Hello readers. This will be a chronological report. It's my writing style and I'm too old to change. For those that don't know me, I'm a 56 year old retired sailor with 31 years of naval service which I'm pretty proud of. I still work for the navy as a government civilian writing training materials about foreign countries to help young sailors understand about other cultures. It's a pretty cool job and keeps my pockets lined with the necessary cash to visit Vegas several times a year.

I hadn't planned to make a December trip this year. For 8 months I had been trying to get the bride to decide where she wanted to go on vacation. She just wouldn't budge.

The day before Thanksgiving I had to go for a colonoscopy. Now if you've ever had one of these you know it is an extremely unpleasant experience. You have to fast from midnight the day before (about 36 hours or so) which is very hard to do. Then the night before you take about 32 pills and a boatload of water to 'prepare' yourself. I'll leave the details of that out. Trust me, you don't want to know.

So the morning of 'the procedure' my bride is driving me to the navy hospital and I have had a sleepless night, am very hungry and can think of nothing else but getting this over with and having something much more pleasant to look forward to. So I basically told her if she couldn't come up with a vacation idea I wanted to go back to Vegas the week before Christmas and have some downtime.

Great wife that she is she agreed to let me go solo. She hates flying to the point of getting physically ill and on our last trip in December of 2008 she was down hard for 3 days with bad back spasms. I guess I can't blame her for not wanting to go back for awhile. Nevertheless, I now had something to look forward to - a solo trip!

By the way, the first meal you have after fasting for 36 hours is the best tasting food you'll ever eat. I've had to go through this hell twice and both times I asked my bride to stop at Waffle House for a humongous breakfast. But I digress - on with the trip!

I searched many travel websites and almost pulled the trigger for 5 nights at Bellagio with airfare for $970. Sahara looked tempting with airfare for $470. The thought was even if the room was crappy I'd at least have the monorail to traverse the strip.

After thinking about it awhile and realizing I wasn't that crazy about Sahara in general, I decided to just go with the highly successful routine I have become accustomed to - Orleans. I called my host May and with little fuss secured 5 free nights in a standard room.

The best airfare I could find was with AirTran for $382 round trip. Not as bad as last May and there is always the possibility of getting a first class seat at check-in. I'm set.

Three days before takeoff I get an abscess above the tooth I had a root canal on 10 months ago. Damned 1,200 dollar root canal had gone bad and it looks like I may lose the tooth or have to get another root canal to remove a missed nerve. Almost got grounded but antibiotics saved the day and I'm good to go. Whew!

24 hours before takeoff I punch up AirTran's website to print out my boarding passes and secure an upgrade for first class seats on both my flights for around $178. Expensive? You bet. Am I worth it? To me, yep - I need to be well taken care of this trip - I need downtime!

A good, wait, great friend, Buddha777 had some leftover coupons from his ACG book which he graciously offered to me before I left. When his envelope arrived I was delighted to find 11 two-free drink coupons for Orleans and Gold Coast. Wow - 22 free drinks! Since I had planned a small meet at Orleans for the 14th, these would come in very handy. Thanks Buddha!

So begins trip #9 to Vegas.

Sunday, 13 Dec

I had a 6 am flight from Pensacola, FL to Atlanta, then on to Vegas. Bride grudgingly drove me there about 4:30am. She is not a morning person to say the least. After she dropped me off she had 2 nights booked at the IP in Biloxi so we'll both be gambling, just a couple of thousand miles or so apart from each other!

It's raining pretty steady but that's ok as long as the flight can leave. Board on time and I blissfully sit in seat 1A and prepare for a comfortable, albeit expensive, flight to Vegas. It's only 5:50 am but since I've paid well for my first class seat I order a bloody mary and enjoy it while waiting for the rest of the passengers to board. It's good to be the king!

Flight leaves on time and arrives in Atlanta on time. Flight to Vegas was delayed about an hour then off we go! Enjoyed a few bloody mary's while watching (in standard travel to Vegas tradition) 'National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation' and about half of 'Trains, Planes and Automobiles' (I love this movie!) before my wimpy DVD player died. I need a new one with extra batteries.

Landed at D concourse so it's off to the tram with the other cattle. I'm trying the Bell Trans shuttle this time so I go out and buy my tickets. Buy my ticket for $8 and ask if I am the last stop and they say 'nah, we have a separate route for off-strip properties'. Hmm, ok, so I go back in to baggage and grab my luggage which is already on the carousel then head back out to Bell Trans area. They put me on a shuttle with one other person, then about 6 others come aboard and off we go.

Of course, they lied to me about a separate off-strip run and take everyone to their stop on the strip first before they take me to the Orleans. Stop at MGM, Tropicana, NYNY, Excalibur, Paris, and then with me as the only passenger, the Orleans. The driver was nice though and it was fun to get chauffeured around the strip even if it was in the shuttle.

No one in line at check-in, asked for a strip view and was assigned room 1822 in the new tower. Envelope was waiting for me from my good friend Isles1 with his unused ACG coupons. Isles1 had just departed Vegas and left me the envelope. The best coupons were more 2-free drink coupons for Orleans. These will come in handy at the meet on Monday. Thanks Isles1 as always! You are the best!

My photos link at the end will show photos of the room which, if you've ever read any of my trip reports, you've seen before. Alas, I didn't take many photos this trip for reasons I will reveal later.

I always stash my funds in the safe and this time it was broken. I can't in good faith go out right away without knowing the bulk of my cash is safely stored so had to call for assistance. I used the time to unpack and iron some shirts.

Called again and they said it would be an hour or so and I could leave the room while I was waiting. So I took all of my stash with me and went down to the Alligator bar for my first drink and VP session. Bellied up and ordered a Crown and Diet Coke and commenced to wail away. Rotated through the different games as I usually do and when I played DB VP was rewarded with four 3's for a nice $100 win for the start of the trip!

Returned to the room and when the technician arrived it was bad news. The safe was really broke and they needed to install a new one. I sucked it up and waited for the task to be completed and used the time to iron absolutely everything that needed it and set my room up in anal retentive fashion.

My normal routine on arrival is to check in, unpack, then head to the shuttle to play at Bellagio and find something to eat. I had eaten very light all day so I would be hungry for some highfalutin vittles upon arrival. Although this routine had been slightly altered it was now time to hit the Orleans shuttle and head to Bill's.

Grabbed the shuttle from Orleans down to Barbary Bill's and made the trek over the pedestrian bridges to Bellagio. Walked straight to the Fontana bar where they make the best cocktails on the face of the earth (in my humble opinion (IMHO)) and stuck a C note in a $1 VP machine. Bartender walked right up and gave me my Crown. Here we go!

Last May this went well with a four-of-a-kind (4OAK) appearing almost immediately. Not so this time. That machine ate my hundy faster than a jack-rabbit on a date! I looked for my favorite slot, Triple-Triple Diamond but it is now gone. Instead of tucking my tail between my legs I tried several other machines with the same results. Now I really tucked my tail between my legs and did the walk of shame back to the shuttle. Stupid Sailor!

Upon arriving back at Orleans I returned to the scene of my first win at the Alligator bar and almost immediately caught four 3's with a kicker on DDB VP for a bankroll restoring $200 win. Whew!

Made some live keno bets which have not worked out well in the recent past but thought I'd give it a try. On my way out of the keno area I ran into DrDunno from one of the many Vegas forums I belong to. We chatted for a bit and parted ways knowing we would get together again tomorrow at the meet I had set up.

I noticed that tonight was the last night Don Miguel's would be open since it was closing for a Christmas break. That sealed the deal for dinner. I ordered the taco meal since I'd never had it. Delicious as usual with the complimentary chips, salsa, guacamole and bean dips. Washed it down with ice water to maintain hydration!

Commenced my first night of full-blown-gonzo gambling which is my nature if things are going well (sometimes even if things are not going well!).

Somewhere during the evening I hit four 2's with a kicker on DDB VP and put more money in the room before continuing on my all night binge. Then at some point I recall going back to the room to take that $200 back out.

Things got even more blurry and when the hammer fell I was going to bed at 9am on Monday morning $500 lighter. Not a good start.

Monday, 14 Dec

I woke up fuzzy headed (ya think?) at a staggering 2:30pm. Jeez! I've almost missed my own meet! Quickly got ready and knew I had to put some food in 'Mah Belly!' so I hustled down to Sbarro's for a slice of nice hot cheese pizza (just for me) and a coke.

There was very little time left so I ran back to the room for the free drink coupons I had received from Buddha777 and Isles1 (thanks again my friends!). Got to the meet area at the Mardi Gras lounge and soon thereafter was joined by can2do, sore eyes, DrDunno (and wife), Frank, Gene and BeeJay.

Even with this small group the drink coupons were all used over the course of 4 hours. This is the longest meet I had ever been where just about everyone stayed to the end and the conversation flowed non-stop about every topic you can think of. We even talked about endocannabinoid receptors and how they affect our habits of smoking, drinking, etc. I still don't understand it but at least I learned a couple of new words!

Frank and Gene brought a bag full of OV t-shirts and everyone got one. Thanks guys! Rhonda, who could not attend this time due to being on vacation had Frank and Gene bring me a really cool Popeye picture made of metal which appears to be of vintage age. I really loved it and my thanks to Rhonda for thinking of me. It is now displayed in a place of honor in my man-cave! You can see a photo of it in the photos section.

After the coupons ran out we had a few more drinks. I'd told the tale of my Stardust days when the bartenders used to call me 'Mr. Maker's Mark'. BeeJay brought me a tumbler full of the stuff and it sure tasted wonderful. Thanks BeeJay. I sipped it along with a Corona. Yep, I'm getting drunk again!

We took some photos to finish up. I only seem to have a group shot and a gag photo of Gene taking a swing at Beejay. It was all in good fun. Others took photos and will send them to me when they get a chance. My camera is a dud - I need a new one!

The meet broke up around 8ish and BeeJay, Sore Eyes and myself were pretty hungry so I suggested the Prime Rib Loft. It was so agreed so I called the PRL and made a reservation for 8:30.

We arrived shortly thereafter and I saw that one of the coveted tables overlooking the casino was available so I asked if we could have it. No problem so we enjoyed our meal while watching the action down on the casino floor. Quite a treat.

BeeJay had the shrimp and filet I think. Sore Eyes had the Gambler's cut of prime rib and I had the small, wimpy cut. Our meals were delicious and served pretty quickly as I recall.

After that we parted ways and I realized it was after 9pm and I hadn't gambled all day (if you don't count midnight to 9 or so am that morning!). Time to rectify that! It was more of the same up-and-down and I recall getting four 10's on DDB VP at the Alligator bar, four deuces at the Crawfish bar and finally four Aces at a Paddle Wheel progressive DB style machine but not much more. I do recall the Paddle Wheel progressive had a 9/7 pay table which is as close to DB VP full pay as you can find at Orleans. Off to bed at 3am about even for the day.

Tuesday, 15 Dec

Woke up at 5:30am. Sheesh - 2 ½ hours of sleep? Rolled over and tried to go back to sleep but no joy. Gave up at 6:30am and decided to do a monorail tour of the strip.

After I got all prepared I headed to the taxi stand with the thought that getting to the strip with a monorail stop would be cheapest by going to MGM. I think I chose wisely as the fare was only $10.10.

First order of business was to find the Lion's Share progressive machine. It took four tries to get someone to show me where it was. It sits in the area across from Tabu but that still doesn't help you find it in the sea of machines out there. Nice lady named Fab led me to it and even got a cocktail server to get my order. I was down $100 before I even got my coffee! No wonder no one can win this 2.2 million dollar progressive. Ah well I took a shot.

I was thinking about breakfast in the Studio Café but I love my early mornings on the Strip so I headed back to find the monorail station. An all day pass now costs $14 but I figured I'd give it a go.

First stop was Bally's where I made my way to the back of the casino and found the sports book bar. I was the only one there and ended up losing my $20 in short order on various VP but was rewarded with a pretty tasty bloody mary.

Went deeper into the casino and found another small bar near the side exit. The VP was better here and I had another bloody mary but found I'd lost my cigarettes. Not sure how that happened. Bought a pack at the convenience store just up the steps near the bar and returned to my duty of winning on the Strip for a change.

My history of always losing on the Strip (except sometimes at Bellagio) continued and so I walked back to the monorail station to continue my journey.

Next stop was IP and another long trek to the casino. I walked around with the intent of finding the coffee shop and getting some sustenance. Never found it on the second floor where I thought it was so either it's closed for good or I just got turned around cause I never found it.

Tried a round of VP at the bar which, as expected, turned out to be a fast losing session. Walked out front and headed north to Harrah's. Guess what? Lost there too.

As I headed to the monorail station that Harrah's shares with IP I found Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill. It's almost noon and I still haven't eaten so I figured I'd give it a go. Many have posted mixed reviews of this place but I found it OK. Had the meatloaf sandwich with coleslaw and it was served cold, just the way a leftover meatloaf sandwich should be IMHO.

Now that I was properly nourished I headed to the monorail station and got off at the LV Hilton. I was just through this place last May so didn't venture in far. I found a new Star Wars slot which looked like fun so I played it for awhile. Got lots of bonuses that kept me going. Cocktail Waitress (CW from now on) but I had a big bottle of water I had recently bought so I figured it was smarter to hydrate for awhile.

I eventually lost my buy-in so headed back to the monorail for the next stop - Sahara. The walk to Sahara from the monorail station is not that far here. Couldn't do anything on VP at the bar so figured it was time to call it day when I saw a new 3-Stooges slot. Now I'm a huge fan of the boys. I have all their shorts on DVD and use them when working out on the treadmill (yeah, it doesn't look it, but I do work out).

This game was fun. When you get a wild reel Moe, Larry or Curly does a little dance and puts wild symbols on your screen. The bonus spins are fun in that you start off with 2 or 3 wild reels. My twenty lasted a long time but I eventually tired of the game and cashed in about even.

I'm pretty worn out so I figured I'd ride the monorail back to MGM and take a cab back to Orleans. I was looking at my almost completely lost allotment of $300 and decided to get off at Flamingo and then walk down to Bill's to take the shuttle.

Got back to Orleans about 2:30pm and continued my losing ways but at least now it was Crown time so I started knocking them back. Since VP was not cooperating I found one of my old favorites - My Rich Uncle. This game can be fun and the bonus round is a reading of the will of Uncle Megabucks. I always choose 'Ray' since he likes to wipe his nose with his hand. It just cracks me up.

Well Ray was Uncle's favorite as he got everything in the will just about. Turned my $20 into $80 over a long period of play. This is more like it!

I needed some food so I headed over to Big Al's Oyster bar. Had my favorite New England Clam Chowder with the complimentary warm sourdough bread. Very good and very filling, not to mention pretty inexpensive.

As I walked around I noticed that now Brendan's Irish Pub now serves food but it comes from Fudrucker's. The list of offerings are limited but looked interesting. Mini sliders, fish sandwich, burgers, chicken sandwich, and I think hot wings. At least now this 'pub' can serve food. It always looks warm and inviting but it always seemed wrong you couldn't eat there.

I settled in at the Crawfish bar. Last year it wasn't open for the holiday period and that disappointed me as it's one of my favorite places to play. So I was happy to see that this year they were staying open during my stay. If you drink here, look for Kevin. He is a fantastic bartender and so are all the rest but I just didn't catch their names. They kept my drink filled and always asked if I wanted another even when I was still about ¼ full.

I just wish the gambling was going better. I was up and down but mostly down. I've never had a shortage of 4OAKs like this trip. If you don't get them you can't last very long.

I finally gave it up around midnight tired, disgusted and down to about half my bankroll for the trip.

Wed, 16 Dec

Woke up about 5:45am. Good brain says 'I'm tired of this, lets go home'. Evil brain says 'Wait! You have money left. Screw it, lets gooooo!' I listened to evil brain.

I had a $5 match play coupon that I used on an empty $5 table. Lost, as is the way of my world with match plays these days.

Decided to make sure I was properly fueled before heading downtown to MSS which I always like to visit at least once during a stay. Had a 20% off coupon for the Courtyard Café so I had the typical sausage, eggs, hash browns and wheat toast. Bill was next to nothing so I charged it to the room as I had with all my meals at Orleans.

Grabbed a cab to MSS which was a bit expensive at $24. Bellied up to the Boar's Head Bar and played for hours. I only got two 4OAKs but one was deuces on BP VP which kept me going. I think the bartender's name was Brian and he kept me supplied with coffee and water until about 10am or so when I tried a Black Chip Porter. Very good stuff.

Both the scratch off tickets I got for my 4OAKs were $2 so I decided to cash them in and move on. I was going to take a taxi back after visiting a few more joints but where I normally have found them in the past behind Binion's there was nary a one.

Now I was in a quandary as to how to get back but a light bulb went off and I went into the Golden Nugget and walked all the way to the back to find valet. Sure enough there were cabs but I wasn't quite ready to head back so I wandered around the Nugget until I found a VP bar. Finally got a 4OAK and cashed out $40 up.

Walked around some more and found the players club. I thought I had signed up for a card here years ago but I guess not. They have a promotion for new members where you press a button that spins a slot behind the counter which awards you up to a thousand dollars in free play. Only guy in line walks up, signs up, gets $100 free play. I walk up, sign up, and get $5 in free play. My timing is not good this trip.

So I go play my measly freeplay in a Double Diamond dollar machine. Five spins, five losses. Go home loser!

As I'm walking back towards valet parking I see a Triple-Triple Diamond machine. Oh joy! As I've mentioned I love these so I pop in $100 and sit down for some long-term fun. Oops, it's a dollar machine! I only play quarters. I've already spun so I decide to play it awhile.

On the 3rd spin it hits triple-triple and two double bars. That's 9 times the payout and it racks up $360. Finally, a decent hit! I cash out faster than a hamster on a date and I'm outta there!

I walk straight to valet and ask for a taxi. The official taxi guy (can't remember what they call these guys, not porter, not doorman, ?) asks me 'would you like a town car at a fixed rate of $25'? Would I? Even good brain thinks this is a smashing idea!

Seconds later a beautiful Lincoln Town car pulls up and the door is opened for me. This thing is clean and makes any taxi look like a cesspool. This isn't a limo but it ain't no Geo Metro either. The driver is friendly and we chat it up about all sorts of things, especially how slow it is. Turns out the reason I got this great deal was he was trying to drum up business anyway he could. He gave me his card and told me he could arrange any kind of transportation including party buses. Since I'm a party of one I pass.

We get to Orleans in short order and there are all sorts of emergency vehicles out front. He drops me off and I walk over to a couple who are looking at the accident and ask what happened. Turns out some guy on a bicycle ran into a car, hard! Not sure who was at fault here but the couple seemed to think the driver of the car cut off the biker. It was a rented car so hope he bought the insurance. Looked at the car and there is a major dent 3 feet high where the front wheel of the bike impacted. The guy is laid out on the road with a neck brace and paramedics all around him. The couple also told me the guy laid in the road 20 minutes before emergency vehicles arrived. I guess the moral is don't get hurt in Vegas unless you can last for at least 20 minutes! Seriously hope the guy is ok - the couple I talked to thought they heard he had at least a broken leg.

Head up to the room to drop off my jacket and all of a sudden my stomach starts cramping, I get nauseous and all that goes with it. I immediately lay down. Then I get the chills. Oh no, is this food poisoning? Stomach flu? I don't know but I do know even evil brain agrees is time to get into bed and stay there.

I tried to get up several times but my body told me no way cowboy! I stayed in my darkened room in bed until almost 9pm. At that point I knew if didn't at least get some water into me I'd be in even bigger trouble. This was my 3rd attempt to leave the room and finally I made it downstairs. There was no way I could eat so I bought a Pepsi at the gift shop which seemed like exactly what I needed and took up residence at a slant top VP machine to test the waters (of me, not the machine).

Of course I played it while I drank my Pepsi. Still queasy but a little more steady. I lost on the machine but kept playing because I felt moving was a bad idea.

After I'd lost enough to get disgusted I went to the store and got some water and a blueberry muffin - the blandest thing I could find. Went to the room and nibbled at half of it. Nope. Tummy no likey. Get back in bed shipmate.

Right after I laid down I here a series of booms (and it wasn't me) so go to the window. It's 11pm and Aria is having it's grand opening fireworks show. Orleans provided a fantastic view of the fireworks. I was just sick (literally) about how I came to see this display. I went back to bed and shivered in the fetal position for the rest of the night. Please mommy make this go away!

Thursday, 17 Dec

7am. OK, how do you feel? Good brain says stay in bed. Evil brain says 'eff you good brain, I've lost valuable Vegas time, Aria awaits'. Good brain agrees only if evil brain allows a test of the waters by consuming a bland bagel. Evil brain reluctantly agrees and I am told to get ready for the day.

Went to the Orlean's express and bought a bagel and bottle of water. Took it up to the room and ate and sipped water then waited for the results. No problem but I'm rumbling a bit if you know what I mean. No major after effects so think it might be OK for a short visit to Aria.

Grabbed a cab and asked if he knew how to get to Aria. He said he did. He didn't. He turned off LV blvd into Monte Carlo. Then backtracked and finally found Aria but the fare was much too high. I short tipped him and he understood and apologized. These things happen.

I think the most amazing thing about City Center that I've seen are the tilted buildings. It give the illusion of an earthquake (think 2012 movie) and the buildings getting ready to fall. Took a photo during my visit. Not sure if these are condos. Maybe someone can set me straight.

I walked through the registration area and found it impressive. No photos as my camera was acting up and not powering up. I had 3 backup batteries but sometimes it would power up and sometimes not.

I walked through the casino and found it dark, dark, dark! Even at 8:30 in the morning it felt like night. Maybe that's the goal.

My interest is always VP bars. My love of VP stems from interest in making strategy pay off and never having to worry about a CW coming around to give me a drink. The 2 VP bars I found were small and were minimum $1 and up. Seems to be the trend.

I walked the whole first floor and played one $1 VP machine which gobbled up my dough. No surprise there.

Decided to take the tram to get the big view. Took the long walk to find it and noticed the fountains which were fun to watch. The tram has blue tinted windows which makes photo taking useless. I'm sure it's for keeping the interior cooler in the warm season but it really screws the view.

I was going to explore more of CC (we have two CC's now?) but I still wasn't feeling 100% and my camera was not cooperating so I decided to cut it short and head back to the shuttle via Bellagio.

Got off at the Bellagio tram station and took some photos of Rio and Palms which came out great. Wanted to take a photo of the tram itself but camera acted up again. Time for a new camera.

Walked through the Bellagio conservatory and camera decided it wanted to work again. Why couldn't you work when I wanted a picture of something new?

Headed to the Fontana bar to see if Diane the world famous bartender was there. No dice and was going to play but hesitated for a second which was all it took for good brain to say ?let's move on?. Evil brain didn't even argue.

Walked over to Bill's via the pedestrian bridges. Overall Vegas was not that crowded this whole week and I've failed to mention the weather was wonderful. Mid to high 50's and low 60's and the news was busy with reports about today being the 1 year anniversary of the ?big blizzard of 08?. Yes, I will take this over last year's weather anytime.

Got back to Orleans and dumped my stuff in the room. I'm feeling better by the hour and hungry. Decided to test the waters with a $1 hot dog from the sports book. Just a little mustard and onions and sat at the Mardi Gras bar. Asked bartender if I could eat it there and he said 'don't ya want a beer with that dog'? - OK lets try it. Dog went down well although onions fell on the VP screen and the beer tasted pretty damned good. I think I'm cured!

DonQ from one of the (insert standard phrase) 'many Vegas forums I frequent' had called me this past Monday apologizing that he couldn't make the meet due to his class schedule. He was in town for a business related course. We planned to meet later in the week but when he called on the Wednesday from hell I told him I just couldn't do it but said I'd call him back Thursday to see if I was in good enough shape for a meet up (not a hook up!) on Thursday evening. I was now confident I could and called and we agreed to meet later that night at the Orleans. I still didn't want to venture out too far and take any risk. Don't want to be responsible for 'cleanup on isle 4!'.

I played awhile but again was losing and I only had a few hundred left of my bankroll. I figured a movie would kill some time so I went to see 'Everybody's Fine' with Robert De Niro. I've always enjoyed his films but going to the movies is an event for me since I go so infrequently. The last few trips I have enjoyed the likes of Star Trek and Indiana Jones. This was more family fare but there was nothing else that appealed to me.

The theater was devoid of patrons less me and 2 others. They sure didn't make any money on this showing. I enjoyed the film and especially the Vegas scenes. Add this one as another film with some Vegas footage and references to the Stratosphere revolving restaurant!

After the film it was time to print my boarding pass. I tried to do this at 2:24 pm for a 2:25 pm flight the next day. Lets just say that when AirTran says you can print you boarding pass a minimum of 24 hours before your flight they mean it! Had to wait a minute to get the job done. Pulled the trigger for business class upgrade for the same price as on the way out - I'll be very glad I did this later.

Tried to call BeeJay as we had planned breakfast at Peppermill at no specific time. No answer so left a voicemail. Found out later he texted me but I'm the last man in America without text capability. I turned it off last year after getting bombarded with spam texts which Verizon charges me 10 cent apiece for. Yeah, I'm cheap. That's good brain's doing.

Headed up to the room and opened the safe. $300 left of my $2,000 bankroll. I know that's mild for some but I felt kind of PO'd that I hadn't had a royal and the machines had, in general, been pretty brutal. But this was the last night and I'm going to make the best of it. With a noon checkout there will still be more time to play in the morning but I'll deal with that later. Off we go. Don't get scared now! (Home Alone, 1990)

Finally got another 4OAK which I hadn't seen in what seemed like days. Played up and down but steadily losing.

Took a break for dinner and used a ½ off ACG coupon for the French Market buffet. I ate almost the entire Mexican station and some apple cobbler with ice cream and washed it down with water. Wait, no ill effects. I'm cured!

I had hit the promo kiosk and found that some days I had a $25 Macy's card or free play and some days I just forgot to check. Today I had another $25 with the Orleans 12 days of Christmas offer and used it up quickly. Still having $25 freeplay almost every day is nice. Too bad it didn't help with the bankroll!

By the time DonQ called to meet I was about done. Cashed out a $36.25 TITO which represented the last of my bankroll. Met him and his co-workers on the second floor in the bowling alley. If you know his avatar on some boards I walked up with my TITO held on my forehead. We talked at length
and I can attest to the fact that he is one fine gentleman.

After we finished up talking we parted ways and I went to the Piano bar to see if I could make fate turn around. Although the friendly bartenders kept me plied with Crown which I now felt safe to drink again my luck was still out to lunch. After about 45 minutes my measly $36.25 was gone and I was left with that old sinking feeling. Do I take the walk of shame to the ATM or cash it in and go to bed?

Good brain: You should take more out. You lost almost a day of Vegas time and you deserve to play longer.

Me: Huh?

Good brain: Evil brain is holding a gun to my head. Help.

Me: Good for you evil brain. I headed to the ATM.

Since it looks like a total loss anyway I decide to go back to the piano bar which had a great band playing and play $1 VP. I play my old round-de-round style of play jumping from one game to the other. What a surprise, I hit a 4OAK on DB VP for $250! I cash out $300 and I'm winning. What a shock!

I head to the Mardi Gras bar and decide to continue this strategy. I play $1 VP and include keno at $1 a pop in my round-de-round play with 7 numbers selected. Low and behold I hit 6 out of 7 numbers for $400. What the hell is going on?

I ended up at the Alligator bar around 1am. My streak was up and down but I had recouped $300 of my lost bankroll. My favorite bartender Luis was great and fed me Crown until I was ready to keel over. I ended the night with about $400 of my original bankroll restored. There is still hope. Never give up, never surrender (Galaxy Quest, 1999). Hit the hay about 3:30am.

Friday, 18 Dec

I woke up at 7am. Yep, I'm back to normal! Lets give it just one more shot, shall we? (Good brain is dead, evil brain is responsible)

Finally, for the first time since I arrived, I performed my Vegas tradition. Coffee and VP at the triple play machines near the keno area. No kindness here. It sucked me dry, but only for $20.

I decided to play hard. What did I have to lose? I had a coupon for 50% off the Orleans buffet so decided to have some breakfast there. It was a cattle call! Lots of high school sports teams filling up the line. I sucked it up and in about 20 minutes was grazing with the best of them. Eggs, corned beef hash, bacon, sausage, you name it. Great stuff and it all went down smoothly. Oh, I did have a slice of melon to keep me healthy.

Back to the fight and scored another 6 out of 7 on $1 keno. Another $400! Could I possibly make it all back?

It was a good fight. The dollar VP was very forgiving. I had more full houses, flushes, straights and two pair I had all week. Seems like I could float a $100 for hours, get down to $5, then hit something to bring me back. I started wishing that I'd played dollars all week, then remembered the first night at Bellagio and what a disaster that was. Oh well, I was now officially having big fun.

As the clock wore down I was freaking out. I'm now winning and I have to go. This pattern of play was working but my time was running out. Come on Royal. Come on 7 out of 7 on keno.

The clock ran out. About $600 of my bankroll restored. I resigned myself to having to go home a loser but at least not a complete bankroll loser. Headed to the room about 11:30am and packed up. If I'd only had more time. Checked out and checked my bags with bell services.

Checked my kiosk offers and I had 2 more $25 Macy's offers. Guess last nights play pumped them up. When I went to the player's club desk there were paramedics there. Jeez, was this a sign? Turns out one of the player's club workers had some kind of attack and they took her off on a gurney. My staff person that was helping me was so frazzled she messed up about 4 times before getting my offer right. I couldn't fault her. She was obviously upset who was a friend. We got through that and I told her I wished her co-worker well. This has been a truly weird trip - I've seen others in pain and so have I. I took the free play and lost it quick playing something silly.

Checked out with only $44 in charges. My host comped my Don Miguel's and Prime Rib Loft meals. Thanks May! Only charges were the few small ones I made at the gift shop and express joints. I checked my bags at the bell desk and took one last shot at VP.

Hit the VP again and lost $80 quickly. Now I knew it was good I was leaving. Grabbed my bags and headed to the airport. Had a great driver from London who loved Vegas but was driving a cab because he can't get work, after leaving and coming back, as a dealer due to the cutbacks in Vegas.

Got dropped at AirTran and checked in. Security was a nightmare cattle call and it was hot. Got through that and had some lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Express. Had a nice ham and cheese sandwich that was very tasty.

Boarded on time and sat yet again in seat 1A. There was a toddler back in coach screaming 'I want mommy' for about 45 minutes before we left. We all felt very sorry for the coach folks but I ordered another bloody mary anyway. Evil brain smiled.

Flight was uneventful and I finished watching 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles', then started watching an obscure Vegas featured film, 'Going in Style' with George Burns and Art Carney. They rob a bank then go to Vegas (short story) and I think they end up at the Dunes. Can't really recall. Very funny and I highly recommend it.

Uneventfulness ended and we arrived in Atlanta on time. That's where it ended. The storms up north were causing massive delays. My flight got delayed over 3 hours when all was said and done. I was supposed to arrive in Pensacola at 10:18 pm and ended up arriving at 1 am. In retrospect, I was lucky. Today the whole east coast is in turmoil in terms of flights. I met a father and son that were stuck overnight. Sad stuff.

Hope you got a laugh, learned something or just generally enjoyed reading my ramblings. This was not the best trip I've had but it certainly brought new experiences into my Vegas travels.

Here is the link to the photos. Thanks for reading and happy holidays!


Update: I forgot to mention the Christopher Walken paintings at Aria. They are on the wall on the left of the casino if you were walking towards the tram. Very odd but kind of cool. Here is a link to one - http://twicsy.com/i/2R4Td/s/f