Picking up where we left off, Mandalay Bay, caught the CAT bus at the McDonald's across the street. Weird thing, the bus stop was close by a place called the Jackalope Inn. We saw a lot of little hotel and motels all over the place, stuck between the big casinos. Wondered what that must be like to be staying in the type of place you'd normally stay but in a city that wasn't like any other. I checked out some of the prices of these little places and for the most part they werenâ€™t much cheaper (maybe $5 a night). We got off the bus at the Imperial Palace. Out front there was a free spin wheel. Hubby won a cap and I won $50 in free slot play. Problem, you had to play your $50 on their special machines set aside next the player's card sign-in. The machines were all $2 and the 50 was gone in no time flat. At least hubby's cap was nice. IP is oddly set up, at least from where we went in, from the street you had to walk through a little bar and IP signature store. I've heard IP is on the block for sale and/or demolition. Went to Harrah's but the place was as quiet as a tomb. It was downright scary. It was around 5:30PM and after we got new cards at Harrah's and we put in a few coins. Observation: Once you get a club card, be prepared you are in the system it seems forever. We found out that most of the goodies are for first time sign-ups only. A real bummer because that meant we didnâ€™t get a lot of the even the little things, like key chains, fun books, etc. We hadnâ€™t been to LV in years and some of the places weâ€™d gotten cards at were hotels weâ€™d never even set foot in. We had gotten some cards from the internet. So, be forewarned, before you get a card think if you want your goodies now or later. Once you are signed in you may not get anything more unless you put a lot of play into the machines or at the tables and can earn major comps. :weep: I was counting on getting a free t-shirt from signing up because Iâ€™d worn my other tees to death. Next we faced (drum roll) the bus. A word of warning if you stay on the main strip and want to catch the CAT bus downtown during the late afternoon or early evening, be aware you might be in for a wait a while. We tried to catch the CAT bus in front of Harrah's to get back to the Strat. We had to wait for 3 buses, they were all full and it was only by luck that we caught the 4th bus. People that were standing in the aisles refused to move back to allow others to get on. We saw this time and again. I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s going on with these people except maybe they just want to speed the bus up. If they donâ€™t move back then the bus looks full and moves on. It wouldnâ€™t be so bad if it wasnâ€™t in the high 90â€™s, lower 100â€™s. When we got back to the Strat we changed clothes and rushed downtown to get something to eat. Observation: By this second day, we were already feeling like the Strat was home. We really liked the place and I can't say exactly what it was that made it feel good. The place smelled nice, not overcrowded or smoky. The people there were friendly. The slots were fun. I'll tell you more about it later. On the CAT bus downtown we met all sorts of people, one was lady from New York, she must have seen every singer on the strip. A real fan of musicals. We both agreed LV seemed to be going in the direction of putting on more Broadway style shows. Personally I'd walk back to Vegas if I were able to see "Spamalot" should it ever come there. Something to remember, pick up the CAT bus behind the Neopolisis when you go back to the strip. We'd read that the Gold Nugget had a good buffet and we almost sprinted down to the place. Hungry weasels couldn't have been more ravenous than us. This is when we saw (dramatic pause) The Line! A line of people wove in and out of slot machines, a veritable snake of humanity. I think some of them had been there since birth. Hubby and I decided to split the difference between signing up for a club card and standing in the line. I went and got my club card, plus the $10 free slot play (that they allowed us to use in just about every machine in the place, Yippee! Even the penny slots!). Hubby went next and by the time he joined me, we were down to the last 5,000 people in line (okay, so I'm exaggerating some but it did seem like we'd never get in the place). Good news (we saved a bunch of money on our car insurance by switching to... sorry, got carried away there) the wait for the Gold Nugget Buffet was well worth it. The food was fantastic! The warm bread pudding was to die for. They had some kind of chicken that I could have eaten every day. We didn't eat anything that wasn't delicious and believe me, we tried almost everything they had. It cost approx. $27 for the two of us. A real bargain. You wouldn't have found a better dinner at any of the hotels on the strip or off for twice the price. On Friday nights they have an $18 all you can eat seafood buffet but we didn't make that one. After calling in the moving men to carry us out of the buffet we went to empty money into the slot equivalent of a black hole. In fact, I think they should make a slot named that, "The Black Hole." Or, "The Toilet" that makes a flushing sound when you put money in it. Hubby, ever the lucky one, turned his $10 into $40 and we walked out with our dinner paid off. We went over to the Fremont, got a key chain from a really nice slot person who also coughed up a bungie cord for our club cards. We collect bungies. They come in handy. We would take ours back to the hotel room and decorated a lamp shade with them. By the time we left the lamp looked like an octopus on steroids. Had no luck at Fremontâ€™s slots so on to the 4 Queens. The 4 Queens had a free slot pull. Got another free keychain. But here again, the slots seemed tighter than we remembered downtown slots to be. At the Fitzgeralds Hubby set off for Nickle Town and I wandered around dropping money in black holes. The thing that got me was the music coming from a small dance floor near the Krispy Kreme Donut place. Of course I had to get a hot, fresh donut before I hit the dance floor. I started dancing with no partner. Hubby was off somewhere in the bowels of Fitzgeralds and my feet couldnâ€™t stay still. I was getting my freak on when I attracted an octogenarian who had more stamina than men half his age. We didnâ€™t talk, just danced and danced. Gosh, I LOVE VEGAS. By the time hubby came around I was dripping off a chair, flat out tired but happy. We saw 2 of the Fremont Street light shows. Each show was different from the next. It was the first time in 3 visits that the show had been up and working. What a wonderful show. It was beyond words pretty. Got to bed at 3AM and hubby was like Poppinâ€™ Fresh the Dough Boy, up at 7:30AM to play poker. He outlasted half the table and came back to the room at 9:30. I considered killing him for waking me up at the veritable crack of dawn but the mess I would have had to clean up didnâ€™t seem worth it. Lucky hubby, he made it out alive! Missing a few fingers but otherwise he was intact after prodding me awake with his toe and running for cover. I was lulled into complicity by a fresh Starbucks muffin and hot tea then another trip on the CAT down to the Sahara and tried out the new Tram. It was okay. A bit pricey but there was no line and great a/c. We rode down to the Las Vegas Hilton. Iâ€™d always wanted to see the Star Trek thing. We walked into Quarkâ€™s bar to get something to eat. The place looked about as close to Star Trek, The Next Generation, as I thought they could have without Klingons prancing around. As it was, we were bummed at being left to wait nearly 20 mins, sitting at a table without anyone coming by to take our order or get us something to drink. Weâ€™d been set by a hostess so we expected to see a waiter somewhere but we never did. We chucked it in and walked away to seek out the Hiltonâ€™s buffet. It was grand. A great choice. The food was good but the deserts were a the big deal. Wonderful little deserts, a great tea server and we were happy, price about $10 a piece. We then tried something new, betting on the horses in the sports room. Iâ€™d never bet on horses outside of a track but it was fun. Didnâ€™t win anything. Note: If you see a horse that has a name that speaks to you, bet on it. I didnâ€™t listen to that inner voice and lost a race. Oh, well. Next we went down to MGM and roamed around. We walked under the Lions. Great people watching at MGM. Caught the CAT down to Ceasars and ate at our favorite deli, Stage Deli. Had the Mis-Mass Soup and a Sandwich. Huge sandwiches and warm chicken soup swimming with all sorts of noodles, dough balls and rice. Just what the doctor ordered. For our tastes, the cheese cake at Stage Deli is the best, not that mass turned out stuff you get a Cheese Cake Factory. This is the real thing. Also, donâ€™t miss the complimentary barrel of pickles brought to your table. We tried almost every type of pickle. Cost for our meal was around $15 total. Back to the Strat and back to sleep. It was hotter than he** that day and we waited for the sun to go down. At 6:30PM we headed off to Tropicana and used a coupon from one of the free magazines to get $10 off tickets for the Comedy Stop there. We had just missed the 8:00 show but we got tickets for the 10 show and in the meantime we went downstairs to catch the Air Play show that is free and happens over the slots in the middle of the casino area. Two good looking but small guys and two buff ladies were doing circus type acts overhead. They were awesome. The Comedy Stop show afterwards was well worth the tickets (about 15 per head with the coupon). Weâ€™d been told the Comedy Stop was one of the best deals in Vegas and weâ€™d be hard pressed to say it wasnâ€™t. Weâ€™d seen The Improv at Harrahâ€™s and it was funny as well. Got back to the Strat at midnight and played until 2AM. Asleep around 3AM again. We came out well ahead on the penny slots and penny video poker at the Strat. Yes, penny video poker (8/5 for those who know video poker lingo). Fun, fun, fun. Hubby won around $80, I came out with $45 from 15cents of play at the Beverly Hillbilly penny machine. Guess what? Hubby cranked his hind end out of bed at 7:30. The man was a machine! Every morning, Steak and Eggs at Luckyâ€™s, a beer and poker. He was in â€˜guy heaven.â€™ He said we would look at the rest of our life as a temporary exile from our real life in Vegas. Haha Poor thing never gets Steak and Eggs at home and rarely has a beer. Poker is something he plays on the computer. Today we decided to spend some $$ on mementos of the trip. We caught the infamous bus to the M & M store next to MGM. Ethel Mâ€™s candies are sold there and they give away FREE SAMPLES! I asked for a taste of their solid chocolate hearts and a chocolate covered cherry. They give you whole pieces. Yummy!! WE loaded up. We got a box of 15 pieces of Ethel Mâ€™s, several different colors of M&Mâ€™s (they have every color in the rainbow at about $9 a lb.), and a big bag of their new giant M&Mâ€™s. Lovely, lovely chocolate (can you hear me drooling?). I also bought a couple of funny t-shirts there. In case you worried that the chocolate would melt in the heat, Ethel Mâ€™s thinks of everything. They packed our chocolate with a little frozen bag of gel that stayed cold all day. We walked down the street and a small tee-shirt shop was going out of business. Got a couple of shirts there for my family, then went to Caesarâ€™s Form Shops and my favorite tee-shirt spot, Crazy Shirts. The tees there are dyed with all sorts of things. I got a dog shirt dyed yellow from being soaked in beer. Itâ€™s a funny shirt. I also got a shirt dyed in Chocolate. That makes four chocolate shirts Iâ€™ve gotten over the years. Two other shirts I have were dyed in money. They are my â€˜lucky frogâ€™ shirts. Check the place out. Their shirts are made in Hawaii and are very original. Plus, I can attest, they last forever. After an afternoon grabbing hot dogs and chocolate along the way, we headed back to the Strat. There is an Italian place called Felliniâ€™s inside the Strat that was a real find. We had a crab meat stuffed Portabella mushroom that could have fed 4 people easy as an appetizer. We also tried the Alfredo-Vodka Seafood Pasta. The serving of that was huge! My husband is a really big guy, 6â€™8â€ over 400lbs and he couldnâ€™t finish half of the dish. We split a chocolate mousse cake and called it quits for a while. The waiter, the chef, the beverage servers, all of the place went out of their way to be nice. Your glass never went empty, it was like being a queen bee attended by an army of drones. Great place. The bill was around $40 total. We tipped heavy because we couldnâ€™t have gotten better service. I hit the slots again for an hour and hubby went off in search of a free poker table, then we joined up for a nap before going downtown again. We walked from one end of Fremont to the other. Around 11PM we went to the El Cortez and ate at their cafÃ©, â€œthe something Kitty,â€ and tried their $5.99 Steak and Lobster. You have to ask for it. It isnâ€™t on the menu. The Lobster wasnâ€™t my favorite but Hubby liked it. I liked the steak and veggies. We both shared a slice of Lemon Cake after. Again, we had a terrific waitress. The El Cortez had some nifty slots, include some on the outer wall that went up and down with the push of a button to make them more comfortable to play. I lost a couple of bucks and Hubby won around $30. He always wins. Home to the Strat again and bed by 2AM. Gosh, this is getting old but, we were up and out by 9AM and went to our old fav. On the strip, The Barbary Coast. The Barbary Coast is small, tight and has low ceilings. It is the first place I ever won anything on a slot. We like it there for intangible reasons, it feels right. After a few dollars in we walked down to the Bourbon Street hotel/casino alongside Ballyâ€™s. And we thought Harrahâ€™s had been quiet. You could hear the crickets cherping there. We didnâ€™t find the slot club and left after a few minutes. The casino was so small it was practically non-existent. Back at the Barbary Coast we caught the first free shuttle bus to The Gold Coast. First, I have to say, The Gold Coast buffet is pretty good, especially the price, about $7.95 per head. They even have several different flavors of frozen yogurt like â€œbutter pecan,â€ â€œchocolate cheesecake,â€ â€œbutter brickle,â€ etc. The food was your general American stuff, but all of it was hot, fresh and tasted fine. The big downside to this place (aside from the fact that we were probably the only people under 80 there) was the smoke. If you canâ€™t stand smoke, you may not want to go there. I had to leave right after we ate. The rest of the day I smelled smoke. Observation: Ladies, when you walk out of the restrooms you might see a sign warning against the dangers of drinking while pregnant. I found these to be really odd because just after youâ€™ve been warned off dangers to your baby from alcohol, you walk into a casino that is so smoky you can hardly see. Odd, huh? Strange that they donâ€™t warn you about cigarettes too but I guess they figure youâ€™ll read the side of the cigarette box instead. The Gold Coast had the rudest shuttle driver. She was from New York (surprise!). A lady who was with a group of WWII shipmates complained that they hadnâ€™t had a bus come by to take them to the Orleans and did the driver know when that bus would be coming? It was about 95 degrees in the shade and all these old folks were sitting out in front of the casino without any shade waiting. â€œWhat do I look like, a billboard?â€ the driver answered her. The lady was taken aback. Then the driver said, â€œLook, when the bus comes you tell them youâ€™re pi**ed off because your free shuttle didnâ€™t come on time.â€ The driver shut the door and drove off. You could have heard a pin drop on the bus. No one said a word. Some kid tried to adjust the a/c vents and she yelled at him to stop. I was more than ready to get off when we came back to the strip. We caught the bus â€˜home.â€™ The Strat was now home, sweet home. We stayed home and played slots the rest of the day, slept a little and decided to head back to the Riveria that night. Penny Town was our friend. Hubby won about $50 and I won about $30. We walked over to the Sluts of Fun because hubby had a coupon for free slot play. I started to put in some money then read the fine print on the machine. â€œAll cash back must be paid by attendant.â€ In other words, weâ€™d have to wait forever in this crowded grind joint. I wasnâ€™t up to it. I waited for hubby to lose his $20 and we walked to â€œThe Ho,â€ (Westward Ho). I was drawn to the Star Wars slots next to the lounge and put in about 20 cents when I hit a $30 pay off. I was thrilled until I had to wait 40 mins. To get the money. Yes, any payouts had to be done by a slot hostess. I kept seeing the same security guard go by and finally had Hubby grab him to help find a slot hostess before we got too old to leave the place. Back outside we watched people, again, trying to get themselves killed by playing dodge car on Las Vegas Blvd. It was worth the price of admission to see that show. By 1AM we were in bed. Our last night in Vegas. ::crying:: Woke up late and ate brunch at â€œThe Top Of The Worldâ€ Restaurant. The view is worth it. The food was so-so. The rides on top of the Strat are crazy. On our way out Hubby stopped at a slot and won, $110 bucks!! Yippee, off a penny slot. I won $85. We were elated!! As we flew home, hubby snored the whole way. I paid $5 to see â€œMonster In Law,â€ the in-flight movie. Not the best movie, but not the worst and it passed the time. Back home in Houston, we walked into a swamp of humidity. Weâ€™ve been dragging our tails for a week. We had a great time but itâ€™s taken days for us to get back into the groove and itâ€™s still dripping hot. We want to go back to Vegas for Christmas. Who knows. Hope you gleaned a few tidbits from all this. Have a great time whenever you go.