The cast of characters for this trip included myself, my friend and co-worker Cathy, two other co-workers PJ and PW, and my ex-boyfriend Larry (also a co-worker). Cathy and I flew to LV on Thursday night and stayed at the Orleans; PJ and PW flew in Friday morning and stayed at Luxor; Larry drove from Denver, arriving Saturday afternoon, and he stayed at Palace Station. This was the first time in I-don't-know-how-long that I've traveled with anyone other than Larry, my ex-husband, or my mother. I wasn't sure I'd like it, but Cathy was great (the other two women were a whole other story...). TRANSPORTATION: We flew United and our flight to LV was delayed by about an hour due to thunderstorms in Denver. After a bumpy ride, we arrived in LV 1/2 hour late and had to wait quite a while for our luggage. Our return flight was smooth and on time. Rental car was from Dollar, with Fastlane service. I paid $112 for 5 days, compact car. It was a Dodge Neon and it was fine. HOTEL: I really like the Orleans. Our room was in the new tower on the 16th floor, no view (they're now charging $10/night extra for a view room; what a rip-off!) I had been in the old tower last time, so I was eager to see the "new" rooms. Very nice, very spacious, but why they put the door between the sitting area and the vanity area (instead of between the toilet/tub and the vanity area) is beyond me. Someone wasn't thinking. We sat out at the pool every day. The pool may not be as big or elaborate as some on the strip, but it was very nice and there were plenty of lounge chairs. The weather was perfect for sitting out. I started working on my tan (I'm dark-haired but fair skinned; used SPF 8 and never burned), while Cathy, a redhead, took a different approach: She started out without putting any sunscreen on form 1/2 hour or so, then slathered on the SPF 15. By the last day she had a lovely reddish pink color. FOOD: Every morning, I went down to the Seattle's Best coffee stand in the lobby and got us both a cup of coffee. Good way to start the day. We ate at the breakfast buffet at the Orleans 3 mornings. It was very good with lots of variety and couldn't be beat for the cost: $5.50, then I had coupons for $2 off per person. Best item: Fruit (strawberry) crepes, followed closely by the sweet potato pancakes. Sunday brunch was at the Bellagio. The one thing I REALLY wanted to do was have a nice Sunday brunch so we agreed on Bellagio (or so I thought). When we got to the Bellagio, PJ said she knew exactly where the buffet was. I was surprised the line wasn't longer, but we had scored a line pass so we walked right in and were seated - and given menus. We were actually in the coffeeshop - bummer! So I got up to leave and go to the buffet; unfortunately there was some dissention and PW and Cathy wanted to stay where we were. I suggested we split up, but they decided to leave with me. I was ready to kill PJ, who just kept saying that they must have moved the buffet, because she was sure it was by the conservatory the last time she was there. Uh, huh, PJ. The brunch was wonderful, despite a few grumblings about the cost from the others. No, the coffeeshop would NOT have been just as good. My favorite item was a lemon meringue tart for dessert; Cathy raved about the french toast. On the last morning, we had Krispy Kremes in the room. We didn't have lunch every day. All those buffets catch up with you after a while! Friday we ate at the food court at NYNY (I had fish & chips and a mango smoothie) with PJ getting a fruit salad and making comments like "well there's a heart attack waiting to happen!" every time she saw an overweight person eating junky food. However, she had no problem finishing off a piece of my fried fish! The other lunch was the Rio buffet on our last day, before driving to the airport. With the help of coupons, it came to $20 for three of us. Larry really loved the Rio buffet the last time we ate there, and I must say it never disappoints. The selection is amazing and I had some great desserts, too: a slice of very moist chocolate bundt cake and a really tasty key lime pie. One dinner was at Don Miguel's at the Orleans, very cheap with the 2 for 1 fajita coupon from the coupon book we got a check-in. Another dinner was at the Prime Rib Loft, also at the Orleans. The food there was very good, but we all ordered prime rib then the manager came over and told us that they were all out of prime rib! That just seemed a little strange for a prime rib restaurant. They substituted a NY strip steak which was excellent, but I think they could have comped our drinks or given us a bottle of wine or free dessert, also. Cathy ordered a thin mint martini here - wow. Very minty. We ended up at the Main St. Station buffet on Saturday night. It was good but not great and the only dessert that was decent was the bread pudding. PW picked Sir Galahad's at Excalibur for dinner on Monday night. It turned out to be the best dinner of the trip! The restaurant has a medeival decor, dark but elegant. The service was impeccable, the food superb. Dinner with one glass of wine each and tip was $30/person. ENTERTAINMENT: We saw Blue Man Group; this had been planned for PJ and PW, then they found out that tixs were still available and talked Cathy and I into going. We loved it! Cathy and I went to see Neil Sedaka at the Orleans. I had a 2 for 1 coupon for the tickets so it came to $20 each. He is a great showman with lots of energy and he obviously really loves what he does. It was an enjoyable show for the price. Late on Sunday night, Cathy, Larry and I walked by the Irish pub at the Orleans and I decided to peek in to see who was singing. We decided to sit and have a drink and listen. I don't remember the guy's name but he sang a great combination of Irish drinking songs and country music! We took Cathy downtown on Saturday night to see the light show and listen to music. Only saw one light show because it was difficult to pry me away from the nickel JOB VP at the Plaza, though. I love downtown and was glad that Cathy enjoyed the light show. GAMBLING: Because my friends (with the exception of Larry) aren't big gamblers, I probably gambled less than I normally would. As a lot of you know, I'm a low-roller, so if you think it's silly to play nickels, etc. just skip this part, o.k.? It was definitely up and down. I played JOB and DW video poker, BJ, and some slots. I started out with some small wins at VP, for instance on the first night I was showing Cathy how to play VP so I put a $20 in and cashed out at $50. This happened a couple of times in the first couple of days, but then my VP luck ran dry and I lost at VP overall. Larry did hit 4 deuces on a quarter machine at the Orleans. I think part of the problem was that the quarter DW machines at the Orleans were NSUD and I really had no idea what the strategy was, but played them using FPDW strategy. Oh, well. I did o.k. on JOB and DW at Main St. Station, on JOB at NYNY, and played DW for a long time at Palace Station (these were all quarter full pay machines). Also played a long time on my favorite full pay nickel JOB machines at the Plaza, while Cathy played them one nickel at a time. I got both she and PW started playing VP; nothing like corrupting my friends! Out of 4 BJ sessions ($5-$10/hand), I think I was ahead maybe $1.50 (after tips) at one session; the rest were losers. I had a little luck on slots on the last day of the trip. I put some nickels in a machine at Orleans and cashed out a few bucks ahead (maybe $10 or so). Then over at the Rio: first I put some quarters in a Big Pay machine (I think that was what it was called) and won a little. Then Larry decided to give me a $20 to play in dollar slots, saying that I was having more luck than him and that I could keep any winnings. I played a few machines, hit for 4 or 10, played it back through, then a Blazing 7's caught my eye. It was a 3-coiner and I usually will only play 2-coiners on dollar slots, but I decided what the heck, it wasn't my money. I won $200 on my first pull! So I cashed out, cashed in $214, and gave Larry $114. I really couldn't have kept the whole thing! Anyway, for me that's a big win and I was happy. I always like a big win on the last day. Over the 5 days, I lost approx. $180. OTHER STUFF: What would we do without cell phones? We used them Friday morning to locate PJ and PW, who we were meeting in the lobby of Luxor, by the registration desk. I had no idea the registration area was so big when I suggested we meet there! Then on Saturday afternoon, I called Larry on his cell phone to see where he was (driving down from Denver). He was already in LV and impatiently waiting for me to return the three messages that he left me during his trip... funny, my phone had been on, hadn't rung, and there were no voice mails waiting for me... turns out he had left the messages on my HOME PHONE!!! We had a good chuckle over that! There's one in every crowd... ours was PJ. She must have had an agenda planned to the minute, which she failed to communicate to the rest of us. 1. She wanted to walk up the strip and back at breakneck speed, stopping for nothing (and no moving walkways or escalators, either!) in the 90+ degree heat. She dragged Cathy along twice; Cathy came back looking frazzled and with blisters on the bottom of her feet. PW and I flat out refused to go along; we strolled through the Desert Passage shops, played some VP and nickel and penny slots, had ice cream, had a beer. Much more fun. 2. She had all the meals planned out in advance, and was not happy when we didn't always agree with her choices. She created quite the scene when we decided to go to Sir Galahad's instead of having appetizers in the Bellagio and watching the fountains for a couple of hours. She took off in a huff by herself, then showed up while we were in the middle of dinner, crazed look on her face, saying that she had left the Bellagiio because "the fountains blew up" and we'd better not go over there. I thought she was talking terrorist attack or something; we never did quite figure out what she was talking about. Then she took off again. Very weird lady. Mini-meet on Saturday afternoon: It was at the brewpub at Main Street Station. Myself, Cathy, KCScott, and LaksmatsLakota were there. Good beer and Las Vegas conversation! This was Cathy's first visit to LV in 21 years (!), so it was almost like seeing LV through the eyes of a newbie. After picking up the rental car, while heading over to the Orleans on Tropicana, Cathy just kept saying, "Oh, my God!" as we approached and then crossed the strip. She loved it, was so excited, and kept saying, "We've got to book another trip!" I'm always glad when someone else shares my enthusiasm for Las Vegas! Well, that's about it (finally!) Thanks for reading and sorry it's so long!