So I spent two weeks in LV studying music education at UNLV. This report will mainly be a review of the places I went and things I did, sort of a loose reflection rather than a minute by minute account. Objective – To study and complete Level II of the Orff Schukwerk. It's a course in children's music education created by Carl Orff a German composer. I won't speak much to that end other than I was studying with many teachers who live in the outlying areas so I got a local's perspective. (Interesting to note I knew more about certain newer attractions and developments than they did, most of them never go to the Strip or downtown unless they have guests visiting). It was a Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:15 p.m. course so I pretty much had to make sure I was in bed by 11:00 pm. and I wasn't too drunk to get and use my brain. Level II ended up being much harder than Level I which I took last year. The drive down from the Bay Area – I don't like spending the whole day on the road so a nine hour drive means I leave the house no later than 5:00 a.m. I've done this drive maybe ten times now, so I know just about every spot along the way. I usually stop at the same points. A lot of the California rest areas have been renovated and are now nice places to pull over. The Tehachapi mountains that leads you into the desert is gorgeous and the sunrise over the 1-5 is absolutely spectacular every time. By the time I hit Barstow it's about 12:00 p.m. so I know I'll show up in Vegas just in time to check in. Week 1 The Silverton – So I stayed at the Silverton for the first week, which is a long time to be in any hotel room. I picked it the price $37 plus 5.99 resort fee, the quiet feel of the place, and the Bass Pro Shops. I drove in from the Bay Area so I had a car the whole time which you need if staying here. I hit the pool one day but being without my wife the pool is kinda boring. They had drink service and the pool was fairly quiet. They were having cover bands each Sat. night. for a charge. The room was decent and, as others mentioned, the TV's are old and nothing much to report about the furniture. I will say being a small guy the bathroom is tiny. I couldn't imagine dealing with it if I was bigger. 3 stars I ate at most of the restaurants at least once. Mi Casa was good and you could play VP or Keno at the bar while eating. They weren't able to comp any decent tequila which was lame seeing as though it was a tequila bar. No wonder there was only one or two other folks there. I think I paid $8 for a shot. If I recall correct last year at Southpoint the bar near the poker room gave me a Corona and a shot of Patron at the same time and I was playing a quarter a pull. 3.5 stars The Buffet was decent, nothing to complain about. I don't stuff my face to get a bargain, so I ate one plate with the prime rib. mashed potatoes and vegetables. Everything was fresh and well made. For $15 or whatever it was I would go back and recommend it. 4 stars Sundance Grill – I ate here three times. Once for dinner. I had the half sandwich and soup which hit the spot. Vegas is so hot and dry soup is just about the only thing that I feel replenishes my body. I notice I order more soup and fruit when I'm in Vegas. Another time I sat at the bar and had some eggs. Again no complaints, with the exception that I miss Keno at the cafe. I used to love sitting there and having something to do. A real bummer for me. The last time I ate there I had the corn beef hash. First bad meal I had there. It just wasn't great. 4 stars Johnny Rockets- I need something late night and thought some quick fries would do the trick. I didn't realize they were getting close to closing, which I think is midnight. He made my order to go without asking me which I thought was weird, but I'm not a complainer so I just went back to my room and ate it. No big deal, but no customer service points for you Johnny Rocket. 2 stars Other Food Notes – Ping Pang Pong _ I heard a lot of nice things about this place so I went down there one night. I have mixed feelings based on what I ordered. The Won Ton Soup was great, but their dim sum was a bit lacking. Some of the more authentic dishes on the menu looked good but I didn't have the time to try it all. I may go back. 3 stars Gambling – I realized last year that I do not have the bankroll to play at a $5 craps table. My bankroll is only a couple hundred bucks so going into planning this trip I remembered Silverton having a $1 Shoot To Win Craps game. This may be the most annoying gambling game ever created. The women's voice on that machine is grating on the nerves and soul. (early in the a.m. when the casino is quiet they turn off the sound) But my bankroll goes far longer at this game than the human version so it is what it is. Perhaps when my kid is through with college and the house is paid off and I can up the bankroll, but honestly to me, a win is a win and a loss is a loss no matter how much money you have. At least that's what I tell myself. I also like Caveman Keno and Jacks or Better, Deuces, Bonus etc Poker, but I only do that as a distraction from craps. So I instantly go down $50 and then I come back up and after a nice 15 minute roll I'm up $100. For the rest of the week I spent about four to five hours around the Silverton casino drinking and playing various games. By the end of the week I'm still up about $50 bucks. Drink Comps – Not as good as I was hoping for. I tip well too. I don't expect much just a pass every few minutes especially if I'm tipping 2-3 bucks a drink. Didn't see a lot of hustle. Towards the end of the week it got better and the slow/no-show CW wasn't around. When it's faster to pay for a drink at the bar and come back to the game. 2.5 -5 stars for drinks. DIG THIS!!! So I got a Groupon for Dig This for $125. Worth every cent. I reserved the excavator for 1.5 hours. There was a short lesson on safety and how to work the controls and then the guide works with you through headset while your operating the machine. It was the best experience I have ever had in Vegas. It was so much fun the whole time I can't even describe it. No circus compares. 5 stars!! Week 2 The wife flew around 3 p.m. to join me for the second week. She intends to do some shopping at the outlet malls and get some, work at home, work done while I'm at school. She either dropped me off at school or I drove and she stayed at "home". We had planned a few night time activities, though keep in mind she is not into Vegas. She has been there and done that so she is really along for ride with me, the Vegas junkie. Nice thing is she doesn't gamble or drink much so she's a pretty cheap date all things considered. Wyndham Grand Desert - I own time with Wyndham. Not the best investment ever but we totally enjoy it, and when we are there we feel relaxed and comfortable. It's a beautiful property and we had a nice 1 bedroom. It has a stacked washer and dryer and full kitchen. We have owned for a long time so we don't get the pressure to buy more or anything like that. For me, it felt like I was no longer stuck in a hotel. Planet Hollywood is easy walking distance but we had a car so it was even faster. We didn't get to use the pool because we had to many other things to do and since we only had the night time, the pool was out. It was nice and they had music playing and drink service. There was adult only pool which was also nice, I can't wait to come back for a real vacation. As a side note – non-owners can rent the suites for about $175 per night. For a family with a car it's a sweet deal, especially if you need non-smoking. Capo's Italian Restaurant – We had Sat. night reservations. Capo's is down Sahara west about 7-8 miles. It's a mob themed restaurant that is played out fantastically. I won't spoil the surprises but you definitely feel like your living a mob movie. Could easily attach itself to any mob attraction or museum and really deserves to be franchised to towns like SF or Chicago. Expect a lot of garlic. The meat ball I ordered was rolled in chopped garlic. Had a groupon but would go back with out one in a second. Could become my favorite Italian restaurant and I live near North Beach in SF. 5 stars Wicked Spoon Buffet – I am not a buffet person but wanted to try a fancy over priced buffet and see if it was worth it. The food was good with the exception of the Asian food. It looked like your everyday regular Asian buffet food. Nothing special at all. The rest was good and I tried most of the offerings. In the end though it is really not worth it and the havoc all that different food wreaks on your stomach is enough to not warrant a second visit. 3 stars. Zen Fusion – This is the new Asian restaurant at Southpoint. I went once by myself and knew I had to bring my wife back. We ended up going twice that week. It was really good. They had a yellowtail with jalapeno sashimi that just melted in your mouth. They also served a great Japanese beer that I have yet to find anywhere else. 5+ stars. Stratosphere – We went up to the top of the Strat for a drink one night. It was really nice and the view is amazing. I would like to try and eat at the restaurant one time. The casino at the Strat was nothing spectacular and seemed kinda small. Didn't play much here. 4 stars. Comedy Clubs – We went to the PH comedy club and it was ok. The headliner was really funny but the other guys only got a couple laughs out of me. I think I was just tired that night. The also had a couple strippers/dancers come out and dance which was actually a lot better than I would have thought. One of the girls was smokin' hot. 2 stars We also saw Vinnie Favarito. I saw him by myself last year and wanted to bring the wife this time. We can both deal with his style of humor. She liked it but I felt like I saw the exact same show, which after a year I would think he would write a couple new jokes or insult people in a refreshing way. B-. 3 out of 5 stars. BeatleShow – We went and saw this show one night. I really liked it and thought the musicians did an excellent job. They basically start off at the Ed Sullivan and then perform songs in chronological order complete with costume changes. Most impressive was them performing the songs the Beatles never played live. A day in the Life was killer. 5 stars for an Beatles fan, 4 stars for everybody else. Side Notes – I really began to notice the difference in the older places like Gold Coast versus the newer places. Not that I mind smoke, but the smoke smell was most noticeable in the older places. Silverton rooms are older but the casino seems newer and that smoke smell wasn't as present, although any non smoker will smell a change in the atmosphere as soon as you walk in the building it doesn't have that woven into the fibers of the wall stale smell. I noticed this a few times this trip, and it's enough (especially for the wife) to save up a little more and stay at a newer place. My wife hates smoke. Gourmet Hamburger Joints – the latest craze to hit Vegas. Over-priced hamburgers. Now I've seen it all. The June Cleaver Look – If you haven't seen this, this is now big with the hipsters. The Cosmo had a swing combo with a June Cleaver lookin' singer, musically not that interesting and although retro seemed a bit repelling. As a musician I wasn't that impressed with it but I guess I understand the trend. Miracle Mile Shop at PH had a Betty Paige store that was full of that stuff. The drive home – Nothing much to report here other than both of us were ready to get out of town. We hit the road at about 10:00 a.m. for the long haul back to SF. I'm in no hurry and we decide to take our time and if we need to pull over and find a hotel along the I-5 no problem. Whiskey Pete's – the wife needs to pee so I pull into Whiskey Pete's. As she's in the bathroom and put twenty in a slot machine (which I never play) and watch go down to nothing. By the time she walks I'm at zero. FUCK YOU WHISKEY PETE!! Btw why would anyone in their right mind want to stay at those places? .5 stars Ghost town – There is a an old west ghost town along the way towards Barstow and every year we drive by it and say one year we'll stop. We'll this we stopped. It was fun and a nice place to take a rest. You can even camp out or rent a cabin there. Closing remarks – It was a great trip though I not really a vacation. I got experience a bit of the tourist and also got a glimpse of what it would be like to live in Vegas. Thanks for reading.