We had been moving and were just plain sick of it. We needed to get out of town. The plan was to unpack on July 1st, then head up in the evening for Reno. The next day we would head down to Vegas for a couple of days, and back to Tahoe for Sunday, meeting our daughter for her birthday. R was working Â½ a day, I was unpacking during this time. He would join me for 4 hours of serious unpacking, and our trip would begin. INSTEAD, he comes in at 1:00, looks at the boxes, kicks a couple, and says letâ€™s go. Now he had been moving crap for a week, from 7 AM until 1 AM, and hated life. Reno was right where he could taste it, the house was kinda okay, and he was DONE! However, I was not ready. I had been working/sweating for 5 hours, and really wasnâ€™t sure where even my shampoo was. I looked at him confused, down at my gross self, upstairs at where I knew some of my belongings were, and back at him for understanding. I got none, he said heâ€™d wait outside in the car, KNOWING that would speed me up, since it was over 100 out there. Itâ€™s on! I can do this! 20 minutes later Iâ€™m pulling a suitcase out the front door, hair dripping from found past hotel shampoo and off we go. Heâ€™s sheepish, I understand, we laugh and things look pretty bright. However, as we drive, it occurs to me I really donâ€™t know what I packed. I mentally go over contents of suitcase, and realize we probably need to shop in Reno. Our evening in Reno was nice. Harrahâ€™s gave us the usual small coveted West tower room (really, what is in the scary East ones?) We threw the bags in the room, foregoing the usual â€œhappy to be hereâ€ room drink toast, as this was the first â€œforgot to packâ€ discovery. Yes, I forgot the in-room booze. Not a BIG deal, as we get plenty in the casino, but there is something so right about those first drink toasts in the room. We belly up to the bar at Harrahâ€™s, I have $20 free play, R nothing, and we get a beer. Nice, we are starting to relax, we are losing slow, this is good. At the usual stop loss, we go next door to Cal Neva. They usually have $10 free play for us, they do not today. Our play is still the same, makes no sense, oh well. We win $100 from them anyway, so take that! Everywhere is slow, it is a Wednesday, so to be expected. We have a $10 food comp for Harrahâ€™s and use it in their coffee shop. We order their Asian delight special, as posted on their board. Which one? The server asks bored. The Asian Delight, I repeat, as there were other specials like steak and scampi. Which one? She says again, Asian Delight, I say a little more clearly. Yes, but which one? My lip begins to tremble now, I donâ€™t understand what she is asking me, she doesnâ€™t offer any more explanation, itâ€™s like a â€œWhoâ€™s on first?â€ comedy. She then whips out an Asian menu, with many choices, I feel stupid, pick the first one, she asks R for his order, and he tells her weâ€™re sharing. She says itâ€™s not much food, we say itâ€™s all we want, she leaves unfulfilled, Iâ€™m concerned about spittage, we wait. The food arrives plentiful, hot and satisfying. We eat quickly and go to sleep, weâ€™re driving to Vegas in the morning, but first going by JC Penny outlet for some more clothes. I discovered I had packed one pair of capris, two pair of shorts, one with missing buttons, mismatched shirts, and no shoes. The only shoes I had were heeled fancy schmancy sandles, not going to work on the strip. We slept well, shopped better (except shoes) and were on our way to Vegas by 11 AM. Should make a 6 PM arrival. HA! We were over Â½ way there, Tonopah, 40 miles behind us, when R exclaims, â€œ$hit weâ€™re overheating!â€ I see no steam, smell no radiator fluid, but do see the gage pegged in red. I turn the heater on, he cuts the engine, and we coast to this closed down trailer thing, Â½ mile down the highway. At least we can pull off the highway, maybe find some shadeâ€¦.. We see that our respite is the old closed down Cottontail Ranch. Thank you Cottontail, for giving us a pull-out, away from scary 80 MPH semiâ€™s, offering some shade, and having a building to pee behind. Within a few minutes of stopping and putting up the hood, a trucker AND a trooper pull over. The trooper bemoans our situation, warns us that the AAA tow driver in Tonopah had turned his keys in the night before at midnight, and will need to get a driver near Indian Springs, 30 miles outside of Vegas. The trucker tries to trouble shoot the engine with anti-freeze and past stories, and I get my cousin on the phone. He had an auto shop for 30 years. Actually, itâ€™s his wife that is the best trouble shooter. For all those years she worked the front desk, hearing the customers describe, in laymanâ€™s terms, the symptoms, and then sheâ€™d collect the money at the end of the job for what needed to be fixed. Best auto triage person anywhere. She is ALWAYS right. I tell her what happened, she has me look for water and oil in different places, and tells me the head is blown at least, maybe the whole thing. We wait for the tow driver, 150 miles away from us, and field other offers of help and scary people. One Wal-Mart truck driver stops, doesnâ€™t come over, but gets out to pee on his tires, this in full view of me, a few feet away. R was, himself, peeing behind the Cottontail, so was of no help. Funny about this stop, turns out it must be on Frommerâ€™s travel guide or something, because EVERYONE stopped for pictures. Full vans of families, getting out, kicking rocks, looking around; one drove very close to R during a quiet bathroom moment, approaching him slowly, but coming right up on him. What did you do? I asked. What could I do? I waved. When the tow driver finally shows, we love him. Sitting on the side of the road, in the desert, for three hours, with cell phones fading, and water disappearing, will make a believer out of you. I thought he was an angel. A crazy angel, it turns out. We pulled him out of retirement, as there were no drivers available, and he couldnâ€™t leave us sitting in the desert, he told us. He loaded the car, our bags and then us. He and R sat in bucket seats, I on a jump seat in the middle. Iâ€™ve never sat so high, or so close to the windshield. A bit overwhelming. R starts talking to him, the driver is going 80 mph, holding a steering wheel the size of a bus steering wheel, and well, the guy must have been Italian, because every time the guy answers, he takes his hands off the wheel for effect. The tow truck responds by jerking to the right, heading off the road, when we hit the bumps, he notices and jerks it back. Iâ€™m going to die. After an hour of this, I come to terms with it, and relax. Iâ€™ve had a pretty good life, though I would like to get to Vegas one more time. At a gas stop, I tell R to STOP TALKING TO HIM, as his hand talking is taking us off the road, and I am wearing a lap belt only. R offers to change seats, I refuse, wanting him to live, and we carry on. Meantime, we have our son trying to find a destination for our car. Dodge is closing everywhere, so he goes for the most reputable guy he can google in Vegas. We get Louis on Desert Inn Road. We arrive in Vegas after closing, drop the car, and our driver offers to drop us at our hotel, Paris. Cool. Incidentally, my AAA only goes 100 miles, so it will be another $429 for the other 80, cash only. Okay, got it, lucky it was on the way IN to Vegas. What about folks who donâ€™t carry cash? By the time we walk into the hotel, we canâ€™t decide what we want more. Booze? Food (hadnâ€™t eaten in 9 hours), rest, or getting our gamble on. On the way to check-in, we spy a gift shop. BEER! Hereâ€™s $10 for two. Now check-in. Platinum at Paris. Does anyone EVER get a break here? He asks how we are doing, I give him we just arrived on a tow truck with a blown engine, need a break, sort of whine, he sneers, really, I think it was a sneer, and proceeds to tell me the King room, I confirmed, is not available, but we are lucky that there is one for $40 more a night. Lying bastard. R gives me the look of take anything, donâ€™t argue, I do, and take a queen non-remodeled room on the 4th floor, with walk out privileges to the parking garage roof, lovely. Now, we could really have used the in-room booze, or coffee or shoes or many of those items â€œyou can always just buyâ€ until you donâ€™t have a car, or are too tired to get one. We did a WTF shrug, said we would not talk about it the rest of the night, and proceeded to play, drink and laugh. Surprisingly we won on everything we touched. Not lots, just staying about $100 ahead of what we started with. I love this new game on All Star, called 5 aces. Not let us down yet, so we use it sparingly, not to jinx the gambling gods. My first $20 in netted $100 out. Sa-weet!!! Weâ€™re trying to get me to Diamond at HET, and R to Platinum for this year. We were both Â½ way there. This night, we added about 500 points each, though we went to bed fairly even. Friday the fifth we stayed on the strip all day, checking in with the Louis about our car. At closing, we get the bad news. At least the top of the engine is shot (as my cousin said), and heâ€™ll have to tear down to see the bottom. Oh, and heâ€™s now closed till Monday (4th of July holiday, Saturday). Well, thatâ€™s that. No car, no decisions, until Monday: except, we would not be driving to Tahoe on Sunday and meeting the kids. We call and give them the bad news, accept our fate, and begin drinking more. Again, this day is kind to us. We had this one awesome gambling moment in time. We were sitting at Imperial Palace, (Iâ€™m liking this place more and more), right at the front where the old high roller section used to be (and still looks like it is) playing our beloved 5 aces. We had started in the back, lost a few 20â€™s and were cashing in some bills when R finds a $20 bill. He looks around, no bodies, and asks me about it. Should he turn it in to the cashier? Heâ€™s so honest. I laugh, and tell him we cannot find the owner now, and it is ours, but lucky money, letâ€™s use it that way. So, we end up at our 5 aces in front. The lucky $20 goes in, and R hits for $100 right away. My $20 hits for $100 right away, R says boost to dollars, I do, and win $320 more, all in about 15 minutes. We have now just won$500 off that $20 bill. Hey, thatâ€™s the tow bill! Weâ€™re laughing, chair dancing (to no music) and drinking straight Jack. Then-n-nâ€¦ right next to us, at the front of the hotel, this guy starts singing â€œProud to Be an Americanâ€, beautiful voice, heâ€™s getting everyone excited for the 4th. The announcer tells us all the awards IP has won in customer service, and is congratulating the workers. The singer was actually a dealatainer, pulled from the pit to perform up front. What a nice group. I hate Paris. Since we were winning, and life had been laughing at us up to now, we decided we needed a nice dinner in the right atmosphere. Mon Ami Gabi, of course! Their wine, by the glass, is yucky, so I told R we could carry in some from the slots that was better. We put our name in for the patio, told one hour, played-ordered wine, and headed in on the page. She said we had to finish our drinks before we came in. I have NEVER seen this in a casino restaurant. I have worked as a server in a casino restaurant and would NEVER make someone toss their drink before coming in. Paris. We set the wine down, as wine is not to be tossed back, and followed the snobby, minimum-waged high-heeled, meany hostess to our table on the patio. We ordered some of their wine, not very good, but we were legit, and relaxed. R doesnâ€™t like their skinny steaks and faux chips, so ordered a New York as suggested by the server. I got some seafood special entrÃ©e thing, because I really didnâ€™t care, I just wanted to be sitting here, looking at the Bellagio fountains, sipping wine (even poopy wine) , with that self-satisfied smirk one must wear while dining at Mon Ami Gabi for the peasants who gawk by. We put the meal on our room (for later pick up by points), and played a few more hours before bed. The next morning, we began at the pool, and felt like we were on vacation, as only a pool lounger can instantly give you. We sipped crappy coffee from the coffee shop, damn can a girl get a good cup of joe, glass of wine, or interesting beer at Paris?!!! Now before you all write in about the espresso at the top of the Eiffel tower, I mean under $20 a pop. There is no Starbucks in sight, and their coffee huts serve Folgerâ€™s or something. When we return to the room, we realize our order of business this day is extending the room, without charge, and cancelling the Tahoe one. In the HET system, you cannot safely jump from one mountain top to the other. You must be precariously balanced between the two, for a time. Let go of your reserved room BEFORE theyâ€™ll let you book another. I decided we needed a host for this, and began looking. First to the rewards desk, no, none here, now to VIP check-in, no, go the desks near the rewards desk, no, but try the diamond lounge, thereâ€™s always one there. Ah-h-h-hâ€¦I have arrived. Nice room, nice people, butt-kissing people, not use to this at Paris. I tell her our problem, she looks us up. No worries, bye-bye Tahoe, hello 2 more comped nights at Paris, oh, need a better room? How about the 31st floor? This diamond will be mine. Our new room is looking over the Bellagio fountains, the windows open enough to hear the music, but not enough to jump from, good. More linens, more soaps, chocolates on our pillow. Okay. Maybe Paris as a diamond member. We feel fortunate, things are looking better, weâ€™ve made a decision to buy a new car down here, trade the Dodge in. We had bought the Dodge new and gotten 18 months past the pay off. Pretty good for American cars I guess. We had been reading of the bad economy in Vegas, giving away cars they were. Weâ€™ll take one! Our son arranged for a rental for Sunday morning, as the 4th was impossible. We decided to forget our worries, and just play this Saturday, the 4th. We had a cool new room, we knew what we were going to do. We couldnâ€™t DO anything until Sunday anyway. So we proceeded to play and lose up and down the strip. I wonâ€™t bore you with any of these details, they were not note worthy, and you donâ€™t want to be depressed. If there were fireworks on the strip, we missed them, but not the crowds. Damn! it was like NYE! We turned in early. The rental car was handled by our son; the cheapest he could get anywhere, last minute, was $61 a day. Fox rental was only $52 total for two days. Nice place, a bit away from the big rental mall, they also shuttle to and from airport. Recommended. Once we had our car, we started at the dealers, only to find out they were closed on Sunday. Really? Closed? Again, we accomplished nothing this day toward our car, but now had wheels, so took off for downtown and outlying places. I love downtown. Good beer, nice customer service, better gaming odds. We spent the day here, prime rib at Magnoliaâ€™s, nice evening. No wins, but hey, we had our two days of wins, right? Enough already. Monday was our day spent on car lots: 115 degrees, lying salesman, confusing deals, numerous possibilities. Mamma! 8 hours later, itâ€™s between a convertible at Chapman Dodge and a Camry at the Toyota dealer across the street. Anyone ever seen used cars? Where they use a fishing pole with money on it to get the suckers across the street? Pretty close. Each were calling us, changing the deal as they looked at us through binoculars or eagle eyes, because they called saying they saw us over there. Scary. Turns out neither REALLY wanted to sell a car, and we gave up and went for a beer about 6 PM. Our son came through again with a rental truck and dolly so we could tow our Dodge home the next day. I knew the engine was shot, but Vegas auto dealers were stupid, they let us leave without being willing to close the deal, we couldnâ€™t just leave the Dodge behind, we had to get homeâ€¦.so we towed it. 10 hours, through California, R driving the whole time, as it was hard to keep on the road with the wind conditions. $686 for the tow and dolly, $220 for gas, $429 for the first tow into Vegas. Ugh. Our Dodge dealer confirmed the blown engine, $9235 to replace. Uh, no. Back to the dealers here, they are more willing to negotiate, maybe a convertible for that next trip down?