The Vegas Trip of December 2010 included myself and my husband, Rick,
and our friends, Tom and Linda.

We flew from Detroit, Wednesday evening (December 7th), around 8:30
pm, arriving in Vegas around 9:30 pm, due to time change. When we got
to the car rental place we found that that there were no cars at
Payless, where we had 'reserved' a car. Apparently, 'reserved' doesn't
mean a car is being held for you. After a short wait, Payless
shuttled us to our hotel and Rick and Tom were picked up the next
morning and shuttled back to the airport to pick up the car. What a
hassle.

Anyway, we checked into the Golden Nugget and did try the 'twenty
dollar trick' with no luck because the rodeo was in town and
everything was full. We were in the Carson Tower which is the old
tower in the back, and our room was a half mile from the elevator to
boot. I was not happy with these arrangements but the room itself was
fine and the bed was very comfy. For $40 per night we decided it was
more than acceptable. After checking-in and quickly unpacking, we set
off to win our fortunes gambling. Well, two hours later we were back
in the room nursing our wounds and vowing that tomorrow would be
better.

Wednesday we hung around downtown with Tom and Linda. Linda is the
ultimate penny slot player and every penny slot called out to her. It
was difficult to get her to leave one casino to go to another because
there wasn't a slot machine she passed that she didn't want to stop
and play. Linda was, however, a conservative player and her wins and
losses were never a lot and it was so much fun just watching her
enthusiasm. She was determined to get slots out of her system by the
time we left. We did get out to the Fremont for some $3 blackjack and
to Binions for lunch and I was able to grab a couple hours in the
poker room, with minimal loss. We found a 'Queen' (the music group)
slot machine with a fun bonus round that included picking a favorite
Queen song and being entertained by a video performance of the song.
Both Linda and I won at this. When Linda won, she chose 'We are the
Champions' and we swayed and sang along. Pretty soon we had a crowd
around us giving us high fives and cheering. She won over $20 on the
bonus. Fun times!

After a desperately needed afternoon nap, Rick and I went down to the
Plaza to have dinner at The Firefly, which is the tapas restaurant
that overlooks the Fremont Street Experience. Good food and good view.
Our only complaint is that they should pipe in the music from the
overhead show.Downtown was lively but not crowded. We saw a lot of
costumed characters wandering around. I don't remember this from
before. There was Dale Earnhart, Michael Jackson, Charlie Chaplin,
Homer Simpson, Dorothy and Toto, and many more. I did get a picture
with Homer. The live music at several venues made for a fun evening
outdoors even though it was a bit cool with temps around 45 in the
evening.

Thursday we got up and drove out to Red Rock Casino on our way to Red
Rock Canyon. We enjoyed a great breakfast buffet that cost only a
couple dollars with coupons. We loved the Red Rock Casino- very
attractive, clean and fun place. We then headed out to drive the Red
Rock Canyon tour. This is a 15 mile drive through some of the most
scenic mountain and canyon areas you will ever see. We stopped a lot
and took many photos.

After our Red Rock drive we drove to the strip where we checked in at
Harrah's for our last two nights. The cost: Free! Tom and Linda also
had a slot club offer for free rooms. Can't beat that! This time we
asked to be closer to the elevator and we scored a room two doors away
from the elevator. Perfect.

What I remember of Thursday after our arrival is very little, so I
must have been on a gambling binge. I don't mean to sound reckless. I
put a lot of $20 bills into quarter machines- slots and video poker
and sometimes I pulled out more and sometimes I played it to nothing.
A couple times, mostly with slots, I'd hit some bigger wins and this
encouraged my continued adventure in gaming. I like the old fashioned
three reel slots and my favorite way to play them is to put a $20 bill
in one at the end of the row and play it until I have no wins within 5
spins, then I move to the next machine and do the same thing,
continuing down the row, Often, one of them would hit for 200 or more
quarters and occasionally I'd get a lot of play but would ultimately
lose the $20 by the end of the row. More fun times!

Dinner was at Margaritaville (next to Flamingo). We had a surprisingly
short wait for seating. It was fun to watch the floor entertainers-
which included several costumed characters on stilts making clever
balloon hats for customers. The food was good as usual, although a
bit over-priced, as expected.

Friday we went to the Palms, primarily to eat at Gardunos and use our
50% off- up-to-$50 coupon. We enjoyed typically great Mexican fare.
Rick absolutely loves the pina colada margaritas here, which are huge,
sweet and $10. We were disappointed to discover that our Palms coupon
was no good because it could only be used Sundays- Thursday. From
there we went to the Gold Coast where Tom, Linda and I tried some
BINGO. The staff showed Tom and Linda how the little BINGO computer
works and we sat down to leisurely enjoy the game being automatically
called onto our automated cards. As it turns out, leisurely it wasn't!
Who knew that Tom could generate so much excitement over a little
BINGO game! His enthusiasm for a single number hit was so genuine and
so hilarious at the same time that I laughed till I had tears
streaming down my cheeks through most of the games. And to further my
joy, I won a BINGO! Ok, so I had to split it several times and got a
total of $17, but it did nearly pay for the games.

After this we traveled across the road to the Rio where we visited the
patio of the VooDoo Steak House on the top of the hotel. In all the
years we've been going to Vegas- and despite two actual stays at this
casino-we had never traveled to the top of this building. The view was
awesome. It was dark by this time (early evening) and the lights of
Vegas and the continual parade of planes and helicopters made this
almost as awe-inspiring as the Red Rock Canyon. When we returned to
the casino floor and while awaiting the 'Masquerade Parade in the
Sky', I played a video poker machine that decided to be friendly
towards me and allowed me four 4-of-a-kinds over a relatively short
period of time. I turned my $20 bill into $320 by the time I stood up.
We enjoyed the free show although it was a bit too loud. Linda felt it
could have been more 'Latin-themed' to go with the Rio/Mardi Gras
vibe. But.... it was free and that's pretty awesome in itself.

Back to Harrah's for the rest of our 'last night'. Rick and I punked
out and headed to the room and immediately conked out. Fortunately, I
woke up refreshed at 1 am, I got Rick up and we decided to hit the
strip for our last night. I have never done this before- we actually
stayed up all night just walking around and playing a little here and
there. We went over to the Mirage and played 'Ultimate Texas Hold-em'
on this big multi-player machine for well over an hour, sipping
complimentary hot chocolates -with whipped cream, of course- and in
the end I came out even and Rick had doubled his money, We headed back
to our room at around 6:30 am to catch a couple hour nap before
officially starting our last day in Vegas.

Once up and packed, we checked out and headed for Terribles to take
advantage of a LVA special in which you can lose up to $100 and get
reimbursed. After traipsing through this not so clean and not so
pleasant casino to the slot club we found out we couldn't take
advantage of the offer because we had not brought along the coupon
from the Internet site. At this point we were just kind of glad to get
out of there. Terrible's will never see me again, I'm afraid. It
really has seen better days.

We decided to divide our remaining time between The Orleans and South
Point Casinos. We had lunch at the buffet at Orleans and nothing
remarkable happened at this casino. For some reason this is usually
my experience at the Orleans. Nice place, but it doesn't jazz me up at
all. The South Point was one rowdy casino as some of the rodeo events
were being held there and there was every kind of cowboy you could
imagine. My cowboy fantasizes will sizzle for a long time as a result!
While I don't recall winning times, I do know South Point was a hoot
(ok so maybe it WAS the cowboys). We took the opportunity to play
BINGO one more time and included Rick this time. That Rick! He is a
BINGO-magnet! There are several hundred people in the hall, there are
13 games, and Rick BINGOs not once, but twice! I think people were
jeering him- I know I was- and I'm his wife. Tom continued to create
many memorable funny BINGO moments with his style of play.

We ended our visit at South Point with dinner at the Primarily Prime
Rib Restaurant and had a mouth-watering prime rib dinner. Service was
a bit slow and we found ourselves rushing to return our car and get to
the airport, only to arrive and find our plane was delayed by about 1½
hours.

We arrived back in Detroit around 7 am just as a winter storm was also
arriving making our approach into Detroit a bit unsettling. We were
forced to remain on the plane- within eyesight of our gate -for an
additional half hour, which was just plain annoying, at that point.

What I really haven't touched on much is how much fun it was to 'do
Las Vegas' with our good friends, Tim and Linda. Linda was a penny
slot whirlwind and we laughed as this highly intelligent, gentle and
giving woman wrapped herself up in the whole 'Give-me-the-Bonus-or-
else!' frenzy. Her excitement led to losses- she lost her coat, lost
her camera, and lost her glasses...twice! She was able to recover all
but her coat. Her zoological, botanical and ecological insights at Red
Rock made it an especially enlightened experience. Tom's quiet, gentle
manner and strong, on-the-mark political views were a good mix with us
and provided additional stimulating conversations throughout this
trip. I know they will be reading this and I want to thank Tom and
Linda for joining us and creating a whole new set of Vegas memories!