Saturday 5/19 (2.0 miles) For the first time ever, we had a trip that didn’t start before the crack of ass (which is way earlier than dawn). Did a little prior research and realized we can get in the Passport club (our airport’s version of a frequent flyer’s club) with our Amex card. Hurray. We love the Passport Club! A nice quiet refuge to watch tv, get coffee, a diet Coke and chill out while waiting to board our plane. Since Savannah is the home of Byrd Cookie Company, you can even get small cookie samples. Boarded the plane, pushed off, and the plane flipped a warning light on the way to take-off. We returned to the terminal, had a mechanic check things out and talk to ATL, and we finally took off around 35 minutes late. So that meant our 50 minute layover in Atlanta would be totally shot. After an exasperated gate agent threw her arms up in despair and told all the late arriving passengers to form a single line, we decided we couldn’t wait and we just took off to find a gate listing. Holy Moly! We had to get from terminal E to A to make the connector for our Las Vegas flight! We ran down our terminal, took the shuttle, and ran up to the gate. There were a couple of guys dealing with the gate agent as we ran up, boarding passes in hand. The gate agent told the two men to stand aside and dealt with us. He made eye contact with them and said “you are NOT making this flight, these are the last two passengers”. So, we almost had our seats given away! We walked down the jetway and they closed the door behind us. WHEW! Barely,barely made it. Such a relief, but now we are starving. We didn’t have time to pick up a snack and had a long flight ahead of us. Thank doG for a pack of Nabs, and some peanuts in the carry-on. We scarfed them down like we hadn’t been fed in weeks. Don’t you think it always feels like the flight attendants take twice as long to make it to you when you’re in desperate need of a snack? A little bumpy air as we got closer to LAS, but so thankful to be back in Happytown! We waited for our luggage at the luggage carousel, but knew better. Figured it wouldn’t show up since we had to run our butts off to make the flight ourselves. So there wouldn’t be any way our luggage made the no layover connection. It didn’t, but no big deal, Delta did right for us and delivered it to the hotel later. Off to the rental car center! Easy as can be, especially since we only had to deal with our carry-ons. Rented from Alamo this time and got a great rate of $129 for the week (including fees and taxes, using my AARP card). There weren’t a ton of choices so we got a Dodge. At least the price was right. So now we were off to South Point. South Point has been good to us, and we know the layout pretty well so it was easy getting in and settled. The front desk process wasn’t special, but it wasn’t bad either. We let them know we would be expecting a luggage delivery. Nice comfortable room and comfy bed too. We immediately headed down to Steak N Shake to take care of our hunger. So, so, so, very happy. Delicious burger, fries, and even split a hot fudge sundae. I may have the palate of a preschooler, but I would often be happier eating this than some frou-frou meal. This meal really perked us up. Played a little at South Point. Our wins/losses equaled out for the day. We were so tired from all of the running and time change. Hit the bed early to start out early Sunday. Slept for a while, got up in the middle of the night to get luggage, then back to bed. Sunday 5/20 (2 miles) We woke up early and had to wait for the buffet to open. Great! It opens an hour later on Sunday and we’re starving. Too bad we didn’t get up a little earlier for the Cab Driver’s specials in the Coronado Cafe. We gamed a little waiting for the buffet to open. Ashley was even, Daryl was up $10 at breakfast playing HexBreaker. Great buffet at South Point with the players club discount, plus a 2-for-1 coupon & then off towards Windmill Lane to the Massage School. It was the last day of 2 for 1, so we got both massages for a total of $32! EXCELLENT! Walked to Smith’s at the other end of the shopping center to get some bottled water and Diet Cokes. We went over to check out the Container Store at Town Square near Mandalay Bay. If you are really neat and organized this place is like the Holy Grail. Very cool stuff, but we didn’t end up buying anything. Couldn’t find any place to park close to the shops so we didn’t get to take in Town Square today. Fry’s seems to keep making it on our “next time” list. We went for our dinner reservation at Primarily Prime Rib in South Point. This place is so excellent. It has great prices, great food, and is great for people watching. This older couple that looked like character actors from a mafia movie showed up. He was in a dark suit toting a vase of long stemmed roses, she in her black wrap edged in a feather boa. I would have loved to ask their story but they seemed to be celebrating. We had a coupon for free dessert (got that one from a check-in coupon book) and enjoyed their chocolate cake. It was a very nice meal. We did some gaming before heading to bed, no great wins or losses. We are really looking forward to our first stay at Hotel 32 on Monday. Monday 5/21 (3 miles) Up early, so we headed to Peppermill for breakfast. This early, the strip doesn’t have much traffic, or many pedestrians, and it’s a great drive. OH.MY.GAWD. There isn’t enough adjectives for Peppermill. We had been rolling on our “do it next time” list for a while and now I don’t know why the heck we waited so long. The diner/restaurant was kitschy cute, the food was ginormous and delightfully good, the waitresses were adorable, made up slightly pin-up style, and attentive, everything about it was great. SHARE AN ENTRÉE! We ordered something for each of us and it is just too much food. Later on we were thankful we took the blueberry muffins to go. They were greatly enjoyed later in the trip. A good sign of how the trip was going was that Ashley got a call from work and it didn’t even stress her out. No worries here in Happytown. Now it was time to roll to the Big Monte. Hurray! I don’t know what it is, but the valets at the Monte Carlo are the nicest, most pleasant, and helpful people around the strip. They are a really nice “welcome” to the property. It sets a really great tone for your stay. We told them we had been there before, but this was our first time staying at Hotel 32 and to please help us navigate where we needed to go. They whistled for a bellhop and we were walked from the front door to VIP. There was one weird lady sitting in the corner opening a great number of pharmacy bags talking to herself about her bronchitis. I wanted to make a sign of the cross with my fingers and scream “BACK!” but figured hotel staff might not like that. Check in was easy and our bellman handed off to another VIP bellman that walked us to the elevator bank and escorted us to Hotel 32. He talked about the hotel and answered questions as we rode up. He then introduced us to Joel, the manager upstairs. Joel was great. He showed us the lounge and then walked us to our door, explained the amenities, and left us to settle in. Ashley had to wait for everyone to leave for an extended squeeeeeeeeee of joy. A pretty room, shower big enough to do yoga stretches in, robes, slippers, chocolates on the bed, raspberries, blackberries, and enough happy vibe to make you want to sing and dance. They left the TV on “fish vision”. Best channel ever. Bubble sounds and a long loop of fish swimming in an aquarium. Very chilled out and soothing. It really felt like the absolute perfect kind of place to book a honeymoon. It’s just that warm, pampered, soothing kind of place with exquisite service. I can’t say enough for how wonderful they make you feel. We had room 32-027. After checking in, we made the trip across the street to the ABC store and thought we’d look in Ross. This is the first time we’ve ever been inside Ross on the strip. If you haven’t been, imagine the world’s biggest yard sale with people being afraid that factories may stop making clothes tomorrow. People have Ross’s bushel barrel size shopping bags FULL of stuff, and a check-out line that never seemed to go down, even with about eight cashiers working. We couldn’t get over that place. One place on our “must” list for every trip is McMullan's. I can’t stress this enough – go during happy hour!!!! Many of their “starter menu” items are half off from 3 to 6 in the afternoon and 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. in the evening. Great food, service with attitude (but in a good way), and they have a great bar. Some recommended food/drink: shepherd’s pie, Irish nachos, and try the bits ‘o beer. Gamed forever on vp for $5 along with great drink service tonight! Kudos to Monte Carlo! Daryl is down for night - Hexbreaker & vp were not kind to him. Tuesday 5/22 (3.5 miles) We headed down the hall to check out the lounge this morning. Great coffee!! Today, we decided to try out the Black Bear for breakfast. It’s on Trop past Orleans and McMullan’s. Absolutely delicious. They have fresh squeezed orange juice (yes, you read that right) and biscuits as good as your momma made. The only note I’ll make about places in Las Vegas for breakfast, is be careful about drink prices!!! Many places will charge four freakin’ bucks for an OJ, not to mention whatever crazy price for coffee. So if you decide to not to the buffet thing, you sometimes pay a lot MORE due to beverage pricing. This seems to apply pretty much everywhere. If you’re trying to be economical, go someplace like a Stations Casino buffet and use their player’s club discount. The eats are great as are the prices. Today’s “try something new” agenda is the Aveda Institute. It’s on Trop at Eastern in a little strip center where Freed’s was before their recent move. This is a beauty school where you pay rock bottom prices for them to try new skills on you. We opted for the facial and it was the bomb! Change into your wrap & robe and get started on the journey. They explain what they’re going to do as they give you a footbath. No lie! You pick out a foot rub or hand rub. Then you lay back enjoy your facial. And they even give you a mini backrub at the end. Pure wonderment! Daryl had never had a facial and he said he would definitely do it again. I had Toni and Daryl had Rosie. They were both terrific ladies! Tried another “something new” and we went to the Springs Preserve. It was nice, but they didn’t have a lot of activities going on the day we went. I’m sure it’s hopping on the weekends though. It was cool to see chipmunks!!! After a short break at the room, we headed down for dinner at Brand. Now this is seriously funny. Last trip we enjoyed this great special. It was $20/head for a Kobe beef burger and a domestic beer. Ashley even sent Brand a message on Facebook to make sure the special was still ongoing. Yes it is, they said. Got there and the waitress (Ms. Happy, herself) went back and forth to the back to finally tell us you had to have a coupon and that deal wasn’t on until the weekend. Okay, that was seriously annoying. What to order now? Look at the happy hour specials (5 to 6 p.m.) and its $9 for two Kobe sliders, with fries, and $5 for domestic beer or Skyy Vodka cocktails. So we were cheaper to NOT get the “special” that they wouldn’t give us. LOL. Are you kidding me?!? So we were in it for only $28, instead of the $40 we paid last time. So funny! Gaming for the evening… Ashley ended up even, we won’t discuss Daryl. Wednesday 5/23 (4.0 miles) Hotel 32’s lounge was having a great morning. They had tiny cubed up watermelon & we tried out some delicious fancy pressure cooked coffee. We are feeling spoiled and happy. We started off the day heading for Henderson & Green Valley Ranch. With our LVA coupon we got our GVR breakfast buffet for $5 total. Not to mention we absolutely love the buffet at GVR. Gaming was about even. Ashley gamed a long time in the non-smoking which she really enjoyed. I think I was up about $10 after a looong session. After GVR we headed for Fiesta Henderson. Fiesta was an absolute money suck for Ashley. Daryl spent a while on the 50 play video poker & also participated in the senior slot tourney. Wednesdays are bonus points for 50+ folks. After Fiesta we headed downtown. We park at the Nugget and validate our parking by the cashiers’ cage. Then we took a look at the D. Gaming was not good there. We went in Four Queens, back through the Golden Nugget. We probably did the best at the Plaza, had the most fun there. We were impressed with the way that place looked. We didn’t see it before the renovations, but it looks good now. They were redoing the Swingers Club and taking out the mini-golf. I swear the odds on this trip felt WAAAAY worse than on the Strip. WTH? Dinnertime now, so we decided to find out the new location of Carluccio’s. It was easy to find and imagine our joy when we found out the most excellent Freed’s bakery is right next door. Hurray!!! As usual, we enjoyed our meal of lasagna and baked meat filled tortellini at Carluccio’s. Then off to Freed’s. Freed’s cookies were good (they’ll let you sample) but the freakin’ walnut frosted brownie was chocolate lusciousness. When we pulled up at the Monte Carlo, the valet saw the Freed’s box and just about drooled. He was so happy to get a tip & a cookie. LOL. Did a little time on the slots at Monte Carlo and Daryl fell in love with Ghostbusters when he turned $40 into $190. It was an excellent session, indeed. Thursday 5/23 (5.7 miles) Since we knew we would be having lunch, we wanted a really light breakfast. We grabbed an excellent ham, egg, and cheese sandwich from the Hotel32 lounge and a coffee. Walked across to MGM since we always enjoy going to Television City and watching one of the new upcoming shows. As we walked in, we see a stage is set up for the upcoming UFC fight and a gold lion is in the middle of the octagon. As has happened once before, Daryl and I BOTH were picked to be in focus groups and had to return to Television City later in the day. When we walked out of MGM we see UFC fighters Dos Santos and Mir being interviewed in the set they built in the lobby. There were television cameras set up, and a small crowd beneath the stage. That was pretty cool to see. We have some friends through greyhound adoption that we met for lunch @ The Yardhouse. Great food & company! Rush back to MGM for the focus group. Ladies were 2:45 and men at 3:45. The most interesting part of being part of a focus group is not the show that you’re discussing, it’s finding out how similar or dissimilar you are to mainstream America. That can be really eye opening. Give your opinions, and get $50 cash at the door. Not bad for an hour’s worth of venting. LOL. Ashley hit the pool. Monte Carlo can be crowded, but it wasn’t too bad that time of afternoon. The wave pool, music, lazy river, and festive mood is always enjoyable. Daryl shows up at the pool after I’d been there for 20 minutes or so. Too many men showed up for the discussion, so Daryl and two other guys got paid the $50 for their time and were released. We grabbed a little bit of yogurt from the yogurt/crepe shop at MC while walking over to Cosmo. Didn’t spend long inside Cosmo, since we just wanted to stop at Kidrobot, and we’ve not done very well with the gaming there. So many fun things at the Kidrobot store. If you want to know the quickest route, it seems to be… Monte Carlo monorail, take the Crystals stop, go down 1 floor, walk past the waterspout art, just a short walkway outside, right into Cosmo. Went back to Monte Carlo, where we both played Ghostbusters, and gave back some of our earlier winnings. Ashley played a little Video Poker. No great losses/wins. Boy, was it windy today. You could see the dirt blowing across the entire city and the trees leaning over all day! Friday 5/25 (3.2 miles) Ashley had been doing a lot of pre-Vegas research and wanted to try Grouchy John’s coffee. They get their coffee beans, sandwiches, and snacks locally and she was intrigued. They had absolutely delicious coffee. They have a wonderful artist featured too. He has different size artwork hanging on the wall in the shop. It reminds you of graffiti art, and he is quite good. Ashley bought a mini painting while we were there. Since we love the earlier meal we had with them, and the price was right, we headed back to Green Valley Ranch for breakfast. Great choice, we felt. It was a nice bookend to a fun trip. Gaming at Green Valley: Ashley was up $8, and Daryl was down (there’s been a trend since Thursday). Since it’s the last full day in Las Vegas, we’re trying to wrap everything up, so Ashley needed to go to one of her favorite chain stores that we don’t have at home, Lush. They have lots of natural soaps, lotions and potions here. The ice blue soap is really popular in our house and we always buy Ashley a fresh face mask since you can’t get them online (you have to refrigerate them, but they do fine in the belly of the plane until you get home). We head back to the room for a little rest before heading to NY-NY to get a couple of cookies for the plane ride home. This is a serious tradition. They are chocolate chip w/ walnuts, and you find them at the bakery/sandwich shop just off the casino floor by the escalators. If you get a GOOD server, they’ll saran wrap them. If you get a crappy one, you’re on your own. LOL. We always pack a few baggies for storing goodies on our trips. Since we normally eat early (east coast bellies), we can save a good amount of money hitting happy hour specials. We tried to hit the Metro Pizza special but that’s only Mon-Thurs. DOH! It was oh so good though. You get fresh bread while you wait. MMMMMMMM, carbs. We split a pepperoni and beef pizza with Metro crust (slightly thicker crust). YUM. Ashley had a glass of Chardonnay at the VIP lounge in the lobby of MC after Metro. It always seems that Thursday and Friday turn into a money suck, and this trip was no different. Ghostbusters just took money and took money. The Wednesday bonus sessions were not to repeat tonight, so we were down for the night. Packing for the trip home is always a bummer. We have to get up at 3AM LAS time to catch our early flight out. But, that’s 6 AM home time, so not too bad. Saturday 5/26 We got all packed and headed down to check out. After checking out, I went to the garage to get our car and was about blown off the walkway to the garage. It was very windy and the temperature had dropped overnight to 55 degrees! That’ll wake you up. I wonder what it was with the wind chill factor. Ashley wondered what was up when the bellman had her wait inside while he took the bags outside and waited by them until I showed up with the car. That was very considerate of him. She also got to enjoy the parade of drunk girls cabbing it back to the hotel. One hit the revolving door like the splat of a lovebug on the windshield. Priceless! Returned the rental car and didn’t have to rush to the airport. After the patdown, we got a BK breakfast sandwich and flew back home. No free movie on the trip back (booo!). That’s the only thing about the monitors in the headrests, you don’t get a free movie. Yet, you see the listings in your Sky magazine of what’s the free movie, but it shows up for $6 when you pull it up. Can’t they make that one free? Huh?! Okay, so I’m whining now that the trip is over. Honestly, even though the gaming was pretty stale this trip, we had fun and can’t wait to go back again this September. Thanks for making it to the end of our saga.