Travel on Friday was hastily rearranged and so I ended up with a 3½ hour layover in <i style="font-weight: bold; color: #888; border-bottom: dotted red 2px;">Las Vegas[/i]. Good for me! I hope to go out there for a real trip with a buddy in the Fall. The buddy is budget minded. Fine with me, but I only know some of the cheaper venues by name and reputation, not first hand looks. I decided to use this time to take a peek at the North Strip. No line for cabs at 8 AM on Friday. Went to Sahara and checked my bags. I was going to go off on a rant here about the lack of lockers in the airport now, but you know what, for $2 I was generous with the Sahara bell desk and that's probably cheaper than a locker. Probably did me a favor. Sahara looked nicer than I thought. Speed the ride looks like fun, though it was not running in the morning. As advertised, there were low limit tables. I was tempted by $3 craps with 5X odds, but decided to hold off. Coffee shop crowded, so I walked up the street to checkout The STRAT . The Stratosphere recon mission worked out poorly. I should have hit the joint later. The Top of the World opened at 10AM and I was early. Plus, I forgot to check out their sports book. I might have stayed for some dice and hit these things later, but the $2 craps table with 5X odds was empty of players. I don't need the action that badly. Next I walked down the Strip. Slots of Fun was packed for 9AM. Cheap BJ table full of players. Next door to the Westward Ho. People who go there seem loyal, and I know the rates are cheap, so I wanted to check it out. The pool I saw looked like a standard motel watering hole, but the hot tub was a bonus, and I think this would work fine. Nickel Nick's coffee was worth about 5¢ so no real bargain there. Muffin was decent for 50¢. The $1 craps table with 2X odds that I played for a while. Fun table, helpful if not overly enthusiastic dealers. Hey, it's 9AM at the Ho, what can you expect? I saw someone walk by with a ¼lb Megadog while I played. It looked unappetizing, and a player at the table told me he tried one and just couldn't finish it. Cocktail service was great, though. I had 4 (weak) Bloody Marys in short amount of time. Tipping $1-$2 probably helped. Went next door to Stardust. Sports book is gorgeous, lots of TVs. lots of chairs, lots of windows. Nothing else especially noteworthy in the casino. I busted outside and while waiting to cross LV Blvd made conversation with a guy who turns out to be from my new hometown of Baltimore. he was there on aweek long trip, "not crying home to Mom". I wished him continued luck. Gotta love friendly folk. Riviera looked fine inside, but sports book really small. Outside I made conversation with a pedicab driver. I asked how much to the Sahara, as it looked like rain might threaten. He said he can't go to Sahara, they consider pedicabs a nuisance, and said he had a petition I could sign if I disagreed with that. So I did. He also sai d no fare, tip only. "What would insult you?" I asked "A dollar would insult me." "OK, I'm not going to insult you. Let's go." Back to Sahara by pedicab. We beat the rain, laughed our asses off talking, and I gave him $6 for the pedaling. Sports book at Sahara was small, too. I never did hit their tables. Check in line looked very long. Got my bags and headed back to the airport. Verdict on the North Strip: Not bad. I think we could make a good weekend out of playing cheap table games, hitting Stardust Sports book (that's a must, the others look unimpressive), Sahara virtual racing, and thrill rides at Sahara and Strat. Good scout trip. With a good run among the shooters at the Ho, in total, I had 4 drinks, breakfast, an hour of craps, transportation and bag storage for a net cost of twenty-soemthing bucks. Not bad for a three hour scouting trip!