Monday - Forecasted ice and snow in Chicagoland never materialized and we were able to get out of Midway as scheduled. First stop was a dinner buffet. Most of our LVA and ACG coupons with holiday stipulations were not valid as it was MLK Day. Instead, we used my Rio buffet comp (from the letter I sent regarding our bad NSF meal at Bambaleos). I've ate at the Rio buffet several times and have enjoyed it, but it is getting to be a tired affair. Even the workers seemed to be bored with the tasks. The quality is showing signs of slippage. That can happen when your focus is on quanity and longevity (remember the hoopla surrounding its initial opening). It was okay, but I'm really starting to lose interest. No, I am not going to write another letter to management. To get what - another comped buffet. The surprise of the evening was extremely soft beds at the Stratosphere . Didn't expect that from a $29 standard room. We didn't spent much time there other than a quick night's sleep before heading down to Laughlin. On the way, had lunch at Sunset Station buffet. A couple T2Vers suggested I try it as it was revamped a year or so ago. I would agree with those of you that have made positive comments on this buffet. Nicely done. We had never been to Laughlin, so we decided to check it out. You people that live in Nevada are lucky to have such good roads to drive on. I met a Vegas friend down there who was cooking (Hog Heaven Catering) an off-road racing function. He hooked me up at the Aquarius (one of several casinos) for $19. Roomwise, it was similar to Riv or Sahara. It's definitely an older crowd at Laughlin. I'll describe Laughlin like this: If places like Vegas, Reno or Atlantic City never existed, Luaghlin would be one happening place. Everything's relative. We had planned some wilderness hiking in Arizona, but were unable to locate the unmarked trailhead. Instead, we headed back to Vegas and did Frenchman Peak. It's only a couple miles northeast of Vegas off Lake Mead Drive. It's fairly steep and takes about 5 hours roundtrip, but is only 5,000 feet. Still, it was good to get some exercise and enjoy a view better than one could get atop the Stratosphere Tower. Back in town, we did Wednesday and Thursday nights at Circus-Circus (Main Tower) $39/night, with a $25 Arco gas card included. A lot of people knock the CC, but it was adequate. I was impressed with the friendliness of the staff. I would agree, though, especially after giving it a look-see, their buffet is the pits. Wednesday, we hit up the Red Rock buffet for our first-ever foray. For a buffetologist, this is akin to seeing a world premiere movie. In my opinion, it meets the acclaim it has been garnering. I would not rank it as high as Bellagio or Wynn, but it is up there with GVR, Alladin and the Mirage. The signature dish for me was a spicy halibut in the Asian section. Not only did they nail the flavor components, but it may have been the first time in my buffet-eating career that I experienced a moist piece of fish. The deep-frying technique and breading sealed in the juices. Plus, this was top-quality halibut, not some knock-off version. Tons of other goodies on this buffet. Can't wait for a return visit. Later that night, I met some of the T2V crew at the Wynn's Parasol Lounge. I wasn't there more than 10 seconds, no, make that five seconds, before I knocked over a $14 cocktail onto the carpet and onto Hurricane Mikey's fancy brown loafers. Maybe that arrival hug I got from Sticky made me jittery. Since I retired from drinking 12 years ago, I think I've lost my finesse of moving in and out of bars steathily. Sorry Mikey, but I'm sure that not the worst thing you've had spilt on you. Good visit with all of you. My big day was Thursday. I went on a Department of Energy tour of the Nevada Test Sites. I had been wanting to do this for several years and this was the first time it worked out into my schedule. If you're a history buff of the atomic and nuclear tasting age, it's a fascinating experience. The tour departs the Atomic Testing Museum on Flamingo once a month. You must sign up weeks in advance and obtain clearance. The only drawback was having a tour guide who was leading her very first trip. After entering the Testing Site, which is accessed off of highway 95 through the town of Mercury (about 75 miles northeast of Vegas), the first thing one is struck with is the vastness of this place. She had trouble telling the bus driver where to go, as there are no signs on the roads, and what each testing site signified. This is not a tourist-friendly venue. Lot's of security in place, but we could never see it other than the initial checkpoint. We spent from 7:30-4:30 on the tour. Besides viewing numerous test sites, we stopped at a place where all sorts of radioactive and non-toxic waste is stored. Interesting, but troubling wondering what the hell we are going to do with all that is still out in limbo. Thursday night's buffet was Gold Coast Seafood night. The general buffet has always been one of the best value-buffets in town. Been there, done that, but never to seafood night. Seafood night was $16.45. The snow crab legs make it worth it. These were some of finest I've had on any buffet, gourmet or otherwise. For starters, they are hot. They also have them cold, but IMHO, crab legs are meant to be eaten warm. These were not the puny variety either. You could crack them open and have the entire chuck of meat come out at once. Gold Coast had the other seafood stuff such as raw oysters, crawfish, clams, shrimp, fish, etc, but the crab legs are the big hit. Our last day was Friday. Did a little gambling, visited with Ben Speidel (runs Slots-A-Fun) and ate the buffet at Orleans. You can't go wrong at the Orleans for the price. Instead of heading back to Chicago, I left Vegas Friday to run the Carlsbad (CA) half-marathon with my daughter on Sunday. Unfortunately, the chilly weather in Vegas was in San Diego, as well.