Our yearly Las Vegas trips usually take place in the end of May, but this year we moved it to June in order to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in our favorite city. We did consider other places to visit, or maybe a cruise, but after thinking it over, we could not come up with another place we would rather visit. There will be a few differences this trip, the first being that we would not be spending time with other relatives as we usually do on these trips, with one exception.

For those who like photos in a trip report, I'll have to apologize now. I'm just not a picture taking person. Ada did snap a few photos, but nothing I'll be adding to the report.

We had no airline rewards to use this year, so we started checking on line in January all the airlines. By February, it seemed Delta would be the best price and schedule, so we booked it, afraid the rates might go up (and they did later). We left JFK/NYC from Delta's newly opened Terminal 4. A nice looking place, but boy is it big. Our gate was at the far end and it seemed we walked forever, but we got there. We grabbed a couple of coffees and soon boarded. We took off pretty much on time with no issues and had a smooth flight. The satellite TV was good to pass the time, along with the comedy channel on the audio system. We arrived in Vegas around 1PM local time, and after the tram ride to the main terminal, it was a short wait for the luggage and then to the taxi. There was not much of a line, and it moved quickly. The cab driver actually asked which route I would like, which I did appreciate and showed in his tip. A quick run down Paradise Rd. and we were soon checking into the Stratosphere for our first three nights.

We've been staying at the Strat since 2000, although the length of our stays has reduced the last few years. We also were assigned to a new host, who we would meet later. We were given one of their nice standard rooms in the Delux tower, which was fine, but I was just a little surprised we didn't get some kind of upgrade. They knew we were there for a special occasion, and we are long time customers. I wasn't looking for their best suite, but maybe an upgrade to one of their smaller suites would have been nice, but it wasn't the end of the world. After unpacking, we hit the casino for a little bit to see if there were any big changes since our last trip. I played a few assorted penny machines, and did try the new Beverly Hillbillies game, but did not really have much luck.

We had dinner reservations at the Top of the World restaurant. We had not been there in several years and this trip seemed like the right time to return. Originally our table was to be right next to the window, but Ada has a thing about heights, so they put us in one of the booths in the inner ring of the restaurant. This is a raised level, so it turned out to be a better deal. The booth was comfortable and we still had a great view as the restaurant revolved. Ada opted for the salmon, while I had a seafood pasta dish. Everything was great, including the service, although the place is a bit pricier than we normally would see. Still, it was expected and we had a great time. We even went for a couple of pictures from their photographer as a keepsake of the occasion.

Following dinner, we bounced around some machines. I did play the Twilight Zone 3D game for the first time, but didn't think too much of it. I had some luck with 25 cent video poker, winning about $110. Eventually I made my way to the $25 2-deck blackjack tables. I always enjoy this game at the Strat, and this night I was the only player. With a pleasant dealer and great waitress service, I hung out there for a couple of hours and made $250. It had been a long day with the flights and dinner, so we returned to our room a little past midnight.

On Sunday morning, we treated ourselves to a nice breakfast at Roxy's diner before hitting the pool area. The crowd this day was on the young side, I guess some remaining from the Electric Daisy Carnival events that had been taking place in town. We sunned for a while, and later spent some time at the poolside blackjack games. As I've said in the past, I know these 6:5 blackjack games are not the best to play, but we're there for the atmosphere. Our dealers were great and we had a blast for over an hour, playing and having a few drinks, before returning to our room.

After cleaning up, we grabbed the SDX bus across the street to visit Downtown. Upon hitting Fremont St., we grabbed a couple of beers from the Four Queens outdoor bar, and took a stroll to check out the sites. Ada spent some time in the different gift shops looking for some shirts for her grandkids, and eventually we went into the 4 Queens. I immediately jumped on an original Twilight Zone game which had not been all that nice to me on past trips, but today I got it to cough up an $80 profit. I bounced around a few other machines with no wins until I tried a Buffalo game. Nothing out of the ordinary was happening until it finally went into a free spin bonus round. The bonus actually repeated three times and when it was all done, I ran away up $150.

As always, we visited Magnolia coffee shop at the 4 Queens for dinner. I love the prime rib special, but the waiter talked me into trying their larger, thicker serving. He wasn't kidding about larger; it was huge and I could only get through a little more than 3/4 of it. Still, it was a good deal for only an extra $3 above the regular dinner. While downtown, I wanted to put some points on my Boyde card since they had been sending offers. Even though I couldn't use them, I wanted to stay on their radar, so it was a good excuse to finally visit Main St. Station casino. A short walk off Fremont Street, but it was a very nice looking casino. I could see myself being very comfortable there, and maybe someday it would be an option. We returned to the Strat, and Ada was tired so she went on to our room. I just roamed around, and did try the new Family Guy game. I had no luck, but it is a fun game with clips from the show popping up. Another visit to the $25 blackjack netted a $300 win, so that seemed a good time to call it a day.

With that prime rib still hanging in there, a small breakfast Monday seemed in order so we hit the McDonals in the 2nd floor mall and then on to the pool. No poolside blackjack was available that day, but our host Jacquelyn did join us. She offered to buy lunch, but we had just had breakfast so we had drinks we her while she ate. A very nice lady who was very honest with the condition of things at the hotel. We spent an hour with her before she had to go, so we then returned to our room to get ready for the day. We still had time on our bus passes, so we took a ride to the Wynn. We seem to always visit here since it is a favorite of ours. Ada went to the roulette talbes, and I roamed the machines with not much luck at all. I finally settled into an old style Pharaoh's Fortune machine that I had played in the past, and this trip is was very nice to me. A big bonus round ended with a $360 profit on the game. I joined Ada who had scored a comp from the pit boss for dinner. I had wanted to get back to the Strat for the 7PM poker tournament, so we went to the deli to save time. That's when we were informed she had been give a $60 comp; a big surprise. Not ones to leave a comp behind, we had sandwiches, fries, desserts and drinks to use up the comp. The sandwiches were so big, we each brought back half to our hotel, along with the desserts. I did make it in time for the tourney, but I might as well have missed it. I hung in there for over 90 minutes to the first break, and the free pizza they serve, but that was it. I just never had many hands to play, and finally had to go all in. I did get a queen-high flush, but was of course beaten by a king-high flush. I returned to the machines without much luck there, and finally retured to the same $25 blackjack with the same dealer I had been with the whole trip. Maybe she's a good luck charm because it was another $300 win that session.

Tuesday was moving day. We grabbed some McDonalds cofffee and had our deli leftovers for breakfast in our room while packing. We said our good byes to the Stat staff, all of whom do a great job, and jumped in a cab to the Bellagio for the next four nights. We had an offer for 2 free nights and were paying for the other two. A bit more than I would usually spend, but as I said, it was a special occasion and we love that hotel. As early as we arrived, just before noon, I didn't think we could get a room right away. We did wait in the check-in line a good 20 minutes, but we were rewarded with a ready room with no discussion of early check-in fees (think about it Ceasars Corp.). The only drawback was the choices were limited, and we ended up with a long, long walk down the hall to our room on the 23rd floor. We figured the walking would be good for us in the long run, and it was a fine room with a view over the pool area and to the mountains in the west. As luck would have it, Ada's Mom was in town for a convention just for a couple of days, so she went to visit with him while I played some machines. She needs her "Mom" time, and that's fine by me. This year I found out that you can play 25 cent video poker at the sports bar by the poker room and still get comped beers, so I settled in there and enjoyed a couple of ice cold Heineken taps.

I later joined Ada to say hello to her son, and he soon had to leave to meet up with some co-workers. This day was our actual anniversary day, and we had planned a special dinner. During our research, I wanted to take Ada some place really nice, but since she's so practical, she did want to keep the spending in reason. After reviewing several menus on line, we decided to try Le Provencal across the street at the Paris hotel. There was something of a line when we arrived, but having reservations, we went right in. The place is a French/Italian restaurant, very nicely decorated, with an accordian player and waiters who occasionally sing. I don't recall what Ada ordered, but I tried another seafood fettucine dish that was excellent. Topped off with the house bread, it was a great meal. Too bad neither of us felt like a dessert, beacuse the ones I saw at other tables looked great. Still, it was a very nice way to celebrate a specail day.

Since it was such a special day, when we returned to Bellagio I was able to talk Ada into playing a penny slot with me. She really doesn't like these games, but gave it a shot. It wasn't long before her $20 was spent, so she excused herself for the roulette table. We were playing identical machines, and wouldn't you know it, a minute after she left, my machine went into a bounus round that netted an $80 profit. I wanted Ada to see it, but it was too late. A few more games produced no winners, other than a penny Deal or No Deal game for $90, so we finally called it a night and went upstairs.

Wendnesday we got up a bit late, and took breakfast at the Cafe Gelato for coffee and croissants. When we arrived a the pool, we lucked out by finding two chairs by the main pool in the shade of some trees. Shade is important since I tend to burn easily, so this was a good deal. We spent a couple of relaxing hours there before returning to our rooms to rest awhile. Our plans for the night were to see the Jersey Boys show at Paris, where we had purchased tickets the night before. Before that, we made our way to Planet Hollywood. We played in the casino for awhile with nothing really happening, before heading to Blondie's Sports Bar in the Miracle Mile shops at PH. I had a buy one/ get one offer from one of my credit cards, so we gave it a shot. Ada had some grilled chicken sandwich and I went for the pulled pork sandwich. With wings and fries, it was a good meal, and the bar is a fun place to watch sports with very good waitress service.

Follwoing dinner, we arrived at Paris for our show. We had seen Jersey Boys a few years ago at the Palazzo and always wanted to return, so this trip seemed like the right time. The music is the important part, so seats close to the stage was not a priority. We were in the messenine section, and could see just fine. There had been some cast changes, but it's still a top show and highly entertaining, especially if you grew up with all that music.

We returned to Bellagio and split up; her to blackjack and me to machines. I eventually tried some penny Quick Hits I had played on past years. I like these machines because max bet is only $1.25; at some other places it can be as much as $3.00. So there I was, playing the better part of 30 minutes or so, having a few beers and chatting with a man on the next machine. We were both commenting on how we were each winning enough to keep playing, but not really making any money. Then all of a sudden I had a spin that stopped with 8 Quick Hit symbols showing, with paid the second highest progressive on the machine, which at that time was over $1430. I was kind of shocked as the machine froze up for the hand pay. The other guy congratualted me, but I could tell he wished it was on his machine. This was my first W-2 win in many years, and I was glad to see it. I played a bit more and cashed out with another $120 on top. When I went to the cashier window, I found Ada there cashing in some chips. It seems she did OK with blackjack for $100 or so win, and I think had become good friends with her waitress. Let's just say she was in a very good mood and in no pain. When I told her I had been playing machines, she started in with the lecture about what a waste of time and money they are. Perfect timing, as I whipped out my W-2 form and showed her I had done good this night.

Thursday started with a visit to the Palio Pronto for coffee and muffins before hitting the pool area. I have to mention now this was the week of temperatures ranging from 105 to 118, and you could feel it. Shade was now a priority, but the pools were very crowded. We found some relief in the shade of the Spa tower, but as the sun moved, that ended. Ada managed to find a couple of seats under an umbrella near the main pool. The best part is we were next to three sisters visiting from Scotland. They were with their parents, all in their early 20's, and all in college in Scotland studying to be doctors of one sort or another. I'm not much of a talker, but Ada had a fine time visiting with them while I went swimming. We had no real plans for the rest of the day, so we had a late lunch/ early dinner at the Cafe Bellagion, and then we hopped the tram to the Monte Carlo and made our way to the Tix 4 Tonight office at the Coke Bottle mall. We hoped to see some comedy club show, and decided on the one at the Tropicana. We had a few hours before the show, so we stopped into the MGM, which is another place we had not visited in years. Since the place is so big, we agreed to meet outside the poker room at 7PM, so I checked out the games there. They had a $2-3 limit poker game running, to I joined in there. I had a good time for the couple of hours, but did lose maybe $70 before it was time to go. We arrived at the Trop for the show. I recall we had been at this theatre maybe 20 years ago when it was a different comedy club. I wanted a beer, and there was only one bartender on duty, so it did take a while to get it. However, all was well and it was fun show. I'm bad with names, so I can't say who we saw that night, but it wasn't a bad show at all, and a bargain at about $20 each with the Tix $ Tonight discount. We returned to Bellagio via the tram, and again I just had to try the Quick Hits. No jackpots, but it was nice enough to give a $70 profit. After a non-winner video poker session, it was time to hit the hay.

Friday was our last full day in Vegas, which is always a depressing thought, but we carried on. I had to have one good breakfast at Cafe Bellagio, and this was the day. I'm a fan of their pancakes and bacon, and they didn't disappoint this day. Another tirp to the pool, and again we were lucky to find two seats with shade from trees and an umbrella. We were joined in the next seats by a young couple from Switzerland. They were only in Vegas for a couple of days, on their way to Hawaii. Very nice people and interesting to hear their impressions of our country, which they said they were having a great trip.

Later in the afternoon, Ada wanted to visit Ceasars next door. This was the first casino we visited as a married couple 25 years ago. We were on our honeymoon in Los Angeles, and took the four hour drive across the desert to visit. I remember Ceasars was the first place we stopped at, and we went inside and settled into a $5 blackjack table. We never moved for 7 hours, just having a blast. I don't think we made any money, but we had a great time playing cards, drinking, and having the free cigarettes they had on the table way back when. I no longer smoke now, but at the time that was good deal. Anyway, that was the only casino we visited that day before returning to LA. This day, things didn't go so well. I played a few machines but could never really get much going. Besides that, waitress service in my area was terrible. I did get one beer early on, but when I was ready for another, I never saw a waitress. I waited the longest time and finally asked a slot attendent if she could scare up a waitress, but that didn't help either. Finally I found Ada and we decided to visit the Mirage next. While there, she went off to roulette and I played in their poker room for the first time in a $3-6 limit game. It was a nice room and the game was run well. No complaints on waitress service here, as I never had an empty bottle. The game didn't go too well for me, and I did lose maybe $80 before we decided to have dinner. We had been to the Mirage deli a couple of years ago, so we knew enough to order one of their huge sandwiches and split it. It is a busy little place, but the food was great and the service just fine. When we got back to Bellagio, I just messed around different machines, a little up and a little down. I could not resist the temptation, so I went to the Quick Hits again. Not the same machine that gave me the jackpot, but in the same bank. Ther way no jackpot this night, but thanks to a 25 spin bounus round that repeated, I did get a $280 going home gift.

We had an early flight home on Saturday, so we had settled our bill in the hosts office Friday night. They said we were actually over-comped, which was not a surprise, so no meal charges were taken off our bill. That was all fine with us, and we thanked them for all the hospitality. We got to the airport Saturday for our 10AM flight, and had breakfast in the D gates section at Ruby's Dinette. A fast food place, but they had a great egg sandwich on a grilled roll that held us over on the flight. The plane left on time, and with no satellite TV available, I did get into the movie that was being shown. It was called "Safe Haven", and I had never heard of it, but it was a mystery of sorts and very interesting. The only real glitch of the day was getting our luggage at JFK. There was some kind of equipment problem, and we waited a good 45 minutes to get our bags. Other than that, we got our car from the parking center and were home by 9PM.

I had said all along the most important part of this trip was for the anniversary celebration, and not so much on the gambling. Over all, I think everything went very well. With the hits I did make playing, I did come out ahead in the gambling department. Not enough to pay for all our other expenses (plane, hotel, meals, taxis, tips, etc), but it did put a bit of a dent in the final bill. We both agreed we had a blast, and even though our relatives think we're nuts, we can't wait to get back next year. Thanks for reading, and the best of luck to everyone on their next trips.