Well...I'm strugglin' to come up with (for lack of a better term) some LOVE BOAT stories... you know, something...EX-CI-TING AND NEEEEW, but everythings comin' back...SOS. Maybe I should go to Katmandu next trip...check out some of those Buddhist video poker machines... I always have a great time, don't get me wrong...just seemed like the crowds and excitement were a bit lower, employees at the RIO were bored (it was sooo slow), slots were tight BUT I did have a little luck...$750 hit on WOF and a few VP quads including a kicker AAAA. Maybe it was just because theres only 3 months left in the year (aprox. 101 shopping days til Christmas) and I've already made 4 trips this year with one more to go and I'm running out of Shows to see... This was a 'favorite-repeat' Show trip. MAMMA MIA, CHER, PHANTOM. Talk about EX-CI-TING AND NEW... I even started off my first night in town with a traditional Las Vegas Show favorite at the Orleans...thats right, ALICE COOPER kicked the trip off the only way ALICE can! A PEACHY DANDY Show to say the least, lol...had fun though. The RIO is still alive and well for the most part...The ramifications of Harrah's covert re model, no building permit or safety code inspection blunder is still alive and well too. Many rooms are still closed. Construction workers are in some of the hallways and bangin' and clangin' can be heard all over in Ipanima Tower. Several floors (I was on 14) still have 'sitting' personal on fire watch in the hallways because the Fire Alarm systems are still out of service. Due to the construction, in room phone service is at a minimum too. Front Desk, Room Service, House Keeping, and Messages have been deactivated. You need to dial the Operator for help. RIO staff... in all departments were thin. Management has been encouraging employees to take an extra day off a week or end their shifts a couple hours early and go home... I still got one of my favorite rooms though with that KILLER POOL/STRIP VIEW! Not even Harrah's can screw that up...AND, thanks to the location of my room, I could only see a sliver of 'Donny's' face thats plastered (along with his sister) all over the front of the Flamingo. I read Donny and Marie have pre-sold more tickets than any other Vegas Show in a long, long time. (guess it's because Vegas is so close to Utah and all their friends are comin' huh, lol) All kidding aside, they do have their fans and it looks like their Show will do well at the Flamingo. I just wish those perfect, white teeth smiles didn't follow you all over Stip! I apologize if this TR is starting to sound all doom and gloom...it really was a FUN trip! On a happier note......I FLOODED MY BATHROOM! My outside shower curtain had been replaced, but they forgot to add the inside liner. I didn't notice of course, and when I stepped out of the tub/shower...water was everywhere including the changing area outside the bathroom. It took all the towels in the bathroom to mop it up. My towels were replaced of course, but the liner I kept requesting never showed up...all week long. Weather was great! Temps in the mid 90s, no wind to speak of, and only had one quick rain storm blew through with some minor flooding on the East side of town. With the economy these days, everyone is looking for a 'deal' and Harrah's is no different. They're getting the RIO Convention Center Parking area repaved and the client is paying for it...(sort of) C.A.T....the BIG equipment company has a convention coming up and they're going to demonstrate how all their diggers, trucks, backhoes, dirt movers, rollers and asphalt paving machines work by tearing up the parking area and repaving it again. Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm...the aroma of hot asphalt on a hot day...gonna smell so nice around the Sapphire Pool for a while! Speaking of the Sapphire Pool...it's still hogging space that should be available to all the guests at RIO. As the other 3 pools share all the guests and kids...Sapphire enjoys it's privacy and admission charge with a hand full of guys looking for an eye full (for the most part...) and only a few 'natural' guests enjoying the pool. The same 4 Sapphire babes that were there a month ago still lounged around on air mattresses or on their special, round, white pool beds. I don't have one problem with European sun bathing but the atmosphere seems different at RIO. I've heard a couple stories from my employee friends on how the area can get a little...'too blue'. One afternoon, there was a group of 3 guys who had rented a cabana and brought their own 'pool babes'. Their idea of topless pool entertainment was right out of the Sapphire Club itself. Cocktail servers came over several times to tone 'em down. Next season, I hope the RIO's largest, nicest, waterfall pool goes back to ALL the guests as it should be. Sapphire has it's club...let 'em stay there. I'm pleased to report the vacant coffee station in Masquerade Village once occupied by COFFEE BEAN now has a new tenant...JAVA COAST. They offer a full service of coffee and pastry and you won't find that 'burnt coffee bean' stuff Starbucks offers...prices are a bit cheaper too. Show your Total Reward card...they 'swipe' it, and you earn points for your purchase! I did a couple mini member meets with folks from www.everythinglv.com/forums and www.travel2vegas.com/forums Always FUN to hook up with 'usernames' you've talked to and move to the next level with real faces and new friends! Ever get your picture taken at the... (1959) WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS sign? Ever almost get killed trying to dodge the cars as you run across the road? Well, Vegas is going to make it easier and a lot safer. They're putting in 12 parking slots, 2 handicapped, and an area for buses to make it easier/safer to GET YO PIC with the sign and should be ready to go by November. Each day was casual and pleasant. Played when I wanted, I'm ahead on my tier points to retain Platinum level for next year. I don't eat big in Vegas, so nothing to report on restaurants etc. and my evening Shows were all great! Time to go home and I caught my cab at RIO. Nice enough, young, English speaking driver... I gave him my destination and requested he take I-15 to Tropicana, then out to McCarran. We pulled onto Flamingo, but he wasn't in the proper lane to get on the freeway??? I asked ?WHERE?... he planned to get on I-15... "OH!"...you want to go the freeway? "YES!, I JUST TOLD YOU THAT" lol. He stopped in the middle of the road...horns honking, breaks squeeling, and stopping traffic (LOL!) and merged into the I-15 entrance. WHAT A TURKEY! If he had his way, he'd have taken me up and over the Flamingo ramp, across the Strip (once we got throung that LONG RED LIGHT to Koval, then crawl through the traffic and every red light to Tropicana and then out to the air port. I casually sat there...talking about all the tips we on the message boards give to newbies about cab drivers, the infamous 'TUNNEL' etc. and how everyone carries (or should) the TAXI CAB AUTHORITY phone number...668.4000 to report bad apples. He didn't say much the rest of the ride and I payed him the normal fare and tip. GOOD TRIP! Crowds were low, all types of games were easily available, Show and cab lines were short, employee staff at all properties...overly friendly. Member meets were especially FUN! I took a 3k bankroll and brought home 2600 for the (14th-19th) December trip kitty. I also brought back a good head cold...'comped' I'm sure from either the casinos or SOUTHWEST, lol. I'll have some thoughts in Entertainment on MAMMA MIA, CHER, WES WINTERS and PHANTOM soon... SPECIAL THANKS TO 'GNH200' (Gary) and Llyn for the great breakfast at RIO's Carnival World Buffet! Great to see you guys again...it made my morning! THANK YOU.