This trip report encompasses Tuesday evening May 6 – Monday evening May 12, 2014 Transportation: Flew SWA out of Austin at 8:20 p.m. and wow was I surprised to see so few on the flight…..like 40 total…..everyone had a row to themselves if they so chose. I was happy with that as I had worked on departure day and needed the rest. Arrived on time and cabbed it to the Orleans for 23 $ including a generous tip for the freak job I had as a driver. After three nights at the O I left on the shuttle about 10:00 a.m. arriving at Bally’s to unload and walk it over to the Harrah’s for the 10:50 a.m. shuttle to Sam’s Town. I know I know, but 6 nights I have plenty of time to waste around doing stuff like this. Get to ST and take the 11:25 a.m. shuttle to Fremont. Ten minute lay-over for scheduling purposes finds me hoofing it to California Hotel beating the bus by 3 minutes or so. The WAX to the airport. What a 2 $ dream vs. cab or shuttle. CAUTION!! The online schedule is outdated…..You need to check the paper schedule or read the one at the stop for accuracy. Not me. I found the stop on one of my ventures under the canopy and used the internet schedule. It all worked out and just gave me more time to view the freak show now known as the Fremont Street Experience. I can now answer Jimi’s question of whether I have ever BEEN experienced…..Indeed I have. Arrived in plenty of time and check-in went smooth. However the crosscheck in the cockpit did not go so smoothly and we had to return to the gate for mechanical issues. Two hours late we are in the air and touchdown 2:05 minutes late due to weather issues upon landing. Get in the Elantra and am home by 11:05; 1:45 minutes later than expected. Accommodations: Stayed at the Orleans three nights (2 night offer with one night comped additionally) and then down to the Hotel California. Orleans is the Orleans. I love it and stayed in one of the older rooms….797 which was fine but worn. Bed was comfy and hot water plentiful, even as it quickly went down the drain (a +). Love the short elevators to the 9th floor. Each morning I would go up to 9 and cross over to go to 20 for a newspaper (ok, a USA Today but still) hitting the 21 button as I got off as well as the down elevator button to allow it to return for my trip down the coffee shop for breakfast paper in hand. The Hotel California was on a 2 night offer as well and ended up having the pre-paid 3rd night comped as a result of play. I liked the Hotel. 1815 was the room; west tower facing east. The evaporator units were slowly turning for the entire stay and if “white noise” is your thing this is your hotel. A low hum as the propellers whirled cut out all other (if there was any) noises. I REALLY liked that when hallway doors closed they didn’t end with the SLAM you get at the Orleans and other stays. You had to be sure it closed but it closed easily and with little noise for the neighbors. I like that in the early a.m. or late p.m. Courtesy is a good thing. Loved the refrigerator and the bed. Shower was a bit low and had to stoop to wet / rinse hair after the obligatory shampoo. Older faucets / shower stall but adequate for the price of 0 $. Maid service was adequate as well and truthfully I never saw him/her. Elevator was punctual and without problems. Safe was kind of silly but better than hiding behind the headboard I suppose. I didn’t use it though. Foodies: Ate at the coffee shop at Orleans for breakfast. I find if you order specifics the food comes and is actually good. For example they have a make your own omelet with pricing for ingredients. I ordered ham, tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers cooked well done with bacon crisp, sourdough without butter (dry) and here it comes and there it goes. Ate at the Prime Rib Loft both dinners and had t-bone first night and gambler’s cut (?) (24 oz) with mashed potatoes and green beans. Damn it is good there and if you haven’t ever tried it you could look at the menu on line and check out the prices. Ate at the bar and watched the end of the basketball game with Spurs one night and OKC the other. Friendly but not overbearing bartender attention. Always do this when flying solo as a reservation is not necessary. Downtown ate at the coffee shop in California and would not recommend it at all. NO cream for coffee and a really indifferent attitude as to whether you were satisfied or not. You live and learn. But it was a Saturday morning and didn’t want to do the Main Street Station buffet as it was “Champagne”….Sunday morning went to Dupars for pancakes. Had the short stack (wimp) and there was more than I needed. Left about 1/6th for the disposal. Service was pathetic. To get a refill on coffee was an act of Congress and that has lately ground to a halt. Bill was 11 $ something and tipped 2 $ just because I can’t not. But it was pretty poor. Seems the staff was more interested in entertaining themselves than service. Whatever, it WAS 6:45 a.m. and maybe they had worked all night. GREAT pancakes though. And they had cream for your coffee (all three cups) Went to Main Street Station for the Prime Rib Buffet on Saturday night (comped from pit) although at 13.99$ it was a steal if you asked me. Had Prime Rib (not as good as from the menu at Prime Rib Loft @ Orleans but still good enough for 3 portions) and butterflied fried shrimp until I thought they would ask me to leave….so I had one less shrimp and left on my own accord. I can’t tell you exactly but having grown up on the Texas coast there is a taste and olfactory sensation when biting into shrimp that tells you it is fresh and it WAS there. It was orgasmic without being messy….and very close to as much fun but not quite. Rice pilaf, blanched green beans, mashed potatoes and fresh corn off the cob were also present and devoured with much pleasure. Service was great but alas, when having coffee it was 1% milk; no cream…. I would go back and pay. It was that good. (Meat and potatoes guy speaking here) Had the rib ;eye at Pasta Pete’s back at California and at the bar (again comped from the pit) and can say it was tasty as well…..It was not the 1.5 inch thick rib-eye with bone in up rather a thinner cut cooked very well for a medium order…..(very well done on the medium so very good). Had a Sam Adams with the meal and was happy to go to bed Sunday for the departure in the a.m. with a smile on my face. Departure day had coffee with cream at the ice cream place on the way to Main Street walk-over and a banana muffin. Yummy….The double scoop sundae is good as well (a weak moment as I found alternatives to gambling with money and merely gambled with my livelihood…..AND they take points for payment so it was painless…..sort of. Gambling: Orleans shows no love. I lasted 5 of 6 sessions but left a loser in each. One session found me double my buy in but it didn’t make up for the other deficiencies in performance. Hotel California. I don’t know how to explain it but when I was stationed in Japan back in the 1970’s to avoid the draft to Vietnam (or so I thought) I was enamored with the people. Simple, honest and oh so helpful to an American who came from a country that dropped the big one. I never forgot going to Sapporo or Tokyo and experiencing the culture as you do in any big city. The Hotel California is loaded with Asians and mostly Hawaiian. Craps there is like a right of passage as it seemed there were family members or long long long time friends circling the tables taking out 500 or 1000 $ markers and poking fun at the betting or lack of sustaining an hour long roll. It was very relaxed and when one would 7-out there was much cajoling and poking of fun in such a way that when the inevitable happened, you weren’t chastised for the dreaded 7, but embraced as if it had ONLY been ONE more roll, we would be sooooo much better off. I recouped almost but not quite all my losses from the Orleans experience but had a great time drinking wayyyyy too many Stella’s as the time passed. Also made many friends you would see again in later sessions or on the elevator in later hours. It really was a fun experience. Final thoughts: I think I may visit the downtown area for the totality of the next trip in October and hopefully arrange my arrival time to take advantage of the WAX and it’s low fare. I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the tables and the clanking of coins as the winners were paid on the slots / vp. I hadn’t seen a dollar slot coin in over 15 years (where the hell you been looking) and hearing that heavy thud on the metal was a take me back moment. I loved the Main Street Station but did not go to the Brewery due to time constraints but have plans. Weather was great and look forward to the next trip…..