Our Trip Report! We are back and had an absolute ball! I will be posting photos when they get back from being developed, but until then, here are the details of our trip. Friday the 6th we finished packing and loading the van and were able to get on the road at 10:30 AM. We got the dogs to the kennel, always kind of sad for me to drop them off, but such is life when traveling. When we got them settled and came back to the van, we noticed it was dripping radiator fluid. Not a good sign as we had just had the radiator worked on for the trip. Jud said we needed to take it back to the place that serviced it and check the leak. Turns out we had a small crack, and they put some sealer stuff into the fluid which would fill the crack within a few miles. Back on the road to Vegas having lost an hour. The trip was relatively event free, though it took us a little longer than normal as right after Baker CA, traffic backed up something horrible and added about another hour to the trip. We stopped at Primm Valley Resort for a coffee break where it proceeded to rain like crazy, with lightening and thunder to boot. Interestingly enough, once we were 5 miles out of Primm the rain storm stopped. We rolled into Las Vegas Club at about 6 PM, got checked in and proceeded to haul all our boxes of "stuff" up to the room. The room was great!!!! Very large , clean, nicely decorated, big bath, very comfortable bed. Personally I think the LV club is great. It's smaller than many hotels, and much quieter, which is a nice reprieve from all the noise and sensory overload of the strip. Also, you can't beat the price. It's always reasonable, but if you join www.billhere.com newsletter you will hear of even better deals than their regular rates. We paid $20 a nite Sunday thru Thursday and $40 Friday and Saturday, now that is hard to beat! In addition, we got 4 free breakfast coupons. The ONLY downside as I see it at LV Club is the lack of a pool, but if you really want to swim, you do have access to the one at the Plaza which is pretty cool on the 7th floor rooftop. Since we were kind of tired on Friday we decided to make it an early nite. We had the $7.95 prime rib at LV Club's Upper Deck Restaurant, went and gamed a little and headed up for an early to bed nite. Saturday we had a lot on our "to-do" list. We used two of our free Upper Deck breakfast coupons. Big hearty portions of an ok breakfast. Then we were off to pick up show tickets. First stop was Bellagio to pick up our "O" tickets, then over to Bally's to buy our tickets for Jubilee, then off to Rio to buy tickets for Tony and Tina's wedding. We decided it was time for lunch at that point and Jud wanted to go to Rainforest cafÃ© at MGM. I always forget just how huge that place is. For my taste it's TOOOO big. And too crowded, but Rainforest CafÃ© was fun and very entertaining, and the burger we split was great! Next up we went to the Liberace Museum. I had wanted to see both this and the Elvis one on our last trip but didn't have the time, and, since I had two for one coupons on both, we decided to see them. Liberace Museum was pretty amazing. What an over-the-top guy. The cars, especially the mirror and rhinestone encrusted ones were unbelievable. I particularly liked the "pink "Volks Royce" that was a trip. Apparently Sigfried and Roy were paraded in that for the re-dedication of the Museum fairly recently. Liberace's costumes and jewelry were so extreme. Sheesh, but they really were works of art, though I can't imagine anyone wearing such things as they have to be incredibly heavy as all of them are encrusted with beads, sequins, glass, rhinestones etc. This place is soooooo "Vegas" and I would highly recommend seeing it if you haven't before. Next up, Elvis-A-Rama. We got a little twisted up trying to find this place, but eventually did. On our way we noticed our air conditioning wasn't working quite right, but chalked that up to overuse and assumed it was some sort of freeze up that would pass. The Elvis Museum is really fun. This is literally some guys private collection of stuff that is worth Millions. I was amazed at some of the stuff he actually has in there, including the actual marriage license (no, NOT a copy) of Elvis and Priscilla from 1967. Also tons of show outfits, cars, gold records etc. Again, if you have not seen this museum it is well worth seeing once. Last stop for the day was to go to Albertson's and drop off the picture of the cake. We picked up some supplies (eye drops etc) then went back to the hotel. We decided to entertain ourselves downtown for the nite and showered and looked through the local coupons of where to have dinner. We decided to use our 2 for one at the Fremont Hotel Paradise buffet, and then hang out after and enjoy the Fremont St experience. Paradise buffet is not all that great for $11.99 full price. It has a great environment, not unlike Rainforest CafÃ© without the animatronics, but the food is very ho-hum, if not downright bad in some cases. Unless you have a coupon on this I would definitely skip it and go to Tony Roma's or something instead. After dinner we walked around Fremont st and checked out the shops while we waited for the "experience" to roll around after dark. We found a great little gift shop that had these charming little dolphin wind chimes, and they were soooo cheap. Also lots of shirts and stuff at very reasonable prices. We didn't buy anything that nite but made a mental note of it. Then we stopped at this little place called Le bayou and got some honking 26 oz, frozen daiquiri's. They lure you into this place with the promise of 99 cent ones (and they have em, they are just really small). It's New Orleans themed and they layer you with Mardi Gras beads (like I need more of those) as you go back to where they make the drinks. The 26 oz drinks are $6 each, but they are very good, and you keep the cool souvenir glass. As a little casino it looked fun, with lots of machines hitting and ringing. It's a VERY noisy place however so keep that in mind. At about 9 PM the Fremont St experience started, and it was amazing!!!!!!! To me, it was every bit as neat, if not neater than the free stuff on the strip. This is a real show folks, and you get totally caught up in it. The visuals are unbelievable, and the sound system rocks. I LOVE it. This is a definite must-see, and if you can take the time, stay til midnight and see all the different ones as every hour they have a different theme and music. To me this is way better than the Pirate battle and Volcano, and the crowds are way more manageable. In addition, in between shows they have live bands. One of these bands was a Springsteen tribute band called "Asbury Park" and they were REALLY good. The lead singer sounded EXACTLY like the boss himself. I was really impressed and we enjoyed them a lot. At about 11 we went back to LV Club, played a few poker machines and went up to bed. Sunday morning it was off to Hoover dam. We stopped at Arizona Charlie's for breakfast deciding last minute not to load up on the champagne Sunday brunch and just have breakfast instead. We had great breakfasts for around $3 each in their cafÃ©. Charlie's is a really nice casino, big, not insanely noisy, with lots of different gaming options. I made a mental note to go game there sometime. Off to the dam. We drove through Boulder City and it's really a very charming place out in the middle of nowhere. Now for the downside of the tripâ€¦.. As we were climbing the upgrade into the dam area, the engine started to make this horrible sound. Since were were already at the dam and it was early in the day, we decided to see the dam (really an engineering marvel) then go deal with whatever was going on with the van. It made sense, but certainly kept us both kind of on edge while we were at the dam as really all we could think about was what might be going on with the van. We were a little nervous driving out of there, but it seemed that if we kept the engine running at a very stable and consistent speed, the noise stopped, so, luckily, we were able to make it back to Vegas without a hitch. Jud knew it was something that was going to put the van out of commission for at least a day, so he got on the phone to find us a rent-a-car and make arrangements to get the van worked on. Found a car (Dodge Neon) at Fitzgerald's and made arrangements to have Pep Boys take care of the car. Turns out it was the compressor for our air conditioner, Estimate to fix, $600 plus. Vanzilla strikes again. When we were in Vegas the previous August it had some other issue come down that I can't remember that cost us over $700 to fix. Guess it's a good thing I am such a bargain coupon shopper with Vegas. We have decided that next trip we will just figure in a $1000 car repair and a lost day, as it always seems to happen. By this point it was about 4 PM and we were going to see "O" that nite, so we got back to our room and got showered and dressed to go out. We decided to use our 2 for one coupon at the Golden Gate's Bay City Diner across from LV Club. This restaurant was ok. Nothing to write home about, and again, just like Fremont's Paradise Buffet, I would not suggest this place unless you have some sort of discount coupon for it. I had fried shrimp and Jud had a BLT. Both were OK, but nothing very special at all. "O" was marvelous! Having seen it before we knew what we were in store for, and it was nice to see it from a different angle. This angle allowed us to see how the different levels inside the pool work to change it from a water environment to a hard surface, which it does several different times during the show. This is a truly marvelous and amazing production, if you can afford the tickets (not cheap at $120 each, and prices are going up) this is an absolute must see. There is nothing like this anywhere in the world, and it's a visual and sensual experience that you will never forget. If you can only spring for one show in Vegas, this IS the one. After "O" we made our way over to the Fontana Bar in Bellagio which sits right on the lake where the fountain show is. We had to wait 20 minutes to get a table outside but it was worth it to have front row seats for the beautiful fountains. Drinks were pricey at $10 each, but again, so worth the chance to see the fountains in such a relaxed manner. We met a great couple from NY and chatted with them awhile. Marie and Brett are both NY City cops and had had a whirlwind 4 days in Vegas. They had just seen the Siegfried and Roy show and highly recommended it, so next trip we might just have to take that one in. We took pics of each other in front of the fountains and we will email each other. On Monday we found out the car repairs would not be ready until Tuesday morning (arrrghhh). Off we went to what has to be my very favorite thing to do in Vegas, the Mirage Dolphin Habitat. I have an absolute kinship with Dolphins; they are my spirit animals, and just being near them gives me so much joy and serenity. Jud got some amazing video of them; even the underwater shots are clear and crisp. We had a special treat as one of the cows, Duchess, had had a baby in March, and we got to see them together. His name is Maverick, and he is adorable. We found a wonderful, shady place to sit by the largest pool and just watched them for over an hour. Earlier, a woman got to get on the ledge with one of the trainers and pet one of the dolphins. I was sooooo jealous. We talked to the trainer and asked if we came back first thing on Wednesday (which we had planned to do anyway), if I could have the same chance. She was non-committal, but said she would try to remember us and give us that chance. After the Dolphins we wanted to see the Air Play show at Tropicana. We had lunch in Tropicana's deli, which is very good and very reasonable. Then we staked out a great spot in the center of the casino under the Air Play area and waited for the show. We were sitting at slot machines so felt obligated to play, lest we would lose our seats. So into the machines went a handful of quarters. Amazingly we did pretty well, actually making a little money instead of losing it. The Air Play show is a lot of fun. It lasts about 20 minutes and includes a couple of dance/musical numbers, a somewhat cheesy MC, great aerial acrobats, and a Bulgarian balancing guy that was amazing (and a hottie). As it turns out all of the performers in Air Play are also in other shows in Vegas. And sure enough, when we went to see Jubilee, there was Mr. Bulgarian hottie, doing aerial work in that show as well. After Air Play we decided to see the Casino Legends museum as I had free passes for us. That was actually really a neat museum, loaded with old photos of what Vegas used to be like, Videos of how Vegas is changing (including some of the very dramatic implosions of the older casinos), showgirl exhibits, costumes etc. It was really cool and definitely worth seeing. After Airplay we took a cruise by their pool so we could check out the blackjack tables in the pool. Yeppers, in Vegas you can actually swim up to play blackjack on tables that are in the pool. Too much! Then it was off to pick up the cake and some flowers. The cake turned out great!! Exactly as the picture I brought. I was really happy with it, though berating myself just a little for getting a cake when I knew we were not going to have any guests for our renewal. Oh well, it looked adorable with the topper on it, set up with the room dÃ©cor, and Jud and I enjoyed the little bit we ate, and also managed to get it wrapped up and now have it at home to nibble off of. I also picked up some flowers to make a large vase full for our room. Since all my renewal flowers were silk, I had to have some REAL flowers in there somewhere, being the flower fiend that I am. I got a dozen soft pink tipped cream roses and a dozen mini ivory roses, along with some filler and made a beautiful vase full in our room that we enjoyed the rest of the trip and also managed to bring home. They are on their last legs as of now, but still smell great. I finished decorating the room Monday eve and it really did look like a little bridal suite. Dinner was at Great Moments Room (another 2 for one coupon) right there in LV Club. This is really a fine restaurant. Great dÃ©cor (looks like a hunt club), small, intimate, and aside from the salad (kind of a Chinese chicken salad thing) the food was outstanding. This is well worth having a nice meal in, even if you don't have a coupon. Jud had a mixed grill, which included a petite filet mignon; a lamb chop, a large seared scallop, a tender piece of pork tenderloin, as well as bacon wrapped jumbo shrimp. I had a wonderful lobster tail, perfectly cooked and seasoned, with lemon and drawn butter. Both dinners were served with wonderful freshly grilled asparagus with hollandaise, and saffron rice. This was VERY, VERY good, and with our coupon, an exceptional deal as our whole meal was under $60. After dinner we checked out Fremont St experience again then went on up to bed. Tuesday we got up reasonably early and used another of our Upper Deck coupons for free breakfast. Then we went and got the van and returned the rental car. By this point it was about 11 AM. Not enough time to do any sight seeing before getting ready for our renewal, but too early to get ready. Jud watched some TV and kicked back and I went and gamed a little. At about noon we got showered and dressed for our ceremony. It was really fun to get all "bridal" once again, and I just loved how my whole look came out when it was all on. It really did look very vintage with the long veil worn the way I wore it, and Jud looked incredibly handsome. He decided not to wear the bow tie, which really didn't sit right at the collar neckline. Then we loaded ourselves into the van. And it was off to Graceland Chapel. We had driven by the chapel many, many times prior to this so the chapel and how it looks was no surprise. All I can say is after seeing almost all of the chapels located on that wing of the strip, I am sooooo happy we chose Graceland. It is absolutely adorable. Looks like a real quality little old church, and it is beautifully cared for and in pristine condition. So many of the chapels that look good on websites, really paled in person, appearing cheesy and over-the-top. Not Graceland, it looks BETTER in person, in fact, the website in no way does it justice. I could not have been happier with my choice. There was an Elvis wedding going on before ours, so we had a bit of a wait, which was OK as the little lobby at the chapel is loaded with a picture wall of weddings that have happened there. It was a lot of fun to look at all of them. It was also fun to see all their silk bouquets (no where near as nice as mine if I do say so myself), and assorted souvenirs you can get. We decided to add a couple of renewal t-shirts to our package. The Elvis wedding finished (it was the fat, homely Elvis they show on the website, not the young cute one) and the minister came out to talk to us about our ceremony. Jud and I had to take our rings off so we could re-give them to each other, and the minister talked a little bit about camera angles etc. Then Jud went into the chapel, the doors were closed, one of the chapel gals fixed my monster veil, the wedding march started, doors opened and I was on my way. The chapel looked beautiful inside with the light shining through their gorgeous stained glass windows, and Jud looked so sweet and handsome, smiling at me as I walked down the (very short) aisle. I took his arm and the ceremony began, very traditionally with a prayer. The minister was great, and the ceremony was classy, traditional, but with a hint of whimsy as we promised to take each other "one more time". Meanwhile the photographer was snapping pics and videotaping the ceremony. It was all over in the blink of an eye, but it was very touching, and both Jud and I had tears in our eyes, so it really moved us. After the ceremony we took more pictures (we had purchased a double picture package), both inside and out, settled up the bill, collected our video and rolls of film, and it was all over. We wanted to go somewhere kind of classy and have a cocktail in all the bridal finery, but decided that we better take the film and video back to the hotel first so it wouldn't get damaged sitting in a hot car. Someone at LV Club suggested we have a drink at Golden Nugget, so we walked down there, but once we got inside we found there really wasn't the kind of lounge we had in mind. So off we went in the van to find something a little more upscale on the strip. As we were driving up LV Blvd. I remembered we had wanted to go up the Stratosphere tower for lunch, but never made it due to the time cramp the car issue had put on us, so that's where we decided to go. It was just tooo much fun walking through the casino in all the bridal finery and seeing everyone smile and congratulate us. I LOVED every minute of it, though Jud was a pale shade of red the whole time. LOL For $10 each we got a ride up the tower as well as a drink. So we went up the tower, found the perfect view table to see all the way up the strip, and each had a very good Margarita. We got a couple to take a pic of us up there as well, which, hopefully will come out nicely with the strip in the background. After our drink we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at Pamplemousse. I took off my veil, but kept the flower wreath on as I had serious squash hair. Dropped off my flowers and off we went. Pamplemousse is a lot more than a charming and delicious restaurant. It is truly a dining experience. Once you enter the door you are literally transported to a quaint French bistro ( I know I have been to France). It is softly lit, very romantic, and the service is amazing. You feel like family and they spoil you rotten. We had brought a bottle of champagne to share so Reggie, our sommelier, corked it for us and served it, while he recited the Epicurean menu to us. Dinner begins with a basket of cruditÃ©s with their own special honey mustard vinaigrette. This is no ordinary vegetable platter. It's a full head of butter lettuce (my fave) artfully arranged with thin wedges of red cabbage, thin strips of fresh vegetables, mushroom caps, tomatoes, pepper rings and boiled eggs. You compose your own salad from this selection of ingredients and it is not only very entertaining, but it's delicious as well. Then they bring you a small appetizer plate, which consists of two beautifully grilled and sauced shrimp, a seared scallop and a small portion of fettuccini a la George. The fettuccini is amazing. It has a wonderful cream sauce with fresh basil,. Swiss cheese and crispy fried prosiuto. It's an absolutely killer combination, and so good, I have to say just a plate of this with bread and their wonderful salad basket, would have been more than adequate as a lovely dinner. After the appetizer they bring you a very light pear sorbet with a hint of gran marnier to cleanse your palette, then your main course arrives. There a 5 entrees to choose from and the decision is not easy as they all sound wonderful. Jud has salmon with an orange curry sauce, and I had thinly sliced veal with a light Dijon cream sauce. Both were amazing. Dessert (which I could have cared less about at this point) was an artful presentation of two types of gourmet ice cream (coffee and white chocolate) covered respectively with a hard shell, served on fresh whipped cream with raspberry and strawberries. Unbelievable. If you have not dined here it is another MUST do, IMHO. After dinner we went back to the hotel and hit the hay. Wednesday AM it was back to the dolphin exhibit. We got there really early so we could be close to the front of the line. We got in to the first group, skipped the guided part of the tour ( I have seen it several times) and went to hunt for the trainer we hoped would remember us. We found her and she did remember us, so we followed her around for awhile while she did her set up work, then she told us to go to the far end of the large pool, where she would pull some "tail" for me. Really all that meant was she got the dolphin (HuffNPuff) to put her flukes on the cement so I could pet them. Not really a full contact experience, but hey, better than most get. Jud got it all on film and it was a nice addition. We spent about an hour wandering the exhibit, filming more dolphin antics and just generally enjoying being in their serene environment. Then it was about lunch time so we decided to go over to Desert Passage to see the Merchants harbour rainstorm and have some lunch. We had not seen the rainstorm before and it was really neat. Just another of those wonderful free bits of entertainment you can find in Vegas. Jud got some great footage of that as well. Then we walked around to La Salsa and split a great big platter of nachos with everything on em for lunch. After we wandered around DP for awhile, it was time to get back to LV Club to get ready to go over to Rio to catch the 5 PM Masquerade in the Sky show as well as Tony and Tina's Wedding dinner theater. I had never been to Rio so it was fun to see a new Hotel. I really liked the layout of it a lot and it had a great atmosphere. The Masquerade show is AWESOME. For a freebie, this one is spectacular. Quite possibly the best free show around. Jud and I had a great vantage point at a cocktail lounge that sits slightly up off the ground, and affords a terrific view of the whole show. The show lasts about 20 minutes and is really right out of Disney. I loved it! Jud got some great footage of this as well. Then we went and got ito the line for the dinner theater. Because we got there early we were in the first 10 people, which is great as seating is based on first come/first served. We sat at table #2, which was right on the stage/dance floor so we had primo seats. This is a really fun show. It's interactive theater and the more you ham it up and play along, the more fun you will have. Jud and I both really hammed it up and got a lot of interaction from the cast throughout the nite. Some highlights of the show are: The priest winds of smashed before the nite is over, the MOH is super pregnant and ready to drop at any moment. The father of the groom is a mobster with a stripper girlfriend. The brother of the bride is overtly gay and has a gay waiter boyfriend. The bride is a bitch, constantly, and she too winds up smashed, and there is a lot more. It really is a wedding and reception and you are part of it. They even do a bouquet toss, and you guessed it, yours truly caught the bouquet and got to wear the garter and have some equally hammy guy take it off me. I really hammed this one up, bearing lots of leg and being goofy. So goofy in fact that a woman came up to me after and said she thought they needed to hire me to be in the show. LOL The Mother of the Bride came up after and whispered to me that I had been great. LOL The food at this thing has a bad rep, but I guess because I set my expectations low, I honestly thought it was pretty good. Not gourmet fare, but more than edible. Great chicken and the lasagna was pretty tasty too. You do get a glass of champagne with your ticket for the toast, but any other drinks you want you pay at a cash bar. The only thing I didn't like about this show was that they had a dollar dance. Which, as part of a show, I thought was sort of tacky and didn't participate in. We went back to the hotel to get some zzzz's after that. Thursday we got up and started very leisurely. Then we went off to Sam's Town for a buffet lunch and to see their Mystic Falls Park and laser light/fountain show. I had a 2 for 0ne coupon for the Sam's Town buffet. This folks was a GREAT buffet. Tons of things to choose from, everything you could possibly imagine on a buffet, and most of it REALLY good. File this in your trip data as money well spent. After lunch we had about an hour to blow before the Mystic Falls show, so we wandered around the casino and read all the photo wall stuff of Sam Boyd who started this casino. I love all the history and the old pictures so this was fun. Then we wandered around the Park area and staked out a place to watch the show. Found some great seats in the lounge there and I ordered a drink so we could sit there and watch the show. Meanwhile Jud set up to film and I went off and bought him a couple of chocolates att the Ethel M chocolate factory shop The show was really neat. Great music, some cool animatronics, wonderful dancing fountains. A really nice freebie, worth seeing. I would suggest trying to see it at nite however as I am sure when it's dark and they light the falls and fountains, that it is much more dramatic. Still, I completely enjoyed it and would recommend it. After Mystic Falls we went back to the hotel to get ready for Jubilee at bally's. We weren't real hungry after such a huge lunch so we were thinking of just having some sort of appetizer and a cocktail before the show. On our way in to Bally's we got kind of lost and somehow found ourselves coming into Paris. A nice gal on the escalator explained how the two hotels were all interconnected and how to get to Bally's. She also noticed the Jubilee tickets in Jud's pocket and mentioned that she was in the show. Pretty cool! We met a showgirl! She suggested that we go to the tequila bar anf have a drink, and also that they have great appetizers there. We took her advice and had some killer Margarita's along with a great tostada salad and a couple of carne asada tacos, which all tasted really good, fresh, and not too heavy. As we entered the Jubilee theater they had a bar with souvenir type drink cups. They had a shaker glass that I just had to have (one of the last two) so we got another margarita in that to split. Jubilee is truly THE Las Vegas traditional over-the-top showgirl show. Amazing costumes, flashy dance and production numbers, all the head gear, sequins, rhinestones and feathers etc you will probably ever see in one place. Lots of fun and very well done. Just a plain old spectacle with some fabulous sets, girls and costumes. After Jubilee we still were wide awake and decided to go seek out the Shadow bar that we had heard about at caesar's. Forst, we saw the free Atlantis show. It was OK, but just so Disneyland. For me, this is something kids would really love, but I definitely prefer stuff like Masquerade. Shadow bar was easy to find and surprisingly reasonable with beers costing just $4 each and no cover charge. This is a very unique sort of bar. There are scantily clad (or nude) girls dancing behind a screen so you just see their shadows. It's sensual and erotic, but very tasteful. The kind of place where the guys love the eroticism and the women are totally comfortable as well. We had a couple beers each (Jud didn't want to leave this place) and watched the dancers and people for an hour or so. Then it was off to bed to leave for home the next day. Up early on Thursday, packed up the room, split a club sandwich and we were on the road to come home. The trip home was uneventful, the highlight being we finally did stop at the 'World Famous mad Greek" for lunch. It was VERY good, though I can't imagine anything in Baker CA as being truly World famous. LOL The trip was a ball but it's always nice to get home as well. Now I just have the HUGE job of unpacking everything!