Every once in a while we just need to rest and take a break from our normal hectic lives. This was one of those times, and Las Vegas is perfect. It is literally our oasis, a place we can go to relax, refresh, and spend time together. For this reason it will always be special.

We stayed at Orleans, because to us this is our LV home now. I never even considered any other hotel for this trip. I didn't open any offers or check any emails. I knew Orleans would be perfect for this trip, and it was.

Monday 9/16

Flying in on Monday was very unusual for us. We almost always arrive on Saturday or Sunday. So we didn't really know what to expect. We had passes A31-A32, but were still pleasantly surprised to find that our flight was not full. One thing different about this flight---it had 3 male flight attendants. I don't think we'd ever experienced this before. Now if the Las Vegas hotels will hire a few more male housekeepers, we men might finally gain some equality in the workplace.

We arrived at Orleans around 12:30pm, again not knowing what to expect. No rooms available on the 20th or 21st floor until the next day, so we settled for one on the 19th floor near the end of the hall, as we prefer. Actually there wasn't a room with one bed, so we were given room 1962 for a few hours and a fridge was sent up. Then at 3:00 we moved to 1966, which was ready.

We hadn't stayed in one of these rooms in a few years, at least they do have more drawer space. But the one thing that drove me crazy all week was that the 19th floor doesn't have the lattice gateway (that's the only way I know how to describe it) in the hallway. Without it I never knew which way to turn from the elevators.

After the move my wife wanted to rest, so I went down to check out the casino. Not much had changed since our last stay in March. My wife's favorite WOZ is now gone, replaced by newer versions. But most importantly the VP carousel has been put back to the left of the lounge. This has the only machine with a quarter 9/5 pay-table on the floor, plus it allows one to play and listen to great music in the lounge.

While walking through the casino I came across a line. On the Strip a line of people waiting usually means a club or pool day club, but not at Orleans. At Orleans a line means----they are giving something away! And what was this coveted treasure today? Free potholders! Naturally I had to have a set. So I asked a lady who was proudly examining her potholders how many points were needed, and she replied 100. Only 100 points? I could get that in 15 minutes on a quarter JOB machine, and I did. Then I went to a kiosk and No Voucher. D*mn, she must be a local. Locals get preference at Orleans and don't have to earn as many points as tourists. So it was back to the machine for more points. At least I hit a 4AOK, so I made a profit of $44 while earning my points.

Naturally I raced upstairs to show my wife my prize, who for some reason wasn't overly impressed. Although she did concede that we could use more potholders (who couldn't?). So it was downstairs to earn her a set. This ended up costing me $25. So for the two sets of potholders I ended up with a $19 profit. Do I know how to milk or promotion, or what?

We weren't hungry, so dinner was a sandwich at Courtyard Café, which my wife graciously paid for with her points (40% discount at Orleans).

The 1st night is always to relax and get into Las Vegas vacation mode, so we didn't leave the hotel. We played JOB, a new WOZ machine, and one of my wife's new favorites the craps machines, and called it a night.

Tuesday 9/17

Today is Tuesday, my favorite day in Las Vegas. At Orleans it is Young at Heart Day, with extra points and discounts for those over 50. But most importantly the music played in all the public areas is Oldies Music. So I spend most of the day singing along, either silently or sometimes out loud.

For those wondering; yes I do have the amazing ability to play JOB and sing along with a 50 year old song, without missing a beat or slowing my play.

We slept late, but we couldn't use the pool anyway as it was 100 degrees, which is just too hot for these wimps from California. Breakfast was at Courtyard Café.

My wife wanted to see a movie (The Butler) this afternoon to take advantage of the $4 Tuesday price. So I took the free shuttle to Bally's and walked to Venetian to pick up our tickets for Human Nature on Thursday. But because I purchased them from Goldstar.com they couldn't be picked up until 5pm the day of the show. Different resellers have different rules, and I should have called first. That walk back to Bally's in the 100 degree heat was a lot longer without those tickets.

Played some JOB making a $20 profit and earning the 300 points needed for today's giveaway, a water bottle. We don't shop in Las Vegas. But because we stay at Orleans and/or Gold Coast we have to leave room in our luggage for their junk. I'm sorry, make that for their priceless memorabilia.

I go looking for my wife, and find her seated at the Amazon Fishing slot machine. This is one of those group interactive fishing slot machines, where the players compete with each other in contests to catch the most of biggest fish. Orleans had a different one for a few years, so she knew how to play. So I sit in the empty seat next to her and she is explaining how you play, when she hits a bonus. This is not a contest, but she alone gets to catch one fish. She hooks a big fish, and as she is reeling it in says "These big ones usually break the line and you get nothing." But not this time. This time she gets it into the boat.
"It was a big one. Did you see how much it was worth?"
I replied "$1,000."
"No. It couldn't be it wasn't much bigger than the $200 fish."
"That's what it said on the side. Do they have a fish that pays 1000 credits?"
"No. But I don't think it was $1000."
I was right. It was the Amazon Fish and the payoff was $1000.

She won $1000 from a 30-cent bet. I know I should have acted more excited for her sake, but that's just not my style. After it sank in she was excited enough for both of us. Almost as good as the money (all right not really as good) was that her name was posted as the largest winner. So every time we walked past the machine for the next 4 days she saw her name listed. She played it down to $1000 and then we went upstairs, where the money was put in the safe and not touched until we returned home.

Tuesday night in Las Vegas for us means Trivia Night at McMullan's Irish Pub. We do this on our own, with a few friends, or with a larger group. This trip we were joined by McJourney and her husband and SIWST852. It was very nice meeting them, and glad they could share the evening and the experience.

We are by no means trivia experts, and in fact only play at McMullan's. And we are never any threat to some of the locals, who do take this seriously. But we have a good time. Marveling at some of the questions that we get correct, and laughing at many that we don't. And it's a good thing winning isn't that important, because we had no chance this time. The music category and one other round consisted mostly of questions about Rap Music. Our group was definitely not the right demographic this week, lol.

Surprisingly, this was the lowest turnout we have seen at McMullan's, with just a little more than 30 teams. There are usually close to 50, which is all the pub will hold. Our 37 points put us much closer to the bottom of the list than the top. But the important thing is that we had a good time, and as a bonus made some new friends.

So everyone knows, we didn't start going to McMullan's for trivia. We went for the food. After 3 or 4 visits we just accidently hit trivia one Tuesday night. So even though you might not enjoy trivia, or the Irish band on weekends, consider checking out McMullan's for the food and drink. They are not a tourist attraction in a hotel/casino, but provide quality for locals without the tourist prices. To provide an example I will post our check: Margarita (2 @ $6.50) $13, Bass Ale $6, Iced Tea $2.75, Diet Coke $2.75, Irish Sausage Rolls $9, Mini Nachos $9, Mini Chicken Nachos $13, Chicken Tenders $9, Sticky Toffee Pudding with Ice Cream (2 @ $9) $18. Total $87.20.

Wednesday 9/18

We over-slept the pool this morning. I woke up about 10am and went downstairs so my wife could sleep in. It's amazing that I can sleep so well in Las Vegas. I wish I could do as well at home. I played some VP and then brought coffee & pastries up at 11am.

We went downstairs for some Pai Gow Poker and sat at a $5 table. My wife prefers a $5 table, even though neither of us bet $5 very often. It's just nice to have the option when things aren't going well. That wasn't a problem this afternoon. After about 20 minutes of normal up and down a new dealer sat down, and he couldn't catch any good cards at all. In 20-30 minutes he got one good hand. Unfortunately for my wife she wasn't getting good hands either, which can be very frustrating. You know this is your chance, as eventually the dealer will start getting better cards, so you have to take advantage while you can. And then it changed all at once, and you could feel it. We both lost with good hands when the dealer turned over a monster. We stayed another couple of hands to be sure, but then left. But overall, it was a nice way to spend an hour. She made a $60 profit while I cashed out $220.

We decided that we hadn't been to Hugo's Cellar or Downtown for a few years, so we made reservations for 7pm. We were playing JOB on the carousel near the lounge. With me on the 9/5 machine and her a couple of seats away. The machine had been very fair to me so far with a number of full houses and 4OAKs, always keeping me playing and a little ahead.

Around 4:45pm a band started to play in the lounge. They were really good, and playing our kind of music to our type of crowd (older). So even though we were going to leave at 5pm for Downtown, we decided to stay. My machine had cooled off, so I moved next to my wife so we could talk over the music. Ten minutes later I clapped my hands together once, and my wife looked my way. "What?"
"I won."
"Won What?"
"I got a royal flush."
So of course she came to look. I had drawn one card and caught the Royal Flush in Clubs. Again, I know I should have been more excited. But for me it doesn't work that way. NOW it was time to leave. If the band hadn't started to play, and been so good, we would have left 20 minutes ago.

We hadn't been to Hugo's Cellar for a while, but very little changes there, with the exception of prices due to inflation. But the experience is still the same. Ladies still receive a rose, the same old waiter still makes your salad tableside, the sorbet between courses is still cloyingly sweet and tart, and they still serve the same chocolate dipped fruits. The only difference we noticed is that they no longer include chocolate chips with the coffee, just cinnamon sticks, a chocolate mint stick and whipped cream. We've always enjoyed the food and service at Hugo's and will continue to do so in the future.

We enjoyed our visit Downtown. We watched a Bon Jovi FSE, listened to Sax Man play a set, and saw one by Elvis. We walked the entire length of the canopy. This was our one tourist activity of the trip. We didn't gamble, as we weren't staying on the Strip so it wasn't necessary.

We returned to Orleans. But it was after 10pm and the band had finished for the night. Too bad, the music was much better there than Downtown. We will have to remember the Orleans lounge on Wednesdays in the future.

Thursday 9/18

I woke up at 8am to make sure we got some pool time today. I went downstairs for an hour to let her sleep a little longer, and gave back $20 to the 9/5 JOB machine. Then it was out to the pool. We really enjoy the Orleans pool. There is music, but it is in the background like it's supposed to be, but isn't at most Vegas pools. Chairs aren't jammed together, and if you want a drink it's ½ the price of those at Strip hotels. We don't mind kids at the pool, and in fact enjoy watching the younger ones, but there were only a hand-full this time of year.

I left around noon when it starts getting really hot, and as usual my wife stayed for a couple extra hours. I went down to play some poker around 1pm, but was surprised to find it really quiet, with only a handful of tables in play. And for the 1st time in memory they did not have a $4-$8 game in play. I didn't think much about it, figuring there must be a reason, possibly a free-roll tournament coming up, or a big promotion somewhere.

I played a little JOB, but was bored. So I moved over to play some nickel DW. We play nickel DW to take a break from JOB and have a little variety. I play for around 15 minutes and then BAM! I'm dealt a natural Royal Flush in Hearts. Absolutely Amazing! I go YEARS without a Royal Flush and then get one 2 days in a row. For those that don't know, a Royal without deuces on a DW machine pays the same as on any other machine. Of course it was only nickels, but still nice to see. And I did take a picture for my wife.

Met up with the wife and we played some Pai Gow Poker for an hour. I made a $40 profit, which paid most of our round-trip cabfare to Venetian, which was tonight's destination.

We picked up our Human Nature tickets and still had an hour to give Venetian a little play. My wife found a WOZ machine, while I checked out the VP machines. I found some 8/5 JOB near the sports-book, so I dragged her away from the Wizard with a $40 profit.

This was the 1st time we had seen the renovated Venetian sports-book, and my wife was very impressed. Large plasma screens everywhere, and on Thursday night with both college and pro football and baseball being played it seemed like a fun place to watch a game.

After losing some money playing JOB, I naturally switched to DW and quickly got a Royal with deuces. This put me $25 ahead, and it was time to stop. Isn't it great when things are going well? BTW: The nickel DW paytables at Orleans were better than the quarter ones at Venetian.

We hadn't seen Human Nature before, but I knew what to expect. I was a little surprised that they sang so many songs from female groups, but they did them well. Of course we had a great time. Anytime we can sing along and dance we are going to love it, and we knew all the songs. The row in front of us was occupied by a group of ladies from Australia who were obviously big fans, and weren't afraid to show it. But instead of being a distraction they actually enhanced our experience.

After the show we walked to Harrah's for dinner at Toby Keith's. This is one of those places that you go to for the experience, not for the food, which is OK but over-priced. The band tonight was Left of Center. We enjoyed them and they were well received by the crowd. And the crowd here was certainly interesting, with one bachelorette party, a 23rd birthday, and a group wearing sashes that read "Girls Night Out." It's hard to beat Vegas for people watching, and Toby Keith's certainly contributes. 2 Iced Teas $7, Pulled Pork Sandwich $13.99, Add Fries $2, Chicken Fry Steak $18.99, Total $49.58.

Friday 9/19

We were down at the pool before 10 am today, and as usual I left around 12:30 pm. I went down to the poker room, which was again quiet. But at least there was a $4-$8 game going, so I took a seat. And I now found out why it was so quiet.

Orleans has always had a very active poker room, with about 40 tables, usually most of them in use. The reason it was so quiet now is because they removed the High Hand Bonus from the games. The players haven't had a chance to adjust yet, and obviously many of them left. I'll have to keep an eye on this and see if it changes in the future.

I did absolutely nothing in the game. Played a little over an hour and didn't win a single pot. Of course, I didn't play in very many of them. The game didn't justify staying, so I just accepted the $93 loss and called it a day. I went back to my 9/5 machine, which kindly gave me my only straight flush of the trip to help recover part of my loss.

We hadn't decided where to have dinner, but we hadn't been to Big Al's yet this trip, so it was kind of a given. We went to play some Pai Gow Poker, but there were no open seats. It's Friday afternoon and even Orleans is starting to get a little too crowded for our tastes. So we decided we would to go to Gold Coast and have dinner at Ping Pang Pong.

It was almost 6pm, so we waited to watch the Take it or Trade it drawing. As you play at Orleans you earn tickets to this drawing held twice a week. I had 150 tickets and she had 60, which gave us no realistic chance when compared to those who actually spend a lot of time gambling. And of course our names weren't called. But we had seen this before and it was interesting to watch.

Five names are chosen, and they must be present to win or new names are called. They are each given $850. They then have the option of keeping the money or trading it for one of 7 envelopes (each has their own 7 envelopes). The envelopes contain $200, $400, $600, $800, $1000, $1500 or $5000. The last time we saw this, only one person kept the money with the rest taking a chance, and one winning $5000. This time the first 4 people kept the $850. The last person took a chance, and with everyone rooting for her, chose the $400 envelope. I think people have figured out the odds, and Orleans may have to re-think the starting amount.

We took the shuttle to Gold Coast, and it certainly did seem quieter than Orleans. Walked around and noticed that my wife's favorite WOZ machines were gone. So we went upstairs to play some 9/6 JOB. Played for ½ an hour, but couldn't hit anything of note, so I left with a $5 profit.

Our timing at Ping Pang Pong was perfect. We walked up during a lull, and were seated right away, right after that they got busy again. But I noticed something really strange tonight. There weren't the large number of to-go orders sitting on the counter waiting to be picked up. And during our meal, these orders were much smaller in number than normal. I guess the locals just don't want to fight the Friday night crowds. Everything is different in Vegas on the weekend.

I like that Ping Pang Pong has now added a few Dim Sum items to the dinner menu, and took the opportunity to add a very good shrimp roll as an appetizer. For me no dinner here could be complete without the San Pan Tiger Prawns, which are a prefect excuse for a trip to Las Vegas in general and PPP in particular. We always enjoy dining here and tonight was no exception. Dim Sum Shrimp Roll $3.99, San Pan Tiger Prawns $13.95, Shanghai Noodles $7.95, Jasmine Rice $0.50, Hot Tea included at no charge, Total $28.41.

We stopped off to play the new WOZ machines and I got a bonus round and stopped with a $15 profit. I am the worst kind of slot player. I only play a few times each trip to keep my wife company, and she doesn't play that much either. If I ever hit a bonus and get ahead I immediately stop. And If I don't, the most I have ever lost in a machine is $20.

The Pai Gow Poker tables were all $10-$15 minimums on Friday night, so I suggested we go to the center bar, play some JOB and watch the rest of the A's game. To my shock----there is no more JOB at the center bar! When they put in the new machines a year or two ago, they downgraded the quarter level to 9/5, keeping the $1 level at 9/6. I could live with this. But to not have any JOB at all is just unthinkable. So we left. Went right back to Orleans. There was nothing to keep us here.

Understand, it's not as if we played at the Center Bar that often. But just But why does it seem that the machines are always getting worse and never better knowing those machines were there was one of the things that made Gold Coast special. I know things are always changing in Las Vegas.?

Saturday 9/21

Woke up around 9am and went to the buffet for breakfast. We are not really buffet people, but will often go for breakfast the day we leave to tide us over until we get home. What a waste it is to take me to a buffet! I had two squares of Belgian waffle, 3 small pieces of sausage, ½ lb- ¾ lb of bacon, and a small bowl of fruit, in addition to a couple of small desserts with coffee. It's a good thing this buffet is so cheap, and that I paid with points.

Leaving on Saturday at 1pm we had no idea what the flight would be like. But the fact that we had A19-A20 should have given us a clue. The plane couldn't have been too much more than half full, with few middle seats in use. In fact my wife got a row of her own, while I did have someone in the window seat. It would seem that early Saturday afternoon is a great time to fly home.

Random Thoughts, Opinions, and Conclusions

We really like to come in early October, but it just isn't possible this year, so we came a few weeks earlier. And it was about 10 degrees warmer than we prefer. Those 10 degrees make a big difference to us when they are between 90 and 100. We had less pool time than normal, and my wife didn't even want to rent a cabana knowing we wouldn't be spending full days outside.

Time slips by us so quickly when it comes to Las Vegas. I suggested Hugo's Cellar because we hadn't been there in at least 4 years, and for us that's more than a dozen trips. We didn't realize it had been that long, and Hugo's is one of our favorites. My wife suggested Toby Keith's for the same reason.

I can't ever remember staying at Orleans and not dining at Big Al's at least once. As usual the heat tends to sap our appetites.

Orleans was perfect for us this trip, especially as I-heart weekend brought in the crowds. It allowed us to enjoy the full hotel/casino experience in peace and comfort, without the hectic pace and energy of the Strip. And was just what we needed.

Often when you read a Trip Report most of the empty spaces in the timeline was filled with gambling. Not so in this report. I included almost all of it. And for us, this was more gambling than normal. It was more than normal due to the heat, the lack of plans, and the desire to spend most of our time just relaxing at Orleans.

Obviously we had an exceptional trip financially, with both of us ending up well ahead. But this was an aberration. Because gambling is never the focus or a very big part of our trips, and because we stick to high percentage and low volatility games, it is very rare that we end up more than a few hundred dollars either up or down. There is no denying that it made the trip more fun.

We have so much going on in our lives right now that there were only 2 trips to Las Vegas this year. I think this helps me appreciate them a little more. It doesn't really matter what shows we see, restaurants we experience, or what games we play. As long as we get to spend time together. And we can do that in Las Vegas.

When people ask why we go to Las Vegas so often. I explain that Las Vegas is our mountain retreat or our cabin on the lake. It's not really any different than anyplace others use to escape from their world every once in a while, to relax and rejuvenate their spirit. The only difference is our cabin has 21 floors and comes with room service.

That's Las Vegas to us. I hope you all find your own Las Vegas.
Thanks for reading.