Wed. , Sept. 9 , 2015 --- Chicago to Las Vegas : We live out in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, so to avoid driving in that absurd traffic, we use a connection of commuter trains to get down to Midway Airport on the south side of Chicago. The Metra train station is less than a mile from our house, and we leave our car in their commuter parking lot for only $1.25 / day ($12 total). The 5:09 am train ($2.75 each) takes us to Union Station in downtown Chicago in about an hour, where we then walk about 5 or 6 blocks over to the "Elevated" city trains, where we board the "Orange Line" ($1.10 each), for a 30 minute ride ending right at the back entrance to Midway Airport. We already have our boarding passes, A-24 & A-25, for our 9:45 am flight (625 Rapid Rewards for each of us) on Southwest, with TSA Pre-Check, and breeze right through the TSA security line. With two hours left to wait for our departure, we relax in an empty gate area, and have a McDonald's breakfast, while discussing our plans for the upcoming day in Vegas (the first of seven nights in Sin City). At 9:15, we begin boarding our Southwest "800" series 737, for a 3 hour, 45 minute flight into Vegas, and we were able to get two comfy seats in Row 4, with ample room in the overhead compartment for our two carry-on bags. With a deck of cards, and crossword puzzles, and a couple free Bloody Mary's, the time whizzed by, and we were landing in Vegas right on time. With no bags to claim, we went directly outside to board the shuttle bus to the car rental facility. With my completed reservation printed at home, we were able to walk directly up to the Alamo Rental lot on the 2nd floor, and pick out any car we wanted from the "mid-size" section. The prices for September ($204 all-in) were not as good as we usually get, but we get Double Rapid Rewards using our Southwest Visa CC, plus I also used a Southwest special code for an additional 2400 Rapid Rewards credits. Leaving the rental car facility, we head up LV Blvd. to Tropicana Ave. , and east to Hooters, to play ACG coupons for free-plays and Matchplays. However, at the Player's Club, we not allowed to do either, as we did them back in April (in their computer), and their limit is once per year. Sooooo .... leaving Hooters, we cross over on Koval St. to Flamingo Rd. , and go east to the Tuscany. There, we were able to do both free-play and Matchplay coupons, which are allowed once every 30 days. We each won about $7 or $8 on the free-play, and $10 on MP's at the Roulette table. Leaving the Tuscany, we continued east on Flamingo down to the strip mall just before Maryland Pkwy, where we stopped at the Dollar Tree store, to pick up bottled water, and a few toiletries. Back on Flamingo Rd., heading back west, we will be going to the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino for our first night, but we first stop at the Palms to do a couple Matchplays (one ACG and one LVA). Luckily, we both hit winners at the Roulette table, for a $40 win. So far, so good ... been on the streets of LV for about an hour, and we're $50 ahead, before we have even checked in. Across to the Gold Coast parking garage for shade (it was 103* already), we unload our bags, and get immediately checked in for our one free night here at the GC. Room 154 was good for us ... only one floor up on the elevator, and a short walk from there. Once unpacked, and changed into cooler shorts & t-shirts more appropriate for the heat of Vegas, we were off to the casino !! Nancy goes in search for one of her favorite single-line video poker machines, and I head for the "high-limit" room, to the left of the Player's Club. Here, in this separate area, they have Triple-Play video poker, with full-pay 8/5 Bonus Poker, and I settle in. After about 90 minutes, I'm about $100 behind, and I hear them announcing details about the Wednesday "Young at Heart" drawing at 4:30. I immediately went out to the kiosk, and swiped Nancy's card, and entered her PIN # , in order to put her points into the drawing (we were both playing on her card). At 4:30, we were down at the west end of the casino, and they "electronically" drew the first name for $500 ... not Nancy. Then, they drew 10 more names for $100 each ... none were Nancy. They then drew 10 more names (not Nancy) for $100 each. We were about to leave the drawing, when we discovered that two people on the last list did not show up, and they drew two replacement names. "BINGO" ... there was Nancy's name, for $100. The big, happy smile on her face was the best part of the entire day !! After collecting Nancy's winnings, it was time for a free buffet dinner at the Gold Coast, using a 2/1 coupon from the "Young at Heart" promotion, plus player points from Nancy's Sapphire card. Good variety here at the dinner buffet, with lots of entrees, the carving table, side dishes, soup, salad fixings, fruit, and desserts. We finished off the evening with the LVA coupons for free-play ( + $18), and Matchplays ( + $35). Time to relax with some TV, and preparations for tomorrow's activities. Thursday, Sept. 10 : Up early, as usual, checked emails, and got ready for breakfast, and for moving downtown to Main Street Station. We are meeting friends from Illinois, Garry & Marcia, at the Gold Coast breakfast buffet at 7:00 am. We regularly keep in touch with emails, and the last time we were together was meeting at the Harrah's lunch buffet in Joliet, Illinois. Our breakfasts were all free, as we used player points to cover it, and we were soon picking out our favorite food items. We ate well, and spent a good time together telling stories and news of all of our activities. Soon it was time to go, Marcia covered the tip (Thanks) , and we were going to be checking out. Bags in hand, checkout was all clear & free, and we loaded our gear in the car. Heading down Valley View Drive, and cutting over to Industrial Rd., and then over to Main St., and are soon arriving at the Main Street Station parking garage. It's too soon to check in, so we leave our bags in the car, and head for the casino, first stopping at the player's club to see Ingrid, our favorite employee there, and to get new player cards. After that, Nancy heads to one of her usual single-line slant-top quarter poker machines, and I head for my favorite Triple-Play quarter machines, fully expecting to find my friend, Claire (from Toronto) ... and there he was !!! We spent the next hour, or more, banging on those poker machines, and chatting endlessly, all the while receiving "Scratch Cards" from attendants for our many 4-of-a-Kind hands. Claire took a break, and went looking for his wife, Deb ... but I kept playing. About 10 minutes after Claire left, my machine gave me four Aces on the deal, and now on my Triple-Play, I hold my hand, and now have Quad Aces on all three lines. Playing 8/5 Bonus Poker, each line of Quad Aces pays 400 credits for a total of 1200 credits ($300), and three scratch cards. About an hour later, I am dealt the Jack - King - Ace of Hearts, and on the top line, I draw the Ten and Queen of Hearts, for a $1000 Royal Flush !!!!! I could hardly believe my eyes ..... Unfortunately, those wins were the two best hands I would get on this trip. I hit more decent runs, with several quads, and straight flushes ... but much of my early winnings would be at risk. During our three days of playing at MSS, I collected 48 scratch cards, and Nancy had a few as well, as we cycled, re-cycled, and re-cycled about 58K coin-in. 44 of my scratch card were for the basic $2, along with three that were $3, and one $5 card. We also played Matchplay coupons at the Plaza twice ( + $10 and - $20 ), as well as a road trip to the Gold Coast, Palms, and the Orleans for MP's ( + $ 30). We would have done more MP's, but it was just too damn hot for us to be driving all over town, and in and out of the casinos. On Sunday, Sept. 13, we began the second part of our stay at Main Street Station ... but for these next 3 days we played our video poker across the street at the California Casino. Nancy still has several single-line slant-top machines to choose from, with the 8/5 Bonus Poker she likes. However, we were surprised to see more new renovations going on in the south side of the casino, with several machines moved around to different places, and some even taken out of duty, including some multi-line VP machines that I always play there. I was able to find some "All-Star" poker machines that had Triple Play, and a couple older machines that were nickel 10-play, but they were slightly short-pay. On that Sunday morning (the 13th) , we played a little before breakfast, and then a little after breakfast, but by 10:00 am, we were back in our room to watch the Chicago Bears / Green Bay Packers game on TV. Bear looked good in the first half ... even had the lead ... but their offense wilted in the 2nd half, and badly faltered on their last possession at the end of losing that game. Oh, well .... back to the Cal casino. And, my casino play over these three days looked way too similar to the losing Bears team, as I watched my earlier winnings slowly fade away ..... :-( At the end of each day's play we would always stop by the Players Club, and request a breakfast buffet comp for the next morning. For our dinners (never ate lunch), we would use the $15 and $20 coupons that came with our September offers, and eat either at the MSS - Triple7 Brewpub, or the California Market Street Cafe, along with Player Card points ... and all breakfast & dinners were then completely free. We've had our fun for a week, but it's time to go ... but we'll be back in November, when it's cooler, with the same 7-night schedule. I logged into the Southwest boarding pass check-in web-site, and with our "early-bird" status, we got boarding positions A-19 and A-20. One last free breakfast at the MSS buffet, a final packing up in the room, a clear no-charge check-out, and we are off to the airport. The first stop is to fill up the gas tank of the rental car ... $2.85 / gal. at a Sinclair station at Valley View Drive and Desert Inn Rd. From there, further south on Valley View, over to Dean Martin Way, to Warm Springs Rd., and over to the Rental Car facility, for a quick & easy return. Once at the airport, we go to the boarding pass kiosk, to print our boarding pass, again labeled as "TSA Pre-Check". With those special boarding passes, we zip right through security in a matter of a minute, and head out toward Gate C-8. Checking the Southwest departure listings, we are scheduled for an on-time 1:20 pm departure, with our SWA "800" series plane coming in from Ontario, Calif. And then .... the problems begin. :-( It wasn't long before we started seeing our departure time changing to 1:45, then 2:00, and then 2:45. Finally, there comes an announcement that there was a complete power failure in Ontario, and the airport was left completely non-functional. Later, we hear that the power was back on, and our plane would soon be departing from Ontario. By now, our departure is at 3:30 ... but a few minutes later, the Ontario to Vegas flight is completely removed from the schedule board ... now caused by the discovery of a fuel leak. At this point, the passengers for our plane are loudly booing, and shouting, and hollering, in regard to these ongoing delays. Soon after, Southwest magically locates an "800" series plane, and brings it up to Gate C-2 , however, they had to dig up a flight crew. Eventually we begin an orderly boarding process, and have wheels up at 3:35 pm ... and with a good tailwind, and the pilots with the "pedal to the floor", we make a record time arrival at Chicago Midway in 3 hours !!!!! By the time we deplane and walk through the airport, out the back to our Orange Line transit train, and the walk over to Union Station, we are able to catch the 10:40 pm Metra Train, and we FINALLY arrive back home at approx. 11:50 pm ... dead tired !!! FINAL SUMMARY : Southwest Airlines MDW to LAS .... Round Trip Credit Card purchase for 2 people .... $454 ( 908 Rapid Rewards ) Southwest Flight completions .... 2836 Rapid Rewards Alamo Rental Car -- Midsize Ford Focus - One Week .... $204 ( 408 Rapid Rewards ) Southwest promo on Alamo Rental Car .... 2400 Rapid Rewards 7 nights --- Gold Coast (1) , Main Street Station (3) , California ( 3 - * Booked at MSS ) .... All comped free Casino coupon matchplays .... + $105 Video Poker .... "Buddha" + $150 , Nancy (- $125) 48 Scratch Cards @ Main St. Station .... + $ 102 VP Coin-In, Cycled & Re-Cycled & Re-Cycled .... 93 K Total SWA Rapid Rewards earned .... 6552 Hope you enjoyed the read .... comments and questions are always welcome. "Buddha"