June 8-15, 2007

Preamble: We (Cathy-Wife, Richard-Me) decided about 2 years ago to go to Vegas for our 10th anniversary and put out an open invitation to any of our friends that wanted to join us. We suggested we'd even get re-married by Elvis. Our friends Mike and Alison decided to join us but due to work conflicts only Mike could make it. None of our other friends joined us (what's up with that?). We had an offer for free/cheap nights at IP so gave that to Mike to use as we didn't want to stay there. We were waiting for a Mirage offer to come in but nothing surfaced so we would up settling for Flamingo (hereafter known as the Flaming-O) because it was close.

We left on Friday evening. I worked that day but didn't get a lot done. The dollar has been strong lately so we had exchanged some money beforehand and took come Canadian with us in case we ran out. We flew out on Westjet which has those fancy little TV screens in the back of the seats so that helped pass the time. There was a bunch of guys going to Vegas for a stag and they all wore those cheap straw cowboy hats except for one guy who wore a little kids cowboy hat complete with whistle. As Mike noted, "Kinda dorky but he pulls it off".

We landed, collected our luggage and went to the new car rental facility. It?s quite nice and there wasn't a line up at that time of the night. We got our car (White Dodge Avenger) and hit the road.

We checked Mike into IP where he got upgraded to a King Luv Tub suite (I guess it?s an upgrade?). He got a coupon book which we would dip into a few times on the trip. We checked into Flaming-O where they proceeded to tell us that even though we had our room booked for over 3 months all they had left was a handicapped suite. I thought this would be OK. After getting lost a few times due to bad directions, we finally got into our room. Well it was a little larger but had this weird open shower area that I would be embarrassed to give to a handicapped person. Not good. A couple of phone calls later we were told to check back in the morning and we would be moved. We did and we were. BTW, Harrahs owns almost everything now including IP and Barbary Coast (Now Wild Bills). We stayed close to home that night, playing at the IP and a few casinos in each direction. Having some drinks and generally having a good time. Went to bed around 3:00am.

The next morning (Saturday) we had breakfast at Harrahs. I believe I had chicken fried steak and eggs in honor of one of our traveling friends who wasn't with us this trip who usually has it almost every morning. Wasn't bad. We hit Vons for some fruit, etc for breakfast instead of buying breakfast as we are not big breakfast people. Mike also decided on a Jug'O Tequila and I got some beers (surprise!). We had a new cashier and somehow she wound up not charging us for the family size of Tequila. First score of the trip! We toured around mid strip getting ready to head downtown. The AVLV soiree cocktail party was happening tonite and I had interest in popping in as we haven't attended one since the second annual event some years back. We ate dinner at PF Changs. Excellent as usual.

We decided to cab it so no one would have to drive. Well, we got into the cab with the most opinionated cab driver I have ever met. He had a whole scripted rant for the entire trip downtown where we could not get in a word if we wanted to. It was kind of like being in the middle of a George Carlin routine. He bashed Bush, the USA and when he learned we were Canadian, bashed Canadians too. If we weren't halfway to downtown we would have told him to stop and let us out. Talk about a captive audience.

Once downtown we went to the El Cortiz where the AVLV meet was. I normally wouldn't have ever gone into this place but as it turns out, it wasn't that bad. A lot like Binions and the other downtown properties. We walked around the place a couple of times but didn't see anything that looked like an organized meet. At one bar I asked two guys if they were part of an internet meet and basically got "No but I can be if you want". Hmmm, see ya. Never did find it. Found out after that it was in a room upstairs. Guess I should have got better instructions.

Left El Co and toured around Freemont, ending up at the Golden Nugget to look at the new pool. It was fantastic! Cabanas over top a shark tank over top the pool. You'd have to see it. I dipped my feet in the pool because I foolishly was wearing a brand new pair of sandals. Can you say sneakers and blister Band-Aid for the rest of the trip? We went back to the strip where Mike said he was beat so we dropped him off at IP and we went back to Flaming-O.

Cathy and I sat at Bugsys bar playing VP and getting drinks. I am fine with buying drinks in Vegas instead of playing for them but we sat there for a while on our $20 and watched a ton of people pay $6 for a beer. She actually hit a natural straight flush playing Joker Poker. BTW, VP was my game of choice this trip, starting with DW and then going into JOB, staying away from DB. Overall never getting anything much the entire tip. We finally went to bed around 4:00am.

Sunday we were supposed to go to IP and get Mike and munch on breakfast as he had a fridge and we didn't. We got to his room at 10:26. Cathy had a key so we went into the room only to find a note saying, "Got tired of waiting, left at 10:25, will meet you in the Flaming-O garden". Doh! Must we have crossed paths in the elevators? BTW, the IP elevators SUCK! That's all I'm saying on that. Anyway we ate our muffins and fruit and went back to the Flaming-O where we found Mike sitting on a bench in the sun. It was hot the entire trip, topping out at 114 one day!

We went to the Callaway Golf Center to play two rounds of 9. Cathy joined us for 9 and we continued for another 9 while she sat inside (smart). She loved the 3 iron and now wants one in her bag. I missed a hole in one by inches! We finished nearly heat exhausted and ate lunch there. Quite good and very reasonable. Went to Mandalay Bay for a while as I tried to cool down. I didn't feel myself again until close to dinner. Dinner BTW was at Margaritaville. Hot wings were hot!!! Quite good though. Washed it down with what else but a Margarita.

We went to IP, used some coupons for cheap drinks and played a bit. Found Mike at Keno where he was complaining about his beer disappearing when he got up to play. The cocktail waitress came, we placed orders and Mike went to the Bathroom. She came back, saw he wasn't there and didn't leave him a drink. Mike came back and saw me snickering to myself and figured it out. He flagged her down and teased her about it where she proceeded to tease him back by coddling him and calling him "Coors Light". He wound up doubling fisting beers for a while. A Vegas moment that was kinda funny.

We then went to O'Sheahs where Mike found a machine that he sat on for a few hours. There was also a Village People Jackpot party machine that was quite fun, playing all of their hits every time you got a party. Lots of dancing around that machine. So, I am standing there watching Mike play when a fellow stands up on the other side and says, "I see your machine is paying off too". I walk over and see this machine paying off with NOTHING on the wheels to make a pay. I look at him and say you have nothing, the machine must be broken. We watch it count up and I tell him to be low key. He says he'd be happy with $100 so then it reaches $120 suggest that he take the money and run. Tells me his name is Joseph and thanks me. Afterwards we both wonder what we could have let the machine run up to. Remember, broken machine voids all pays. We see Joseph on and off that night with his partner. Nice guys. Cathy did quite well here playing LIR/3CP. She got a straight flush that paid her well.

Anyway, Mike is tired of beer so I decide to buy him a Cabo-Wabo Margarita at the bar for $6. Expensive but what the hell. He loved it so a little later I bought him another one (found out later we had 2-for-1 coupons for these). Well these must have been powerful because he was WASTED! He was quite funny but I hung around to keep an eye on him. I decided to buy him some fries at Burger King and that really seemed to help him. We walked him home and we went back to our room around 2:00am. Turns out Mike stayed up until 4:00am. Can take 'em home but can't put 'em to bed I guess.

Monday was Cabana day so we set alarms to make the most out of the day. We booked a Cabana at Flaming-O a few months ahead of time in the adult pool. We just assumed this meant no kids but nope, it?s what they call a European (topless) pool. Well I'll tell you there are just some women (and men) who should keep their tops on! Anyway we got our Cabana, were introduced to our Cabana girl (Laura) and our server (Ronnie). Turns out the Cabana comes with your choice of a liter of liquor and 3 jugs of mixers. Hmm, what do we choose, what do we choose? TEQUILA! Needless to say we had a very nice day just relaxing on our private loungers, munching on lunch and hopping in the pool. Ronnie got Mike and me to go down the water slide with her. A really nice relaxing day. And yes, we (Mike and I as Cathy doesn?t like tequila) finished the bottle with no ill effects as it was over an 8 hour period. Left the Cabana at 5:00pm went up to our room to shower and came back down for dinner at the coffee shop as we didn't want too much. Overall a quiet night, in bed by 11:00 to rest up for our road trip tomm.

Tuesday was our road trip to Laughlin. We are finding that Vegas is tight and very busy now. We like a more laid back style with more to do besides gambling and better payouts. My uncle goes to Laughlin a lot so we decided to check it out. Up at 8:30, Mike comes over with coffee. 90 minute trip, very windy. Uneventful except for some good driving by Cathy to miss a blown tire in the middle of the road while a semi was passing us on the drivers side. Tire winds up swiping the side of the car which we were able to clean off with a gas station squeegee. Close call.

We started at the top of the hill at Harrahs. A nice property, I could stay there. Golden Nugget was also nice. We went into Colorado Belle. It was OK but I don't think I'd stay here. Laughlin is very laid back with a lot of seniors. We joked, what is better fighting off seniors or young punks? As we get very good deals to Laughlin in the winter from our city we think we may try it one day.

We went to our rooms to shower and hit the North strip. I had a little luck at Slots of Fun playing Blackjack. We all had the huge hotdogs here, Mikes with chili and cheese. We hopped across to the Frontier to bid it farewell. I didn't bother getting anything as I still have my huge Margarita glass that they used to give you 10 years ago. Use it for pocket change. At the Riv Cathy played LIR and the guy next to her was being quite friendly. I walked over and stood behind her to watch and this guy looks at my feet and then slowly up to my eyes and says, "You MUST be her husband". I said yup, and he goes "Of course you are". I thought it was quite funny. I guess after I walked away he commented on the size of my calfs. Hey, I don't care; let my wife have some fun. Turns out this guy was very loaded and called himself Kenny Bruce. Harmless. Made it to bed at 1:30.

Wednesday we decided to head out to Lake Las Vegas to check it out. Very nice 5 star resort. A little too posh for us. We'll scale it back to Bellagio thank-you. We were in the park anyway so toured around looking at the scenic outlooks and stuff. Mike was hurting with heartburn and Cathy was tired so we broke for naps. I had intended to go gamble but found myself watching TV and then nodded off. We had reservations at the steak house in Harrahs and had to scramble to be ready. Ugh, long pants in the heat were not nice. Mike and I were both uncomfortable. We heard that Outback was recently rated the #1 steak in Vegas so we canceled Harrahs and went to outback. My steak was great, so was my wife?s but as usual with us, Mikes was shoe leather. He complained and it got removed from the bill. Poor guy has no luck dining with us.

After dinner we changed back into shorts and then walked across the street and went to Caesars to look around and then over to Bellagio. Played a little, but as usual, wound up back at O'Sheas. Mike and I split 2 Cabo Wabos with a 2 for 1 coupon. My "big" hit of the trip was on a .25 WOF where I didn't hit the wheel but hit 5x3x3Bar for $250. That helps a bit. Mike was tired so we went our separate ways around 11:00. We went back to the Flaming-O and sat at the garden bar for a couple of hours her sipping Cosmos and me chugging, er, sipping Buds while playing VP for a while. At midnight we toasted our anniversary. We found a game here called flop poker and tried it. Quite fun with potential to make some money at a full table. In bed by 1:30am.

Thursday we decide to hit the outlet mall so we drover over there. Went to the Disney store but were quite disappointed. Walked the mall. Mike and Cathy buying a few things, I got a Vegas bike plate for our daughter, that's all I bought the entire trip! We then went to Venetian to spend the money my Dad gave me with instructions to "play something stupid". Played $5 WOF, hit the spin once for $100 and proceeded to lose it all. Too bad the spin wasn't better! Now sometime during this trip we find one of those fortune teller machines which proceeds to tell my wife that bald men will be lucky for her. More on this later.

We make it back to O'Sheas where we can use our 2 for 1 coupons. Mike decides to have Cabo Wabos again. I have this mental picture in my mind of Mike standing there with a Cabo Wabo in each hand with a big grin on his face. I thought based on previous experience that one was for me but he sits down with both of them. Watch out! I made a few bucks playing some Kings Ransom game or something like that and Cathy is playing my Dads money placing her stupid bets on roulette. I walk over and see a big stack of chips in front of her and look at the wheel. One of her numbers was red 25 and it hit two times in a row with $4 and then $8 on it. To top it off she is sitting with two bald men at her table. Wow. Go back to tell Mike and he is near comatose again. Drag him into BK and get him a whopper and fries. He quickly feels better but decides he should go to bed. We wind up playing all over the place and make it to bed around 2:00am.

Friday. We have to check out and told Mike we'd come pick him up. We decide to call the Bell man because we have to cooler and some bags to drag out. Mistake. We just should have made 2 trips to the car. It took over 45 minutes for him to get to the room and Cathy was waiting in the car worrying because she sees an ambulance pull up and starts thinking the worst. She parks and comes running into the hotel only to almost crash into me. Had I not went that way we would have missed each other. Tip the Bell guy and load up the bags. At IP I realize I am missing my sunglasses. Oh well, they were cheap and lasted me a good 2 years. Must have fallen off in the transition. Turns out Mike gets an extension on his check out and did some ironing while waiting for us. He said he did more ironing this trip while waiting for us than he did his entire life. :)

We decide to drive to Wynn to put some play in here. Still one of the classiest places in Vegas. Went to Peppermill for lunch and then on to Red Rock resort. Went down Charleston on the way there, big mistake. Resort was very nice, everything you need in one place including bowling alleys and theaters. I'd consider staying here. Went back using the freeway and it was much quicker. Stop in at Ellis Island to check it out. Very smoky, nothing special. No reason to go back there. We ate an early dinner at Callaway because it was good, cheap and on the way to the Airport and we know there is nothing but Pizza Hut past security. Last trip that wasn't even open. We return the car with no problem, giving the check in guys our foam cooler full of beer and water.

Sat at the Airport for 2 hours then boarded. Mike and Cathy slept a bit going home while I watched the headset TV. Landed, cleared customs, home in bed by about 3:00am on Saturday morning.