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Category: 2009
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Warning - longish report.

After reminiscing about past Las Vegas trips with a bunch of friends, I got to thinking I would check into prices. Well, once that happened, there was no turning back. I first asked my boyfriend but he turned me down saying LV is not his idea of a relaxing vacation. I next asked my ex-sis-in-law, who had been with me before, but it turned out she needed to have back surgery. My sister, Sherry, heard I might be going and said she was interested, then asked our good friend Agnes if she was interested. Agnes is going through a nasty divorce and thought this was just the diversion she needed. So the crew was set with Sherry, Agnes, and me (Karen) for 6/20-6/26. My 3rd trip (the first 2 for conferences so this was my first total vacation), Sherry's 2nd (both vacation) and Agnes's first. We're all late 40-ish gals.

I stayed at Agnes's house the night before as she is closest to the airport. Silly us, we stayed up until about midnight packing and drinking. Sherry arrived with her husband Chuck, our chauffer to the airport, at 4:00 a.m. We ended up leaving Syracuse, NY airport about 30 minutes late due to a broken armrest and not enough of the correct flotation devices for the number of lap children on board. The stewardess warned us that we might not make it to Chicago in time for our flight to LV - Bummer!! When we arrived in Chicago the clerk at the counter said RUN to our terminal. We were the last people to board with only 2 minutes to spare - Yeah! I think we all napped a bit on the flight and arrived 10 minutes early, around 9:40.

Airport was easy and we were at Thrifty rental in no time. We were told to pick anything in the row. Even the Mustang, we asked? Yes. Let's go for it. Luggage was a bit tricky and poor Sherry always had to ride in the back seat since she was not willing to drive. The thing was pretty stripped down with more miles than my own car, but we thought we were cool for a week. Agnes thought she looked the coolest so she got to do most of the driving. Her phone had GPS so I was the front seat co-pilot. And Kudos to Agnes, for her EXCELLENT driving skills in getting us every place we needed to go.

Arrived at Excalibur around 11:30 a.m. and we wanted a high strip room with smoking. He said he only had non-smoking at the moment but why didn't we just crack the window and blow smoke out? Fine. I don't smoke but Sherry and Agnes do; they were very good about sitting on the window sill and holding their cigs out and blowing smoke out. Cheating, I know, but the guy suggested it! We had a remodeled Tower II room with widescreen TV, which we never watched. The bathroom was large enough. Just fine.

We had a great view of the strip from the 21st floor. We had stopped to by a 12 pack on the way and proceeded to ice it down and relax with a few beers. We then went down to explore Excalibur and gamble a bit. The smoke is no worse than anyplace else, though I am a former smoker and live with a smoker. We left for Boulder Station about 5:00 to see the comedian Gallagher. Gambled for a while then headed to the show. I knew we had VIP tickets and wasn't that surprised when they offered us large trash bags to take to our seat in the 2nd row. We immediately 'suited up? and hoped for the best. He had a bit of mildly funny stuff and lot of pretty offensive stuff before he got to the food. I was trying to peek out at the flying food fest but finally gave up when the carton of chocolate soy milk (which he doesn't like, apparently) came flying my way. For the duration, I cowered as best I could under my plastic bag and managed to avoid getting most of the goo on me. In the end, Sherry said she liked his old stuff better but Agnes thought he was great. What a MESS the showroom was. A little more gambling then back to bed at Excal by 12:30, which would be our earliest night. I lost my entire gambling budget for the day. We meant to switch around 3 girls sharing 2 beds but Agnes and I both take sleeping pills and never noticed each other the first night that it was our turn to share so we left it that way and Sherry got her own bed for the trip (to make up for having to ride in the back seat).

On Sunday we were up by 8:30 and went to Nathan's for a quick meal. Then took the tram to MB just to see it, then stopped at Luxor on the way back. We then took a walking tour around the south strip to NY, NY, MGM, Bellagio fountains. Also stopped at Hawaiian Marketplace for souvenirs and M&M world for god knows what. Agnes insisted that we go though the M&M tunnel. I didn't get it at first, but then I stepped to one side and DID get it. A quick 5 minutes of fun. Also went to tix4tonight for Titanic Exhibition tickets (which Agnes didn't want to see). Gambled at Planet Hollywood. We ended up eating at Bill's Victorian café. Sherry and I thought ours was just OK, but Agnes sent back ribs and got them replaced with a just as bad hamburger. She was not impressed. We made our way back to Excal, stopping at Monte Carlo. I might mention that there is a lot of dead space in that area where they are building that new mall thing. MC was about the deadest, most boring casino I have ever been in. Back to Excal and up until about 3:00 gambling. I actually retained about $25 of my budget for the day.

Monday we were up at 8:00 for a crappy McDonald's breakfast. Then Sherry and I went to Titanic. This was interesting but I am glad we got half price tickets. There are some relatively simple things they could do to make it way better, especially the promenade deck part, but it was still kind of cool. My passenger and his whole family died. Some of Sherry's passengers survived.

Then we headed to Hoover Dam. Sherry and I have both been, but it was high on Agnes's list and we didn't want her to go alone. We took lots of pics and visited the gift shop. The bridge over Hoover is almost done and it was cool to get pics of it so CLOSE to each side being joined. Did I mention how cool GPS is? It is a *great* invention. We did get a kick out of it. Our first 'voice' was very matter of fact. I started playing around with another female voice and after we took our first wrong turn (hey- GPS isn't foolproof) we laughed hysterically as she *chastised* us about having to 'recalculate route'. We took a few more wrong turns just so we could laugh as we heard the exasperation in her voice at our inability to follow her directions. We quickly switched back to the less-critical 'Emily'.

On the way back we visited Fiesta Henderson and Green Valley Ranch. We meant to go to the Ethel M Chocolate factory but when I called they said the kitchen was being remodeled so we couldn't watch them make chocolate - skipped it. Went to Ellis Island for $6.99 steak dinner. Yummy. My 3rd trip and 3rd time to Ellis Island. I think this will have to become a regular stop. Won $100 on some penny machine (I think I won about $135 on a previous trip at Ellis Island). I want to try the BBQ at EI sometime.

Decided to drive to Stratosphere to ride the rides. Sherry wasn't interested but Agnes and I bought a pass for all 3 rides. It ended up taking a couple of hours. Bigshot was pretty wild, the other two were great fun, but I'm not sure anything but Bigshot is interesting enough to do again. Agnes and I both enjoyed. We laughed hysterically at our pics from the Bigshot ride and actually each bought one for $12.50 (I never get sucked into those offers). We could not stop laughing for 5 minutes straight. I finally said 'we are laughing at you, right?'. She said no, that she was laughing at me. Sherry later agreed that we were laughing at Agnes. ;-). Her skin was stretched such that she looked like she belonged in the Body Exhibition. Back to Excal and bed at 1:00am.

The next day we headed to MGM for the CBS television show rating. We completed a short questionnaire and they decided we should get the 'special' viewing (apparently we don't watch enough TV) that they would pay us $20 each! Cool! We went into a small room with 15 or so computer screens and proceeded to watch a modern version of The Newlyweds. Then we had to answer questions about the show and the commercials and products we had seen during it. Took about an hour. It was kind of interesting and we earned $20 each.

We headed downtown for the day. We decided to pool our $60 from CBS and play together at max coin. I suggested that we find the full pay JOB machines at 4 Queens. Sure enough, we found them and started to play. Interestingly, most people were playing KENO on these machines. We held steady for quite a while and then took a break. We ended up later splitting $30 as we could neither seem to win or lose on the money. I played Pai Gow poker at Binion's and ended up even. We thoroughly enjoyed the Fremont street show and the Beatles tribute band. So much so that everyone decided we should spend another evening downtown. I ended up a little drunk the first night downtown, but we went back to Excal and stayed up until 3:00 a.m.

I was feeling a little hung over but the girls dragged me to the Roundtable breakfast buffet. Agnes was quite a spectacle in her bright polka-dot pajamas. I think we all wore the clothes we slept in, then actually ordered beer around 10:00am when we got back to the casino. The buffet was so-so for me, 4 out of 5 for Sherry and Agnes. Excal had a very annoying problem in the casino with the fire alarm that day and it was going off every few minutes with a recorded message that there was no need to panic. It went on and ON. When we came back later in the day it was STILL going off. I think they finally fixed it that day.

We wandered to Tropicana, which was dead, then over to Hooters for the $100 free play. That's a joke. I never hit a single winning spin. We had tickets for Defending the Caveman and were planning to walk back to Excal but it actually RAINED. Down poured, in fact. We had to take a cab back to Excal. Caveman was so-so. Agnes used it as an opportunity to catch a nap. Some of the material was good - I suppose it might have been better if we went as couples instead of 3 chicks. But we did get discounted tickets at tix4tonight.

Back downtown later. Went to Mainstreet Station Buffet. Lot of choices but something 'off' about just about everything. Only $11 so it filled our bellies. Back to enjoy more Fremont street show and gambling. Later at the Golden Nugget, Agnes put $20 in the giant promo machine by the door and on the 3rd pull ($5 each) she hit for three 7's and $1000. Apparently somebody else had hit for the same thing just a short time earlier. I have never played it as I always thought it was a gimmick machine. Once I saw a constant line of people waiting to play I realize the casino must easily recoup every bit of the money that machine pays out. I'll say right now, Agnes was the big winner for the trip - beginner's luck. ;-). Back to Excal and bed at some point.

Thursday, our last day, we did more strip places. I simply can't understand how people can stand the SMELL at Venetian - and the place was busy! There is this perfumy kind of smell that I could taste in my mouth after about 5 minutes. Ladies, you'll understand this if you dab on perfume and then somehow get a taste of the finger you dabbed with. It was just like that! I couldn't stand the place and had to get out of there. And that Gondola thing seems very cheesy.

Went to Mirage - the place is HUGE. Flamingo was about our last stop. It had some of that smelly air but I was fairly close to the door and I think that helped. Agnes fell in love with multi-play poker. We searched for 50 and 100 play machines and found just a few in most places. We played for HOURS on $20 most of the time. So that is how we spent our last few hours, playing multi-play poker at Flamingo. Then we had to head to the airport for a 10:00 evening flight (to Boston, then 2 hour layover, then back to Syracuse by 10:00 am.). The US Airbus was a horrible ride. Very uncomfortable flight for a 5 hour trip!
- Overall, least problematic flights I have ever had.
- Overall, drink service was pretty good in most places, especially downtown
- I've yet to step foot in a Las Vegas pool, though I had thought I might check out the Excal pool this time.
- The room safe at Excal was cool
- Agnes said it is the best vacation she has ever been on
- On par with previous trips, I brought home about a 3rd of my gambling budget
- Sherry lost a small amount
- Agnes's $1000 win mostly paid for her trip
- The video penny slots were tight, tight! I can do better at our local racetrack casinos.
- My feet finally got broke in around day five
- Agnes and I did have a small spat about the best way to spend our time, but we later made up with a quick peck on the lips, much to Sherry's disgust
- How can you go to Vegas, get short on sleep, tire out your feet with all that walking, and NOT get a little cranky? I think it goes with the territory.
- I'm sure there are many other little things I left out of my notes that I would have liked to comment on

This is long enough. I think we thoroughly enjoyed our trip together and I wouldn't be at all surprised if we do it again sometime.

Love you girls and thanks for the memories!