Took my final investigative trip 1/1-1/4/07 in advance of my upcoming move to our fave city. Here's the story. 1/1/07: Southwest flight out, stop in Louisville on the way out. Both legs full. Read a book and the flights went quickly. Always nice knowing you're earning triple credit for a flight too Arrived a little late, maybe 20 minutes, and got myself over to Budget for the car rental. I can't recommend them because both times I've rented from them the agent, who started out just as friendly as can be went totally snotty and bitchy as soon as I said I decline coverage. Either they get a commission from selling the extra coverage or Budget only hires manic-depressives. What an abrupt turnaround. Since I should not ever need to rent a car in Vegas again (since I am moving there, and will have my own vehicle available), the best I can do is warn others. Drove Downtown for my one night comped stay at the Cal. I'd never stayed there, but have stayed at MSS so knew what to expect. The room at Cal was as I expected - a little tired, a little worn, but clean and (mostly) functional. More on that later. I was trying to get my body on west coast time, so although I was a little dinner hungry I ignored it for as long as I could and played a little video poker. Was up $50 (playing quarter DB) after hitting a couple 4OAK (not aces) and decided to go for dinner. Pasta Pirate said I'd have to wait 45 minutes for a table for just me, so I walked over to MSS to check out Pullman Grille to find they are closed on Mondays. Today is Monday? Who knew? Felt like a weekend to me! Moseyed back to the Cal, played a little $5 blackjack (lost the $50 I was up) and went back to the restaurant and was promptly seated. I had previously eaten at Pasta Pirate but it had been years. The restaurant was just as I remembered - decorated as a faux fishing shanty. Think "poor man's Red Lobster". Each entree comes with soup or salad, bread and a glass of wine. Wine creates major issues with me when I've had other alcohol (which I had) so I told them to not even bring it... not gonna drink it so don't waste it. I chose the seafood soup and cheese ravioli with alfredo sauce. They promptly brought me warm bread and a garlic-herb spread which was pretty good. The soup came out quickly and warmed my belly. It had a tomato-basil base and most of the seafood was bits of calamari but it tasted good. The ravioli was filling, and although it wasn't the best alfredo I've ever had, the meal was satisfying and I thought it was a very good value. And the service was very prompt in taking my order and bringing my food. Not as quick about bringing the check around, but I might not have noticed that if I weren't alone. After dinner I played a little more .25 vp and hit four aces! So I was up $150 when I decided to hit the hay and put an end to the first day of 2007. Went up to my room, and noticed when I washed my face that the hot water was rather... non-hot. I made a mental note that I hoped that was just a nighttime thing and morning would be better for my shower. The room was a little bit stuffy so I turned on the fan to low/cool and immediately saw a heating element turn on. Say what? The room started to heat up so I double checked that I had it on cool, and I did, so I shut it off. That was disappointing. While I hate being cold, I cannot sleep well if I am too warm. The bed at the Cal was pretty firm - not as rock hard as the one at Paris but not far removed from it. Slept only until about 5:30am and tried to make it til 7 but couldn't do it. Too many things to do this day, plus the bed was not all that comfy. Turned on the water in the shower, let it run for about 20-30 seconds to let it get up to temperature... and got in. HOLYMARYMOTHEROFGOD!! ICE!!! Nope, the "hot" water was barely room temperature. I threw a few handfuls of water on the important body parts and skedaddled out of there as quickly as I could, barely wet. I was grateful that I only have to wash my hair every other day... and knowing that I was Downtown, I knew in advance that the showerhead would be low so I had arranged ahead of time to have that morning NOT be a hair morning. But still... I do bathe every day so this was just plain not the way I wanted to start my day. I made a note to ask the front desk about it on my way out but since the room was already free, there probably wasn't a lot they could do about it. I had intended to try the Market Street Cafe (the coffeeshop at the Cal) for breakfast as I had heard good things. The "Luau" Buffet was advertised as $5.00. Sounds good. I sat at the counter and ordered coffee and orange juice and water and realized that if I didn't order the buffet, just my drinks would be nearly $5.00... so I went with the buffet, which you cannot see from the entrance. The buffet is a pretty small spread for Vegas, even for Downtown. The heat lamps put an orange glow on everything, making it impossible to discern at a glance what the food is since there is no difference in the color. You literally have to go by shape to figure it out. Let's see, scrambled eggs, hash browns... what is that? Oh, the buffet list mentioned steamed rice - that must be it. Or maybe it's oatmeal... no, it's too solid, must be the rice. I'm just not awake enough pre-coffee and with no real shower to have to work this hard! I put together a plateful and headed back to the counter. Good... no surprises on my plate. I wasn't real happy with everything there - that which was supposed to be moist was dry and that which was supposed to be dry was moist. But for $5? Yeah, it was edible. If you're just looking to put some stuff in your stomach, it'd do. I got back to my room and got my stuff together and returned to the lobby to check out. And completely forgot to mention the ice water in their showers. Oh well... I spent the morning visiting my top 3 apartment choices, but only got an application in at one because of vacancy issues (specifically, the lack thereof). I had planned on browsing furniture stores in the afternoon, but since I did not know where I would end up living, and therefore did not have the room measurements, I had no idea what size sofa would fit (and still do not). Fine. Put the plans aside and just be prepared to go through a whirlwind shopping spree when I do get to town. I had driven past Sam's Town on the way to Henderson from Downtown, and decided to pay a visit since I had never been there. I parked and walked into the building right at the part everyone says to visit - the atrium. Not bad... if you've ever seen Mohegan Sun they have an indoor rock mountain and waterfall... it's similar although I like Mohegan's better. I sat at the bar in the middle of the atrium and ordered a beer - their monthly special microbrew was Alaskan Amber ale. It was a nice beer. No, ok, actually it was two nice beers... In order to get your drink comped there you have to put $20 in, but they also require you to play full coin and constantly. So if you're of the school of play one quarter every two minutes for free drinks, cross Sam's Town off your list. The bartender (Judy) was very nice. We had a nice conversation while I was there. I actually managed to play for about an hour and cashed out exactly even when I went into the casino in search of food. I wandered around a little, and it looked like many of the restaurants were not open for lunch or, more likely, were so quiet that not one person was eating in them. I figured if they were that quiet, maybe they weren't so good. I did find quite a line for the buffet. It was a long enough line that I didn't want to wait it out. By this time I'm starting to not feel real well because I'm beyond hungry. I know I need to eat right away or it's only going to get worse. Just beyond the buffet, in a corner of the atrium, I find a food court. Nothing looked good, but... I had to eat something. Food purists, please look away... I had a slice of Sbarro pizza for lunch. And then I drove away from Sam's Town, coincidentally (I had brought some of my cd's with me) listening to the latest by the Killers and hearing them sing about seeing Sam's Town. I said aloud "yep, me too... in my rear view mirror, but that's the last time that needs to happen!". Cross another place to visit off my list. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again. I drove to the Strip, as my next two nights' lodging were on an offer received from Aladdin. First night was $49 (plus tax) and the 2nd night was free. It had been years since I stayed at Aladdin, and I remembered liking the rooms there. The casino is entirely different than it was back then. I like it better now - it looks good, although it is still a work in progress. I parked at valet and saw the check in line (at almost 3pm) was very long, so stowed my bag and coat at bell desk and made my way upstairs. The pizza hadn't entirely been enough for my lunch, so I was keeping my eye out for other options, hopefully somewhere new to me. I saw PF Chang's... not a real fan of theirs plus it looked nearly impossible to get to with construction. Not being able to think of anything at Aladdin or the Desert Passage that really sounded good, I started looking for the door so I could walk up the Strip. I knew that I wanted to visit Wynn this trip as one thing I need to purchase for my new home is a bed. And their beds are niiiiiiiiice! I couldn't find my way out of Aladdin though (literally) so I asked someone wearing a nametag "how do I exit the Casino without going through the mall?". The answer raised my eyebrows. "Oh, you can't right now. That's the only way out." What the??? And I thought that was an issue before. I gathered (from the various construction) that this is just temporary but what a temporary pain in the ass! I started to walk towards the mall but right then my knee gave me a shot of pain and I knew walking clear to Wynn wasn't going to work so I went down to the lobby and got a cab to Wynn instead. I found the Wynn LVNV store and got bed pricing. FYI a queen sized bed is just under 2k which includes delivery and removal of your old bedding if you need that. The resort room comforter is $300. If I do buy the Wynn bed, I think I'll shop for the sheets and comforter, etc at one of the outlet stores. After that research was completed I realized I was still hungry so I ducked into Zoozacrackers and got a $5 bowl of chicken noodle soup. I laughed when I realized one bowl of soup cost the same as my entire breakfast. It was a good bowl of soup but not THAT good... I left Wynn and decided to have a margarita. Isla is kitty-corner across the street and is one of my fave places to indulge in tequila so off I set. While crossing the Strip on the overhead bridge, I saw an 18 wheeler emblazoned with the Boise State mascot. They were coming from Arizona on their way back to Idaho and decided to drive down the Strip. How excited must they have been after that spectacular game (which I sadly only saw replays of). Had my nice margarita at Isla and played a little vp (I hate $20 margaritas) and knew that I needed to get back to Aladdin to check in. So I grabbed a cab (no line) from TI and headed back to Planet Aladdin. The driver was great and showed me a trick to use when the Strip is impassable. He took me from TI through Venetian, down Audrie then into the bowels of Ballys and to the backside of Aladdin/Paris.