Oh, Las Vegas, you wonderful, horrible, owly, seducing, playful, teasing meth-whore, angelic, dominatrix, motherly demon of a city... Don't ever change. First, a teaser to make sure you stay until the end. The greatest 150 seconds in my gambling lifetime. One additional preamble; from reading Notfromconcentrate's epic TR, it seems y'alls love photos. Therefore, I am giving you all of them... no matter how mundane or uninteresting they are (except the ones I've already deleted as they weren't even interesting to me!) We had a smaller crew for our Poker Trip this year, in part due to the difficulty of getting a weekend that all could agree on. We always wait until the NFL schedule is released, as we like to watch the Packers play on a Sunday afternoon at Rum Runners. So upon release of the schedule, we scratch out all prime time games (and the BYE weekend). Then out goes Life is Beautiful weekend (as we always stay downtown). Finally, each attendee gives the weekend in which they are unavailable. Not one NFL weekend was available until December 8... and I nixed that as it was too close to Christmas. We were going to force a trip for NFL Week 1 (next weekend) even though the Packers play Sunday night, but the Big Blues Bender at the Plaza rendered all downtown hotel rates to be stupid-high. It became Labor Day weekend or not at all. Not at all wasn't an acceptable solution, so... As I do with my poker trip reports, all times shown are PDT once the flight's wheels are up... Thursday, August 30 at 7:30 PM CDT - My beautiful bride drops me off at the airport, and I head to TSA armed with my TSA Precheck identified on my boarding pass. The entire TSA area is devoid of people, and only one ID checker is there, who tells me that "Precheck is closed" but gives me a laminate that allows me to keep my shoes and belt on while I dig my 3-1-1 out of my travel bag, which is on the bottom of my suitcase, which is under all manner of clothes and shoes. I am taking my time doing this as I am all alone, when a businesswoman comes into the screening area with her laptop out and liquids ready. She politely waits while I fidget through my stuff. I get it through and pass through the scanner. On the other side, instead of moving my stuff to the Recombobulation Area, I keep my bag on the conveyor while I redo what I undid. Apparently I was blocking the other lady (again, we are the only two non-TSAers anywhere near the screening area) and a TSA screener was playfully giving me grief for inconveniencing a beautiful young lady. Now, she was neither beautiful nor young, but I responded with "Well, I am going to Las Vegas without my wife, maybe its intentional". We all chuckled while I moved out of her way and finished my repacking. 8:15 PM CDT- Only Phil has decided to leave early with me... Pat and Pete decided not to spend the money for the hotel Thursday night, opting instead for paying more $$ to take that dreaded 6:00 AM flight Friday. To each his own, I guess. Knowing that Phil likes Vegas adventure, I come up with a couple of Vegasey things to do, despite arriving just before midnight. When we get called to stand in line to board, I head to my spot in line... which was right in front of the businesswoman from TSA. My mind started racing... do I keep with the small talk, or do I pretend I didn't make a very ill-timed pass at her? So I did what most other chickenshits do... I looked the other way and pretended that I didn't recognize her. 8:40 PM CDT - I had forgotten to check in on time, and I had been exiled with C13. I had felt shamed for 23 hours and 45 minutes, until I saw a window seat right behind an exit row. And even better.... I was next to a very thin Asian woman. I don't know if I could have hand selected a better person for my middle-seated partner. She was wearing sandals, too About a half hour after 10,000 feet - Growing up, my grandmother developed my enjoyment of combining orange juice with ginger ale. As I got older, I invited a splash of vodka to the party. I am not one to drink often on a plane, but I decided that the mood was striking me, so I ordered one. Imagine my surprise when I receive full cans of both ginger ale and orange juice. However, it did pose a challenge with the limited real estate on the tray table. Luckily I figured it out so I could enjoy a very large cocktail while watching Sopranos: Behind the Scenes Volume 1. 10:30 PM PDT - Arrival at McCarran was no sweat. And with that, I was at my second home. 11:30 PM - Without a lot of discussion between us, Phil had decided that he wanted to make this as much a Foodie trip as it would be a Poker trip. He ultimately passed on a few poker tournaments in favor of a culinary journey. I told him that it was a great idea... as long as he was paying for his share of the van rental. One of the places he mentioned was Tacos El Gordo on the Strip. Well, I hadn't had a proper dinner, and it was on the way downtown, so making it the first stop in Vegas was an easy call. On the left are two Suadero (beef brisket) tacos. On the right are two Pastor (pork) tacos. Also on the tray is water. I may no longer be dieting, but I continue to avoid soda with my meals. Friday, August 31 at 12:30 AM - Phil and I are checked into our separate rooms at the California, and after dropping off my bags, I contact Lyft for a pick-up while waiting for the elevator. I get a call from LeRoy before I am actually on the elevator... its almost like he knew we were on our way out. 12:45 AM - My first cocktail was... It was lovely. Strong, of course, with hand-muddled raspberries. But for $10, my budget wanted to experiment, so my second drink was... This drink was light-years better than the Frankenstein. I don't know why, maybe it was because it was "edgy"? Unfortunately the photos of the drinks did not turn out due to the lack of light. I also wanted to relax, so I didn't really try to play with the settings too much. 1:30 AM - Phil's turn to buy the car, and he chose an Uber, whose driver also appeared within seconds of ordering it. These services are easier and easier each time we use them. We get back to the Cal, and despite vowing to each other that we weren't going to gamble before bed, we each drop about $60, then kick each other in the ass for being a dummy before heading off to bed. Evening came and morning followed, the first day.