TR Orleans 30 May - 4 Jun 2010 Trip #10 The day my vacation started, with two days to go before leaving for Vegas, I checked my Florida lottery ticket and found I had caught 4 out of 6 numbers for a respectable $70.50. I was hoping this was an omen! As usual this will be a chronological report. For those that donâ€™t know me, Iâ€™m a 56 year old retired sailor with 31 years of navy service. I still work for the navy as a government civilian writing training materials about foreign countries to help sailors understand about other cultures. Thereâ€™s a rumor I may be getting a promotion! We shall see. As usual I bugged and bugged and bugged my bride into making her mind up where to go on vacation. Tunica? Cruise? Graceland? Smoky Mountains? All met with a resounding â€œehâ€ and a refusal to go back to Vegas. On our last trip together in Dec of 2008 her back acted up and laid her low for 3 full days. Needless to say she didnâ€™t have much fun on that trip. Finally I said I was going to go solo and that changed her mind. She spent weeks lining up the medications she might need for back, sinuses, headache, muscle aches, acid indigestion, insomnia and anything else you can think of. I was beginning to think weâ€™d need an extra carry on bag just for the meds. Airline tickets were cheaper than last trip - $350 each and we scored a 2-seat row together on each leg of the flight. Finally the day of the trip arrived and we were ready to hit the airways on our way to Mecca! Sunday, 30 May I had set the alarm for 3:50am for our 6:20am flight. When I woke up I rolled over and groggily looked at the alarm clockâ€¦. 4:54am I rolled over. I rolled over againâ€¦ 4:55am â€œOh $heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeetttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!â€ Pam (the bride) jumped up out of bed. The problem was obvious. We had less than an hour to get to the airport or we would not be able to check in within 30 minutes of the flight. It was like the movie Home Alone with the McAllister family scrambling to get out the door but with only two people. Fast, shared shower. Bag already packed. Throw it in the truck. Scream onto the interstate and get to the airport with minutes to spare. We made it in time and didnâ€™t forget a thing. I learned one thing though, my bride CAN get ready to go somewhere in less than an hour!! After that scramble everything went smoothly. Off to security with no worries and took off on a commuter style jet bound for Dallas/Ft Worth. Had a bite to eat in Dallas at Chiliâ€™s. Bride had pancakes that she said were awful. I had the breakfast tacos that were tasty when a lot of salsa was added. Bride was clutching the armrest all the way but we made it ok. It really was a smooth flight. Once we landed we headed for the baggage area and had a quick smoke outside. By the time we got in our bag was riding the carousel. Took the car rental shuttle and since I had my Dollar express card that had just arrived in the mail the day before we were able to go straight to the garage booth. We had booked 4 days for $162 for a standard car. That meant they could give us just about anything from a midsize up. The unfriendly clerk told me to take anything from row two which were all Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles. These are big cars and I was delighted. Bride hates a big car but Iâ€™m doing the driving. I named it â€œThe Arkâ€ for itâ€™s manly size! Drove to the Orleans via the strip and then Tropicana. Traffic wasnâ€™t bad at all. We parked in the parking garage and schlepped our bags to the check in desk. One of the reasons this trip was a no brainer is I had received an offer for two free nights with $25 food credit. Bride had received an offer for 3 free nights, $50 in food credit and $50 in slot play. I have been to the Orleans at least 5 times, bride once. I assume her offer was better not because of her frequency of visits but vastly superior speed at VP play compared to mine. I take it slow and she types 90 words per minute in comparison. We were assigned (upon my request) a nice room on the 21st floor. If you ask for rooms 2177/78 or 2077/78 they are standard size rooms but are on the same floor as the penthouses. They are more nicely appointed with newer furnishing and plasma TVâ€™s. Alas these turned out to be non smoking. Pam insists on a smoking room. So down to the host office we go and all that is available is 252 in the old tower. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, but I did not let it show. This room turned out to be very convenient. First of all it had a view of the pool. Not there is much â€˜talentâ€™ to see at the Orleans pool but it was ok. Also, we were able to get to and from the room very quickly as it was the first stop on the elevator. Finally we got unpacked and gambled a bit. I hit quad 5â€™s on a DDB VP machine almost right away. I left the bride to gamble and took a break to take advantage of the free WIFI in Seattle's Best to catch up on email and wave to all my Vegas friends back home. â€œNyaah! Iâ€™m in Vegas and youâ€™re not!â€ I wanted to go down to the strip but the bride wanted to stay put for today as she was tired from the flight. I agreed even though I was looking forward to Mon Ami Gabi for dinner. Something at the Orleans will have to do for tonight. After WIFI time I was sitting at the Alligator bar and musing how I never have hit 5 out of 5 on keno ever in Vegas. A second later I did for $200! Then I bopped around and ended up at the Crawfish bar listening to Air Supply (All Out of Love sounded great as I sipped on the Crown and played VP) when dang if I didn't hit 5 out 5 again (same numbers) for another $200! Bride opted for Courtyard Cafe for dinner. She had liver (eck) and I had the Turkey/ Mashed Taters/Stuffing/Cole Slaw extravaganza. It was the biggest plate of food I've ever seen. I didn't even eat 1/3rd of it. Tasty though. Met up with a friend from the board (Isles1) and introduced him to my bride. There have been meets before where my bride was a no show due to health problems but now there are more witnesses that know that Pam exists! Pam lost but very slowly. Retired about 3am with the bankroll 100 percent intact. Monday, 31 May Unbeknownst to me the clock on my nightstand was set an hour ahead of local time. So instead of getting up at 7am I got up at 6am. I was planning to go do â€˜somethingâ€™ with Isles1/Mike so I was sitting in the Seattle's Best using the WIFI again. Isles1 showed up and we headed down to the Vegas sign and took each others photo and some gent offered to take our photo. Nice of him. Neither of us was sure what we wanted to do so we parked at Mandalay Bay and walked over to Luxor, over to Excalibur, over to NYNY and then over the pedestrian bridge to MGM. I wanted to show him the Lionâ€™s Share progressive machine which still stands at 2.2 plus million. Ran 60 bucks through it with few wins but it is a tradition of mine to try. Someday somebody is going to win that thing! Started to head back and I had told Isles1 that I always run $21 through the Megabucks. He pointed to a bank of them against the wall. What the heck I said, and picked the end machine with Double Diamond Deluxe. Put in my $21 and spun away. Suddenly (no not the big one) it came up Double Diamond and two triple bars for a sweet $240 win! On the way back, or maybe it was on the way over, we saw this joint that sold bobble heads of real people. I guess they take your photo and then craft a bobble head out of you. Got out of there faster than a jackrabbit on a date and retraced our steps to Mandalay Bay. Stopped at the McDonalds across the street where a new Discount Tickets joint is. Our walk had given us a bit of a hunger so we just had some Egg McMuffins and iced coffees. Isles1 had never seen Ellis Island so over to Koval we went. Told him about the $10 freeplay (24 hours later) for signing up for a card so he did that. Returned to Orleans at it was still only 10:30am and it already felt like a full day. The bride was up when I returned losing as is her habit. I asked if she wanted to get out of here for awhile and she agreed. We drove the whale-sized Mercury Grand Marquis to Red Rock Canyon. It now costs $7 to enter Red Rock Canyon. It used to be $5 last year. I guess they have to pay for the new visitorâ€™s center which is gorgeous. Lots of information, animal statues and a nice little gift shop. Most of the information is outside and in the 15-20 minutes we spent touring the joint we both got sunburned (it is the desert, after all). We took the drive and didnâ€™t really stop anywhere but drove slow. There were actually people rock climbing without the assistance of ropes. Not something Iâ€™d attempt! After the drive we stopped at Red Rock casino and signed up for players cards (actually, I already had one, just couldnâ€™t find it). Pam got a whopping $3 of freeplay but before using that we used our cards to get $2 off the Feast Buffet. This buffet ended up costing us $21 for lunch. Not bad really. And I have to say all the hype is true. This is just about the best buffet I have enjoyed with Wynn probably a slight bit better. The Italian station was sensational. I had some meatballs and manicotti. Also enjoyed some sweet & sour chicken from the Asian bar. Pam said the mashed potatoes were homemade and the best she ever had. I tried them and agreed. The dessert bar was to die for. Pam had chocolate and apple pie. I had some cappuccino ice cream and German chocolate cake which was outstanding! After that we played her free play which took all of about 10 seconds. We both played a $20 on VP with no results. Driving back we talked about attending the Price is Right and the Tournament of Kings. Finally, something she found interesting. We stopped at a discount ticket place across from Mandalay Bay, I forget the name. They had tickets for the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur, but the show started at 6pm and includes dinner but we were too full from the Red Rock buffet to think about eating again that quickly. They didnâ€™t sell Price is Right tickets so I planned to check Tickets 4 Tonight on Tuesday. We headed back to the Orleans and realized how sunburned we were. Just on the face and arms but it really makes you weary. But instead of taking a nap we went up to the Cineplex to see what movies were playing. We figured weâ€™d catch Iron Man 2 later in the week. Started gambling a little bit and believe it or not, I was sitting at the Mardi Gras bar and those same keno numbers (41, 42, 51, 61, 72) hit again for a $200 win. I could not believe they hit again, especially after so many trips with zero hits on 5 numbers. Usually keno does nothing for me and VP gives me all my major hits. Tonight we planned to take the shuttle down to Billâ€™s and experiment with my new camera. So far it hasnâ€™t missed a beat. I just bought it a couple of weeks before the trip because my old camera took lousy indoor and night photos. I basically went into Best Buy and asked the salesperson for a camera for a dumba$$ that was idiot proof and took great photos. Bride hit the Aces for $200 to restore her bankroll. We were hungry but not starving so we had a cup of Boston clam chowder and split a shrimp cocktail at Big Alâ€™s Oyster Bar. We always enjoy this and stop by Big Alâ€™s every trip. Pointed ourselves towards the shuttle at dusk to head for the strip and the ultimate test of my new camera. We had to wait awhile for the shuttle. First two were full. While we were waiting someone tapped my arm and I turned around to find that it was another Vegas forum friend Pebbles and her hub Tony. We chatted for awhile. They were at Orleans for three nights on a slot tournament invite. Hmmm, why didnâ€™t I get invited? The shuttle finally arrived and we were dropped off at Barbary Billâ€™s. The strip was packed as we made our way over to the Bellagio. Practically none of the escalators to the pedestrian bridges were working. This has seemed to be the case on my last few visits. I hope they rectify this situation soon. There were also some homeless gents sleeping on the wall around Ballyâ€™s. I remember thinking we would probably be happier having just stayed at Orleans. As we made our way into Bellagio some guy was screaming into his phone â€œIâ€™m leaving $%#$!â€ with two Bellagio security staff hot on his trail. We didnâ€™t wait to see what the commotion was about. Pam needed water so we stopped at the Fontana bar and put in a $20. The bartender informed us of the new policy that if you want a drink you have to be playing. So Pam put in a $20 in the machine next to mine. The bartender further informed us that current policy was that if you are playing less than 5 credits at a time the second round had to be paid for. Not only that, Bellagio will soon be conforming to the policy of Wynn â€“ NO comped drinks at VP bars whether you are playing or not. Sad state of affairs. Pam lost her buy-in, I managed to save mine. We made our way to the conservatory, snapped a couple of pictures and got out of there â€“ it was a madhouse. We headed outside so I could take some night shots. Just as we got to the railing by the fountains Elton Johnâ€™s â€˜Your Songâ€™ started to play. Believe it or not this was the first time Iâ€™ve seen the fountains at night. Awesome! Bride was impressed that the show started just as we arrived. It was pure luck! Snapped some photos and from what I can tell they came out spectacular. The photos I took of Paris, Ballyâ€™s and Billâ€™s looked really clear and sharp. I had planned on taking the bride down to Aria via the monorail, but the crowds dissuaded us. We made our way back to Billâ€™s via Caesarâ€™s pedestrian walkways which also had FUBAR escalators. Fortunately the shuttle was pulling up as we approached and we got right on. Unfortunately the AC wasnâ€™t working and we were already hot and sticky from the heat of the strip. It was a long ride back to Orleans and we went straight to the room to clean up. Then it was on to the gambling. It was already 9:30pm and I had no buzz. Luis at the Alligator bar took care of that in short order. He knows me well and always makes my drinks strong. Thanks Luis! While I was playing my good friend Duck (Dave) showed up and we had a short chat. He had just got in with two female companions and they were starving. Didnâ€™t see them again for the rest of the night but they are not VP rats like us and donâ€™t frequent the VP bars. Unfortunately the gambling gods had turned against me. No longer were my keno numbers hitting nor was I getting any VP hits. I lost about $200 and had to go to the room to reload my wallet. Long story short, I almost lost that but hit the Aces on DB VP, a straight flush on DDB VP and a few other quads that kept me about even before I finally went to bed at 5am. Dumb A$$! But in reality Pam had won a bit so we were now only down a couple of hundred for the trip. Not bad considering the crazy pace weâ€™d been keeping. Tuesday, 1 June Got up around 11am this morning and had breakfast at the Courtyard CafÃ©. They had a special called â€œDeuces Wildâ€ with 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausage links, 2 eggs and 2 pancakes for $5.25. We split it so it was a very cheap meal. I only gambled a little this morning with poor results. I have a new set of keno numbers I was trying with live keno too. We had a meet scheduled in less than 4 hours so we decided to stay put. Gambling this day was a disaster of epic proportions. Both of us lost about $200 each before 2pm so we gambled together which we never do unless things are desperate. Itâ€™s not that we donâ€™t enjoy each otherâ€™s company, it just isnâ€™t as fun as when you are not winning. I needed to recharge my wallet and Pam decided to take a nap. I knew the meet was coming up at 4pm so I asked her to head that way when the time came. Iâ€™ve had meets before where the bride was a no-show and the running gag is now that my bride is actually fictitious. So when the time came for the meet the bride was still sawing logs up in the room and once again everyone figured I was making the whole thing up. If my notes are correct attendees include Duck and friends, MBRNKL, Frank and Gene from Open Vegas, Rhonda, ChrissUK, LV Norm and bride, Isles1, Tess, Pebbles and hub Tony. It was a great group and there was never any lack of conversation. I was enjoying a few Sam Adams and everyone else was enjoying their favorite poison. Finally after about 2 hours I was starving since we hadnâ€™t eaten since 11am. I called the bride and she was not answering the phone. I started to get worried so I excused myself and headed up to the room to check on her. Well she was just getting dressed after a very long and satisfying nap. Neither of us nap but I guess the constant go-go-go lifestyle drains you after awhile. So I was able to quell everyoneâ€™s suspicions and produced Pam to everyone left at the meet. We stayed and talked for another hour until I insisted we were going to eat. My stomach had the â€œuree-urpsâ€ if you know what I mean. This group did not want to break the party up. Rhonda, ChrissUK & friend, Tess, and Pam and I decided to eat at the buffet. It was already past 7pm and there was no line. We used our cards for $4 off (for us over 50 types). The buffet was just ok. After Red Rock it was really a letdown. I had a salad and then some turkey with cranberry sauce, baked potato and tamale with salsa. I told Chriss I was celebrating Thanksgiving and Cinco de Mayo simultaneously! After the buffet we parted ways and the gambling losses continued to mount. I even strayed from my keno numbers and watched in horror as they came up without me being on them. I returned to the formula after that and did not stray, being rewarded with another last-minute win with those same magic numbers. I did have some luck on a Bonus progressive machine that turned my $20 into $80 over a long period of playing. Other than a few quads here and there the gambling has not gone well. Hit the rack about 3am and bride was turning in as well. Wednesday, 2 June Itâ€™s now Wednesday and we are on the downside of our trip. Plan was to look for discount tickets to the Price is Right at Ballyâ€™s and Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. Itâ€™s not my cup of tea but the bride thought it might be fun. Budget wise we are on track, by which I mean an acceptable monetary loss per day. Still have a couple of days to turn it around. Ya gotta have faith! Started our day with some Seattleâ€™s Best coffee and a piece of carrot cake (for me) and a chocolate milk and banana nut muffin (for her). We took the Grand Marquis, or as it has came to be known, the Ark, out of the garage and headed for the strip. I thought the Ticket 4 Tonight location near Peppermill would be best. There were not many people in line. Even though there were only 3 people ahead of me, it took almost 30 minutes to get to the front. Everyone had â€˜questionsâ€™. We had decided on the Price is Right and to skip Tournament of Kings since it seemed to be too much to do in one day. Got our vouchers and headed for Ballyâ€™s. Parked in the garage and made our way to the Box Office. Exchanged our vouchers which were about 18 dollars cheaper than the standard cost. Checked in via the loooong line which moved pretty quickly. Got our name tags and free photo by the big wheel which we can downloaded later for free - they give you a card with a website address and access code. Tried some VP which always treats me horribly on the strip. Lost $140 in about an hour while Pam hit four 4â€™s on DB VP (dealt) and four 4â€™s on BP VP. So her win cancelled out my loss. We were hungry so we checked out the food options between Ballyâ€™s and Paris. Settled on a place across from the Paris buffet â€“ I canâ€™t pronounce the name much less spell it â€“ and enjoyed a slice of pizza and shared a drink for $9.99. Not cheap but reasonable for the location. Just had time to go into the Jubilee theater and get seated. Had dead center seats in section C, row F. Everyone that was called won something, but no one ever called either of our names. When the showcase event came one person was called up for the second time who had won tons of prizes earlier. It is supposed to be random and they emphasize that but I have my doubts. They both bid over the cost of the showcase so got nothing. My bid (privately between the bride and I) was $15,200 which include a car. I was over by about 50 bucks! We returned to Orleans agreeing to meet later for dinner at Don Miguelâ€™s. My luck turned for the better with my keno numbers bringing me a much needed $200 win. I ventured out on the floor and played on a DDB VP progressive hitting four 5â€™s for another $60 win. Returning to the Alligator bar I had four 3â€™s dealt to me on DB VP for another $100 win. Luis, my favorite bartender, kept my flask full of Crown while I racked up a few more wins. When I got too hungry to continue I was ahead over $300. Returned to the room to clean up and call Pam for dinner. We met at Don Miguelâ€™s and had a great meal; well at least I did. I had the beef and chicken taco combo with refried beans and rice. Pam had the steak, she said it was tough. At least I got in some Mexican food this trip. The gambling turned ugly again after dinner. I did have some success with various quads at the Crawfish and Piano bars. The band at the Piano bar both Tuesday and Wednesday nights was outstanding. Even Pam hung around awhile even though she doesnâ€™t like playing at that particular bar. To make a long story short I was up to the room to retrieve the cash I had stashed from my previous wins. There was no magic left in my keno numbers or VP prowess. Gave it up about 3am. Thursday, 3 June This morning I had some coffee and VP at the Alligator bar before returning the rental car. Our flight is at 7:10am on Friday and we wanted the extra time for sleep that would otherwise be lost if we had to return the car on Friday. My plan was to return to the Orleans via the Bell Trans shuttle so I took the airport shuttle first. Quick and easy and I bought my shuttle ticket for $8 and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally they crammed 10 of us in a passenger van and of course I was dropped off last after stops and Signature and MGM. Still it was the cheapest way to go. After returning to the Orleans Pam and I had a great breakfast at the Courtyard CafÃ©, her official favorite place to eat. I indulged in eggs benedict and Pam had the corned beef hash and eggs. Both were very good. The amount of our remaining bankroll was pitiful but we werenâ€™t about to give up yet. Regardless of the outcome weâ€™d had a great time. We played for a few hours and as bad it was going it got worse. We decided a break was in order so we went to the 2:10pm showing of Iron Man 2. We both enjoyed the film while munching on popcorn and sipping on sodas. The movie was not as good as the original, but entertaining. We split up the remainder of our cash and agreed to call when we were hungry (the popcorn had filled us up). I had some good luck at the Crawfish bar garnering four Jacks on DDB VP twice within an hour. Iâ€™ve always found it odd that you can get the same four of a kind (4OAK) within a 20 minute period or so but I guess thatâ€™s just the software slappinâ€™ it your face. Bride called saying she was finally hungry and wanted to eat at, you guessed it, the Courtyard CafÃ©. I admit, the food is pretty rock solid and the service is generally excellent. But on my solo trips I always have one fine dining meal. To my horror the bride told me she didnâ€™t like the Prime Rib Loft which is my absolute favorite at the Orleans. I also didnâ€™t get to eat at Mon Ami Gabi this trip. But this was all about making this a fun trip for the bride since the last trip saw her out of the action for 3 days with back problems. Ya gotta take care of your bride! Bride had the liver, again (ack!) and I chose a giant Courtyard burger. I realized I hadnâ€™t had one steak this whole trip. Incredible! But the lure of a burger was too hard to resist. It came with seasoned fries and was very bad for me, so I thoroughly enjoyed it! The rest of the night was consumed with, you guessed it, more losses. But as I sat at the Alligator bar sucking down those extra strong Crown Royals Luis was pouring me I realized something. I could do this every day of my life until my liver hardened into a stone. I just love these days I can spend here in my favorite place. Had to call it a night around 10:30pm since we had to be up at 4:30 am for our return flight. Set up a wakeup call and also set the alarm on my cell phone to prevent a repetition of the disaster on our fly out day! Woke up before the alarm and did what we all have to do to get ready for the day. I had contacted our host the day before and with Pamâ€™s superior speedy play all was comped. So even with our bankroll lost the room, food and drinks were 100 percent comped. I guess a vacation like that would have cost just about what our bankroll had been anyway. Grabbed a cab in front of Orleans. Driver was Russian and I made sure to ask if he was taking the surface streets. He assured me he was and commenced to tell bad Obama jokes that were not even close to being funny. I chuckled just to humor him. True to his word the fare was only $14.50, just about right for the distance. I should have allowed another half hour for check in as the place was a zoo, particularly security. I screwed up because our bag was overweight at check in and I aimlessly shoved items into our carry on bag and our toilet kit was one of them. When we got to security the hair spray for Pam and the shaving cream for me were verboten items. We lost those but no big whoop. When we got to Dallas and exited for a smoke our bag popped again. This time for the humidifier we were carrying. It was all sorted out and we got to the gate on time. We are now back home and here are some final thoughts: - Always bring a portable humidifier if you suffer from sinus problems in the dry desert environment. I read about this so picked up a portable unit at Walgreenâ€™s. It was only about $20 and uses a 20 ounce bottle of water. I had zero sinus problems this trip and Pam said I never snored once except the last night after it had been packed. - We both love the Orleans. It has everything we want. I actually think we could spend a week there and not feel pressured to leave the property. The comps are more generous again (thanks to the brideâ€™s play, mostly). - The strip, especially at night around the intersection of Tropicana and LVB is a zoo. Bums, crowds, broken escalators all combine to make the experience less pleasurable. - Donâ€™t be afraid to drive in Vegas. It is now officially safe. I never drink when I drive. - Donâ€™t be afraid not to do too much. I usually go â€˜balls to the wallâ€™ but I suffer for it and sometimes get a bit ill. Itâ€™s a vacation - enjoy it. - Do see Red Rock Canyon. Itâ€™s a beautiful, historic site. - Do try the Red Rock casino buffet. I hate buffets and thought it was fabulous. - Always carry a litter bag in your car. It doesnâ€™t take up much room and if it gets full you can just toss it out the window. (FYI that is a joke from Steve Martin for you environmentalists!) All photos can be seen here: http://community.webshots.com/album/577877461PHhnNZ (there are 4 pages). That is all folks. Thanks for reading!