DAY 1 FRIDAY, 10/26/07 This trip report contains a lot of details, so I hope you have some time to read and don’t get bored. I suppose if you do, you can just click away. Started of dropping Jasmine, our dog, off at my dad’s so he could babysit. She is a standard (large) poodle. My dad has a poodle, as well, so they both like to hang out together anyway. As we are leaving, we notice a movie coming on TBS. You’ll never guess what it was: “Vegas Vacation”! We have a chuckle about it and we’re off to the airport. Check-in at Southwest goes just fine. No, they haven’t instituted the “numbered” system for boarding. We get some nice seats with our A pass anyway. The flight is fairly uneventful, except that we noted that it was extremely smoggy from the west due to the California wild fires. We landed around 11:30; about 20 minutes late. Got to the airport and off to baggage claim. Bag came through quicker than I’d ever seen it. Onto the rental car shuttle. The line was long and a bit haphazard, but we got through that quickly too and had an efficient driver. Rented from National through Emerald Club. Very easy! Picked out whatever car we wanted from the row of mid-sized. I’ve talked about how much I like National on here before; I have to repeat myself. I’m a member of Hertz #1 Gold, and the free National Emerald Club is always quicker and better from my point of view than Hertz. Plus…we get into a Dodge Avenger, pull it off the lot…I look down and notice 3 on the odometer. I had to check to make sure it wasn’t the trip odometer. It wasn’t; this was a brand new car. It was nice…had a terrible blind spot in the rear post area so I wouldn’t buy an Avenger but it was fun for a rental. Sirius was nice for a while (I’ve been tempted to get it several time)…but I digress! Straight to the Plaza. We were holding off from eating lunch until we were settled in; but we were starving. We decided against In and Out. We tried it last time and did enjoy it, but didn’t think it was special enough to warrant a visit every trip. Just a personal taste thing. Check in at the Plaza wasn’t bad. A moderate line but it went pretty fast. Checked us in comped with no problem. South tower double-queen room (kings weren’t available yet, but a queen is fine with us). The only issue was I lost my pair of Oakley sunglasses somewhere in the lobby. I have a vision issue that makes Sunglasses mandatory or my life is miserable! Plus Oakleys aren’t cheap. Had to shrug it off a bit as the trip was just starting. The Plaza room was pretty standard fare. Almost exactly like our last stay there, but without the rip in the wallpaper. Plus this one was free. The view was almost exactly the same; over the pool and tennis courts with a view of the Golden Gate and Vegas Club. Not a bad view, really. You can see a corner of the Experience at night. No hairdryer or iron, but they’ll bring them up when you request them. To us, the room was just fine. Not fancy at all, but served its purpose. Wifi is available for a standard hotel rate. Still hungry! So we decided on the 777 buffet there at the Plaza. No wait; right in…but the buffet was just “okay”. Nothing very special. Some breakfast food, your standard chicken and mashed potato fare. It fulfilled its purpose, providing us nourishment for our first day in Vegas! Off to Fremont Street, where I find some cheap sunglasses to get me through the trip. Then it is time to put some money on the line! We pop into the Golden Gate; which always seems to attract us for a decent game of blackjack. We spend some time there and have some good fun. Brendan was one of our dealers and was very friendly. I tried to concentrate more on this trip on tipping even when I wasn’t winning (per Hurricane Mikey’s suggestion)…particularly when the dealer was nice like Brendan was. He had just rotated from a table with a very drunk and obnoxious guy who was throwing around rude comments…but Brendan remained very patient. Drink service, as always, was excellent at the Golden Gate. No player’s card, so your level of play seems to mean beans there, but I just like the place. Left maybe $75 down or so. We walk right on down Fremont Street, taking in all that is downtown Vegas. We really love the atmosphere. We keep right on going until we get to Fremont East and Neonopolis. The area is really pretty nice. We look around and take some pics of the neon, but it is daytime so the “effect” isn’t really there yet. There seemed to be a few kids hanging around unattended near the bowling alley and arcade that is up and running there and a little bit of activity in the restaurants, but it was kind of quiet there. Much better than what it used to be, though. We decided to check out the El Cortez. We hadn’t been there since we stayed there almost a year and a half ago. Well, it hadn’t changed much! Which was just fine. It is a fun place with some interesting clientele. Part of the appeal of Vegas to us is people watching. The El and the Plaza have some similarities, in my view…and they kind of bookend Fremont. We played some more blackjack there next to a guy from Kansas City (our area). He was a real estate developer and had put together a subdivision in our area years back. He tried and tried to come up with the name of the subdivision, but he couldn’t. He said “I’m sorry; I’ve been drinking.” We got a chuckle out of that…sounds like Vegas! Again, I left down a bit…maybe another $50 or so? But still having fun. Back down Fremont Street as now it is approaching dinner time. You’ll notice that we’re buffet people when we’re in Vegas. It is all a part of the gluttony, I guess. We’re not huge into fine dining as much as quantity dining while there! So we’re looking to try something new and we decide upon Paradise Buffet at the Fremont. It was better than the Plaza, but still just decent. Not bad but nothing special. Back to the Plaza to wrap up the day with a little blackjack and video poker. Overall, I was down about $200 for the day total through blackjack and some video poker. We were pretty beat, though…and actually went to bed a bit early. We decided on this trip to Vegas that we would do some relaxing instead of going 100 mph as we usually do. So we didn’t feel bad getting some nice shut-eye. Because this TR looks like it could drag on, I’ll split it up into days and post a bit more later!