Another Christmas Spent in Las Vegas Finally Complete The Baboo and I spent yet another Christmas in LV, arriving on Dec 20 and departing on the 26th. Here is the report but be forewarned that I include a LOT of details, personal opinions and sometimes lengthy clutter. If those type TRs bug you, then read no further. Nothing memorable about the flight out, just a routine Jackson-Dallas-McCarren trip. Our pilot did tell us the wrong carousel to go to for our bags. The only headache with that was that our limo driver got a little antsy waiting for us at carousel 3 while we stood around at carousel 1. We finally niticed that the flight on the carousel did not match ours and walked over to the right one. There The Baboo spotted our limo driver holding up a big BABOO sign. She liked that since I usually have my name on the limo card. We enjoyed a pleasant ride over to the RIO. We got checked in and just automatically headed up the Masquerade tower elevators because that is the only place we have ever stayed in 12-15 trips to the Rio. Once on our floor, we realized that we had been assigned rooms in the Ipanema tower. We went back to the desk to get that corrected and after 3 tries, we were able to get a room in Masquerade that allowed The Baboo to smoke. It wasn't a huge hassle but I resolved to make my reservations by phone next time since there is no way to specifiy which tower you want on-line. Ipanema may be great but we are used to Masquerade and know how to navigate from there. A soon as we got our baggage in the room, I rushed down to the Sports Book to beat the kickoff of the USM/Arkansas St game. Just beating the kickoff, I got my $1,000 down on the moneyline taking the Golden Eagles of The University of Southern Mississippi. I was only going to win a little less than $300 for my bet but felt that it was a lock. The Baboo grew up across the steet from USM and hates for me to bet on them because she thinks that I jinx them but this was too good to pass up. As the days passed, my Sports Book action kept my head above water as the tables, especially the blackjack tables, were not kind at all. Once I got the bet down, I went over to the Masquerade Bar and drank a few beers while watching the game and playing VP. At the end of teh first half, I hit cash out so I could go check on The Baboo. What? No paper in the printer. The bartender called a tech on the phone to come fix the situation. I sat around for 20 minutes or longer and finally just told the bartender I couldn't wait any longer so I was just abandoning my $10. When I returned downstairs, I dropped back by on the off chance that the tech had left my ticket there. No such good fortune but I wasn't really expecting him to anyway. Something else I wasn't expecting was the bartender to charge me $5 for a Miller lite when he knew that I had just been shorted $10 by the machine. That move sent me to the Sports Book to watch the second half but despite many people extolling the virtues of watching games in the Book, I got somewhat bored and went out to the VP bar just outside the Book to watch the fourth quarter. It was there that I learned the entire Total Rewards system had crashed and none of the machines were doing countdowns or point totals. The Harrah's people were saying that our points were accumulating anyway but I was pretty skeptical of that. Therefore, I kept my play down to just above what it took to keep my drinks free. It was quite on that end of the casino with Bikinis being closed and the hour ticking on into the night but that quietness was loudly interrupted when a Bevertainer stand roared to life about 10 feet behind my stool. I would be lying if I denied jumping about 3 feet straight up when we went from quiet solitude to Roaring Disco Inferno in .5 seconds. At least the bevertainer was cute. Finally the game was over and I had my winning ticket. USM had won the game but failed to cover the double-digit spread so I am glad I choose to go the moneyline route. It was time to try a little blackjack but I could have saved my time and money because I could not get anything going in an hour and a half. The effort cost me $300. The Rio is notorious for terrible blackjack but their $25 games are playable. I just did not get any cards. I took the short stroll over to the Gold Coast and found a stool at a VP bar. About 40 minutes and 2 beers later I had a $50 profit. I cashed and promptly spent part of it in their convenient and very reasonably priced liquor store getting supplies for the room. Now it was time to find my way to Sleepytown so off to the room I went. The next morning I made a coffee/snack run down to the Coffee Bean which is extremely convenient if you are staying in the Masquerad tower because it is located just outside the elevator exits. Coffee was good and I got the first of many different pastries that I would experiment with throughout the week. All were good but I would rate the pastries a notch above the cookies. My personal favorite of the week was the chocolate bundt cake. I also made a trip across the street for cokes, chips, and other supplies for the room. There had been a head-on collision on Flamingo and the had the street blocked off from the bridge to the Gold Coast. It made crossing the street pretty convenient but I hope no one was killed or seriously injured. I went over to the Sports Book to cash in my ticket and was saddened to see that the dlie (Toscano?) had been shut down for remodeling. Before we left on the 26th, they were doing a test run by feeding Rio workers and the restaurant was named The Sports Kitchen. It didn't look like they had changed out any of the kitchen equipment so maybe the menu will stay close to the same. The Poker room is located next to the Sports Book and I wanted to check it out. Considering that the Rio is host to most of the World Series of Poker, their poker room is pretty plain-jane. It looks like they just decided to place 8-10 tables in the nearest open space. After leaving the poker room, I went to a trio of Megabucks machines to run my daily allotment of $30 through. My Megabucks philosophy is that if I am intended to hit the jackpot that day, 10 spins ought to be able to do it. I had spun a little past my spins when the hits got a little more frequent. When my credits got up to $60 (which doubled my money) I cashed out. This particular Megabucks machine would prove to be my most dependable source of cash during the trip. I settled in on a blackjack table to see if my fortunes had changed overnight. Unfortunately, my luck was still miserable. Even more aggravating, there was a very loud guy on first base who had been up all night as well as all morning playing and was more than a few rungs up the intoxication ladder. He was betting pretty strong (black chip and up) which earned him a good deal of tolerance from dealers, pit people, and cocktail waitresses. That tolerance was certainly needed as he made a lot of loud inappropriate comments and speculations about all the above mentioned people. (mostly sexual innuendos) Since his shenanigans were distracting me, I left and found a seat on a 3 card poker table. ( well, not to mention that I had lost $300 and wanted a change of pace anyway) The only thing I regretted was parting company with an extremely friedly and helpful dealer. (Faye) The good news is that there were plenty of seats on the 3 card tables. The bad news is that they all had the underpaying 3-1 payout for flushes. I was used to the 4-1 payout that just about all casinos in Mississippi use. I lucked into another nice dealer. If the cards had been half as nice as the people dealing them, this TR would have a lot more reasons to celebrate mentioned. The bottom line is that I dropped another $150 into the Rio coffers. Wanting a break, I walked over to the Shutters Bar for a couple of screwdrivers and some VP. While there, I witnessed a Rio pep rally of sorts. There were about 15 Rio associates were just around the corner (mostly suits but a few dealer uniforms) and chanting "Who Are We? . . . . RIO!". They finshed up the pep rally with a sustained yell of GOOOOOOOOOO...RIO! I hope they were fired up. I finally hit a few mid-range winners and cashed out with a modest profit. BTW- Total Rewards was up and running this morning. On my way to the room, I made a swing through the High Limit room to see if The Baboo had found the Top Dollar machine that draws her like a moth to a flame. She wasn't there but I noticed that the Diamond Lounge had a closed sign on it at 1:30 in the afternoon. The Baboo and I headed down to the Ibar for a couple of drinks. They make a very tasty White Russian there. Later we went up to the Voodoo about dark to watch the sunset and enjoy the view of the lights coming on across the valley. The Voodoo outdoor patio has been expanded into multi-levels and I cannot compliment the improvements enough. They now have huge, plush chairs that you can loll around on with the rail mere feet from you. The view is just as spectacular as ever and the comfort level has been vastly increased. We had a couple more White Russians and then decided to split a "Witches Brew". The extra long straws they give your reminded us of long-ago days when we were splitting a milkshake instead of a smoking cauldron of alcohol This may seem odd, but it was a romantic moment for us to be overlooking the beauty of the LV lights while sharing a smoking (dry ice) fish bowl of high-octane alcohol through his and hers straws. Unfortunately, those 5 kinds of rum and the 2 or 3 liqueurs in the Witches Brew just about finished the Baboo off. An hour later, she was ready to call it a night. Well, that left me on my own and I decided to try out some new places. I caught the shuttle down to Harrah's. The Dueling Pianos were going in full force so I procured me a Stoli and Red Bull and landed me a prime spot just feet away from one of the energetic pianists pounding those keys. It was so much fun, I wound up staying through 2 Stoli & RB refills before moving on. Thank goodness the rest of the crowd was singing and drowning out my warblings. While my singing is enthusiastic, it is always off-key, out of tune, and hard on the ears. I walked out to Carnaval Court and it was locked up tighter than a drum. I guess it had something to do with the time of night or the holiday season. I wanted to play a little bit at Imperial Palace but would encounter problems doing so. First I had to cross through the bar that is between the street and the actual entrance to the casino. They were having Kareoke night there and it was more spectacular than any I have seen anywhere outside LV. (but where is the surprise in that) Performer after performer was waiting on their turn and they had on every sort of costume imaginable to help enhance their chance of winning. I saw Michael Jackson, poodle skirts, Billy Idol leather and more but the wildest one was the guy in some sort of superhero getup. He had on gold boots, no pants but red silk briefs, no shirt, a mask, a cape and some sort of horned helmet. Who knows what song went along with that geetup. I promise you, that bar was ROCKIN! What wasn't rocking were the blackjack games inside IP. I wanted to play in either the dealertainer pit or the champagne pit but both had the dreaded 6-5 payout for blackjack and I just will not play those games. So out the door and back through the World Kareoke Championship I went. Wanting to see some new places and visit some places I hadn't been in a while, I turned in the direction of the Barbary Coast. I was also a little thirsty so I slurped down a beer and played a few minutes of VP. Next up was O'Sheas. I didn't stay long but I played for a few minutes, got a couple of chips for my collection and tucked a $40 profit in my pocket. I then set out to find Ellis Island. I had never been there and only vaguely remembered that it was somewhere back behind Bally's. Once on the sidewalk, I noticed that I was just outside the door of The Stage Door Casino and went in for a look around. It was pretty nondescript but certainly had nothing wrong with it other than being small. Scored a beer to walk with from either SDC or the mini-mart next to it and hit the road again. I saw the green neon of Ellis Island a LONG way off but set off in that direction anyway. I don't know if it was the hour or the location but I had the sidewalk to myself the entire way. Ellis Island was pleasant enough and the people I encountered were very congenial. I played BJ for about an hour and lost $50. The chips I snared for my collection seemed brand new. Making my way back to the stip, I entered the back of Ballys and located the passageway leading to Paris. They had dueling pianos in Napoleons so I stopped in for a couple of beers here. It was fun but less lively than the pianos at Harrahs. Once in the casino, I played blackjack for about an hour. I was a little ahead just about the entire time but finally a couple of lost hands in a row put me back at even so I cashed. I encountered another dealer memorable for her good nature here. (Ann) I always enjoy playing at Paris because of the feeling that you are outdoors that the faux sky produces. My host from New Orleans is going to be working soon at either Ballys or Paris. I hope he gets Paris. I hit Las Vegas Boulevard just in time to hear the opening notes of The Star Spangled Banner as the Bellagio fountains began erupting. I stopped and stayed at my spot for the entire show. As always the SSB was an inspiring moment. I walked down to the Boardwalk. I wanted some chips from here and knew they were scheduled for closing. I had read a lot of negative things about this place but it seemed OK to me. Everyone seemed a little depressed but heck, the place is going to be shut down. Who wouldnt' be a little depressed? Anyway, I played for about 30 minutes and won $50 which I cashed plus another 4 nickel chips for my collection. Even though my feet were protesting by now, I made the hike down to NYNY and paid my respects at the memorial around the Statue of Liberty. Some of the items in the shadow boxes were starting to fade pretty badly. It might be time to rotate in some new items if NYNY kept all of the things that were originally hanging from the fence around the statue. My brother, son-in-law, and a bunch of my friends are firefighters, so I always stop by here. Again, a moving moment. I eased over to the NYNY and caught a ride back to the Rio and went up to the elevators to see if I still had an address in Dreamtown. I gotta go now but will add the other 4 days later. Things will get a little less detailed because my notes got a little less coherent but there will still be plenty of details whether they are relevant or not. Just keep that in mind. OTOH - If no detail is too trivial for you, I hope you enjoy tagging along on my travels.