I hardly gave it a second thought when I got an e-mail from M-Life telling me that I was ~7k points shy of renewing my gold status, and that it would expire at the end of September. But work is crazy, and clearly there’s no way I could get back to Vegas in time, especially since I had just taken a week off to go to New Orleans (a celebration of a milestone birthday for three of us… it shall not be named, but rhymes with shorty). So, I chalked it up as a loss, with a thought of “that’s too bad” and visions of long check in lines dancing in my head. And work got worse. There was too much to do, and not enough help. Then, a life preserver: the boss tells me to open up a req and hire some help. A miracle! Countless resumes, and 5 interviews later, I’m almost ready to make a choice, when a last minute resume lands on my desk. Someone I already know and trust, with experience that I need. It’s another miracle. An interview with me, an interview with my boss, and an offer goes out and is accepted. But she’s in our Phoenix office. I need to spend some time with her to get her up to speed. So, I start booking my trip. But in the back of my mind is the subtle chant of “Vegas…” and the thought of having to suffer through long check in lines. Sure, work is crazy, but the company is more than 200 years old. Surely it can survive if I take off a Friday. Flash forward to a conversation with the wife (“Why not stop in Vegas on your way home from Arizona"), a quick check of flights ($60? That’s cheaper then renting a car and driving), a conversation with the boss (“We had to fly you back from Arizona anyway, so no problem with us flying you back from Vegas instead"). When the Fates keep pushing you, sometimes you just have to listen. So here I am, in the Phoenix Airport Sheraton, with a confirmed ticket for the 5 o’clock to Vegas tomorrow, and a standby on the 2 o’clock (which is about half empty right now). The plan: Get the earlier flight Hop an Uber to the Mirage Drop off the bags to watch my Dolphins on Thursday Night Football from a Vegas bar/sports book. Get drunk to forget about work for a few days Hit Gold Status by end of Thursday Hit gold by end of the trip (come on handpay) Play lots of poker (try to bink a daily tourney at Venetian) Play lots of Pai Gow Wander to Harrahs/Linq for some cheap carny games (High Card Flush, I can hear you) Eat well Be a complete degenerate (but still be married by the end of the trip) Accompanying me on my trip will once again be Ford, who you may remember from such trip reports as the only other one I ever did. Hopefully pics of quads and chip stacks, food porn, and tales of degeneracy to follow.