Tuesday, 19 November, 2013 The pre-trip portion started better than usual. I didn't quite manage to achieve my goal of not overpacking but I did manage to overpack much less than usual. We grade on a curve here in the Land of Spiny. There was none of the usual last minute panic over where I'd put stuff I needed. There was, however, the proud moment when I realized I'd packed my underwear and the suitcase was already in the car. I would now have to traipse down 3 flights of stairs to fetch a pair or risk eternal shame in case of accident. Outside of that, all was going well until I got to our famed Rinky Dink Airport, only to find out the place was one huge torn up mess. A huge area in front of the airport itself was now filled with construction equipment and bare dirt. I circumnavigated the mess, following the detour signs, but saw no place to park. Well, hell. (I actually said much more colorful things than that but I don't want anyone to faint.) Finally I saw a construction guy and got directions to where they were hiding passenger parking. Not only was the nice short walk from the lot to the airport gone but now you had to pay to get in. It was only $3 but previously we only had to pay to get out so I hadn't come prepared. Luckily, I managed to scrape up three ones, then drove around (and drove and drove) in search of an empty space. I finally found a spot located just this side of Iowa. To put this in perspective, I live in Texas. Once I made the Long March and got inside, check in was a breeze. My suitcase weighed in at a relatively svelte 35 lbs. A new low! I asked the clerk what the hell was going on out there and was told they were building a whole new airport. And I thought we were big time when we finally got rid of the prop planes and got that second gates. I just hope people don't start thinking we're putting on airs now. They called us in to board and I got pulled over for the Super Duper Theoretically Random Security Search. It figures--the one time I was good about remembering to take out my phone, keys, and all change, I get pulled out for the SDTRSS. Actually, I'm pretty sure it was because of my purse being so full of crap. While I'd (relatively) restrained myself with the suitcase, I'd packed the hell out of my purse. They ran it through X Ray twice and then brought it over (Contrary to rumor, they didn't actually need a forklift) and took everything out. It was like a clown car. Once it was emptied and everything in it explained, they did the Magic Wand thing over it all and ran it slowly through X Ray again. I passed. The really sad part was that I'd emptied it out some before I left. Of course, this is more effective when you don't immediately replace this stuff with different crap--or so I hear. In other news, the ticket guy at Rinky Dink Airport who always reminds me of Philip Seymour Hoffman now looks more like a younger, blonder Charles Durning. I had mixed feelings about that. Outside of that, the flights were pretty unremarkable. I never sleep on planes but I'd been up a long time and found myself nodding out for a few seconds at a time throughout the flight from DFW to Vegas. I actually tried to do a real nap but my brain insisted that the little short-outs were a better way to go. I believe I've mentioned before that my brain hates me. The plane wasn't full so we ended up spreading out and I got a row to myself. That was nice. It also meant that, for once, I wasn't trapped in my seat, waiting with impatience and cramps while the person in the aisle seat inevitably refused to stand up till the last minute. That was really nice. Once off the plane, I began the long trek to baggage claim. I saw a group of 3 people, one in a wheelchair and one an airport employee, and fell in behind them because I knew they'd be using the elevators. Eventually I felt compelled to explain that I wasn't some bizarro stalker, just someone with a major fear of heights who wanted to avoid the Escalators of Terror. Somehow I don't think they found my explanation comforting but at least no one called for Security. My plan worked and soon I was at the luggage carousel, watching bags roll merrily around. I grabbed and then put back two red suitcases and began to wonder if this was the trip where my luggage decided not to join me. Happily, it turned out to just be the day that I couldn't recognize my own bag. Sad really. Reunited with my luggage, I headed out for some Vitamin N and pondered my transportation options. I generally go with a cab but I was considering a shuttle since A) It was cheaper, B) I was killing a little time anyway so I wouldn't have to pay for early check in, and C) Someone who can't recognize her own luggage probably shouldn't try to tell a potentially long-hauling cabbie which direction to take. I was staying at Bally's the first 2 days and it turned out to be the second drop off so I didn't get too antsy on the shuttle. It was about 2:30 when I got there and the line wasn't too long. I considered doing the $20 sandwich to try for an upgrade to the newly renovated South Tower rooms but decided I had things I'd rather spend the money on and I was fine with North Tower. I was in room 2269. I was pleased with it. I'd gotten everything I'd requested--it was a smoking room on a high floor and I could see some of the strip. From the right side of the window, I could see Harrah's, the Venetian, Palazzo, the former Las Vegas Hilton (now jazzily renamed LVH), and Wynn with the mountains in the background. From the left side, there was Caesars and the Flamingo. Construction on the Linq was in front and I could easily see the big ass Ferris wheel, which they were adding cars to. There were 10 on it when I checked in and about 15 by the time I left Bally's. I was on the Diamond Floor, even though my budget wouldn't even qualify me for Cubic Zirconium, and I was close enough to the elevators that it wasn't a major trek like last time I was in the North Tower. My feet rejoiced. I had two queen beds, as requested. I always ask for that if it doesn't cost more, ostensibly so I can put my suitcase on one and spread my stuff out easily but the main reason is to get more pillows. What can I say? I'm a big ol' Pillow Ho. Anyway, the beds were a little on the hard side for my taste but comfortable enough. There was a big overstuffed chair by the window and a small table by it. The desk was a long bar-shaped thing. I couldn't get the internet to come through unless I went wired, which wasn't long enough to reach the bed so, to my chagrin, I had to sit at the desk to use my computer. The Gods of Irony stopped by for a chuckle later as I was getting ready to check out. As I started to unplug everything on the laptop in preparation to put it in its case, I saw that the Ethernet wire had come loose at some point so I'd been using it wirelessly after all. There may have been some cussing at that point. Oh, and for those who care about these things, there was a coffee machine with several packets of coffee in the bathroom. There was no pot so I assume it was one of those single serving deals. Not being a coffee drinker myself, I can't speak for how well it worked.