Seemed logical at the time. Drive 360 miles to Kansas City to take advantage of Southwests round trip $138 to Las Vegas, had two free nights at Harrahs in Kansas City after returning from Vegas. The 6 hour drive back home gave plenty of time to reflect on how dumb an idea it was. I booked a compact with Payless for 4 days $79 total. After telling the rental agent, my new friend Louis, that this was my third time renting with Payless he handed me the keys to a Sebring convertible (no extra charge) . It was around midnight, we were tired and hungry, the plan was to go straight to the Orleans on Tropicana but construction had closed all but one lane and traffic was backed up from the strip to the airport. We took some side roads and made our way on to the strip. Cruising the strip in a convertible was like seeing it for the first time again; itâ€™s amazing how much more you can see. Had a fast checkin at Orleans, got a handicap room with a shower big enough for ten people. Went down and had the graveyard special ($1.95 bacon and eggs), great food and fast service. My wife, Diana, had booked a spa visit, tropical glow scrub, for 10am so I wandered the casino. I came across one of Stickyâ€™s Wild Dolphin machines and won 2000 credits. It was only a nickel machine but I finally realized dang thatâ€™s a hundred bucks. Thanks for the Marty tip Sticky. We passed on breakfast this morning, saving our appetites for lunch at Rosemary's. We ate there last year and Diana said it is a must do every trip now. They have a price fix lunch for $25 but you can print out a coupon on their website and get it for $20.06. http://www.rosemarysrestaurant.com/pdfs/lunch_promo.pdf I had the Hugo's Texas BBQ Shrimp with Maytag Blue Cheese Coleslaw, Pan Seared Hawaiian Mahi Mahi on a Bed of Julienne Vegetables with Fresh Citrus Salad, Riesling Gastrique & Creamy Passion Fruit Vinaigrette, Coconut Bread Pudding with Coconut Sorbet & Dark Chocolate Sauce. Diana had Spinach Salad with Pecan Vinaigrette, Sliced Smoked Duck Breast, Goat Cheese & Drizzle of Port Wine Syrup, Grilled Breast of Chicken on a Bed Of Hoppin' John with Caramelized Sweet Onions & a Creole Mustard Beurre Blanc, same dessert. Food and service were both excellent. This is just a great deal for 20 bucks. Best meal we had during our stay! Next stop Rio. First time staying here, got a room in the Masquerade tower (wasn't as lucky as Shock with an upgrade). Nice room but nothing special. Very crowded and loud in the casino, they had the music cranked. Took a short nap then around 6pm headed over to Mandalay to see Mama Mia. I purchased tickets online from Goldstar and went with Gregrio's recommendation to go with the more expensive floor tickets for a closer view. They were excellent seats, row 12 just left of center, thanks for the tip Greg. I'll add my thumbs up to all the other great reviews of the show. This is a fun show with a great sound system and performances. Diana saw the broadway version a few month ago and she said this was just as good or better. Back to the Rio and since I was dressed business casual to the nines we decided to go to the Voodoo cafe for a snack. Come to find out the cafÃ© was already closed so we passed on the $20 cover to the club. In line behind us was a couple with a stroller and two small children. The door man politely questioned them " You folks know this is a night club don't you"? I believe they passed too. The Tilted Kilt was about the only restaurant open for a late night snack. Had a Fat Tire ale that was so good, I had to have another. The food was good too. I had a giant pulled pork sandwich with a mountain of crispy thin cut fries and a whole apple(not sure what that was about). Diana had a sip of my beer and had to have one with her cheese pizza . Friday morning did video checkout and decided to visit the Palms, which was right across the street from the Rio. I hit four deuces for $250 in about 15 minutes of video poker. I think I like this place. We drove over to Bellagio to park and checked in before walking across the street to the Aladdin for lunch at Commanders Palace. It was around noon but it wasn't very busy. I was kind of disappointed when I looked at the menu. On the $18.80 price fix menu there was only two selections for each of the appetizer, entree and dessert. When I questioned the waiter on the martini selection he pointed at the pictures on the menu and said to pick the color you want. I didn't know if he was joking or not but he was serious, so after some prodding I finally got him to tell me what flavors they had. We went with the "blue one", the commanderâ€™s martini, tasted like lemon. Friday they have live jazz, which consisted of a banjo picker and a guy in a peach colored zoot suit playing the clarinet. He looked just like Leon Redbone. They actually sounded pretty good especially after a couple of martinis. I ordered the fried oysters appetizer to start with and they were very tasty. When my wife ordered a watermelon martini, the "green one", against my better judgment I had one too. It tasted like cough syrup but I choked it down. I had the Salmon stuffed twice baked potato, some kind of baked fish and French Quarter Beignets off the price fix menu. Potato was good but the fish was dry and the beignets under cooked in the middle. The beignets did come with a bourbon chocolate sauce that was excellent. Diana had the $29 lunch combo - Turtle soup, Pecan crusted catfish and CrÃ¨me Brule. Soup was good, had a dark rich base, very filling. Catfish was ok, had too thick of a crust for my liking. When they brought the CrÃ¨me Brule out they poked a hole in it and drizzled it full of melted butter. It was excellent. We had the â€œbrown oneâ€ a chocolate martini with dessert. Charged with martinis and fired up from last nights Mama Mia show we set out to find the half price ticket booth by the Harley store. It turned out to be a little farther than we expected and after not finding anything we wanted to see we headed back. We were both about to vapor lock from the heat by the time we made it back to the Aladdin and Diana said she needed to sit down before she passed out. It just so happened we sat down in front of a dueces wild video poker machine. Ten minutes and four dueces later it turned out to be a very profitable fainting spell worth another $250. My winnings didn't last long. We stopped by the spa at the Bellagio and Diana booked a $175 hot stone massage for the next morning. Friday was our hotel splurge night, $149 is the most I have ever paid for a room in Las Vegas but for a Friday night, lakeview at the Bellagio, it seemed like a decent price. Our room was on the 25th floor of the Spa Tower. We had a good view of the fountains with only a small part obscured by some trees. Really nice room with seperate shower and tub. The bed took the comfy mattress award for the trip. It had a soft pillow top that just melted around you. The conservatory exhibit was pretty cool, always worth a visit. The $25 BJ and $10 craps didn't offer much for my gambling budget. First time I have ever seen someone playing on a $100 crap table. One shooter had about 2 grand spread out and rolled a 7 on a weak toss, dice barely made it past half way. Stickman says "Seven out, sissy roll". Tough crew. Didn't look like the $100 players were any better than the $5 ones. That night we headed over to the Barbary Coast for some budget gaming and eats. We had the ham and egg special in the Victorian Room a few years ago that was real good. Instead of the fresh bone in ham we had last time, we were served some thick chunk of pressed ham, something this side of spam. That place has been chalked off the list. Saturday morning I did find a $10 blackjack table while Diana was at the spa. Out of habit I put my players card down when getting chips. I was politely put in my place when the pit lady came over and said let her know when I get up to $25 a hand, then she can rate me. Around noon we checked out and headed to Ellis Island for lunch. I was going to try the BBQ but I don't think they start serving until 4pm, someone will have to confirm that for me. We opted for the restaurant where I had the $4.95 steak special. Steak was good but the baked potato was luke warm and could have been yesterdays. This is one place I don't think I would send anything back to the kitchen, so I made do with what I had. Diana must have been hungry because she ordered the $5.95 monster construction worker portion, chicken fried steak and eggs with all the trimmings. She's a stout country girl but couldn't finish even half of it with my help. Next stop was the Las Vegas Premium Outlets at the intersection of I-15 and Charleston Blvd. Lots of shops to choose from and good holiday sales but the mall is open air, so it was a little warm and we didnâ€™t last long. We decided to give Arizona Charlies free money (reimburse up to $100 loss) offer a try since it was only a few miles west on Charleston at Decatur. I looked for some $5 machines but couldn't find any. We settled on the dollar megabucks, three coins a pull. Diana started with $50 and myself $100. I was trying to keep track of coin in and wins for both of us but soon lost track. I had mine up to $150 after a short time so decided to lock in my $50 profit, with no money back. Diana played hers down to $10 after a few some small wins. I wasn't sure but I told her she might get back 10 or 20 bucks. Turns out she got $40 back, to break even. Diana refers to this place as "that hole in the wall". I knew Red Rock Casino was on Charleston so we just kept going west about 10 more miles. I didn't know this was part of the Station Casinos until signing up for a players card there. I had been to the Texas Station about 4 years ago and was still in the system. We didn't stay long, about $40 worth. Pretty fancy joint for being way out in the suburbs. On the way back we went about a mile north to I-95, which took us straight back to downtown, 16 miles about 20 minutes. Our last nightâ€™s stay was at the Golden Nugget. They had us in the south tower, so I told the clerk we had stayed in the South Tower last year and asked him if we could try the North this year. He looked at what was available not mentioning anything about charging for an upgrade but all they had were smoking rooms which was a deal buster. Nothing wrong with the south side, really not that long of a walk, only downside I can see is the timeshare vultures are pearched right outside of the south elevators. We had a nice big room, the bathroom had a beautiful granite counter top and the shower was lined with marble, pretty exquisite for downtown. Not much of a view, the Clark County Government building dominated the landscape. In lieu of calling maintenance I did have to kick the A/C a few times to stop a rattle. After enjoying the Fat Tires at the Rio the other night we decided to see what Triple 7 Restaurant and Microbrewery at Main Street Station had on tap. The place was packed and had a 20-minute wait for a table, so we took immediate seating at the bar. We shared an order of chicken nachos, I had a Market Pale Ale and Diana had a Royal Red Lager. The nachos came out in a huge bowl with the chicken nachos floating on a bed of thick, spicy sirloin chili. I could feel the beads of sweat forming on top of my head, which called for another pint of ale to put the fire out. Time for the downtown casino crawl. We started with 10 ten dollar bills apiece. Rules are start with $10 at each casino. Play any slot, changing machines if you like, until you lose 10 dollars or if you get up to $20 you cash out and move on to the next casino. Played a Kool Kats slot at the MSS and hit for $43, Diana was just about broke so I told her she could have my machine I was cashing out. I'm feeling pretty good about starting on the plus side right out of the gate when Diana comes waving a ticket at me and says thanks for giving her my lucky machine. She hit for $123. At this rate we will probably pay for the entire trip tonight but in Vegas victories are far and few between. Next stop California, 10 and out. On to Las Vegas Club, 10 and out. We stop in the Plaza to see DonD's buddy, Tim the bartender, at the Keno bar and have a drink. Nice guy, very entertaining and friendly, he knows all and tells all. Continuing with the crawl at the Plaza, 10 out. Across to the Golden Gate, I finally squeak out a $20 win. It's decision time at Le Bayou. Do I really need one of those toxic grain train drinks after having a load of beer and chili? Well hell yes, we came to party, I ordered up a peachy â€œSex on the Bayouâ€ drink. Coming partially to my senses, Me, "I'll just have half a yard" Grain Lady, "All we have left is full yards" Me, "OK" Grain Lady, "You want an extra shot" Me, "Sure" , I look at her like, this aint my first rodeo lady. Grain Lady, "!!Really!!", She looks at me like, it might be your last old man. I think she was trying to hurt me as she glugged in a more than generous extra shot. Le Bayou was another 10 and done on the casino crawl. After a few slugs of the peachy drink it hit the beer and chili, felt like a couple of Kawasakis were running around in my stomach. I think Jer warned of this deadly combination. We were on our way to the Golden Nugget so maybe it would be best to just go to the room but the grain train had already left the station along with all rational thinking, so we continued on. Diana hit a $23 dollar winner at the Golden Nugget. We watched some Chicano band out on Fremont for a while, the street was packed with people. After the last song we made our way to Four Queens, no luck on the free pull four queens big slot and zip on the casino crawl $10. Diana did give a valiant effort, making her $10 last about 30 minutes on some kind of triple 7 diamond machine. That gave me a little time to regroup and get my second wind, I thought. With the peach drink almost gone, as well as our motor skills, the Fitz is where the wheels started falling off. I hate places that have a mix of ticket slots and coin only slots. Some slots at the Fitz wouldn't take tickets so I took Dianaâ€™s and my tickets up to the cashier to get some cash. As I took the money from the cashier lady I had the feeling it should have been around $5 or so more but she assured me I had received the correct amount. I took her word for it, not remembering the exact amount or being able to mount any kind of coherent argument, so I just blew it off . When I questioned Diana on how much money I should have from the tickets, she was sure the cashier shorted me and was ready to go get some satisfaction, verbally or physically. I was holding her back trying to calm her down when she blurts out "Nobody puts baby in the corner". Ok, I guess she's Patrick Swayze and I'm her bitch. We both bust out laughing but I keep a firm grip on her as I lead her towards the exit. A couple more $10 and out at Fremonts and Binions, without incident. It's amazing how much fun they put in those $12 slushy drinks. Sunday morning we checked out and headed to the Venetian. We put the top down on the convertible for one last cruise down the strip but it was so hot we had to put it back up half way there. We had lunch at the Grande Lux. After reading the favorable reviews of the fried chicken and waffles they serve there I just had to try it. The combination sounds crazy but drizzled with honey butter and maple syrup it was delicious. A couple of the more notorious and nicest T2Vâ€™ers joined us for lunch, Coaster Kikky and Sanonofresurfer. Meeting Becky and Larry was pretty special. Even though I have never met them before, after having read their posts for the past two years they seemed like old friends. Thanks for taking the time to meet up, hope to see you again soon. A few pics. http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2104324512&idx=1 I might have to spring for a convertible next visit it was very nice. Video checkout and suitcases with wheels makes four hotels in four nights doable. Only thing that I would go back to the Rio for would be another Fat Tire Ale. If Diana stayed at the Bellagio and I stayed downtown, we would both be happy. The 25 cent colored drinks will make me give Commanders Palace another try. I forgot to get one of those homemade rootbeers at Ellis Island. That peachy drink gave me a headache. If all shows were as good as Mama Mia I might be more of a theatre person. Becky told us about her hitting a royal flush downtown dream at lunch Sunday before she actually did it, which was freaky. You better be nice to her, I think she has voodoo skillz. I was shocked when Larry ordered a little green fruity drink at lunch, whatâ€™s up with that dude. Kansas City casinos had some better gaming options than the strip casinos, which is sad.