A bit late on this one as it seems I've been busy every minute since returning from my second trip of '10. Went this time with J-, a friend from my Starbucks days in the early 90s and T-, a friend from my current 'extra' job (for most of my adulthood I've had a full-time job and a part time extra job that I use to fund my vacation habit.) J- & T- had met just once, at a dinner party at my place but they evidently found one another agreeable as each was up for having the other along on the trip. As usual, the planning and booking of the flights and hotels was left to me. I booked rt from Seattle on Alaska and our first three (of five) nights at the Desert Rose Inn, just to try something different. J- loves to swim and to lie in the sun so I knew that even if the calendar read, 'November', he'd be up for some pool time if the sun shone even a little. He had been disgusted in the past by the early close times of Strip Pools so when I read all the great reviews of DRI and then learned that the heated pool was open, year-round, until 11pm every night, I knew we'd have to stay there.

All three of us like to switch properties - not to chase the comped rooms - we range from lowball on down to non-existent as gamblers - but to have a different home base at different times of a trip. In the past this meant a few strip days and a few downtown. This trip we decided on two nights at Trump due to a great sale.
It had been a while since I'd had a car during a Vegas trip. I didn't think we'd want or need it for the whole five days so I booked a 'book low & go!' rate (less than economy!) from Dollar that we'd pick up upon landing Sunday night and return after transporting ourselves with it to Trump. Cost of the car with all the fees, $74-something.

T-2 I woke up feeling horrible. I had come down with a bug that was making the rounds in Seattle.

I was terribly sick all that day and only a little better on Saturday. I was beginning to worry I wouldn't make the flight out Sunday and looked online for a one-way ticket I might be able to buy to join my guys on, say, Monday or even Tuesday if it took me that long to feel up to it.

My sister paid me a visit with some juice and OTC medicine and on Sunday I woke up feeling okayish. I still didn't feel inclined to eat more than maybe a piece of dry toast but I was certain I could make the trip without fear. Sister returned to shuttle me to the airport (she'd be staying at my place while I was away; she lives with our mom so enjoys the chance to play bachelorette when she can, plus she loves to take care of my cats.)

Met up with the boys, they re-introduced themselves to one another (my friends always like each other when they meet through me - I only have lovely, interesting and attractive friends, you see. Don't know any other kind.) We all sat together, giving J- his beloved window seat. And we were off!

Once landed, I led the way to the car shuttle as neither of them had used it before. At Dollar we were shown to a HUGE selection of the Low 'n' Go cars to choose from.

'Let's get a jeep!' enthused J-.

'Remember, I'm the one who is driving this thing...' I countered nervously. I zip around in a Hyundai Elantra at home.

At length we settled on a gorgeous Dodge Charger. Quite a big car, with room to spread out in the leather seats. It was a good choice, really smooth and with tinted windows that I appreciated.

The guys wanted to eat (it was about 11:30pm) I suggested The Palms because I'd eaten once at the 24 hour place there. T- had been given a pristine 2010 LVA book by someone he knew who had bought it but not used it. With only a month-and-a-half left of the year, T- was told to use any of its coupons that he wanted.

I knew there must be a 50%-off Palms coupon but the boys checked it out while I was in the restroom and said I was wrong; it was for a hotel stay. I tried to read the fine print myself because I was sure they were wrong but unfortunately, my eyes were blurring the print, which only happens to me when I'm very tired.

The prices were not that steep so we decided to eat at 24/7 anyway. Still sore in the tum, I had a short stack of pancakes, hold the butter and didn't finish. Forget what T & J- had but they seemed happy.

(Later when I had had a night's sleep and could see clearly, I re-read the coupon to discover we COULD have used it. They were wrong! Drat. It was a mistake we would not make again - I am a die-hard coupon user).

Drove to the 'Rose, had a lovely front desk guy called Robert check us in. We had a ground floor, two-bedroom unit, very close to where I parked the Charger. I declared that I should have the en-suite unit, being the lone female, and the boys were chivalrous. J- took the other bedroom and T- converted the sofa. They planned to switch the next night but never got 'round to it.

If you haven't been to the Desert Rose, you can see several videos of its happy customers on YouTube. We all liked it a lot. The carpeting in our living room was stained where some untidy customer had spilled something but really, the rest of the place was very clean and well-stocked. Our unit had a fully functioning kitchen with everything I might have used to hold a dinner party. Each day of the stay included an extensive continental breakfast with hot and cold cereal, bagels or toast, juice, coffee, yogurt, cottage cheese and hard-boiled eggs. They also offered a free weekday afternoon reception that was no big whoop on the day we checked it out but the breakfast was a nice perk.

We liked the pool and its surrounding area. J, as expected, spent lots of time there. Both he and T closed down the spa each night and I joined them for a bit on the last night there.

Monday was our first full day and I suggested that we drive to Monte Carlo, where I knew the parking was easy, and walk from there to hit Aria and City Center, which neither of the guys had seen (I'd seen it in January, before the shops opened but when it had been complete enough for me to appreciate the architecture.)

J- has a degree in architecture and a particular affinity for that which is modern and innovative so I knew he'd like the Escher painting quality of the mall. After a long, long time walking around and looking at the place from every angle, we took the tram to the Bellagio to see the Conservatory and then walked to Serendipity 3 so that T- and I could share a FroHo (J- has no sweet tooth).

Then it was back to the DR for reading (me) and swimming (boys) before we spiffed up and I took us to Rosemary's!

I discovered Rosemary's through word of mouth several years ago but it's no longer a secret. The chef-owners worked on the Strip for all the biggies before setting up their dream place but as they couldn't afford the sky-high Strip rents, they opened it in a quiet strip mall behind a Marie Callenders. It's a long, long drive from the strip and cab fare would probably be ruinous but we enjoyed our ride in the Charger.

We got there early, at the end of happy hour so we cooled our heels in the bar, each with a fancy cocktail. J- had a pear martini that he loved, I had a cherry-lime drink and T ordered an alcoholic version of a root beer float, which is what he always gets.
We were there on a Monday night which meant I got a 25% off (the whole bill!) discount by showing a pay stub for my foodservice job (which is my part time job where I work with T). We each did the three course price fixed menu. The boys did soup and salad and salmon and I had a wild mushroom strudel, grilled quail and blueberry pie for dessert. They also sent our table a little roasted veggie bread pudding starter that was lovely and sent us home with some little sweet nibbles for later.

Joy all around. I love Rosemary's. Full of rich food and good will, we drove the Strip all the way home.

Tuesday - off the strip!

We piled into the Charger and drove to the Silverton, where I'd always wanted to see the aquarium. I really liked everything about the place (including turning my $5 in new-club-card free play into nearly $40 in a matter of seconds) and can see myself staying there on one of my trips with my sister some time. Then we went to M for the buffet, which was magnificent. With a LVA coupon, the three of us had lunch for just over $30. I was particularly impressed by the rotisserie-roasted meats including the most tender, flavorful tri-tip roast I'd ever eaten. We left stuffed and happy and impressed with everything about M - the pool, the building, apart from the casino which wasn't hopping at all.

After pool/rest/primping time at the Desert Rose it was time for J- to finally see the old downtown for the first time. We parked at the quite horrible Plaza and made the rounds. J- took one look at The Tank at the Golden Nugget and announced plans to stay there during his next visit. The boys split a great big, high-fructose corn syrupy cocktail, tiring of it before they finished it and dumping the rest. We watched the American Pie light show and just wandered around, soaking up the atmosphere before heading back at about 9pm (stopping for cheeseburgers and In-N-Out - first time for all of us and we were impressed) for (you guessed it!) more Jacuzzi time.
Wednesday, moving day!

After a quick check out from the DR, we went to Ellis Island of which, ouch, neither of my guys was that enthralled. I still like the place. We did use a coupon and ate in RESTAURANT before heading over to Trump to check in. Did the $20 trick with mixed results - it netted a very high floor and Strip view (which is usually extra) but no one-bedroom upgrade (we could have had one for $50/night more but passed).

After checking out the very nice studio - loved the high ceilings but what is that weird smell in the hallways there? - we took the car to the nearest Dollar drop off which was at Treasure Island and then walked back via the Fashion Show mall.

A bit of swimming in the nice, heated pool commenced. There were a few other people using the lounge chairs in the small but very nice pool area but we had the whole of the swimming pool and the spa to the three of us.

After a few hours of this we freshened up and walked down to Wynn and then meandered our way via trams, walkways and and on foot all the way to T-'s favorite vista of Vegas, the walkway between MGM and NYNY. There were two baby lion cubs at MGM that we had to watch for a while and I insisted that we hit Greenberg's Deli at NYNY for their fantastic sandwiches for supper. I highly recommend that place; the sandwiches rival Carnegie's Deli and they're about 1/3 of the price.

Walking back towards Trump, the boys indulging all the way in the game they'd invented earlier in the week. It involved them actually actively APPROACHING the porn slappers and ASKING FOR cards. Some of these slappers were starting to recognize them! The guys were in competition, you see, to create a whole alphabet of hooker names. Every time they got cards they'd rearrange their piles in alphabetical order. Extra 'Tiffany' and 'Heather' cards were traded or discarded. Don't know if either of them actually got, say, a 'Zenobia' or 'Quillicena' card to make their collections truly complete but they had a lot of fun with that game before binning all the cards before we went home.

I realize I've hardly mentioned gambling. We did very little of it. I probably played the most; slots or a bit of Jacks or Better for a few minutes here and there. I did well too, up about $70 over the week. T- only gambled what he was given for signing up for player's club cards and J- did a bit of slot playing here and there and probably broke about even.

Thursday - The last full day in Vegas and SPA day!

Gosh I love Qua Spa. The Roman Baths room is one of my top five places to be in the whole world. Qua is also one of the few spas to regularly run specials and every month you can count on one of the massages and one of the facials being marked down. The massage on special was the Swedish - I've always been a deep tissue person but now, with fibromyalgia, I can't take as much pressure as I used to so a Swedish massage suited me fine. I enjoyed it immensely. The masseuse did something I'd never had done before; she would wrap a part of my body, such as both feet and then work on someplace else. Then she'd wrap another party of my body (these wraps included hot, wet towels and some kind of weight on top of that), unwrap the first bit and start massaging that warmed-up bit. The lotion she used smelled great and I just relaxed and concentrated on becoming as loose as I could.

Meanwhile, using a BOGO that a nice person on this very forum sent me; J- & T- were steaming away next door in the Men's version of the spa. T- wears (he's open about this so I'm sure he wouldn't mind me telling you) a hairpiece and it had just been freshly glued to his scalp (he'd taken it off for swimming the night before) and he told me that Juan had been honor-bound to inform him if, in the steam, glue started running down his face.

After my usual nap in the baths and a great shower, I went back to Trump (the boys had gone back much earlier). We had a chat but eventually parted ways for the evening; they wanted to get snacks and watch TV and I wanted to walk around a bit. I ended up all the way down at Aria where my last Vegas dinner was a great Chinese chicken salad at the 24 hour restaurant there. Afterwards my feet had finally had it so I took a cab back to Trump.

Friday. Our last day. We had late check out at Trump so after we packed we left our bags in the room and took the shuttle to Caesar's Palace and then walked to Paris for breakfast at Mon Ami Gabi. A short wait got us a good outside table but sadly, the Bellagio fountains weren't going; in fact a couple of dudes in a canoe were paddling around the 'lake', doing maintenance. The food was grand as usual; I had the crepes and shared an order of chicken sausage with T.
After all that we just looked at the Miracle Mile shops for a bit and then went back to Trump to collect our bags and find transport to the airport. We were able to get a limo at a set $25 fee. Traffic was scarce so it was only a matter of minutes before we piled out of the limo and into the airport.

T- told me about a dream he had dreamt the night before.
'I dreamt that you wanted to smuggle something home from Vegas and you asked me to hide it under my hairpiece.'


We were split up into three different rows for the flight back but a trade enabled T- to sit with me while up ahead we could see J- wheelin' and dealin' for his window seat. T- and I used the flight to plan our annual Christmas party we give a group of dedicated volunteers at work every year. This was our tenth yearly party! We decided on chocolate fondue and other good things.
Home again and I got to use Seattle's new light rail link from the airport to get home.

I don't know if I'll manage a Vegas trip in 2011; I've already booked a short break with J- in June to San Francisco to see the world premiere of a new musical at ACT based on Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. Additionally, I've finally, after YEARS of saving, hoarded enough miles to book a business class ticket to London on Delta or American. So until the time I am ready to return to Nevada I guess I'll get my Vegas fix vicariously through these reviews. I hope you've enjoyed mine.