I left my house at 7:25 AM on Tuesday, August 12th. It's a straight shot to DIA from my house, and even with traffic I got there in about 30 minutes. I parked in a satellite (shuttle) lot, got my suitcase out, and went to wait for the shuttle. One came along in about 10 minutes, made its rounds through the lot, and we were on our way to the terminal. I was feeling a little pressed for time, thinking my flight was leaving at 9:30. I decided to pull out my itinerary and low and behold - my flight actually left at 8:55... It was now about 8:15 and I was not a happy camper. The folks at Delta were very nice, but by the time I got to the terminal and up to the desk it was 8:30 there was nothing they could do except book me on the next flight. Which they did, for a $25 fee. Oh, well, my (BIG) mistake. I haven't missed a flight in almost 30 years. Lesson learned: ALWAYS, ALWAYS check itinerary the night before your flight. The next flight left Denver at 12:30, so I had some time to kill. This was my birthday trip and I was not going to stress out over the delay. I got a danish for breakfast, read for a while, then headed over to the airport massage place. After checking the prices, I decided to treat myself to a 20 minute massage. It was wonderful. The flight was thankfully on time and the connection in Salt Lake City was smooth. We landed in LV at 3PM and I asked directions to the CAT bus stop. It was easy to find and the Maryland Pkwy. bus soon came by. The bus ride was interesting. It doesn't exactly go through the beautiful part of town, so you see a slice of "real" Las Vegas life. Moms and kids, senior citizens, one guy who had a bike with him, but had such a big beer belly and was so red and sweaty that I was afraid if he'd actually had to ride the bike he would've had a heart attack. At one stop, a man in a wheelchair got on and we struck up a conversation. He told me he'd been in a wheelchair for 33 years, after a motorcycle accident when he was 19. He'd obviously had a hard life but he didn't sound bitter. That bus ride made me thankful for what I have in life. I may not have a lot of money, but I have my health, I have two legs that work, and I have enough money to occasionally go to Las Vegas. That's rich in my book. I walked from the bus terminal to Las Vegas Club (yup, it was hot. Thank God for wheelie suitcases!) Check-in was quick and I asked for a room in the North tower. I got room 1132 and was pleasantly surprised. The room was very big. It was kind of sparsely furnished but comfortable (the bed was great) and clean. Bathroom was fine. I didn't think it was any smaller than the bathroom at the Orleans or the GN, although the bathtub was a little shallow. They had great fluffy towels. Yes, the soap is a dispenser on the wall (tacky!) but I was forewarned so brought some small bars from the Orleans. There was a safe in the corner. Not much of a view except of the Cal and their little swimming pool, but I wasn't there for the view. After I checked out my room and changed, I went downstairs and over to the Golden Gate for a snack - shrimp cocktail and a Newcastle Brown Ale (on tap!). Yum! I then headed up Fremont Street towards Walgreens. I stopped at the 4 Queens on the way; they were running a "Dog Days of Summer" promotion and giving away soft-sided coolers with a neat "Dog Days" logo, so I signed up for the slot club there. First 40 points got a t-shirt; next 100 the cooler. I made my way over to a triple play VP machine. My $20 went pretty fast but I had enough points for a t-shirt. Back to Fremont Street and to the new Walgreens. It's conveniently located just across the street from the north end of the Fremont Street canopy. I got some bottled water and M&M's and trekked back to LVC to put them in the room. I rested for a while, freshened up a bit, and headed out for some more gambling before dinner. I started out with blackjack at LVC, where I quickly lost $15. Then wandered over to a Trivial Pursuit nickel slot - it was a lot of fun. I got one trivia question bonus round; naturally it landed on "Sports"... It was a golf question, but I figured out the correct answer anyway. I cashed out up $20 and headed over to the Plaza. I played some full pay nickel JOB for a while then moseyed on over to the Cal where I sat down at a quarter full pay DW machine. Down $25 in about 5 minutes. I was finally hungry enough for dinner so I went to the coffee shop for the $5.99 prime rib. It wasn't bad for the price, and actually the salad bar was better than the ones at the pricey strip buffets! They had some very good carrot salad and an ambrosia that had a little sour cream in it that was delicious. I skipped the cherries jubilee dessert, since I'm just not a big cherry fan. I had seen some new "Spam" nickel slots on my way to the buffet, so I played one for a while just for fun, but didn't win anything big. Now it was back over to the Plaza and I found some 10-nickel DW progressive machines to play. I did pretty well, hit lots of 5 of a kinds and straight flushes, and played for quite a while. I cashed out up $15 and went back to the nickel JOB machines that I had played on earlier. They just weren't hitting - I never got a 4 of a kind - so I left and went out to watch a light show. It was "Tropical Fever" which I've seen a few times but it was still great. Then I wandered up to the 4 Queens and lost $10 on nickel slots and VP, and all of a sudden I was very tired. It was only about 11:00 but I decided to go get some ice cream and go back to my room. I went to Lapperts at the Cal for ice cream. I'd always wanted to try it. I had a hot fudge sundae with banana caramel chocolate chip ice cream - WOW! It was wonderful! I was tired and sore from walking and dragging my suitcase around, so I took a hot bath and went to bed. I woke up around 8:00 on Wednesday, got dressed, and headed downstairs for coffee and VP. I played some nickel triple play DW and my $20 went fast. I moved over to a full pay quarter JOB; no luck there either.. Bummer. And it's my birthday, too. So I went up to the coffeeshop for breakfast - eggs, toast, bacon, coffee, hash browns. It wasn't bad, especially for free. (I was using an offer for 2 free nights with breakfast.) I left LVC after breakfast and returned to the 4 Queens. I was determined to get that "Dog Days" cooler. I played some nickel triple play DW then moved over to single line DW (again nickel and neither were full pay). My money lasted longer here and I struck up a conversation with a man who was cursing at his machine. He said he was from Alaska, where he ran a home for abused children and a wolf sanctuary... yeah, right. He told me he once landed a commercial jumbo jet at O'Hare Airport because the stewardess asked him to, because the pilot and the co-pilot both were sick with food poisoning. How did she know he could fly a plane... and isn't that the plot of an old "Airport somethingorother" movie??? He finally got up and said "I'd better stop bothering you; your husband might get mad" to which I replied, "Yeah, he's around here somewhere". Whew. I got the cooler. It's got to be the most expensive "free" soft-sided cooler in the world, but I have my cooler, damn it! I decided to do a little souvenir shopping. I had to check out every little souvenir shop on Fremont Street to pick out a new LV mug for myself. Sometimes I drive myself crazy. I ended up getting one in one of the first shops I visited, of course. I also picked up a BJ strategy card for a friend. By this time I was hot, thirsty, and tired. I walked up to 7-11 for a slurpee and saw a cop arresting a man right outside the store. Then went back to my room and rested for a short while before getting ready to meet some message board friends. We were going to the Fiesta for the seafood buffet dinner. I walked over to the Plaza, had a cup of coffee and played some nickel FPJOB at the machines by the McDonalds. They're in a very quiet location, which is kind of nice for a casino. Unfortunately, they weren't paying out any better than the other bank of machines by the front doors, but I played on them until 3:30, then went over to the Keno Bar where I was supposed to meet Marylandteach. Now, I had no idea what this woman looked like, but she said she'd wear a name badge so I was trying to look for name badges on everyone sitting at the bar while remaining unobtrusive. Not an easy task. After a few minutes, a woman turned around and asked, "Are you bigdogmom?" Her husband had spotted me trying to look nonchalant and unobtrusive and figured it must be me. We sat at the bar and chatted for a while. How nice to meet someone you've known on the internet and finally put a face to a name! She was having some luck at Keno, and after she went to cash in a ticket we headed over to the penny machines and played "Cops and Donuts" for a while. Now those are fun machines! We got a kick out of the bonus rounds; they're really funny. MDteach cashed out ahead; I think I was about even. We rounded up her hubby and headed over to the Fiesta for dinner. The Fiesta seafood buffet was great! Started out with oysters on the half-shell and a salad, then sampled some baked stuffed somethingorother, fried clams, oysters rockefeller, steamed mussels, and my personal favorite - sushi rolls. I also had some lo mein and of course a couple of desserts - lemon cake, brownie, and very good bread pudding. We talked some more; what nice people! They drove me back downtown and I went back to the Plaza and the nickel VP machines. I sat down at the FPJOB nickel machines by the front door and started playing, switching to DW after a while (the whole time I played nickel JOB, I only got one 4 of a kind!) and finally hit 4 deuces. I cashed out and put that $50 away, then went outside to watch the light show. This one was "Las Vegas Legends", and I hadn't seen it before. The light show was kind of lame but the music was great. Back inside the Plaza for more nickel DW and a nightcap of amaretto and cream, which was very good, then some penny slots (Lobstermania, Beverly Hillbillies, and Money Storm were a couple I remember) with no luck but my $ lasted a while and they were fun. I walked back to Las Vegas Club, played at a quarter DW with a 4700 coin royal flush with no 4 deuces or RF showing up but I played for a long time so I was happy. Then upstairs to bed. Thursday morning I was in the mood for something sweet - French toast or pancakes with butter, fruit, and lots of maple syrup were on my mind. The free breakfast at LVC didn't include either of these, so I walked over to Magnolia's at the 4 Queens, where I had a half-off coupon for my birthday. I ordered french toast with strawberries and drank my coffee while waiting for it. My booth overlooked the casino and I had a great view of a $2 BJ table, which I hoped to check out after breakfast. The french toast came. Somebody needs to tell the breakfast cook there how to make french toast - it was dry, like it was barely dipped in egg batter and none had soaked in to the bread. What a disappointment. I can make much better french toast at home. By the time I finished and headed down to the casino, the $2 BJ table was full with everyone dug in and people standing around waiting for a seat, so I played some quarter bonus poker and nickel slots with no luck. I left and walked back to LVC to check out. My plane wasn't until 5:30 (I checked first this time, LOL!) so I checked my suitcase at the bell desk. I didn't want to take the bus back to the airport, and really didn't want to spend the money on a cab, so I asked the bellman about shuttles. He called Las Vegas Limo for me; I asked that they pick me up at 3PM and they said be ready at 2:45. I figured that would give me plenty of time. I went back in to the casino and sat down at a blackjack table. I was having decent luck, betting $5-8/hand, getting a few blackjacks, and just enjoying myself, but had to leave at noon to go meet MDteach and Karen, another message board friend, at Main Street Station. I left the table up $28 and walked over to MSS. I'd never met Karen before but she was easy to spot (she said she'd be wearing a white hat). We chatted over a beer at the brewpub and MDteach joined us a while later. It was a nice lunch shared with two wonderful ladies! After lunch, we left to go gamble - I went to play some full pay VP, while they hit the craps tables. I had no luck at all; switched to some nickel slots; decided that MSS was just going to suck my money this time so I found my two friends and said goodbye. I walked back to LVC and sat down for more blackjack. Before I knew it, it was 2:45 and I still had to cash out my chips. I did, then hurried over to the bell desk. It was now 2:50. The shuttle had come, waited, and gone. Great. The bellman called them back, explained the situation, and the dispatcher said it was still in the area and would swing back by (at least, I thought that's what she said). 3:00 comes... no shuttle. 3:15... still no shuttle. By 3:30 I'm getting really pissed off. There are no taxis around. The bellman called LVL again and handed me the phone. I told the person that I had missed my shuttle, had called for another one, and had been waiting for 45 minutes. She put me on hold... and left me on hold. The bellman finally sees a cab and asks me if I want it. Yes! God only knows how long LVL was planning on making me wait for another shuttle. I'm not sure why they can't be honest about it to begin with. If I want a 3:00 shuttle, why can't they say "we have one in the area at 2:45, one at 3:15, one at 3:45. Which one will work for you?" Then again, I guess I should know better than to even try to take the shuttle (this has happened to me before). At least I gave myself plenty of time. The security line was very long and there was a security Nazi lady barking out instructions. Thankfully, the line moved fast. Uneventful flight home except for some bad turbulence taking off from Salt Lake City - and it had to be bad for me to even mention it. I'm one of those weird people who actually falls asleep with the "rocking" motion of turbulence. Oh, well. We made it back to Denver safely. I'm already dreaming about my next trip, hopefully December if all goes well! SOME MISCELLANEOUS COMMENTS Note to self: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check ticket the night before the trip! I still love downtown, and Las Vegas Club was great for my needs. Lapperts at the California is a must! I don't mind going to LV by myself, but I missed having someone to hang around with this trip. Not sure why. I still had fun, though. I didn't go to any shows this time, but should have - it breaks up the gambling a bit. Fitzgerald's had "A Tribute to the Drifters"; I thought about going but just never managed to drag myself away from the VP long enough to go see it. Thanks for reading!