Flights We flew America West out of Colorado Springs. The flights were fine with no long delays. The plane was a small jet (less than 100 seats); kind of a new experience for me as I usually fly out of Denver. The Springs airport is small, but what a refreshing change! It probably took all of 15 minutes from our parking space through check-in and out to the gate! (It was Sunday night, and this was the last flight out for the night.) The only complaint I had was the lack of food at the airport. There was only one bar open, with limited food choices as they were about to close (this was at 7:30PM). Hotel We got a good package deal on America West, staying at the Golden Nugget. It was great. They upgraded us to the North tower and the room was immaculate and beautiful. No view (6th floor), but I really didn't care. The service was great; we asked for and got a coffeepot in the room which made me happy (thanks to LV Ron for that tip!) I also liked the in-room safe! We sat out by the pool for an hour or so one day, despite the 110o heat. The pool area is very nice but I don't know how anyone could sit in the sun for more than a few minutes. I moved to the shade after 15 minutes or so but plenty of people were sunbathing. Food Our package included a $50 food and beverage credit at the GN, so we ate our breakfasts there, 2 at the coffeeshop and 1 at the buffet. All were good. We would have eaten at the buffet more, but the lines were sooo long... I asked about a line pass when I signed up for the slot club, but they said they don't give ANY comps until you put 40 points on your card... and you need to run $75 through for each point. Let's see... $75 x 40 = $3000... we'll stand in line, thank you... (that was the only thing I didn't like about the GN. The gambling and slot club sucked.) We also had 2 great desserts in the coffeeshop; a brownie/peanutbutter sundae and to-die-for apple crisp! When we got to LV, we walked over to the Golden Gate and had a pastrami sandwich at their deli. Delicious and the piano man was great. I loved it there; thanks Sonya and Mikey! Our first dinner was at the brewpub at Main Street Station. I had wanted to try it for a long time; unfortunately it didn't live up to its reputation. My steak was pretty good, and Larry's salmon was good, but the salad was iceberg lettuce with a few tomato slices, the rice was rice-a-roni wild rice mix, and the potato wasn't cooked enough. The beer, however, was excellent. I had the amber ale, Larry had the wheat beer. I liked my amber ale better, the wheat was too smooth. I like a hoppsy flavor with a little bite. We tasted their beer of the month, which was a rather funky mango cream ale. The second night (my birthday) we dined at the Redwood Bar and Grill at the California. Now, THIS was fabulous. The dining room is beautiful and the food was wonderful. I had lightly seared ahi and crabmeat which was wrapped in seaweed and cut to look like sushi, Larry had steak. Two glasses of wine and two dinners (salad included - and it was a good one) came to $55 before tip. I thought that was reasonable. We had originally planned to go to Todai for the sushi buffet (free for my birthday), but decided against it because, well, we were having so much fun downtown that I didn't want to fight the crowds on the strip. Plus the hassle of transportation to the Aladdin, then to the LV Hilton for the show (see next section)... I thought we'd waste way too much precious time! Shows I was looking for things to do other than gamble, so one night we went to an Elvis tribute at Fitzgeralds. It starred Craig Newell and he was good. Not that he sounded or looked so much like Elvis, but he was a good entertainer. And it was free with a 1 drink purchase. Well worth it! For my birthday, I bought tickets to see the Smothers Brothers. They were great! They still look good and sound good. Tommy did Yo-Yo man and there was the usual bickering. They showed a great slide/video retrospective with old pictures of their family and clips from their shows. I've been a fan of theirs since their first TV show (I was 10 years old). Gambling O.k., the part everyone is waiting for. We played our usual: BJ, VP, and a little slots. Larry even tried his hand at craps! (I was having way too much fun with full pay VP to join him). Blackjack was up a little, down a little. I don't wager a lot ($5/hand, occasionally less); I think one session I was up $50 and that was the best I did. We did sit down at a VERY rowdy and fun table at the 4 Queens one night with a dealer named Wayne; I wasn't winning but it was too fun to leave! Finally left at about 12:45 because I could barely keep my eyes open... I played VP (DW and JOB) at the California, the Plaza, Las Vegas Club, and Binion's. Full pay at most for quarters; I also played some nickels and a dollar machine at the airport which wasn't full pay but I played one coin at a time to kill a little time... and I ended up cashing out $10 up! At the Plaza, I got 4 deuces on a quarter machine on our last morning!!!! That made my trip! Then I found a full pay JOB at Las Vegas Club, and while Larry was playing craps, I managed to turn $10 into $50! We played a few slots; I never do very well but Larry occasionally does. He sat down at one machine while we were waiting for the GN buffet; I noticed the name was "Lucky Larry's Lobstermania" so I handed him $5 to play and he turned it into a hand pay of $58! So... I came home with a little more money than I left with, after buying one dinner, a couple of cab fares, and some other incidentals. I was happy with that! Other Stuff When we got to LV, we just took the first shuttle we saw... and it stopped at a bunch of strip hotels before dropping us off downtown; it took over an hour to get downtown. Do they not have dedicated downtown shuttles?! Or should we have looked around before we hopped on one? We just didn't think about that! Don't try to take public transportation from downtown to the LV Hilton. We took the strip express bus to the Stratosphere (waited in 110o heat for the bus), hoping to catch the trolley to the Hilton. Only the trolley goes to the Hilton on the northbound route, NOT southbound (as it shows it in their ad in LV Today). Also, the ad says the fare is $1.50 but it's really $1.65... go figure. This was the latest issue of the magazine. Nothing like false advertising. We ended up taking a cab. We checked out the El Cortez; it wasn't as much of a dump as I thought it would be, but the blackjack tables were all full and they were testing the fire alarm system, which was annoying to say the least, so we left. I thought the Lady Luck was dumpier than the El Cortez, although I had some good luck there. Maybe my impression was biased by the feeling that I was about to get a migraine; don't know. And speaking of migraines, the Fremont St. Experience is great unless your migraines are triggered by bright flashing lights... I did manage to avert one, thank God. I wanted to try my hand at a nickel video slot (again, although I never have any luck at them), so I put a $10 bill in one, and hit "max bet", only to realize that it took 120 coins for max bet! What a rip off! THAT $10 went quickly! For you VP fans, did you know that the VP machines at the California have little wrist supports? A little slanted plastic piece on the front of the machine; I've never seen them anywhere else. What a great invention! (Wish I had thought of it, though!) Now that I've stayed downtown, I'm not sure I'll ever stay on the strip again! I'm a convert! I love BJ and full pay VP, and I can get them both downtown without the crowds or the smut peddlers! And it's an easy walk to the next casino! I loved it, and can't wait to go back. Maybe in December... if I can wait that long!