Instead of a blow-by-blow account, I'll break the TR into categorical T2V forums. LV STRIP HOTELS: We stayed at Monte Carlo ($39) on Thursday and the Stardust (free LVA offer) on Sunday. It was our first time at MC, and we found it to be functional. Quick check-in, efficient elevators, handy parking garage, etc. Rooms were fine, but by looking at the exterior of the MC, one would think the rooms would be fancier. I've always enjoyed the nostalgic feel of the Stardust. The views in the East Tower are among the best in Vegas. I also think their courtyard is one of the most underrated around. It's not as fancy as the high-class joints, but it has real grass and a bit of vegetation. It's more peaceful, as well. Sunday afternoon, with the sunny 65-degree weather, it was very pleasant sitting on a lawn chair and doing a crossword puzzle with nary a soul around. Another plus are the 24-hour outdoor hot tubs. They are almost grotto-like and a wonderful place to rewind after a long day or night. DOWNTOWN HOTELS: For the first time ever, I did not make it downtown. That felt weird, not to even step foot on Fremont St. OFF-STRIP: We stayed Friday and Saturday at a favorite of many a T2Ver, the Orleans. Like others have mentioned, this is an outstanding property, for the price, to stay at. Their room promotions must be working, because the place was packed. Friday night, there were long lines at all the food places and the casino was hopping. I did use their spa (free coupon in check-in packet) and it surprised me how nice it was. I spent Saturday afternoon at the Palms spa. The LVA has a $50 off coupon for alomst anything at the Palms. I've always used it for a massage. This time, though, I got burnt (not from their tanning beds, but from my stupidity). I forgot the Palms coupon is Sun-Thurs usage. I ended up paying full price, as it was Saturday. Ouch. That bummed me out, because that was the best LVA coupon and I won't be able to use it as it expires at the end of the year. BUFFETS: We used 2-for-1s and ate at GVR, Rio, Hilton, Palace Station and Terribles. We also found a neat Phillipino buffet. GVR was for Thurs dinner, but save your money and go there for lunch. Other than the crab legs (they were very good, though), it's about the same thing. Really, isn't that the same for about about any casino buffet? The thing that stood out about GVR is how small their buffet is to other mega-buffets. Still, it is always one of our top five choices. We took the Rio in at 3:15 the next day and got the both lunch and dinner, for lunch prices. The Rio is the only buffet that I know of that offers an automatic pay system that allows you to forego a cashier person. You can't go wrong eating at the Rio, in my opinion. Enough selections to make anyone, except the constant complainers, happy. We discovered a real treat Saturday driving on Sahara and Arville and noticed a small place that offered a Phillipine buffet. We checked it out and found it to be the authenic article. It was a nice change of pace from the structured casino affair. It was a simple mom-and-pop joint that had about a dozen offerings of homemade food, plus a simple, but tasty sweet banana dessert. For $6, you could choose from various seafood, pork, chicken, beef and organ meat dishes, along with rice and a tasty yellow noodles. It's about a 12-holer. Check it out if you want something other than standard casino fare. It's called E Poy and it is only a couple miles west of the Strip. The Hilton brunch is doable, but not in GVR or Rio class. With the football games going on, it was handy having sports book within a few feet away. The only reason we went to the Palace was the price ($6.99 dinner) and the fact it has a very good pasta station and a freshly-made waffle/ice cream dessert. Otherwise, it's weak. Terribles was selected for breakfast because it was on the way to the airport, as we had to catch a 9:30 am flight. Really, if your not in the mood for great food, Terribles is quite handy to stop for a pre-flight breakfast. It's so close, it's almost like eating there. For $4.99, you can still get a decent omelet or fried eggs made from scratch. ENTERTAINMENT: Andy Williams had his X-Mas show at the Orleans Arena on Saturday. Since, I was already staying there, I took it in. For being over 70, that man still has a great voice. I remember watching his shows on TV back in the 60s, so it was neat to finally see him perform in person. Two things I didn't like were the stupid Q-and-A act and bringing a whole bunch of kids on the stage and asking them their name, how old they were and what they wanted for Christmas. That cuts into time that could have been better spent on singing. You can't beat the show's finale, Andy singing "Moon River". We also entertained ourselves by spending Friday hiking at Red Rock. GAMING: The highlight was winning a three-game college basketball parlay (6-1 payoff). You may not think it would be that big of a deal, but I won two of the games by a half-point each. Talk about being lucky. Another slight highlight was playing the $100 minimum crap table at the Bellagio. I've never done anything like that, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to throw a bill down and take a roll. On the come-out, I nailed a 4-3. That was enough excitement for me. I took my winnings and left. Overall, I won at craps, but it could have been so much better if I would have left tables immediately after long runs. I hung around too long after things got cold. TRANSPORTATION: The one-two combo of SWA and Dollar continues to get the job done. No complaints, what so ever. On another note, how much worse is the Strip traffic going to be once Wynn opens. Even during what is considered the slow season, traversing the Strip was brutal at night. FRUGALITY: Indeed, this is the best time of the year when in comes to staying in Vegas. There is no where else in the country where one could receive the lodging value. For a grand total of $39, we were quite comfortable. GET TOGETHERS: I attended my first-ever Members Meet Sunday at the Orleans Mardi Gras bar. I was the only T2V person there, but there were about 15-20 LVA members present. It was well organized, with name tags, picture-taking, snacks and good old-fashioned socializing.