OK...This is my last attempt to get this to upload to this page...Sorry about the mess...I hope this takes this time...

Forward: I will not apologize for the length or lateness of this report. When I got home, the last thing I wanted to do was to type a trip report. So, over the last couple of months, when I had time, I would type a few paragraphs. It is a long report with lots of details about our daily activities and meals with some gambling thrown in. I do appreciate and want to thank anyone who takes the time to read about our trip.

The day you leave for Las Vegas is one of the best days of the year, isn't it? So many things running through your head. Things like how much money you are going to win or what you are going to order at one of your favorite restaurant. Maybe it's that show you have been waiting to see. Maybe you are staying somewhere new this trip. You are nervous and excited at the same time. The anticipation seems almost unbearable. (well, at least it does to me)

This trip, taken October 4th to October 9th, was different than most of our trip to Las Vegas. Meaning that my wife and I usually go by ourselves, have our own agenda, our own schedule and our own plans. This trip included myself, my wife and my wife's parents. I took exceptional notes during the trip and while on the flight home, I went over them and started piecing together a trip report. I am pleased with the way the trip turned out and I am glad to share it with you.

We had been talking to my mother and father in law (MIL/FIL) for a couple of years about going to Las Vegas with us. They had not been to Las Vegas in 35 years. So, in essence, they had never been to what I know as Las Vegas. We were eating dinner (on a comp, of course) one night in March at the Village Square Buffet at Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs Iowa with my MIL/FIL. We told them they should go to Las Vegas with us this year. We told them about some of the must see attractions, some of the restaurants and some of the shows we could go and see. Well, we must have sold it pretty good because before we were done with dinner, they had decided to go with us. Over the next few weeks, we got together again and came up with some dates when we were all available. My MIL/FIL are retired but you would not believe how hard it was to find a week when they did not have something going on. Anyway, I gave then as much information as we could on all of the Harrahs properties in Las V
egas and asked them to pick were we should stay. After many debates and discussions over the next few weeks, my in laws decided on Ballys.

We decided on the week of September 27th leaving on Monday and coming home Saturday night October 2nd. Well about 4 weeks after booking the rooms and airfare, we found out Barry Manilow was not going to be performing the weekend of October 1st, which was not the main reason for going, but it was one of them. After some phone calls to Harrahs and doing some changes on line with Southwest, we booked the following week leaving Monday October 4th and returning Saturday October 9th. This would turn out to be a good thing as my wife would be having a birthday while we were there. So all turned out well.

We booked our tickets on Southwest on June 8th. My wife and I used 2 flights we had from Rapid Rewards that cost us $5 each round trip to book. I got a fare of $129 out of Omaha and $144 coming home for my in laws . This is not the best price we have ever got, but it was not bad and at least we had flights booked. Over the next few months, I would check the Southwest web site at least daily, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. Finally, on September 10th I got lucky and rebooked the flights at $99 and $109.

I had also been watching the Dollar car rental website for deals. On August 19th, got a deal on a full size car for Monday to Friday for $119.00 including taxes which we would pick up at the airport and drop off at the Bellagio. Just for my own curiosity, I kept watching the Dollar site and the rates went up to over $280 for the same dates we had booked.

I used the Harrahs website to book our rooms at Ballys. I used my Total Rewards card for one room and my wife's for the other. With no problems, we were able to get comp rooms for all 5 days in the South Tower at Bally. After booking the rooms, I asked my in laws if a newer room or a view was more important to them. They decided on newer rooms, so I called Ballys and spoke to a host there and asked him to put on the reservation that we were requesting the North tower. He said no problem. So we are set with all of the basics...plane, room and rental car. Now the real planning would begin...

Soon after booking everything, I starting working on a booklet for my in laws detailing what there is to see and do in Las Vegas. I basically started at Mandalay Bay and worked all the way north, describing what there was to see and do at each hotel on the strip. I also printed menus to several restaurants, information about shows, maps of various strip hotels, times and costs of attractions and some basic information about what to wear, what to bring and information on the weather. I utilized several websites for ideas and information and began to realize that my wife and I have not seen a lot of these things since the first few trips in the mid 90's. Things like the Auto Collection at Imperial Palace and the Show in the Sky at Rio were just a couple. I spent several weeks preparing this information and was quite pleased with how it turned out plus it was a lot of fun to do. I even put it in a nice binder complete with a title page, table of contents and acknowledgments.

I gave this booklet to my in laws weeks before our trip in order for them to have time to digest all of the information I had given them. In the last few weeks leading up to the trip, I asked my MIL if there was anything in the book that she wanted to do. She simply responded..."everything". My wife and I told her parents that we were planning on going to a nice restaurant for dinner twice and they were responsible for picking one of the two places. We also asked if they wanted to see another show other than Barry Manilow. They picked Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace for dinner and Human Nature at Imperial Palace for a second show.

My wife picked The Range at Harrahs for dinner on her birthday. About 8 weeks before our trip, I made reservations for Mesa Grill and The Range by calling the Harrahs dinner reservation number. I even looked to see what time the sun was going to set on the night we were going to be at the Range so that the strip would be lit up while eating. The rest of our meals were going to be decided upon on a day to day basis.

As a surprise for her parents, my wife thought it would be nice to have a limousine pick us up at the airport. So I called Harrahs VIP Services and booked one for our arrival complete with my in laws name on the sign. While I had them on the phone, I arranged for a ride to the airport as well when we were heading home. This now meant that I had to get a cab back to the rental car facility at the airport after getting dropped off at the hotel in order to pick up the rental car. But it would be worth it to have my in laws trip start this way.

I also purchased two American Casino Guide books in August. One for us and one for the in laws. I found a deal on Barnes and Noble and was able to get both books with shipping for just under $27. This is the second time I have ordered an ACG.

Sunday October 3rd

The day before we left was spent lounging about the house, spending time with the cats, mowing the grass, cleaning the house and packing. Around 1pm, I was sitting at my computer with three separate windows open to the Southwest web site. I had all of the names and confirmation numbers typed in waiting for 1:15pm in order to print our boarding passes. At exactly 1:15pm, I hit the button and checked the boxes on all of the screens. This process took me no more than 10 seconds. We got A49, A51, A57 and A58. I was surprised to see how high the numbers were that we got. Oh well, at least we would be in the A group. On the way home, we paid the extra $10 to do the early bird check in on Southwest. We will see how this works out for us at the end of the week. After the boarding passes were printed, I basically wandered around the house, watched a little football and finished packing. We were tired enough to go to bed before 10pm, which is unusual for me the night before a Las Vegas
trip . I barely remember hearing any of the football game on the radio before falling asleep.

Okay, I have all of the planning and pre trip stages of the taken care of, so let's move on to the actual trip shall we...

Monday October 4th

I was awake before 7am. My wife spent the morning finishing a letter to the person we hired to take care of the cats. I went for a bicycle ride around the neighborhood like I have been doing since it got nice enough to ride. (It is about 11 miles round trip.) We had a light breakfast and before we knew it, we were heading to pick up my wife?s parents. They live less than 15 minutes away so the drive was quick. We left their house less than 10 minutes after arriving and headed for the airport. Eppley Airfield is less than 30 minutes from our house so that drive was quick as well. As per tradition when leaving for a trip to Las Vegas, our Vegas cd was played during the ride to the airport. The songs include Viva Las Vegas by ZZ Top, Born to be alive by Patrick Hernandez and Ready to go by Republica. YMCA was also played, complete with some dance moves.

We parked our car at Abbott Airport Parking. It is convenient to the airport and the shuttle ride to and from the airport is less than 2 miles. We have never had a problem with Abbott. The people are always nice and they do a great job. Earlier in the week, I printed a coupon from their website for $30 for 6 days. We pulled in and before we even got out of the car the shuttle was sitting behind us. The driver loaded the bags and we were off. We arrived at the Southwest side of the terminal in short order, grab our bags, tipped the driver and headed into the airport. Since we all did carry on only and we had our boarding passes in hand, we just headed upstairs to security.

I forgot to mention that on the ride to the airport, the women decided they were hungry. This got my FIL thinking and he decided he was hungry as well. Now Eppley Airfield only has a bar and coffee shop once through security. So we had to stop in the food court area before security. The choices we had were Godfathers Pizza, Taco Bell / Kentucky Fried Chicken and a no name sub shop. Choices were made and food was consumed. My FIL volunteers at the information booth every other week at the airport and one of the Airport Police officers that my FIL knows saw us eating and stopped by to say hi to him. He wished us luck and he was on his way. We all finished up and we were on our way to security.

Security lines were pretty long, but TSA opened a second gate and the line moved quickly. We all made it through with no problems...well most of us. I forgot to take off my watch the first time. The second time I forgot my money clip in my pocket. The third time it was my belt. The TSA people decided I needed to be patted down. This was a new experience for me. The TSA agent that patted me down was polite but meant business. He was very thorough, checking my hair, inside my socks, inside the waist band of my shorts and all of my pockets. He did find a bottle of hand cleaner in one of my pockets. I thought it was odd, but he sent that little bottle of hand cleaner through the x-ray machine and then gave it back to me. He thanked me for being patient and sent me on my way. My family was frantically digging for a camera while I was being patted down but were unable to get a picture of the process. I grabbed my stuff and we headed to our gate. I guess I was one of those ass hats yo
u get behind in line at the airport that slows things down. I hope to do better from now on.

Our gate was just a few steps from security. We found some seats and waited for the plane to arrive. While waiting, I checked my list of stuff we needed to get done when we got to Las Vegas, I made a mental note of where I put the car keys so I could find them when we got home, I made one phone call, I dug out my Southwest drink tickets and then I did a little dance in my seat. They made an announcement that the flight was overbooked and they needed one person to take the next flight. A man traveling by himself quickly took them up on whatever they were offering. Our plane arrived about 12:30pm and after the plane emptied out, they started the boarding process. The guy at the gate made it clear to everyone that we should be in the correct order per our boarding pass number. He repeated this a couple of times and even said to check with your neighbors to make sure you are in the right spot. Having an A boarding pass, we got seats together and had plenty of room for our carryon
luggage in the overhead bins. The flight was full but people were seated quickly and before we knew it, we were backing away from the gate. I looked at my watch and we took off at 1:17pm just 2 minutes behind schedule. While I was looking at my watch, I set it 2 hours back to be on Las Vegas time.

The flight out was pretty good except for the expected bumps over the Rocky Mountains. The time on the plane was passed by reading a couple of different poker magazines, seeing who could find words the fastest in a word find puzzle book my wife had, looking out the window and sleeping. Drinks were served on the flight with a package of Cheese Nips and a bag of peanuts. I brought my own snack packs of Chips Ahoy and Nutter Butter cookies, so I passed on the Cheese Nips. Speaking of drinks, I had the usual, Baileys and Dr. Pepper. Mmmmm...Baileys and Dr Pepper. I had tons of drink coupons too and was looking for someone in my area to share them with, but no one was drinking. So, I drank by myself.

Our flight was scheduled to land at 2:20pm Las Vegas time but at 1:45pm the pilot came on and said we were starting our final descent. Before long, we could see Lake Mead and the dam. Shortly after the flight attendant told everyone on the left side of the plane to start looking for Wayne Newton?s house. Just after that, we were on the ground. We pulled to a stop at the gate at 2:12pm, almost 10 minutes early. I thought to myself, we have arrived!

The plane emptied our pretty quickly. We all grabbed our carryon bags and headed out towards the baggage claim area. In order to keep the limo ride to the hotel a secret, I told my in laws that we were getting the rental car on Tuesday so we would just head to the baggage claim area and grab a cab. Well, on the way down the escalator, there was our limo driver holding the sign with my in laws name on it, just like I had asked for. My wife and I saw him first, then my FIL saw him and pointed him out to my MIL. She was sure it was for someone else, until we convinced her otherwise. Our driver Robert, introduced himself to us, grabbed the bags the women were carrying and lead us down a hall, down an escalator, through a security area and out a door. Once everyone was loaded into the limo, we headed off through the tunnel.

While heading towards the interstate, I asked Robert how much time we had and he said how much time do you need. I asked him if he could stop at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. He said he was happy to do so. We arrived pretty quickly and Robert helped everyone out of the limo and locked the doors and walked with us to the sign. He took several pictures for us and quickly we were on our way. This was the first time in all of our trips that we have stop here. I can only imagine that the building of the parking lot has saves lots of problems for everyone.

Once back in the limo, I asked Robert if we could stop at the Rio before heading to Ballys. "No problem" was his response. When asked by my family why we were stopping at Rio, I simply said that I was stopping to get everyone Chippendales tickets. Everyone knew this was a lie, so I just said I had something to take care of quick. My reason for stopping a Rio was twofold. Since we were going to be in town for my wife's birthday, I made contact with VIP Services at Harrahs and asked them for suggestions for something special for my wife's birthday. Tara at VIP Services. who has helped me with several things over the past few years had suggestions ranging from spa treatments, dancing at different clubs, dinner at a high end restaurant, show tickets, flowers and gift baskets. Knowing my wife and some of the things we already had planned, I went with a gift basket and flowers. It turns out that all of the Harrahs properties use one florist, the Pavilion Florist at Rio. Tara wa
s kind enough to email a catalog showing lots of different options. I made contact with a person at the Pavilion Florist via email and the planning began.

Over the next few days and several emails explaining my wife's likes and dislikes, they helped me come up with a custom basket and flowers that I knew my wife would love. I found out also, that the items that can be put in a gift basket are only limited to your imagination and wallet. The catalog was merely a guide to get you started. If wanted something not in the catalog, they would do their best to accommodate you. The only catch was that they could not deliver my items without payment. I wanted to stop and pay for my items using my Total Rewards points and to thank the person who helped me in person. Robert pulled into the valet area at Rio, he opened the door for me and as I jumped out, I told him I only need 10 minutes. Prior to leaving home, I looked at a property map of Rio so I would know where I was going. I went to the main cage and took a right. I passed Buzios, Sao Paulo Cafe, the Rio spa and the Penn & Teller box office. I knew I was close and when I rounded th
e last corner, I saw the Pavilion Florist...then I saw a sign on the door saying "Be back at 3:30. Sorry." Son of a...I looked at my watch and saw that it was not even 3pm yet, so I retraced my steps and jumped back in the limo. I then told Robert I was done jacking around and would he please take us to Ballys. I believe he was happy to do so, just so I would be out of his hair. We took a left onto Flamingo and before long, we were pulling into the valet at Ballys. Robert let us out and unloaded all of our bags. I thanked him for his time and he was on his way.

We grabbed our bags and headed inside and walked right in to the Diamond Check In. There was only one person ahead of me so the wait was short. They had chocolate chip cookies and bottles water out, so the wait was short and tasty. Stacy was person who helped me when I stepped up to the counter. As I gave her my drivers license and credit card, she welcomed me and asked how our flight was. As she was typing, she said she had us in the North Tower on the 18th floor in 2 rooms across the hall from each other. She also said that this was a Diamond floor and we should be comfortable for the week. After she gave me my room keys, I asked her if she could help me with the gift basket and flowers from the Rio. She was sure there would be no problem getting them to the room and she would call me when it was taken care of. I thanked her for her time and effort, grabbed one more bottle of water and headed towards the North Tower elevators.

My wife and I stayed at Ballys during a trip over Halloween in 2008 so we knew what to expect in terms of service and rooms. We enjoyed our stay then so we were looking forward to staying here again. (I went looking for my trip report from that trip, but was unable to find it. I am sure I posted it somewhere. Can anyone find that for me?) Anyway, up to the 18th floor, we find rooms 1823 and 1824. The rooms are about half way down the hall, so the walk to the room will be fine for everyone. We opened each room and everyone checked out the view to see which one was better. We decided 1824 had the better view as about half of the Bellagio fountains were visible, so my in laws took 1824 and we took 1823. The view from our room was of Flamingo Road, Bills, Flamingo, Imperial Palace and most of Caesars Palace. We all took a little time getting settled in and relaxed a little bit before heading out.

Our room at Ballys was just their basic North Tower room. As you walked in the door, there was a large closet with mirrored doors on the right that contained an iron, ironing board and safe. Directly across from the closet was the bathroom. There was only one sink with plenty of counter space, a hair dryer, a tub & shower combination and the toilet was not in a separate room. The water pressure was fabulous and the soap and shampoo provided were nothing fancy but I noticed I was not smelly all week, so it must have been ok, and my wife said the hair dryer worked great. There was a desk and chair next to the closet and across from that was a king size bed. There was a couch and coffee table on the left side of the window and another desk and chair on the right side. There was an armoire containing several drawers with a 32" television and internet access equipment. The rooms were not the fanciest we have ever stayed in but they were comfortable, clean and best of all...free.

After getting settled, I gathered up the family and we headed out. Our first stop is Imperial Palace to try and get Human Nature show tickets for tonight. On the way out of Ballys, we took a quick look around the casino before heading up the escalator to the moving walkway. Stacy from Diamond Check In called about this time and said that my items would be delivered to our room before 5:30pm. I thanked her for taking care of this for me and she thanked me for allowing her to help. (I tipped her pretty good before leaving the check in counter)At the top of the escalator, we passed our first time share people. We were spaced out enough as not to be bothered by them. Once we got to the end of the moving walkway, we saw showgirls, pirates and a Transformer all posing for pictures for tips. On the walkway over Flamingo, we encountered the usual panhandler holding all sorts of signs and people selling bottled water. We made the walk to Imperial Palace in a reasonable amount of time.

Once inside Imperial Palace, we made our way to the Total Rewards booth. We picked up a voucher for 3 free tickets to Human Nature. We then headed across the casino to the box office. I requested a booth for the four of us and after some "persuading", my request was granted. We were given booth 415 along the back wall on the left hand side of the theater. I did have to pay for 1 ticket that came to $64.09 with all of the fees and taxes which I charged to the room. After getting the tickets, I needed to head out to pick up the rental car. I gave my family passes to the car museum that I printed off of the internet, told them to be careful and I was on my way. I hopped into a cab outside of Imperial Palace and we headed out the back way.

My cab drivers name was Santino. He was originally from New York and has been in Las Vegas for 14 years. He was pretty entertaining during my ride to the rental car facility. We hit a ton of traffic on Audrie near Flamingo so we spent a lot of time sitting. This gave him time to explain to me which clubs give him the best "incentives" for steering people to their doors. The ride took almost 25 minutes but it was worth the cost and time just to hear his stories. Santino dropped me off at the front door and headed inside.

Being a Dollar Express member, I headed right down to the booth in the garage. There was no one at the counter, so I was on my way quickly. I had reserved a full size car and according to Dollar, that gets you a Chevy Malibu. It was clean inside and out, had less than 4000 miles on it and it had power windows and locks which I have not had on other vehicles I have rented from Dollar. We have a 2009 Malibu at home that has almost a 300h.p. engine, let's just say that this one did not have that big of an engine. It would be just fine for the week, and for the price, I was not complaining. I headed out to the Strip and headed north. I took a right on Mandalay Bay Road which turns into Giles Street which turns into East Reno Ave which then turns into Koval Lane. I took Koval all the way back to Flamingo Road. I took a left on Flamingo then took a left into the valet at Ballys. Considering it was about rush hour traffic, made pretty good time getting the rental car picked up. I d
ropped the car at the valet at Ballys and walked back to Imperial Palace.

The walk back to Imperial Palace was quick and painless. It is amazing how fast you can get someplace in Las Vegas when you are walking by yourself. As I walked into Imperial Palace I looked at my watch...it was 5:12pm. I called my wife and they were walking through the Shopping Promenade after spending some time at the Auto Museum. We agreed to meet at the Dealertainer Pit and just a minute later we were all together again. We knew we wanted to eat at Hash House A GO GO , so that is where we went for dinner. We took the escalator up to the second floor and walked up to the hostess stand.

We were seated immediately and were soon greeted by our waiter, William. He was very pleasant and took our drink orders and told us about a couple of specials. Now, my wife and I have been to the Hash House on Sahara so we knew what to expect in terms of the size of the food and we explained this to my in laws...yet they still chose to order their own entree. Hash House was one of the menus I printed for my in laws prior to our trip so they each knew what they wanted to order. My MIL chose the chicken & biscuits, my FIL went with the tractor driver combo and my wife and I split an order of blue crab cakes. All of the items ordered were very good. We all shared with everyone and we did a pretty good job of finishing off our meals..well that is everyone except my FIL. The single pancake that came with his meal was the size of a large pizza. He put up a good fight, but in the end, he could not do it. During this meal, I found out I like squash...who knew? So, our first meal of t
he trip was a success. With tip, total for dinner with tip was $78.75, which I charged to the room. It was about 6:30pm when we were done with dinner. We rolled ourselves into the casino and played some video poker until about 7pm at which time we headed up to the Imperial Palace Showroom.

I know that many of you have been to Human Nature, so you know that the theater is not that big. Which means that just about any seat in the theater is a good seat. The theater was almost completely full except for a few end seats at some of the tables in the back row. The waitress came around before the show and we all ordered something to drink. Our order, which was for 3 soft drinks and 1 strawberry daiquiri, came to $39.02. Now I will say that that included a tip and the daiquiri was pretty big, but seriously, almost $40. Anyway, we all enjoyed the show tremendously. The energy put forth in their act is nothing short of amazing. After the show, we stopped outside of the theater to see them. My wife and MIL thought that they were all very handsome men. It was then that I remembered I brought the cover to the Human Nature cd I bought my wife to have them sign, only I left it in the room. My wife and I have seen this show twice now. On our next trip, we will look for another
show to see to try something different. After the show, we all walked back to Ballys. Along the way, we enjoyed the spectacle know as the Las Vegas Strip.

When we got back to Ballys, we could not quite decide what to do. We were getting pretty tired as it was almost 10:30pm which is 12:30am back home. We did play some video poker for a little while, but we were all in our rooms by midnight. The flowers and gift basket were in our room when we arrived. The gift basket was exactly what I knew my wife would like and the flowers looked and smelled fantastic. The gift basket was full of the snacks that I had requested. They included chips and salsa, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, cheese straws, Doritos, Kettle Chips, Godiva chocolate biscuits, cashews, apples and pears, Godiva chocolate bars and coins, 2 orange sodas and 4 bottles of Corona. There was also a balloon tied to the basket. My wife was surprised and pleased, so any hassle I went through was all worthwhile. We were both tired and knew we had a busy day in the morning so we went to bed. The pillow top mattress was indeed comfortable.

Tuesday October 5th

We were up and out of the room by 7:30am since today we are going out to Hoover Dam. We went down to the Sidewalk Cafe at Ballys for breakfast. There was no line at this time of the morning. We were given menus and then told they also had a breakfast buffet if we were interested. We walked up to take a look at the buffet and found it to be more than adequate. The offerings included scrambled eggs, premade omelets, sausage, bacon, biscuits and gravy, Lyonnais potatoes, assorted fruits, oatmeal, bagels and pastries. Like I said, it was more than adequate. The food was good, the service was good and it was only $10.99. We were on our way to the valet before 8:30am.

We grabbed the car from the valet and headed down Flamingo to pick up the interstate to Hoover Dam. I made a quick stop and an Albertsons grocery store to pick up a case of bottled water and a 12 pack of diet Mountain Dew. While I was checking out, I noticed the gaming area inside the store. I counted 12 machines and 7 of them were being played. I just chuckled to myself on the way out the door. Sometime a couple of years ago, I read more than one trip report where the people would stop and buy a Styrofoam cooler to use while in town and then leave it in the room. Well, I took that one step further and bought a collapsible soft sided cooler that folds flat and fits very easily in my carryon bag. It has proved to be one of the best purchases I have ever made. Anyway, I loaded up the cooler in the trunk that I had filled with ice before leaving Ballys and we were back on Flamingo.

I should have gone the way I knew how to get to Hoover Dam because I took one wrong turn and was heading the wrong way. After an illegal u-turn and running a very red light, all in the same maneuver by the way, and help from everyone in the car, and I do mean everyone, we were back on track. We passed Railroad Pass and the Hacienda hotels and pretty soon, we were rolling into Boulder City. Traffic in Boulder City was pretty bad even at 9:30am due to a bunch of construction going on. Right were you turn left to go to the dam, it was down to one lane in both directions. It took us a few minute to get through, but it wasn't too bad. As we got closer to the dam, we could see where the new bypass highway began. A little further along, we came to the security check point. Security was stopping some larger trucks and buses, but we must have looked like tourist as we were waved on through without delay. Of course I passed the entrance to the parking garage and had to turn around jus
t on the other side of the dam. Parking in the garage is $7. We went up a couple of floors, found a parking spot and were soon heading down the elevator to the visitor center. After going through the metal detectors, we got tickets to the generator tour. Tickets were $16 for the younger folks but the older ones got in got $14.

The tours start about every 15 minutes so our wait was only a couple of minutes before we were lead into a theater. They showed a movie about the construction of the dam and how Boulder City came to be. If you have seen anything on the History Channel about Hoover dam, you have pretty much seen the film they show, although it was still pretty interesting. When the film was over, we were lead as a group to two different elevators for the ride down to the generator room. The tour guide of our group was a nice guy, but he has got to get tired telling the same
jokes about asking all of the dam questions and take all of the dam pictures you want. The tour was pretty much a ride down the elevator and a walk down a long tunnel to the generator room. We spent about 15 minutes here and then headed back to the elevator. While we were waiting for the elevator, someone in our group ask the guide about the water that was trickling down the walls in the tunnel. He responded by saying that
they just noticed that today and they were looking into it. He has just got to get tired of the same jokes. He did tell us though that the water level of Lake Mead was about 6" from being the lowest it has ever been. When we got out to the top of the dam, you could see the discoloration of the rock that indicated how high the water used to be. While outside, we got a good look at the new bypass bridge, took some pictures and then headed in to walk though the museum. We spent about a 1/2 hour wandering through here and then headed out. On the walk back to the parking garage, we stopped at the gift shop for a few minutes then headed up to the car. Traffic was a little slow on the highway back, but it was at a complete standstill right at Boulder City. It took us about 45 minutes to get through the construction but the traffic heading toward the dam was backed up for miles. We were glad to be heading in the opposite direction. Once past Boulder City, we made good time getting
back to Las Vegas.

Once back in town, we headed to Mandalay Bay and valet parked the car. Our goal this afternoon was to show my in laws the hotels on the south end of the strip. Since we were at Mandalay Bay, this is of course where we started. My wife and I have stayed at Mandalay Bay twice and enjoyed it. We like the casino and the rooms and we love the pool area at Mandalay Bay, especially if you have a cabana on the island surrounded by the lazy river like we did when we stayed here last. Good times. Anyway, we saw Red Square where the head of the Lennon statue is in the freezer, the wine tower at Aureole, the wall of boobs and butts on the way to the convention area and of course the pool area. We also stopped to take a look in the gift shop and I stopped at the cashier to buy a $8 Year of the Rat chip. We took the walkway though Mandalay Place to get to Luxor, looking in a few stores on the way.

Since the theme of Luxor has changed, there was not much to see here except for the lobby atrium. This makes my wife and I kind of sad as we stayed at Luxor exclusively for several years. Anyway, from Luxor it was on to Excalibur. In our opinion, there is nothing to see at Excalibur at all, but we did stop at Auntie Anne's Pretzels in the food court area for a quick snack. Once through Excalibur, we headed to New York New York. My wife and I used to love the casino at New York New York. With Central Park, the Big Apple Bar and the Chuck-a-Luck game at the bottom of the escalator, it was a fun place. Now, like Luxor, it is just another boring casino that we drive by or walk through to get to someplace else. In the food court area at New York New York, there were still a few remnants of the original theme. The building facades, the parking meters and the spray painted news paper boxes were still there in the food court but the laundry hanging between the buildings and the stea
ming manhole covers where gone. We did like the black tile on the floor of the food court though. From here we went out to see the Statue of Liberty, the tug boat spraying water(didn't there used to be two of them?) and the 9-11 Memorial. After these stops, we headed on to MGM Grand.

Our only stop at MGM was to see the lion habitat. When we arrived, there were three younger lions running around with a couple of different trainers. The lions were very active and there were lots of photo opportunities so this was definitely worth the stop. We stayed for about 15 minutes then headed back to Excalibur to catch the tram back to Mandalay Bay. We got to the tram stop just a minute or so before it arrived, so our timing was perfect. We loaded up and we were off to Mandalay Bay.

On the tram ride, I was standing and holding on to the hand rail and the rest of my family was sitting. I quickly noticed that someone in my immediate area had a really bad stink of body odor to them. I don't mean the kind of stink where you think to yourself, man someone stinks. Oh no, it was more like, holy hell, someone stinks like ass. After doing a quick check to make sure it was not me, I took a quick look around. I made eye contact with my wife and FIL who had both noticed the smell as well. There was a guy standing next to me holding the hand rail like I was. I moved a step in his direction and quickly came to the conclusion that it was definitely him that stunk to hell. I took notice of the watch he was wearing. It was a nicer watch and on the face it had a space for the day of the week. In that space it said "mar". After doing a search when we got home, I found out that "mar" is an abbreviation of mardi, which is the French word for Tuesday. So there you have g
o, we had a stinky Frenchman on the tram with us. We were glad when the doors opened at Mandalay Bay. We made a quick pit stop, got the car from the valet and headed back to Ballys. When we walked back in to Ballys, I looked at my watch and it was almost 4pm. We had been on the go all day. We all headed to the room to relax for a while before dinner.

Dinner tonight was at Mesa Grill and our reservation is at 6:30pm. The women were wearing high heels so the decision was made to drive as opposed to walk to Caesars Palace. We headed over around 5:15pm so we could show my in laws around Caesars and the Forum Shops. We valet parked at the main valet area. I was handed a plastic card as opposed to a paper slip for picking up the car. I also noticed that the color of that card is based on what level of Total Rewards card you have. We had plenty of time, so we kind of wandered a little on the way to the Forum Shops. We walked past the Pussy Cat Dolls Pit (that was not open yet), the Seahorse Lounge, the new restaurant Munchbar, the sports book, Shadow Bar(no dancers performing yet) and The Colosseum entrance. We soon came upon the entrance to the Forum Shops and headed towards our only real destination...the spiral escalators. We did peak in a few stores along the way though. We found the spiral escalators without a problem. We r
ode them down and then back up. Do we know how to live or what? After all of that excitement, we stopped by the Peter Max gallery that we found on our last trip to show my in laws what a $26,000 painting looks like. I still do not get Peter Max, but apparently some people do. As we walked back to the casino, I commented to my wife that this may be the first time we did not get lost in the Forum Shops. We got back to the casino at a little after 6pm so we decided to play video poker for a few minutes. No one won or lost any real money in this amount of time and we headed to Mesa Grill at 6:25pm.

We were greeted by the hostess, I gave her my name and she said our table was being prepared and acknowledged my wife's birthday. When I made the reservation, I told them that we were going to be in town for my wife's birthday. We were seated shortly at a very nice corner booth. We were brought water and soon our waiter Brian greeted us. He explained a couple of dinner specials and offered drinks. I was the only one who ordered something from the bar. On Brian's recommendation, I went with a drink called the Bitter Frenchman. It was a combination of some kind of fancy grapefruit vodka, grapefruit juice, lime juice and sugar. It was indeed bitter, but it was still tasty.

Appetizers where offered by Brian, but I was the only one to take him up on the offer. I ordered the Tiger Shrimp and Roasted Corn Tamale. Some at the table had not made a decision on dinner yet, so I asked Brian for another minute. As he walked away, a separate appetizer or amuse bouche was brought to our table for each one of us. It was salmon tartar on some sort of flatbread with micro greens and a spicy aioli drizzled over the top. It was different and pretty good. Soon after, Brian returned and entrees were ordered. Starting with the women, my MIL ordered the Grilled Black Grouper, my wife ordered the Roasted "Hacked" Chicken, my FIL ordered Lobster Out of the Shell and yours truly ordered the 14oz Black Angus New York Strip. Two sides of the Roasted Corn with Grilled Cactus and two orders of Mashed Potatoes with Green Chili Queso Sauce were ordered as well. Soon after placing our order, my appetizer arrived along with a basket of three different types of bread. My Tig
er Shrimp appetizer looked and smelled great. Remember how no one else wanted an appetizer? Well suddenly everyone wanted a taste. I should have said no, but I passed it around the table for everyone to have taste. I should have ordered at least two of these. Next time.

There is something to be said for dining in a fine restaurant. It is the whole experience that makes the price of the meal worthwhile. Starting with the napkins that are exchanged depending on whether you are wearing light or dark colored pants or a skirt. The person on the wait staff the scrapes the crumbs off the table between courses. The knowledge and personality of your waiter...all of these things contribute to the experience. Anyway, after the appropriate amount of time, our entrees arrived. Each one of the dishes that we ordered looked fantastic. We soon found out they tasted fantastic as well. The presentation of our meals were picture worthy. My steak was tender and cooked to perfection. Everyone else after a bite of their meal said they loved what they ordered. The side dished where wonderful as well. My wife and I talked later and we both said that the Roasted Corn with Grilled Cactus was just about the best thing we have ever eaten. Our waiter Brian and his suppo
rt staff were the real deal and knew how to cater to your needs with being intrusive and checked on us throughout the meal. When we were finished, Brian returned to offer after dinner drinks and desserts. We had to turn him down even though my wife's dessert was on the house. He went off to get the check for us and in the meantime, a member of the kitchen staff stopped by with a dish of vanilla bean ice cream with a candle in it for my wife. It is the little things. Anyway, I know we will return to Mesa Grill on every trip to Las Vegas. The total for dinner, $246.47 before tip. This was charged to the room and was well worth it. After dinner, we just wandered around Caesars for a few minutes before heading to the valet to get the car. We were told to stand in front of the valet counter as opposed to going to the other side of the valet area. I was told this is where the Diamond card holders get their car. The car showed up in less than 3 minutes and we were on our way back
to Ballys.

On our return to Ballys, it was only about 9:30pm and I was wanting to spend some time in the casino and the others were wanting to catch some of Tuesday night TV. We all got our way. I spent a couple of losing hours at the 50 and 100 play video poker machines and went to bed sometime around midnight. We had been busy today and we were all tired. Sleep came pretty easy.

Wednesday October 6th

Today we started out a little later than yesterday and headed to the Paris Buffet for breakfast. At 8:30am, there was a huge line for the common folks, but there was no one in the Diamond line. Sweet! We were seated quickly and I made a couple of laps around the buffet to see what I was in the mood for. I settled on a couple of eggs over easy from the omelet station, some corned beef hash, a bunch of hash browns, a couple of sausage and some really good bacon. For the finishing touch, I put sausage gravy on everything. Mmmmm...gravy. I went back a second time and got a piece of French toast, some more tasty bacon and a piece of ham. My family enjoyed breakfast here and some of us, meaning me, ate more than we should have. Breakfast for four ran $69.14 before tip, which was charged to the room.

After breakfast, our plan for the day was to spend some time checking out City Center. I also have a room booked for one night at Bellagio that I need to check into. We headed out on foot across the walkway over the strip to Bellagio. On the way, I told my in laws that we should start at City Center and work our way back towards Bellagio. I told them this meant they had to keep their eyes closed until we got to the tram to Crystals. They, of course, did not listen. We stopped for a look at the glass display on the ceiling in the lobby, we took a quick look at the conservatory and we stopped at the giant chocolate fountain at Jean Philippe's. There were some very impressive and tasty looking cakes on display. I had never been so far into Bellagio. The tram station is clear back past the pool area and the convention rooms. It was a bit of a hike, but I would guess it was no more than a 10 to 12 minute walk from the conservatory. So all in all, not a bad walk by any means. When
we reached the tram station, there were electronic signs that told when the next tram was arriving and what track it would be on. We waited on the appropriate side and in short order, we were on our way to Crystals. We were glad to discover no stinky Frenchman on the tram.

When we got off the tram at Crystals, it was indeed impressive looking. From our vantage point, we could see the wooden staircase that you see in a lot of the pictures of Crystals and we could also see the fountains that whirl around like a tornado and change colors. We headed down the walkway and just kind of look at the stores as we went by. I know a lot of people have a lot of money, but I think we saw 2 people in any of the stores. How do they pay the rent for the space here? Fancy names like Christian Dior, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Van Cleef and Arpels lined the walls. We did not even stop at any of the stores because we knew our money was not good enough for these places. We did see the fountains that look like fireworks at night and the wall of water in the valet area. We also saw the frozen sculptures in Crystals that change every day. All in all, Crystals was ok, but I would be surprised if I set foot in there again.

After lots of wandering, we found the exit of the mall that leads to Aria. I have read many trip reports over the past few months describing Aria as very modern and dark. Well, I would have to say that description is right on. It was sleek and modern looking, all of the machines had the high def screens and the place still looked shiny and new. We did wander through the casino to take a look around and I stopped at the cashier cage and bought a couple of chips for my $1 chips for my collection. I walked into the poker room to check out the Ivey Room, but there was no one playing. I also picked up a couple of $3 poker chips for my collection while there. Other than the money I spent on chips, we did not spend a single dime here. We headed towards the tram to get a ride back to Bellagio. We went out towards the Monte Carlo tram station and pick it up there. The Monte Carlo tram station is right above their pool...so at least I had something to look at while waiting for the tram
to arrive. The tram did arrive shortly and we were on our way back to Bellagio.

We retraced our steps back through Bellagio, stopping at the gift shop next to Jean Philippe's, before heading on to the conservatory. This is where I left my family in order to check in at Bellagio. Just before we left home, I got an email from Bellagio offering me a comped room for up to 3 nights and $100 in free play. I figured why not book it just to check out the room and take them up on the free play offer. I got in the invited guest line and was up to the counter in just couple of minutes. I was waited on by Jason. We made small talk while he was typing away. "Do you have any preference on a room? " Other than non smoking, I had no preference, I said. "I see you are spending only one night with us, is this correct?" That's right, I said, just the one night, it's kind of a long story. Jason stopped typing and looked at me and said "I've got time." I was kind of caught off guard so I just said well, it's just a long story. He looked kind of disappointed and we
nt about his business. I was given room 6-010. I went back and found my family just outside of the conservatory, we stopped by the players club to make sure my pin number was correct for the free play and we headed up to check out the room.

After showing my room key to security at the elevators, we headed up to the 6th floor. The room was only a short distance from the elevators so the walk to the room was quick. Having not stayed here before, we can't compare it to any other room at Bellagio. It had a small entry way, a large armoire with a flat screen TV, mini bar and safe, a king size bed with a night stand on either side, a desk and chair next to the armoire and a chair and footstool on the corner. The bathroom was large containing a shower but no tub. The vanity was granite and had a very nice vessel sink on it. The tile in the bathroom was nice as well. There were full size bottles of shampoo and conditioner as well as lotion on the counter. The view out the window was of the fountains and right below the room were some of the villas that have their own swimming pool. So, it was a nice room, but nothing that made us say wow. We all just kind of relaxed in the room for about 30 minutes or so. Everyone used
the restroom, we played with the automatic drapes and then headed back to the casino.

Once back on the casino, we all wondered looking for something to spend my $100 free play on. I settled on a new version of Spin Poker called Spin Poker Dream Card. I had read about somewhere a while back. Basically it plays the same as regular Spin Poker. For those who don't know, Spin Poker has 9 lines and you can bet from 1 to 5 credits per line. So, to play the machine at max credit, you need to play 45 credits. The Dream Card version, to play the machine at max credit, you have to play 90 credits. The Dream Card comes into play only on the 5th reel. So, if you were dealt a pair, the Dream Card would, provided you got the Dream Card, be another card to match the pair, giving you 3 of a kind. Then you would play it like regular Spin Poker. The $100 free play did not last very long at 90 credits a spin, but it was a fun game to play. We never got better than a straight in the short amount of time we played. I did cash out with some cash after running the free play through.
We cashed in my ticket and had a quick discussion on what to do next. My FIL stated he was hungry and wanted a hot dog. We decided on Pink's at Planet Hollywood, so we headed out through the shopping area at Bellagio back towards the strip.

I knew that Pink's was on the far end of PH and that there was an entrance right on the strip. We headed down the strip past Ballys and Paris. There is some construction going on in front of Paris, that made things a little congested, but not too bad. When we arrived at Pink's, there was a short line to get to the counter to order, so that gave us all time to look at the menu. When we reached the counter, we ordered 2 chili cheese dogs, 1 chili dog, 1 coleslaw dog, 1 order of onion rings and 1 order of fries. We only needed to get one drink, as some of us had bottles of water. The food was prepared to order and only took a few minutes. We grabbed a table under one of the many umbrellas out on the strip and dug in. I would say that everyone thought the hot dogs as well as the fries and rings were pretty good. Now, I know that Pink's is this world famous hot dog stand out of Los Angeles but when it comes down to it, it is just another hot dog. I would get a chili cheese dog
here again if I were hungry and walking right by, but I would probably to go too far out of my way to do so. Please do not misunderstand, it was a good hot dog, but I have had good hot dogs at much cheaper places. The total for lunch, which I charged to the room, was $36.97. While we were eating, the decision was made to catch the 3pm Big Elvis show at Bills.

We arrived at Bills about 2:30pm and the lounge area was already full. We found some chairs along the pit of black jack tables not being used and got settled in. The show started a few minutes late but they were showing a video of the Elvis concert in Hawaii, so it gave us something to do while we waited. Big Elvis puts on a great free afternoon show. Also, some of you may know that the lounge at Bills has some great people watching opportunities. We saw a few things we could not really explain. A man in a tuxedo standing at the bar by himself, a 60 plus year old woman with her bangs braided with beads and a woman carrying a crock pot. Anyway, there was another Elvis impersonator at today's show. I forget his name, but he got up and sang a song with Big Elvis. By the way, the woman with the braided bangs and another woman at her table were picked to played the maracas and dance during this song. Neither one could dance or play the maracas worth a damn. Anyway, my FIL and I h
ad enough after 4 or 5 songs and we decided we were heading back to Ballys. My wife and MIL wanted to stay to the end.

When my FIL and I got back to Ballys, we headed down to the sports book so he could place a bet on the Nebraska vs. Kansas State football game on Thursday night. He took Nebraska to win by the points. Prior to this point, I am not sure if I had ever been down to the lower level of Ballys. There are several shops and a big food court down there as well as a big slot tournament area. I also saw that the spa and the pool were further down the walkway. The sports book at Ballys is huge. Lots of TVs and plenty of chairs. There was a large bar right at the entrance, so I can only imagine it was pretty easy to get a drink while there. After my FIL placed his bet, we headed back to the casino. He went to the room to relax and I headed to the 100 play video poker machines. I managed to get in a hour or so of playing before my wife and MIL returned from the Big Elvis show at Bills. They told me about a argument on the walkway between Ballys and Bills between two homeless guys. Apparent
ly they were fighting over a homeless woman who was there also. The three of us stayed in the casino for a while longer before heading to the room. Tonight we are heading downtown to Magnolias at the Four Queens for dinner. We are also planning on stopping at the Stratosphere to show my in laws the rides and view from the top.

We got the car from the valet around 5:30 and headed down the strip to the Stratosphere. We did not have any issue getting there as the traffic was really light tonight. Along the way, we passed the Peppermill Lounge. My wife and I stopped there a couple of trips ago for breakfast. It was pretty good, but the lounge was really cool. Anyway, we were soon pulling into the valet at the Strat. We have not been here in quite a few years. We were here on our first trip ever to Las Vegas for dinner at the Top of the World restaurant and we have been here at least one other time on another trip but it has been a long time, so we did not know what to expect.

First off, while driving to the valet area, you can tell that you have crossed some imaginary line between the Stratosphere and the rest of the strip. There was just something about the place that made it seem kind of rundown and dirty. The valet was terrible slow and we waited over 10 minutes for someone to take the car off of our hands. Not a good start. Anyway, we headed on in. The casino, while not as large as most of the strip casinos, was pretty dead. I know it is Wednesday night, but it was really dead. It seemed like the ceiling was pretty low and it seemed dark in there. We followed the signs to the Tower entrance and purchased tickets to go to the top of the tower. The cost for adults was $15.95 and $12.00 for old people. I did have two buy one get one coupons from the ACG that I used here so everyone saved a few bucks. After getting our tickets, we headed off to get in the security line. The line went pretty slow as there was just one older woman checking tickets a
nd telling you to empty your pockets into little bins. The there were security people checking bags and purses and you have to walk through a metal detector. After all this, we realized why the line was moving so slow. They were taking pictures of all of the people that were heading up the tower to try and sell to you later on. You could not go around the picture taking area so we just waited in line. I told my family to follow my lead when we were about to the front of the line. When it was our turn I leaned in close to the person taking the pictures and said..." I am not knowingly allowed to have my picture taken by anyone...sorry" and started walking away with my family. The lady taking the pictures did not say anything at first, but as we got a little ways away, she yelled " why not?" But by then, we just kept walking. We were loaded on an elevator and were quickly taken to the top of the tower.

Once at the top, we made our way around the tower to the side with the rides and hung out there for a while. We stood right next to the new Sky Jump ride for a while waiting to see if someone was going to do it, but no one ever did. We stood and watched the X-Scream ride for a while, those people are nuts. The Insanity ride was closed due to high winds. We also headed out to the observation deck to check out the view and to see the Big Shot ride. Those people are nuts too. It was really, really windy up there. So much so, that I did not feel comfortable not holding on to the railing. We were outside for about 10 minutes before calling it quits and heading in. On the way out, we saw a bar called Air Bar. It was a small bar on the same level as the inside viewing area. There was one bartender and one waitress and no customers. With the black lights everywhere and the style of the furnishings, it looked straight out of the 80's. They did offer bottle service if you were so incl
ined. Anyway, we headed back to the elevator for the ride to the casino. On the way out, I stopped and got a couple of chips from the cage before heading back to the valet. We had to go around a large group of Canadian tourist standing in the main walkway. They all had signs and matching hats...how cute. The valet was not any faster this time around either, but eventually we got the car back. For those of you who have been to the Strat at night and picked up your car at the valet, you will know what I mean when I say the area you have to drive through to get back to the strip is well...scary, to say the least. We did make it back out to the strip and headed the car towards down town. Along the way to downtown, we passed the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop from the show Pawn Stars. Maybe I just saw it at the wrong angle or it was the wrong time of day but it looks pretty small and kind of dumpy. The ride downtown was short and we were soon pulling into the valet at Fitzgerald's. I
picked this valet, because it is easy it get to and there is never a wait to get the car. We piled out of the car and with a few ACG coupons in hand, headed though Fitzgerald's and walked out onto Fremont Street.

We stood around for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. I was getting hungry as it was almost 7:20pm and I had not eaten since Pinks earlier in the day. I suggested we head to Magnolias like we had planned. I soon found out, that one in our party had an upset stomach from Pinks and the other two were not hungry. So...the plan changed to looking for the gold nugget on display and the pool area at Golden Nugget. After these were found we headed into Binions to check out the $1,000,000 display. It was way cooler when the display was made up of $10,000 bills. We did a few minutes of gambling before the light show at Binions and at about 5 minutes to 8, we cashed in our tickets at Binions and walked out onto Fremont Street.

The 8pm show was American Pie. My wife and I have seen this show before, but the Fremont Experience was new to my in laws. The show lasted about...well forever. I will admit that the part where the rocket goes the length of the canopy was really cool. There were a few free shows going on here tonight as well. Frank and the Steins were playing along with some kind of scary magic show. By this time I was getting really hungry and the decision was made by me that we needed to head back to Ballys as there was not much else to do downtown but drink and gamble and no one seemed interested in eating. We got the car back from the valet at the Fitz and headed back to the strip. The ride was uneventful and we were soon pulling into the valet at Ballys.

On the way in, we decided to go to the Sidewalk Cafe at Ballys for dinner. Upon arrival to the cafe, that idea was abandoned as the cafe is only open until 2pm. With limited options, we headed down to the food court in the shopping area. There are a couple of places in the food court at Ballys and we decided on Sbarro for pizza. The pizza was ok but imagine my horror when I found out I could not charge this meal to the room. This was the first time this trip we actually had to use cash for a meal. Anyway, after eating, we all headed to the casino for a while. Not a whole lot going on gambling wise tonight. I spent some time on the 100 and 50 plays but could not get anything going. My wife and in laws spent their time at the single line machines and had a little success but no one got rich. We were all pretty tired and we headed to the room before 1am.

Thursday October 7th

Today is my wife's birthday. She has complete control over the day. Whatever she wants to do, that is what we are doing. We were up and out of the room by 8 am. Breakfast this morning was at Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro at Caesars Palace. We drove to Caesars and parked in the main valet and made the walk through the older casino. Payard is back by Beijing Noodle 9 and the Lago Buffet. It is also pretty close to the conference rooms, which would explain all of the suits carrying bags and sporting lanyards around their necks. Anyway, there was a short wait at the counter, but it moved along pretty quick. The following items were ordered: 1 egg sandwich, 1 cheese Danish, 1 fresh fruit selection, 1 apple juice, 1 banana chocolate muffin, 1 lemon tart, 2 broccoli quiche, 1 orange and almond Danish and 2 fresh orange juice. This meal was very good, but for $73.00 for everything, I guess I would expect it to be good. Breakfast, of course, was charged to the room. As we ate, we made f
un of all of the people who were attending classes or seminars in the conference area. When we finished breakfast, we headed back to the car, which arrived ahead of several others already waiting, and headed towards Red Rock Canyon.

To show my in laws Las Vegas away from the strip, we decided to take Charleston Boulevard all the way across town. This is a pretty slow at just about any time of day, but we were in no hurry. Once you get to Red Rock Casino, you only have a few more miles until you get to Red Rock Canyon. The cost to get into Red Rock is $7 for the car. The driving loop of the park, which is a two lane one way road, is about 13 miles long and took us about an hour to drive. We stopped a few times to take pictures and to just look around. I decided after the second stop that I did not need to get out of the car any more. Don't misunderstand, I thought the park was neat to see and a nice diversion from the rest of the city, but after seeing the sign that said, "Watch out for snake and spiders", I just did not seem to want to get out of the car. Anyway, this was a nice side trip and something else my wife and I can mark off of our to do list in Las Vegas. On leaving the park, we stopped to t
ake a picture of the park sign before heading back towards civilization. By civilization, I mean Red Rock Casino.

My wife and I really like Red Rock Casino. We have stayed here on two different occasions and have always had nice stay. I will say that we have
always had a nice room with a great view and a fantastic bed. Our only compliant would be that our rooms have always been at the far end of the hall. For those of you who have stayed here, maybe you know what I am talking about. Also, maybe you were smart enough to ask for a room close to the elevators. Anyway, we self parked here because I found a spot maybe 30 yards from the front casino entrance. We piled out of the car and headed on in. My wife and I know our way around Red Rock and she wanted to play some 50 play Bonus Deuces Wild and my in laws were wanting to play single line Bonus Deuces Wild. We walked right to were those machines were and they all sat down to play. I was wanting to check and see if Red Rock had any of the Spin Poker Dream Card machines like I had played at Bellagio, so off I went. After I walked by the spor
ts book and the poker room, I headed back by the theaters and the food court to begin my search there. Well, as I was walking towards the end of room, there they were, on the back side of some 100 play machines.

The Spin Poker Dream Cards machines were multi-denomination starting at pennies and going up to dollars. I found a machine on the end of the row, found me an ash tray, lit up a cigar and just sat there for a little bit. As I was savoring the moment of being on vacation and being at Red Rock Casino, the waitress walked by. It was like a sign from God, so I ordered a beer and waited for her to return before I started playing. Now that I was all set, I slid some bills into the slot and went about my business. I had much success here this morning on this machine. I was dealt several made hands of full houses or lower right off the bat. I learned that if you get dealt a made hand with the dream card, such as a full house, the machine says "dream card winner." Well as I look through my phone, I have pictures of 3 decent hands, all of which were dealt to me with the dream card. They were four nines, with the dream card being the fourth nine and four jacks, again with the dream car
d being the fourth jack. The last big dealt winner came out 3, 3, 3, 2, dream card, with the dream card being the fourth 3. That was a nice hit. So I finally had some luck. I played for about 2 hours, cashed out and went to find my family. They had all had some success as well, with two of them hitting 4 deuces. I wandered a bit and decided I was getting hungry. I checked with the rest of the group and everyone decided they could eat. So we cashed out and headed to the Feast Buffet at Red Rock.

There was a short line at the entrance to the buffet, but it moved pretty slow. I do not have one of the Station President or Chairman slot cards, so we had to wait on line like the rest of the common folk. I did not look at the prices to the buffet as I had an offer for up to 4 free buffets. It was now about 12:30pm and all of the normal lunch items were offered. The items I deemed noteworthy were the roast beef, rotisserie chicken, macaroni and cheese and broccoli beef. We had a really great waitress who kept us entertained, the table clean and the drinks full. We all did not eat too much though as we have dinner reservations at The Range at Harrahs for dinner at 7pm in celebration of my wife's birthday. As we were leaving, I asked the waitress if I could get a refill on my iced tea and could I take the glass out into the casino with me. She filled my glass and told me that they did not allow people to take the cups from the buffet, but in the same breath, gave me instruct
ions on how to get past the cashiers stand with my drink without being noticed. I will say that her instructions kept me from getting caught and kept me from getting thirsty the rest of the afternoon in the casino. We spent the better part of the afternoon at Red Rock before heading back towards the strip. On the way home, we took the interstate around by Mandalay Bay and took the strip up to Ballys. As we were waiting for the valet, I looked at my watch and saw that it was almost 4:30pm. We all headed to our rooms to relax a bit before dinner. My wife and I took a nice hour long nap and took our time getting ready for dinner at The Range at Harrahs.

Our dinner reservation is at 7pm, and we were all down at the valet right around 6pm. We drove over to Harrahs and valet parked. Since we were planning on doing some wandering around after dinner, the women had a bag that had shoes in it to change into after dinner that we checked with the bell desk. We were purposely early so we could watch part of the Nebraska vs. Kansas State game in the sports book at Harrahs. It is always fun to watch a football game in a sports book. There was lots of cheering and rowdiness going on and this made it so much fun. We watched the game until about 6:50pm and then headed through the casino to the elevator that takes you up to the Range. It is only one floor up so we soon were stepping up to the hostess stand. As we were greeted, I gave my name and we were seated almost immediately. On the way to the table, the hostess told my wife happy birthday. Our seat was a table against the window about 5 tables away from the turn in the sidewalk outsid
e to head towards Carnival Court. We were given menus by the hostess and told our waitress, Soyon, would be with us momentarily.

We had never been to The Range before and I must say that it is a very nice looking place. The lounge area was spacious and inviting. The sunken bar that allowed for comfortable seating was nice. Although we did not spend any time in the lounge, I would be interested in returning to the Range just to have a drink in the lounge while enjoying the view. The tables in the restaurant were set up in a tiered fashion. There are tables in the center of the room and then they gradually work their way down towards the windows getting lower as they go. I know we had a table by the window, which was nice, but I could also see sitting up higher in one of the circular booths on the second tier facing the windows. The room was a little dark, but I think a good steakhouse should be as I feel it adds to the ambiance of the room which in turn adds to the experience of the meal.

Our waitress, Soyon greeted us shortly. She also wished my wife a happy birthday. Drinks were ordered by most of us as well as two appetizers.( I learned from my experience at Mesa) I ordered a King Crab cocktail and a shrimp cocktail. Soyon went off to get the appetizers going while we looked over the menu. Since we all knew we were coming here for dinner before we left home, most everyone had looked at the menu and had narrowed down their choices. Our drinks showed up shortly and Soyon returned and our orders were taken. My wife ordered twin lobster tails, my MIL ordered the 10 oz. filet, my FIL ordered the 14oz. prime rib and I ordered the 20oz. prime rib. We ordered four sides. They were grilled asparagus, creamed spinach, au gratin potatoes and an order of macaroni and cheese. Soyon left the table and a few minutes later the appetizers arrived. The presentation on both were nice. We wasted no time in getting started on them. The King Crab legs were large and split and th
e shrimp were huge. They were served with a couple of different cocktail sauces as well as lemon. They were indeed tasty and we all enjoyed them. A basket of breads arrived at the table with the appetizers. There were a few different choices in the basket and the one I tried was good. We had a few minutes before our meals arrived so we just talked and watch the world go by outside.

While we were waiting, a photographer showed up wanting to take our pictures. I began to pull the same line about not being able to have my picture taken when my MIL stopped me and said to let her take our picture. Well, what was I to do but let her take our picture. She took a couple of shots and then wanted us to move closer and look this way and do this. I had enough and she stopped taking pictures and said she would be back shortly to show them to us. "I can hardly" wait I said to myself. Shortly after this encounter our meals arrived.

The food was presented nicely and looked and smelled wonderful. I have to say, 20oz of prime rib is a lot of meat. It looked kind of like a roast and I realized that the 14oz prime rib would have been more than enough. Anyway, we all started in on dinner, sharing the sides and offering tasted of each other's meals. The creamed spinach did nothing for me, but then again, I am not a spinach person but the others at the table thought it was good. The grilled asparagus was good and cooked perfectly. The au gratin potatoes were some of the better ones I have had. Now...the macaroni and cheese. I can tell you without a doubt, was the best I have ever had. Now you might be saying to yourself, "Pat, what could be so special about mac & cheese?" Well, I have to think it was the smoked ham and the different kinds of cheeses that they used. The macaroni was cooked perfectly and the dish was baked to melt some more cheese on top. I am getting all excited just thinking about it right n
ow. Anyway, my wife's lobster tails were cooked perfectly and I even got a taste and they were good. Both of the prime ribs were good as well but I will say that I have had better prime rib here in Omaha and at the Prime Rib Loft at the Orleans Hotel or the Coronado Café at Southpoint Hotel. Don't misunderstand, I was good but not great. My MIL said the filet was exceptional as well.

Part way through our meal, the photographer lady showed up with proofs for us to look at. They were not bad pictures. As a matter of fact, they were nice. But when you want $60 for 3 or 4 pictures, in my opinion, you can pretty much go to hell. She did a pretty hard sell but we insisted we were not interested. She finally left in a huff after getting through her head we were not interested. Then there is my MIL who said that we should have at least purchased the one larger picture as it was nice. I continued to eat pretending I did not hear her. Well, a minute later she was up chasing after the picture lady to purchase the one photo which she later gave to us as a thank you for bringing them on this trip with us.

I have to say that the service was pretty good, but not the best either. Our waitress had a large group that was seated one table away. I from what I could hear, they were very needy. But Soyon did a nice job for us and she was rewarded handsomely for her efforts.. We finished up our dinner and the table was cleared and a dessert tray was presented. We were all way to full to even consider dessert, but they looked tasty. The Crème Brule or chocolate lava cake would have been my choice if I could get any more food in. But it was not meant to be. While Soyon went off to gather the check for us, we enjoyed the view one last time. The total for dinner was $278.90 before tip. I would say it was worth it and I would eat here again, but I think I personally would order something different next time and save a little room for dessert. I charged the meal to the room and we headed back down to the valet to retrieve the shoes for the women before heading north up the strip.

We were wanting to check out the new volcano at the Mirage and the inside of the casino, Carnival Court and the dueling pianos at Harrahs. Our first stop was the Mirage right across the street. We have not been in the Mirage for several years. I have to say it looks pretty much like I remember. We wandered through the rain forest, past the check in desk to see the aquarium and past the Love bar. I also stopped by the casino cage to get a new chip since they had changed since we were last in here. After this, we headed back out to check out the volcano. It was already going off when we got to the street, but we got the idea. I guess we can say we saw it, but it we could not really remember what the old volcano show was like. We headed back across the street and back in to Harrahs. We walked past the dueling piano bar and it was packed. we watched for a second before heading out the door to Carnival Court. No one wanted a drink, but we headed in just to watch the bartenders mak
e the drinks and pour shots down people's throats. It was quite the scene. We left after a few minutes and we headed back towards the valet to retrieve the car. Again, it showed up before lots of others and we were on our way back to Ballys.

After parking the car, we all kind of headed in our own direction. I walked by the poker room to see if they had a list for 3-6 hold'em. They did, but it was almost 10 people deep. So I moved on to the 100 play video poker machines. The rest of my family headed to various deuces wild machines. No one had any luck tonight, but at least we tried. I was hoping that my wife would have some birthday luck at the machines, but it was not meant to be for her tonight. My in laws called it quits around 11:30pm but my wife and I stayed a little longer but we gave up around 12:45am. We headed back to the room and I remember lying down and setting the sleep timer on the TV, but that was all. I was out like a light.

Friday October 8th

This morning we were up and out by 8am. We are heading up to the Venetian but first we headed to the Sidewalk Cafe at Ballys for breakfast. We were seated in front of many others and we all ordered the buffet again. It was pretty much the same this morning as it was on Monday except the omelets had different fillings today. The food was again was tasty and fast but the service sucked like you would not believe today. Something has to be really wrong for me not to leave any kind of tip but that is what happened this morning. We never got the drinks we ordered and when they did remember, we were looking for the check. I am guessing that our waitress was afraid to stop by our table because it was a different wait person who asked if we still wanted our drinks and yet a different one that finally brought the bill. When I went to the counter to pay the bill, I told the cashier that I have never not left a tip before. She did not even acknowledge that I had said anything but she di
d say thank you. Breakfast was charged to the room and we headed out to the valet to get the car.

At this time of morning, the ride to the Venetian was quick. I always enjoy seeing the strip when everything is just getting going. The sidewalks are not packed and the traffic is light. It was a nice drive. Anyway, our goal this morning was to take a gondola ride inside at the Venetian. The valet parking at Venetian was in the parking garage which is where we headed. We were also stopped by security on the way into the Parking garage. He was just checking the car kind of like they did at Hoover Dam. We dropped the car and headed in. The ticket office opens at 9:30am and the rides start at 10am. We were a little early, so we wandered the shopping area for a while. When the ticket office opened up right at 9:30, we were the first ones in line. Our ride was for paid for by my in laws, again as a thank you for the trip. The cost per person was $16 and I do not believe there was a discount for old people. We were the to be on the first gondola at 10am. While we waited, we wandere
d over to the Palazzo to show the water fall and fountains to my in laws. I like how quiet the casino was at this time of morning. We did not play anything, as we did not have a lot of time. We made our way back to the gondolas just as they were all lining up waiting for passengers. We were helped aboard the gondola by our gondolier, Umberto. He, according to my wife, was a handsome man. He told us several jokes as well as sang during the ride. He said it was tradition to kiss your partner as you go under each bridge during the ride. There are lots and lots of bridges. He was a lot of fun and he was given a proper tip for his singing as well as his humor. If you are at the Venetian for a gondola ride, I would suggest you ask for Umberto. After the ride, which lasted about 20 minutes, we headed into the casino at Venetian.

We were just wandered showing the in laws some of the architecture and just wandered about the casino. My wife and MIL came upon an All Deals Deal or No Deal slot machine. When we were in the Bellagio earlier in the week, we watched a couple playing one of these machines for a while. Well, my wife and MIL managed to turn $28 into 40 cents in short order. Even though they did not win, they said it was fun to try. I and my FIL had a good time watching them keep picking the cases with the highest denominations in them and watching the banker offer get lower and lower. We all knew they were in trouble when the bankers offer was $1.35. After our big win, we headed towards the valet area to get the car. Oh how I hate having to wait for the car like everyone else. I do not have the relationship with the Venetian that I do with Harrahs. The car arrived about 10 minutes later and we were off. While we were waiting for the valet, we had made the decision to head back to Red Rock since
we all had pretty good luck there the day before. We made the drive down Charleston Blvd again since we were so close being at the Venetian.

We self parked at Red Rock since we were able to find a spot right up front and headed on in and made our way to our machines from yesterday. I guess you could say that our luck was not as good today. We all did have fun though and no one lost a significant amount. When we had all had enough, we headed to the food court for lunch. My wife and I had a quesadilla from the Mexican place while my FIL got a sub sandwich and my MIL got a burger. It was good and pretty inexpensive for a casino food court. Soon after we found our way back to the car and bid farewell to Red Rock Casino until the next time we are in town. We took the interstate back to the strip and headed towards Bellagio to drop of the rental car at the Dollar outlet. We parked in the designated Dollar spots in the parking garage and made our way to the Dollar desk. The desk is conveniently located outside in the valet area. There was no one in line in the office, so I was in and out in only a few minutes.

When we got back to Ballys, it was about 2pm and we all kind of decided to take a break and relax for a while. We all spent some time in the room before my wife and I decided to head back to the casino. While we were in the room, I called the spa at Ballys and got an appointment for a massage at 9am the following morning. We eventually got back together with my in laws and spent some time hanging out with them. We were all starting to get hungry again so we decided on the Buffet at Paris for dinner. We all went up and got ready for our last night in town. We have tickets to Barry Manilow and the show is at 7:30pm at The Paris Theater so the Buffet at Paris would work out great. We headed to Paris through the walkway at about 5:30pm.

When we arrived at the Paris Buffet the line was huge, as I expected it to be at 5:30 on a Friday night. Luckily, we were able to bypass the line by headed in through the Diamond entrance. The cost for dinner for 4 people was $108.06. This was charged to the room and we were seated quickly. We all went our own directions in search of tasty foods. I personally did not have to go far to find some. My first stop was the carving station for some prime rib and roast pork. It looked really tasty. I also stopped for some shrimp and a few crab claws as well as some roasted potatoes and some green beans. I made my way back to the table and waited for the others to arrive before starting to eat. This turned out to be a mistake as some of the others decided to peruse the whole buffet before making any kind of commitments on food choices. While I was waiting though, our waiter arrived and dropped of our drinks. Everyone finally made it back and I got to eat. The prime rib was indeed tast
y and unfortunately, I would almost have to say it was better than the prime rib I had the night before at The Range. Our waiter appeared again and offered hot steamed crab legs. We of course took him up on his fine offer. They soon arrived and these were tasty as well. We all managed a second plate, some bigger than others, before hitting the dessert station. Freshly made Crème Brule and chocolate dipped ice cream cones were some of the more popular choices. We let our food settle for a few minutes before heading out.

While we were eating, we decided to take a ride up the Eiffel Tower. I got 2 free tickets and had a buy one get one from the ACG, so the total for all of us was $21 which was charged to the room. As we headed across the bridge towards the elevator, there was a Eiffel Tower employee wanting to take your picture. I pulled the same routine about not being able to have my picture taken and we were on our way. I found out that there is a Diamond line for the elevator up the Eiffel Tower. This turned out to be a huge time saver. The ride to the top is pretty cool in the glass elevator once you clear the casino level. As we exited the elevator, we took a quick walk around looking for a place for my MIL to take some pictures. There were quite a few people up there so it proved to be a challenge, but we managed. It was just after 7pm when we got up there, so we were hoping to catch the 7:15pm fountain show. Well 7:15 passed and the Barry Manilow show was at 7:30pm. About this time, my
FIL said we should get going as not to be late for the show. I tried to explain that the show would not start right at 7:30, but he would not have it. We all got back on the elevator and just as it started heading down, the fountains went off. I just looked at my FIL and shook my head. So we kind of got to see the fountains from the top, but not really. We exited the elevator and headed towards the Paris Theater which is on the far side of the hotel lobby.

My wife and I had never been past the Diamond check in lounge in the lobby of the Paris Hotel before, so we did not even know the Paris Theater was back here. As the ticket taker scanned our tickets, we were all handed a red glow stick, and we headed in to the theater. The Paris Theater, having only 1,500 seats, is a very nice venue. I could not see where there would be a bad view from anywhere in the theater. We were in row K, with seats 30 through 33 and our view was fantastic. We purchased these ticket in August and they were only $77 including all taxes and fees. I never thought I would find myself at a Barry Manilow concert anytime during my life. I agreed to go to his show because my wife wanted to go to his show as part of her birthday and my MIL also wanted to see him. When people asked me during the time leading up to our trip what we were going to do in Las Vegas with my in laws and I told them we were going to see Barry Manilow, I got several different reactions. T
hey ranged from ,"I thought Barry Manilow was dead." to "Did you lose a bet or something?" to " I hear Barry puts on a good show." to my personal favorite, "What are you gay or something?" I was happy to go to his show for my wife but while waiting for it to start, I was not expecting to enjoy the show. I looked at my watch when the curtain went up and it was 7:55pm. As I looked at my watch, I also glanced over at my FIL, remembering that he made us all leave the Eiffel Tower because he did not want to be late for the 7:30pm show time.

All I can say about Barry Manilow is...WOW! Can that man put on a show! He sang a lot of his hits from the 70's backed up by his band. I only recall a couple of songs I did not recognize but they were still good songs. There was one part where he talks about his grandfather and plays a scratchy record from his childhood that I thought was a little cheesy, but it was still a great show. I found out you are supposed to wave the glow sticks in the air during various parts of the show. People were singing along and some people were standing in the aisles and dancing. His band was really good, as were his backup singers. I also noticed that he still gets the women excited. The first few rows were mostly women and they were standing the whole time. You could take pictures during the show, but I think they said no flash photography please. I would go see him again without hesitation. So the next time we are in town, we will wait until we get to Las Vegas to see if we can purchase t
hem the day before the show. That way I can get them for free by charging them to the room. If we cannot get them, that is ok too. The show lasted until about 9:40pm.

When we made our way out of the theater and back to the hotel lobby, we stood off to the side a little and decided what we should do next. The decision was made to head across the street to catch a couple of fountain show in front of the Bellagio. We headed out the doors by the valet and headed down the sidewalk along the Paris driveway and crossed the street near the south driveway entrance of the Bellagio. We then walked north down the sidewalk in front of Bellagio. A show was just starting as we crossed the street, so we got a spot at the north end of the fountains and watched. When that show was over, we headed down closer to the middle. The sidewalk was packed and it seemed to take forever to get just a block up the street. When we found a spot closer to the middle, we only had to wait a couple of minutes for the next fountain show to start since the walk took so long. When that show was over, we headed north up the street towards the walkway over the strip from Bellagio
to Ballys. Along the way, we stopped to watch the people getting their picture taken with some show girls, the pirate, a pretty good Elvis and the Transformer guy. This took long enough that we got to see a third fountain show on the walkway heading towards Ballys. While watching the show, my wife pointed out to me the woman from Bills earlier in the week that had her bangs braided with the beads. (She still looked funny) Anyway, by the time we got back to Ballys, it was just about 11pm.

Since it was the last night for us, we all spent about an hour playing video poker and some slot machines. Around 12:30am or so, everyone decided to call it quits and we all headed to our rooms. Once in the room, I must have caught a second wind, because I tucked my wife into bed and headed back to the casino. I made my way over to the poker room and put my name on a 3-6 hold'em list then wandered around by the craps tables to watch the action. My name was called about 20 minutes later and I bought $100 in chips and found my seat. I decided I did not want to be up all night, so I told myself I would go to bed no later than 2:30am. The table I was at was a lively and friendly one. People were drinking and carrying on like they were at someone kitchen table playing for pennies. Most everyone(except for me), called any bet before the flop. These types of players create big pots and are fun to play against. But, it was not uncommon to have the winning hand be something like 9-2,
with the 2 making a straight on the river. It was a fun game, but I won only one hand where I had a pair of tens and flopped a ten for trips and they held up. I finished down $16 after about an hour of play. I left the dealer the odd $6, cashed my chips at the cashier in the poker room and headed to bed. It was 3am before I finally crawled into bed.

Saturday October 9th

We were up and moving around 7:30am. I left my wife and in laws and headed down through the shopping area, past the food court to the spa. I arrived almost an hour early so I could use the steam room and the sauna. I was greeted by Rocky and given a safe deposit box, along with a tour of the facility. I was given a robe and a locker and was left to relax before my massage appointment. After changing, I headed to the sauna for about 10 minutes and then spent about 15 minutes in the steam room. while in the steam room, I was kept entertained by talking to two guys about what football games they were betting on today. On the way out, I thanked them for the conversation and the one guy told me to bet the house on South Carolina over Alabama and Michigan State over Michigan. I was heading in to take a shower when I remembered Rocky telling me about the cold plunge pool. He said it was quite exhilarating to jump in there right out or the steam room. Without giving this idea much th
ought, I jumped into the 40 degree plunge pool. In hind sight, I maybe should have given it some thought. It was quite a shock and took my breath away. I cannot really explain how it made me feel once you got over the initial shock of the cold, but I can definitely see the attraction of it. I headed in, took a shower and went and waited in the lounge area for my appointment. Rocky came and got me just before 9am. He took me to the therapy rooms and introduced me to my massage therapist, Raquel. After a few questions from Raquel, she began the Classic massage I had requested. I had asked her to concentrate on my feet, my calf muscles and my shoulders and that is what she did. I have had several massage treatments and have always enjoy them and this massage was no different. Raquel did a fantastic job and I felt terrific when she was done. If you find yourself at the Spa at Ballys, do not hesitate to ask for Raquel. The massage was 50 minutes and ran $125. I charged this to th
e room, left a tip for Rocky and Raquel and headed in to get a shower and shave.

The Spa at Ballys had everything you could possibly need to get cleaned up before heading out. They had several different types of body wash and shampoos. They had disposable combs and tooth brushes that were preloaded with tooth paste. They had several different shaving creams that were dispensed hot and disposable razors. Body lotion and spray deodorants and several kinds of hair gel were also available. They had cologne available and they even had fancy after shave lotion that was from Europe. I did not have anything to write with at the spa and by the time I got back to the room, I could not remember the name of it. Anyway, if you have the means, there is just about no better way to spend a few hours than relaxing at the spa and the Spa at Ballys is indeed top notch.

It was almost 11am before I headed back to the room and changed clothes. From here, I went down to the Diamond check in to get the hotel bills for both rooms settled up. There was only one person in front of me, so I had a cookie and waited for my turn. I was soon standing in front of Tina at the counter. I gave her my room numbers and my players card and she went to work on my bills. While typing, she asked me how I liked Hash House, Human Nature and Mesa Grill. She said she has been wanting to eat at Mesa Grill but it was just too expensive. She asked me what we all ate at The Range. She has been there for dinner as some type of employee training and enjoyed it. She gave me a copy of the bill for each room and we went though each item. Although I had not talked to my family since around 7:30am, while looking at the bill, I could see what they had spent the morning doing. Listed right above my spa charge was a charge for the Paris buffet for $51.86 and some charges at the Le
Journal at Paris and at On the Avenue Gift Shop at Ballys. Anyway, Tina and I went through every item on the bill and we both agreed on all of the charges. My total bill for items charged to both rooms came to $1,696.67. All of this was taken care of with my Total Rewards points except for $105.00 worth of tips that I had charged. I got a 3:30pm late check out as our flight does not leave until 5:30pm and I wanted to have both rooms until we had to leave for the airport, got our boarding passes printed (our boarding passes were A21 to A24)and I also got confirmation of where our limo would pick us up at 3:30pm to take us to the airport. With the everything I needed to get done, done, I went out into the lobby and called my wife. They were just heading back through the walkway from Ballys. I met up with them at the craps tables where my FIL was wanting to try his luck. I was most impressed with my FIL's willingness to play at a $10 craps table. While we were all watching my
FIL play craps, my wife was excited to tell me about how she used her Platinum card to get them into the short line at the Paris buffet. My FIL played for about 4 or 5 players
rolls before losing his buy in. We went up to the rooms to get things packed up so all we had to do was grab our bags when it was time to go.

My wife and I got everything packed up and ready to go. My wife packed the few remaining snacks from her gift basket into her carryon and we left the remaining sodas and beer with a note for the maid. We then headed back to the casino for one last go at the machines. This turned out to be a good time, but a losing proposition. We were playing some video poker when I realized I had not eaten at all today. I asked my wife if she wanted to go to JJ's Boulangerie at Paris for a piece of pizza. She agreed even though she was not that hungry. We tried to get hold of my in laws on their cell phone and the hotel phone, but got no answer on either, so they were just out of luck on this one. We made our way through the walkway to Paris and walked into JJ's Boulangerie. There was a short line but it moved quickly. We got a 2 piece combo with a drink for $9.99 which I used my players card to pay for. We sat at a table and watched the world go by while we ate. After eating, we made our
way back to the room to check and see if my in laws were wanting to do any more gambling or if they were just going to hang out in the room. Well, by this time it was almost 2:30pm so we all elected to stay in the room until it was time to go.

At 3:20pm, we knocked on the door of my in laws across the hall, we all gathered our luggage and headed towards the elevator. We made our way through the casino to the set of doors by the gift shop at Ballys that face Flamingo Road. As we walked out the doors, our driver was waiting next to the limo. He introduced himself as Richie and took the bags from the women and started loading them in the trunk. My MIL asked him to take our picture next to the limo as a group. He took a few shots of us and we were helped into the limo, asked us which airline and we were off to the airport. The ride was nice with Richie telling us of his 20 plus years as a limo driver. He made it clear that there were too many people bringing kids to Las Vegas and too many young kids coming to Las Vegas and doing nothing but drink and making asses out of themselves. He talked about the old days in Las Vegas when food was cheap and the gambling was good and the casino employees knew your name. He was opi
nionated but I did not disagree with anything he said. As we got closer to the airport, he said he was going to drop us on zero level which would make the walk much shorter to the security area. We were helped out of the limo and Richie grabbed our bags and thanked me for tip. We headed in and up the escalator and walked right to the security lines.

The security lines were short and we had no problems this time getting through security. We walked down to our gate, found a place to sit and waited for our flight. As we waited, I made quite a few notes as I was people watched. I noticed that there was a priest waiting at our gate for our flight. I took that as a good omen. My in laws went to get something to eat and I went to use the restroom. The restrooms at McCarran were filthy. I was glad to have my hand sanitizer with me. My in laws came back with some mediocre, overpriced food sat down to eat and before we knew it, we were getting in line to board. We pushed back from the gate and we were in the air right on time at 5:30pm. The flight was uneventful and fast as I fell asleep pretty quick and woke up less than 20 minutes from landing in Omaha at about 9:45pm, which was almost 20 minutes early. We were off the plane and out at the curb in only a few minutes and there was a shuttle from Abbott Airport Parking waiting. We
hopped on and we were off to the lot. We loaded the bags in the car and headed to the gate. I gave him my coupon, paid the $30 and headed towards home. We dropped my in laws off at their house, said our goodbyes and made the 10 minute drive to our house. We pulled in the driveway at 10:50pm. We grabbed the bags and opened the door to find our two cats standing at the door waiting for us. They seemed glad to see us, but soon became more interested in what our luggage smelled like. I made a quick walk through the house to check the doors and windows, we each grabbed a quick shower and went to bed. As we laid in bed, we come to the conclusion that the trip had been a huge success with her parents. As I feel asleep, I was thinking that I was a sad that our trip was over but I was glad we were home.

Final thoughts before concluding this report...

My in laws were really good Vegas traveling companions and I would not hesitate to ask them along again.

In my opinion, the American Casino Guide is a waste of money.

Having a Diamond card is the only way to go when at any of the Harrahs properties. I just love cutting in line.

Big Elvis still puts on a pretty good show.

We were frequently offered drinks by waitresses in any casino we went to.

We got some pretty good play out of our money even on the strip.

I would not hesitate to recommend Ballys for accommodations in Las Vegas and the location cannot be beat.

The Rio florist did a fantastic job on my gifts for my wife. By the way, the cost for the everything that I ordered was $170.00. Maybe a little over priced, but worth it in my opinion.

It was nice to do some sightseeing for a change.

My wife wanted to do the indoor skydiving on her birthday but wussed out.

Bellagio rooms are nice enough, but I would not go out of my way to stay there.

Red Rock is by far our favorite hotel & casino.

We have no reason to ever go back to the Stratosphere unless we happen to be on a trip with someone who has never been there before.
We did not get bothered by very many timeshare people.

Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace never disappoints.

I would be willing to try The Range at Harrahs again. I would order something other than prime rib though.

Going to Las Vegas with the right people makes all the difference in the world.

I got great help and advice from the people at the Harrahs concierge service on their web site.

Downtown is not for me.

Seeing sights that we had not seen for several years was a lot of fun.

Free rooms, free flights and free food makes for a very enjoyable trip.

Early Bird boarding passes on Southwest are well worth the extra $10 per person.

The two teams the guys in the steam room at Ballys spa told me to bet on both would have won. Maybe they really did know what they were talking about.

I emailed the Food & Beverage Director at Harrahs and they sent me the recipe for the Mac & Cheese at The Range Steakhouse. I have made it twice since we have been home. Mmmmm...mac & cheese.

Our next trip is still in the planning stages. We do not know when we will head back to Las Vegas, but it will be sometime this year and it will be just my wife and I.

Thanks for reading....
Somewhere in a lonely hotel room there's a guy starting to realize that eternal fate has turned its back on him...it's 2 am...