No, itâ€™s not some lovefest gone awry. We just returned from three days in Laughlin courtesy of Kool-Aid Entertainment. I wanted to say â€œthank you very muchâ€ to Harrahticâ€™s for giving us a room for three nights, a free spa treatment for Terri and $100 in cold hard cash â€¦ that we gladly gambled with at the Colorado Belle. (Addendum: being a dullard, I misread the offer we received and it was $100 credit at the Range OR the spa. Like I said, Iâ€™m a dullard.) Thank you, thank you, thank you for a great free weekend getaway. The average age in Laughlin is surprisingly low, Iâ€™d guess mid 20s. Itâ€™s true. You have a bunch of six-year-olds running amok and even more aisle-cloggers who remember Armistice Day as an actual event for a nice round 25 or so. Anywho, hereâ€™s what I thoroughly enjoyed about Herod's: 1. So we check in mid afternoon and are told only two-bed equipped rooms are available. I reiterate my request for a king and of course am told requests are just that, requests, not guarantees. Nada. Zip. Zilch. So I ask the clerkbot how it is that every king/nonsmoking room has been taken by three in the afternoon? Yep, you guessed the reply: â€œIâ€™m sorry, sir, we had a number of requests by guests whoâ€™ve not yet checked in, but let me check again. No, Iâ€™m sorry.â€ I musta had The Look â€˜cause she went and got her â€œmanagerâ€ who promptly hit five keys, gave the woman a funny look and voila, king, nonsmoking and not in the Rugrat Tower. Walking away Terri said to me, â€œShe was angling for a tip, wasnâ€™t she?â€ 2. MSS ainâ€™t alone with the doom/gloom warning should you decide to liberate the special amenities provided in each room, which is code for linens. But McH only wants to gouge you for 12 bucks or so if you abscond with the doilytowel. Then again, the towels were so linty that they might disintegrate in your suitcase before you actually got â€˜em home. Point and game to Boyd. Oh, and MSS has safes and of course irons/boards now. Set and match to Boyd. 3. Being asked ad nauseum at every turn: â€œAre you Total Rewards?â€ and â€œWhat level?â€ and knowing the wrong answer would put us at the back of the line. What was really special was how our reply of â€œGoldâ€ promptly got us a guaranteed 5 pm or 9:30 pm seating at the Range. We ate at the brew pub at the Belle, on Kool-Aid Entâ€™s nickel. 4. Sunday was sloth day. Have the room all set up to watch Tiger prove that other than Adam Scott and Shaun Micheel the rest of pro golf is comprised of human marshmallowsâ€”Iâ€™m watching in the room since there is no place, at least outside the DIAMOND LOUNGE I would imagine (please note I did just genuflect), to kick back and watch the tourney in the casino. So I reach for the phone to order room service and am told, â€œLunch room service is not available. Service begins again at 5 pm.â€ So I look at the fine print more closely and sure as merde, service stops at noon, 12 noon, and itâ€™s right there in black on white. I glance at the watch, note itâ€™s 11:45 and quickly ask for some goodies from the pre-noon menu. â€œSir, room service is not available after 11:30 am.â€ But â€¦ but â€¦ but â€¦ I guess whatâ€™s in print doesnâ€™t have any bearing. 5. The $64,000 question: How bad can the buffet screw up an omelet? The answer: Rather handily. Thatâ€™s it, this time I MEAN it. No more expectations of a miracle buffet experience. Iâ€™m done. 6. Thatâ€™s the spa? No facilities, period. Not even a place to change. And the waiting/â€œrelaxationâ€ area is the two chairs just inside the door between where everyone parades to the pool and the salon. You go for a treatment, not a spa experience. 7. Sunday we had a nice little note from housekeeping on the door. Since Iâ€™m holed up watching the greatest athlete who ever lived perform, they canâ€™t make up our room. No biggie. The note sez just to call. We called after the tourney requesting service. Got home â€˜bout 11 pm and, you guessed it, no service. 8. AWFUL gambling selections. Fair is fair: 1. Great valet service. 2. A bunch of the MexKitsch dÃ©cor in the casino is gone, and it wasnâ€™t anywhere near the smoke pit it was when we cruised through last time we were in town. 3. Since our last stay, the rooms were remodeled, and they look nice. Theyâ€™re small, but they look nice. And we were at the short end of the hall and it was muy quiet. 4. Terri had nothing but praise for the capable 80-minute massage (Swedish â€¦ the menuâ€™s limited). 5. Serious props to Total Rewards. Itâ€™s a fantastic loyalty system and it works admirably for Harrahâ€™s and its customers. The general public gets effed. But itâ€™s not like thereâ€™s no forewarning. We had a great three-night getaway. The weather was great, we played a load of bartop FP quarter Jacks at the Belle, all on progressivesâ€”a guy two machines over from me hit it at $1500 and some changeâ€”drinking commendable microbrews in the process. (The brew pub is loud but relatively smoke-free and you get your choice of brews, not just the CoorsKillian-esque amber offered at the other bars; have the pale ale.) Or at least for us we played a lot, probably five or six hours total. We had dinner with Terriâ€™s grandma over at Casa Serrano in Mohave Valley. Weâ€™ve eaten at several of CSâ€™s sister props, too, and itâ€™s always been good. The old bird is 85 going on 50, and when we dropped her off after dinner she immediately turned to work in the yard. Too much that one. On Saturday, we drove to Primm to go shopping. Scored a bunch of good stuff at Williams-Sonoma, including a new Kilim rug for the living room, and I did my usual part at the Callaway/Ashworth shop. Terri looked for a formal gown for an upcoming fundraiser but drew a blank. We finally got our new car the weekend before--2007 Solara SE V6--which was of course a blast to cruise over/back in, and are we ever believers in satellite radio now. P.S. Beware the "Cowboy Breakfast" menu at Salt Creek Steak House at the Nugget. We didn't want brunch at Harlow's; btw, they set up additional tables along one side of the atrium and it's very cool. So the new steak joint is the regular breakfast option. What a farce. It's about 10 bucks for bacon and eggs. The "Texas Toast" sounds really cool and it's nothing but very thin white or wheat sandwich bread and the likewise-Texas/ranch-named spuds are simply O'Briens not very well prepared. Real overpriced disappointment. P.S.S. Coming home we stopped over in Palm Desert to take the 'rents out to dinner. Their choice was, regrettably, Outback. It had been years since we ate at a Saltback, and for a reason. It's just bad food. Seriously. I ordered a ribeye, and it was square and very dense. ????? Overcooked of course. Salty. And the blue cheese/iceberg salad was as sickeningly sweet as that monstrosity of a house salad at Great Moments. Nothing wrong with the type of salad presented, per se, but so-called wedge-style salads don't come chopped and with candied nuts and a sugary dressing. Please just deliver what's advertised and advertise whatâ€™s delivered. Terri's prime rib more closely approximated her desired doneness but it really just a hunk of beef sitting there, salty and with iffy texture. It's simply not a place with good or value-priced food. P.S.S.S. I avoided jury duty M-Th last week. We planned to leave Friday morn so of course I got called in. Turns out they were drawing for an expected seven-week criminal trial, and I am pleased to say I didnâ€™t have to report back this morn. Wowza, seven weeks.