My wife and I try to schedule a short trip to Las Vegas this time of year just to get out of town for a few days. Since Albuquerque is surrounded by Indian casinos, the emphasis of the trip is more for just having a good time rather than breaking Vegas with our winnings. In past years we have usually booked a three day trip through Southwest Airline Vacations. This year, however, at the suggestion of a co-worker, we looked at U.S. Airways Vacations and booked a four day trip for less money than three days would have cost us through Southwest. Because my knees aren't what they used to be, we booked our trip at the Golden Nugget downtown rather that one of our usual Strip hotels. My wife was hesitant at first due to a bad experience we had downtown several years ago, but the treatment we received at the Golden Nugget was first-class. When we arrived at the hotel, the desk clerk immediately upgraded us to a two-bed room on the tenth floor without us even asking. This was above the sound on Fremont Street so sleep was no problem The beds were feather light. The desk clerk also gave us a copy of their funbook which gave us two 2-4-1 meals at their buffet. The food selection was great for the price and service was great.We only used one of the coupons and kicked ourselves for not using the other. One thing I noticed at the downtown casinos was that if you tipped the cocktail hostesses with as little as a buck, you didn't have enough time to finish one drink before they brought another one.

My solution to a cheap tour of the Strip is to hop on the Duece at the Downtown Transit Center (2 blocks from the GN), buy an all day pass, and ride from downtown out to the Southside Transit Center and back. This way you're guaranteed a seat next to the window both coming and going without the hassle of finding a seat midway through the trip. Las Vegas needs to win an award for the number of people they can pack into their Strip busses. This took the full first morning but allowed me to see what was new on the strip. Condo's seem to be the rage right now with price tags higher than the national debt.

We went to two major shows with 1/2 price tickets from Tix-4-Tonite. One show was out at the Tropicana and the other was at the Golden Nugget. It was very interesting that we could go to Tix-4-Tonite to get half-priced tickets for a show in our own hotel.

All-in-all the trip was very relaxing, the airline people were great, TSA was tolerable, and Las Vegas was just a great place to be.