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Veags, Sept. 11-18 : Rain, VP, MP's, and more (Long)

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by Buddha, Sep 22, 2012.

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  1. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    My Trip Report

    Vegas Report , Sept. 11 - 18 , 2012 :

    Trip Preparations :
    Yes folks, you read it right … we flew Chicago to Vegas on 9/11. We pre-planned this trip last December, and booked our Southwest flights on January 22, when the reservation window opened up for September. I was able to snag a couple of one-way tickets, MDW to LAS for $128 each, with taxes & fees included, and then used my Rapid Reward points to secure two free one-way tickets back home on the 18th. Also purchased at the same time were our “Early Bird” boarding passes, which always get us a good spot in the A-line.

    For our hotels, I eventually received my usual 4-night offer and $50 free-play at Main Street Station, and Nancy received a 3-night offer at the California, giving us free lodging downtown for our entire trip. Next was the problem of finding a decent price for a rental car, which tended to be much higher than usual. I checked & checked, and nothing really came down until late August, and it was still at $178 all-in for the week. Luckily, three days before departure, the Alamo price dropped a few dollars, and I re-booked at $156, plus an additional $7.50 for the SWA flyer points (1200 RR's).

    I was eager to see our early-bird boarding position, so I logged in on Monday, Sept. 10 to print our boarding passes … only to be very surprised that we have B-22 and B-23. In all of our previous flights, paying for the early-bird, we have never been any worse than A-29. I even called SWA reservations, and asked if there was a mistake, but only got the corporate response about the Business Select and A-List passengers getting first priority.
     
    Tuesday , Sept. 11 :
    We leave the house at 5:30 am in order to catch our local commuter train into downtown Chicago, from which we walk over to the elevated “Orange Line” commuter train, which takes us directly to Midway Airport … total commute of 90 minutes. Check-in at security was a breeze, and we were soon sitting at Gate B-3, dining on a McDonald’s breakfast. Once in the boarding line with our “B” passes, I asked the people in front of us if they did the Early-Bird boarding passes. One lady said "No", not even knowing what it was, and another couple said they did, but only signed up for it 3 days before the flight. And here we are standing BEHIND those people, and we paid for our E/B on Jan. 22 !!! We’ll have to wait and see what our return positions are next Tuesday, on the 18th. Flight 376 is on the new 737 - “800 series", which is basically just longer than the standard 737, and holds about 30+ more passengers, and has larger luggage compartments. But, the BIG surprise was that even though there were 70 to 75 people boarding ahead of us, we actually got down to row 14, and found the flight attendant inviting people to sit in the exit row seats. We were very happy with the extra leg room and tray space for my lap-top. We left right on time, and arrived 10 minutes early, even though we were flying into a slight headwind.

    Upon arriving in Vegas, with carry-on luggage in tow, we headed for the shuttle bus to take us to the rental car facility. There we found our way to the Alamo self-service kiosks, and were soon on our way out to the garage to pick out our luxuriously appointed compact car, but were able to step up to a VW Jetta. Out onto Gillespie Rd., right turn onto Warm Springs Rd., across LV Blvd., over the I-15, and a right turn onto Dean Martin Way, which eventually becomes Industrial Rd., as we head north. Turning right onto Wyoming, we make our way to the Walgreens at Charleston & LV Blvd, in order to pick up a case of water, along with a few other incidentals and toiletries for the week. As we are pulling into the Walgreens parking lot, it begins pouring down heavy rain ... a lot of rain. We actually sat in the car for almost 30 minutes, waiting for it to lighten up. We eventually made a run for the Walgreens door, and make our purchases, but upon exiting the store, the rain was still falling heavily, and the streets were rapidly collecting water ... as in rushing rapids. With the Strip traffic at a standstill, we exited the parking lot going east on Charleston, and turned north on 7th Street, and zig-zagged our way down the neighborhood side streets, sloshing our way through water 6 inches deep, and eventually arrived safely downtown, and into the California parking garage.

    After a quick check-in and up to the 9th floor (east tower) facing east, our "original" plans were to then go back south to the Orleans, where it was "Senior Tuesday", with 7X points, and a discounted buffet dinner. However, with all the streets flooded, we stayed right where we were, and played our VP at the Cal. There is a good assortment of 9/6 JOB, 8/5 Bonus, and a few 16/10/4/4 Deuces Wild to pick from, and we fortunately had good success there.
    Nancy was the leader with quad Aces twice on Bonus Poker, and she also had quad Deuces dealt to her on Deuces Wild, finishing the evening up by $287.
    I managed a few "normal" quads of my own, and finished up by $70. We also played two losing $5 MP coupons at the Las Vegas Club roulette table (-10).

    After a nice steak & shrimp special ($9.99) at the Cal's Market Street Cafe (using one of Nancy's $15 food coupons, plus points), we retire to our room, exhausted from a very long day that began back in Illinois.

    Wednesday , Sept. 12 :
    We are meeting our friends from Pittsburgh, Darryl & Carolyn, for breakfast at Terrible's this morning, at 9:00 am, and we use the spare time for an hour, or so, of morning VP at the Cal, before heading out. With the help of three more quads, we end up with a $38 team profit, and hit the road for Terrible's. Arriving a few minutes early, Nancy and I play a couple MatchPlay coupons at the roulette table, and lose both bets (-20). This is not a good start in the MP department.

    The Terrible's buffet is nothing fancy, but has enough basic food for a decent breakfast ... and at $4 member price, with a 2/1 coupon, it is quite the deal. The four of us chatted away all through breakfast, laughing and telling stories, and it was soon approaching 11:00 am, and a new crowd was already lined up for lunch. We said our good-byes to our friends, and on the way down Flamingo, we stopped at Ellis Island to do our "Play 10 / Get 10" coupons from the ACG and LVA. We not only won $33 on our own play (Nancy hit another quad), but we'll be able to return in a couple days to do the resulting $20 free-play for each of us.

    After leaving Ellis Island, we stop at the Tuscany for a couple $5 MP's (+5), around to the Hard Rock for a MP double loss (-20), down to Tropicana, and over to the Orleans for another double loss (-20), and finishing at the Palms with a split win/loss (+10). Here's hoping for improvement down the road.

    Back at the Cal, we return to the VP machines for a couple hours, with nothing much happening, and after a few ups & downs, we had lost about $60. It was a good time for a coupon walk down Fremont St., starting with two $5 free-play coupons at the LVC (+12), two MP's at the LVC roulette table (both lost -10), two $10 free-plays on a Four Queens promo (+14) and our $10 free play coupons at the El Cortez (+19). Returning from the EC, we stopped in at the Fremont to redeem an FSE online 2/1 buffet coupon at the Player's Club, and proceeded to the Steak buffet (free with coupon & points). The steaks were good, as well as the beef bourguignon, but it seemed like they use "steak night" to attract customers, but then cut way back on their other skimpy offerings. Coming back from the Fremont, we did another pair of MP's at the LVC (one win +5), and completed another VP session at the Cal with mixed results, with Nancy losing $34, and me winning $17.

    Thursday , Sept. 13 :
    Up early, showered and dressed by 7:00 am, we walk over to Main Street Station, where Nancy treats for breakfast at the MSS buffet, using her second $15 food coupon. We have stayed at MSS so many times, that we have gotten to know a lot of the employees, including those at the buffet, and it's like old-home week. The buffet is as good as always with many good choices to choose from, plus the ever-entertaining Felix creating & tossing his special omelet creations. Even paying $6.99 is a great deal, but ours are free with Nancy's coupon.

    This evening was going to be busy watching the Bears - Packers game at the Cal's sportsbook (NFL channel only), so we had a few hours for some VP. The first VP session was nothing special, with a small team win of $7, but then Nancy spotted a "China Shores" penny slot machine, and invested $15 for a little fun on the side. She ended up getting several special combinations of symbols giving her 198 free spins, and a final profit of $59. Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in a while !! We changed VP machines for another VP session, and Nancy goes on a tear. With quad Aces, quad 4's. and quad Jacks on Bonus Poker, and two Wild Royals on Deuces, Nancy racks up a nice win of about $300. I slowly plug along with a couple bonus quads, and settle for a $33 win.

    After taking a break up in our room, we decide on a pre-game early spaghetti dinner at Magnolia's at the Four Queens, using a 2/1 coupon, returning to the Cal sportsbook just 15 minutes before kick-off, and find two open seats in front of the wall of TV's. However, the Bears were pathetic in their 3 hours & 40 minutes against the Packers, and we would have probaly been more successful back at the VP machines. Continuing with the luck of the Bears, we try another pair of MP's at the LVC, with two more losses (-10) ... and then try to do MP's ar the Plaza, only to find out that they are no longer accepting the MP's from the Western (closed back in January). So much for temporary promises .....

    Friday , Sept. 14 :
    Today is moving day, all the way across the street to Main Street Station, using my 4-night offer. We check-out from the Cal at 7:00 am, and drive down to the Gold Spike for breakfast. Many people are not that aware of the Gold Spike, or do not even have any desire to go there, and the little coffee-shop does not "appear" very attractive, what with their plastic tables & chairs. HOWEVER, we have eaten there several times, including dinner, and have NEVER had a bad meal. They used to have 2/1 coupons in both the ACG and LVA, but it's only in the LVA this year. If you want a good breakfast, try their ham-steak & eggs w/hash-browns & toast ... you will not go away hungry !!

    After breakfast, we head straight to the MSS parking garage, but leave all of our gear in the car, as it is too early to check in. Instead, we head straight to the casino, and stroll around, in order to see if there's been any new changes since March. We noticed a couple new machines, and my favorite Triple-Play VP machines have been moved a couple rows to the south. All of Nancy's favorite single-line slant-tops are still in place. We play at our VP machines until noon, with not much excitement of any big hands, other than a couple quads, finishing with a team win of only $35. I check in with the hotel desk, and room 1401 (King, Non-Smoking) is ready for us. We always request one of the "01" rooms, up high (14th to 17th floor), which are at the far east end (by Main Street), and it's more quiet at that end, except for the occasional freight train that needs to blow its horn at 2:00 am. It used to be that only the 16th & 17th floors had mini-fridges, but now all the floors have them, along with nice new flat screen TV's. We also make our usual request for one of the single serve coffee-makers, and in less than 10 minutes, it was delivered to the room, and the young fellow looked surprised (and happy) to get a nice tip for his service.

    Once we were all unpacked and settled into our room, it was back down to the casino for some VP before dinner. But first I stop at the player's club to have my usual $50 free-play activated (part of room offer). Nancy takes my card and processes half of the 50, and cycles her share for a $22 free profit, and following that, I log in on a single line slant-top, but only cash out for $19. The rest of the afternoon session was up for me at my triple-plays (+54), but down for Nancy (- 37).

    The Friday buffet at MSS is seafood night, and it is always a mob scene, so we opt to drive down to Palace Station, with an LVA 2/1 coupon. Our Station's player cards are out of date, and the player's club gal renews our card, and we each get $5 of free-play (+6 total). The PS dinner buffet was less than we expected, but there was enough chicken, fish, veggies, salad, and dessert to satisfy our needs.

    Back to MSS for one more short VP session, with a small team win $20, but Nancy is on a minor losing streak, and is getting grumpy. I suggest a walk to the LVC for a couple MP's (split win/loss , +5), and ice cream cones at McD's (Plaza). On the way back to our room, we stop at the MSS player's club, and request a breakfast buffet comp for the next morning. Time for a little TV in the room, and we both fall asleep .... ZZZZZZZZ ......

    Saturday , Sept. 15 :
    The day starts out great at the MSS weekend champagne brunch buffet (we are there at 7:15 am), with a nice plate of fruit and a champagne mimosa. There are additional offerings, including a carving table to accent the omelets, but we are content with the eggs benedict, country-fried steak, and the standard bacon and sausage offerings, with a waffle(s) and cinnamon roll. That should hold us until dinner !! :)

    Too bad that the morning VP was not as good as breakfast, as I lose over $100, and Nancy drops another $37. Not much to see here ... move along. So ... we get the car and go on a MP coupon run, hoping for a fresh start. We start at the Orleans with a split (+10), then the Palms with another split (+10), over to the Tuscany with a split (+5), to the Hard Rock (another split +10) ... we hate that long walk from the garage to the casino. Terrible's is next with a double win (+40), and up Paradise to the Riviera for another double win (+40). A pretty good recovery from our other losses. However, after returning to MSS, we hit another wall on the VP machines, as I drop $160, and all my previous VP profits are now gone ... and Nancy drops $40, but is still holding on to a pretty nice profit from her previous days of good fortune.

    We use another FSE coupon to get a 2/1 voucher for dinner at the MSS buffet, and add points for a free dinner. We also pick up a comp voucher for breakfast in the morning ... and retire to our room to avoid any more VP losses at MSS. Sunday will hopefully be a better day ... especially for me.

    Sunday , Sept. 16 :
    After another great champagne brunch breakfast at MSS, we decide to spend the morning at another of our favorite casinos ... the Rampart, out west in the Summerlin area, just north of the SunCoast. The Rampart had sent me a mailer with $10 free-play, and a 2/1 buffet, and they are introducing a new point structure, with new cards that we need to get ... and some type of "swipe & win" promo. We first checked in at the Rampart player's club, in order to get our new cards, and make sure our old points were converted correctly to the new system. This new system really seemed to me to be unnecessary, as in the old system $4 coin-in = 1 point, and then 100 points = $1 comps or cash-back (a .25% factor). In the new system, $2 coin-in = 1 point, but the it takes 200 points to equal $1 comps or C/B (still a .25% factor). So you tell me ... what was the point of this changeover ???? As a reward for stopping by to get our new cards, we were each given a free Rampart t-shirt.

    Nancy prefers the quarter single-line slant-top machine around the back side of the "round bar", and my favorite, the 10-line machines (on which I play max nickels) off to the left side of the bar. All of these machines have 9/6 JOB, 8/5 Bonus, and 16/10/4/4 Deuces, which is very rare by today's Vegas standards. This was a great morning of VP, as Nancy hit a couple quads on JOB, quad 4's and a straight flush on Bonus Poker, and quad deuces on DW, finishing with an overall profit of $300+. I played lengthy sessions of JOB and Bonus poker, returning small wins, but on one hand of a DW session, I was dealt the A,K,Q,10 of spades, and on line 8 pulled the J of spades, but the other nine lines pulled nothing, and nary a deuce to be seen !! I finished with an overall profit of about $200. My $10 free-play returned $6.75, and Nancy and I each earned two swipes on the promo kiosk, with Nancy getting bonus entries for a drawing that we won't even be in town for. I managed to win two free dinner buffets, which we will use on Monday night.

    After leaving the Rampart, we headed for Sam's Town, by way of the Summerlin Expressway toward downtown, exited on LV Blvd, and hit Jerry's Nugget for a double MP win (+20), and then up the street to the Silver Nugget for another double MP win (+40). Returning down LV Blvd toward downtown, we hopped on the 515 expressway, and headed for Boulder highway. First stop was past Sam's Town, to the Longhorn Casino for another double MP win (+40), and back to Sam's Town. At Sam's Town, we each had a $5 MP for a split win/loss (+5). What a run ... the blackjack gods were definitely on our side !!! Our other purpose for coming to Sam's Town was to each use the ACG coupons for earning 200 points for a free buffet. We found some slant-tops by the blackjack table we played our MP's on, which had 8/5 Bonus, and we settled in. We not only easily earned more than enough points for the coupons' requirement, but we won about $30 doing it, with a couple nice quads. We also discovered that we were also earning 13X points in connection with some promo that we were not even aware of. Strange ..... but the buffet was very tasty, and filling, and free !!!

    Back to MSS after a full day on the road, making some nice profits. We were getting tired, and just relaxed in our room, in front of the TV .....

    Monday , Sept 17 :
    Today's breakfast is at the Planet Hollywood buffet, using the LVA $20 coupon ($10 off each), plus a few of our thousands of CET points earned in their past promotional giveaways. There is always a very nice selection of breakfast items at the PH buffet, and the customer service is top-notch. Now, if they could just shorten the walk from the parking garage to the buffet ... but I guess I can use the exercise. Leaving the PH, we head over to Ellis Island, in order to complete the free-play return on the coupons we played a few days back ... we each have $20 of FP waiting for us. We return to the same 9/6 JOB machines as last Wednesday, where Nancy hits for $21, and my stubborn machine only returns $12.

    We next head down Flamingo for a quick stop for Tuscany MP's (+5), and Terrible's MP's (+10), and then back to the Gold Coast for Senior Monday. Bonus 5X points and two free buffets should work out OK, but after a couple hours, the Gold Coast VP machines are not doing us any favors, as I drop about $170, and Nancy loses $65. We agree that the Gold Coast is not helping the bottom line, and also agree that the Rampart would be a better choice, since we already have two free buffets there. But, we first hit the Palms and Orleans for MP's, getting two split wins/losses (+20). We very much enjoyed Sunday at the Rampart, but today the magic is gone. I would have lost money, except I hit a couple wild royals on the 10-play machine, followed shortly after by a "dealt" wild Straight Flush (+28). Nancy also could not get much started, losing $64. We very much enjoyed the free dinner buffet, and returned back to MSS to get our ledgers organized, and begin packing up for tomorrow's flight home.

    Tuesday , Sept. 18 :

    We're all packed up and organized for our trip home, and I've checked in online, and found out that our early-bird boarding passes are A-19 and A-20 ... much better than we had coming out. And, at check-out from MSS, I put in our request for the same room 1401, or similar "01" room up above. As a somewhat typical tradition, we leave downtown, and head to the South Point for the breakfast buffet ... which also puts us close to cheaper gas for the rental car, and then just a short distance to return the car.

    We are using a 2/1 coupon at the South Point, which I printed from the LVA website, which must be redeemed first at the player's club from separate voucher. Another nice part of the South Point buffet breakfast is picking up a free Bloody Mary as you head for your table ... a nice way to start breakfast ... and I always eat too much here !! After breakfast, we find two slant-top VP machines a short distance away, and we don't have to have the car back for a couple hours yet. So, we settle in for one more VP session before heading home. Nancy was getting several good hands on 8/5 Bonus and 16/10 Deuces, but in the end lost $19. I was actually struggling, just trying to keep my head above water, when I was "dealt" Quad Aces on Bonus Poker, and I cashed out for a $95 win !!

    Gassed up the car, got it returned to Alamo with no problem, and we were on our way to the airport. TSA screening was a breeze, but then we saw on the flight monitors that our flight out was listed as an "estimated" 20 minute delay. Seems that our plane is coming from Orlando, through New Orleans, and was delayed by some storms in Florida. By the time that Orlando plane reached Vegas, was emptied, cleaned, reloaded with our group, and backed away from the gate, we were officially 40 minutes late. The pilot made up a few minutes heading back to Chicago, but by the time we got out of Midway, and up to Union Station, we missed our 9:40 pm commuter train, and had to wait for the next one at 10:40 ... finally getting us home into our house at 11:45 pm ... and dragging .....

    Final Totals :

    SWA airfare out to Vegas : $128 each plus taxes & fees, plus $20 early-bird boarding
    SWA airfare back to Chicago : No charge using SWA Rapid Rewards points, plus $20 early-bird boarding.
    Alamo rental car for a full week : $166 , including all taxes & fees & SWA points fee
    Rooms for 7 nights : All comped
    Out-of Pocket Dining Costs : $45 ... all others covered by comps, coupons, and points
    Tips - Waiters, waitresses, maids, shuttle bus, etc. : $65
    Coin-in cycled & recycled : Approx. 40K
    Machine profits : Nancy + $721 .... Me + $273
    MatchPlay Bets : + $215

    Hope you made it through the long report. We are already looking forward to our November return.
    Please excuse any typos or bad grammar (I'm a Math major). Your questions and comments are always welcome ..... :thumbsup:

    "Buddha" :wave:
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  2. kel3420

    kel3420 VIP Whale

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    Great report! I would have be PO'd if I paid EB seating and got mid B's. Did you talk to the gate attendant?
     
  3. amjacob

    amjacob Tourist

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    It sure is nice to come back from LV in the positive territory. I am also glad to see good use of all those coupons we trade on the boards. Nice trip report.
     
  4. edinpa

    edinpa Tourist

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    Jim, glad you guys came home to the plus always a treat to read your reports!
     
  5. dbueler

    dbueler High-Roller

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    No one does Vegas like the Buddha! No such thing as a trip report that's too long.....

    Nothing like being in the 'center of the universe' for a week and getting paid a grand to do so.....!

    diane
     
  6. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the kind words, my friends ....

    Kelly ... The gate attendant said they have no control over the E/B system, and suggested we call the Texas office. But, after we got the comfy exit-row seats, we were just fine.

    Alan ... Yeah, we're even happy if we come home all even in the casino, since we're getting all the other stuff. And, of course, those coupons you mention do make a big difference, don't they.

    Ed ... Glad you enjoyed the report. Always fun to get a little extra from the "bean-counters".

    Diane ... At times, the casino action seemed easy, but then the next day would bring us down to earth. Nice to be "paid" to take a vacation. :)
    Now if they will only let us do it again in November ....
     
  7. wa8ckt

    wa8ckt Tourist

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    Great Report

    As usual, Great report Buddha. You guys sure know how to do Vegas right. I forgot about when your Sept trip was. We go next weekend 4 nights at Harrah's. We keep staying on the strip and let them suck us dry. You would think it is a Red Cross blood drive zone most of the time :rolleyes2:. Hearing stories about the IP changes,or should I say The Quad. Even staying at Harrah's may be too close to the construction area. Will keep you advised. Also going out in Nov after Thanksgiving, (24th). Rest for your next trip. John and Kathy
     
  8. westie

    westie VIP Whale

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    Great TR.

    A bad start on the MP front, but you came through nicely. Congratulations!

    I was under the impression from your last TR that you had given up on the Rampart. The casino was little kinder to you this trip. I will be curious to know if your play generates future room offers now that Michael Gaughan Jr. is running both the Rampart and the JW Marriott.

    "You're a braver man than I am Gunga Din" - eating at both the Palace Station and Terrible's buffets on the same trip. It was one and done for us.

    Wishing you and Nancy continued good luck in November.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  9. Dpin300

    Dpin300 Low-Roller

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    By far the most detailed trip report I've ever read. Thanks for sharing!
     
  10. dewey089

    dewey089 Guru of Value

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    I greatly enjoyed your trip report, especially the details with many tips to remember. I am a coupon traveler as well.
    I have not stayed at Main Street Station in a while, but probably will again and really appreciated the strategy of the 01 rooms to avoid the train noise, tips on refrigerator and coffee maker.
    Good air price too. The trick is to book as soon as possible. And I do forget that it is no longer 3 months out as it once was.
    Thanks
     
  11. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    Thanks for the commentary ....

    John -- One of these times, we'll be on the same trip schedule. But those short-pay machines at Harrah's and the IP are doing you in. There are much better games off-Strip.

    Frank -- The Rampart has always been a great place for VP. It's just that they removed about 2/3 of those 10-play machines that I like, and it's sometimes difficult to find one available. Palace Station and Terrible's are definitely not gourmet, and it's been quite a long time since we last ate there ... but there's always enough to eat, and the price was right. :)

    Dpin300 -- Thanks ... I try to make the info helpful, but I sometimes get a little too wordy in those details ....

    Dewey -- Nothing real fancy at MSS, but it has been a very comfortable spot for us during our many stays there. And the latest upgrades make it a little better yet. And yes, the airline prices are getting tougher to deal with. The flight we booked for April is about $50 higher per person. :cry:
     
  12. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

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    Enjoyed your report as always. I wish I could drive so I could take advantage of all the coupons the way you do.
     
  13. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    "I wish I could drive" ...
    --------------------------

    Blonde ....

    Is that because you never drive at home, either ... or because of the added difficulty of renting a car in Vegas, because you are from Canada ?
     
  14. Blonde_4_ever

    Blonde_4_ever "The Welfare Queen of Windsor"

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    That is because I am an idiot who did not get her license until she was in her thirties..but only drove for about 3 years because I never got comfortable with it. Now that I am old and decrepit...I kinda wish I had kept it up!
    I do still have a valid license but God help the world if I ever try to use it.
     
  15. LaRae

    LaRae Low-Roller

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    I always enjoy a Buddha report. Glad you both had a good time.
     
  16. Buddha

    Buddha VIP Whale

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    60
    Thanks, LaRae ....

    We had such a good time, that we're going back in about 7 weeks, and enjoy it all over again. Besides, we still have more coupons to use !! :)
     
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