The middle-aged man walks alone, sheepishly into a room at a local community center. He takes his seat on a cold, metal folding chair, formed in a semi-circle with other like-minded people also uncomfortably seated. "Maybe the seats aren't uncomfortable", thought our hero. "Maybe the subject is uncomfortable". "Why am I here again?" he queries further to himself as sporadic discussion from the other attendees is halfheartedly heard. "I see a couple of new faces here" says the hopeful lady at the front of the room. "Sir? Would you mind?" "Hi. My name is mjames1229, and I have an addiction to slot machines". --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- That could be the theme of this trip report, but that would be a major downer, so let's all just forget we read about that, ain'a? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This report actually begins in September, shortly after returning from my poker trip. For various reasons (one of which - seriously - is that three trips to Nevada each year is a lot and somehow I have to cut it down to two. It'll never actually happen, but I have to at least keep saying it) I had been resigned to not going to Vegas for the Super Bowl this year. So like a good gambling addict, I was absentmindedly looking up airline prices for early February. I was certain that they would be too high and "I couldn't afford it" would be my way out. Within an hour, I saw (and booked) this without permission... $168 RT from O'Hare to Vegas and a comp at most Caesars properties... I mean... yeah... Throw in a car rental from Alamo for three days for $61 all-in and it cost me $400 total for the two of us be in Las Vegas for a weekend (OK, $450 if you include gasoline and parking at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare). I know people who paid that much just for Super Bowl Party tickets. When I write my poker trip reports each fall, I time stamp them... don't know why, it's just that thing I do. But when my wife and I went to Reno/Vegas last summer, I tried to write it essay style, however I missed so many details that I had to write practically another trip report just to summarize the stuff that I had missed. So this time, I am going to try to write a wife-based time-stamped trip report. Wish me luck. (All times are PST unless noted). Saturday, February 2 at 1:00 PM CST - We left the house for the weekend. That means that vacation started, therefore the trip report started. You guys like photos, well, here you go. I have held season tickets for the Milwaukee Wave indoor soccer team for almost a quarter century.. Not going to miss a game because of a flight leaving in 7-1/2 hours. 2:00 PM CST - Between Wave season tickets and the 40 Milwaukee Brewers games that I attended last season (and taking into account my tremendous weight loss) I have gotten pretty good at going into an arena or stadium and not spending a penny on concessions. But I am on vacation, you know. Why, yes, that is cookie dough ice cream in a soft waffle, topped with pecan, sprinkles and caramel sauce. 3:15 PM CST - The game ends with the Wave beating Baltimore 4-2, and we head south on I-94 towards Chicago. 5:00 PM CST - My wife chose dinner. When I think of Chicago and dinner, a lovely deep dish from Pizzeria Due or Lou Malnati's comes to mind. But she chose Moretti's in Rosemont. I asked her to explain how she came up with that, but I tuned her out when she actually started explaining. However, I was impressed with their thin crust pie (despite it being overpriced). I also later found that they are part of the Southwest Rapid Dining program, so I got about 100 miles out of it. 7:17 PM CST - We arrive at our gate, seventy minutes before departure. To my wife, it means that she has plenty of time to relax, grab a soda, read a bit, and be ready to go when it is time to board. To me, it means we got there about 40 minutes too early. 8:15 PM CST - We are loaded on the plane and despite paying for "Main Cabin Extra" and choosing (and paying even more for) our seats, they seemed awfully squishy across. Legroom was fine, but even skinnier me felt cramped. A little while after takeoff CST - As I am fidgeting with my DVD player, some video screens drop from the overheads and a movie starts playing. I really didn't pay too much mind as I had brought my own entertainment, but I did look up to see that Bohemian Rhapsody was the movie. I quickly put away my DVD player and put my headphones into the armrest jack. This was going to be a great flight! About an hour-forty after the movie started - 10:20 PM PST - We land and sit on the tarmac with the terminal in sight. Apparently we arrived too early and there was nobody available to direct us to a gate and move the jet way. Las Vegas was so close, yet so far away. But after the longest 10 minutes of my life... We uneventfully get our bags (we only had carry-ons, but we gate-checked them due to the full flight) and get to the rental car center. I had rented a midsize and I had checked-in from home, so I walked into the garage and to the attendant, letting her know that I would graciously accept an SUV. Instead she offered me a choice of two vehicles. A white one with a message on the window in grease pencil "NO KEYS", or this one. It looked new. It WAS new! 11:45 PM - Although we had finished a pizza just eight short hours earlier (and also one smidgey pack of airline pretzels) we were both a touch hungry. Just after landing for our poker trip last August, one of my buddies and I went here for a bite, and I think that this now will be a traditional "Just off the plane" snack... Just one problem. See that empty restaurant and a guy in a red shirt at the entrance? It was his job to tell us that the restaurant was closed. I had heard that they had actually moved "a few blocks down" so I pulled out of the parking lot to try to find it. 30 seconds later - I found it! Basically it was 100 ft from where I was standing to take the photo above. So I drive around the block to the other parking lot entrance and park in the same spot. Sunday, February 3 at 12:05 AM - Having saved face in my promise to get my beautiful bride some nummilicious tacos, I explained the Tacos El Gordo ordering process, of how you have to pick your meat, then go into that designated line to order. She got in line for Asada while I first went for the Adobada and then for the Suadero. My wife's steak tacos are on the left, with this beautiful avocado and cilantro on top. Looks so good, I could almost eat it. Well, I did eat it because my wife likes neither avocado nor cilantro. I picked off as much as I could so that she was left with just steak and taco. She said that she ordered it that way (and I am sure she did order plain), but when I asked why she didn't send them back, she said that she didn't want to make trouble. So her settling was my benefit, as I love avocado and cilantro. 12:40 AM - We work our way behind The Linq and The Linq to get to the valet, however a full days rain and flooded The Linq parking garage. The security guard said to park at Harrahs and so we did. I asked the Harrahs attendant the quickest way to get to The Linq, and he gave an answer that would make Julia Sweeney blush. 12:45 AM - But the directions were brilliant. We check in without a line, and as we head to the room elevators, we decide to have a brief gamble. At this point it equates to about 3:00 AM back home, but... Vegas! 1:30 AM - I first put $20 into this, then $20 into that, then I find a Buffalo which gives me over $100. Not satisfied, I played that out trying to get a real hit. After losing about $100, I put "one last $20 then I'm done" into Napoleon and Josephine. Quite quickly, I get three Josephines (one with a +5) and on the very first spin get three more Josephines (with another +5) for a total of 30 spins. Along the way, I get two really nice screens filled with Napoleons, and when the bonus is over my cashout ticket has garnered me a profit of over $100. My wife is practically asleep on the seat next to me while I play out that bonus game, so I take the hint that the day is over and we head up to our room. Morning came and evening followed, the first day.