This was the third trip to Vegas this year for my son and I. After the first couple days, I began to wonder if this was too much Vegas. In fact, I wished I was back home, but, by the time we left, I was glad we came. A major reason for not wanting to be in Vegas was losses encountered at the craps tables. For a 24-hour period from Monday-Tuesday, it was a broken record - make a point and 7-out. The Hilton ($45 a night POV coupon), where we stayed the first two nights (Sunday and Monday), got several hundred dollars from me. The Bellagio tables also got a piece of me. I wasn't even in the mood to play, but went ahead anyway. To compound matters, we both picked up players cards at the Bellagio and Hilton as a way to chase comps. Big mistake. I wasn't as relaxed as I normally am when throwing the bones. I had been on a hot streak for the last year and a half, but found myself never getting into the flow this time. I was ready to bolt town Tuesday morning and fortunately, we had pre-planned an overniter at Mt. Charleston. That felt so good to leave town and get out into nature. I didn't escape unscatched though. On the way to Mt. Charleston, we stoppd at Texas Station for lunch and to use a match play. I won the match play, but, instead of leaving, I threw a $100 down and took the odds on the pass line. Sure enough, after a point was made, it was seven and out on the next roll. One problem with going to Mt. Charleston is that it still had snow on it. I didn't expect that at this time of year, but I gues it was a snowier than usual winter. All I had was tennis shoes, but with some trepidation, plunged on anyway. Once we began climbing, my mind cleared and the gamblings losses were forgotten. There were a few places we had to leave the trail to navigate around the snow, but managed to reach 10,000 feet. It is difficult to find a decent camping spot on Mt. Charleston (it's very rocky), but we found one about 2-miles from the peak. It was fantastic. As we looked to the east, we could see Vegas and beyond. To the west, we could probably see 60-90 miles, easily into California. It was a crystal clear afternoon for viewing. I had earlier queried folks on this board as to the temps on top of Mt. Charleston. I never got an answer, but am here to tell you it was about 30 degrees at night. We had a tent and 32-degree bags, but still got cold sleeping. Still, with the million-dollar view and the entire mountain top to ourselves, how could one complain. We attempted to scale the peak (11,918), but there was too much snow. We had to turn back a mile short. Oh well, after having made the climb and spent the night under the stars, I began to feel allright about the trip. If any of you get bummed out about your gambling losses, I recomend a hike on Mt. Charleston and a means for buffering the blow. Hell, bring a bag and spend the night up there when it gets warmer. We made are way back into Vegas Wednesday about noon, and beknownst to me, ken2v had e-mailed me about joining him for lunch at a mexican joint at Trop and Pecos. I didn't get the message in time and missed out on hooking up with him and Hurricane Mikey. Bummer. We checked into the Sahara for the next two nights ($39/night). I've never stayed at the Sahara, but was pleasantly surprised. We got a 20th floor Tangiers room with a combo Strip/pool view. The rooms have wear and tear, but I felt at home, much the same way I do when I stay at a couple other 1970-ish northside joints, the Stardust and Riviera. I stayed off the tables, but my son found his luck changing at a new haunt he discovered - the New Frontier. He went there for the craps 10x odds. He did quite well and convinced me to join him Thursday. That is, after I spent the afternoon at the Smithsonian Atomic Testing Museum on Flamingo. For $10 admission, you would be hard-pressed to find more info and displays on the era of atomic and nuclear testing than what is presented here. Plus, it was a afternoon reprieve from getting beat up on the crap tables, but, the New Frontier was calling. It's time to get back in the gambling saddle. I just never think to go to the Frontier. I got to admit, it was fun. The dealers were pleasant chaps, it was a low-key affair and the dice were hot. An added plus was the Frontier had some kind of Miss Nevada contest going on and several of the contestants were milling about the casino in skimpy outfits. My son was betting high enough (usually a $30 place bet on 6 or 8 and $10 pass line with full odds) stakes to be offered two comped nights. Sidenote - Before heading to gamble at the Frontier, I headed downtown to view the 100 couples getting married Fremont St and to meet ken2v. Once again, I just missed him. The next day (Friday), we got up early and drove to Salt Lake City to check on a recent real estate purchase. We didn't expect to get done so soon, so decided to drive all the way back to Vegas that same day. For you Salt Lake folks, that's not too bad of a drive. It took us about 6 hours each way. We got back into town at 11:00 p.m and grabbed a bed at the Gold Spike ($44). By the way, if anyone is really hungry and wants me two free complimentary Gold Spike Diner breakfast coupons, e-mail me. Saturday was our final day in town. From the Spike that morning, I walked up to the Old Mormom Fort by Las Vegas Blvd and Washington. They had a special presention and tour going on. On the way back, I peeked around in the Neon Junkyard (a couple blocks south of the Mormom Fort). Next month, I believe on the second Saturday, the Neon Junkyard will be having an open house. The final downtown stop was the city library across the street to use the internet to check-in for our flight. From downtown, we headed straight for the Bellagio. Our trip was two-fold - to get some of our money back we lost and to eat brunch. Not only did we both win, but my son's level of play was such that they comped up a brunch line pass. That was a great feeling to leave the tables up several hundred dollars, walk past a long line of paying customers and get a free meal to boot. That was our first official comp ever received and I can see why people chases them. I've got to admit, it got us stoked. Earlier in the week, I was ready to head back home and now, we're on top of the world. Notes: My son started out in a $500 hole at the Bellagio, but ended up $1,900 to the plus side. I rebounded, but still left town a few hundred down. Lessen learned - do not play craps if you are not in the mood. You have to be relaxed and feel it. Other than the dive known as Gold Spike, our lodging was just fine. Even with my losses at the Hilton, I enjoyed staying there. One of my summer Vegas pleasures is sitting by the pool with a good book and also taking an occasional perusal at bikini-clad womenfolk. This is not meant to offend anyone, but those tattoos are a turn-off to this appreciator of the female form. We did buffets all the way through. Dinner at GVR and brunch at Bellagio were the top two experiences. Rio was down a bit from what I remember in February. Still, with the $5 off coupon, you can't beat it for lunch. Since we stayed at the Sahara and had a 2-1 buffet, we checked it out. I hasn't gotten any better than the last time we were there in 2002. The Gold Coast Thursday night seafood buffet was also a bit of a disappointment. It was okay, but that's all. The crab legs were warm, but mediocre quality. Even though I was in a cranky mood at the time, the lunch buffet at Texas Station passed muster. I've always enjoyed the Tex-Mex touch with the different chilis, fajitas and the like. We used SWA and Dollar and were very satisfied. Next Vegas trip - mid July with another one at the end of August.