Hello Everyone! I am back from Viva. I spent last week there (Sunday-Thursday) and two things reminded me why I stopped going to Vegas in the summer months: the heat and the children. Although, from the news reports I watched all week, the whole nation was in a heatwave! Nevertheless, I had a great time as usual. This was another one of my lovely solo trips. This won’t be so much as a trip report, it will be more of a review – giving highs and lows on travel, food and miscellaneous items. Let’s begin, shall we? FLIGHTS Southwest was my chariot as usual. Got A32 on the outbound and A34 on the return. Outbound flight was completely full and the return flight was almost full. Another lady and I in row 4 highfived when no one sat between us! Both flights were uneventful. GROUND TRANSPORTATION Dollar is my car rental company of choice. I love getting off the shuttle, taking the escalator down to the garage (bypassing all the schmoes at the counter lines looking exasperated, waiting for service), checking the monitor and going directly to my car. I am driving up the strip within 15 minutes from the shuttle drop-off. Car #1 was a silver Versa with 26K miles on it. Once I got it in the sunlight, it was FILTHY. I mean the seats were stained horribly, and there was some sort of red sticky substance in the center console. Crime scene or drunken night with a burger at In-N-Out? I had half-a-mind to return, but decided to overlook it. Well, had to return to the rental facility anyway. Read on. After spending the entire day at my home hotel, Suncoast, Monday morning, I go out to the self parking lot and find shards of mirror on the ground. I look up where the driver’s side rear view mirror used to be. It was shattered – like vandalism shattered. No worries. Before I start my jaunt around the valley, I head back to the car rental facility, filled out paperwork, swapped cars and head out once again on LVB. The Dollar guy doing my paperwork told me they had 17 cars vandalized at the South Point parking lot a couple weeks ago. Car #2 was a maroon Rio with 1K miles on it and it moved like a turtle. LOL!! This little engine that couldn’t struggled all week in that Nevada heat. Each time I pressed the gas for acceleration, it groaned at me like it was passing a turd. Cute car though. It did what it was supposed to do – get me safely from A to B to C to D and back to A again. For $47.60 you can’t beat it. Now I wait to see how this mirror fiasco will turn out. Moving on. I love to drive the strip early mornings where no one is hardly out. I love to see the joggers and runners, the quietness of it all, taking it all in. Gives me a good chance to see the construction. Well, I saw it. And it made for bottleneck traffic at Flamingo going north and at Aria going south – at 7:00a! What a cluster. I avoid the strip during “rush” hours. I cherish the early morning drives on LVB. Guess I will have to wait a few more months before all that is gone. HOTELS I stayed at two new (to me) properties this time. As I have parted ways with the O after the past 9 years, I chose Suncoast because I wanted to stay within the Boyd properties and I like the Summerlin area. I do well with Boyd and they are generous with comps. I stayed my last night at Silverton. I’ve gamed at both these properties before, but never laid my head at either. Here is what I think: Suncoast – a solid Boyd property, pretty much like all of them. To me, it is “upscale” compared to the GC, the O and ST. The area it is in may sway my thoughts that way. The rooms are HUGE. I was in Room 634, not far from the elevator, which I like. It faced Alta Drive, right over the valet drive up. One thing I didn’t realize was come nightfall, the big orange-ish spotlights are just a floor below pointed directly toward the windows. Good thing I wasn’t on the 5th floor and those darkening drapes worked and closed completely! I enjoyed the (real) separate living space, the fridge, the safe and the large bathroom with ample double sink space. And wireless connection for just $4.99 for 24 hours. Grade: A. I will definitely stay here again. It’s a ways from the strip, but not an issue with a car. I could call this my new home hotel. Silverton – I’ve always liked to play here, I find the casino floor easy to navigate and there is a calmness about the place. Not overrun with *****gery, seems to have a loyal local following and it is a mature element. So I vowed I would stay here one night to see if the vibe continues with the accommodations. I chose the Silverton because I had a 5:45a flight and wanted to be closer to LAS leaving out at 3:45a for my flight. It worked out great, got to LAS in no time, even after dropping off the car. The front desk agent was friendly. Once I got in the room, I realized I’d been timeshare-hawked. The front desk agent was smooth too. She sent me to the end of the counter “to Terry who will take care of you for some great coupons and prize giveaways, thanks for staying with us”. Terry handed me some coupons for drinks, Starbucks and a printout with my name on it saying I’ve been entered into a raffle to view a resort property complete with lunch and show tickets. Smoooooooth. I’m a single person, aren’t these things geared toward couples? The room (3004) was okay. I was right next to the linen room which was right next to the elevator bank. I had a pool view. This room also had a fridge and safe. But it was small compared to the Suncoast room. The bathroom had that green lime scale on the sink and shower fixtures. And that toilet flush sounded like an explosion. They should warn you about that at check-in. And their wireless connection is $10.99 – no thanks. One last thing: the children. When I am in Vegas, I can pretty much ignore things that I don’t like, but I couldn’t ignore these two children standing next to my chair as I am playing The Mummy. Really. I am going along and a family of six walks by and they stop and talk, the children are standing next to me watching the reels. The little guy is so close, I could hear him breathe. It was bizarre. I hit collect, get my ticket and excused myself. The mother didn’t say ANYTHING. She didn’t pull him away, nothing. Oy. Grade: C. I may come back to game as I do like the casino floor vibe. But I can’t see myself staying here again. Maybe, if the price is right (free). FOOD With the oppressive heat, I didn’t go to nearly as many eateries as I had planned. I chickened out and stayed indoors so I don’t have much to report. But here is what I did eat, boring as it is: Café Siena – Suncoast’s answer to a coffee shop. I had breakfast on Monday morning. A scramble with mushrooms, spinach, onions and eggshells! Delightful! You know how you crunch and it’s at that moment when you are done with the meal. But wait, you try to clear the shell and you crunch again. You are sure you have cleared that pesky shell and you bite down and crunch again. Aaaaaahhhh!! Such a turnoff. Las Vegas Cupcake Competition – was a delight to attend. Lucky for me, my Vegas arrival happened to fall on the day of this competition AND it was held at Suncoast. So I purchased a ticket online. Sunday at noon is when the event began. To make it into the actual ballroom, you had to go up the escalator, snake through a massive line, get to a window for your wristband and voting ticket and then enjoy the event. For a $20 ticket you get all the cupcakes you can eat, all the beverages you can consume (champagne bar, water bar, mixed drinks bar and beer bar) and you get to cast one vote for your favorite cupcake display. There were about 50 vendors lining the outer walls of the ballroom with their displays. There were some very creative cupcakery going on! Some, not so creative. But I cast my vote for a lady who made cupcakes to look like high heel shoes – they were adorable!! The free cupcakes were in the middle of the room – they were mini cupcakes of several different flavors. I had about 5 of them and got an instant headache. I downed two bottles of water and left. It was too much and the crowds were getting bigger. There was a judging later, but I didn’t stay. Nice event though. Oyster Bar – at Suncoast is pretty much like Al’s OB at the O. I had a seafood pan roast that was really, really good. Bobby the chef created the dish and I was pleased with my choice. Tacos El Gordo – Finally!!! I made it!!! I went in with el pastor tacos on my mind. But when I saw an order of Carne Asada Fries, I changed course. I got the small order and glad I did. It was some straight up Mexican food goodness! I love this place. The lines were crazy, it was hot in there, families squished in together at the small tables, people hollering across each other – I loved it! And I will be back now that I know where it is. Strike that one off my list. Bagel Deli and Bakery – at Suncoast has a tasty corned beef sandwich. I enjoyed the kosher pickles and fries that came with. Even got a black and white! Really good quick bite. Sundance Grill – at Silverton. Coffee shop food, decent prices. I had the Avocado and Turkey club with fries. Can’t go wrong with that. As you can see I made a dismal dent in my foodie list this trip. I went to places that weren’t even on my list. I had plans to go to Rollin’ Smoke, Jerusalem Grill, Boiling Crab, Wing King, Archi’s Thai Kitchen. I have much ground to cover next time. GAMING (SLOTS) So, I found and played all the new slots since my last visit in February. Some fun, some meh. Spiderman – meh. Some guy screaming about spidey-sense. Just spinning the reels, boring. Willy Wonka – lots of Oompa Loompa WILD feature appearances. I liked the music and pics from the movie – really brought back my childhood. I got a couple bonuses, but the golden ticket eluded me. But it was nice to play. Wizard of Oz/Haunted Forest – liked that old witch and her cackling. But it’s a lot of buildup of sounds and goes nowhere. Boo! Family Guy – loved it! Plenty of different bonuses. Stewie granted me the Chicken Fight and the Love Lois. I won the Stewie progressive ($15.32). Great cutaway scenes – buttscratcha! CSI – someone resuscitate this game. There is nothing special about it. Twilight Zone 3D – like this game, won several bonuses. It was my ATM this trip. Dolly Parton – I never knew she had a machine. I liked it. This too was hitting pretty good for me. I like that Shinola song! And the graphics are pretty. Plants vs . Zombies – So funny! I wasn’t aware this game was so popular on the computer. But when I saw it, I decided to play. Boy does that seat jar you! Whoa! Judge Judy – who wants to hear a man explain cases to you and you have to pick and then he explains the next case and the next one. Aaaaahh!!! Slot machines are supposed to blink lights and ring bells and random things come across the screen and the chair shakes and you feel happy. All this machine did was make me not want to enter a courthouse EVER. What a BORING, AWFUL, STUPID machine. I popped in a $20 and $1.60 in, I had my chin in my hand thinking, “what the heck”. I played the $20, got up and walked away. Shaking my head. Well, that’s it folks. Wish I had more to report. I will next time. Thanks for reading!