Well, I'm finally settled into my new condo enough so I can pick up the keyboard instead of a paint brush! I've been pretty absent lately... As I did on my July trip, I split my stay between the RIO and Marnell's MResort...I LIKE THE VARIETY! SOUTHWEST had canceled their early morning flight (6:00am-ish) due to lack of interest, so I booked the 8am non stop to Vegas. This put me at the RIO's Platinum registration around 10:00 and hey!...less time to wait for my room! 'Rose' in the Diamond/Platinum registration area knew I would be there that morning and was already watching for the rooms I like...(who needs a host when I got Rose!) 'sonntexDeldelo' and I took our time over RIO's breakfast buffet...I still think it's one of the best and I love having dessert for breakfast. (the Harrah's brain surgeons changed MY CARROT CAKE recipe, so I make the best of the dessert counter) TOO BAD too...that was great carrot cake and the new version doesn't hold a candle to the old one! Got one of my usual rooms on the 14th floor and unpacked around 2:00. Looking down on the pool area, I was curious if the SAPPHIRE POOL was open again to the regular guests...YES it was! Remember... the RIO was busted a while back for drugs and prostitution in that pool area. The topless Sapphire babes are gone for now and the pool has returned to the guests as it should be however...even though this is the largest and nicest pool area, it was closed during the week due to guest numbers. RIO's hangin' in there. It was busy, lots of folks eating and gambling. VOODOO STEAK, The All American Bar and Grill, BUZIO'S, Martorano's, GAYLORD'S, HAMADA'S, McFaddens Irsih Pub, RUB BBQ, and the Sao Paulo Cafe were all open. One of the maintenance guys had taken down the 'closed' LUCKY STRIKE bowling alley signs...filling the holes in the brick wall and getting ready for the next...??? He'd heard nothing in re. to what would be in there next. 'CHANGE' service on the floor is slow. Before the economy crashed and burned, you could find 3 change people on each side of the casino...3 on Masquerade side, 3 on the buffet side. Today, they use just 3 for the whole property (unless someone is on vacation/sick) then there's only 2. The SLOTS were tight, VP stinks (as usual), but over all, the service is still real good and the RIO is ALIVE and WELL! I moved to MResort on Wednesday to finish out the week. For me, M has much of the same feel the RIO did 12 years ago. Customer service is great, cocktail service is very good, great rooms and restaurants. The gaming is so-so. I played lots of SLOTS and found them all pretty tight. Video Poker is much better than on the Strip or RIO. In the end, I did come out ahead, but only due to a few 'lucky' big hits/bonus rounds on a couple slot machines and two sizable quad hits on Double Bonus video poker. I've had much better luck over there in the past, but this trip, the WINS were few and far between. It's the ambiance and vibe of M that I enjoy. Folks are very friendly, it looks good, easy to navigate, lots of choices...the distance from Las Vegas doesn't bother me a bit. It's nice to be away from the crazy Strip and crowds! The pool areas (they have 2...) are simple/luxury spa like and very nice. The largest area was closed off so they could set up for the CROSBY STILLS NASH concert over the weekend and the smaller pool covered just fine. I needed a car for one evening and used their in-house Hertz service...very easy and convienent, their own gas station on property...(they didn't charge me for gas... 30 miles to and from the LVHilton) I didn't book a Show for Thursday night. Picking up Show tickets and having a nice sit down dinner are usually at the same time for me, so this trip I just wanted to stay-play-eat at MResort. During my 2 night/3 day stay...I ate at M's RED CUP CAFE, STUDIO B Buffet (I had both breakfast and lunch, good food/good price), MARINELLI's (Italian), BABY CAKES (coffee/bakery), and VELOCE CIBO up on the top floor...(just WONDERFUL!) Friday morning, I got up...did the breakfast buffet again, checked out, and used their free shuttle service to McCarran...I was HOME at 2:30 that afternoon. I'm pretty up to date on the property Shows...until ARIA opens and VIVA ELVIS starts, there aren't a lot of new things to see. I'd hoped to find some 'casuals' in town during my week...and DID! At the HARD ROCK's new JOINT I found the Australian PINK FLOYD tribute band that flawlessly played numerous cuts from PINK FLOYD's long list of hits off quite a few albums...DARK SIDE OF THE MOON etc. The new JOINT is much finer than the original, but pretty much the same feel...just larger with upper level VIP seats and private boxes. The sound is excellent, but I prefer The PEARL over in the PALMS better...it's just classier. I spent from 4pm til 9:30 at the Imperial Palace (with a short break in between when I walked over to BLT burgers in the Mirage) watching 2 good Shows...MATSURI and HUMAN NATURE. I'll have some thoughts on both Shows in ENTERTAINMENT soon... I caught CHER's Show again in the Colosseum...man!, what a great example of what a BIG Las Vegas Show should be like. She's always GREAT FUN!!! Over at the Las Vegas Hilton, I took in Sgt. Pepper LIVE featuring CHEAP TRICK along with a (small) orchestra. All the songs from the album, several guest performers and CHEAP TRICK's rock 'n roll personality but... I found myself enjoying the music more at LOVE than this one... (nothing tops the 'real deal's' music and vocals) ...ANOTHER GOOD TRIP! Lots of fun! I took $4k down/$2,800. HOME NEXT TRIP: December 20-25 WARNING: (for a while...) FLAMINGO and TROPICANA are under construction from 9pm EACH NIGHT...traffic is a bitch and backed up for blocks. Both are shut down to just 1 lane each way... AVOID AT ALL COSTS! lol.