Pawn Stars and Ballys and Pinball...Oh my!

I want to thank all those who take the time to read about our latest trip. This report will be like most of mine...long and thorough. I, as usual, took time before bed each night to recount what had transpired from the time we woke up until the end of the day. I make no apologies for the length of my report or the amount of details...I hope you enjoy.

I have been home more than a few weeks now and I still can see it all like it was yesterday...

I see the suitcases sitting by the dresser in the morning before we walked out the door. As I backed out of the driveway, I see the clock on the dash that read 6:42am. I see my wife trying not to cry because we are leaving the cats behind. I see the on ramp we took to get on I-680 that would take us to the airport. I hear the Las Vegas cd we have in the car playing Viva Las Vegas by ZZ Top. As I grab a ticket at the gate to Abbott Airport Parking, I see the shuttle sitting there waiting for us. I see the driver, Richard and his sign that says "tips appreciated". I see myself giving Richard the appropriate tip for handling our bags as we are dropped off in front of the Southwest doors. As we enter the airport, I see the long line up in front of the Southwest counters that we do not have to stand in as we only have carryon bags. I can see the TSA guy that checks boarding passes. He is very pleasant for 7:15am on a Sunday. I see the new body scanning machine that my wife gets to go through but I do not. I see myself suddenly remember that I left my jacket in the back seat of our car. I see our gate, B17, that is only a few steps from security. I look at my watch and it is 7:32am and they are already lining up for boarding. I see our boarding passes and we step into line at A46 and A48. I see my wife tell me she is hungry and runs to get a bagel. I see the line start to move as she returns. I see the flight attendants telling us "good morning". I see row 6 with 3 empty seats. I see plenty of room for our carryon luggage right above us. We take seats E and F, I get the window. I see myself become excited as I come to the realization that I am on a nonstop flight...heading to Las Vegas!

Pre Trip

We had been talking about going to Las Vegas for a couple of months. We came up with some preliminary dates and finally things fell into place. On 4-18-11 I booked our flight on Southwest through Rapid Rewards using miles. Flights were Omaha to Las Vegas departing on Sunday 9-18-11 at 7:55am and returning Thursday 9-22-11 at 4:40pm...non-stop of course. With flights booked, our next task was picking a hotel. We knew it would be a Caesars Entertainment property but do we stay with a tried and true property we know or do we go with a new one for us? As always, Imperial Palace is out for various reasons, Rio is out because of location, Paris is out because we do not like the casino, Caesars is out for being too spread out and set too far back from the strip and Planet Hollywood is out as the location is a little too far south for our liking. That leaves Flamingo and Ballys. We have stayed at Ballys several times and really like it there but we thought we would try something new so we decided to give Flamingo a try.

I know our trip was almost 6 months away but I booked through Caesars Entertainments web site and got a Go Luxury with a view at Flamingo for no charge. With the two most important things done, I took a few weeks off from any planning for our trip. But during those couple of weeks, I made a list of things we might want to do while in Las Vegas. No real planning, more like thinking about planning. At the top of the list was getting a cabana for the day at the pool at Flamingo. I made a phone call to the cabana people at Flamingo. I got a voice mail and left a message. After a few days with no response, I called back and again got a voice mail. I left another message hoping to hear from someone. The next day I found an email address for the cabana people at Flamingo so I sent a email as well. A few more days went by and I got no response from either. I sent one more email but still got no response. I then sent an email though the Caesars Entertainment website asking to be contacted by someone from the Flamingo about a cabana. A day later, I got a response saying that someone from Flamingo would be in touch with me in the next 24 hours. Three days later, still nothing. So...I sent an email back to the person who told me that someone would be contacting me in the next 24 hours asking her if this is how they treat all of their guests and if she could give me a good reason why I should stay at Flamingo. Her response..."we have a great location." The next day, we cancelled our reservation at Flamingo and made a new one at Ballys.

When I called Ballys a few days later about a cabana, Tyler, a worker at the pool answered the phone. He answered all of our questions, was very helpful in describing what was included and was able to book a cabana for us right then and there. (Was that really so hard?) Anyway, with that done, I spent the next few months watching for rental car rates to go down and looking at menus on line for ideas on where to eat dinner. On 7-20-11, I made dinner reservations at Martoranos at Rio for 9-19-11 and Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace for 9-20-11. On 8-26-11, I was confident that rates had hit the bottom and booked a mid size car through Dollar for $14.62 per day.

Between when I booked the flights and booked the rental car, we came up with a possible to do list. Some of the things we came up were the zip line downtown, checking out the Cosmopolitan, spending a day at the Red Rock hotel casino, getting a drink at Carnival Court at Harrahs, seeing a show and finally making it to the Pinball Hall of Fame. There were several other items on the list, but we will see how many of the items on our list we get to.

So with all of the real planning out of the way, I found myself with nothing to do. I would read the Las Vegas Sun on line and trip reports from various web sites. I would occasionally look at my reservation for Ballys on line just to make sure it was still there. I would study property maps of some of the hotels we were going to be in so I would know where we were going, specifically Cosmopolitan and Rio. Just about anything to pass the time and to build the anticipation for our trip. About a week before, I started looking in the closet for clothes that I wanted to take, I stopped and got some cash and travelers checks from the bank and did a few things around the house. I mowed the grass one more time, stopped the mail and got a key to the lady who watches our cat while we are gone. So...that takes us right up to Saturday morning, the day before we left.

Saturday September 17th

My wife was up before 7:30am getting ready to go to her English riding lessons. This worked out good because I needed to be at the computer to check in on Southwest at 7:55am. I was ready to hit the button right on time and successfully got us A46 & A48 boarding passes. We paid the extra $10 for the Early Bird check in on the way home. With that done, I was ready to start packing. I would pack sooner, but my wife will not let me get the suitcases out too soon because the cats get sad when we go out of town. Actually I do not mind since the cats seem to like laying in the suit cases and when you get to Las Vegas, you have cat fur on everything on the bottom. While my wife was gone, I cleaned the house from top to bottom. The house is kept neat most of the time, so it is pretty easy to get done in only a couple of hours. Later, after cleaning the house, I ran to the Harrahs and Horseshoe casinos in nearby Council Bluffs Iowa to drop off a couple of coupons for points, put gas in the car as it is usually 7 to 10 cents cheaper on that side of the river and headed back home.

Later on that evening, we head to a local Mexican restaurant called Hectors for dinner. The#6 which consists of grilled chicken soft shell tacos with all rice and no beans for my wife and the #15 which is grilled chicken burritos with a creamy chipotle sauce with all rice and no beans for me. We were in and out pretty quick as we got there just after 5pm. After getting home, my wife finished getting ready while I just basically got in her way. Since we were up early this morning, we had no trouble falling asleep. It was just about 10:45pm when I looked at the clock last. I remember thinking, when I wake up in the morning, I get to go to Vegas.

Sunday September 18th

My wife was up and moving around 5:00am. I did not need to be up that early as I do not require as much time to get ready. I found my way out of bed around 5:30am and began my routine. We were pretty much ready to go by 6:15 or so...but depending on if you ask my wife or I, one of us seemed to always find one more thing that they needed or needed to be done. Maybe someone was checking the doors and windows one more time or maybe someone was having a hard time saying goodbye to the cats. Maybe one of us had to use the restroom one more time because they don't want to have to use the restroom on the plane. Maybe one of us went to check to make sure the iron was unplugged again. No sense in pointing fingers...right?

We backed out of the driveway at 6:42am and since our flight leaves at 7:55am, we decide there is no time for our customary egg and cheese biscuits from Mc Donald's. We just headed straight to the airport while listening to our Vegas cd. No traffic at this time of day so we find ourselves at Abbott Airport Parking in near record time. The shuttle is sitting there and we decide he must be waiting just for us. The shuttle is sitting behind us before we even get out of the car. Our driver, Richard opens the door for us and puts our bags in the back. Once inside, he gives me a slip of paper that tells me where the car is parked and asked which airline. Since there is no one else to pick up, we are off to Eppley Airfield. We are in front of the Southwest doors in less than 5 minutes, Richard grabs our bags, I thank him appropriately and we head inside.

Once inside, we see the line for the Southwest counter is quite long. Since we only have carryon bags, we head up the escalator to security. The line is fairly short and we are emptying our pockets and getting out our quart size bags with our liquids in them in no time. It is at this point that I realize I left my jacket in the back seat of the car. I certainly have no time to go back, so I decide if I need a jacket, I will get one in the gift shop at one of the Harrahs hotels. My wife gets to go through the full body scanner but I am asked if my pockets are empty. I say no, I have my wallet and the TSA agent says go through the metal detector. After getting through security, we grab our stuff and head to gate B17, which is literally 30 feet from security. The lines are already forming for the A boarding passes, so we find our spots and step in line. My wife says she is going to get a bagel and will be right back. I stay with the bags, and she is back with an everything bagel and cream cheese and a bottle of water shortly. I a few minutes, we are heading down the ramp to the plane. We are greeted by a pleasant flight crew and find row 6 with 3 empty seats and no luggage in the overhead bins. I put the bags up and take the window seat while my wife sits next to me. I got out a book that I had bought a couple of weeks prior at Borders before it went out of business and my wife immediately went for the Sky Mall magazine. We were soon joined by woman who took the aisle seat in our row. I was surprised by how quickly everyone found a seat and we got under way. As we backed away from the gate a few minutes late, the flight crew began the safety instructions. I do not know if someone writes this stuff for the flight crew, but they were funny. While explaining about the oxygen mask, she said "if you are traveling with a child, secure your mask first...if you are traveling with two children...what were you thinking?". Good stuff! Now that I think about it, I only saw one child on the plane when we were getting off.

We were off the ground at 8:07am, so only a few minutes late. The snacks on the flight this time around were honey roasted peanuts and Lorna Doone cookies. My wife had a coke, while I opted for my favorite Southwest Airlines going to Vegas drink, Baileys and Dr. Pepper. Mmmmmmm...tasty! I of course had a dozen of the old drink tickets that expired in August but I had some of the new ones as well. When I ordered my drink, I handed the flight attendant all of my expired tickets along with a good one. She just said she was sorry. We passed the time by reading mostly with the occasional short nap. The flight was really smooth except for a few minutes over the Rockies. The pilot pointed out the Grand Canyon and a couple of points in Utah. We were sitting on the wrong side of the plane to see, but that was ok. The pilot soon made an announcement about being on final approach and said we would be on the ground about 15 minutes early. The landing was smooth and we seemed to taxi for several minutes before coming to a stop at the gate. As we were getting off the plane, I realized we never spoke to the woman who sat in the aisle seat. As we were walking up the ramp, I looked at my watch. It was 8:51am. We made a quick restroom break and made the walk to door #10 to catch the shuttle to the car rental facility.

Unlike some of our other trips, there was no real line for the shuttles or for taxis. We walked right up to a shuttle, the driver grabbed our bags and we were off. The ride to the rental car facility was quick and we were soon tipping the driver for our bags. We made the walk through the facility and down the escalator to the Dollar counter. On the way though, I noticed that since our last trip, they have put slot machines in the rental car place. Also, it still amazes me how many people were standing in line at various counters. Who does not know to get a frequent renter card or membership card to your preferred car rental company? By the looks of the lines at the counter...lots of people. Dollar now has a monitor with your name and the space of your rental car. After confirming that we just needed to get into the car and check out at the gate we made our way to stall #24. In that stall was a tan Chevy Malibu. Hanging from the mirror was the rental agreement. After a quick look around the car, we dumped the bags in the trunk and headed to the gate. When I started the car, I noticed it had over 44,000 miles on it. I remember thinking that was probably more miles than any rental car we have had. After showing my driver's license and signing the rental agreement, we were on our way. I mentioned a few dents we found on the vehicle to the person running the booth. He said they do not worry about those anymore. I still noted them on the paper work. As we turned onto Gilespie Street I looked at my watch. It was now 9:18am. Only 27 minutes from landing to being in the rental car on the way to the Strip. That may be a new record for us.

Our first stop of the trip is the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop from the Pawn Stars show. We have been by it before but we have never stopped. The store opens at 9am and I had read that they are very busy almost all of the time, so we thought Sunday morning might be the best time to go. We could not find anything around the house to pawn (I suggested the cats) but my in-laws gave us a old purse from the 1920's to see if we could sell it for them. We took the strip all the way down to the pawn shop. For those of you who do not know, the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is in a rather seedy part of town. It is surrounded by several other pawn shops, some bail bonds shops, a few motels with adult movies and some hostels. Our favorite hostile name was Hostile Cat of Las Vegas. Anyway, we get there in a reasonable amount of time considering it is Sunday morning on the Strip. We pull into the parking lot and see only a few cars. We park, make sure the doors are locked twice and head inside.

I was not sure what to expect really, but for those who watch the show...the area where the Old Man and Rick are always sitting looks exactly like what you see on the show. There is one long case of old guns and knives, another with all kinds of watches and one with all kinds of other jewelry. They had a case for old coins and old casino chips as well as a case with old comic books and magazines in it. In the center of the jewelry case was a carousel with all kinds if championship rings. The rings were from all sorts of sports and organizations ranging from Super Bowl, World Series, College Football and even Nascar. Some were priced as high as $40,000. That was pretty cool to see. We wandered the store for a few minutes before approaching someone to see if they were interested in buying what we had.

We approached the counter in front of where the Old Man sits and showed the man what we had. I have to say, I was impressed with his knowledge. He knew exactly what it was and about what year it was from. He said it was in good shape and worth anywhere up to around $130. He declined to buy it though as he said he had two already in the store and they never seem to sell. He thanked us for stopping and we thanked him for his time. As we wandered the store again, we found the two purses he was talking about.

We made our way to the new addition of the store and found it full of all kinds of things we have seen on the walls in the show. We recognized several items that we saw them buy on the show as well. A good portion of the new part of the store was dedicated to all things Pawn Stars. T-shirts, mugs, shot glasses, pictures, jackets, posters, coasters and golf balls all could be had for reasonable prices. We passed on any purchases but spent a while just looking around. On the way out, we saw the chair that they bought that used to belong to U.S. Senator Pat McCarran. It was priced at $60,000. We learned that they have a walk up window that is open from 9pm to 9am just in case someone may need to pawn something at a moment's notice. We did not see anyone we recognized from the show, but we did not expect to on a Sunday morning but we were glad to have stopped. We headed outside and took a few pictures from across the street. On the way to the car we noticed that it was a lot busier than when we got there. Since Las Vegas Boulevard is one way in front of the pawn shop, we headed out the back alley behind the building to the stop light on Garces Ave. We took a left and headed towards our next stop...Harrahs.

We turned into Harrahs off of the Strip and made our way to the rear of the building and pulled into the Diamond valet area. We waited a minute before a valet named John approached the car. As we got out of the car, I told him I only need to pick up show tickets, could he please leave the car right up front. As I said this, I slipped him a few bucks. He said no problem, handed me a valet ticket and we ran inside. I know my way around Harrahs so we quickly made our way to the Total Rewards counter. The Diamond line was short and we were at the counter in no time. We got a voucher for 2 free tickets to Legends in Concert for tonight's 7:00pm show, one of the benefits of a Diamond card, then headed over to the box office. The line here was a pain. Everyone was standing in the Diamond line, so we had to wait. There was a group of older women standing at the counter trying to figure out what show to see. Maybe you should figure that out before you get in the line! After around 15 minutes we were up to the counter, got our tickets for tonight's show and we were back out to valet. At first we did not see the car, but John had moved it forward about 3 spots. He saw us so we headed to the car. I slip him a few more bucks for his help and we head out of the valet area. Behind Harrahs we got on Audrie Street and took that to Flamingo. We took a right onto Flamingo, took the second left and we pulled around into Ballys Diamond valet lane. David was the valet who opened my door. I recognized him from previous trips. He offered the bellman's help with the bags, but we declined as we only had one bag each. After getting our valet ticket, we grabbed our bags from the trunk and headed inside. As we went thought the revolving door, I remember thinking how good it felt to be back. I looked at my watch and it was just before 11am.

As we walked in, I looked around and everything still seemed to be where we left it on our trip from last October. The circular seating area right by the doors, the slot machines, the Bell desk, the little coffee place, Java Coast and the time share people...bastards. The line for check in was huge. Luckily for us we walked into the Diamond Check In and walked right up to the counter. We were welcomed by Traci. I gave her my drivers license and my credit card and thanked her for having us. She said our room in the north tower on the Diamond floor was ready. We finished up the paper work, I thanked Traci for her time and we headed out. We walked by the huge line of common folk waiting to check in as we headed towards the north tower elevators.

Our room, 2019, was a standard north tower room. There was a king sized bed, a love seat with a coffee table in front of it, a desk with 2 chairs, an armoire that held the 32" tube type TV and a large closet the contained the iron and ironing board as well as the safe. Across from the closet was the bathroom. The bathroom was typical Ballys with a single sink, hair dryer, standard tub & shower combo and toilet that was not in a separate room. The room, which was clean, showed very little wear and was everything we would need for the next few days. We took a few things out of our luggage, emptied some things out of our pockets, put a few things in the safe and relaxed for a few minutes while looking out of the window. Our room was right above the Flamingo Road exit of Ballys where the shuttle buses pick you up to take you to the other properties. Our view was of Flamingo Road, Bills, Flamingo Hotel and their pools, Imperial Palace and the sign on the top of the Venetian. After getting settled, we headed back downstairs. As we were waiting for the elevator, we decided that we would play our game where we each pick the elevator we think will show up first. Whoever picked the right elevator the most times during our stay would get to be in charge of the remote for the rest of the week when we got home. Well, right off the bat my wife picked the right elevator. She gloated the whole way down.

We have stayed at Ballys on 3 different trips and we have never been to the pool. We have a cabana reserved for the day on Wednesday and we want to make sure that we will like the way the pool is set up. As we got off of the escalator, we decided to stop at Ballys on the Avenue gift shop to look for a jacket. They had one that was pretty nice but I decided to see if I ever got cold in the casino before committing to getting a new jacket. After leaving the gift shop headed towards the pool. We walked past several other shops, the little food court, the sports book and the spa before getting to the pool. It turns out that the pool is right across from the Monorail Station. We walked right in without being stopped by any of the 3 attendants standing at the desk.

The Blu Pool as it is called, was quite large. I do not know if it is an Olympic size pool, but it was pretty damn big. There was even a deep end that was 13ft deep. There was also a small pool in the area where the cabanas where. We wandered over to where the cabanas were and took a peek at a couple of the empty one. We decided this would be adequate for our day at the pool on Wednesday and we made our way around the rest of the pool area before heading back inside. We made the trek back through the shopping mall, up the escalator and back onto the casino floor. We took a little tour of the casino to see if our machines we liked were in the same place while making our way to the front doors. We headed out to the valet and flashed my Diamond card to the attendant. Our car was out in less than 3 minutes,(in front of lots of others waiting) and we were on our way.

After putting it on our Las Vegas to do list for a couple of trips, we are finally going to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame. We picked up Koval Lane behind Ballys and took that all the way to Tropicana. We took a left on Tropicana and followed it all the way to the Pinball Hall of Fame. We parked right in front of the door and headed in. My wife and I walked up and down all of the aisle to check everything out before playing any of the games. What we found were pinball machines from what I would guess to be the 1960's all the way to the present. There are also lots of older video games such as Space Invaders and Asteroids. We also found Donkey Kong, Defender, Missile Command, Centipede, Track and Field with the rollers and not the buttons (there are those of you out there who know what I am talking about, but the game was not working though), Paper Boy, Nintendo Excite Bike and Tetris. After we looked around, we got a handful of quarters. We headed for our favorite pinball machine, Adams Family. We played Adams Family for quite a while, winning a couple of free games along the way. I got lucky with a couple of good bounces and was able to beat my wife at Adams Family. When we had used up our last 2 free games, we each headed in our own direction. My wife headed for Tetris while I headed for Donkey Kong. After a few games, I told my wife I was going to wander and find another game to play. She was content playing Tetris. I decided on Excite Bike. I know the graphics are pretty bad by today's standards, but man it was fun. About 30 minutes later, my wife finds me and she has a sad look on her face. I ask her what's wrong and she says she is out of quarters. I give her all I have left except for a couple and she was like a little kid as she hurried back to her Tetris game. We were here about 1 1/2 hours before calling it quits. We hopped in the car and as we headed back to Ballys, we talked about how we were glad to have finally made it to the Pinball Hall of Fame and that we were getting hungry. We took Koval Lane back to Ballys and the trip took us less than 15 minutes. We dropped the car at the valet at Ballys and headed inside to figure our food.

We decided on JJ Boulangerie at Paris. We took the walkway between Ballys and Paris and were there in only a couple of minutes. We got in line and waited for our turn at the counter. We ordered 2 slices of margarita pizza and a drink. The pizza was just coming out of the oven so we got two piping hot slices. We grabbed 2 seats right on the walkway in front of the dining room and enjoyed some tasty pizza. This was a pretty good opportunity to people watch and we saw our share of interesting and odd things. Do people not look in the mirror before heading out in public? I already know the answer to that question...they do not. Anyway, while we were eating, we decided to head over to the Cosmopolitan to check it out. We finished our pizza, refilled the soda and headed out the front doors of Paris. Two slices of pizza and a drink were $9.99. I charged it to the room.

The walk was pretty easy although the temperature had to be well into the 90's. We stayed on the Ballys-Paris side of the street and crossed to the other side when we got to Planet Hollywood. I forgot the Polo Towers was right there until we got approached by a time share guy. We just kept walking as he was trying to get us to stop. He finally gave up as we crossed the street between Polo Towers and Cosmopolitan. We walked into Cosmopolitan glad to be out of the heat.

I had made a list of things I wanted to see at the Cosmopolitan from various trip reports that I had read. Of course I left the list in the luggage in the room, so I had to rely on my memory. We managed to see Bond Bar, The Henry, Chandelier Bar from level 1 and 2, Book and Stage, the gaming cabanas on the casino floor, Eat Drink, the hidden pizza place with no name, the dog statues, the pool table, the art vending machines and the casino. I forgot to go and look at the lobby but I have seen enough pictures so I am ok with that. We stopped and signed up for the Identity Card which is the players card for the Cosmopolitan. We were offered $10 in free play or we could spin the wheel and take a chance on bigger prizes. The woman at the players club said we were guaranteed at least $5 but could win up to $500 in free play. We decided on spinning the wheel. As the person that was helping us with our Identity cards told us where to go to spin the wheel, I remember seeing a line of people as we came into the casino and we wondered what they were standing in line for...well we found out.

We found the line and it was moving pretty slow. We passed the time watching people playing slots in the gaming cabanas and talking to others in line. As we got closer, we could see that the other prizes on the wheel were $5, $10, $100 and $500 free play, concert tickets and 2 Wicked Spoon buffets. Well, I got the buffets and my wife got $5 in free play. She was pretty bummed as she missed the $100 free play spot by one notch. Anyway, I was asked brunch or dinner for the buffets. We took brunch as we had dinner plans all week. They said to present my players card at the buffet and they would be on there. We stopped by the cashier to get a chip for my collection and my wife decided she wanted to use the free play she won, so we found a Kitty Glitter machine. The free play must take a while to get on your card as it was not there yet so we decided it was time to head back to Ballys.

I looked at my watch and it was about 3:20pm, which was just the perfect amount of time to get to see a fountain show at Bellagio. Our timing worked did work out perfect. The song we heard was Your Song by Elton John. Neither one of us can remember hearing the song with a fountain show. We always enjoy the fountains at Bellagio. We made our way back to Ballys and decided to stop and play some deuces wild video poker and some Pompeii before heading up to the room. We only played long enough for each of us to dropped a few dollars before deciding we needed to get cleaned up for dinner and Legends in Concert. While I was playing my Pompeii machine though, the older woman I sat down next to just started talking to me about all kinds of things. She told me about how spicy the food was she ate some restaurant the night before, about how she was in town for 10 days and was having a great time, how she was up and down on the machines today and she wanted to know if was I having a good time in Las Vegas. Just then the waitress showed up with the bottle of water she ordered. She handed it right to me and asked if I could open it for her. All of the sudden she asked me if I could watch her machine because she left her cane at another machine. She came walking back relieved to have found her cane. About this time I wished her good luck and we headed to the room.

Before we left home, we decided on Hash House A Go Go at Imperial Palace for dinner our first night in town since we were going to be at Harrahs for Legends in Concert. In a mailer from Harrahs, I received a buy one entree get one free coupon for Hash House, so that made the decision even easier. We arrived about 5:40 and there was no wait for a table. We were seated right away and our waitress Briana showed up quickly. She asked if we had been to hash House before and when we said yes, she said good, then you know how big the food is. We ordered iced teas and while Briana was getting those we looked over the menu. When she returned, my wife ordered the chicken pot pie. When Briana asked me what I would like, I told her to pretend that I had never been to Hash House before and order me the one thing that she thought was the best item on the menu. I told her I did not want to know what it was either. She smiled and said she knew the perfect thing.

After she left the table, we watched some football on one of the TVs and watched people's reactions as their food was brought to the table.
You could really tell who had never been to Hash House before. Disbelief was the most common reaction we observed. This was usually followed by pictures being taken of the food. We also observed a table of 4 sit down, order drinks, look at the menu, then get up and leave before their drinks arrived at the table. Our food arrived in a reasonable amount of time. My wife's chicken pot pie looked tasty but way too big and my dish, which turned out to be the meat loaf pasta looked good as well. Both of our dishes were good, but again, way too much food. When we gave up, Briana cleared the table and brought our check. When she returned, I asked her if I were to still pay full price for an item on the menu would you make it half the size if I asked. She said they would not do that because it would take away the wow factor of the presentation of the food. Now I know. Anyway, dinner was good and the bill was $41.38. After the coupon was applied, it was only $26.38. We charged dinner to the room, left a decent tip and headed out the door to Harrahs.

Since Harrahs is right next door, the walk was quick. As we walked around the shopping area between Imperial Palace and Harrahs we noticed that the spray paint guys were gone. Anyway, into Harrahs and up the escalator to the showroom. At the door to the showroom, I hand our tickets and a $10 bill to the usher and ask if there are any seats left up front. He says follow me and we head in. We are handed off to another usher who looks at a piece of paper in his hand and takes us to the last row of the VIP main floor seating. The seats are perfect, but really the showroom is not that big. But the main floor seats were very comfortable as opposed to sitting at a long table looking sideways during the show. I found out when we got home that the VIP tickets are $65 so it was $10 well spent.

Legends in Concert was a fantastic show. It lasted about an hour and a half, which is really about the max of my attention span for a show. We were entertained by Woopie Goldberg, who was the mc for the show as well as Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Toby Keith, Michael Jackson and Elvis. Toby Keith and Elvis were great, Stevie Wonder was pretty good, but I just never cared for his music, and Woopie was way better as Diana Ross. After the show, my wife and I both agreed that the stand out performer was Michael Jackson. He had the moves, the look, and the voice. My wife and I are convinced Michael Jackson is not dead...he is hiding in the Legends in Concert show at Harrahs in Las Vegas. We were glad to make it to this show finally and depending on the line up of performers, we would see it again.

After the show, we made our way through the casino and out to the Carnival Court Bar between Harrahs and Imperial Palace. The band The Crashers were playing on the stage when we got there and there was quite the mix of people hanging out. The reason we stop here is because of the flair bartenders and the people watching. The cover charge was waived because of my Diamond card and we lucked out and got a table were we could see part of the dance floor and the band but we could see all of the bar. The crowd was a mix of young and older folks and some were pretty well lit already. I went to the bar and ordered us some drinks.

For my wife, I ordered Sex on the Beach and a bottle of water. For myself, I ordered a Bud Light and a shot of Crown Royal shaken over ice. I also asked the guy sitting next to where I was standing ordering our drinks if he wanted a shot of Crown as well. He accepted my offer, we did our shot, toasting Vegas of course and I headed back to our table. My wife and I spent a very enjoyable hour or so listening to the band, watching the people around us and watching the bar tenders. We did get another round of drinks during that time. My wife asked me to get her another Sex on the Beach but told me to ask the bartender not to burn it. I had never heard this term before but she assured me that the bartender would know that it meant light on the alcohol. At the counter, I ordered our drinks, Sex on the Beach for my wife and another Bud Light and a shot of Crown shaken over ice. Again, I asked another person sitting close by if he wanted a shot of Crown. My offer was again accepted. My drinks were delivered, we did our shot , then returned to the table.

My wife was not sure if there was less alcohol in this drink than the first. All I know is I could tell my wife was getting that look about her. I am sure many of you know the look I am speaking of. It is the look of someone who is getting drunk. I could feel a good buzz coming on myself, so who am I to talk. A few minutes later, my wife says she has to go to the bathroom. We just got our drinks and I do not want to lose the table, so I flag down a waitress, give her $5 and ask her to save our table. She is happy to help and we run into Harrahs . We are back in just a few minutes and our table and drinks are right where we left them. We finished our drinks over the next 15 or 20 minutes then decide to head out. On our way back to Ballys, I find the receipts in my pocket form the drinks at Carnival Court that I had used Total Rewards points to pay for. I had ordered 2 Bud Lights, 2 Sex on the Beach, 4 shots of Crown Royal and 1 bottle of water. The total of the two receipts was $71. I ask myself every time I see a bill like people really pay these prices?

The strip was not too busy on the way back to Ballys. We were both glad to see the escalators working on the over pass on Flamingo between Bills and Ballys. My wife says she is done for the night so I walk her to our room, tuck her in, make a wakeup call for 7:15am and head back down to the casino. As I am waiting for the elevator, I look at my watch and see that it is about 11:30pm. I tell myself I do not want to be up real late, so I promise myself I will be heading to the room around 12:30am. Once in the casino, I find a Pompeii machine not too far from the north tower elevators. I keep myself amused for an hour on $40. Not a bad way to spend both my time and money. I decide to head up to the room and as I am waiting for the elevator I see by my watch that it is 12:35am. Good for me I say to myself. As I am getting ready for bed, I open the blinds just a little to look outside. I do not think I ever get tired of seeing the lights of the hotels. I shut the blinds and climbed in bed. I vaguely remember thinking how good it feels to be back in Las Vegas before falling asleep.

Monday September 19th

Our wakeup call at 7:15 found me unusually refreshed after a first night in Las Vegas. We were up and ready to go around 8:45am. We made our way to the valet stand, flashed my Diamond card and we were on our way in just a few minutes. Our destination this morning is Red Rock Hotel & Casino. We took a right out of Ballys, made a u turn before hitting Audrie Street and took a right onto the strip. We took the strip all the way down to Charleston Blvd. where we took a right. We followed Charleston all the way out to Red Rock. I do not know for sure but I am guessing right around 12 miles or so from Ballys to the entrance of Red Rock. I do not know if taking Flamingo to the 215 to Charleston is faster or a shorter distance either. This is the route we know and take. We did get caught in a little morning rush hour traffic but we made ok time arriving right around 9:15am. We parked right outside of the entrance next to the poker room and made our way inside.

We both really like everything about Red Rock. We have stayed in the hotel on two different trips and wanted to do so on this trip as well, but we were unable to get a decent rate. We walked through the casino first, looking for the machines we wanted to play, before we made our way to the Feast Buffet, were we found a line about 20 deep. It really sucks not having a players card for the Station casinos that lets us cut in front of everyone. We had to wait like all of the common folk for almost 10 minutes. The breakfast buffet is only $4.99 with a players card. That is a crazy good deal! I paid for breakfast with points from my card and we were seated pretty quick. We decided to make a lap around the buffet to see what was where then went our own directions. My wife headed to the omelet line while I found my way to the biscuits and gravy and the corned beef hash. It was while I was getting some hash that I realized I could go for a couple of over easy eggs. I decided to join my wife in the omelet line. The line was a bit slow but eventually my wife got her western omelet and I got my two over easy eggs. I headed back to the table while the misses went in search of bacon and a pastry. When we met up at the table, my wife was mad that the person in front of her at the pastry counter had taken the last 3 bear claws. She was not happy, but she eventually got over it. We enjoyed our breakfast and our server, Diane was a lot of fun. As we finished up breakfast, we were looking around trying to guess which diners were locals and who might be guests. Before we left, I asked Diane if I could get a refill on my iced tea. When she brought it out to me, I asked her if I could take the glass with me out into the casino... she said that the glasses were supposed to stay in the buffet. I slipped her a nice tip and she proceeded to tell me to keep the glass in my left hand and to hold it low so the cashier would not see it. I thanked her for looking the other way and we made our way out of the buffet without any problems. Once outside of the buffet, my wife said she could not believe that I had made her an accomplice and threatened to turn me in to the buffet police. My wife headed for her 50 Play and Multi Strike video poker machines and I headed off with my glass of ill gotten iced tea to my Spin Poker Dream Card machines.

I knew where the machines I wanted to play were but I took the long way, just to look around and enjoy where I was. I get to my machine, get myself situated with my cigar and iced tea, insert an appropriate amount of money for playing $4.50 a spin, take a deep breath and hit the max bet button. Things were going pretty well here for quite a long time. I was up and down no more than a few dollars after about 2 hours of play, switching between deuces wild and triple double bonus. I went to check on my wife only to find she was still playing on the same $20 she started with when she first sat down. I went back to my machine and proceeded to get my ass handed to me over the next 2 hours. I had such high hopes from the way the day started off. During this time, the waitress came by and I asked if she could refill my iced tea in my stolen buffet glass and she said she could not do it. I went back to check on my wife again. She had switch to Multi Strike from 50 Play, but she was still on the same $20. I told her I was not doing so hot on my Dream Card so I was going to find a slot machine to play. She said she was getting hungry and needed a snack in a little while and would find me when snack time came. I headed off and came across a Whales of Cash machine and took a seat.

I am sure many of you know that Whales of Cash is a penny machine and has whale symbols that are wild and multiply winnings. It is a fun game but it was not doing me any good. Less than 20 minutes later, my wife comes by and says she is going for a snack in the food court. I told her I would be right here until she comes back. She said hit something good before I get back. She wanders off and before she is even out of sight, I manage to hit the winning combination of starfish, whale, starfish, whale, starfish. When the credit meter stopped, I had a really nice hit.(sweet!!) I cashed out my ticket and caught up with her in the food court. She was still trying to decide on snacks when I walked up next to her and showed her my ticket. She was excited but was still concerned about a snack.

When my wife decided nothing in the food court sounded any good, we wandered into the Regal Cinema movie theater concession area. Here, she was excited to see they had pretzels with nacho cheese for dipping and I was excited to see they had Coke Icees. I got the biggest one they had, which I'm sure was about the equivalent of 1/2 gallon. It was so good and I was set for a drink for the next 2 hours. We both headed back to our game of choice and spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying ourselves. I managed to get some of my money back and my wife spent $40 for the day. Since we have to be at the Rio to sign up for a slot tournament today and we needed stop at the room to get changed for the evening ,we headed back towards the strip around 4:15pm hoping to beat some of the rush hour traffic. We took Charleston to I-15 and took the Flamingo exit. I managed to take the west Flamingo Road exit instead of the east but I just made a u-turn right in front of the Rio to get back on track. We were soon pulling into the valet at Ballys and we headed in and up to the room.

We were in and out of the room in record time. We hopped back in the car and we were in the Rio valet in no time. When we checked in at Ballys, we were told to go to Buzios restaurant and we would see the sign up area for the slot tournament. Well we headed to Buzios but we saw the line to register way before we got there. When we got in line, a Rio employee told us the line was moving pretty quick and we should be on our way in less than 45 minutes. I looked at my watch and it was 5:35pm. We have dinner reservations at Martorano's at 6:30pm so we decided to see how quickly the line was moving. While waiting, my wife and I noticed that there were several women walking in the hallway that were dressed like hookers. We were trying to guess what kind of convention was going on when the guy standing in line in front of us said he was wondering the same thing. He introduced himself as Jerry.

Jerry, as we found out, used to be a recreational gambler until one afternoon about 4 years ago, he hit $12,000 on a slot machine at the Flamingo. After that, he was courted by the various Harrahs properties to come back and enjoy their fancy rooms, fine dining and of course, their casinos. He took advantage of their gracious offers several times before he gave them all of their money lots of his own. Now he is happy being a mid level player(his words) and getting his Platinum card every year. He said he likes to get to Las Vegas usually twice a year with his friends and his wife. I forget how it got brought up, but he explained that when he left Connecticut the day before, he left the house with less than $30 in his pocket. His reasoning for this...the atm machines will only allow him to withdraw x amount of money per day. Once that is gone, he is done gambling for the day. He said it was the best way to keep him in check. He also spoke of Atlantic City. I explained we have never been. He said don't bother, Atlantic City is a dump compared to Las Vegas, Mohegan Sun or Foxwoods. Plus Atlantic City smells funny. Talking to Jerry made the time go by fast and before we knew it, we were wishing each other luck as he stepped up to the counter to register for the tournament. Shortly after, we stepped up to the counter as well.

I presented my players card to the person behind the counter. She made small talk as she was typing in my information. She said that there were three rounds for the tournament. Our first round will be on Tuesday at 12:40pm and the second and third round will be on Wednesday at 9:00am and 3:40pm. Does that sound acceptable she asked. I said the Tuesday one will be fine but we have cabana booked on Wednesday all day at Ballys. She said that Ballys was only a short drive and that the rounds are short so it would not take very long play then get back to our cabana. I said she was would not us take any time all. I thanked her for her time, I took my free play coupons that were part of the deal and we walked away from the counter. As we rounded the corner, my wife said we're not coming back are we? I said...nope! I looked at my watch and it was 6:25pm.

As we walked through the casino and made our way to Martoranos, we talked about how our timing on things had been working out for us this trip. We headed up to the second floor, walking past all of the shops, the entrance to Voo Doo Steak House and Lounge and the new Whopper Bar. We made a quick stop in here just to see what different toppings were offered. Some of the ones that stood out were bleu cheese, guacamole, a bourbon sauce and something called angry onions. The prices for the food did not seem much higher than a regular Burger King. We kept walking along the balcony until we came to Martoranos, which incidentally is at the very end of the balcony. We walked inside, I gave my name to the hostess, who passed us off to another person, who took us to our table that was right up next to the windows overlooking part of the pool and the snack bar. We were given menus and told our server Yuri would be with us momentarily. As she left the table, she placed a plaque on the edge of table that said Diamond on it.

While we waited, we looked around the restaurant. There were not that many tables in the room, which we thought was good, as they were nicely spaced. The room was kind of dark, the floors were tile, the tables were covered in white lines with a candle on each and there were two TVs in the room. One large one on a far wall and a smaller one at the bar. They were both showing The Godfather. The ceiling had an array of lights that I assumed would be used later in the evening when the room turned into a night club. (Although, I never saw any signage saying anything about it being a night club, maybe that did not work out?) It was definitely an upscale atmosphere but not stuffy or snotty.

While we were looking around, our assistant waiter Martin introduced himself to us and filled some water glasses. He to assured us that Yuri would be with us shortly. As Martin stepped away, Yuri appeared. He introduced himself, told us in great detail about the specials for the evening and took our drink orders. Have you ever been at a restaurant and know instantly what kind if experience you are going to have by the first contact you have with the waiter? We liked Yuri instantly!

This is how it went...

He addressed my wife first. "Miss, can I get you something from the bar?" "No thank you, I will be fine with just water." He looked at me and said "You aren't going to let her drink plain tap water are you?" "I said...ahhhh no, what do you suggest?" He mentioned several brands of bottled water and we settled on Panna. He continued with me..." Can I get you something from the bar?" "I'll take a Bud Light." "Really, with all of the great cocktails we have here, you are going to order a Bud Light?" "Do you have a suggestion?" "Of course I do!" Yuri proceeded to tell me about some fancy cocktails but in the end I still ordered the Bud Light. He made a sighing noise. He asked if we would like an appetizer. We asked him to suggest one and he said we had to have the egg plant stack. We agreed and said he would return shortly with our drinks and that Martin would be by with bread for us while we decided on entrees. Martin dropped off bread and we were left to peruse the menu.

Yuri returned with drinks and asked if we were ready to order. We said we were and this is how it went...

Again, he addressed my wife first. "Miss, what would you like?" "I will have the fresh sea bass special you told us about earlier." "Excellent...and for you sir?" "Yuri, I want you to pretend that I have never been here before." "Have you ever been here before?" "No." Then why are we pretending?" "I want you to order me the one thing on the menu, other than a fish or veal dish, that you would eat yourself but I do not want you to tell me what it is. Just bring it to me exactly how you would order it." " I know exactly what that is but I would drink a glass of wine with it." "Ok, bring me the glass of wine you would drink as well."

He just smiled then asked us about side dishes and salads. We decided on the South Philly Salad with Meatball and a side of macaroni and cheese. He said thank you and that our egg plant stack would be up momentarily and left our table. We passed the time talking, watching the good parts of the Godfather and checking out what waiters were taking to other tables around us.

Yuri showed up with our egg plant stack appetizer, served both of us a portion and left us to enjoy. I have never been a huge fan of egg plant, but this dish has changed my though process. It was thinly sliced egg plant, lightly battered and fried served on top of fresh mozzarella with diced tomatoes and arugula. The egg plant was fried crisp, the mozzarella was creamy and the tomato and arugula brought it all together. It was wonderful! Just as we were finishing up Yuri arrived with our South Philly Salad and my glass of wine. He explained it was Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon and it was exactly what he would order with dinner. The salad was a mix of different greens with an olive oil and vinaigrette dressing served with a huge meatball on top. Again, this was served to us before Yuri left the table. I had read somewhere while planning our trip that Martoranos supposedly made the best meat balls ever. Well, I guess I cannot say that Martoranos serves the best meat ball ever, but it was certainly the best one I have ever tasted. It was light and firm but not too dense. It was truly delicious! Plus my wife was afraid she was not going to be able to eat her dinner, so I got most of hers too! We finished up and anxiously waited for our entrees.

About the wine, now I am not a wine drinker per se, but I like to try something different when able to do so. To me, the wine tasted almost peppery and was very heavy. I could not identify any of the flavors in the wine, but I knew I did not care for it at all and neither did my wife...lesson learned. Yuri came back to tell us our meals would be right out and he asked about the wine. I explained that I did not care for it much but I thanked him for suggesting it so I could try something different. Our meals were presented to us just a minute later.

My wife's dish, which was sautéed sea bass, topped with shrimp, served with sautéed spinach and garlic and risotto. My dish was the Rigatoni with Sunday Pork Gravy. Both dishes were presented beautifully and smelled terrific. Our side of macaroni and cheese was large enough for two people and looked good as well. After we each took a bite of our meal, we then tasted the others dish. They were both perfect. The sea bass was cooked perfect with just a little bit of a crust and the shrimp were tasty as well, again cooked perfect. The spinach with garlic and risotto were also very appealing. My rigatoni was cooked al dente, like it should be and the pork was tender and the sauce had an almost sweet taste to it. It was very good. Now, the macaroni and cheese...I consider myself a mac & cheese affectionado. With that being said, the best macaroni and cheese I have ever tasted is at The Range Steakhouse at Harrahs in Las Vegas. The mac & cheese at Martoranos could possibly be the second best. I could not identify all of the kinds of cheese, but they went well together and it was cheesy without being too cheesy.

Martoranos surpassed any expectations we had. The service was beyond perfect, the atmosphere was inviting & pleasant and the food was superb. We passed on dessert and after dinner drinks but we were not rushed out the door. The check was presented after a few minutes and Yuri said it was his pleasure to have us as guests. I had him charge the bill, which was $174.00 before tip, to our room at Ballys. As we headed towards the door, I stopped and thanked our assistant waiter Martin for his fine service and slipped him an extra $10. As we were walking out I looked at my watch and it was just after 8pm.

We left Martoranos taking the walkway back the way we came. As we approached the hostess stand for Voo Doo Lounge, we made the spontaneous decision to head up for a drink and to take in the view. There were two elevators behind the hostess. She told us to take either elevator up to the 50th floor and to enjoy. We pressed the button and waited just a moment before the doors opened. We stepped in, pressed the button for the 50th floor and the doors closed. Now my wife and I did not know that these elevators are the two glass elevators you see on the front of the main tower of the Rio. The view was amazing! The ride took just a minute and we were soon stepping out into the hallway leading to the entrance of the Voo Doo Steakhouse.

We approached the hostess stand and explained we were here for a drink. She was kind enough to point us in the direction of the bar and the doors leading outside. At the bar, Antonio took our drink orders. When my wife ordered an iced tea, he laughed and said, "with no alcohol in it?" I ordered another Bud Light. I paid the $11 bill with Total Rewards points, left a tip on the bar and we headed around the corner and out the doors to the rooftop patio. The view hit us instantly. From downtown to Mandalay Bay, all of Las Vegas and the entire strip laid out in front of us. We could see for miles. We just stared for a while before grabbing a seat in one booths that are, I am sure, for bottle service when the place is really hopping. We just sat and enjoyed the view for a while. The wind was blowing pretty good but the temperature was still nice. We stayed for about a 1/2 hour before heading back down stairs. As we were heading in from the patio, some bartenders were setting up the outside bars with glasses and liquor, so our timing was just perfect for not being in the way. The elevator ride down was quick and we were soon heading down the escalator from the balcony level back into the casino. According to my watch, it was almost 9:15pm.

We had to use of the free play I was given when registering for the slot tournament. It was only good at the Rio and since we would not be back for the tournament, we had to use it tonight. My wife found a Kitty Glitter machine and I found a Gems Wild Tiles game. I ended up giving all of the free play to my wife since I could not get my machine to take it. We played for about 45 minutes before calling it quits. My wife lost only the free play and I lost less than I had anticipated. We made our way out to the valet, again showing my Diamond card to the valet and we were on our way back to Ballys in a matter of minutes.

On the drive to Ballys, we discussed our options. My wife said she was tired and thought maybe she would go to bed. I could not believe what my wife was saying to me. Here we are in Las Vegas and it is not even midnight and she is talking about going to bed. I told her I would walk her up to the room and then head back down to the casino on my own. Traffic was pretty good so we made it to the valet at Ballys in less than 10 minutes. We walked up to the room and as my wife got ready for bed, I grabbed some cash from the safe for the evening. We talked a little bit about our plans for Tuesday and what time we should get a wakeup call for. I made the call to the operator after we decided on 7am. This all took less than 10 minutes. But during that 10 minutes, I had become tired myself. I decided that since I was already in the room, I might as well go to bed. When I laid down, I looked at the clock and it was only 10:43pm. I thought to God, how old am I?

Tuesday September 20th

I woke up on my own around 5:45am. I waited until my wife moved before I told her I was going to head downstairs for a while. I told her it was about 6:30am I would be back around 7:30am. I left and she fell back asleep. I really like being in the casino early in the morning. There is hardly anyone around so it is pretty quiet and you can have almost any machine you want. I settled on a 50 play machine no too far from the Casino Bar near the Keno lounge. I took the machine on the far left as the other 2 on that side were being played.

As I sat down, I was told "good morning" by a gentleman in his mid to late 50's who was playing the middle machine. I said the same to him and I began to play. This machine was willing to let me play this morning. I was getting dealt my fair share of winning hands and connecting with some of these for even better hands. The guy on my right was talking to the guy on his right. While listening to them talk, I could tell they knew each other. They were talking about how last night they were at Planet Hollywood playing Pai Gow for $10 a hand and could never get things going. They said they would either lose the hand or push. They only won 5 or 6 hands in the 2 hours they played. Then they were talking about how their wives were complaining about all kinds of things. I heard one of them mention that food cost too much and the casinos were too cold. I was minding my own business when the guy to my right hit me on the arm and said, "And do you know what she said last night? She said I spend too much time gambling and drink too much while doing it!" I just laughed out loud. They were both nice guys and they seemed to still be drunk from last night. I had made a little headway on the gaming front before I wished them both well and headed back to the room. When I got back to the room, it was about 7:40am. My wife was drying her hair so I knew I had at least a half hour before she was ready to go. I looked at our room charges on the TV just to see where we were, I called and made an appointment at the spa at Ballys for a massage tomorrow at 1pm and then jumped in the shower quick. We were both ready to go and out the door right around 8:30am.

Our destination this morning is the Cosmopolitan. We are going to use the 2 free buffets that we won on Sunday afternoon. Since it is only a couple of doors down from Ballys, we decided to walk. We were glad we did as it was beautiful out. We took the people mover at Ballys out to the street and took a left. There were not very many people out on the street yet, which is always nice. As we walked past Paris, we decided to stop in at check out the Sugar Factory store that opened since we had been in town last. The store is just like any other candy store...only more expensive. There were lots of different colors of M & M's available, lots of miniature candies like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Hershey's Kisses and there were the chocolate covered gummy bears. All were available for only $15.00 a pound. They had several different chocolate things in the cases that looked good and they had lots of suckers too. They also had lots of cases to hold your suckers in. It was kind of fun to look around, but we were only here a few minutes before heading on to Cosmopolitan.

We crossed the street near the Polo Towers and Planet Hollywood just like on Sunday afternoon. And just like Sunday, we were approached by a time share guy for Polo Towers. Only this time I actually stopped for a second and let the guy think I was interested in what he was offering to go & listen to his spiel about the Polo Towers. He kept talking to us all the way up to the entrance to Cosmopolitan at which point I said no thanks. We walked in and made our way up to the Wicked Spoon Buffet without any issues to find only about 10 people in line. They had an odd system for paying for the buffet first and then standing in line. Maybe it was just us, but we both thought it seemed odd. I presented my Identity Card to the cashier, she found the free buffets in my account, handed me a receipt and we went and got in line.

We were seated in only a few minutes. Our waitress arrived at our table just as we got there. She took our drink order and told us to enjoy. We decided to take a walk around and check things out first before jumping in. We made a lap around, I told my wife good luck and we went our own direction. Since this is the brunch buffet, I headed for breakfast items. I started with biscuits and gravy, a slice of ham, some slab bacon, a couple of chicken wings in their
own little tiny frying basket and some tri tip steak. When my wife returned to the table, she had some kind of artichoke salad, something with asparagus in it, some macaroni & cheese, chicken with bow tie pasta and some fancy hash. We each tried some of the others items and we both decided we like what we had and not what the other had. I went back for a second look and returned with some more tri tip, a couple more chicken wings, some orange peel beef and a little container of short rib Eggs Benedict. My wife went for dessert on her second trip. She returned with a couple of chocolaty things and a couple shots of some kind of fruit smoothie. Our waitress was nice and the atmosphere was pleasant and not too crowded. Over all, we both would say the buffet was ok, but we would not go out of our way to eat there again. Maybe it would be better for dinner but then again, maybe the food was too sophisticated for us. We were glad it was free as the brunch price was $22. We left a decent tip for the waitress and headed out.

We headed back to the casino for my wife to use her $5 in free play. She chose a Kitty Glitter penny machine. It only took a few minutes to use it up and we moved on. After giving the Cosmopolitan that kind of action, I can only imagine what kind of offers they are going to send her. After the high stakes gambling, we headed on over to City Center to see the tornado tubes and the ice sculptures as we enjoyed seeing them on our last trip. As we walked, we both noticed the lack of shoppers in the mall. Christian Dior and Versace were both empty except for the workers who looked bored. I was sad to see the new Jimmy Choo was not yet open. I can never have enough $900 pairs of shoes. We were not here very long and neither of us felt like walking all the way to Aria to play in the casino, so we just back tracked to the strip and headed back to Ballys to get the car. On the walk back over, our time share guy in front of Polo Towers was busy with another couple so we lucked out there. The temperature had warmed up and we were glad to cut through Paris on the way back to Ballys. We planned ahead and took everything we needed for the day when we left the room so we just headed to the valet. Our car was up quickly and we were on our way. It was about 12:15pm as we waited to make the u-turn on Flamingo Road.

Unless there is something we are specifically wanting to do downtown, we never make it down there. Today, though, we are wanting to do the zip line over Fremont Street, so that's where we are headed. We took the strip all the way to Carson Avenue where I took a left and pulled into the valet at Fitzgerald's. I always park the car here as they are usually not too busy and you get your car back quickly. We left the car and walked through the casino out to Fremont Street.

Once on Fremont, it did not take long to find the zip line place. As we approached, we saw the sign that said they were not open until 2pm. According to the pages I printed off the web, they are supposed to be open at noon. Well, my wife said she did not want to wait 1 1/2 hours before they opened, so we watched the workers checking the zip lines for a while before heading down Fremont to check out the new Plaza Hotel. The crowd was pretty light at this time of day on a Tuesday. As we walked, we took a quick look at what the vendors had for sale. We did not see anything we could not live without so no purchases were made. We made it across Main Street after we waited for a fire engine to pass and walked into the Plaza.

Well, you could see the changes immediately. The place was bright and clean and neither one of us noticed any homeless people without any shoes wandering around like we saw a couple of trips ago. Many of the slot machines were new and the felt on the blackjack and craps tables were stain free. We did notice that the average age a cocktail waitress here is in the mid to late 50's range. Not that we care, but you do not see that on the strip. We played a Cats slot and Kitty Glitter slot that were right next to each other for a few minutes. My Cats machine gave me a bonus round that netted me less than a dollar while my wife was shut out and never got the bonus round. I believe that this was the point in the trip where my wife started calling Kitty Glitter "the nut kicker" instead. Isn't she cute? We cashed out our tickets and I stopped by to collect a new chip for my collection at the cashier. On the way out, we walked by the Swingers Club to take a peek inside but they did not open until 6pm. We could see the miniature golf greens though the windows but not much else. We headed out the door knowing we would probably not be back and made our way back to Fitzgerald's. I stopped at the cashier here also to get a new chip as they had changed their house chips sometime in the last year or so. We headed to the valet, got our car in a short amount of time and headed out of downtown.

We decided to head back to Red Rock Casino via Charleston Road. Again, we both enjoy Red Rock and the drive out there only heightens the anticipation of the riches that surely await us. I am still not sure if Charleston is the fastest way to get to Red Rock. We arrived right around 1:45pm and parked in almost the same spot as yesterday. On the way in, we decided we needed to be heading back towards the strip by around 4:30pm as we have dinner reservations on the strip at 7pm. I also want to put gas in the rental before parking it for the night since we are returning it in the morning. We stopped by the movie theater again and got some popcorn for my wife and a Coke Icee for me. (Mmmmm...Coke Icee) I dropped my wife off in the area of her 50 Play & Multi Strike Poker machines and I headed back to my Spin Poker Dream Card machine.

Red Rock has 3 of the Spin Poker with Dream Card machines and all 3 of them were being played. I wandered by each of the machines to get a look at the credit meter and two of the three had only a few dollars on them so I decided to stay close. I found a Kitty Glitter (aka "the nut kicker") close by and put a few bucks in to pass the time. I got the bonus round a few times pretty quickly but they did not amount to much and soon a Dream Card machine was free. I got ahead early but in the end things were almost like yesterday. I have decided though that Deuces Wild is better than Triple Double Bonus on these types of machines. I would go 10 or more hands in a row where I would get a Dream Card on DW but on TDB, I could go 20 or more in a row with no Dream Card. Maybe it was just me, but I spent the majority of my time on DW. Although in the end they got my money, I had a good time while playing. The casino was never crowded the times we were there and it was never too noisy. About 4:20pm I wandered over to see if my wife was ready to go. She was just about done, so I ran to the restroom and when I came out, she was ready to go. We took a last look around and headed out the door. We grabbed the car and decided to take belt way back. A left at the light and another left onto the belt way and we were headed towards the strip.

Now, I like to think I know my way around Las Vegas. I can get to just about anywhere in town while avoiding the strip without any trouble. Even on the 15 or the 215 I am comfortable and know where I am going. But I seem to have trouble with the belt way. We were talking about whether we should stay on the belt way all the way to the strip or should we get off on Tropicana Ave. We decided that the last time we took Tropicana Ave it was really slow so we decided to try one of the next couple of exits. As we were talking, went past Russell Road so I took the next exit which was Sunset Road. Now, everything seemed to be going just fine. We went past Durango, Buffalo and Rainbow, all of which I had heard of or recognized. When we got to Jones Blvd, which I had never heard of, we thought Sunset Road was working out great as there was not much traffic and no one seemed to have an understanding of the speed limit, which meant we were making great time. But then we both thought something seemed wrong. About that time, Sunset Road just came to an end. I mean literally came to an end. It just stopped and turned into desert. What the hell? A quick u-turn and we went back to Jones and took that to Russell. We took a right on Russell and in short order we were back on the strip. This is when we stopped to fill up the rental car at the gas station in front of Mandalay Bay. It took just under 5 gallons to fill it back up. I took Hacienda to Koval and took that back to Ballys. Our little driving adventure took almost 45 minutes but it was kind of fun. As we walked into Ballys after dropping the car at the valet, it was about 5:40pm. We headed to the room to get changed for the evening.

We were back downstairs and heading towards the strip on the moving walkway in front of Ballys by 6:30. Dinner this evening is at Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace so we decided to walk. We took the walkway over Flamingo and to the walkway over the strip in front of Bills to Caesars Palace. The walk was short and easy and only took about 15 minutes. When we walked into Caesars, we had a few minutes before of reservation, so we decided to check out the Diamond Lounge. It is almost a secret how to get there. After asking a security guard, we found it without a problem. It was nicer than most and I would put it in line with the one at Paris. We took a quick look around and headed back the way we had just came. We made our way through the casino, made a quick stop at the Seahorse Lounge to look at the aquarium, then proceeded to Mesa Grill. It was 6:58pm as we walked up to the hostess.

I gave the hostess our name and we were told our table would be ready shortly. We went to the restroom to wash our hands and when we returned, our table was ready. We were seated, given menus and a wine list and told our server would be over in a moment. Now, my wife and I have been looking forward to eating at Mesa Grill for several weeks. Our last time in town, we ate here and it might have just been the best meal we have had...ever. I was looking forward to the Tiger Shrimp Tamale for an appetizer as well as a great steak and my wife was looking forward to either the chicken she had last time or some type of fish. Now, we were both really looking forward to the roasted corn with grilled cactus and the mashed potatoes with green chili Queso sauce that we had as sides on our last visit. As we looked through the menu, imagine our dismay when we realized that neither one of these side items was on the menu. About this time, our waiter, who introduced himself as Jesse arrived at out table. Jesse explained the specials for the evening and offered drinks and appetizers. Before we ordered anything, I asked him about the roasted corn and mashed potatoes. He apologized and explained that the menu was constantly changing and unfortunately these items were not on the menu at this time. We decided to stay for dinner anyway. My wife ordered the roasted corn soup and a water and I ordered a Miller Lite and a Tiger Shrimp Tamale. I also asked him to bring us a bottle of water. Jesse started explaining all of the different brands of water and I said to pick one for us. Jesse also took our entree orders at this time. My wife ordered the ancho chili glazed salmon with garlic mashed potatoes while I went with the Black Angus New York Strip with the roasted garlic tamale. Jesse said he would be back shortly with my beer, my wife's water and our bottle of water.

While waiting for our drinks a basket with a few different breads was placed on the table. There was a jalapeño, blue corn and some kind of bread with fruit in it. Very tasty! A few minutes later, our appetizers arrived as well as my beer and our bottle of water. The water was opened and poured for us and we were left to enjoy. First off, my wife's soup was good and my shrimp tamale was great but when I took a drink of the bottles water...we find out it is sparkling water. What the hell? Do people really drink this stuff? I was lucky to have a beer on the table to get the taste out of my mouth. I got Jesses attention and asked him to please bring me a glass of iced tea. He did so quickly and he soon returned with what looked to be plain iced tea. I took a drink of the tea and a moment later, I again got Jesses attention. When he arrived at the table, I motioned for him to lean in. I asked him to tell me what kind of tea this was. He explained it was cactus pear iced tea. I told him that I was obviously not sophisticated enough to drink cactus pear iced tea or sparkling water and could he please bring me a plain glass of water. He took the cactus pear tea and the bottle of sparkling water with him and soon returned with a plain glass of water. I thanked him for his patience and understanding. A few minutes later, our meals arrived.

Our meals tasted terrific. My wife said her salmon was cooked nicely and the garlic mashed potatoes were good, but not any better than lower end places. My steak was cooked a perfect medium rare with a nice char on the outside. We enjoyed our meal. While we were waiting for the check, my wife and I both agreed that something was just off about Mesa tonight. Our waiter Jesse was good and the food was fine but maybe we have been so used to perfection during our past visits that we expected too much. Also, the fact that they did not have the two side dishes we wanted, might have had something to do with it. They were also closing at 10pm for a private function. Maybe that was it. Or maybe I was more of a pain in the ass than I think I was? Anyway, for various reasons, we decided to take a break from Mesa Grill for a trip or two and go back to Martoranos for a high end restaurant experience. The bill before tip was $141.00. When Jesse came back to have me sign for dinner, I thanked him again for his understanding and tipped him appropriately.

As we walked out of Mesa Grill, it was just before 8:30pm. We decided to play at Caesars before heading back to Ballys. We found a Gems Wild Tiles machine near the entrance to the Colosseum and took a seat. Since the machine was empty next to it, we both decided to play the same machine together. We played here for a good while on the same $20. We hit a few bonus rounds that paid pretty good and around 9pm, walked away with a few more dollars than we started with. We then decided to head over to Shadow Bar inside Caesars Palace and have a drink.

We arrived to find the place not too crowded and easily found a table. A waitress appeared quickly and I ordered a Corona for my wife and a Bud Light for myself. As we waited for our drinks we looked around the club. The area we were sitting in was directly in front of the bar with an unobstructed view of the two screens behind which, were the dancers. There were booths surrounding the area we were sitting in that I assume were used for bottle service as some of them had reserved signs on them. The bartenders were quite handy with the bottle throwing skills and the ladies dancing behind the screens made for a very nice environment. Our drinks arrived and we spent a very pleasant hour or so listening to the club music and watching the show...both the bartenders and the dancers. Speaking of the dancers, my wife and I decided that the dancers behind the screens were, at the minimum, topless. There were a couple of tell tale signs that are best discussed in other forums. Anyway, we enjoyed our time here and made our way back to Ballys around 10:30pm.

We headed up to the room and sat around for a few minutes while we decided if we were heading back out or just going to bed. This is when I got the idea to try and return the rental car at the Treasure Island location tonight instead of waiting until morning. I made a call to Dollar and inquired if we could return the car after hours. I was told that was not possible. When I asked what would I do if it was an emergency and I needed to drop the car and leave town in a hurry. Her response was something about policy and insisted that we needed to return the car when the Dollar counter was open. We left it at that and decided against going back out. As we were getting ready for bed, I told my wife that we were getting old. Ten years ago, whether we were at home or on vacation, we wouldn't be anywhere near ready for bed at this time of night. She was asleep before she could respond. The clock on the night stand said 11:27pm. Again, I fell asleep thinking I was getting old.

Wednesday September 21th

We were up and out by 7:20am as we are returning the rental car this morning. The traffic on the strip was nonexistent at this time of day and we made it to TI in only a few minutes. Before we left home, I called the Dollar location at TI to find out where to return the car in the parking garage, what their hours were and where the Dollar counter was on the property. We got to the 3rd floor of the garage, found the Dollar spots, wrote down the mileage and the stall number, made sure we had everything, locked it up and headed inside. The Dollar counter was right near the parking garage just before the really long escalator that takes you into the casino. We waited just a few minutes while the person in front of us finished up. While the guy behind the counter was finishing up our paper work, I told him about the conversation I had with the person from Dollar last night on the phone. He said that there is a drop box those types of situations and said he was sorry we were misinformed. It was not his fault but we appreciated his help and now we know for next time. The total came for the rental came to $95.00. We were on our way in only a few minutes and we headed down that huge escalator into the casino.

We have not gambled in TI or spent any real time here in many years. This was where we stayed on one of our first trips together...that would have been back in 97 or 98. We found a bank of Caribbean Stud machines here on that trip. We never saw them at any other casino and the next year we came back, the machines were gone as well. They must have never caught on. I made a stop at the poker room to get a new chip for my collection since the poker chips they use are different from the regular casino chips but the room was not open. I then made a stop at the cashier to see if they had any of them but they said I needed to get them from the poker room. We moved on. We knew Gilley's was not open, but we walked by to take a peak though the window. It looked like just about any western bar anywhere else. So, with nothing else to keep us at TI, we headed out the doors by the valet and started walking back towards Ballys.

The pedestrian traffic was light and the walk was pleasant at this time of the morning. We walked down to the Mirage where we crossed the street over to Harrahs, then just made our way back along that side of the strip. We were hungry, so we talked breakfast along the way. The decision was made to head to Paris for the buffet. Once we crossed over Flamingo, we decided to cut through Ballys to get to Paris. As we rounded the corner in the walkway between Ballys and Paris, we could see the line for the buffet was huge. Now, this may discourage some people, but I actually prefer the line to be long. That just means there are that many more people we get to cut in front of as we use the Diamond entrance. There were two couples in front of us in the Diamond entrance, so our wait was minimal. Orange juice and iced tea were ordered and we were soon on our way to a table. We went our separate ways with my wife heading for the omelet line while I took a quick tour of all of the offerings. I found some prime rib hash, some tasty bacon, a couple of sausages, some hash browns, some scrambled eggs then covered almost everything with sausage gravy. (my mouth is watering as I type this.) I caught up with my wife a few minutes later at the table. All she had on her plate was her omelet, some bacon and some fruit. I asked her where was her sausage gravy? She replied gravy does not go with fruit. Breakfast was good but the service was off. By off I mean we did not see our waitress until we were about to leave. Luckily we did not need refills as we both had two drinks. We left an appropriate tip on the table and headed for the door. As we walked back towards Ballys, the line for the buffet was still huge. Breakfast at the Paris buffet was $34.57 before tip. Actually it was almost $34.57 after tip as well. We headed to the room to get ready for spending the day at the pool.

We have a cabana for the day at the Blu Pool at Ballys. Blu Pool is just a fancy name for their pool. We got to the counter at the pool at 10:05am, gave then our name and soon our cabana hostess, Stephanie, was leading us through the pool area to cabana #4. Upon entering the cabana, Stephanie gave us the rundown. The fridge was full of bottled water, there were four chairs around a dining table, a copy of the USA Today was on the table, there were two reclining lounge chairs and a day bed that reclined that had a cushion on it, the flat screen TV had dozens of channels as well as all of the channels for the sports book, tons of towels, an ice chest full of ice, a locking cabinet for valuables, two rafts, a bottle of rum, vodka or tequila and our own cocktail waitress. Stephanie said she would be back throughout the day to make sure we were being taken care of and she left us to ourselves. As we started getting settled, our waitress, Mikala made her first appearance. She explained she was here for us throughout the day and we should call on her if we need anything. She asked us what kind of liquor and mixers we wanted. We decided on vodka for the liquor and pineapple, orange and cranberry juices for mixers as well as some orange and lime slices and some cherries. She left to get our drinks and we finished getting settled.

The first thing we did was to empty our pockets and locked everything in the cabinet. Then I turned the TV on and found a replay of the Ohio State vs. Miami football game from Saturday...sweet. As I am a Michigan fan, I do enjoy seeing Ohio State getting beat but I cannot stand Miami either. We liked the location of our cabana as it was very close to the smaller wading pool and there was no one in the cabanas on either side of us. We got comfortable on the day bed using some of the rolled up towels as pillows and just relaxed and took in our surroundings. About 15 minutes later, Mikala returned with our liquid refreshments and a fruit basket filled with bananas, apples, grapes and oranges. She offered to pour some drinks for us but we declined. We thanked her and she was gone. We just sat on the day bed for a while before we decided to start in on the vodka.

First off, the vodka was Absolute and it was a liter bottle. Now, my wife and I are not huge drinkers, but when the mood hits us to toss back a few, we can do it with the best of them. Well, I can. Anyway, I filled 2 glasses with ice and filled them halfway with some of each juice, filling the other half with vodka. I added a couple of cherries and gave them a stir. I joined my wife, who was still lounging on the daybed, handed her a drink and we just enjoyed. We do not know if there is a name for what we were drinking, but we enjoyed them.

A while later, we decided to take a dip in the pool to cool down as the temperature was well into the 90s and it was not even 11am yet. The water was very pleasant. It was not freezing cold like it was at Paris on our visit about a year ago. We hung out for a few minutes before heading back to the cabana. When we got back, we had some fruit and another drink...or two and did nothing. A while a later, I decide to go and get some sunscreen and a copy of the Las Vegas Review Journal in the pool shop. Upon returning to the cabana, we took a nap, read a little, ate some more fruit, drank and enjoyed each other's company. About 12:30pm, I decided to head to the spa. I told my wife not to wait on me if she got hungry and I would see her in a couple of hours.

The spa at Ballys is just down the walkway from the pool so I was there in only a minute. I got checked in at the front desk and was told to head on in to the men's locker room. I was greeted by Willie and Derold upon entering the locker room. I was given a key to a locker and given a tour of the facility. I changed into my robe & slippers then headed in to take a quick shower. Afterwards, I enjoyed the steam sauna, the whirlpool and the cold plunge pool. I did this on my last visit and I enjoyed it just as much this time. The cold plunge is quite a shock to the system...but in a good way. After warming up in the whirlpool again, I grabbed another quick shower and took a seat in the lounge and watched MSNBC for a while. Just after 1pm I was escorted to a therapy room and introduced to my massage therapist Kat.

When I called to set up an appointment, the person on the phone told me I should try the Ballys Signature Massage. The 80 minute session consisted of deep tissue, Swedish and hot stone techniques all in one massage. After a few questions from Kat, we got started. She started with the deep tissue, which felt great. She moved on to the Swedish which was really relaxing and finished with the hot stones. The hot stones, which I have never experienced before, was fantastic. During the session, I do not know if it was the drinks or all of the running around my wife and I had been doing but I fell asleep 3 times in my 80 minutes. I know this because Kat would ask me if I was doing okay and I would not respond so she would wake me up to get a response. I apologized to her, but she said it happens all the time. I asked her if I was snoring and she said only a little. All I know is I felt great when I was done. I thanked her for her time, tipped appropriately and headed back to the locker room to take another shower.

After showering, I shaved, which by the way I had not done all week and took one more dip in the whirlpool and the cold plunge. On the way out, I was talking to the attendants Willie and Derold about my experience. I told them the spa is well run and the facilities are great. I thanked them again and tipped them both for their time. I also asked them if they would be interested in the left over vodka that we would have when we were done at the pool for the day. They said they would be here until 6pm and they would be happy to take it off of our hands. I stopped at the check in desk to charge my massage to the room then headed back to the cabana.

It was 3:20pm when I walked up in front of the cabana where I found my wife asleep on the day bed. And since Kat had told me to drink plenty of liquids after my massage, I mixed myself another drink. My wife woke up and we decided to head to the pool so she could cool off. I covered myself in sunscreen since I burn easily, grabbed our rafts this time and headed to the pool. We floated around for almost 30 minutes before we were done and headed back. Upon our return, Mikala stopped by to see how we were doing. My wife said she was hungry and wanted to know if we could get a menu for the snack bar. Mikala said the snack bar was closed for the season and all they had to offer for food were platters of sandwiches. We passed on a platter of sandwiches and my wife went to the pool shop and got some Pringles and Cheeze Its instead. This would get us by until dinner later on this evening. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing nothing and drinking. It was a great way to spend our last full day in town. We decided to pack it in around 5:30pm. We flagged down Mikala so we could settle the bill, grabbed some of the bottled water in the fridge and headed back to the room. The time we spent at the pool, which was charged to the room, was a little pricey. The cabana, the trip to the spa, the two trips to the pool shop and all of the tips ran just under $650. In our minds, it was well worth it and we will do it again if we are in the mood on our next trip.

After getting cleaned up and ready for the evening, we headed down to the casino. My wife headed towards the 50 play machines while I decided to play poker for a while. After my wife was settled, I made my way to the poker room. I put my name on the list for 3-6 hold em and just wandered around the tables watching the action. The list for 3-6 was about 7 deep, but in less than 15 minutes, my name was called. I bought in for $100 and waited for the button to pass before playing. I played for roughly one hour before calling it quits. I had three hands that were note worthy. A few minutes in I am dealt pocket 5's and just call the $3. I catch a 5 on the flop and get called by 1 player all the way to the end. Next, I am in the big blind and check my option with 8 10 of clubs. The flop came 7 9 jack all different suits and I get one caller to the end. Last hand, I am dealt pocket kings 2 before the button and raise, two calls and one raise. I reraise and get 3 callers. Flop came ace king 3. I bet out, next guy raises, next guy calls, third guy folds. I just call. Turn is another 3. I check, next guy bets, next guy folds, I raise and he calls. River card is a 7. I bet, he raises, I reraise and he just calls. I show my boat and he showed ace king for two pair. I got up from the table just before I was in the blinds cashing out a $95 win. The room was busy with most tables being 1-2 no limit. The 3 dealers at my table were friendly and seemed to know at least 4 people at my table. It was nice to win and leave without giving it back. I went to catch up with my wife.

I found my wife at a penny slot machine not too far from the 50 play machines. She was enjoying herself and was glad I showed up as she had to use the restroom. While she went to the rest room, I played her machine but could not get any big wins for her. When she returned, she mentioned that she was getting hungry. I looked at my watch and saw that it was about 8:15pm. We each threw out some ideas for dinner and we agreed upon Nosh right here in Ballys. We made the short walk over and looked at the menu while we waited in the short line. When we got to the counter, my wife ordered tuna fish on a 6" baguette and I ordered a French dip on a 12" baguette. We made both of them combos to include a drink and chips. We took a seat in the dining area and within 10 minutes, our meals were delivered to the table. The sandwiches were both good and the kettle chips were tasty and extra crunchy. The bread for the sandwiches was very good but I was tired of chewing when I was done. We finished up and refilled our drinks before heading back into the casino. The bill for dinner, which I charged to the room, was $32. I felt that was a little high for just a couple of sandwiches but what do you do...we were hungry. Once back in the casino, we decided to head in different directions. I was wanting to play the only Spin Poker machine at Ballys and my wife was wanting to find a slot machine that looked fun. I told her my machine is pretty close to the Indigo Lounge so she would know where I would be, I told her to watch her purse and we parted ways. As I walked towards my machine, I looked at my watch and it was almost 9:15pm.

The rest of the evening was spent in the casino playing various video poker and slot machines. My wife and I eventually got back together and sat down next to each other at the 50 Play machines near Nosh. It was getting to be almost midnight and we were both getting tired. About the time we decided to call it quits, I was dealt 4 kings on the 50 Play machine I was on for $125. I was inspired by this and explained to my wife that I should stay up and play more. She was done for the night so I walked her to the room and made sure she was settled in bed. She asked what time I would be back. I explained that I was not sure, but I would not go any further that Paris. She told me to have fun and I was off.

Thursday September 22nd

Over the next several hours, I played in no particular order, the following...50 Play, 100 Play, Sun & Moon, Pompeii, 50 Lions, Spin Poker and Multi-Strike video poker. I was not really losing, but I was also not winning anything. I was ok with that as I was still putting points on my players card. The later it got, the less people there were in the casino, which
is great by me as I really enjoy playing in the early morning hours. Less people and it is pretty quiet. Anyway, in the end, they got all of the money I was willing to lose and I decided to head to the room. As I was waiting for the elevator, I looked at my watch and it was 6am. I was so proud of myself...I pulled an all nighter. Maybe I am not as old as I thought. My wife called my cell phone on the way up to the room. I told her I would be in the room in a minute as I was in the elevator. When I got to the room, I could not decide what to do. Should I take a nap for a while or should I take a shower and get ready for our last day in town? I decided on the nap. I snoozed for a couple of hours, getting back up around 8:30am. My wife was already up and packing things. I jumped in the shower, got ready quick and helped her finish up. Once we were happy that all we had to do was grab the bags and go, we headed out to find breakfast.

On the way down, we talked about our breakfast options. As we got out of the elevator, we decided on The Sidewalk Cafe at Ballys. As we rounded the corner, I was pleased to see a long line waiting to get it. I love cutting in front of people by using the Diamond line. I find that the best benefit of the Diamond card is the separate line for almost everything. Whether it is the cashier, the valet, the buffet, or in this case the cafe, it is just a nice perk. I was also somewhat pleased that when the hostess took us in front of all of the others, a woman in the common folk line started in on the hostess and us about why we were able to jump in front of everyone else. It's really the little things in life. We were seated in the VIP section and our waiter appeared. We told him we were going to do the buffet. I ordered an pineapple juice for my wife and a skim milk for me and we headed to get some food.

The buffet here in the Sidewalk Cafe is pretty basic, but they have everything that we need. They had cheese omelets, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, bacon and sausage, French toast and a small selection of pastries. There was a woman getting food that was bitching about just about everything. Why are they not making made to order omelets, can you make this bacon more crispy, the selection here is terrible. You know what, for the price of this buffet, we think it is more than adequate. The only thing I thought odd was that they did not have syrup on the buffet, you had to get that from your server. Other than that, we enjoyed the food but the service was just ok. It seems to us that the service is always iffy at best here. Since this was going to be our only real meal before getting home, I ate a few extra pieces of bacon to hold me over. The meal was fine, costing $26.97 before tip. We charged it to the room and as we headed back out onto the casino floor, it was 10:15am.

Our flight leaves this afternoon at 4:40pm so we decided to go and get the hotel bill settled. We walked to the Diamond check in and as we stepped up to the counter, we were greeted by Jennifer. I gave her our room number and explained we would like to get the bill taken care of. She printed out a copy for me to look over and while she followed along on her computer, we went through each charge. It is funny how things run together while on vacation. I forgot that we had gone to JJ Boulangerie at Paris for pizza the day we got into town. I saw the charge for Martoranos at Rio and remembered how good the meatballs and the egg plant stack were and how crappy I thought the wine was. I forgot how many times we stopped at the gift shop to get a bottle of water and a diet Mountain Dew. In the end, I agreed with all of the charges and Jennifer went to work on applying Total Rewards points to the bill. Our bill for the week was $1,115.49. Tips charged to the room totaled $148.00. And since you cannot use Total Rewards points to pay for tips, our total hotel bill for our trip was $148.00. You have got to love the Total Rewards card. Jennifer also gave us a 3pm check out, confirmed our limo to the airport at 2:45 and printed our boarding passes while we were there. (Since we did the Early Bird check on Southwest for $10 each, all we had to do was print them off. We like that feature on Southwest.) I "thanked" Jennifer for her time and effort and we stepped out of the Diamond check in and into the lobby. It was now just before 11am.

Our last few hours were spent in the casino at Ballys and just like last year, there was no big win to send us home on a winning note. Just about 1:30pm, we headed up to the room to take a short nap and to get ready to go. We checked the room one more time and left the safe open after we took everything out of it. We took one more look out the windows and headed downstairs for the last time. We headed to the side entrance where the shuttle bus picks up and drops off to wait for our limo. Exactly at 2:45pm and I do mean exactly, our limo pulled up in front of us. Our driver Dan introduced himself, opened the door for us, put our luggage in the trunk, shut the door behind us and we were off to the airport. The ride was short and we were dropped off in front of the Southwest counters. I gave Dan an appropriate tip to which he responded "thank you Mr. I and have a safe trip."

We made the walk to security for the C gates, made it though without any problems, found our gate and took a seat. About this time, we both were just beat. We each had a little headache, we were getting hungry and we were tired. We had some leftover Cheeze Its for a snack and soon enough, we were boarding the plane. We got settled in and the doors were shut but we did not move. The flight was scheduled to leave at 4:40pm but it was 5:04pm when we backed away from the gate. No explanation was given but what do you do. We slept most of the way and when we landed at 9:47pm, we were both glad to be home.

Outside of the airport, the shuttle for Abbott Airport Parking was sitting there waiting for us. A short ride to the lot and $30 later, we were headed home. The ride was about 20 minutes to the house. We brought in the luggage, I checked the house over quick and we said hi to the cats. My wife went right to bed while I took a few minutes to eat a bowl of Frosted Flakes. When I went to bed about 11:45pm my wife was already sleeping. I spent the few minutes before I fell asleep thinking about our trip. I could see it all from beginning to end. It was indeed a fun trip and although I was somewhat sad to be home, I was consoled by the fact that we would be heading back one day and I would be once again in a world where I was known simply... as Mr. I.

After thoughts...

The Cosmopolitan is a nice place, but we are not young enough to be there past 5pm any day of the week.

The guy in the Transformer costume was there again. His costume has got to be getting smelly.

I do not see the attraction of downtown.

If you are going to spend the day at the pool and you have the means, get a cabana.

We have a soft spot for panhandlers that have animals with them.

We love the Red Rock Hotel & Casino. Apparently they love me too as I have been contacted by one of their executive casino host inviting us back.

Ballys will always be on the top of the list of places to stay on future trips.

I looked at Google Maps when we got home. You can see exactly where Sunset Road ends, you can see our cabana we had at Ballys and you can see where we were sitting outside on top of the Rio.

We looked up Hostel Cat when we got home. You can stay a week for about $80. A pretty good deal if you are into that kind of thing.

The TSA guy checking boarding passes when leaving Las Vegas was a total ass.

I managed to get a few new chips for my collection.

I took antibacterial wipes with me again this trip to wipe down my area on the plane, the inside of the rental car and a few things, like the remote control, in the room. Say what you will but you never know where people have been.

We take fewer and fewer pictures on each trip.

We may try to stay at Flamingo on our next trip as we will not be getting cabana.

The Fountains at Bellagio are still impressive to us.

I did not order a single alcoholic drink from a waitress while playing a machine and I only got a soft drink a couple of times. I seemed to have either a Coke Icee or a diet Mountain Dew with me.

We thought the weather was just about perfect this time around.

If you are going to get off the strip at all, a rental car is the way to go.

Going to the front of the line with my Total Rewards Diamond card is a lot of fun.

I won elevator bingo. On the last day we were tied. When we were heading down to get our ride to the airport, we decided whoever guessed right on which side the elevator opened on would be the winner. I even let her pick the side but I still won.

I left a $5 bill for housekeeping every day. The room was always cleaned before noon and we always had plenty of towels and shampoo.

We are already planning our next trip.