Trip Report May 30 –June 3, 2005 Harrah’s & Green Valley Ranch Monday, May 30 This was our first Las Vegas adventure since we survived a 10 night trip in July 2004. We receive many offers for free or reasonable rates on rooms from several properties. The offers from Sunset Station, Green Valley Ranch, Palace Station, Harrah’s, Stratosphere , Las Vegas Club, Tropicana, Aladdin, New York, New York, MGM Grand, TI, The Plaza, Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Paris and Bally’s all looked good to me. I was hoping for some hotel hopping. My wife wanted none of that packing, unpacking several times during a short (5 day) trip. We decided to take Harrah’s up on three free nights and one night at $39.00. Once in Vegas, she asked about the offer for free nights at Green Valley Ranch. A phone call to GVR resulted in us spending our last two nights in town at GVR. I cancelled the last night of the Harrah’s reservation – so we spent two nights at Harrah’s and two nights at Green Valley Ranch and we paid $0 at check-out in both instances. Don’t you just love Las Vegas? We flew Southwest out of San Antonio Monday morning May 30. The flight was an easy non-stop 2 hour 35 minutes. McCarron was not crowded or busy. Mind you, many other airports around the country would consider this holiday traffic very busy. The baggage claim area was not a hassle as the luggage was received in 15 minutes or less. I had a bit of a celebrity sighting as I walked out of the baggage claim area headed for the Thrifty Shuttle. If you watch HBO, you may have seen a program called Taxi Cab Confessions. People get into cabs not knowing they are being recorded on audio and film. The results range from bizarre to stupid and sometimes entertaining. Anyhow, one of the taxi cab drivers often seen in this production is a blond headed woman from the east coast who now lives in Vegas and drives a cab. As I walked out of the baggage claim area, a cab was driving by and the person at the helm was the woman from the HBO show! Well, I thought it was cool. The shuttle to Thrifty was a bit of a hassle. Lots of folks headed there. We had to wait for a second bus. Once at Thrifty we were quickly on our way in a nice 4-door Sebring. Using my Blue Chip membership to book and the Blue Chip Members line at the rental shop saved time and money. The five day rental cost $125 and that total included all fees and taxes. The first stop was a Target store out on Flamingo at Maryland Parkway east of the strip. We purchased a case of bottled water, some snacks for the room and cigarette lighters. Hard Rock CafÃ© Hotel and Casino appeared before us as we made our way towards the strip. We were hungry. Mr. Lucky’s CafÃ© in the Hard Rock Casino has decent food. We ordered the $7.77 Steak and Shrimp special which you must ask for ‘cause it is not on the menu. This meal is a good for the price. We split the steak, garlic mashed potatoes and salad. She ate the shrimp. I had a cup of split pea soup. Nice meal for $14.00. There were lots of twenty something’s just getting up and having breakfast in the cafÃ© as we had our lunch. Many, many beautiful young things were wandering around in poolside attire. I likey. Nice way to make our transition into Las Vegas vacation mode. This might become a tradition for the beginning of future trips. After lunch we pointed the Sebring towards downtown. Headed up Paradise, then north on LV Blvd. Wandered a bit, somewhat lost. Consulted a map and located the Gambler’s General Store. I wanted to purchase some strategy cards. They had a limited selection. We did purchase a card for single deck Black Jack and a couple of cards for DDB VP. Finally, after being in town for three hours we decided we oughta check into Harrah’s. The check-in line took about 25 minutes. Bribes were offered, none were accepted. We landed in room 2611. This room had a decent view of the pool area, partial view of Caesars and good peek at the mountains to the west. This room is in the Carnival Tower. Having never stayed here before I can’t compare it to other rooms in this or other towers. The room was clean, not worn and appeared to have been recently redone. It has pleasant dÃ©cor. The king bed was comfortable. The armoire had storage space and contained a TV. There were night stands and a low slung dresser. No closet, just a place to hang some things outside the bathroom near the front door. No safe. The bathroom was adequate, nothing special. A sink in a long counter, a shower/tub combo, hairdryer, very low to the ground commode, and the usual stuff for toiletries, rounded out the amenities here. The room had a mini-bar cabinet with lots of stuff in it. We never opened the case. I t had a sign on it which informed you that if you moved something in the case you had purchased that item. Except for the mini-bar crap it was about on par with rooms we have stayed in at Stratosphere and Imperial Palace. (Though one room at IP once was much more worn.) Around three o’clock in the afternoon we did some gambling. I am not a fan of Harrah’s so I was having a hard time getting in the mood to gamble here. Finally, I decide to play some Double Double Bonus Video Poker. We had to look hard to find some decent pay tables. My wife and I bounced around on several machines for a few hours. Ultimately I break away even and she is down some. This became the pattern for our trip. Early evening we decided to go see the Venetian. In the past 4 years we have visited Vegas 6 times and this is our first time to walk into the Venetian. This joint is BIG. We wandered around a gawked at the canal, the canal shops, and the casino. This place smells so good. We got players cards and ran a few bucks through VP machines. Hunger was becoming an issue. After searching and searching we finally located the Grand Lux CafÃ©. It was worth the search. My wife ordered a pasta dish which included some huge shrimp. I had the Malaysian Chicken Salad. Both were way good. The Cadillac Margarita was way good too! Good meal, good time for $42. We strolled back towards the hotel, stopping along the way to watch the Volcano at Mirage erupt once. The traffic on Las Vegas Blvd. was amazingly light compared to other times we’ve been here. This would remain the case all through the week. One back at Harrah’s I looked for a TV to see how the Spurs had done. They lost. We bopped around the casino for a short time. We spent some time throwing a little money in some slots and VP machines. My wife lost a little; I was able to hit a couple of good hands at VP. I also hit for a little on a slot machine. I was up $180. The decision was made to head for the room and the bed. We were in bed snoozing and watching TV before 10:00pm. I was shocked at myself for being in bed so early on my first night in Vegas. But, I was too tired to want to do anything about it!