If you do not like a long report -Skip
December 25 - December 29
Hotel - Mirage

At 21 it was still Larry's first time on a plane. It had been a smooth flight that arrived on time even though his older brother continued to mess with Larry's head with comments like, 'now when the plane lands it will shake violently.'

My wife Deb, our two sons Larry (21) and John (24), and I left Minneapolis from Hubert H. Humphrey on a Sun Country direct flight to Las Vegas on cold and early Christmas morning. It is always nice to fly direct because you get there about the same time you left. That continues to befuddle my wife. The flight with the exception of the comments John made to Larry was uneventful and as pleasant as it can be to scream through the sky at ridiculously high speeds. We made it in one piece and once we had our feet on the ground we headed for the main terminal on the monorail. We collected our bags at the large silver baggage roulette wheel. It was all there!

We took a taxi to the Mirage with a friendly, yet evidently mute, driver. Thank you, was evidently one of the few phrases he could speak and that was only after properly placing the right amount of currency in his hands at the end of what was the shortest ride. The long ride and the tunnel are reserved for the more talkative and friendly drivers, I guess.

It was much busier than we had expected as we arrived at check-in at the Mirage desk. The desk staff was efficient and welcoming. We were given our room right away on the seventh floor and at the end of what is a very long hall, but that is another story. Ask to be closer to the elevators, say within ten rooms. Any of you reading this who has stayed at the Mirage know why because those halls go, go, go, go, and go. It is quiet down there but you begin to wonder if your are just about in Caesar's or Treasure Island by the time you are there.

After unpacking we were ready to get going. We all went down to the casino and began to play. As is usual for Deb and I we played some slots. John gave the slots and VP a try. Larry went straight away to VP. He hit five deuces shortly after his start, so he was up $130 for his trip already. The rest of us donated. Deb and I continued to play the machines of various denominations and game themes. Larry and John went off for some exploring with a meeting time of 6:00 for supper somewhere to yet be determined in the Mirage. It ended up being a quick bite at the Caribe Café in Mirage. Larry and Deb had a good meal but John and I had the prime rib, and it was not good. The waitress even apologized for the beef as it arrived; saying that it was all 'pretty well done' right now. Well-done must have meant gray to her. A meal that was nothing to write home about but with VIP card for the lines we didn't wait. There is always a bright side.

We played more after supper at the casinos in the neighborhood of Mirage. None of us were having great luck but we were hitting enough to extend play, and Larry was holding onto his lead. We needed to slow down our play so we went to the bar over by the sports book because it has responsive bartenders. We all had average luck at those machines as we visited with each other. Larry held his winning advantage. John was down and trying too hard to get back up. Deb and I were ok because we know how first days can be fabulous or dangerous. Patience comes with age and a few visits to our favorite vacation city. We finally went back to the room at 1:30 or so, not bad for being 3:30 our time.

Wife and I were up and down playing VP by 9:30. Coffee and Bailey's on vacation is one way to start the day. Breakfast at the Caribe was good a little later. Boys were not up till noon. After we had met 'under the Rolex' at 12:30 we took them over to California Pizza Kitchen, got them in the short line and seated for their lunch. While they ate we played nickels, quarters, and dollars in the stingy slots. They had a great lunch there; jambalaya and garlic/shrimp pizza. What a way to start the day. It was then off for Caesar's. Jerry Seinfeld was playing tonight and Saturday. Needless to say Jerry was sold out, but we were told to come back at 6:00 and the line would be going for cancellations. We took a taxi to NYNY and played there while the boys explored ESPN Zone and NYNY. We got back together and played together on one machine, taking turns, laughing, and not being very lucky. We went across the street to MGM, gawked at the lions, and played. Deb and I tried the Lions slots for old time sake, but that didn't work out at all. Boys are sticking with VP. 'Money lasts longer, and we still get drinks.'
Now its back to Caesar's for those tickets. John and Deb stand in line. Larry and I go play VP across from the line at the bar. After what seemed like forever Deb and John are at the front of the line. Tickets keep magically appearing from the back at prices of $250, $165, and very few in the low hundred range which I was willing to spring for. At about 7:30 two tickets appeared for $82.50 not seated together and an additional two together appeared for $104 each. We took them all but had missed the opening comedian for Jerry by this time. All of the seats were good. I am not sure if there is a 'bad' seat in Celine's theatre. Some are just further away. It was a great show.
After the show we messed around out front of the theatre laughing and being tourists then we took off down the casino toward the Forum Shops headed for the Mirage. As we were walking, a group of people was moving towards us with a person in the center of the movement. Jerry walked right past John and I. Deb and Larry were behind us. When he walked past Deb and Larry she grabbed him by the arm and said, 'Hi, Jerry!' He looked at her with a big smile and said hi. No one ever said Deb was shy. What a thing to happen to people that watch Seinfeld re-runs everyday. Well, this kept us in Caesar's. We grabbed a bite in Market Square. Great place to eat because everyone gets what they want. Never saw Jerry move through the casino for second show. We headed back to Mirage. Boys went exploring. Deb and I played there. We went back to the room at 12 or so just beat from the day.
Deb and I played through the morning, and then we met the boys for lunch at 12:30 'under the Rolex'. Decided to keep meals at the Mirage for comps. Caribe for lunch. Nothing on the agenda for the day. I thought we might find some $5 tables of blackjack and train the boys. We wandered over to the Casino Royale. Phil, our dealer there, was friendly and understood the boys were learning. With Dad supplying the chips John and Larry were having a great time, and we were doing ok. John had some trouble staying on his seat once and flipped cards and another chair all over the place. We called him David Copperfield after that. I'll bet the people upstairs watching this group were having a fit. We played a few hours and had a great time. Phil is good guy and the $5 table had fast drink service. We will go back.
We went to IP and looked around. I played some blackjack at their tables. The rest had a drink and watched. These dealers were neither friendly, nor slow. They deal fast here. So fast it wasn't even fun. I walked away a winner, but I didn't enjoy the time. JUST TOO FAST. We head down to Paris, Bally's, Bellagio, and Caesar's for visits. Then back to the Mirage for the pizza at CPK. VIP lines and comps are spoiling me. Had a great meal. Everyone is ready to go back to Casino Royal. We did. We played. After an evening over there it was good to get back to the Mirage for some VP at the sport's book bar with call drinks. Mirage really should have some $5 blackjack tables. I think they do in the summer when they are not that busy.

Slow start. Last day. Deb and I play till boys are up and ready. Lunch at Caribe. It has been good since that first night. Today we are going to explore together. We take off for the Venetian. Looked around but not much going on. Then we head to Harrah's for the courtesy bus to Rio. Rio was fun. Carnival was 'gayest thing I have ever seen' according to Larry. I don't think he liked it. He has also, finally, hit a place that just plain took his money. Poor kid. We talk about going over to the Palms but everyone wants to go back to Casino Royale for blackjack. We head back to Harrah's on the bus. We stop and enjoy Harrah's with some goofy quarter machine that gave us a couple of good jackpots. So we play a while longer. We decide to play there together on a $1 slot. An old Double Jackpot machine that we don't see much anymore lets us play for quite a while. This is the point of the day when the Pack is about to win and the Vikings are about to give it away, so we watch the end of the two games at the sports book in Harrah's. The crowd goes wild. We play again around the casino, then decide to go play BJ at Casino Royal. We play for a couple of hours. When we are done there, we are all starving. Buffet at Mirage sounds like the answer. Even with the VIP line we wait forever because the buffet is in a temporary space at the Mirage as they remodel the old buffet area. We do get in, and the food is fantastic. Everyone samples a bit of everything, and we get our fill of shrimp and Crème Brûlée. Even in their temporary space the buffet at the Mirage is one of our favorites for the quality of everything they have out.
Deb and I decide to play in the Mirage for the rest of the night and boys follow suite until later when John wants to go back to Casino Royale. Both boys go over and play. We stay. At 12 Deb and I call it a day because we have flights that require an early rise at 6. Not too much later they arrive at the room, John wants to get some of his money and go back. Larry is ready to hit the hay with his bankroll. Larry explains to us that there was a young lady over at the BJ table that John liked talking to. That is when Larry got his brother back for the plane comments. He told him to go back over there and get to talking with the young lady then tell her, 'Hey, you want to come back to my room where I am staying with my mom and dad and sleeping with my brother?' Guess who decides to stay in the rest of the night and get some sleep for our departure?

Check out is a breeze. We had gone to the host last night and been comped well. I think the best comp is the VIP line card. Uneventful trip back to Mpls.

You can have great time in Vegas with your grownup kids. We did this trip because who knows when we are going to get another chance to spend this much time together again. This was our favorite trip to Vegas, and we have gone at least twice a year for 8 years.