I was in between some big projects at work, and saw a brief window of opportunity to fit in a trip to our favorite vacation destination. Flew Southwest out of Orlando...non-stop Tuesday morning the 7th. Out of OIA at 7am and into Vegas at 9:10. Smooth flight. Empty seat between my wife and I. First win of the trip! Our good fortune continued as both of our bags were literally first on the luggage carousel. Off to the Rent a Car facility where we had rented a full size with Dollar for $182 for the week, tax inclusive. We are Express members and our vehicle (Dodge Charger) was waiting in an assigned spot. We were in and out within 10 minutes after examining the car for any dents or scratches. My sister and her husband, upon learning of our trip, decided to meet us. They flew in from Chicago and arrived at 9:30am. We were all hungry, and my wife wanted to try a place she had seen on the food network called Tommy's Hamburgers on Boulder Highway since we were headed to the Mike O'Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge overlooking Hoover Dam. Almost everything on the menu comes covered in chili, unless otherwise requested. The burgers were pretty good, and the chili had a little kick, which we all enjoyed. After "lunch" we headed to the bridge overlook. Very windy on the day of our visit, but beautiful view. We walked all the way across the bridge snapping photos along the way. We learned that a few days later a man had jumped to his death from the bridge in the early morning hours. Sobering. After the bridge we stopped briefly at the Hacienda for a bathroom and blackjack break. We played for a little over an hour, everyone basically breaking even except for my sister who won $60. On the way back to Vegas, we stopped at the Eastside Cannery to take a look around. We spread out through the casino, agreeing to meet in an hour. Again, no major wins or losses to report. We had now decided to stop at Ellis Island for the barbacue using the LVA coupons. This was our first visit since the remodel and the new location was a nice touch. We ordered the full slab and were not disappointed. Total bill for the four of us came out to $39 plus tip. From this point we split up to our respective hotels. We were staying at the M Resort for the first two days, and Palace Station for the remainder of the trip. We had not stayed at either location before. The M was a Buy 1 night for $69 and get 1 night free mailer offer. The Palace visit was made through a host that contacted me after a drive by visit the last trip...she also made reservations for my sister and brother-in-law who we would meet up with in a couple of days. We drove out to the M and checked in. I was prepared to ask and pay for an upgrade to strip view and requested a high floor. The clerk said we were on the 11th floor and already were given a strip view as he handed us our room keys. Up to the room, and it was very nice. Great view looking at the strip and the pool. Bathroom had a separate tower and soaking tub which was slightly elevated so that you could see the view from the tub. If you wished privacy, there was an electronic shade that could be lowered in the bathroom as well. Wife really liked this room and put it up there with Red Rock. We walked downstairs and went to Baby Cakes, the 24 hour coffee shop for some gelato. After dessert, we were starting to feel the effects of the long day. My wife went back to the room to enjoy the tub, while I went to the sports book to watch the Blackhawks/Wild hockey game for a bit. When the Hawks lead seemed safe, I went up to grab some sleep. Wednesday was supposed to have been a pool day, but the weather was a little cool for that, in the low 70's. Up early (still on east coast time), we decided to head to out to Red Rock Casino to try our gambling prowess at a place that had been good to us in the past. Not so great this morning, but we did eat at the Feast Buffet using our LVA coupon. Great food and selection for a little over $7 plus tip for two. We now headed down to the strip, as my wife has wanted to go to the top of the Stratosphere for some time. We were there over 10 years ago, but had not been back since the newer thrill rides have been added. The LVA coupon provided tower admission for both of us for $18. All the thrill rides were operational this day, and it was great to see someone experience the Sky Jump, Insanity, X-Scream and the Big Shot up close. After our time at the Strat, we headed back to the M. We played for a bit and my sister and brother-in-law also joined in before we headed to dinner at the Studio B Buffet. I had a free buffet coupon from a mailer with a line pass good for 4 people. My sister and brother-in-law each had a free buffet without the line pass. I was prepared to pay for my wife's dinner, when the cashier asked if I had played that day. I said yes, and she said if you earned 450 points on your card in a day, the buffet was free. When she checked my card, I had 451 points. Another nice score, especially since I had a modest slot win as well during this time. Final tally.... 4 dinner buffets at the M for free (plus tip). Dinner was very good as usual, we were there around 6pm, and the constant crowd meant the offerings were continually fresh. After dinner we all decided to play a bit. I went to the blackjack tables while the others went to sample the slots. We met up a few hours later, and up a few hundred at the table, and my sister and brother-in-law also posted modest slot wins. My wife had a sheepish grin on her face, when I asked how she did, she whipped out a ticket for an $1100 slot win on Blazing 7's. This was her biggest slot hit ever and she was ecstatic. I bid my family farewell for the evening and said we'd meet up with them the next day at Palace Station. My wife went up to the room and I went back to the tables. I found an empty $25 double deck table and bought in for $300. A few hours later, I cashed out at $1300 for a nice $1000 win. Up to bed, both of us winners, and lamenting leaving what had been a good visit for each of us. We checked out and paid the remaining balance with some of our winnings from last evening. Thursday morning we were up and out early again. We were delaying breakfast since we were planning on visiting Caesar's Palace and the Bacchanal Buffet for a late breakfast, early lunch. We thought we'd spend a few hours at the Qua Spa and then head for lunch. We arrived around 8:30am and headed for the spa, with Diamond status the fee was $20 for me and $20 for my wife. Well worth the price. We each spent the next three hours relaxing and enjoying the amenities in the spa. We met up outside the spa entrance and headed to the buffet. All I can say about the Bacchanal Buffet is WOW. Prices are steep (it was around $70 for the 2 of us for lunch), but the selection and quality are almost unparalleled. My favorites were the sliders, the meatballs, and the Mongolian Beef. It's great that the portions are smaller to allow for more tasting. Excellent meal, and I'm glad that we did this once. Multiple visits might be cost prohibitive. As we've grown older, we don't eat as we once did. The dessert island had many different choices not usually seen like cake pops. Satiated by the great lunch, we headed over to check-in at Palace Station. We did not know what to expect. The accommodations were arranged for by a host who had contacted me a few months ago. We have stayed at Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch and like Station Casinos in general. We had a corner room which was larger with a king bed that fit into an alcove that jutted out from the building. The curtain around the alcove was electronically activated by a light switch to open and close. There was a separate couch and sitting area and a nice flat screen TV. The bathroom area was small, with a walk-in shower only. Nice counter tops and there was a make-up area outside the bathroom. The room was clean, the carpet slightly worn. Once we had checked in, since this was my wife's first visit here, we walked around for her to get the lay of the land. I knew that she'd be pleased with the Starbucks just off the tower elevators from the guest rooms. She enjoyed that she could use her slot points to pay for her coffee fix. We met up with my sister and significant other and gambled for a few hours. We had decided to go to a family favorite for dinner, Amore's Pizza and Pasta on Durango for a Chicago Style Pizza fix. They offer deep dish and thin crust and both are excellent! After dinner, back to Palace Station where my wife and I continued our gambling success, each posting modest wins. Me at blackjack, her at slots. Friday morning we got up and headed downtown for breakfast. We had purchased tickets online for a 10am tour at the Neon Museum. Breakfast was at Cafe Cortez. We enjoy the food and the monthly mailers provide several 2 for 1 meal vouchers. My wife and I both opted for the breakfast of champions, the Jackie Burger and a chocolate shake. Nice way to start the day. Over to the Neon Museum. Admission for the tour is $18. The tour is guided, and you will have multiple photo opportunities. Extremely informative. The tour is all outdoors, so if you plan to go during the summer, I would suggest an early tour, or they will soon begin offering night tours as well. After the tour we continued down to Main Street Station. We grabbed a flyer near the Player's Club and did the self guided antique tour. One of the securituy officers saw what we were doing and offered to take us up to the 2nd floor to see Winston Churchill's billiard table, and then over to the Pullman where he unlocked the door to the now closed restaurant and let us see the Pullman Train car and the ornate carvings on the wood mantle of the fireplace in the room. He did not rush us, and it was nice to take this in. While there, we signed up for the daily slot tournament ($10 with a players card). The four of us were the only ones in the Noon session, so we automatically made it to the final at 4pm. We spent the rest of the day venturing in and out of the downtown casinos, playing briefly at most of them...enjoyable time. We made it back for the 4pm slot tourney finals and the top 3 players are awarded cash prizes from all the entries of the day, while the fourth place person won "a prize". After our session ended, three of us knew we were out, but my brother-in-law finished in fourth to win "the prize", which in this case was a small carry bag we called his "man purse". We ribbed him good naturedly about it for the remainder of the trip. We did not have any concrete plans for dinner, and my sister suggested we head to Cafe Cortez, although we had eaten breakfast there, we didn't mind as the menu is varied enough and as mentioned earlier, the food is good. We also used a few more 2 for 1's from the monthly mailer and dinner came out to around $30 for the 4 of us. Back to Palace Station for more gambling although my wife hit a dry spell this evening, I pulled out a nice $300 win at blackjack. Another late night to bed, with another early morning ahead of me. On Saturday morning, we were up early to head to the Springs Preserve. We did not want a full sit down breakfast, so we ventured over to Ronald's Donuts on Spring Mountain Road near Chinatown. I had read some good reviews of this place and again it did not disappoint. My wife and I chose 2 donuts and an apple fritter to split and a large milk. The donuts were huge and I thought I heard incorrectly when the cashier said $5 total. What a bargain. They were all excellent! Stop by if you want a quick breakfast. After this treat, on to the Springs Preserve. We had purchased a membership which allowed us access to the paved biking path and other hiking paths at 8am. We rented a few bicycles and rode around the 2 1/4 mile loop a few times, seeing alot of wildlife through our ventures. We then used our membership pass for admission to the Nevada State Museum which is also on site. Not knowing what to expect, we were extremely impressed with this Museum. It had a history of Las Vegas from the prehistoric era to present day. Very nicely laid out, and extremely informative. The temporary exhibit across the hall had clothing styles from different eras in Vegas, with ensembles donated from collections from Frank Sinatra, Liberace, Sammy Davis Jr., among others. After the museum, we went to the Springs Cafe. This area is run by students from the UNLV Culinary program. Some high end offerings at a decent price, and there is an outdoor patio that overlooks Las Vegas from Downtown down through the Strip. Well worth the visit. We had made plans to meet up with my family downtown again at the El Cortez. We thought we would gamble a bit here and then head for our 5pm dinner reservation at the Flame. None of us felt any "love" from the machines or tables today, although we did spend a few hours gambling here. My wife and I enjoyed our time at the Flame as usual. She had a caesar salad and a filet and I had a Porterhouse and a French Onion Soup. We split a baked potato. We used our LVA coupon and dinner came out to about $35 plus tip. We left the El Cortez to go back to the M where we had tickets to see 1964...a Beatles Tribute Band. We thoroughly enjoyed the show. My wife is huge Beatles fan and her birthday is later this month, so I sprung this one on her earlier in the week, as I had ordered the tickets online once I saw they were playing while we would be in town. After the show, we played a little more at the M, my wife claiming a $200 win on slots, and I another $200 at blackjack. The M has been very good to us this trip. Back to Palace Station to close out the night. On Sunday, my brother-in law was slated to fly to Cleveland for business, while my sister would fly back to Chicago later in the day. My wife and I would fly out Monday morning back to Orlando. Since it was Mother's Day, we wanted to avoid a few of the bigger crowds for breakfast, so my wife and I used some food vouchers for Dupars at the Golden Gate. We had two $15 vouchers and our meals came out to $29...so free is for me. I actually ended up paying for this anyway as I headed over to a vacant blackack table. I bought in for $200 and was hoping to maximize my 2 for 1 LVA Blackjack coupon. I went through two eight deck shoes winning only three hands and no blackjacks. The dealer was very apologetic as she went through a stretch of 5 twenties, and three blackjacks. All I could do was chuckle as this was as surreal as it gets. When my $200 was gone I thanked the dealer as she apologized again. I might have taken this worse if I had not been in such a good streak the rest of the week. We headed back down to Palace Station to pick up my sister...my brother-in-law had already left for the airport. We headed over to the Orleans, one of my sister's favorites. Since she is a mom of four kids, I told her today was her choice. We spent the next several hours gambling. I lost a little at the table, but I got a nice $500 hit on a Wizrd of Oz Wicked Witch machine...love those flying monkeys! Made up for my losses at Golden Gate and at the blackjack table at Orleans earlier in the day. We all met up and my sister decided the next stop was Terribles, another one of her favorites. I settled in at a $10 table while watching a baseball game on the big screen, my wife and sister went from machine to machine. No big hits or losses for them and I won $2 after an hour and a half at the table...a wins a win. Now was her choice for dinner, and she decided she wanted to back for more Pizza at Amore's. Her pick, my treat...Happy Mother's Day...I know I got off cheap as she could have chosen anything...I made several suggestions. After dinner, I dropped her off at the airport for her flight. We headed back to Palace Station where I planned on hitting the tables, but the long days and good food finally caught up with me. I thought I'd take a quick nap. I laid down at 10pm and the next thing I know it's 5am. My wife was awake and had us all packed, so we went downstairs for a last session in the casino. Feeling refreshed and still up a bit on the trip, I hit a $25 table. We thought we'd play a few hours and then grab breakfast before heading to the airport. At the two hour mark, I was up $400. I checked with my wife and she had hit two smaller slot wins for $200 and $250 respectively. We thought this was a good time to call it quits. We headed to the Grand Cafe' for the final meal of the trip. We were sad to be heading home, but thankful for a rare winning trip. We had a the couple of big hits, but the smaller hits were plentiful enough to sustain us the 6 days. The last morning cemented us going home winners. We returned the rental car, and the Southwest flight home went smoothly. I guess the final win of the trip was another empty seat between us on the plane ride home. Why is it that winning makes you want to go right back? If you've made it through to the end, thanks for reading!