09/17-10/01/08 This TR will be of most interest to those who are willing to: Tug on Superman’s cape in order to read details about a Las Vegas vacation Spit in the wind to learn about shows and lounge acts Pull the mask off of the ole Lone Ranger to read reviews of locals restaurant or Mess round with Jim to learn some money savings tips. 09/17 I woke up this morning at around 4 A.M. and checked the calendar, sure enough we were half-way to Saint Patrick’s Day, and the countdown meter to our next Las Vegas vacation had reached zero. I headed downstairs to check a number of Las Vegas-related websites and printed off our final To Do List before taking Max for a walk on the local golf course. Later that morning as we prepared to depart Casa de Westie, I ran through my mental checklist one more time: Ziggy at the Inn on Hemlock Slope ---- check Kennel reservations for Max ---- check Slot cards and coupons in carryon luggage ---- check Lights turned off, doors locked ---- check Luggage in car trunk ---- check Ms. Westie in passenger seat ---- check Slow forward 9 hours and we arrived at McCarran Airport 20 minutes early. In short order we retrieved our luggage from the carousel, shuttled to the Consolidated Rental Facility, completed the Alamo self check-in process, tipped the attendant $5 for an upgrade from an economy car to a mid-size Dodge Avenger and drove to the Orleans where we were booked for following 14 nights. I requested a king in the old section on an upper floor and was rewarded with room 2187. Since we last stayed at the Orleans a large plasma TV has been installed at the expense of a chest of drawers. It was now 7PM EST so we quickly unpacked and proceeded downstairs for Today’s Featured Cocktail – Cosmo (2 sips out of a possible 5). I had planned on dining at Ventano’s Italian CafÃ© in Henderson, but both of us were tired from the long day of traveling so we opted for the Orleans buffet – mistake #1 of the trip. We started off with teeny unpeeled shrimp and an uninspired cocktail sauce. For entrees we each opted for Singapore noodles and cooked to order stir fry chicken with assorted vegetables. The noodles and veggies were reasonably fresh, but the chicken was overcooked. I also tried a BBQ pork rib (tough) and very good onion rings. ($16.11, American Casino Guide (ACG), 1.5 Forks). The Westies retired to the room early and with full stomachs. 09/18 I woke up around 2AM and drove to the South Point and quickly located the bank of 8 full-pay video poker machines that had recently been installed. What surprised me was Benny Binion’s statue, relocated from Downtown, was immediately in front of these machines. Over the days that followed I often suspected Benny was watching me play, but he always avoided making eye contact. The machines were slower than I would prefer though they proved sufficiently fast to cause me a sizeable loss over the next four hours. After showering we headed off to Green Valley Ranch (GVR) for the breakfast buffet. This buffet has been downsized since our last visit though the quality remains high. We started off with some almost ripe melon and strawberry yogurt along with OJ. I tried a piece of bone-in ham (fair), a small slice of cheese quesadilla (excellent), crispy bacon (wonderful), apple crepe (so good) and a spoonful of warm bread pudding with pecan sauce (excellent). We used a 2/1 coupon from a coupon book mailed to locals and received an additional $1 off by showing a slot card. ($7.53, 3.5 Forks) On departing GVR, we headed to the recently opened Eastside Cannery on the Boulder Highway singing: We're Movin' on Up! Movin' on Up! To the Eastside The line at the slot booth was pretty long but moved swiftly and we were soon in possession of C.A.N. cards loaded with $20 in free play. I would like to be able to report one of us hit quad deuces or a royal on the free play, but that only happens in my dreams. Ms. Westie did manage to cash out with a few dollars profit while I continued my losing ways. We each played a $10 MP from the ACG at the craps table with Ms. Westie rolling the dice and playing the pass line while I covered the dark side, a $10 for the good guys when she made her number. Our next stop was the Wal-Mart across from Sam’s Town for sundry items. On returning to the Orleans we went to the Business Center, now located on the second floor, to check our email. The remainder of the afternoon was spent reading and exercising (Ms. Westie) and dozing (me). Tonight is our Date Night so we started off with Today’s Featured Cocktail, Mike’s Hard Lemonade (3.5 Sips). This was my first Mike’s, but assuredly not my last as I found it to be the perfect substitute for Smirnoff Ice which is no longer available at the Orleans. We drove to GVR this evening and discovered the casino was offering Mystery Gifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays in September. Ms. Westie and I selected (2) personal scents mini diffusers and a large red bowl. Dinner this evening was at Tides Oyster Bar using a 2/1 coupon from a locals mailer. Tides is a spacious restaurant offering both tables and the more traditional counter seating. Ms. Westie ordered a cup of New England clam chowdah (we are from CT and know how to pronounce chowder) and a seafood Cobb salad (micro greens, tomatoes, crab, avocado, carrots, shrimp and blue cheese). My entrÃ©e was a super sized piece of parmesan crusted red snapper over an almost spicy tomato sauce. I took a few photos of the restaurant, and the chef preparing the oyster trays asked if I would take his photo and send him a copy. ($30.78, 3.5 Forks) We adjourned to Ovation, the GVR’s concert/lounge venue that is temporarily hosting the Boulder Blues. Tonight’s performer, Mike Zito, was very good, but the volume was too loud for our tastes so we soon departed. (2.5 Claps) http://www.mikezito.com/ 09/19 I returned to the South Point for my 3:30AM video poker session and was able to turn a small profit after hitting my #1 quad deuces of the trip. I park on the 3rd floor of most parking garages in order to keep things simple, but I was not operating on all cylinders and could not find the car this morning. I was about to call security when I decided to travel to level 2 and there I found my Dodge Avenger patiently waiting. The Orleans buffet received the nod today with me consuming OJ, skim milk, huevos rancheros, bacon and corned beef hash. (Comp, 2.5 Forks) We used the complimentary business center computers to check emails before returning to the room to read this morning’s RJ and catch a few ZZZZs,. Feeling refreshed and revitalized we headed to the South Point for an early afternoon video poker session. The player immediately to my right won $150 in free play in the every 30 minute random drawing and the one to my left hit quad deuces while I lost my shirt. Was Westie bitter – damn straight! Since it was 5PM somewhere we decided to order Mudslides, Today’s Featured Cocktail, before returning to the Orleans. The bartender at the South Point added half and half to the basic recipe which made the drink a bit smoother than usual. (4.5 Sips) Dinner tonight was at Steak located at 76 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. http://www.steaklasvegas.com/ We had trouble locating the restaurant and called for directions. The receptionist told us to head “east” from Eastern Avenue on Horizon Ridge to get to W. Horizon Ridge and look for the restaurant near the junction with Gibson Road – wrong. We searched the area in vain and on calling again were instructed to continue to travel east. We finally located the restaurant a short distance from an exit for I-515. I questioned the ditzy receptionist upon entering and she said she thought we were locals – huh? Steak is a contemporary restaurant offering a video poker bar area on one side and a dining area on the other. Ms. Westie ordered a filet mignon and sides of spinach and thin cut steak fries. The filet was cooked medium rare, but was amazingly tough and tasteless. How the chef managed to accomplish that feat is secret I one I hope he does not share. My Chilean sea bass in broth over sliced fingerling potatoes, prosciutto and cabbage was very tasty though someone forgot to include the cabbage. I used a $50 gift certificate purchased at http://partydeals.931theparty.com/cc...n/ddindex2.php for $23.50. Note: the total cost of all meals in this TR includes the price I paid for any certificate I used plus a gratuity and tax. ($38.61, 2.5 Forks) The east entrance to the Orleans parking garage was blocked on our return so we were required to drive around to the west entrance. This was the opening night of 7th annual Hoodie Awards and there was a block party in progress in the arena’s parking lots. This evening’s event was attended by somewhere upwards of 10,000 people from the black community, all elegantly dressed in white. I would estimate 70% or more of them were plus sized women ready to party. The Hoodie Awards, for those who don’t know and I didn’t, were established by radio host Steve Harvey to recognize the best in the “hood” in several categories such as church, local businesses and civic groups. On entering the casino proper we managed to circumvent the “large” groups of attendees and made our way to the lounge where the group In A Fect entertained us with their mix of classic rock, R&B, funk and Motown. http://tinyurl.com/5r8bzp (5 Claps) 09/20 I was up at 4AM and returned to the South Point for another video poker session under the watchful eyes of Benny. I must not have been operating on all cylinders because I couldn’t hit even a wild royal, but somehow managed to break even after almost 3 hours of continuous play. On my return I was amazed to find hundreds of “grasshopper” type insects along the pathway and on the walls between the parking garage and hotel. If they were grasshoppers, they must have been fooled by the artificial turf. We decided to try the Maple Tree restaurant on Spring Mountain Road this morning for breakfast. Though physically situated in a non-descript shopping center, the restaurant provides a touch of New England charm to the local area. http://tinyurl.com/4wbttg Ms. Westie ordered the French toast stuffed with strawberry cream cheese and topped with fresh strawberries. She rated this second only to Bouchon’s, but at half the price. I was initially hesitant to order the New England Benny, but was I ever rewarded for my courage. The New England Benny is 2 crab cakes served on English muffin halves topped with 2 poached eggs and covered with Hollandaise sauce. This proved to be an amazing combination of flavors that I would love to duplicate at home. Once again I pulled out the camera to take photos of both the restaurant and our server bringing us our meals. This led to our meeting the owners and several members and their amiable wait staff. Once again copies of our photos were requested. ($16.89, Entertainment, 5 Forks) We again drove out to the South Point for another miserable session of video poker before soothing the pain with an original recipe mudslide. On returning to the room I opted for a nap while Ms. Westie read. At 5PM sharp we departed for the South Point where we ordered, Today’s Featured Cocktail, Mojitos with fresh mint no less. (4.5 Sips) On departing we headed east for Lake Las Vegas for the Sonrisa Grill. We were told when we made our reservations that they probably wouldn’t be necessary which proved to true. There was a free concert by Genevieve on the green that evening so the terrace was full, but the dining room was empty with the exception of one other table. The restaurant itself is beautiful, but I doubt if the overhead expenses are covered except on weekdays. The waitress asked if we wanted guacamole with our chips and we responded affirmatively. The guacamole was very good and we were amazed that it was complimentary since other restaurants charge $6-10 per order. The restaurant serves both traditional Tex-Mex dishes and “fresh” seafood entrees. We each chose the “fresh” halibut in spinach cream sauce which was accompanied by chipotle mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots. The halibut was overcooked and I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been, to find a $6 charge for the guacamole included on our bill. I used a $50 certificate purchased for $23.50. ($45, 1.5 Forks) http://www.sunnydeals.ksne.com/cc-common/ddindex2.php After listening to the concert for awhile, we departed for the Eastside Cannery for a video poker session. The parking lot was pretty full, but no one was playing the full pay video poker machines. After registering a short, but decisive loss, I adjourned to the lounge to listen to the group Paperback Writer, a Beatles tribute band, for several songs. (1 Clap) The group did not sound much like the Beatles so I rejoiced when Ms. Westie called it a night, but before departing we played (2) MPs at the craps table - $10 net win for team Westie. 09/21 What more is there to say than I lost at the South Point this morning and I think I caught Benny smiling. On the way back I stopped at Ronald’s Donuts for an apple fritter, a buttermilk donut and an old fashioned (crown) donut which were shared in the room along with OJ (the drink not the person). ($2.75, 4.5 Forks) Nobody does it better Makes me feel sad for the rest Nobody does it half as good as you Ronald, you're the best We read the RJ before driving to the Eastside Cannery for another losing video poker session. Once again, we played a pair of MPs at the craps table - $10 added to the team bankroll. Our only lunch on this trip was at the Goat Post Tropical Grill on Buffalo Drive. This is a small unassuming restaurant owned by a couple that serve as waiter (him) and chef (her). The food spans both the Caribbean and Mexico, but we went with for the Jamaican beef patties, jerk chicken with spicy fries and Jamaican ginger beer soda. The pastry shell for the patties was amazingly soft and the filling provided enough spice to keep them interesting. The jerk chicken proved to be spicy, tender and bountiful. ($5, KSHP, 3.5 Forks) http://www.goatpostgrill.com/ http://tinyurl.com/5ykm9x We spent the remainder of the afternoon digesting and resting while watching Ryder Cup coverage. At the tone of the cocktail hour we rushed downstairs for the Today’s Featured Cocktail – a Blue Moon draft. I was disappointed to find the Orleans was out of oranges, but I stood tall and took my drink straight up. (2 Sips) As I was sipping my Blue Moon, I wondered if a cocktail waitress who serves beer to a customer wouldn’t be more appropriately called a beer distributor. We were still digesting our lunch so we modified our dinner plans and drove to the Gold Coast. We thought we would try the recently opened Noodle Exchange, but upon reviewing the menu we settled on Ping Pang Pong which shares common ownership. Service was beyond slow so I called over the manager and explained we had a show to catch and could she call over a waitress. She literally called across the room and a waitress soon appeared. Our green beans arrived, but some 10 minutes later we were still waiting for the noodles. I again called over the manager who called over the waitress who checked with the chef and said it would be a few more minutes. Both dishes were decent, but it would have been nice to enjoy them together. ($21.61, 2 Forks) Tonight’s show was Boyz II Men at the Orleans. We both had heard of this trio, but could not recall any of their hits. The Boyz originated 17 years ago as a quintet and have since figured out how to maximize their incomes– first eliminate the back-up band and secondly do not replace members as they depart from the group. They put on a very good show featuring many of their Motown hits. (3.5 Claps) We were not ready for bed so we headed to the lounge to listen to In A Fect. Tonight represented the fourth time we have seen the group and they have yet to repeat a set. (4.5 Claps) 09/22 I suffered a brutal beating at the hands of the South Point Casino and Benny before returning to our room this morning. An Ellis Island breakfast was long overdue. On arrival we were quickly seated and ordered the cinnamon vanilla French toast. The service was excellent as was the French toast. ($8, ACG, 3 Forks) On our return to the Orleans, Ms. Westie drove off to the Dessert Breeze shopping center on Flamingo for a massage. Millie, her masseuse, formerly operated the Desert Breeze Salon, but due to the weak economy, she downsized and is now subleasing space from the adjoining beauty parlor, Hairport. ($92, 4.5 Hands) Ms. Westie, showing her support for the local small business community, had her hair done. ($20, 4.5 Hands) Meantime, back at the ranch, I played a little multi-hand video blackjack and checked my email in the Business Center. The remainder of the afternoon was spent resting in our room as we prepared for our big night Downtown, but first it was time for Today’s Featured Cocktail – Almond Joy. (3 Sips) Dinner tonight was at the Triple George Grill on 3rd Street immediately adjacent to the Hogs & Heifer’s Saloon. http://www.triplegeorgegrill.com/ Our waiter quickly appeared for our drink orders, water, and recited the day’s specials. We received a complimentary relish tray and placed our orders. Ms. Westie opted for the evening’s special, sesame crusted Ahi tuna served with mashed potatoes and mixed seasonal vegetables. The tuna was served rare so it was sent back to the kitchen until it was suitably medium rare. I could tell something was amiss when a frown appeared on Ms. Westie’s forehead as she took a few bites. The tuna was extremely tough and the potatoes had been genetically re-mastered resulting in an out-of-worldly consistency and flavor. I fared only slightly better with the seafood cioppino – shrimp, mussels, crab, white fish, clams and scallops in a somewhat spicy tomato sauce. We concluded the meal with a bread pudding that was tasty, but too heavy. A $50 gift certificate purchased for $23.50 from a local radio station was used. ($34.57, 1.5 Forks) http://www.sunnydeals.ksne.com/cc-common/ddindex2.php On exiting I attempted to take photos of the Hogs & Heifers Saloon, but was told there was an entrance fee though no one was in the place. I guess it was effective in keeping the crowds down. We walked over to the Four Queens where we signed up for slot cards and received $20 in free slot play and a deck of playing cards upon presenting our ACG coupons. We managed to cash out with a net profit of $19.25 and then headed for the Eastside Cannery. Ms. Westie hit her first quad deuces of the trip and I managed to cash out a few dollars ahead. We also played (2) $10 MPs from the ACG with me playing the dark side and Ms. Westie covering the pass line for a net $10 win when the shooter sevened out. 09/23 I swear Benny Binion has placed a curse on the South Point FPDW machines. I don’t believe his shorts are in a knot over his statute being relocated, but rather that Becky ran the Horseshoe into the ground with Harrah’s ending up with the World Series of Poker. Breakfast today was at the Orleans buffet using $3 off coupons found in the RJ. We requested OJ, but were informed they were out – huh? I settled for grapefruit juice which was very good. For sustenance I assembled huevos rancheros and filled the remainder of my plate with bacon and corned beef hash. ($5.90, 2.5 Forks) We reconvened at the Eastside Cannery where we each broke even playing the slant top FPDW machines. Once again we used (2) $10 MPs at the craps table and walked away with an extra $10 in our pockets. Neither of us wanted lunch, but we decided a little something was needed so we drove to the Panera bakery in the Galleria Mall. Smoothies were ordered at the counter and enjoyed while relaxing on the upholstered lounge chairs. The mango smoothie had an artificial flavor and was a bit too sweet, but the strawberry flavor was both refreshing and tasty. I used (2) Panera drink coupons purchased on eBay. ($2, 2 Sips) As we continued in the general direction of the Orleans we made a short detour to the Green Valley Ranch in order to pick up the day’s Mystery Gifts – (2) personal scents mini diffusers and a set of 3 bowls for each of us. On returning to the room I visited dreamland while Ms. Westie read and exercised. Prior to departing the room Ms. Westie called Todd’s Unique to make dinner reservations for Wednesday evening and on mentioning our last name, Todd responded “you mean Frank”. Try calling Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House and see if he recalls your name. A local radio station hosts a Mix and Mingle each Thursday at the Orleans’ Bourbon Street lounge beginning at 5:30PM. The lounge was packed and the dance floor packed with students from a local line dancing academy. The son of Bubba Knight of Gladys Knight and the Pipps’ fame serves as MC with this evening’s music provided by In A Fect. I wonder if Bubba Jr., not his real name, would be considered a Pippette? Today’s Featured Cocktail was a Kaluha and Cream. (3.5 Sips) “I love Kaluha, it's rich and chocolatey. Chocolate-flavored Kaluha is mighty good for me. The bartender puts it in my milk for extra energy. Kahluha gives me iron and sunshine Vitamin D. Oh, I love Kahluha, that's the drink for me” We had dinner reservations at McCormick & Schmicks Seafood Restaurant this evening so we departed the Orleans after In A Fect’s first set, just when the party was beginning to get interesting. We were promptly seated in a booth, as requested, and soon had menus in hand and ice water on the table. A delightful spinach salad with fennel, cranberries, carrots and a basil dressing was shared. Ms. Westie ordered wild Atlantic salmon roasted on a cedar plank in a blueberry sauce. I chose the wild mixed grill – Chilean sea bass, king salmon and a shrimp cake which was accompanied by risotto and grilled asparagus. Both meals were excellent though Ms. Westie’s salmon was slightly overdone. My meal included their signature crÃ¨me brulee plus, as a birthday present, I received another dessert of my choice. We selected the chocolate truffle with raspberry ganache because it sounded great and traveled well. As a member of McCormick & Schmick’s loyalty program I used a free entrÃ©e coupon that I received a few months prior for my birthday. ($49.41, 4.5 Forks) We again made the jaunt down Flamingo to the Eastside Cannery where Ms. Westie hit her #2 quad deuces of the trip and I suffered another loss. Prior to departing we played 2 more $10 MPs at the craps table netting another $10. 09/24 I suffered another loss at the South Point this morning and on returning to the room I checked the listings in the yellow pages for an exorcist or shaman to remove Benny’s curse from the bank of full pay video poker machines. We were staying under 2 separate 7-night reservations so on my return to the Orleans I attempted a video checkout, but the system was down. I went downstairs and completed the process of checking out and checking back in while scoring 2 additional funbooks. The availability and value of these funbooks has greatly diminished with the best coupons now being a well drink (yawn) at the Orleans, a cocktail at the Gold Coast and a draft beer at Brendan’s Pub (yawn). On returning to the room I checked the bill and was surprised to find our weekend rate was $17 per night less than on my confirmation and no nightly amenity charges were assessed. Ms. Westie had to restrain me from returning to the front desk to complain. Our supply of unmentionables was depleted so the next order of business was a stop and drop at our favorite wash and fold before continuing on to Ellis Island. Ms. Westie ordered easy over eggs with wheat toast, home fries, bacon and coffee. I decided to go large by ordering a blackboard special – 8 ounce steak, eggs, sourdough toast and home fries. Our food arrived promptly, but I was disappointed in the size of my steak in comparison to those at surrounding tables, mine was obviously the runt of the litter. ($8, ACG, 2.5 Forks) We had accumulated a variety of gifts since our arrival so we decided it was time to take a photo and distribute them to the two housekeepers who were assigned to our room. We drove out to the South Point for a short video poker session after redeeming (2) $10 free slot play coupons from the Casino Player funbook. We also picked up tickets for the Roger William’s show using a 2/1 coupon from the same source. The seats we were offered were at a table in the back and mid-room, but when the tickets were printed we were assigned a booth in the far back corner. I complained and the clerk went in the back and on returning told us the seats selected were not available. I told her to cancel the order and she again retreated back to the office and a more senior clerk came out. She indicated we had upgraded seats and questioned why we did not want a booth. It soon became evident the original clerk had made a mistake and did not want to reverse the charges because we eventually received tickets for the seats we originally requested and a $5 refund. We returned to the Orleans to pick-up our certificate for 2 tickets to Wes Winters’ “Musical Tribute to Liberace” and drove to Planet Hollywood. On presenting the certificates at the Steve Wyrick Theater box office we were told he had cancelled the last 3 performance including today’s. She suggested we call ahead before returning. Plan B was a return trip to the Eastside Cannery where Ms. Westie registered a small win and I managed to hit my #2 quad deuces of the trip. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in our room where I napped and Ms. Westie read. Prior to departing the Orleans for Todd’s Unique in Henderson, I purchased a bottle of Los Vascos cabernet sauvignon. On Wednesday nights Todd’s waives the usual $15 corkage charge. http://www.toddsunique.com/ On our arrival we were disappointed to learn our favorite server had departed for parts unknown, but “Sunny”, our new favorite server, proved to be both appropriately named and equally efficient. We shared a watermelon salad that included pepitas, cayenne, lime juice and feta cheese - an amazing mixture of flavors. We each chose the fresh teriyaki halibut entree served over coconut rice and bok choy, but Todd has reworked the recipe to include fingerling potatoes plus baby carrots and sugar peas. Near the end of the meal Todd came over to our table and thanked us for our continuing patronage and nice reviews. I used a $50 gift certificate that I earned by making dining reservations through Opentable. ($23.74, 4.5 Forks) The next stop was the Gold Coast to listen to the group San Fernando in the new lounge, but the volume was cranked up too high so we soon departed. We closed out the evening at the Alligator Bar with Today’s Featured Cocktail, an Irish Coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream (4 Sips) 09/25 The South Point once again took its toll on my withering supply of Ben Franklins. Breakfast at the Gold Coast buffet today included OJ, skim milk, melon slices (no fresh grapefruit or orange segments), huevos rancheros, bread pudding and bacon. We used a pair of seniors’ $3 off coupons found in the RJ. ($5.90, 2 Forks) We drove to Bill’s where we parked and then toured the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden’s colorful fall display. http://psloveblog.com/2008/09/21/fal...-the-bellagio/ We subsequently made a quick run through the Las Vegas Premium Outlets with Ms. Westie scoring a pretty good deal on a sweater at Chico’s. Tonight was our Date Night so we started off by driving to Ellis Island and ordering Today’s Featured Cocktail - Nuts and Berries. (4.5 Sips) When our bartender asked if we cared for another, I responded: No, no, no, no, I don’t drink it no more, I’m tired of waking up on the floor. No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze, And then it makes it hard to find the door. Check out this vintage video - http://youtube.com/watch?v=2-PirP4LiFo On exiting we made the short drive to Origin India on Paradise in time for our 6PM Opentable reservation. This restaurant is impressive on many levels, not the least of which is the owner’s willingness to improvise and update the menu. Raja recognized my name on the reservation and came over to say hello. He also sent over an order of BBQ chicken, the evening’s special appetizer, which was beautiful to both the eye and tongue. http://www.originindiarestaurant.com/ http://tinyurl.com/3wmmfr We were also served house made papadum with mint and tamarind sauces. Our shared entrees this evening were lamb raawali (boneless lamb with Indian spices, tomatoes, yogurt and a touch of cashew) and chicken Labrador (chicken delicately cooked in tomato gravy with a hint of coconut). The entrees were accompanied by a large bowl of black lentils, rice and Naan. Service throughout, as usual, was outstanding. I was able to use a free entrÃ©e coupon received for my birthday even though it expired a few months prior – thank you Raja! ($27.56, 4.5 Forks) Tonight’s entertainment was provided by the Platters, Coasters & Marvelettes in the Sahara showroom. http://www.saharavegas.com/Shows/platters-coasters/ None of these acts have any of the original members, but the music was very good and it was a fun evening. ($29, KSHP, 3 Claps) The evening was concluded at Brendan’s Pub @ the Orleans listening to karaoke with the ever so humble Jimmy Z serving as host. (2 Claps) 09/26 It was Benny & I doing the same old, same old at the South Point this morning. On my return trip to the Orleans I purchased a RJ that included the premiere issue of the Coast magazine. This magazine is a knockoff of the one that the Station casinos had published the past two months and included a number of dining discounts, point multipliers and MPs. Our first stop after departing the Orleans was a convenience store where I purchased 5 more copies. Breakfast at the Green Valley Ranch buffet included OJ, melon, strawberry yogurt and a very good spinach/cheese eggbeater omelet. I used a 2/1 coupon from the My Station magazine plus I received an additional $1 discount by showing my slot card. ($7.53, 3 Forks) Next we put in an hour on the FPDW machines at the Eastside Cannery with Ms. Westie hitting her #3 quad deuces of the trip. We had become nervous about playing more MPs at the craps table because we thought the box man may have remembered us so we went to the roulette table. We put the $10 MPs on red and black, but the dealer returned them saying “blackjack only”. I handed her on of the MPs and asked her to read it while I explained what “good for any table game” meant. She gave it and me a quick look and repeated “blackjack only”. I asked for a supervisor who immediately approved the MPs and we walked off with another $10 of Eastside’s money. Our next stop was Sam’s Town where we played (2) $20 MPs from the Coast magazine netting $19 on craps after I partially insured our bets by covering the 12. We also redeemed a 3x points coupon, but only played a few minutes on the ultra slow FPDW machines. After resting for much of the afternoon, we departed for the South Point where we enjoyed Today’s Featured Cocktail, a Lemon Drop Martini. (4 Sips) Tonight was the beginning of the Olympia competition so thousands of male and female body builders circulated through the casino. Given the choice between the body builders or the plus sized women from the previous weekend, I would choose the latter. http://www.mrolympia.com/2008/tickets.htm Dinner tonight was at RE Tapas Lounge on Silverado Ranch. This restaurant offers both classic and non traditional tapas. We started off with orders of grilled hearts of romaine with basil balsamic vinaigrette, crumbled cabrales, and Serrano ham (3.5 Forks): dates stuffed with bleu cheese and slivered almonds, wrapped in bacon and roasted (5 Forks): and broiled goat cheese in tomato sauce (2 Forks). Our next order was Colorado lamb chops marinated and grilled, served with agria dulce (4 Forks) and crab paddies (3.5 Forks). We concluded the meal with a delicious crÃ¨me brulee. ($25.32, Restaurant.com, 4 Forks) http: //www.retapaslounge.com/ We returned to the South Point for the Roger Williams show. Roger is 83, looking good and very entertaining. In addition to playing for 9 Presidents, he has now played for us twice. ($25, Casino Player, 3 Claps) 09/27 I managed to pull my #3 quad deuces of the trip while Benny was sleeping late this morning. On our way out of the Orleans we played (2) $25 MPs from the Coast Casino magazine at the craps table netting $23. In celebration of our win we decided to splurge by ordering his and her apple fritters and a coffee at Ronald’s Donuts. ($3.90, 4.5 Forks) Our next stop was Sam’s where we again netted $19 on the craps table using the Coast Casino $20 MPs followed by a short video poker session at the Eastside Cannery. Neither of us could hit anything so we quit and played (2) more $10 MPs at the crabs table registering another $10 win. On route to the Orleans we made a short detour to the Java Detour on Pecos where we shared a strawberry smoothie. ($1.50, KSHP, 3 Sips) In the late afternoon we traveled to the South Point for another short, but unprofitable video poker session. Today’s Featured Cocktail was Clos du Bois merlot ($8, 3 Sips). This was the one drink on the trip that we paid for because I failed to show my ACG coupon before ordering and the bartender said it was a premium wine that he could not comp. Dinner tonight was at Terra Verde at the Green Valley Ranch using (2) 2 out of three (appetizer, wine or dessert) coupons. Terra Verde occupies the beautiful and largely unchanged space formerly known as the Il Fornio Ristorante. Our server, Peter, brought us a bread basket and a wonderful relish tray with mixed olives, chunks of Reggiano Parmesan cheese, fried zucchini chips, roasted red and yellow peppers plus artichoke hearts. Our appetizer was a beautiful Carpaccio – thinly sliced raw steak caressed gently by EVO, fried capers, arugula and shaved Reggiano Parmesan. We each enjoyed a glass of the house Chianti that perfectly complimented our entrees. Ms. Westie chose ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta in a tomato basil sauce. I took our server’s recommendation and chose agnotti (cheese ravioli) with a rich and delicious tomato meat sauce. Both pastas dishes were house made and melted on our palates. We closed out this feast by sharing a “torta golosa”, a molten lava cake with vanilla gelato beautifully presented in the shape of a swan (until the piece forming the head and neck toppled over). Service throughout was perfect. ($50.79, 4.5 Forks) We played (2) more $25 MPs at the craps table resulting in a $23 win. I grabbed glasses of ice water at the Ovation bar and we settled in to wait for Michael Grimm and his band’s 9PM show. He sings mostly southern rock and blues with a very mournful voice and closed out the night with an incredible rendition of Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help from my Friends”. (4.5 Claps) http://www.michaelgrimmmusic.com/ 09/28 I have been experiencing more than my fair share of luck at the South Point, but unfortunately it continues to be mostly bad. We visited the Village Pub on Eastern and were impressed by how nice this restaurant was in comparison to most of its siblings. On entering we were warmly greeted by the manager and we found his service with a smile attitude to be contagious as the entire wait staff seemed to be enjoying their work. Our orders of eggs easy over, bacon, toast and cottage fries were very good. ($8.92, LVA, 3.5 Forks) After exiting we drove to the South Point for another losing video poker session – same old, same old and it was getting old. We called the Steve Wyrick Theater and were informed that Wes Winters had cancelled all future performances. I purchased the tickets on eBay and contacted the seller, Tom Wilkinson who runs vegas4locals.com, on our return and he issued a full credit for my purchase price of $7 – whew! On our return to the Orleans we played (2) more $25 MPs on the craps table netting $23 for Team Westie. In the late afternoon we ordered Today’s Featured Cocktail, a Wet Pearl that suffered from a bit too much pineapple juice (2 Sips) at the Alligator Bar before we departed for Martinis on Fort Apache. We had a little trouble finding the shopping center where it was located but eventually spotted a sign. On entering we were quickly seated, but surprised by both the casual dÃ©cor and menu. We were expecting upscale, but the priciest entrÃ©e was only $16. Ms. Westie flipped over the menu and realized we were in the wrong restaurant - excuse us. We beat a hasty retreat and quickly located Martinis. This establishment is one of those video poker bars offering exceptional food. We were seated in a separate wood paneled dining room adorned with posters of cartoons featuring martinis. We passed on drinks and ordered grilled lamb chops (3) marinated for 24 hours in a delicious balsamic-based marinade. Our entrees were served over horseradish mashed potatoes and included grilled spinach and a vegetable mix of baby carrots and snow peas. ($24.10, restaurant.com, 4.5 Forks) Tonight’s show was Jeff McBride’s “Magic at the Edge” in the (lounge) showroom in Palace Station. Jeff resides in Las Vegas, but has not performed there since Magic Express at Caesars closed. He has spent the intervening years studying and performing throughout the world, most notably the Orient. He calls his performance Magic Theater, often involving Kabuki masks, with each illusion partially based on a story or myth. The intimate room proved to be perfect for his act that frequently involves slight of hand. ($30, KSHP, 4 Claps) Note to anyone interested in seeing this show – tickets are now being sold on eBay at very reasonable prices in comparison to the box office price of $49 plus tax. 09/29 I decided enough was enough so I gave my back and bankroll a break by playing at the Eastside Cannery where I hit my #4th quad deuces of the trip. This morning’s nourishment was provided by the Spice Market buffet at Planet Hollywood. This was the largest of the buffets we visited on this trip so I indulged by having OJ, a raspberry smoothie, a shared (with Ms. Westie) Belgian waffle topped with fresh strawberries and wild blueberries, tropical fruit mix and kielbasa. ($16.15, 2/1 coupon, 3.5 Forks) The Eastside Cannery giveth early this morning and took back mid-morning, but we did manage another $10 win at the craps table. On returning to the Orleans we used (2) more $25 MPs for a net $23 win. After using the computers at the Business Office we settled in our room for some rest and nap. After consuming Today’s Featured Cocktail – a Bloody Mary (2 Sips), we departed the Orleans for Ventano’s Italian Grill and Seafood on Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. This beautiful restaurant, offering incredible views of the valley, is probably our favorite for Southern Italian fare. Tonight we shared a bountiful Caesar salad, eggplant rollatini and a crÃ¨me brulee. Everything was delicious and service was top notch. ($20.86, KSHP, 4 Forks) We were pretty much worn out at this stage of the trip so we called it an early night. 09/30 The beat goes on as I again took my lickin’ and kept on playin’ at the South Point this morning. It was senior day at the Fiesta-Henderson so we took advantage of the Â½ points special by ordering the $2.49, up 50 cents since our last visit, breakfast special at the Baja CafÃ© of (2) eggs, toast, bacon and home fries. ($0, comp, 2.5 Forks) On exiting the coffee shop we played (2) $25 MPs from the LVA plus (2) $5 MPs from the Fiesta magazine for a total win of $28. A short session on the FPDW machines resulted in my #5 quad deuces of the trip plus a small win for Ms. Westie. Our next stop was Sam’s where we played our last (2) $25 MPs for another $23 gain. We swung by the Clark County Library to return 3 books that Ms. Westie read on the trip. My reading was confined to an aspirin bottle and the RJ. On our return to the Orleans I checked-in for our Southwest Airlines return flight and secured boarding passes. It was Tuesday night and time for the Westies to Mix and Mingle in the Bourbon Street lounge while listening to the band Jamestown featuring Tyriq Johnson and enjoying Today’s Featured Cocktail, a Strawberry daiquiri (2 Claps and 2 Sips). http://tinyurl.com/57xxlt Dinner was at another upscale video poker bar, Vox Wine Lounge on Horizon Ridge Parkway in Henderson. The formal dining room and intimate lounge area were very impressive, but the night was comfortable so we dined on the terrace. The chef’s pedigree is equally impressive having most recently served as the executive sous chef at San Francisco’s Aqua. Both he and the pastry chef have experience working at the Bouchon restaurant in Napa Valley so we had high expectations and were not disappointed. Ms. Westie ordered the seared ahi tuna over garlic noodles with red cabbage and carrots. My entrÃ©e proved to be the best of the trip – miso glazed black cod with bok choy and wasabi pommes puree. We also shared a rather pedestrian dish of steamed rapini. The highlight of the evening for Ms. Westie was a hazelnut chocolate mousse with shortbread and hazelnut crÃ¨me. I used a $50 gift certificate purchased for $23.50 at http://partydeals.931theparty.com/cc...n/ddindex2.php, but discount certificates are also available at restaurant.com. ($38.61, 4.5 Forks) The evening was concluded with a short video poker session at the Fiesta-Henderson. 10/01 My feeble attempt at a “Hail Mary” at the South Point was decidedly un-Flutie like. We returned to Green Valley Ranch for our “last breakfast” – melon with strawberry yogurt, cooked-to-order pancakes and bacon. ($0, LVA/Comp, 2.5 Forks) With time running down we drove to the South Point for our final losing session under Benny’s watchful eye before returning the car. The staffing at airport security seems to have been bolstered so it took very little time before we were seated waiting for our plane to arrive. Though we had boarding passes #30 and #36, we were able to secure exit row seatst. We enjoyed Today’s Featured Cocktail, merlot served in a plastic glass (1 Sip) using SWA coupons plus a second glass comped by our cocktail waitress (flight attendant). We had a stopover in Nashville where we picked up 2 slices of very mediocre cheese pizza at Famiglia ($7.41, 0.5 Forks) before arriving on time in Hartford. Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright. The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light. And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout, but there is no joy in Connecticut this night for the mighty Westies were shut out Yes folks, our streak of nine consecutive winning trips spanning 3 years came to an abrupt ending. Ms. Westie’s estimated hourly profit of $13.30 combined with our gains from using MPs was inadequate to offset my $6.70 estimated hourly loss, an unfortunate example of my losing a small amount on an hourly basis, but making it up in volume. Top 10 Excuses Why The Westies Lost 10. Used slot cards 9. Never found the hot machines 8. Thought the rule was never split Aces 7. Called out “baby needs a new pair of shoes” at the baccarat table 6. The RNG had it in for us 5. Casinos tightened up the VP machines 4. Could not locate a BJ table paying 6/5 3. Counted our money while sitting at the table 2. Left our Wheel of Fortune strategy cards at home 1. The Benny Binion curse I want to thank those who took the time to read, if not digest, this lengthy TR. Please feel free to ask any questions or share your comments. Stay tuned for future updates and I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.