But when you have friends, who is really alone? Saturday July 1st: Leaving a waterlogged Maryland (got over a foot of rain in the space of two days) and longing for the dry desert air and HOT temperatures of Las Vegas. The flight from BWI to Houston Hobby and from there to McCarran were both jam packed sardine full. I'm not surprised. I paid only $245 for my tickets when I booked in April. But despite the heavy load, we managed to get to Vegas 30 minutes early! A win! Turned on my phone upon landing to find a text message from Tonya saying "WELCOME TO FABULOUS LAS VEGAS!!!" Nice! I don't check luggage unless I have to (read: unless I'm bringing a liquor store) so I grabbed my suitcase from the overhead bin and headed out. Exiting the door by the taxi I was reminded that "it's a dry heat. Yes, and so is a blowtorch." VERY hot air. Didn't see a thermometer but it was noon, almost exactly and it had to be right around 100 degrees. Thankfully there was only one person in front of me heading for the cab stand, and no line there, so both of us just kept walking. I got in the taxi and told the driver TI by way of Paradise, unless you know of some traffic disaster on Paradise. He didn't, so that's how we went. There was a little bit of traffic but not a lot. The ride cost me $13.40 plus tip (that figure includes the airport fee). I went immediately to check in, although I knew I was early and the chances of actually getting a room were marginal. The line was fairly long, and it wasn't really helped when I got to the front of the line and the clerk told me I could have used the "invited guest" line. You mean the line I didn't even see because there was no sign out? She tried to give me a room on the 6th floor with no view. I pulled out the "ohhh I have never stayed here before... can't I have some view? I don't care what, I just don't want pipes" Which was all the truth - I had played enough at TI to be sent this offer (it was called San Juan... two nights - Saturday night at $95, Sunday night at $65, $50 in dining credits and $25 in free play) but I had never previously been a guest of the hotel. So she asked me how a room on the 32nd floor with a view of Siren's cove sounded. I said if I can see Siren's cove, it's a Strip view, and that suits me just fine!! The room was, not surprisingly, not ready yet, so I stowed my bags at bell desk and was told to come back around 3pm to get the keys. I knew exactly where I wanted to start: Isla. So, within one hour of having landed at the airport, I'm cozied up to a video poker bar, having a margarita made for me and inserting money into a machine. Sweet! Oops... my players club card is in my luggage at bell desk. So I went to another line to get a new card. Then back to the game. In about an hour I managed two margaritas and lost about $120 before deciding on lunch. For my meal reviews, please see the "Food TR" thread in Restaurants and Buffets. Had a great text message exchange with Doctor_al at this time: Kikky: Vietnamese pho now available at TI's coffee shop. Al: Admirable - marg's at isla 2 follow? Kikky: Hell no! Margs at isla started! Do u take me 4 a rookie? Thanks for posting that Al. It was our conversation exactly. After lunch I played some blackjack. I found a game that was $15 limit (although if you wanted to be rated you had to play $25 a hand) and double deck, and blackjack paid 3-2. This table was located near the craps pit close to the hotel elevators. When I saw double deck I was sure it must be 6-5 but no, it was the real thing. So I played there for about 45 minutes and made $400. Nice! Then it was time to check into my room. I got into the "invited guests" line, which wasn't moving. Well, eventually it did but it took quite awhile. In the meantime, I was searching and searching through my relatively new purse for my drivers license. I had had it when I checked in, and I had had it when I got my replacement players card, but where was it now? I knew I had it but I couldn't find it. I hate new purses. Anyway, when I got up to the counter, she asked for ID, and I said I was looking. She said "any photo ID". Well, lo and behold, I found one right then. Nope, not my license (I found that within 10 minutes). But I showed and she accepted as photo ID my Six Flags season pass! And I made the note right then that this made the trip report! So I got up to my room, 32072, which was a king, non-smoking room. I actually liked it better than Mirage, because the bathroom had some size to it. The view of Siren's cove was straight down. Directly in front of me was the construction at Venetian. It's progressing rapidly. What must be the elevator tower is leading the way. It looks like that concrete tower your local fire department practices burning down. Yeah, not real attractive at this point. I do have pictures to upload, and will add those probably over the weekend. I got showered and changed and went back downstairs to put more of a dent in their tequila supply. Soon, Vegas Tonya called to say she had arrived, and I met up with her and we went to my room to gab and drink. She brought with her some raspberry margaritas, and she went and got ice (no problem doing so at TI, Marty!)... then we went down to play at the bar. I played video poker, she played a little keno, but mostly we played dodge the falling over pints of beer. At least two and possibly more than that were thrown at us. We had to keep calling for the attendant to come reboot the machines, and he started giving us heck for constantly breaking them. Smell them! we said! They smell like beer! We are drinking tequila! It isn't us!! We also came across a highly soused man, who was with three women, one of whom was supposedly his sister. She was SO drunk she couldn't make eye contact or stand still. They were leaving to go see Ringo Starr perform at Mandalay and told the guy to meet us at Carnaval Court after. They did invite us to go with them but a) we did have dinner reservations and b) getting into a cab with two people right on the edge of barfing really didn't sound like a lot of fun. But the guy asked where Carnaval Court was for later, but didn't have anything to write on so we wrote instructions on his stomach. How very Vegas!! I wonder what he thought of that when he woke up the next morning. After dinner, Tonya and I walked over to Harrahs, stopping to see the fireworks being set off by either Bellagio or Caesars. Very pretty. Carnaval Court wasn't as busy as I've seen it in the past, but we did have to pay $3 to get in. The blackjack tables were open, and I recognized ALL the lovely ladies from previous trips, and they all recognized me and gave me hugs, high fives, etc. The bad news was that the evening was rather sticky for Vegas and the misters at CC were broken so there was no relief from the heat out there. Tonya wanted to dance, but I was drenched in sweat just sitting at my seat, so she went out by herself a time or two, in fact danced with her new friend Mia, who turns out to have sat next to me on the plane from Houston. As always, I had fun at CC, and had a couple of the "Twisted Lucky Lemonades" which I will always refer to as Toxic Lemonades (Jer knows why). By the time I called it a night at midnight, I'd been up 23 hours straight, been felled by the heat, and was down $150 for the day. Sunday July 2nd: After sleeping pretty well, despite the air conditioning having a hard time keeping up with the heat outside in the room, I got up around 7:30, made a few phone calls and/or texts and got ready for the day. I hit TI's coffeeshop for breakfast, noticing that around 9am there were PLENTY of chaise lounges available at the pool. I walked over to Wynn, enjoying the warm (not yet hot) weather and just being there. Unfortunately my walk back to TI a short time later wasn't as enjoyable. I took a BATH at blackjack at Wynn, remarking at the time that if I was going to take a bath at Wynn, the tubs in the rooms are much more comfy than the tables. I staggered back to TI still bleeding from that beating, and changed clothes. Clearly what I was wearing was UNlucky!! After that I met up at Venetian for lunch with Larry, Thekiller and his wife Diana. The company was good, and I thank Killer again for buying lunch! It was a pleasure to meet both of you! After lunch, I decided to take a walk. I headed south, walking through Casino Royale (my first and only visit) then into Barbary Coast where I liked the sounds of the jazz band playing and lost a little more playing blackjack. Back on my feet again, I walked through Ballys, Paris and into Aladdin and did a little shopping. I always have to visit ABC and Hilo Hattie on every Vegas trip, although this time I didn't purchase anything there. I did find a couple things I needed on sale at Victoria's Secret... as well as one thing I wanted that wasn't on sale Hell, it was way cheaper than gambling! Then I moved over to Bellagio and had a $100 "Pink Cadillac" at Fontana bar. It wasn't that good. By that time, the heat, the alcohol and my losses were adding up to quite a headache, so I went back to TI to try and fight off a migraine. Laid down for awhile, but soon heard the siren show noises from down below. I never saw the original, and really couldn't see this show either, just hear it. But I had a good view of how many people were on the sidewalk to watch it! TONS!!! Since it became obviously between the show and my phone going off (yes, I could shut that off, but.... I didn't) it became obvious that I wasn't going to get that nap, so I decided to see if the dream I had had about hitting a royal flush at the bar at Fremont casino would come true. The taxi line was very long at TI, but it was moving quickly. The cab driver was asking me why I was going downtown, had I ever been before. Yes, many times, and I've stayed there. So he asked if I were going for the Fremont Street Experience. I said, if I happen to see it, I will watch it. I had asked to be dropped off at Main Street Station, and reiterated that when he asked if I were going to Fremont Street. I wanted to walk around MSS, then to the Cal, and just take it all in. Well, I had gone into my purse to get the money out to pay him, and when I looked up, he was dropping me off at the Plaza!! That totally pissed me off that he took me somewhere other than where I asked to be taken (and it cost a bit more to go there too). So the tip was low and I expressed my anger, since now to do what I wanted to do I had to walk back to MSS - and it was freaking HOT out. Yes, I still tipped him but it was the lowest tip I gave anyone all trip. For cause. The taxi to MSS would have been $13.70. It cost $13.95 to Plaza. No twenty-five cents isn't going to break anyone I know but it's the principle of the thing. So I walked back to MSS trying to cool off (internally that is... externally was unlikely). When I walked in, I remembered someone on this board requested a picture of the "cool fans at the bar". I tried to take a pic with my cellphone but they just didn't come out. But if you look up horizontal fans, that's what they are, and yes they are neat. Standing there at the bar made me think that getting one of their beers would be a good idea, so I picked out a machine near the end toward the buffet and sat down, put $20 in and asked for some High Roller Gold. After my losses at Wynn and Barbary that day, I hadn't quite realized that I only had a couple hundy on me at that point. There was more in the safe in the room, but I needed to make sure I had enough aside for cab fare back to TI and realized I would probably make this more of a drinking trip to Downtown than a gambling trip. But the machine I was at was treating me pretty nicely, and I was averaging $10-15 up from the $20 I put in and enjoying my beer. Not a bad way to spend a bit of time while I contemplate what my dinner might be. I was paying attention but I won't say I was glued to the machine when I held a routine Queen and ten of spades, but my attention was caught when the replacement cards showed up as the King-Ace-Jack of spades. First thought: Oh My God!! It's my royal!!! Second thought: crap, I'm playing quarters! Third thought: how bad is that - it's still a thousand bucks dipshit! The attendant came in good order, and then returned with my cash. I tipped her $20 and gave the bartender $5. Then I played the $31 I had in the machine and that turned into $50 before I decided that was about as good as I could expect!! I moseyed over to the Cal, which is one of my all-time favorite casinos. I love the easy-going laid-back attitudes of most of the residents of the 50th state, and so many of them are at the Cal that must be why. Plus there are Hawaiian food specialties there. Ono grinds, good talk story... what more does a wanna-be Hawaiian need? After dinner at Redwood Bar & Grill (again, reviewed in the food section) I played some blackjack there, with some friendly folks at the table. The older Oriental woman sitting next to me and I hit it off well, and when she opened her bottle of water, she made comments about how slippery it was and "the outside's all wet!!". My response of "it's wetter on the inside" almost earned me a shower, compliments of her choking out what she had just swallowed. Unfortunately, the table was not lucky for me, only fun, but how much fun is it to lose $400? So I moseyed along, wandering through LVC and trying to distribute some hugs Patti told me to give (but seeing no one she was looking for) and into La Bayou (it doesn't smell horrible anymore, or at least didn't on that day), catching a light show, before getting to Fremont and seeing if I could get my Royal Flush there like the dream I had. Well, that wasn't happening... clearly I'd just dreamt of the wrong Downtown Boyd property! And then I realized that I've had 3 Royal Flushes in my life - two at Borgata in Atlantic City and one at MSS. All of them are owned by Boyd. So maybe I'll just play video poker from now on at Boyd properties! The final stop Downtown was Golden Nugget, mostly because I know it's easy to catch a cab from there (Plaza is the other place where it's easy). I played a little Pai Gow poker and won $5 before heading out, walking by the pool to see what that looked like (answer: a disaster area - think Ground Zero with large cranes and a huge hole in the ground). They have very ambitious plans for the pool. This could take awhile. Got in the cab and had a friendly driver. The trip back to TI cost $13.70 plus tip. Despite the Royal, I am down $500 for the trip so far, although I know I've taken about $100 out of the gambling funds to pay for cash purposes, so it isn't all that horrible. Monday July 3rd: This morning I leave TI and check into Caesars for the remaining two nights, so the first thing I do is pack. Then I remembered Canter's Deli has breakfast items on the menu so I decide to have a bite to eat there to start the day. However, the deli does not open until 11am. So I decide to be "Very Vegas" today and have two coffees with Baileys for breakfast at the Breeze bar before checking out. The cab from TI to Caesars has to negotiate quite a bit of traffic, including the opportunity to play chicken with a streetsweeper, so the bill is $6.45 + tip. I already figured my room would not be ready so I dropped my stuff at belldesk on my way in, then go to check in. The check OUT line is crazy, there isn't even a check in line yet so I decide to wander through the Forum Shops and make it an early lunch. I checked out Joe's Stone Crab and BOA before deciding on a repeat visit to Spago. Both of the other restaurants look like a good possibility for future meals, and indeed I did get to Joe's during this trip. After lunch, I check the line back at the lobby and it's practically out the door. So I go play some blackjack and lose $200. Ouch. Finally I'm able to withstand the line and am assigned room 3077 in the Augustus tower. I LOVED this room - it was very large, very new, modern, and comfortable. I took several pictures which I'll post later. I made my way back over to Bellagio and sat at the video poker bar near the Baccarat bar. I've had good luck there in the past, but this time all I could score were two extremely good drinks made with creme de cassis (a black currant liqueur). Yum. Two of those were possibly worth $100. Each. Went back to the room to shower & change for the group gathering at Carnaval Court, and put some food in my tummy at Burger King. Hey, it was convenient anyway... it's probably a good thing that food was there because the toxic lemonades were flowing that night! I met up with Larry first at the bar. He was having trouble with the lemonade so he quit drinking them in favor of Long Island Iced Teas then Jaegerbombs. Oy. Then Tonya showed up, and in due time Silversmiff (John) and his brother Charlie. There were a few other guys with them, but they bailed on CC and went elsewhere. Too bad - we had fun! The blackjack games were not running, but the bartenders were doing their flair thing, and there was a live band. Tonya and I got up for one dance, that was good. Several drunken phone calls were made, and I apologize if I didn't call you. A lot of people got called, but a lot of people didn't get called either. *If you never ever answer your phone, you did not get a phone call* (you know who you are) By and by, the executive decision was made to migrate to the Stardust to say farewell. I had never been there myself, and Larry hadn't been in many years. So the five of us mushed into one cab and had a fun trip up to the 'Dust. I signed up for the players club and was given a free deck of cards that say "Stardust 1958-2006" on them. How sad is that? Most of us also got a souvenir dollar from the cashier. Then we decided to play some games. Larry glued himself to a craps table, and John, Charlie and I played some blackjack. Charlie was the only one who won at that table if memory serves. Tonya flitted between us at that table and Larry, who was winning. Eventually John decided to give craps a try, and Charlie & I moved over to Pai Gow. I got up from that table with $32 left over from the $100 buy in. Charlie said he'd prefer to stick to blackjack. Then I got the calling to try video poker at the bar, and damn near bought a $40 glass of water before hitting four of a kind and eventually got up with $150 in tickets. So I actually WON $50 at the Stardust. By then Tonya had said her goodbyes (she had to kid watch early on the 4th)... Tonya - you owe me a lap dance!! I'll see you in October girl!! Larry and John were talking about Jaegerbombs, so I just kept walking. No way can you make me drink those things. Got back to Caesars in time to see a couple of security guards take off at a very high rate of speed. No clue what happened. Looked pretty interesting though. Tuesday, the 4th of July: This day was supposed to be my long-awaited day at the pool. In all my pre-trip stuff, I was mentioning that I had never ever spent any time at a pool in Vegas. To this point in my trip report, do you see any mention of a pool? Nope... well, it didn't happen on this day either. The 4th of July dawned cloudy and RAINY. My friend JJ, who had gotten in the night before, had already cancelled the cabana she had rented, but I figured she could come to Caesars for the nice pool there... but not in this weather. Dang it! I hung around in the bathrobe for an hour, having room service breakfast, before finally deciding to get my rear in gear and getting out. I met up with JJ at TI at the craps table where there was a hot shooter. We waited until he finished up before coloring up to leave. Then we went to Mirage and played Pai Gow, which I had taught her at Borgata in May. I won $50 there, then I played VP at the bar at Kokomo's and won a little more and had a couple nice drinks.... I still mourn the loss of AVA bar though. That was my favorite spot at Mirage, with such friendly bartenders and the yummy guava cocktails. I also had one of the best bloody Mary's ever at the bar at Kokomo's this trip. JJ & I decided (well, I decided and she was kind enough to follow) on Joe's Stone Crab for lunch. After that, she met up with some friends of hers, while I played a little vp at Caesars and took a nice bath in my jacuzzi tub in my room. When dinner plans with her fell through, I struck out on my own for Venetian and had dinner at Postrio. Back at Caesars after dinner, I found a $1 vp machine in the Palace casino that had 9/6 JOB and played that. It was the game I like. Put in $100, pull out $300. Put in $100, pull out $200. Put in $100, pull out $500. Love that game. I played that until all my bills were gone, and I had $1400 in tickets in my purse. Then I went to my room and packed! I figured I had started with $2000 gambling money and $200 "cash cash". I know I had taken at least $300 from gambling and turned it into spending money, if not more than that. So to finish "down" $600 wasn't too bad. Just a good thing I did hit that royal flush or the trip could have been a lot different. I slept like a rock that night and was awake before my 7am wakeup call came. Hit the Augustus Cafe for breakfast, to the airport (just under $11 from Caesars plus tip) and out. It was a good trip. I enjoyed both meeting friends, new and old, as well as having plenty of time to do whatever I wanted to do. Yes, it was a very good trip! Thanks for reading!