We were not supposed to be going to Vegas at all this year, with a big "dream of a lifetime" trip planned for September that will take the great majority of our vacation days, not to mention our vacation budget.

What can I say. I broke down one day in February, and booked a quick 3-day Vegas trip through Airmiles, and then called my husband to ask him what he would think about going to Vegas "just for a long weekend". He said "let's talk about it tonight when we get home from work". I told him it was too late, I'd booked the airfare and we were going. He said "fantastic, see you at home tonight, honey!"

We stayed at the Hilton on our first night, only because I found a rate of $25 on www.LVTB.com for the Friday night, so we couldn't pass up the price. The room was nice and all, but I've never been a big fan of the hotel itself. The bed was comfy and I liked the duvet and nice pillows, so that was the most important thing for me - a comfortable bed.

Our next 2 nights were at the South Point, which reminded us of the Orleans. Of course, the hotel was a Coast property initially, so that made perfect sense. I love the Mardi Gras heads over the gaming tables in the Orleans, and the Mardi Gras theme. However, South Point is just kinda blah - nothing to give it any originality or personality. Our South Point room was nice enough, but I prefer the homier feel of the Orleans rooms. Like the Hilton, the bedding was a duvet rather than the standard sheet and blanket. As for the big flat-screen tvs, what's the point of having LCD or plasma tv's if you aren't going to pipe in HD with it?? No matter, I guess, cuz we don't go to Vegas to watch tv, but we like it on while we're getting ready to go out in the morning, and for bed at night. As for the casino area, I found the high ceilings and bright lighting gave it a kind of warehouse feel. I'd stay there again for the right price, but wouldn't go out of my way to play or stay there otherwise.

The one hotel we really liked, and had never been to before this trip, was the Silverton. We enjoying strolling through their Bass Pro Shop. "Bass Shop" is really a misnomer - it's more like the culmination of every hunting sport in one mega-store. The huge fish tanks, waterfall, extensive inventory of fishing and hunting gear, equipment, gunsmith, shooting range, etc. etc., and sheer size of the store were so impressive! As for the casino itself, we liked the "locals" atmosphere of it, and would certainly consider staying at Silverton on a future trip.

We spent most of Saturday afternoon at the jewelry show at the Cashman Centre. The jewelry ranged from fashion jewelry to the expensive stuff. It you were into beading, there were numerous tables laid out a foot deep with beads of every color, size and shape. I can't speak for the beads, but the jewelry prices seemed pretty good, more wholesale than retail. I have to wonder if you were to show up late on the last day of the show if you couldn't get some even better deals at that time. Although a lot of people were looking, it didn't seem to me that a lot of people were buying.

At one of the booths there was a character who was the epitome of a sleazy used car salesman. He was in his late 50's and wore a really bad, matted, gray toupee. The rug was tilted at an odd angle, and its user life had expired a decade ago. He had adopted a carny mentality and was badgering people to come over and look at his jewelry. Signs indicated that everything was 75 to 90% off, and he had a "authenticity certificate" for each ring on the table. The longer you spent looking at his jewelry, the more intense and badgering his sales-pitch got. He was incredulous that people weren't snapping up his wares like hotcakes. I was interested in one of the rings at his booth, but I wasn't comfortable with the idea of giving the guy my charge card number.

That night we went to see a comedian, Robert Schimmel, at the Monte Carlo. We had seen him years before (although we didn't realize it until just after this show started), and let's just say that his comedy routine is not something I would take my mother to see and you won't be seeing him on PBS anytime soon.

On Sunday we went to check out the grounds and pool area of the JW Marriott, beside the Rampart. That is one bee-yooo-tiful area. It's like a large park, with trees, greenery and waterfalls everywhere. The pool area is also very nice.

Our friends that we usually to to Vegas with couldn't stand it, and about a week before we left my girlfriend emailed me to say they would see us in Vegas on Sunday night. We picked them up at the airport and spent most of Monday with them. It was SOOOOO difficult leaving them behind in Vegas last night, and I even went so far as to call WestJet to see how much it would be to stay a couple more days. Better judgment won out, and here I sit at home knowing we did the right thing. Sometimes it sucks being so goddamn responsible.

Oh, and as for gambling, well, they say you shouldn't spend more money than you're willing to lose. We won some, we lost some, and we had fun doing it. Managed to come back with a small part of the budget intact, so, as many people have said before me, that's a win in our books!

We've gotten used to 10 day trips, so it was really difficult to leave for home after only 3 days. I shouldn't complain: a little Vegas is better than no Vegas at all!