BACKGROUND: MEâ€”I go to Vegas with my sister(s) and oldest son when it works for him to join us. I love downtown because of the inexpensive rooms, cheap food, short walking distances between casinos and better BJ gambling rules with lower table minimums. DAUGHTER: Paige turned 21 last October and announced she wanted a trip to Vegas for her 21st birthday. Being that I took my oldest son to Vegas for his 21st, I couldnâ€™t refuse her request. As luck would have it, on Christmas Day Allegiant was offering flights at a rate of $25.00 each way. Knowing that Paigeâ€™s finals were May 6, leaving for Vegas on May 10 was a perfect way to celebrate her 21st birthday and finishing her first semester of college. When Paige was 16 non-gambling husband and I took her to Vegas for spring break. We stayed at the Flamingo for the pool and the central location. The compromise was that we spent our last night downtown. Paige immediately loved downtownâ€”the street bands, spray painter, and the great people watching. Over the past few years she has been â€œtouringâ€ the country from coast to coast and lived in Vegas for a brief time. DISCLAIMER: It was Paigeâ€™s decision to stay downtown. She also was noncommittal regarding any visits to the strip and turned down my offer to stay at the Golden Nugget. I had received an offer from the Plaza for three free nights (4th night at $20.00) and $150 in free slot play. We decided that whatever we won from the slot play would be a 50/50 split. MONDAY, MAY 10: Due to Allegiant now charging $40 for each piece of luggage checked in, we decided to share one suitcase. We made plans to meet at my house at 10:00 so we could pack her belongings; stop by the bank for her to get some money; and go out for lunch before our flight. At 9:45 Paige arrives with laundry baskets of clothes needing help in picking out her Vegas outfits. Trying to stay calm, we went through every item she brought over. By the time we were finished, it made sense to first check in at the airport and then go to the bank. Being there was a long line at the airport, I told her I would hold our place and she and dad could run to the bank. (We have many things in common, however, organizational skills is not one of them.) My BIL works at the airport and managed to hold exit row seats for us. After checking in our bags and going to a nearby restaurant for lunch, we were finally heading for Vegas. A nice guy was sitting next to us who lives in Vegas. He was just returning from Hurley, WI where my daughter is currently living and he also attended the same college that Paige goes to. They had good conversations about the area and the college. He also was interesting to listen to regarding the current Vegas economy and the loss of jobs, businesses, etc. Due to the high winds in Vegas, the landing was not my favorite. Our cab driver, Brian, forewarned us that he was on hold with the court system trying to fight a recent speeding ticket. When he first placed the call he was #28 on the waiting list and was finally #10 when we got in his cab. He refused to hang up and start over again. Paige certainly understood his speeding ticket dilemma and we didnâ€™t have a problem with him being on hold during our ride to the Plaza. We stopped at QVC to pick up some mix and got all the details regarding his upcoming wedding plans. Cab ride was $30 including tip and by the time Brian dropped us off, he was now #4 on the calling list. At the registration desk, I was informed that the north tower was closed during weekdays due to a drop in the vacancy rate. I mentioned that I was hoping for a Fremont Street view as we were celebrating my daughterâ€™s 21st birthday. The clerk told us to wait a moment and went to check with his boss. We were given a room in the north tower. During our four night stay, we never met anyone in the elevators nor saw anyone in the hallway. We joked that we had our own private tower. I debated on posting a picture of our room, but thought what the heck. Obviously, it is nothing like the Wynn or Venetian, but we were happy with our view and being in Vegas. Time to get unpacked and make this our home away from home for the next four nights. Paige discovered her new $300 Ipod that she received from her boyfriend for her birthday wasnâ€™t in her bag that she had on the plane. The airplane was the only place she had unzipped her bag and she figured it had dropped out. Luckily, I brought some liquor with and I know my daughter well enough to know when to give her some space. I made a cocktail(s) and enjoyed the Fremont Street view as Paige made calls to the airline during her panic attack. A recording promised to return her call within 24 hours. Our first stop was the El Cortez for some food, cards, and cocktails. Due to the wind advisory, we made a beeline down the street. My sister Tammy and I have always referred to the white outline of the person on the cross light indicator as â€œwhite guyâ€. When we reached the first traffic light and the signal changed, I said we can go nowâ€”white guy. For some reason, Paige took offense to this so she renamed it. For the rest of the trip when the traffic light indicated we could cross, we both said â€œBill Whiteâ€. We ate using a 2:1 coupon and Paige said it was the best Tuna Melt she ever had. Finally, time for cards and cocktails. Paige must have decided that she would be safe combining her antibiotics and alcohol. The dealer immediately remembered me from my August trip. I hope Paige found this a compliment and not embarrassing. We played for about an hour and then braved the winds again and walked to the Gold Spike. After many hugs and catching up with my friend/pit boss Rita who I met last year, time for more cards. The little bit of profit that we made at the El Cortez didnâ€™t last long so time to move on with promises to return the following night. We found a great table at the California Club and a very speedy cocktail waitress. We played for hours with a couple from Hawaii named Suki and Garik. They were in town for a golf tournament that started that day. Iâ€™m sorry, but it is hard to imagine playing golf with 50 mph winds. Our dealer Mike was awesome and we named our table â€œTeam Michaelâ€. I told Mike that I was going to start a facebook fan club for him and wouldnâ€™t be surprised if we have over 1000 hits the first day. It was 1:00 a.m. and our body clocks were telling us it was 3:00 a.m. so time to call it a night. We left with a comp and a nice profit. When we got to the Plaza the slots were calling my name. Paige went to bed and I stayed up for another hour playing the slot machines. I wish I would have been smart like her and not listened to the nasty machines calling for me! TUESDAY, MAY 11 Despite the late night, I was still up at 7:00. It was obvious this was not to be the pool day that Paige and I were so looking forward to. It was almost as windy as Monday with a high predicted of only 71. If this were a typical trip, I would have gotten ready for the day and headed down to the casino. However, Paige and I spent a leisurely morning getting ready for the day. I drank two pots of coffee, watched some TV and watched her try on various outfits. We didnâ€™t leave the room until noon and went to the Market Street CafÃ© to use our comp from the evening before. Paige then treated herself to a manicure and pedicure with some of her profits. We played tourists and went through the shops downtown. We decided to take a break and went back to our private tower for some cocktails and more girl time. (It was now 4:00 p.m. and I still havenâ€™t gambledâ€”this definitely is a new record for me.) Three hours later we still havenâ€™t left our room yet. But it was enjoyable with great talks and some great hugs. I spent more time watching Paige try on many, many outfits. She did laugh at me when I spilt a drink on my white tank top and said to her â€œdonâ€™t talk to me when Iâ€™m drinkingâ€. I guess I am not great at multi-tasking. On our walk to the Cortez a guy started talking to us while we were waiting for â€œBill Whiteâ€. He told us he was a joke writer and proceeded to pull out narrow strips of paper from his back pocket with jokes he had written. The first joke had something to do with marijuana that neither of us understood. His second joke wasnâ€™t any funnier. However, when he wasnâ€™t reading his jokes, he actually was funny. I told him he just should be himself as that was when he was actually humorous. We played cards for a short while with no luck. Paige used her $20 in free slot play and I used my $15. An employee on his way out the door for the night started visiting with us while we were using our free slot play. An hour later he was still talking with us and I figured he might as well take a picture of us. As promised, we walked to the Gold Spike. However, Rita was out sick and our last two nights in town were her days off. She left a message with the dealers for me to email her when I got home so we could make plans to go out when I return in August. One player at our fun table said he was an Ice Road Trucker on the show of the same name. His name was Dale Smith and he promised to send me an official Ice Road Trucker t-shirt. (One trip several years ago the sisters and I each made up occupations in case anyone asked us, i.e. pig farmer, proctologist, etc. This did make me wonder if Dale was just pulling my leg.) My husband loves the show and when I showed him his picture, he thought he looked vaguely familiar. It will be interesting if Dale does come through and mails t-shirts to us. Off to the California Club which became Paigeâ€™s favorite casino. The table was good, great people, great dealers and friendly pit boss. So far this trip Paige had not been carded and kept pouting about it. So I asked the pit boss to please make her stop whining and to please card her. After being over-served by a speedy waitress, it was time to call it a night at 3:00 a.m. WEDNESDAY, MAY 12 Both of us were moving very slow and needed food ASAP, especially when we realized we hadnâ€™t eaten for over 24 hours. We had another great breakfast at the Market Street CafÃ© (comp from previous night). The wind finally died down and the temperature was in the low 70â€™s. We managed to lie at the pool for 30 minutes before the clouds appeared. Neither of us were feeling great so we lounged around the room for several hours. We both took cold showers, and not by choice. For some reason, Paige insisted that her shower was colder than mine. Sometimes there is not much sense in arguingâ€”cold is cold! Paige went to the vending machine on our floor to get a Sprite. She came back with a hot bottle of pop that was passed the expiration date. We finally left the room at 3:00 and played dollar slots at the Plaza using my $150 in free play. Luckily it was free play or I would have been down $150. I kept asking Paige if she wanted to go to the strip, shop, or see a show. She was more than content to just continue hanging around downtown. We went to the Golden Nugget so Paige could sign up for a playerâ€™s card. She got $6.00 in free slot play and managed to turn that into $75.00. We ate at the MSS using a 2:1 coupon for the buffet. The food really made us tired so we went back to the room for another rest. Paige was having issues deciding what to wear for the evening. After trying on at least a dozen outfits I could see the possibility of a meltdown in her future. I told her I was going downstairs to play some slots and call me when she was ready. She was in a much better mood when she came down to the casino. She probably had outfit #2 on. On our way out, we stopped at the front desk to tell them we had no hot water, no toilet paper and no towels. There was a Southwest employee street party on Fremont Street and two blocks were roped off. Because the streets were so crowded we walked down to the El Cortez for some more cards. At our table Paige was saying she still wanted to learn roulette. A guy sitting with us offered to teach her (.25 cent table). I stayed at the BJ table with Debbie, the dealer. She told me to be careful as the guy that Paige left the table with had a friend with him that was a shady character and couldnâ€™t be trusted. Because there was a post between the roulette table and where I was sitting, I was unable to see where Paige was. Debbie continually gave me updates regarding if Paige was still sitting at the roulette table. Thankfully, Paige has some good sense because when the two guys invited her to go to their car and smoke marijuana, she told them absolutely not. We headed back to our room at 1:00 with great people watching along the way. We passed one woman wearing the shortest dress I have ever seen with part of her bottom showing. I asked Paige what she thought the woman was wearing under the dress. Paige replied â€œherpesâ€. Our room is now stocked with fresh towels, toilet paper and hot water. THURSDAY, MAY 13 We both had a great night sleep and woke up at 9:00. It was overcast and in the low 70â€™s so no pool time on our last day in Vegas. After another low key morning we walked to the Four Queens and ate at Magnolias. We did some packing so we would be organized to catch a cab at 4:30 a.m. for our 6:45 flight. Our hopes of spending the entire evening at the California Club didnâ€™t come to fruition. Every table we sat at, the dealer was hotter than the previous one. We made our rounds between MSS, Gold Spike and ended up at the El Cortez. One more meal so Paige could have another Tuna Melt. A really bad Elvis wannabee walked by and Paige just had to have her picture taken with him. At midnight it was apparent to me that cards were a losing battle and I decided to try to take a four hour nap. I set the alarm and called for a 4:00 wakeup call. Paige wasnâ€™t ready to call it a night so went downstairs to play some cards. She played with a group of guys who had never played blackjack before. She was the new card guru of the table. She certainly was a fast learner. When she came back to the room at 3:00, I still was awake. We went back downstairs for one last hour of cards. Because we didnâ€™t have enough time to venture out, we had to play cards at a table with a random shuffler. Between a woman splitting fours against the dealers ten, the third base man staying on soft 17â€™s and his smoke constantly going in the dealerâ€™s face, it was a fun end to our vacation. I normally would have left a table with such bad plays being made; however, we were both really tired and getting punchy. Paige had to try one more slot machine on our way out and put $5.00 in and immediately hit for $75.00. We went back to our room to get our luggage. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was the security guard making sure we were okay as we didnâ€™t answer the 4:00 wake up call. We both thought that was very thoughtful of the Plaza. We made it to the airport in record time. The ticket agent promised Paige that she would have someone get back to her regarding the IPod. The security lines were quick and we couldnâ€™t wait to board the plane to get a three hour nap in. While waiting to board, Paige checked on her computer to see what her grades were for her first semesterâ€”a 3.75. Now that was a perfect ending to a great trip! RANDOM THOUGHTS: --It was fun watching Paige during this trip. She was always the first one to greet new players at a table and introduce herself, asking their names and where they were from. She compliments people a lot, i.e., I love your earrings; those shoes are so cute, etc. She truly has a knack for making others feel good about themselves. She has grown to be a confident, caring adult. --Allegiant Air still has not returned her numerous phone calls regarding her lost IPod. Their recording says your call will be returned within 24 hours. She knows she wonâ€™t ever see it again, but it is now the principal of them not responding. Knowing her, she will call every day until she gets a return call. --Do not eat a Fiber One Bar right before boarding an airplane. --I noticed more prostitutes on Fremont Street this trip than ever before. --Gambling wise, it seemed I moved any profits made to the next casino. --I am patiently watching Allegiantâ€™s rates to drop so I can book a three sister/son trip August 6-13. --It was fun having Paige witness what I did on my annual vacations for all those years while the kids were growing up. --I think if a scientific study were done, it would be a proven fact that loving Vegas is hereditary. Paige canâ€™t wait to return. --I hope Paige has as many good memories of her 21st birthday trip as I do. It really was fun spending time with her in my favorite city.