellent. Since we were playing video poker at the bar, they were free. I also won $100 there on Blazin' 7 's machine.
We walked over to the 4 Queens to see about a car rental for the next 2 days. We were disappointed to find out they had no cars available at any price.
Next we played at Fitzgerald's. I had good luck on the Lucky Leprechaun slot machine, and also on a $1 red, white, and blue machine. Jack ground out a $15 profit on 2 hours of BJ. Got an ice cream cone on the way out that was really good.
We saw 2 casinos that were new to us--La Bayou and Mermaids. These used to be Coin Castle and Sassy Sally's. We collected lots of mardi gras beads at La Bayou. And had our free picture taken at Mermaids. But didn't play in either one. Next, it was back to The Lady Luck for a free buffet. It was OK. We wandered around Freemont Street and checked out the souvenir stores. Then back to Fitzgerald's, but no luck this time. Headed back to the Golden Nugget and tried their margaritas and strawberry daquirris--very good--then called it a day.

Dec. 28, Day 3--
This day started off goofy with our toilet overflowing. No real damage done, and the maintenance man was there in a jiffy. About 9 a.m. we took a city bus out to Circus Circus. We rather enjoy a bus ride occasionally--you never know what you're going to see. The tickets were $2 each. We got fun books for Circus Circus and Slots A Fun. Jack played the Match Play coupons and lost consistently! We ate 99 cent items at Slots A Fun. I had a breakfast burrito, and Jack had the half pound hot dog. They were both surprisingly good. We played dime slots at Circus Circus, and I won about $70. We cruised through the shops there, and then walked over to The Riviera.
We each got fun books at the Riviera. We used our coupons and got free coffee mugs, and I won a hat on the free pull machine. I can't believe we fastened those 'prizes' on our fanny packs and carried them with us all day! We played in the Nickel Town part of the Riviera and stayed about even. Then headed for the Westward Ho for our first margaritas of the day. We didn't stay there long--'bad vibes'.
Next stop was the Stardust where again we joined the slot club, got fun books, and Jack lost all the match plays. I decided I should try a match play, and of course, I won. So I bet again and won. I could see this was not sitting well, so we moved on. We stopped at an Ethel M's chocolate shop. A lovely, older lady greeted us, invited us to try a sample, and told us all about the chocolates. She really knew her stuff. From there we headed to The Frontier and joined their slot club. Then off to Treasure Island. I had been wanting to see the aquarium behind the check-in desk, and it was well worth the effort. It is really beautiful and relaxing.
I also wanted to revisit the white tigers at the Mirage, so we trekked over there only to find the tiger habitat was closed due to refurbishing. So, we headed over to Harrah's. A very pleasant young woman--Mary--signed us up for a slot club card and explained their comp system. Our next stop was Giardelli Chocolates. It was too early for eating and too warm to carry chocolate around, but we enjoyed seeing all the possibilities.
We had a lot of fun playing nickel video poker at the Barbary Coast. We settled in with our free drinks (coupons from their fun book) . A friendly change lady passed by and said it was time for those machines 'to hit'. Well, it wasn't long, and I hit 4 ducks ! We cashed out up about $72.
We had lunch that day at Bugsy's Deli in the Flamingo. We used a 2 for 1 coupon from the airline fun book. They were great burgers and fries--even the deli pickles were good--and again, we couldn't eat quite all of it.
We joined the slot club at Bally's. Then went to see the Paris. We got slot club cards even though we could use our Bally's cards. We just wanted to add the cards to our collection. It wasn't open when we were there in July. It was crowded, but we thought the sky effect was nice--you really feel like you are outside. We played a little on the Paris Tower machines. And I checked out the restrooms--the floral sinks are a work of art! We also visited Bellagio. We were both excited about seeing the fountain show, and we were not disappointed. The visual effect combined with the music left us breathless. From there we went back to Bally's and took the monorail to the MGM.
At the MGM, I tried to find a machine I had won on before. The staff at the MGM were extremely helpful--there were 3 employees looking all over the casino. But found out they had been replaced. Tried their slots but no luck. We took time to visit the lion habitat. There were 2 large male lions on display. We stopped to watch some live performers from Heroes of Rock N' Roll on the casino stage--they were impersonating Rod Stewart and John Lennon. I sort of lost interest, so I walked over and put 3 quarters in a slot machine--hit 3 7's! Fun! Next stop was New York-New York. We played a big 4-reel machine together. Won some, lost some, and had lots of fun. We spent a lot of time just walking around. We took the crosswalk back to the east side of the strip to catch the bus back. It was about a 20 minute trip back to Fremont Street. We went back to the room to change shoes--we had walked a long way!--and fluff up a bit. Then headed off for Binion's. We played about an hour then headed for the late night steak special. There was a short wait in line and then we were seated. We were especially hungry, and it tasted super. From there, we headed back to the GN were Jack placed a $25 overnight Keno bet. I played a fun new machine while waiting and won about $30.

Dec. 29--Day 4
We had only booked 3 nights at the GN at $39.95 per night. Since Dec. 29th came under their New Year's Eve package, our room rate would have jumped to $175. Needless to say, we had made other plans. We wanted something within walking distance, so we tried the El Cortez. We were able to book a room for $32.95. Believe me, it was quite a shock going from the GN to the El Cortez, but again, we always like an adventure. So, we packed up and paraded down to the El Cortez. Our room was not ready, but they assured us it would be ready in a few hours and our luggage would be there waiting for us. So, we left our luggage with the bell hop and headed to the bus station.
Since we had a 2 for 1 coupon for the Fiesta buffet, we decided to head out there. We took a city bus -- $1.25 each. We played slots there. Then tried the new Margarita Factory. They have a complete menu of margaritas--I think the bartender said 2 or 3 hundred different kinds. I had a traditional one, but Jack opted for something new and ordered a Tropical. I believe they were $10. Both were very good. When we got in line for the Seafood Buffet, Jack realized the coupon was back in the room. (I tried not to rub it in!) We have enjoyed this buffet before, and this night it was just as good as we remembered. We also took time to view the pipe organ located in the pizzeria. This is the organ that was moved from the Roxy Theatre in New York. Wish we could have heard someone playing it. The outside of The Fiesta had beautiful Christmas lighting, and we took some pictures when we left. We walked over to Texas Station to play, but no luck. We were too tired to do the 'bus thing', so we called a cab. When it didn't arrive, a very observant valet parking attendant came over and offered to drive us back . He was a really nice young man, a good driver, and very gracious when we gave him $10 for the trip. When we arrived, we found the El Cortez was a jumping joint. We joined in and played a few slots, but no luck so we called it a day.

Dec. 30, Day 5--
We checked out of the El Cortez, and walked out to wait for our pick-up. The Star Transport arrived 5 minutes early, so by 7:05 we were on our way to the airport. Check-in was a walk in the park, and we were early enough to get good seating together. We were happy to just sit quietly, drink coffee, read, and wait for our flight.
The plane was delayed about 30 minutes, but then we enjoyed a pleasant trip back to Minneapolis. We found the weather in Minneapolis unseasonably warm and sunny, so the trip home to Riceville was easy. Looking back, we know it was a great trip. We didn't spend all the money we had budgeted, and we had a wonderful time. A few additional comments:
1--Jack was terribly sick the 2nd day. We don't know if it was something he ate or a bug, but he literally 'crapped out' that day! He was a real trooper though and hardly whined at all.
2--We found the new crosswalks to be a wonderful addition.
3--We only had one rude encounter on the whole trip--we found employees were very friendly and tried their best to be helpful.

Jack & Mary