Most everyone here will have difficulty to relating to my experiences, but that is one of the strong points of T2V – we have a wide range of diversity as trip-takers. My primary objective for traveling to Vegas was to escape the bitter cold of northern Illinois and get in some trail/road running. The plan was to hit Zion up for a couple days and then back to Vegas for a couple more. That’s not to say Vegas doesn’t titillate me, as I have made over 50 trips there in past 15 years. It’s just my priorities have changed over the years. The zenith of Vegas for me was probably around 2004-2006. Definitely had the bug then. I have yet to recapture that spirit and doubt if I ever will. Used to knock out multiple TRs a year. This one is first in over a year. Flew from Rockford, IL on Allegiant to rainy and chilly Sunday night in Las Vegas. Not exactly what this weather-weary person wanted and my mood did not brighten at the Payless car rental counter. The wait was close to an hour and then it was the typical up-sell spiel. You almost have to approach some of these places with a combat mentality. With the haggling finally over, I went out to pick up the economy vehicle I had ordered. What do I find instead – a mini van. Seems no economy cars are available and it could be up to an hour for one to come in. So, it’s back to the counter to engage in more combat. After the 3.5 hr flt, the long wait at the counter and now this, my ability to do battle was almost gone. Reluctantly, I settled for a smaller SUV and headed off for Laughlin, not Zion. That same storm was dumping snow and rain on Zion, which would preclude any trail running, plus making it miserable to be outside. At a lower elevation and 250 miles south, Laughlin seemed a better option. Wanting to get completely out of town and also being hungry, I drove as far as the Railroad Pass casino, located between Henderson and Boulder City. If you’ve never been there, certainly don’t make a special trip; but its kind of a cool location up on the pass and it has a serene vibe. Tried the $8.99 dinner buffet and was thankful it was Philly Steak Sandwich nite. The buffet itself was on par with CC, the old IP and the Boardwalk. But, a saving grace for many a poor buffet is the solitary cooking station, be it omelets, pasta, sir fry, etc. Very good sandwich on a grilled hoagie, smothered in grilled onion, peppers, mushrooms and provolone. Had two large ones and a little salad and for the price, well worth it. Since this is a Vegas TR forum, I’ll briefly touch on my time in Laughlin. Stayed at the Edgewater for $18/nite (resort fees haven’t traveled that far south yet) and was delighted with the accommodations. Since one of my objectives was to run, I waited for the rain to stop Monday morning and then left on a 20-miler south of town. At least I thought the precipitation was over; after all, an inch had come down overnight. About eight miles away from civilization on a deserted mountain road, it started to sprinkle, then rain hard and then hail (at least only pea-sized, not golf ball). With only shorts and a t-shirt and a temperature drop, there was slight concern for hypothermia. But, my body heat was sufficient to keep warm enough until I could find shelter about five miles later. I waited the storm out, wrung my clothes out and kept on going until I got the full 20 miles in. Had to get all 20 in, since that was one of the purposes for traveling to southern Nevada. Running back into town, through much standing water on roadways, there were plows pushing dirt and sand off the roads from flooding, exactly like our plows back home do with snow. The best part was arriving back the hotel parking lot and seeing a row of cars parked in the 20-minute only registration area be covered in muck and also water on the inside. Like any hotel, those spots are supposed to be for guests checking in, not people availing themselves of the primo parking. Well, all those same abusers got a rude awakening when they went back out later (certainly more than 20 minutes) to retrieve their vehicle. Sometimes justice is served. The weather finally cleared up Tuesday and got some generalized hiking in and then proceeded back to Vegas, with the perfunctory stop at Searchlight, Harry Reid’s hometown. Threw a buck in a Deuces Wild slot machine and hit five-of-a-kind. That was to be a precursor of things to come in Vegas. In fact, I immediately hit up downtown to use up a cornucopia of gambling coupons, courtesy of LVA and Allegiant. On Allegiant action alone, I profited enough to nearly pay for my airfare (read travel section for more info). I visited the Downtown Grand for the first time and truly hope this place can make it. Every employee was service-oriented and the BJ dealer was especially friendly. I was shocked when he offered to put up the double-down bet on the house for me. It was a new promo the DG started to drum up more business. They must be desperate. On this trip, I mainly used MP and free slot play coupons and came out $295 ahead, greatly aided by lucky hands. Continuing with the bargain-basement approach to lodging, my three nights in Vegas were at the Wild West Days Inn ($26/nite including resort fees), about a half mile west of NYNY. Scoffers be warned, I was quite pleased with: 1.) one of the more comfortable beds I’ve slept on in Vegas, 2.) the overall room remodel, 3.) expedient front desk help with check in, boarding pass printing, etc, 4.) free breakfast in adjoining Dennys, 5.) outdoor hot tub, 6.) solitude of being away from the action, 7.) larger cable selection than most Vegas hotels, 8.) $3 BJ, 9.) adequate second-story view of the Strip, 10.) IN N Out across the street. And, it still has some of the old charm left, with hookers on prowl in the adjoining truck lots. One drawback was location. I didn’t care to drive the SUV around Vegas, so I returned it a couple days early. Thus, I either ran or walked places, which was find with me, as I wanted to get another 30 miles or so of training in. Strangest thing that happened was being in the hot tub one afternoon in a nearly deserted pool area, with a horny hair stylist who was looking for some “physical” fun on her last day there and two other women who just got into town for a “Passion Party” convention. It was a quite a conversation between the four of us. And, at the Wild West Days Inn of all places. Being the T2V resident buffetologist, I made a point to check out a few joints. Green Valley for dinner was as good as ever. The same with Bellagio, though it has a tired appearance to it, as far as employees and food offerings go, if that makes any sense. On my way to airport, the former Terribles (now Silver Sevens) is my usual stop off, because of its location and menu simplicity. They’ve done a slight redo and it was well worth the $3.75 LVA 50% off price. My pre-boarding dining philosophy if to stay away from the gourmet spreads and keep it simple. Something like baked tilapia (in a surprisingly good sauce), roasted potatoes, a green salad, fresh fruit and frozen yogurt. I did a walk through at Excalibur and it has a whole new look to it, much more upscale (but is that saying much?). Had a LVA 2-1 buffet at Cosmo that expires March 31. Being a solo traveler this time, I couldn’t use it. Was able to pass it on to a random couple and they were quite grateful to save the $40 that one dinner costs. Had to take a break from buffets and did P.F. Changs at PH one of days instead. Was seated outside and had the good fortune to be straight across from a quality street entertainer. He poses as a statue in Elvis makeup and occasionally jumps out to startle people. He has a reel of music that spans all tastes and actually gives the S.E. profession a good name, a rarity on Strip sidewalks and Fremont St. Took in Carrot Top at the Luxor and learned a valuable lessen. Show up at the box office minutes before the show starts and you will get a substantial discount. Of course, be fairly certain it is not sold out. My ticket was $33 with all fees and was center stage, four rows up. Liked his energy and personality, but, most comics (including CT and his warm-up act) are becoming so wearisome with the vulgarity, profanity and sexual references. It not’s that funny to me, though I am a huge fan of Vinnie Favorito. Finished my goal of running about 50-60 miles and had enough left to walk back to the airport, via a detour to Silver Sevens for lunch. Had one final stroke of luck on the Allegiant flight back home. Was initially seating in the middle towards the back of the plane. The flight attendant asked if anyone wanted to move to the front. I said sure and found a row of seats all to myself.