I don't write short trip reports. I also used to write them on my personal blog, but the company that owns the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's boards decided that they didn't want the unpaid help, so I no longer have that forum. I am a contributing author for Vegas Bright and I will have some nuggets there, but that is not a proper forum for long pieces. Therefore I will write my full trip report here. I will break it up into days so no one read is too long. I will include all of the links and photos that I normally would (mods, go ahead and reformat photos as necessary). <hr> Friday, April 8 - My wife and I left Milwaukee on that 6:30 AM flight that I hate that morning, but generally enjoy because of the early arrival in Las Vegas. I always rent a car, and usually go through the Rental Car Center. However, I found an amazing weekly rate at the Enterprise branch at the Westin on Flamingo. The only catch is that I needed to get there and back. I decided to use that as an opportunity to test drive Lyft and Uber. I had never used either, so I used "First ride free" promo codes found here and here (these are not "personal" promo codes... any first time riders can use them). After arriving at McCarran and getting our bags without incident or delay, we schlepped over to the parking garage to the ride share elevator (let's hope they find a new home for this before too long) to meet our Lyft driver. Everything went fine, until about 30 seconds into the trip the driver started talking about how easy it is to steal cars, especially Hondas. Unfortunately, it was a reasonably short drive, so we didn't have the opportinuty to learn all of the exact tools needed. The rental process at the Enterprise went smoothly, and I realized that I had never been inside the Westin before. That really meant one thing to me... A chip for my collection! The Matrix said that we had to be at the Peppermill for lunch by 10:00 AM, so I didn't have time for a lot of play. I found the blackjack pit and there were two empty tables. I asked the two dealers (and the pit critter) which table was better and they each claimed superiority. I told them all that I would play 6 hands at each. Table 1 - First hand, Bet 10, push (running total $0) Second hand, Bet 10, lost 10 (-10) Third hand, Bet 10, doubled, won 20 (+10) Fourth hand Bet 15, won 15 (+25) Fifth hand Bet 20, won 20 (+45) Sixth hand Bet 25, won 25 (+70) Nice start on Table 1. Table 2 - First hand, Bet 10, lost 10 (+60) Second hand, Bet 10, push (+60) Third hand, Bet 10, lost 10 (+50) Fourth hand, Bet 10, lost 10 (+40) Fifth hand, Bet 10, lost 10 (+30) Sixth hand, Bet 10, lost 10 (+20) So I clearly liked Table 1 better, but for the session I was up $20, and I got my chip. Off to a good start, we headed over to the Peppermill. After a very short wait, we were seated and looked at the menu. Originally we were going to have breakfast, but we had stopped at McDonalds on the way to the airport in Milwaukee and our tummies decided that lunch was required. I had it narrowed down to the Reuben or the Pastrami sandwiches and decided to entrust my gastronomic fate to the waitress who said that she'd never had the Pastrami, so I went with the Reuben. I guess it was good, because another waitress came to our table and said that in 18 years, she had never tried the Reuben and watching me eat the sandwich had convinced her to try one on her lunch break. I wonder what she thought of it... because I wasn't impressed. My wife, meanwhile claimed her mushroom swiss burger to be good. On a scale of 1-5 white PVC pipes painted to look like neon tubes, we'd rate the venue as a 4 and the actual meal as a 3. In the "Can You Believe THAT Department?" in 16 prior trips I had never set foot in the Wynn or Encore, so that was rectified as long as we were on that side of town. In that same "Can You Believe THAT Department?" in 16 prior trips I did not know that going south on Paradise than turning west onto Desert Inn Rd takes you way away from the Wynn. Whoda thunk it? About 15 minutes later we arrive at the Wynn. Despite evidence to the contrary, I am really not an idiot. I know gambling odds, I know how to read VP tables, I know which games are good, etc. I had promised my lovely bride that I would focus on good VP and table games on this trip. So what game did I play first? Right... the $1 Sizzlin' 7s with a progressive over $1100. Apparently at some point, I had convinced myself that since I had an adequate bankroll, I would hit a progressive on this trip. Well, Gambling Jones is leading Not an Idiot 1-0 because I sunk $300 into that machine without getting a sniff. Sigh. We walked over to the Encore and since I was already down, I needed to chase the win. You can't do that at $10 blackjack (and I refuse to play Wynn/Encore's double-odds craps). Gambling Jones 2, Not an Idiot 0. Though in fairness, I did win a little back so it wasn't too bad. We originally had planned on spending much of the afternoon at Wynn/Encore, but in the days leading up to the trip I learned about the Penn and Teller Fool Us taping at the Rio. I was able to get tickets, so about Noon we drove over there. Now, the tickets said "Arrival Time 1:00". But because I am smarter than that, we got there at 12:30 and I figured I'd get decent seats. Instead, we came across rows and rows of people lined up... and nobody quite knew what we were waiting for or why. We found the right line to turn in our tickets, then we were shuttled over to another line that didn't move for seventy minutes. Though my wife and I often considered bailing on the event (I mean... Vegas, baby!) I had actually really wanted to do this so we waited. After arriving at 12:30ish, we were finally seated at 2:00 PM. And this was our view... We couldn't see, and we could barely hear, but we managed to watch the entire taping and were out by 4:30. As we get to our car, both phones buzz and alert us to a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. There were dark clouds all around, but sunny overhead so he hustled to dinner and figured that if a storm hit, we'd wait it out at Rollin Smoke BBQ. Armed with our 10% off coupon from their website, I had ordered the Three Meat plate (ribs, brisket and hot links) and it was absurd... Best - by far - was the brisket because of the way it was chopped. The fat was distributed so that the meat didn't seem too dry. The only slight issue was with the hot link as it wasn't as spicy as the sausage that I can get in the BBQ Mecca of Milwaukee. But the meal as a whole certainly did not disappoint. On a scale of 1-5 little plastic cups of barbecue sauce, Rollin Smoke is a solid 4 and is worth the trip just west of the Strip if you have transportation. It had just started to rain, so we headed over to Bally's to both check in, as well as to board the Vegas See the Lights tour through On Board Tours (though I booked the tour on Viator using a 10% promo code that I had found). We had a half hour to wait for the bus to arrive, so we gambled a little. Now, a half hour isn't enough time to play a table game that is half a casino away from the bus doors, so my wife and I just sat by the slots near the door (Gambling Jones 3, Not an Idiot 0). Getting on my $250 bus tour, it turns out that my wife and I were the only passengers. Theoretically, it was really nice to have the tour guide to ourselves, but it meant that we had to engage with him for almost four hours. It actually was a very good tour. They timed it pretty well so that we drove past the Bellagio fountains just as they started the 8:00 PM show (And talk about service! The bus parked in the right lane until the show was over, despite the honking horns behind him!) then we went down to The Sign. All along the drive, the tour guide was offering tidbits and such; nothing shattering for the Vegas Obsessed like myself, but since my wife likes to tune me out when talking about Las Vegas, she learned a lot of stuff. After taking a video of the sign in the pouring rain, we got back on the bus and headed to the Mirage and arrived in time to see the 9:00 PM volcano show. The bus let us out and the tour guide told us about how Steve Wynn changed Las Vegas, starting with the Mirage. I love this shot, even though I have now taken this same picture about a half-dozen times... The tour guide thought that the show might be cancelled due to the rain, but the crickets started chirping and the drums pounding. Out came one explosion... Then another. Then everything stopped. The tour guide mentioned the self-abort feature, and that is clearly what happened. We walked back to the bus and headed downtown to the Golden Nugget. Since I am a Golden Gate / Downtown Grand kinda guy, I've never spent a lot of time at the Golden Nugget and had never seen the Shark Pool... In what I thought was a weird twist, the tour guide coordinated watches with us, and told us to be back 45 minutes later. The cynic in me thought it was a so the guide and the driver could take a beer break. The logic in me, though, assumed that it was so we could all take in Fremont Street and that keeping a group together would be almost impossible. I spent my 45 minutes at La Bayou, because I knew I could catch a quick pre-bedtime buzz. Those 3 - $25 free rum and Coke's did their job, too. We got back to the bus, and back to Bally's around 11:00 PM. Other than a short nap on the plane, we had been up for about 22 hours (and I had taken my night-night fluid), so we headed right to bed. Evening came and morning followed, the first day.