It's been about 5 trips since I've taken the time to sit down and write a TR, so I'm a little rusty. Please forgive any spelling, gramatical or continuity issues since I'm writing this after waking up from the "day after recovery sleep" and I'm still in a bit of a fog. In fact, I'm currently wearing the same t-shirt that I put on yesterday in Vegas and have yet to take a shower in the eastern time zone, so that should give you insight into my current mental state. As with two previous trips, my mom tagged along with me this time. I'm happy she did since the flight and hotel prices were so cheap and it's actually her birthday today, so the trip was kind of like an elongated pre-birthday present. One of my missions this trip was to get mom to places that she has not seen before, which meant that I saw much less of center and south strip than usual. My other goal though was to get a better feel for Vegas as a possible "home", since I've all but decided that I think I'll be relocating there pretty soon. You can read more on that further down the page. As usual, I hate doing play-by-play, so I'll just break it down by category so you can pick to read. FLIGHTS We flew Spirit Airlines out of Detroit (DTW). The first leg cost $44 and the return red-eye cost $96 plus tax. I have absolutely no problem with Spirit. Each leg was uneventful and drama-free, although I don't really want to make a habit out of flying the red-eye back after a week in Vegas and then having to drive 2 hours to get home! Also, for anyone who has parked and flown out of DTW, they have an incredibly f'ed up shuttle system which ticks me off, which is another reason to avoid Detroit in the future. HOTEL We stayed at the Barbary Coast this trip at $40 per night using an e-mailer. The room (452) was well appointed and we had a decent view south, although we had to open the window and stand in the shower if we wanted to get a good view of the fountains. Also, the noise from Flamingo (the street, not the hotel) bothered me much more than usual this trip for some reason. The only rumors that I heard this trip concerning the Harrah's takeover is that the BC will probably have to change its name pretty soon since it is no longer a "Coast casino", similar to the change from "South Coast" to "South Point". Also, according to a dealer, there will be no implosion or major changes of any kind for at least 2 years, but I don't know how much weight to give that statement. Right before we left on Friday, I noticed the felt on the Pai Gow tables had magically changed since our arrival to include those fortune and envy sucker bets that Harrah's is such a fan of. SHOWS Bellagio Fountains and Conservatory - A staple for any trip involving my mom! Big Elvis - A solid show like usual! I love that guy! Mystere - We got two great seats at Mystere through a local teacher friend of my mom's for $112 total, including tax. I had never been to a Cirque show before and I honestly did not know what to expect! It's no Big Elvis, but I thought Mystere was incredible, definitely worth the $56 I paid for it. I wouldn't mind checking out O or another Cirque show in the future. GAMING The gambling gods were not with me this trip. My best luck came on a 3/6 limit hold 'em table at Harrahs when I hit quad nines, with that high hand jackpot paying $162. I needed that jackpot to eek out a $60 profit though and with the exception of a $40 profit at a 2/4 table at IP, EVERY other gambling experience this trip was a push or a loss! That included 3 pai gow sessions with my mom, a couple craps disasters, and even my mom's very first (and probably last) try at rolling the bones. Aren't first time ladies supposed to be good luck!?!? On the final day, I looked at my last $250 in my wallet and decided at that point it would go a lot further purchasing X-mas presents for my neice and nephew in lieu of taking another stab at a hold 'em or craps table. FOOD - The highlight of this trip!! Victorian Room - This is still my favorite 24-hour cafe on the strip. I only ate one meal there though, and it was graveyard breakfast special. Billy Bob's Steakhouse - This steakhouse is located at Sam's Town. Overall, it was a very good meal. There were three of us for this meal and the total bill only came to $77. I had the 16 oz. ribeye while my mom had a filet, accompanied by a sweet potato the size of Texas! Her friend had a chicken dish and all three of us were happy with our meal. I wouldn't exactly make a special trip out there though since there are so many other steak options in town. On a scale of 1-10 with Outback being a 5, I'd have to say Billy Bob's is around a 6.5. The service was a little slow. Their beer special on tap (Alaskan Amber) was excellent!! Paris Breakfast Buffet - This is another must-do if my mom is with me. She loves the made-to-order crepe station and I like the variety of breakfast sausages. Everything was very good, although the gigantic bowl-o-raspberries has been replaced with a mixed fruit bowl with red raspberries which didn't seem fresh. I know that's a weird thing to notice, but I really loved those fresh red raspberries last time. Peppermill - Oh my god are those portions inappropriately huge!! The last time I was in the Peppermill was when I met up with Mikey last year while suffering from the flu and only ordering a mixed green salad. So this time I sought my revenge and promptly ordered the Southern Fried Steak breakfast that I've heard so much about. It came with some great sausage gravy, home fries, toast and a dish with at least 4 scrambled eggs. I didn't stand a chance. I'm the kind of guy who almost never leaves food on the plate, but this was a definte exception. My mom got the french toast, which was also very good. I've posted a question in the T2V food section that I'd like clarification on please. O-Shea's Food Court - There were two occasions where I needed something cheap and quick. This would be the only reason I'd ever step in to O'Sheas. Barbary Coast Hot Dog Stand - The breakfast of champions! Big Al's Oyster Bar at the Orleans - Excellent food at an excellent value! The Boston Clam Chowder might have been the best I've ever tasted, and the seafood meddley was tasty. My mom enjoyed her shrimp scampi. It comes with rice that is basically the same stuff I make at home. This was another meal that I left food on the plate. If I eat there again, the bowl of chowder will be more than enough to make a meal out of. Canalleto - This is one of the two restaurants located in St. Mark's Square at the Venetian. This was our "special" meal for the week, which preceded Mystere. EXCELLENT MEAL! We were seated right next to the rope "outside" in the Square and enjoyed an accordian, flute and guitar trio on the stage throughout the meal. It's nice to see that dedicated accordian players can still find good work these days. The ambiance was fantastic! My mom opted for a pasta dish while I attacked an extremely rich and evil perfectly cooked medium rare beef tenderloin in gorganzola cheese sauce. Mom enjoyed a glass of white zin while I chose a glass of syrah. There was no room for dessert, but we did have coffee afterwards. With the meals, one glass of wine each, a very nice appetizer, coffee, tax and an 18% tip, the meal came to exactly $100. REGRETS It seems I'm very unlucky when it comes to meeting T2V'ers. Earlier plans to try out the Circus Circus steakhouse with Mikey fell through, and I also missed the "6 Hour Docker's Commercial" on Tuesday night. If/when I do make the move though, I'm sure there will be plenty of chances to meet up with people, inlcuding March Madness! THOUGHTS - I think Sonya has mentioned somewhere that one of her favorite places to sit and enjoy a drink is the little bar located in the middle of the atrium at Sam's Town. I need to confirm that statement. My mom and I sat there for a while as we were waiting for Billy Bob's to open and enjoyed drinks while seeing the atrium change from day to evening. - I'm going to miss seeing the Stardust. It's a shame that the Stardust will be imploded while other more deserving hotels like Circus Circus look on. - Has the Strip cleaned up its act a little lately? It was a full 48 hours before I had to run my first porn-slapper guantlet and I was only propositioned once the entire trip by a shockingly beautiful lady of the evening outside of Harrahs. During the same time period last year, I had lost count of both such occasions by my third day. - Since the upgrade of the Fremont light show, the shows have become very lame! One of the shows that my mom and I saw was basically a long commercial for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway! - The 99 cent shrimp cocktail at the Golden Gate is still a must-do. We also enjoyed the piano player very much this trip. - What does a thousand dollar place bet each on the six and eight pay and why would anyone ever make such a bet??? He made a grand place bet on the 6,8, and 5 for some reason.....and then promply sevened out! Also, why the f**k would someone have cash play on a 3 hundred dollar Don't Pass bet, and then lay exactly $42 next to it once the point is established?? Unbelievable. - I had one "celebrity sighting" this trip as my mom and I walked right past Nick Hachem on our way out of the Venetian Thursday night. Nick is the 2005 World Series of Poker champion. A SIDE TRIP AND THE IMPENDING MOVE As mentioned above, I've all but decided at this point that I will probably be moving to Vegas within the next couple of months. I've been taking dealer classes at a school near Detroit since last June and have both blackjack and craps under my belt at this point. So on Thursday afternoon while my mom was out shopping and getting lost in the Forum Shops, I took a cab ride out to the Casino Dealers School on East Karen to check out their facilities. I had the chance to talk to Nick Kallos, the owner of the school, for a little while and observe a craps class in session. If/when I do move, I'll need a place to learn to deal single and double-deck bj (which doesn't exist in Detroit) as well as a place to hone my skills prior to and after getting a job. In comparing the school with that of the one in Detroit, I was pretty impressed with the instructors and the facility in general. Now that I have taken a couple dealing classes, I was able to observe the dealers during this trip in a completely new light, especially on the craps tables. At school, each roll is usually accompanied by a completely baffling experience and usually composed of fellow-student jackasses who think it's neat to bet an $8 horn, $5 high-low and $25 C/E on the same roll. While in Vegas, it was almost a shock to see the speed the games are dealt and the professionalism displayed by almost every dealer I saw. I also felt really bad for the obviously brand new dealer on base at my end in the Golden Gate. He looked like he was going to piss himself a few times, his hands shook almost uncontrollably while paying the pass line, and the box get up and take over a couple of times. That could be me in a couple of months. Overall, I'm starting to find the decision almost overwhelming. I'm still fairly young at 32, with no kids or wife, so on the surface it seems like an easy choice. So as Nick Kallos said to me, "you're not exactly giving up a CEO position at a company to come here, so why not take the plunge and jump in the water to see if you'll sink or swim". If I travel very light and find a 3-month lease to sign, I could always scurry back to Ohio with my tail between my legs if things don't work out. Thanks for reading my TR and let me know if you have any questions.