As I write this we are on our way to the city of Las Vegas. Only been on the road for about an hour but the traffic was much better than expected on the freeway so I am guessing we will be arriving sooner than we hoped. We had been shooting for nine o'clock PM Vegas time to arrive but if traffic continues to agree with us I am hoping for eight thirty or so.
I had saved some past trip reports from this board onto a disk and left it in the laptop so I could enjoy the stories and keep the anticipation building but no such luck....hubby removed the disk while packing up the laptop so I have no trip reports.
I guess that is why I have started this report already....I will give a run down of our planned itinerary.
Upon arrival we will check into our room at Fitzgeralds(sixteen dollars a night!), unpack obviously. The husband likes to take a few minutes to unwind from the long road trip. Then we have no plans other than to drink and gamble the night away. Oh and to stay up long enough to see our favorite bartender...he works the overnight shift at Four Queens and we have been faithful visitors every trip we have taken. We sent him a Christmas card this year letting him know we were coming and to have the vodka ready. He starts his shift at two.
For Saturday my lovely husband has booked us a helicopter ride over the lights of the strip at dusk. This is my Christmas present and I am looking forward to it immensely. No other plans after that other than to drink and gamble.
Sunday we have plans for lunch at Emerils restaurant at the MGM. Also very excited about that. My husband is a HUGE Emeril fan.
And those are the only set plans for the trip. I am sure lots of fun will be had in between and during the planned events.
Stopped at our usual stop, Basha's grocery store in Wickenburg AZ for munchies and other things we needed for Vegas, number one being bottled water...we learned not to drink the water in Vegas a long time ago. I was very disappointed not to find Static Guard. If there is one irritation I have with Vegas is the dry air in the winter, it makes the casinos very staticy and I am a baby when it comes to getting shocks.
Everything else is fine, we got stuck behind an extremely slow truck for awhile but soon there was a passing lane available so it wasn't a big deal. We are about two hours from Vegas now and my excitement has turned to sleepiness as I am feeling the Dramamine I took earlier.
Arrived at Fitzgerald's NV time around 9:30 PM. We had two unexpected stops that delayed us. Check in was a snap but the clerk could have had a little more personality.
Got into our room only to find that the bathroom hadn't been cleaned. There were dirty towels on the floor and counter, and an opened travel sized shampoo in the shower.
Called the front desk and they brought us some fresh towels but the thing that irked my husband was that there was no apology...I said, what do you want for 16.00 a night??
Relaxed a bit, hit the slots. I found my favorite monopoly machine in the nickel section of Fitz. I turned 12.00 into 20.00 and Rob who was playing beside me turned 5.00 into 30.10. There was an older man who was obviously drunk with a shopping bag at his side sitting on our bank of machines that was escorted out.
After we collected our winnings(we weren't too drunk and still had a head on our shoulders) we ran outside to catch the last Fremont experience of the night.
Here is where I say that I had read recent reports of panhandlers on Fremont St but I had never seen any in past visits. However, while we were enjoying the Experience a man walked up to my husband and said 'Excuse me sir, I can tell you speak English...I do not mean to bother you but...'
At that point my husband interrupted him and said: 'Well you are...please leave.' And the guy was fine about it and walked off.
That was our only experience with it there, but we only stayed two nights and spent most of it at the tables.
Headed to binions. I settled myself at the Monopoly nickel bank and Rob headed to the Black Jack table.
Rob turned 30.10 into 0 on the table and I turned 20 into 31.45 on the slots.
Went back to Fitzgeralds and had many drinks.
Memory gets fuzzy but I know from my notes that I lost 112.00 at the black jack tables at Fitz in the end. Rob didn't remember how much he lost and I am not sure I want to know.
I remember looking for our favorite bartender at four queens only to find that he had been promoted to a better shift...unfortunately that meant that we wouldn't be able to see him on this trip. 
That is the end of day one, I will post day two shortly.
Woke up late as to too much alcohol intake the night before. Lazed around the room watching horrible tv shows until it was time to get ready for our helicopter ride.
Waited downstairs for our shuttle. They were ontime.
The place we were using was called Maverick. They were wonderful!!!
Our shuttle driver Ryan was very nice if a bit rehearsed in what he said. Arrived at the office, and we were offered champagne. We both declined since neither of us like the taste.
We were picked up at three-thirty so we had to wait until it got dark, but that was no problem. The lobby of the office was gorgeous. The most comfortable sofas!! They had a big screen TV showing past helicopter views.
The ride itself was awesome.
A note here: I am horribly afraid of heights and I hate thrill rides. However I loved this ride. It was a bit scary at first as the pilot Dwayne was a bit of a thrill person...he knew what he was doing but when he sez : 'And here is the MGM directly below us.' And then turns the copter on its side so we can see it DIRECTLY BELOW US I got a bit of an adrenaline rush.
The other notable part was that we drove through the light at the top of the luxor....that was quite fine. However when he dropped about fifty feet and swooped at it I had to close my eyes and dig my nails into Robs arm.
But looking back it was one of those rides that you beg to get off but afterwards you say 'that was soooo cool!!'
The drive back was long cuz of traffic but the driver was nice and humorous so we had a good time.
Back at Fitz we decided to go to the giftshop as I had promised shot glasses to a few friends. Picked out my items and a cute little silver necklace with a pair of dice as a pendant.
Here is where I rant. Granted I may not look high class but I don't feel as tho I look white trash either...I set my items on the counter and the older woman behind the register(Florinda # 2011 was the name on the receipt) picked up the necklace and said: 'do you know how much this is'? I figured that she didn't know so she was asking me. I said 'I am not sure there was no sign.'
She looked at me very sternly and said : 'This is eighteen dollars.'
I said 'Okay, there wasn't a sign' She kept the stern look and said 'This is EIGHTEEN dollars, do you still want it'?
I looked at her like she had three heads and said 'Yes.'
I was going to pay with my debit card but after that I decided to put it on my platinum card, once I showed it to her, her attitude changed and she was very pleasant. I was ticked. So poor Rob had to hear me rant about it all night.
A side note here...if you have a fitzgerald's club card you can get 25% of your total purchase as long as it isn't on a food item and as long as you are paying my credit card or cash. However you have to ask for it. There was a sign that Rob saw that said the cashiers are not required to ask you for it and you have to be very specific in asking for it. You can't just flash your card as the woman in front of me did and thought she got the discount...if you don't fill out paperwork for it at the register, you didn't get the discount.
After shopping it was time for drinking and gambling. We hit our favorite nickels at Fitz, the monopoly bank. I turned 45 into 43.00 and Rob got the first handpay we had ever gotten turning 10.00 into 50.35.
Drank more...stumbled over to the 4 Queens and played some more nickels.
Rob turned 10.00 into 25.00, I turned 30.00 into 42.00.
Staggered back to Fitz only to lose it all on Black Jack(we must stay away from the black jack tables while drunk!)
With our pockets turned inside out we headed back up to our room and passed out.
Woke up and got ready to check out. Kicked ourselves for losing so much money at Black Jack the night before.
Packed up the car and headed to the MGM where we were meeting a colleague of my husbands for lunch. We were early so we decided to take the monorail to Bally's just for the heck of it. Rob would like to input here that he wanted to take the monorail because it was free and he didn't have to tip anyone. ;-)
We didn't have enough time to actually explore bally's so I just snapped a pic of Rob in front of a sign that said 'Welcome to Bally's' so we could say we were there.
Monorailed back to MGM where we found our lunch guest waiting for us in front of Emeril's.
As I think I stated before, my husband is a huge Emeril fan. A fan of seafood and of spicy food. I am more of a pasta/meat eater. I like Haddock and the occasional fried shrimp but that is pretty much it.(Must be from growing up in Maine and being bombarded by it.)
So here is my disclaimer.
If you like seafood, this is the place to go. I am a very picky eater. I was brought up on simple food. I cannot tolerate spicy(hot) foods. I am more of a macaroni and cheese kinda gal so my reviews of the food are based on that. I am only giving my opinion, which should be taken with a grain of salt since I have such simple tastes.
I ordered the Lobster bisque as an appetizer, my husband ordered seafood gumbo, and our guest ordered a house salad. She raved about the salad. Rob liked the gumbo(I had a taste and it tasted like beef stew to me for some reason) and I only had a few bites of the bisque. Rob said it tasted really cheesy but I was overwhelmed at the fishy taste...and no bits of lobster to be found.
The bread they gave us was a sort of vegetable roll, and they were very good!
The service at Emeril's is outstanding! As soon as my glass was almost empty they were quick to ask if I would like another soda. They were attentive but not intrusive. They knew the right times to come by.
The entrée's arrived soon after we had finished our appetizers.
I ordered the crab cakes because it looked like the most non-offensive thing to my palate. Rob and our friend both ordered the salmon.
Our friend ordered the potatoes without bacon and when it was brought there was bacon in it. This was brought to the attention of the waiter and was quickly remedied.
The crab cakes themselves were very good, however the sauce they were served in was supposed to be a sort of tarter sauce which Rob loved, but it turned my stomach. I ate one cake(I tried to scrape the sauce off the best I could) and gave the other two to my husband. He gave me a piece of his salmon which was good but at that point I was fished out. Rob gave me some of his potatoes and I ate those.
Rob raved about the meal as did our friend, so I would take their opinion before mine if you are looking for a review of the restaurant. My husband literally stuffed himself to the point where he couldn't eat another bite.
Now comes my rave review of the restaurant.
I ordered a peanut butter mousse pie with candied peanuts and a dark chocolate sauce.
It was quite possibly one of the best desserts I have ever experienced. It was not too rich, not too sweet, just enough of both to take me to paradise! We all shared this which is good cuz I can just IMAGINE the calories and fat content and if left to myself I would have eaten the whole thing!
We had plans of going to the M&M museum but decided to do it next trip since I wasn't really up to the walk.
Rob saw a sign about football in the EFX studio so we set off to see what it was about. It was really cool. Apparently on Sundays they set up the studio to show the games. There were three big screens all showing a different game but the audio was on the one in the middle. They had hot dogs and chips for sale and a full bar.
And we just happened to catch when they were having giveaways during the commercials. They hand you a ticket when you come in and they held drawings during the breaks. Rob actually won a Budweiser shirt.
We later decided it was the only win we had this trip. ;-)
After they packed up the giveaways we decided it was time to check into the Rio.
It was around five in the evening I think by then.
We parked in the parking garage and began the long trek through the casino to get to the check in desk. There was quite a line. They were understaffed which can be understood since it was Christmas Eve.
I was getting a bit cranky about the wait but when we eventually got to the check in, the woman was very nice and friendly so I felt better. If she had been testy or snotty I probably would have been miserable the rest of night.
She asked us if 34 was high enough for us. I replied that anything with a bed would be fine at this point. She had us down as a non-smoking room and when I corrected her she made the switch no problem.
Up to our rooms.
Gorgeous! I really love these rooms. So when I go further into my opinion of the Rio it is not based on the rooms. The rooms are great. The bathtub was larger then normal and that meant for a roomier shower, which I loved.(Rob liked the little window into the shower from the living room, I did too but for a different reason....you can watch TV while you shower! ;-))
Our view was overlooking the pools. You could see half of the strip to the right...so it wasn't a bad view. It could have been better, but after our helicopter ride I was a little afraid to look out the window that much anyway. ;-)
Okay, here is my take on the Rio. It is a wonderful hotel as far as rooms....the casino is great as far as the decoration and the shops...but it is the tightest casino I have encountered.
Supertight slots and we couldn't find a Black Jack game that didn't have less than four or five decks. The dealers weren't very nice either.
Hardly saw a cocktail waitress. We ended up drinking mostly in our room with the vodka we brought.
So for us it was a disappointment.
Dropped a lot of money in very little time.
Again I must put in a disclaimer. We didn't like the casino based on the fact that we like to drink a lot and gamble cheap when in Vegas and staying at the Rio was a disappointment on that level.
And this was a lesson learned on our part to stick with downtown. While we loved the room, we would rather have a smaller room and spend more time in the casino dropping less money.
So the Rio is wonderful for some people but it is not for us.
Ended the night by mostly drinking in our rooms and catching up on email.
We did check out the pools but it was so windy that we rushed back inside pretty quick!
I don't even know how much we lost, but it was more than we cared to(but then isn't it always!)
Ordered room service, mediocre burger, great wings, and passed out.
One more full day to go!
Or not. Woke up with a bad hangover. Rob told me he actually watched me pass out the night before. He said that I got up, walked over to the bed, curled up and he said literally as soon as my head hit the pillow I was snoring. Guess losing all that money wore me out! ;-)
So I woke up slow and was lazy. Rob went out to get some soda and munchies if he could find a store. I nursed my hangover and worked on my TR.
Called the families and wished them a Merry Christmas. Made Rob open his last present. (We had already opened all of our other ones...as you can tell, self-control is not one of our strong points)
I knew it would be his favorite. I got him a Spinal Tap shirt with the skeleton of a chest on the front that glows in the dark. He loved it!
Showered, lazed around some more. We talked about going to the Venetian to see the wax museum but he didn't seem to into it so we didn't go.
It was kind of a depressing afternoon. We tried the slots again and I lost 30 in no time flat. We were looking forward to watching the parade in the sky (we kept missing it the day before) only to find out they weren't running the shows this day.
So we kind of sulked up to our room and scowled at the TV for awhile.
Earlier Rob had mentioned playing pool at Pink E's across the street but when I suggested it again he didn't really feel like it.
Then I had a revelation! The Gold Coast was right next door!
So I hopped on the internet and read Rob some reviews about how the casino was smoky, and not glamorous and more like downtown.
Rob looked at me and said 'Why the hell are we still sitting here'??
So we had some drinks and set out. We took the long way around cuz we weren't aware of the side exit but we eventually got there.
Much better in my opinion than the Rio for gambling.
We found a bank of Monopoly nickels and broke out the flasks. I played for about an hour on seven dollars, losing in the end but at least I got to play a while.
Then we walked around the tables trying to find a DD Black Jack table that was free....not much luck there. We were about to leave when we spotted a table with two open spots.
We jumped in and were entertained by a nice fella playing beside us named coincidentally Rob.
We must have played for about two hours on forty dollars. This is the kind of casino I like...they still take my money, but at least they let me enjoy losing it. ;-)
Back to the Rio cuz we were out of money, Rob made a side trip to Pink E's for burgers(excellent onion rings!)
And then we were in for the night.
Our last full day in Vegas started bad but ended good. :-)