Better late than never, here at last is a report on my October trip. WARNING: This is EXTREMELY long. It is very detailed and probably quite boring. This is my first time writing a trip report and I got way too carried away. Plus, with having 11 days there, I had a LOT to write about, lol. Flight on America West was at 6:45 am on October 8th, so I arrived around 4:45 after taking the shuttle from my parking lot (Iâ€™m ALWAYS way early for my flights, Iâ€™d rather that than be late and have to run through the airport). Security line wasnâ€™t yet open, so I joined the others in line to wait. It wasnâ€™t a long wait, it opened 15 minutes later. The short line that had formed moved quickly and I was on my way to the gate in no time. I passed the time waiting for my flight listening to my tunes on my Zen (I LOVE my Zen!!!!). Flight left on time to Phoenix and was uneventful. The movie was Mission Impossible 3 and since I wasnâ€™t interested in watching that, my trusty Zen came out of my carryon. Arrived in Phoenix a bit late and caught my connecting flight for the short trip to Vegas. Got to Vegas about 30 minutes late, which wasnâ€™t bad since we left Phoenix 45 minutes late. When I got off the plane in Vegas, I was SO excited I thought Iâ€™d be walking on air to baggage claim. Bag arrived fairly quickly and then it was on to the VERY long taxi line. Finally it was my turn and I was on my way to the Rio! Check-in line wasnâ€™t too bad and I was able to get my room key right away. I tried the $20 trick with no success. I was informed the hotel was sold out, which I later believed to be true. It was around 1:00 when I got to my room (16018 in the Masquerade Tower). I was VERY anxious to see the rooms I had heard so much about. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with the room. It was very large which was good, but I didnâ€™t at all like the layout. With the suitcase on the bed while packing and unpacking, I had to walk from the bed to the end of the room and around a wall to get to the dresser and closet. NOT particularly convenient for hanging up clothes and putting them in the drawers. Also, the bathroom was around that same wall. All I could think of was my nightly wake up call in the middle of the night by mother nature. I figured it wouldnâ€™t be fun. But once I unpacked and got used to the layout, I didnâ€™t mind it as much as I thought I would. The absolute BEST part of the room was the sofa which had an attached chaise lounge at the end. I could sit there, put my feet up and lean back and relax while watching tv. I donâ€™t know why, but it was different than just putting your feet up on a normal sofa (yeah, I know Iâ€™m strange). My co-worker was arriving a little later in the day and since I had been up for over 30 hours at that point, I decided to just relax on that nice lounger for a bit before going down to play. I ended up dozing off a bit to be woken up by my cell phone ringing. My co-worker had arrived. We arranged a meeting spot for dinner so I went and played for a while before getting together for dinner. After dinner we walked around the casino a little, then went and registered for our conference so we wouldnâ€™t have to do that in the morning. To our amusement (especially his), we discovered we were sharing the convention space with another convention. A lingerie and sex toys one! I have to say that visiting the ladies room each day during our conference was always an adventure! You never knew what costume you would see being worn (or almost worn, as the case may be) by a little hottie in there, LOL. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were all pretty much the same. Conference during the day, gambling at night with some conference activities mixed in here and there. We did take the shuttle to Caesarâ€™s one evening, where we separated for the evening since we wanted to see different things. I didnâ€™t stay long since I was having no luck there, so I went back to Rio to play. On Thursday, following the morning sessions of our conference, he informed me we were bailing on the afternoon sessions (YEAH BABY!!!) and were going to take in some on Vegas! We walked the Strip and took the Deuce downtown since that was on his short list of what he wanted to see. We saw the Fremont Street Experience which I was extremely disappointed with. When I saw it two years ago, it was a story about aliens taking over Vegas and it was very entertaining. The show we saw that night had a â€œthemeâ€ of candy I guess. They played â€œSugar Sugarâ€ while some pretty little thing put a hard candy in her mouth. Yeah, some story, huh? It was technically better than it used to be, but they need to rethink the show itself. Bring back a storyline. Itâ€™s way more entertaining. Anyway, we were both exhausted and didnâ€™t feel like dealing with the Deuce then the shuttle back to Rio, so we opted to just grab a taxi. I felt the driver took a bit of a long route, but it wasnâ€™t real bad. Co-worker was leaving early the next morning so would miss the morning sessions of our conference. He suggested I skip them as well. I intended on going to them, but since I woke up at 8:30 and they started at 8:30, I just went back to sleep. I got up about an hour later, packed, and got in the taxi line for my hotel move to Flamingo. As it turned out, the two guys in front of me were also going there, so we shared the taxi. Awesome! I should mention that in the 5 days I was at Rio, I did a LOT of gambling. It consisted of slots and blackjack (lots of blackjack). Since I would be in Vegas for 12 days, I budget a certain amount for each day for gambling each day and when thatâ€™s gone for the day, Iâ€™m done gambling. I only went totally broke one day, and the other days I either made a profit or had a portion of my budget left. When I checked out of the Rio, I had about 2 daysâ€™ worth of budget left. Not bad considering I played at least $15 a hand for blackjack but usually $25 a hand. By the way, I HATE the way Harrahâ€™s does their lines at the cashiers. I can understand a separate line for platinum/diamond at the restaurants, but I feel a separate one at the cashier is ridiculous. There was never ANYBODY at those windows and usually they wouldnâ€™t take anyone from the normal line. And to top it off, theyâ€™d have 3 cashiers for platinum/diamond and only ONE for everyone else. Arrived at Flamingo and got in the semi-long check-in line. I tried the $20 trick, but with no success again. I was told, however, that since my room was comped (for 3 of my 6 nights), I was already in a Premium room with a strip view. I asked if it was a renovated room and I was informed that it indeed was. My room wasnâ€™t ready, and I was told it would be ready between 3 and 5. So I checked my bag and went to do some gambling. I wasnâ€™t having much luck, so around 3:30 I checked to see if my room was ready. It was, so I went up to unpack. I opened the door, and UGH. It was NOT a renovated room. But, it wasnâ€™t that bad, so I didnâ€™t mind. I looked straight out at Caesarâ€™s, and when I sat in the chair, I could watch the Bellagio fountains, so that made the room even better! The first thing I did was check for signs of bedbugs (which I also did at Rio). No signs, so that was good. I threw back the bedspread, since I donâ€™t use them at hotels. YUCK!!!! A dirty tissue flew up from under the covers. A quick call to housekeeping to have the bed changed. They arrived 30 minutes later and changed both beds. I didnâ€™t know if I should tip in those circumstances, but I did anyway. I unpacked and headed for the strip. I visited Barbary Coast and had no luck there. I went to Oâ€™Sheas and realized I was hungry since I hadnâ€™t eaten yet that day. I decided to grab a quick hot dog since I was alone and hate sitting in restaurants alone to eat. They werenâ€™t ready, so I played some blackjack while I waited. I won $200 while I waited, so it was worth it! I did some more playing, mostly at Flamingo, and had absolutely NO luck the rest of the day. My nephew was flying out the next morning and I couldnâ€™t wait for him to arrive! I decided I hated being there alone and was so glad he was coming. I played some more slots and blackjack until I finally gave up for that day (down that dayâ€™s budget plus some of what I had left from previous days), and I went to bed. I had told my nephew (S) to call when he arrived at Charlotte so I knew he was doing ok. It was his first time traveling alone, and even though heâ€™s 21 years old, I still think of him as that cute little boy from years ago. He called, and was safely at the gate for his connecting flight, after a hurried trip through the airport since his first flight was behind schedule. I get up a few hours later to go to the airport and meet him. I arrived at 10:45 for his 11:15 scheduled arrival time. I wanted to be there early in case his flight got in sooner, I didnâ€™t want him waiting around the airport. His flight was delayed, and scheduled to arrive at 11:37, but was further delayed and didnâ€™t arrive until closer to noon. I told him Iâ€™d wait by the monitors at baggage claim. I was SO excited to see him when he got on the escalator. Even though it had only been a week since I last saw him, I greeted him with a big hug and some VERY happy tears (yeah, Iâ€™m a wuss!). Taxi line was HUUUGE, so we opted for the shuttle. It didnâ€™t take very long and before we knew it, we were back in the room so he could unpack. He was extremely hungry so we wanted something close and opted for the buffet at the Flamingo. It was their brunch and it was decent. We both enjoyed the meal and then it was off to explore! We visited pretty much the casinos in the immediate area: Barbary Coast, Ballyâ€™s, Caesarâ€™s to name a few. He was very anxious to Caesarâ€™s since that was number one on his list of casinos to see. He was impressed! We stopped in the deli at the Forum shops (sorry but I canâ€™t remember the name of it). Excellent food at decent prices. He had a meatball grinder which he said was very good, and I got the open faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes, also very good. We both wanted to ride the spiraling escalator, which we did. VERY cool! We then called it a night since it was nearing midnight, he had been up for over 36 hours and we had to catch our tour bus at 6:30 the next morning. Sunday, the day for our Grand Canyon tour. I have a long write up (surprising, huh?) about our tour in another thread, so I wonâ€™t re-post it here. If you wish to read it, hereâ€™s the link: http://www.vegasmessageboard.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24174 Iâ€™ll speed up the rest of the week (mostly since I canâ€™t remember exactly what we did and when). Monday and Tuesday we spent visiting most of the casinos on the strip. I was having some sporadic luck, but my poor nephew couldnâ€™t do a thing. I donâ€™t remember which day it was, but we went to Burger Bar for lunch. We had both been looking VERY forward to this place given all the excellent reviews I had read about it. Nephew got the Angus beef with peppered jack cheese, jalapeno bacon, salsa, and fried egg (my stomach would disown me with all that pepper!), fat fries, and a peanut butter milkshake. I also got the Angus beef, but with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon (plain ole regular bacon), and fried egg, fat fries, and a banana milkshake. It was by far the BEST meal we had the entire trip. It was pricey at around $27 each with tip, but well worth it. We canâ€™t wait to go back. Tuesday night we decided to go downtown so he could see it. We were at Stratosphere at the time and went to the bus stop to catch the Deuce since we already had a day pass. We waited over 45 minutes, saw 6 busses heading in the other direction and not one came on our side. Finally we gave up and went into the taxi line. We get in a taxi and as it drove out, there were THREE Deuce buses lined up heading downtown. The driver was nice enough to let us get out since we had explained our situation and it would save us some money. We get out of the cab and head to the back bus only to have it drive off just as we got to it! Thankfully, the taxi was still there and we got in. We arrived downtown at midnight, just in time to catch the Fremont Street Experience. Nephew enjoyed it, but I find it boring now compared to how it used to be. Technically itâ€™s a better show, but like others have mentioned, it feels like one big advertisement now. When I saw it 2 years ago, it was a story of Aliens taking over Vegas, or something like that. It was an enjoyable show. I guess thatâ€™s progress? Our final day we had decided to go to Paris for their breakfast buffet. I was very much looking forward to that based on all the reviews I read on this board. Unfortunately, we were running late and arrived there around 10:00. The line was much too long to still get breakfast once we would get in there, so we headed to Ballyâ€™s instead. Their buffet was decent, and I was able to use comps to pay for it. Our plan for the day was to hit Venetian, Wynn, Mirage, and Treasure Island. When we left Ballyâ€™s and got on the strip, we saw they had the Plinko board from Price is Right set up. People were lining up to play it. You won either $5 off tickets, free tickets, or a free gift. Since we both love the Price is Right, we decided to get in line to play. It was SO cool to climb up to the top of the Plinko board and drop that chip! We figured between both of us playing, one of us would get free tickets. We really wanted to see the show. I go first, drop my chip and UGH, $5 off tickets. Steven goes next and getsâ€¦â€¦â€¦a free gift. Sighhhhh, oh well. We go to the table to claim our prizes. The woman asked what we won. I say â€œWell, Iâ€™d LIKE to say I won free tickets, but I got $5 offâ€. She looks at the other woman at the table and says â€œWhat do you say we give her the tickets anyway?â€ They both agree. SCORE!!!!! We had 2 hours to kill, so we just stay at Ballyâ€™s to play. I turn $100 into $500 playing blackjack, then play $40 on a dollar slot machine and cash out with $700. I like Ballyâ€™s!! LOL. The show was a lot of fun, and the woman sitting immediately next to me was called to â€œCome on Down!â€. She didnâ€™t get up on stage though. After the show, we leave Ballyâ€™s to begin our list of places to visit that day. It was already nearly 4:30, so we were WAY behind schedule. Venetian was first. Had no luck there, so we head to Mirage. Nephew still was having no luck (it was not a good trip gambling-wise for him). I hit a penny machine for over $400 on one bonus (Cleopatra II slot), then put $40 into a dollar machine and cash out with $500 (I put some good play on my card at that machine since I played it a long time and it was 5 lines, so $5 a spin). We were both hungry, so we went to the Mirage buffet. Steven enjoyed it thoroughly. Iâ€™m a very picky eater, so I didnâ€™t find all that much I liked, but what I did find, I enjoyed. However, later that night I wasnâ€™t enjoying it as much when I was in the bathroom several times. I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll be back to that buffet. I didnâ€™t want to spend my last night in Vegas in the bathroom, so I send my nephew to the store in the lobby to see if they had any Imodium. They did, so I take a couple and then Iâ€™m good to go (poor choice of words, lol). Well, I should have taken the earlier episodes as an omen, since I had horrible luck that night. I lost around $700 in just a few hours. We both decided we had enough and we turned in. The next morning, we got up and packed, and headed to the airport. I was already a Vegas addict, so leaving was tough, even after 11 days. My nephew only had 5 days, and he really hated to leave. He said he wants to go back. Iâ€™ve created another one of us! Iâ€™m sure I left a lot out (if you can believe it), but all in all it was a great trip. We had so much fun, and it was great to share my love of Vegas with my nephew for his first trip. He was a great companion to have with me. I was so glad he decided to join me, both for my sake, and his. If youâ€™re still reading this, God bless you! To everyone that helped me plan my trip and answered all my questions, a great big thank you! You guys all ROCK!!! Highlights: seeing Vegas through the eyes of two Vegas Virgins, the view of the Bellagio fountains from our room at Flamingo, coming home with 1/3 of my total tripâ€™s budget (not too shabby), Burger Bar, seeing the Grand Canyon, spending lots of quality time with my nephew. Heâ€™s an awesome young man. Disappointments: Not making it to Wynn, I had really wanted to see that place (next time for sure!); nephew not having ANY luck gambling, I felt bad for him even though he still had fun; two failures at the $20 trick; leaving Vegas; not being able to get together with Mikey (we had planned to meet up for a drink or something prior to me leaving). Sorry Mikey.