Wednesday, 5/4 Again, got up way too early this morning - 6:30 AM. Tried the buffet at TI, Dishes, for breakfast. Was very satisfied. This new buffet is much better than the old one that closed a year or so ago. A full review is under the "Restaurants..." section. After breakfast, we decided to go over to Green Valley Ranch. None of us had been there before, but had seen it on TV and it had looked pretty interesting. It took us about 10 or 15 minutes to drive over to GVR, which is south east of The Strip. We just visited the casino, so we couldn't get the full feel. From seeing the casino though, it's just another casino. Nothing special. Not like we were expecting from a resort that was featured on a TV show. But in all fairness, we couldn't really judge without seeing the rooms, pool, spa, etc. From there, we headed back to The Strip, and parked over at NYNY. I walked across to Tropicana and took in the Titanic Exhibit. A full review is under the "Shows..." section. The short version is - go see it, it's worth the time and money. I grabbed a slice of pizza at a Nathan's hot dog stand at NYNY, at the crosswalk to MGM. It was OK. Not really NY style pizza, and about $6 for a slice and small soda. Ouch!! From there we headed back to TI where I played some more. I haven't had any luck at tables. None of them. All the luck has been at VP. Tonight was dinner at Don Miguel's at The Orleans. We decided to go tonight, May 4th, to avoid the Cinco de Mayo on Thursday. The food was very good and reasonably priced. Once again, a full review is out under "Restaurants...". After Don Miguel's I dropped the folks off back at TI and headed over to the Spearmint Rhino. For those who don't know, this has nothing to do with gum or endangered species. Well, maybe an endangered species. The Rhino is a "gentleman's club", and one that I would highly recommend. If you want more info, send me a PM. A few dollars lighter, I headed back to The Strip and parked the car back at the home base - TI. I walked over to The Bellagio to get a line pass for the buffet for the following morning, expecting there to be a crowd. Then I walked over to Wynn to help Steve payoff his loans a little more. After giving my donation, I then went back to TI to help them pay some bills, and off to bed around 1:30. Thursday, 5/5 Got up at 6:30 this morning with a little help from the alarm clock this time. Had to meet the folks for breakfast. We headed down to the Bellagio for their buffet breakfast, which as usual was excellent. We had the line pass, but didn't really need it. It was about 9:00 or 9:30, and there were only about 7 or 8 groups ahead of us. I was surprised. We sat quickly, and hit the buffet. I'll put a full review out under "Restaurants...", but I'm sure you've heard it before, or experienced it. It was excellent and well priced. I seem to be repeating myself about "excellent" restaurants, but I think we got really lucky on this trip. Lots of good food. After the buffet, I played at The Bellagio, and left them a little extra money to cover all the food I ate. After The Bellagio, I played at TI for a while, returning some of the money I had won previously. Left a little at Let It Ride. Some at Caribbean Stud Poker. Still more at Video Poker. Then I headed over to The Fashion Show Mall to do some souvenier shopping, and some Mother's Day shopping. While I was there, it was lunch time. I wasn't really hungry after the Bellagio buffet for breakfast, but it was lunch time. Had to eat. That's what the clock said. I stopped at the food court and tried Philadelphia Steak & Hoagie. I had a regular (probably 8 inch) Philly cheesesteak with provolone and grilled onions. It was $5.25. Not bad. Not Philadelphia, but not bad. The place has a very basic menu. There's no lettuce or tomatos around. The options are cheese, onions, peppers, and mushrooms. That's about it. On the plus side, the bread was very fresh. Nice touch. I wandered the mall a little while and then headed back to TI. I played some more video poker this afternoon. Started on a $1 Bonus Poker machine, and like before, started building up my credits. I switched to $2, and then eventually to $5. With 5 coins in, I hit the 4 aces, the specialty of Bonus Poker, which paid 400 coins. A nice $2,000 payout and another tax statement. I won't complain about paying the taxes. You can give me that kind of payout any time. TI has been doing a Cinco de Mayo raffle each day this week. You get a raffle ticket for every 200 points you've accumulated on their Player's Club Card (in TI only). Then, each day at 5:00, they have a drawing. Five prizes each day for $1,000 in free play. One prize of $5,000 in free play. That's pretty nice, only one problem. I didn't win. After the drawing, we went to Dishes for the dinner buffet. My full review is out under "Restaurants...". The short version is: good food, OK price ($20), bad layout. Go, but don't go when it's crowded, or even semi-crowded. After dinner, I went to the Desert Passage at the Aladdin to do a little more souvenier and Mother's Day shopping. From there I headed over the Deja Vu, another of those places where all the customers are male and all the workers are female. This place is one I will probably not go back to. The women are really pushy (think car salesmen), and you don't really know what things are going to cost. "Are you going to tip me?" "That will cost you extra." "Are you ready to go again?" "Don't you like me?" If you're going to go, go with lots of cash, be ready to day "no" over and over again, and try to spend time watching the stage show (if you're prepared to say "no" to the roaming entertainers). If you want more info, send me a PM. One highlight - I got to see two women give each other evil looks. I asked one if this was a competitive place. I got "Oh no, not at all." HA!! From Deja Vu, I headed back to TI for the last time - tomorrow morning it's time to leave Vegas. I played some more with nothing special to speak of. I checked with the Player's Club desk toward the end of the night and talked to a slot host. I got my room service charges removed from the bill. Since I had my room comped already, there wasn't much else they could do for me. All I ended up paying for was the Internet access I used from the hotel. Before heading to the room, I grabbed a quick sandwich at Canter's Deli (nice to see they added chicken salad to the menu since my last visit), and headed to the room. I got to bed at a relatively early midnight, exhausted from five days in paradise. Friday, 5/6 Got up around 5:30, and the depression started to set in. I had to pack up, check out, and leave my little home away from home. I dropped off the rental car, and got to the airport around 7:00 AM. Grabbed breakfast at the airport, and then it was time to come home. The return trip was pretty uneventful. I tried to get first class upgrades in Vegas, and then again in Atlanta, with no luck. Everything was full. Seems like I wasn't the only one winning in Vegas. Summary This was a great trip. Not only did I have a lot of fun as I always do in Vegas, but I also had a stack of $100 bills to bring home (some to save for the tax man). Some highlights: - Bonus Video Poker is great!!! Seems like the higher denomination you play, the better your chances are. - Spearmint Rhino good. Deja Vu bad. - Meeting Mikey. If you're going to Vegas, look him up and take him out. You'll have a great time. - It's not a problem walking from TI to Mandalay Bay, just stop a lot along the way and gamble. And don't expect to take the monorail back. That would only be a bonus. - I had a great "food" trip. Other than late night snacks (Canter's Deli and In-N-Out), I only went to one restaurant I had been to before, and that was the Bellagio breakfast buffet. If you have to repeat, that's not a bad one to do. I like trying new restaurants, and I got to a lot on this trip. And they were all good. - Wynn is pretty cool. Next trip, I'm going to spend some more time eating and playing there. And checking out the sights. - Ka is a great show. A definate must see. Here's what I managed to get of my "to do" list. Not a lot compared to what's still on the list, but I was happy with what I accomplished. - Peppermill. Never been before, but dying to try it. - Burger Bar at Mandalay Place - Dishes at TI (breakfast and dinner) - Get a Double-Double-Animal-Style with grilled onions, no tomato at In-N-Out. - Le Reve at The Wynn - Go see Ka at MGM - Guggenheim at The Venetian - Visit a casino(s) I've never been too (did Boardwalk, GVR) - Check out the new Wynn. - Visit a strip club. Never been to one in Vegas. - King Tut museum - Titanic exhibit at the Tropicana - Look up Hurricane Mikey And some regrets: - I didn't get to Grand Luxe. That had been in the plan. - I didn't see Forbidden Vegas, and regret this mostly because it's closed up since I got back. I hope it will be somewhere else when I return to Vegas. - I didn't try to eat a 1 1/2 lb. burger. This is the second time I've planned to do it, and just didn't have the appetite. - I didn't get downtown. And I know all the Vegas regulars will berate me on this one. - I still have so so much to do on the "to do" list. I have to go back. - I didn't play any Hold 'em. That was high on my list of things to do, and I just never got around to it.