Well, folks ... Vegas trip #57 is over, and here are the usual details for your perusal .... Our Southwest Airlines flight out of Chicago Midway was purchased back in May / 2015, when SWA opened the November ticket window. Our 10:30 am non-stop flight to Vegas was priced at $119 for each of us (Nancy and me), minus $60 credit from a previous re-booking. Added to that was our usual $12.50 each for the SWA Early-Bird check-in, making our total charged to our SWA - Visa only $203 ... and 406 SWA Rapid Rewards points. We had the same $119 price for our return flight on Nov. 11th, but that $238 was paid for with 13,662 points from our bank of Rapid Rewards. Our return Early-Bird fees, plus government taxes & fees, added on a separate $36.20 . Wednesday , Nov. 4 , 2015 : At 5:46 am, we catch our local Metra commuter train to the downtown Chicago Union Station ... and walk over to the "elevated loop" commuter "Orange Line", which takes us directly to the back entrance of Midway airport. With our pre-printed boarding passes, WITH the TSA Pre-Chk, we are easily through security in less than 2 minutes. And, after a McDonald's breakfast, it was only a 20 minute wait until we were lined up for boarding our 10:30 am "on schedule" plane. HOWEVER ... after everyone was boarded and strapped in, and the plane had pulled away from the gate, and was slowly moving toward our departure runway ... the plane quickly did a "360" turnaround, and returned to the gate area. It had been discovered that the official luggage count (in the underbelly) was in error, and had to be corrected and signed off on. Sheesh !!! Did we really have to waste 40 minutes of our departure on something like that ????? Needless to say, we arrived in Vegas 35 minutes late, at 1:00 pm Vegas time. After de-planing with all of our belongings, we immediately headed for the shuttle bus for the short ride to the car rental garage. We already have our Alamo reservation papers in hand, and head directly up to the Alamo level, and pick out our Nissan compact. This rental was priced at $150 (300 RR points on our credit card), and 2400 more RR points on an Alamo/Southwest promo code. The car was somewhat new, and had several scratches on it that I reported at check-out ... and had the keyless push-button ignition system, which took a few minutes to get used to. Upon leaving the car barn, we headed up to Tropicana Blvd., and drove east to a local Dollar tree store for a few supplies. Returning west on Tropicana, we stopped at the Orleans for a quick pair of Matchplay coupons (+10), and also at the Palms on Flamingo (+10). From there it was a quick hop across to the Gold Coast, where we would spend the first night. Check-in was quick & easy, with a room on the 7th floor close to the elevator, and we were soon down in the casino. Nancy registered us at the player's club with a 5X points coupon, and also registered on the Kiosk for the "Young at Heart" (seniors) drawing at 4:30. We played for about 2 hours, until the drawing ... but no luck there, like Nancy won at back in September. Time for dinner, and we decided to use our last LV Advisor 2/1 coupon for the RIO buffet across the street, with Harrah's card points for the remaining balance ... and had a delicious free meal. Back to our room at the Gold Coast for a little TV, but it didn't take very long before it nothing but ZZZZZZ's , after a long day from home. Tomorrow, we move downtown ..... Thursday , Nov. 5, 2015 : Up early, showered, dressed, and repacked ... we check out, no charges ... and head downtown to Main Street Station, where we will have a comped reservation for the next 6 days. Arriving at MSS, it's only 7:00 am as we enter the parking garage, so we leave our luggage in the car. Stopping at the hotel front desk, the clerk is happy to check on our reserved room, and temporarily checks me in for our first 3 nights (Nancy will have 3 follow-up nights), and tells us to come back at 10:00 am for the keys, and the room will be ready ... good deal !! With almost 3 hours to kill, we head for the MSS buffet for breakfast, and pay for it with some of my many card points. After a relaxing & filling breakfast, we head out into the casino ... Nancy to one of her favorite slant-top video poker quarter machines, and me to my favorite bank of Triple-Play video poker quarter machines ... with both of us playing 8/5 Bonus Poker (a 99.17% game). We are also registered with MSS for their month-long promo of 5X points on Video Poker, so any casino losses are easily covered in food comps using those many points. By 10:00 am, Nancy has changed machines 3 times, but I am still at my Triple Play machine, already holding five scratch cards for "Four of a Kind" hands (also for straight flushes). Checking in on our room, I get officially registered for Thurs.- Fri.- Sat., and I also request a coffee-pot & coffee supplies be delivered to the room. Nancy heads up to the room to wait for the coffee pot, and I head out to the garage to retrieve our luggage from the car. With all things now in the room, and suitcases unpacked, we head back down to the casino, to resume our VP activities. Nancy is still looking for that "lucky" machine, but I'm still hammering away at my Triple-Play, and earning more scratch cards ... almost all for $2 each, with a couple $3 cards ... but yet I'm somehow losing money !!! By 1:30 pm, after cycling & re-cycling about 9K through the machines, it's time for a Matchplay break. We first take a fresh-air walk over to the Plaza, and each play an LVA $10 coupon on the roulette table (-20). Getting the car from the MSS garage, we drive down to the Palms, and try their roulette table with one ACG - MP, and one LVA - MP (+10), and then to the Orleans, with a couple of ACG - MP's (+10), followed by a stop at the Tuscany with two ACG - MP's (-20). We profited $20, but were hoping for better. Along with my November room offer, also came two $15 dining vouchers, so we used one at the MSS dinner buffet, along with player points for a free dinner, with many nice selections. We're done gambling for the day with eyes weary, but before getting to the room, we stop at the player's club, and pick up a comp slip for tomorrow's breakfast buffet. Up in the room for the evening, with Nancy relaxing with a good book, watching TV, and me on my lap-top, grabbing a free signal from Fremont St. .... and eventually ... ZZZZZZZ. Friday , Nov. 6 : Today starts off with our usual breakfast buffet at Main Street Station, with very similar offerings as other weekdays, but still enjoyable, and we get to visit with many of the employees who we've made friendships with on previous trips. After breakfast, we return to our usual VP machines, always hoping for the elusive winning sessions. Unfortunately, today's sessions are worse than the previous days, losing about $350. We did have more luck on Matchplays, though ... Plaza (+10), Palms (+10), Orleans (+10) ... AND ... we took a walk over to the Downtown Grand. Here, we got registered for new player cards, getting 2 decks of playing cards, and redeeming ACG coupons for $10 matchplays, and LVA coupons for $5 free-play. Luckily, we had a double win with our MP's at the Roulette table (+40), played our free-play on VP machine (+14), and left with a $54 profit. The music at the Grand was not too suitable for a couple of 70 year-old seniors. And, on the walk back to MSS, I even found a shiny new quarter on the sidewalk !!! For dinner this evening, we used my second $15 voucher at the Market Street Cafe in the California casino. The food was good, but due to a full complement of customers, we were seated next to a waitress service room, with dishes banging around, and yet having slow service. I had the battered fish special, and Nancy had the jumbo hamburger plate, which were both mediocre. Fortunately, I was able to use my player points with my $15 voucher for another free meal. The tip was minimal ...... On the way back to our room, we stopped by the player's club, and picked up tomorrow's breakfast buffet comp (for 3). We are meeting an Illinois friend in the morning for the Saturday Brunch Buffet, and lots of friendly chit-chat. Saturday , Nov. 7 : Since we are meeting our friend, Jim, at 8:00 am for breakfast brunch at MSS, we were down playing in the casino at 7:00 am., losing $50 before I had a bite to eat. The weekend morning "Brunch Buffet" is always somewhat more special than during the week, as extra offerings are available, as well as champagne. I think we talked more than we ate, as I am a retired Math teacher, and Jim is a Principal / Superintendent in his local school district. Lots and lots of good stories and educational experiences were shared, and was one of our favorite meals of the trip. After breakfast, Nancy and I returned to our VP games for the late morning, and early afternoon ... losing another $350. UGH !!! Taking a break in our room to heal the wounds, we checked emails, watched a little TV, and decided to do something different for the evening. At about 4:30 pm, we got the car and drove out west to the Rampart Casino, where we had two ACG - $5 MP's, and two LVA - $10 free-play coupons. The Rampart had 3 Roulette tables, none of which were in operation, so we played our $5 MP's at a Blackjack table and lost both on crappy hands (-10). However, we sat down at a couple slant-top VP machines, and did our free-play on 8/5 Bonus with much better success (+25). From the Rampart, we drove a little farther south to the SunCoast (also a Boyd property) for their dinner buffet. Here, we used a 2/1 buffet coupon from the LVA, along with points on my player card, for another free meal. This dinner buffet is even better than MSS, with several delicious entree choices, as well as a very good salad bar and fresh fruit selections. Returning back to MSS, the Summerlin Pkwy and the I-95 were a virtual race-track of cars speeding, and changing lanes in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I tried to stay safe in the right-hand lane as much as possible, and felt very relieved when we got to the "downtown" exit lane. This will be the last night of MY reservation at MSS, as in the morning, we will switch over to Nancy's comp reservation for the next 3 nights. And in one final action, we once again stop by the player's club for a comp to Sunday's breakfast brunch buffet. Sunday , Nov. 8 : This is the morning that my 3-day reservation ends, and our "stay-over" switches to Nancy's 3-day reservation, staying in the same room. Nancy's comp offer actually comes from the California Hotel, from her preferred play in THEIR casino, but our host at MSS is able to combine the room offers at MSS, so we can stay there, without having to move. And then, we have another fine breakfast at the Sunday Brunch buffet at MSS ... lots of nice choices of fruit and breakfast entrees. You might have noticed that we never have any lunch between breakfast and dinner. The California Casino is also doing the 5X points for video poker during November, so Nancy quickly gets us registered for that. Here at the Cal, Nancy again has her favorite slant-top machines with 8/5 Bonus VP, but there is no full-pay Triple-Play quarter machines here, like I play at MSS. However, the Cal does have a few 10-line and 15-line machines with 7/5 Bonus Poker for nickels. By playing 15 lines for max nickels, I'm playing the same $3.75 per hand as I was at the triple-play quarters .... AND, the 15 lines smooths out the risk & volatility of getting the top-value hands. However, there are no scratch cards here at the Cal. Things begin modestly at our games here, with Nancy winning about $35, and me, with a few good multi-hands with full houses, quads, and a straight flush, I'm ahead about $50. We take a break, with a short walk to the Plaza, for a couple $10 MP's at the Roulette table, and when that little ball falls into the "00", we are out $20 !!! :-( Leaving the Plaza, we head across the street to the Golden Gate, hopefully for a free calendar. And, while I'm at the GG player's club, asking if I can use my 2015 ACG coupon, to get their free calendar for 2016 ( YES !! ) , Nancy finds a "Jackpot Party" slot machine, and promptly wins $6.25. She was happy for her little success. Back to the California, and our earlier machines, we play a couple more hours, with not much success, with both of us with losing sessions between $50 and $100. After a break back in our newly cleaned & freshened room, we decide to have dinner at the Sunday evening buffet at Main Street Station, since Nancy's offer came with two - $20 dining vouchers. With one of her vouchers, and some of her player points, we have another nice free buffet dinner. Before retiring to our room for some evening TV, Nancy checks in with one of the California hosts, and picks up a breakfast comp for Monday morning. Once back in our room, and some TV, computer time, and book reading, it was lights out !!! Monday, Nov. 9th : Started the day at 7:00 am at the MSS breakfast buffet once again ... Breakfast of Champions !!! Played VP all morning long at the Cal, and the VP was up and down and all around. My 15-line machine would go on long losing streaks, and then pop out quad Aces, or a couple quad deuces, or a straight flush, but I kept losing. Then ... I was dealt the J-Q-K-A of diamonds, and on line # 9 , up pops the 10 of diamonds for a $200 Royal !!! However, I was still $100 behind for the day. Took a break from the VP, and walked over to the Plaza for one more stab at our MP's on the Roulette table. Money down, fingers crossed, and that little damn ball falls right into "0" (-20). Back to the Cal for more VP, and even with periodic quads of various values, I drop another $200. Thinking of dinner, we try to figure out what to do for dinner with Nancy's last $20 dining voucher. But then ... we remembered that our Chicago Bears are on Monday Night Football, against the San Diego Chargers at 5:30 pm (Vegas time). We thought we could eat at the MSS - 777Brewpub, but it would be crowded and loud, and difficult to concentrate on the game. SO ...... we ordered two pizzas ($8.99 each) from the 777 bartender, used Nancy's food voucher, and took the pizzas up to our room, and watched the football game in peace & quiet ... with our pizza. The first half did not look good for the Bears, but they sure turned it around in the 2nd half, and squeaked out a much-needed victory. Tuesday , Nov. 10 : This day started out as typical as could be, but ended in a strange manner. We of course started with the usual breakfast buffet at Main Street Station ... and then on to the California Casino for our daily sessions of video poker. I was happy with my nickel Royal yesterday, except I still lost money. Today, the cards were running better, with several quads ... and got even better when I was DEALT quad 10's !!! Yes, on the deal ... and I was oh-so careful to push the "hold" buttons correctly, giving me 15 lines of quad 10's , for 125 x 15, or 1875 nickels, or $93.75. After that hand, the random quads kept coming ... and by 1030 am, I was $200 ahead for the morning. I temporarily stopped at 10:30 am in order to head up to our room, fire up the computer, and check in for our flight tomorrow. We had again paid for the SWA - "Early Bird" check-in ... and on this occasion, we get boarding positions A-29 and A-30 ... both with the TSA Pre-Chk attached. Now, all we have to do tomorrow, is print our boarding passes at one of the airport kiosks, and zip right through the "Pre-Chk" line. Back to the Cal casino for more VP, the game kept giving me a few periodic quads ... not as many as earlier in the morning, but enough to keep my head above water. And then it happened, on a dealt hand of Q - K - A of Spades ... and on the re-draw, line #12 filled in the 10 & J of Spades for my second Royal in 2 days, for 4000 nickels ($200). By the time we finished the afternoon session, I was $300 more on the plus side. Nancy had also done better, finishing $100 ahead for the day. Then ... we found out about the weird stuff going on. We had decided to eat dinner at the California's Market St. Cafe, and went to the player's club to redeem the LVA 2/1 entree coupon. However, we were told that they could not access their computers for any points or transactions, as their system was completely down. Supposedly, the "techs" were to do a system upgrade overnight, and the system crashed. Nobody could redeem anything requiring access to players' accounts, and we would not be able to use our points at the Diner, nor use a credit card ... cash only !! So ... the player's club reverted to old time Vegas, and gave us a hand-written $25 comp to the California Diner. AND ... on this visit, we were seated in the lower level center of the restaurant, with a very cordial and efficient waiter. The prime rib and salad bar special never tasted so good, and upon finishing our dinner, we departed with no charge whatsoever, and left a nice tip. Time to begin packing up our suitcases, and get a good night's sleep for tomorrow's trip home to reality. Wednesday , Nov. 11th : Today is check-out day , and a 10:30 am flight back to Chicago Midway Airport. I have already received two emails from friends at home, warning us of possible high-speed winds and strong thunderstorms this evening in the Chicago area. Luckily, with a 10:30 morning flight (Vegas time), we will be ahead of the bad weather stuff. We are cleaned up, and packed up, and heading to the California Market Street Cafe, for their early morning $4.99 breakfast special. Upon getting downstairs, we discover that the computer crash has still not been fixed, and breakfast will be on a cash-only basis. Breakfast was very good, and we return to the MSS hotel desk for our final check out. All luggage is in the rental car, and we are off to the airport at 7:30 am. Down Main Street. over to Industrial Rd., linking to Dean Martin Way, across Flamingo Rd., across Tropicana, and all the way down south to Warm Springs Rd. East on Warm Springs Rd, and across LV Blvd. to the corner gas station for a fill-up before the return to the rental garage. Everything was in order there, and we are soon on the shuttle bus to the airport. We print out our TSA Pre-Chk boarding passes at a kiosk, and are quickly and easily through security, and on our way to Gate C-8. For a change, everything is on time ... we depart right at 10:30 am Vegas time, and the pilot has us landing at Chicago Midway at 3:40 pm (Chicago time). There were a few "bumpy - air pocket" moments coming down through the clouds, but we all arrived safely. Off the plane, and we walk out the back way of Midway, to the waiting Orange Line commuter train. Arriving at the downtown "Loop", we make the return walk to Union Station, and much to our surprise, we are only 5 minutes away from the departure of our suburban Metra "express" route to our home station. At 6:00 pm, we pull into our garage, just one hour ahead of the impending winds, lightening, and severe thunderstorms .... and our trip is complete. FINAL SUMMARY : >> Southwest Airlines MDW to LAS .... Credit Card purchase for 2 people .... $ 203 w / 406 Rapid Rewards awarded >> Southwest Airlines LAS to MDW .... Used 13,663 Rapid Rewards for flight, plus $36.20 taxes, fees, and Early-Bird >> Alamo Rental Car -- Compact Nissan Versa -- One Week -- $!50.93 w/ 302 Rapid Rewards awarded on credit card >> Southwest Promo on Alamo Rental Car --- 2400 Rapid Rewards >> 7 nights --- Gold Coast ( 1 night @ $35) , MSS ( 3 nights comped) , The Cal ( 3 nights comped -- booked at MSS ) >> 13 meals ... all comped or free with coupons & points. Last morning breakfast ... $10. >> Tips (meals , drinks , floor attendants ... $75. >> Casino coupon matchplay bets .... + $ 30 (The Plaza really knocked us down) >> Video Poker .... "Buddha" (- $ 429 ) .... Nancy (- $ 471) >> 40 scratch Cards @ Main St. Station .... + $ 83 >> VP Coin-In , Cycled & Re-Cycled .... 60 K Hope you enjoyed the read ... Comments and questions are always welcome. "Buddha"