Hope y'all enjoy the read. We sure enjoyed living through it. GVJ Trip Report – July 17–27, 2004 Air Travel: 7 Day Advance Purchase for two was $773.80 I had a $390.00 credit with SW and used $ 200.00 I had banked in a credit card miles program so the total expense to us was $183.80 Going, Southwest Flt 156 Harlingen-San Antonio; Flt 2781 San Antonio-Las Vegas arrive Las Vegas at 1:55pm all flights on time, A boarding pass each flight. Returning, Southwest Flt 1406 Las Vegas-Harlingen stopped in Houston to board passengers. Flight delayed both in Vegas and Houston. Instead of arriving in Harlingen at 11:15pm it was after 1:30am, C boarding pass for the Flt from Vegas. Car Rental: Rented through Thrifty. Reserved a Premium @ $153.00 (with fees, taxes, total was $225.00) for 7 days unlimited mileage. I was given a Chrysler 300M. Nice car with leather seats, good sound system w/CD player, roomy (for two), five bags fit easily into the trunk. Car’s engine had some get-up-and-go. Air Conditioner had trouble keeping car cool when we drove around on some 105+ days. Getting in and out of Thrifty was a breeze. I’d joined their Blue Chip express rental program. They didn’t have it in the system. No matter we were in and out of there in 15 minutes. Returning we were out of there in 3 minutes. I would recommend and will rent with Thrifty in Vegas again. Accommodations: 7 nights at Westgate Flamingo Bay, 1 night at Binion’s Horseshoe, 2 nights at Paris. Westgate Flaming Bay is a time share/condo joint located about 2 Â½ miles west of the Strip on Flamingo Road. We had stayed in one of their properties near Disney World two years ago on a time/share promotional trip. We got a good deal then (5 nights at Disney for less than $300.00) and didn’t buy into their time share. We did purchase a single week for one time use ‘cause I thought we’d go back to Disney/Universal. That never happened. So, I inquired about using that week at their Vegas property and it was a go. The condo we were in was very nice. It had a small living area which had a large TV hooked up to cable, large sleeper sofa, and dining table for four. The kitchen had everything one would need to cook a nice meal. The bedroom was made small by the king size bed. Very nice furniture included the bed, two nightstands, an armoire with TV and several drawers. The closet had an ironing board, iron and safe. The bathroom contained no goodies, you had to bring your own toiletries. It had one sink in the counter and the water closet had a glassed in shower with commode. There was a Jacuzzi tub crammed into the bedroom which I was in many times that week. We booked a room for one night at Binion’s Horseshoe @ $39.00. Considering it was a Saturday and for only one night I was surprised at the deal. The room was very small in the older part of the hotel. The bathroom was extremely small with a bathtub/shower combo and commode. In the bathroom you got a little bar of soap, dinky bottle of shampoo/conditioner and a shower cap. There was a Holy Bible in the night stand. And that is just fine with me. The room had a small TV which we never turned on, very nice window treatment, a double bed, dresser draws, one night stand, and small table with two chairs. It was located on the second floor (room 219) very close to the elevator and stairs to the casino. The room was very clean, not worn and was a bargain. As my wife said, “It reminds me of some Bed and Breakfasts we’ve stayed in only we don’t have to go down the hall to the bathroom.” I’ll add “those places cost significantly more as well”. We had received an offer from the Paris marketing dept for Sun-Thurs @ $79.00. I snapped that up for two nights (Sunday/Monday). When we arrived I tried the $20.00 bribe for an upgrade. I was hoping for a “P” room on the strip side. None were available. She told me she could upgrade us to a Suite Calais with a view of the Eiffel Tower and the Bellagio fountains for an additional $125.00 per night. We were about even on the gambling for the trip. We hadn’t laid much money out of our pockets for hotels or food so I did the upgrade. We were really pleased with Suite Calais 1701P. It was a short walk to the elevator. The room was beautiful. It had a large, wide marbled entry, two bathrooms, large parlor area with two comfy sitting chairs by the large ceiling to floor windows overlooking the pool, the tower, and Bellagio water show, sofa and elegant coffee table, armoire with TV, a wet bar with a fridge in the cabinet, a full dinning table for four. The large bedroom had a king size bed, two night stands, closet with safe and iron and ironing board, a TV which mechanically rose out of a console at the foot of the bed. The bathrooms were large. Each was stocked with goodies like substantial bottles of shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, skin lotion, real good smelling bars of soap, and not the dinky kind either, and a shower cap. One bathroom had a Jacuzzi tub, water closet with commode and bidet, large counter with sink, vanity table and chair. The other was just off the entry with a large glassed in shower shower, commode and pedestal sink. This was definitely a splurge. We usually stay at Stratosphere , Imperial Palace or similar. Most trips we’ve been upgraded with out additional cost in those places. I like hitting the Jacuzzi early in the morning and late at night. We just don’t typically spend enough time in our hotel room to warrant spending big bucks. We were so glad we did the upgrade. We enjoyed taking meals in the room. We intentionally got out of the casino for a couple of hours one evening just to watch several fountain shows. For the first time in 5 trips to Vegas I got into the hotel pool. Overall, we were rather impressed with the Paris Hotel/Casino and will stay there again. Food: While staying at the Westgate we prepared/ate most of our breakfasts and some of our lunches in the room. The first night in town we went to the strip for some low rolling gambling. We ate at the Ca-fae in Westward Ho. Wife had the Â½ rack of ribs and I consumed a very well prepared slab of Prime Rib. Our meal cost us less than $30.00 with a generous tip included. We ate the Rio Seafood Buffet on Sunday. The price is now essentially $35.00 per person. Man o Man I gota quit doing that! My wife loves all types of seafood. I can really eat sushi and the longestino (sp?) lobster like critters. Really hurt myself. My wife enjoyed her meal very much. She had her crab legs, a little lobster, lots of shrimp, some salad and dessert. I was miserable after eating way too much of some kind of oriental pasta with hot Mongolian sauce all over it. Eating a lot of sushi after that was not a brilliant move. We survived, but once again, I’ve sworn not to go there ever again! The next night we ate at the Sea House in Imperial Palace. We shared a NY Strip with shrimp, salad and veggies. Sharing our meals has become a tradition with us. I need to lose weight and if I order a full meal I’ll eat it all ‘cause I paid for it. Even if I’m full I think I need to finish it all. My wife isn’t a big eater and eats sensibly. So we share entrÃ©es most of the time when we eat in restaurants. And, we’ve never left a table hungry. The meal at the Sea House was very good at less than $35.00 for the two of us. While at Sunset Station on Tuesday evening we had dinner at the Fatburger. We split a double-king burger, fries and an order of onion rings. We were unable to finish our halves of the burger and we left more than half the fries and rings. We were well satisfied and spent less than $15.00. Wednesday we ate a late lunch at the Chipotle out at the Las Vegas Outlet shops way south on Las Vegas Blvd. (the old Belz shops I think). We split an order (4) of crispy, chicken tacos, some chips and salsa and guacamole. Very good. We spent less than $15.00. Wednesday evening we ate at the P.F. Changs in The District adjacent to Green Valley Ranch. We shared an order of Shanghai Street Dumplings, an entrÃ©e of Crispy Honey Shrimp. Excellent meal for less than $30.00. Thursday eve we ate at the Tea House in Imperial Palace. Overall it was mediocre. We will not eat there again. We selected the filet mignon with some fried shrimp. It was more than enough food and the filet was prepared well. The shrimp was not. The service was slow, the veggies way overcooked and the shrimp were definitely mediocre. Friday we ate at the CafÃ© Bellagio. For a casino coffee shop kind of place, it is a bit pricy. We shared a bowl of French onion soup, a club sandwich and some wonderful warm carrot cake. We had a very nice meal overlooking the conservatory for about $35.00. Saturday we had a late lunch at the Golden Gate’s Deli. We each had large shrimp cocktail. I had a bowl of tomato/rice soup. This was a good lunch for less than $15.00. Saturday evening we had dinner at Binion’s Steakhouse. This place is awesome. The service was great. The steaks were reasonably priced and the atmosphere was wonderful. We were seated at the window on the 26th floor (I think) overlooking downtown and with a view of the Strip. We shared an incredibly well prepared appetizer of mushroom caps stuffed with crab and shrimp, well prepared Caesar Salad and a tremendous 16oz Rib Eye served with some truly garlicky, garlic mashed potatoes. We spent $78.00 on the meal including a glass of merlot and a premium margarita. Even leaving a tip of 25% we got out of there for less than a C-note. Awesome! We’ve spent twice as much for meals in Vegas, and while they were fabulous, this was a great find. At 3:00am on Sunday morning we ate in the Binion’s Coffee Shop. My wife had the Buttermilk Pancakes, a plate full which two long haul truck drivers would have a hard time consuming. I had the Binion’s Scramble, eggs scrambled with lox and green onion served with a bagel. Just tremendous. I would recommend this coffee shop to everyone. We had a great meal for less than $12.00. Sunday afternoon we ordered room service at the Paris. We split some chicken and cheese quesadillas, a Chinese Chicken salad. All of it was tasty. Late that evening we stopped in at Le Desserts and had some ice cream. They were trying to close and were almost out of all the ice cream. So we got a pistachio, and a lemon sorbet. The server filled the cups up to over flowing and only charged us half price. Monday morning we had eggs benedict, hash browned potatoes, coffee and juice from the room service menu. That afternoon we had a late lunch at J.J. Boulangerie, a wonderful bakery in the Paris hotel shops on the way to Bally’s. We split a chicken salad sandwich on some very tasty bread we could hardly fit in our faces. In fact, I left half the bread and ate the chicken salad. That evening we ordered room service for dinner. We ordered a club sandwich with cole slaw, Cheese burger with cheddar and mushrooms, fries. Good stuff. We put the club and slaw in the fridge and ate that late Monday evening (or, early Tuesday morning?). Tuesday was Leaving Vegas Day. My wife went down to J.J. Boulangerie to get some coffee and pastries while I took care of our bags with the bell service. Room service at Paris was prompt, courteous and good. It was a bit overpriced for the quality of the food. We probably put $150.00 in room service charges on our bill, including tips. Though, we did reduce that some by applying $48.00 in comps to those charges. Entertainment: We saw Ronn Lucas Sunday afternoon at the Rio. Used the coupons handed out at Harrah’s Carnival Court and got in for the price of two drinks. Tax, title, license for about $18.00. We saw Rick Thomas Tuesday afternoon at the Tropicana using coupons from the Promotions Center. This cost us less than $25.00. We saw Mac King on Thursday at Harrah’s. We spent less that $18.00 again using the coupons handed out in the Carnival Court. All these shows were good and I’ll tell more about them in the daily journal part of this report. We saw Elton John at Ms. Dion’s digs in Caesars Palace. We paid $250.00 for each of our seats located 8 rows form the stage in the orchestra. We saw Jubilee at Bally’s our last night in Vegas. I used a perk which was a part of our offer from the Paris marketing dept. to purchase 2for1 tickets. This show cost us $30.00 each. The seats we chose usually sell for $67.00 apiece. We also went to the Liberace Museum one day. That same day we also went to the Monet Exhibit at the Bellagio art museum. We paid $12.00 each for the Liberace museum and $15.00 each for Monet exhibit. Gambling: We gambled at Stratosphere, Green Valley Ranch, Sahara , Sunset Station, Imperial Palace, Bellagio, Tropicana, Rio, Harrah’s, Palace Station, Main Street Station, Las Vegas Club, Binion’s Horseshoe, Fremont, Paris, and I put $20.00 in a 9/6 Jacks or Better Double Bonus Video Poker machine at the airport and took $68.00 out of it. Nice way to go home! Saturday, July 17 We were up early to pack and head to the airport in Harlingen, which is about 50 minutes away. Flights to San Antonio, then onto Vegas were smooth and uneventful. Arrive in Vegas around 2:00pm local. Baggage claim area at LAS is a mess with construction but is working efficiently. Took us about 25 minutes to get our bags and head for Thrifty shuttle. Thrifty had a nice, dark green Chrysler 300M for us to use that week. Within 30 minutes we arrived at Westgate Flamingo Bay. This wasn’t too bad a location for being well off strip. After unpacking we headed out to a nearby grocery store. Found a Smith’s at the corner of Jones and Flamingo Road. We wanted to have stuff available in the room to prepare some of our meals there. As we unpacked we began hearing thunder and seeing lightening. On our way to the grocery store it began to come a good storm. Some of the teen aged folk working in the store were running out side and playing in the rain. They said it had been a long time since the last hard rain. We felt awed by this rare occurrence, especially since we experienced a significant snow fall when we were in Vegas last December. After getting the groceries put away we were off to the Westward Ho for some dinner. Then, we headed over to the Stratosphere. My wife and I have always enjoyed the Stratosphere casino. They are doing some remodeling several places around The STRAT . The casino had been changed up a little bit since we stopped in there last December. The Valet was full and only assisting registered guest of the hotel. I self-parked us on level three which has access to the casino. We played some slots and Video Poker. I never even walked by a BJ table. We put about 700 points on our players card in about 3 hours of gambling and decide to call it a night. I’m down $100.00 and my wife is down about $45.00 at this point. Sunday, July 18 I prepared some breakfast while my wife slept. She was surprised. After breakfast we lounge around for most of the morning. Around 11:00am we went over to Sahara. The car was left to the valet service. First time we had ever been in the joint. Wife saw it from the car on Saturday evening and said, “I want to go there tomorrow.” So we did. We liked the Sahara. We played some slots. I had a little roll going on a Wheel of Fortune machine and pocketed a little cash. We went to the tables and decided to play Spanish 21. I lost $140.00 in less than an hour. Wife lost her buy in of $50.00 but, played longer than I did. We decide to take in the Ronn Lucas show that afternoon. Traffic was heavy but I used Paradise south to Flamingo, then west across I-15 to Rio. Check out time and the joint is chaotic. The valet was full so we found a parking place around the back near an entrance to the casino. We found the box office and swapped our coupons for the tickets by paying for 2 drinks. Long lines outside the theatre – don’t these people know it is Sunday afternoon and they ought to be heading home! Ronn Lucas was excellent. This is a great show for folks of all ages. Some of the humor is suggestive but, for me, certainly not offensive. My wife and I both thought the show was bargain and will try to see it again. We will definitely recommend or take friends and family to see this and the other afternoon shows we saw on this trip. After the show we ate at the Village Seafood Buffet. I almost wasted myself on our first full day in Vegas. I WILL NOT DO THIS BUFFET EVER AGAIN! The food is good. The atmosphere is o.k. The price is excessive. And, I just eat too darn much. Never again, maybe? We then gambled for a little while. Mostly we play VP and some Wheel of Fortune. My wife is actually ahead at this point and I’m down about $260.00. We head (I rolled) back to the condo about 9:30pm and are asleep before 10:00pm. Monday, July 19 We had planned to drive out to Red Rock Canyon that morning. We ended up driving around several high end new housing developments going up way out on Flamingo Road. Somehow, during our drive I got us onto I-215. Soon after, I realized we were heading for Henderson and decided that we should check out Green Valley Ranch. We did. This was our first time at GVR. This place is gorgeous. We loved everything about the joint; quiet casino, fairly good VP, lots of table games and wheel of fortune machines. We played at a bank of “Optimum Play” VP machines. I played a c-note through several machines before losing it all and racked up some serious points on the player’s card. In fact after my first session, they upgraded our card to the next level. My wife continues her winning at VP. She’s now up several hundred $ and I’m down $400. Late in the afternoon we head towards the strip and play some at Imperial Palace. It is hotter than you know what as we use the valet for the car. I’d come to IP using Koval to get to the street that runs behind IP and Harrah’s. Avoid a lot of traffic on the strip this way. At IP we play some VP and throw some money in a few slots. I lost another $100 playing WOF and then won that back and a little more playing VP. I hit a set of quad 2’s on a .25 bar top machine at the lounge bar right up front. I had several other little hits that evening at that bar while enjoying some comped Samuel Adams. We then went upstairs to the Sea House restaurant located in the 5th floor dining plaza and had a nice meal. After diner we went back to the VP machines and ended the evening pretty much even for the day. My wife is still ahead for the trip and I’m still down about $400. Checked our points and comps at the players club on our way out and are informed we have $43.00 in points we can take in the form of a voucher to the cage for cash. Not bad.! We also have $15.00 in comps that we can use for RFB. This surprised me ‘cause when we checked out of the IP last December a casino host took $150.00 off of our final bill from comps dollars we had accumulated on that trip. I just figured the account was tapped. Off to the condo early Tuesday morning for some sleep. Tuesday, July 20 We lounged about the room for a while this morning. My wife prepared us a nice breakfast. We spent some time at the pool. The pool area is plush with lots of tropical landscaping, nice pool furniture, some shaded areas, a ping-pong table and a Jacuzzi pool on the side to boot. We fixed ourselves some lunch and then went to the Tropicana to see Rick Thomas. This too was a good show. Great for people of all ages and good entertainment. He interacts well with his audience. How did those tigers appear in the cages 20 feet above the stage? This may now be the only magic show with white tigers playing Vegas. After the show we put a little money through some VP machines and saw a couple of the Air Play performances. Air Play is a free show in the main casino which happens at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 7:00pm and 9:00pm daily. I’ve read posts dissing this show on several of the boards. Except for the keyboard/master of ceremonies chick I liked it and thought the performances were good. My wife didn’t think it was a waste of time either. I think she liked the two young hard bodied dudes flying around over our heads ala Cirque du Soleil. We then headed out to Sunset Station. I liked this place as much as Green Valley Ranch for the reasons already stated. Not as fancy as GVR but definitely in the same family. We played a bunch of VP. My wife just bounced around several banks of machines. I played for several hours on two machines. One was at the “Optimum Play” bank and the other was located outside a restaurant in the back not too from the cashier. The “OP” machines were .25 and I played max credits of course. The machines out side the restaurant were multi-game machines which you can choose the denomination you want to play. With $20.00 coin in I hit a series of little wins and cashed out with $200.00. After putting that money in my wallet (once it goes into the wallet it doesn’t get used for gambling) I put another $20.00 in the same machine and hit quad Queens for another $100.00. About 30 minutes later I hit quad aces for $200.00. After putting another couple of hundred in the wallet, I put $100.00 in a multi-game VP machine and play $1 for max credits – so its $5.00 a hand. When I’ve played it down to about $60.00 through, I’m thinking about cashing out and decide to go down to fifty. Boom, I get four 6’s on the draw. I look down after the ringing stops and I’ve got another $560.00. I played it for a good while and cashed it out at $508.00. I had two more hits for $200.00 that night. I’m not exactly sure what the totals were but I know I put eleven hundred dollars in my pocket. And I know we played several hundred more through the machines between the two of us. My wife ended the evening about even for the trip after having been up several hundred. I ended up about $500.00 for the trip after being down almost $600.00. When I checked our point totals for the Station Boarding Pass player’s card we were up around 5 thousand between the two of us. I really like the Sunset Station. Although on our last visit there this trip they got some back. Wednesday, July 21 Breakfast was Tacos my wife prepared. Awesome! We lounged some and then headed out for a day trip to Lake Mead. Incredibly hot so we spent most of the time in the car stopping at over looks for the awesome views. On a future trip at a cooler time of year we’ll go out there again for some water activity. It is so beautiful. Smack dead in the middle of the desert – all that water. You can see that between the ongoing drought and the consumption of water by Las Vegas, the lake is down significantly. It is a relatively short drive from any point in Vegas. It took us less than an hour in mid-day traffic . We didn’t stop, but the area around Lake Las Vegas and the Hyatt resort looked truly beautiful as we drove by. I am fairly certain I heard the golf course call my name as we passed. We came back to Vegas via Hwy 95 through Boulder City. Quaint little city, some of the neighborhoods have amazing views of Lake Mead from high above. Once back in Vegas we went to the Las Vegas Outlet stores. Had lunch at Chipotle and went for some shopping. I bought several shirts for golfing and casual wear at the Hagar store and several more and a pair of running shoes at Nike. My wife found a couple of purses at a Wilson’s leather store. We couldn’t believe the prices. Our purchases would have totaled much more retail stores back home. We then headed back to the condo for a much needed nap. Early evening we freshened up and dressed for an evening at Green Valley Ranch. We had dinner at P.F. Changs Chinese Bistro in The District, a swanky area of shops, restaurants, etc…adjacent to Green Valley Ranch Resort. We hit the casino at GVR where I promptly returned $300.00 to the Station Group from what I’d won the night before at Sunset Station. Around mid-night we decided to find our bed. I’d wanted to play some Black Jack but the only $10 min tables were full every time I looked. We were getting a lot of play on VP machines but not winning anything to speak of and slowly losing our coin in at each machine. When we left the casino we had over 9,500 points on our cards in three sessions at Station Casinos. Sure hope that warrants some good room offers from their marketing dept. Thursday, July 22 Breakfast was cereal in the condo. We lounged for a long time this am. We finally got moving and headed over to Harrah’s to see Mac King and to get our $43.00 in cash from the nice folks at Imperial Palace. Valet parked at Harrah’s. As usual this is the best way to go at most strip properties if you’re not in a hurry. We were not. Long line and wait to get into see Mr. King. Mac King is a fine entertainer. His comedy is great and his magic gimmicks left me amazed. Again, I’d recommend this show for people of all ages. It is worth the hassle of waiting in long lines. I tipped the dude seating us and we were placed in a comfy seat just a few rows away from the stage with the folks who paid full fare. I think the full fare is only about $23.00. We paid $16+ with the coupons from the Carnival Court. We used our drink coupons for bottles of water. After some gambling at Harrah’s I went to check out the La Playa Lounge. I had planned a meet at the La Playa for LVT folks who might be in town on the 26th of July. I went to where I thought I remembered the Lounge being and there was no lounge. Just a space boarded over. Did some checking and sure enough, the lounge had been closed a week or so before for remodeling. I decided I’d just come back there on the day of the meet and see if anybody showed. We had a late lunch at the Tea House in IP. It was the least enjoyable meal of our trip. The meal was mediocre in every way, slow service, droopy unimaginative salad, way over cooked veggies, some very bland, chewy shrimp. The filet mignon was good. We won’t try them again. After our late, late lunch we drove out to Red Rock Canyon. Wish I’d done this before. It was early evening (‘bout 6:30pm) when we arrived at the park. To get to Red Rock Canyon you just get yourself to Charleston and head west for about 25 minutes. One can also get there by taking I-215 to the west to the Charleston exit and then head west a very short distance and you are in the park. My wife and I enjoyed our time on the scenic drive in the park. We both commented how on future trips in cooler seasons we’d like to do some hiking. There are lots of trailheads to begin hikes in the park at several levels of difficulty. After the scenic drive we drove through Bonnie Springs. It wasn’t so scenic. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset out at Red Rock Canyon. We saw the new Station Casino (I think it is to be called Red Rock Station.) being built on Charleston not far from Red Rock Canyon. I believe that area is called Summerlin. This is a nice area with lots of upscale retail shopping, restaurants, office complexes and housing development out the wazoo. On our way back into town I realized we would pass Palace Station. We decided to stop and do some gambling. We played VP on several kinds of machines. I got a lot of play on a triple play machine and made some bucks. Then I turned around and gave it back playing VP 9/6 jacks or better. My wife lost a little and is now down a little for the trip. At 12:30am we decide to play some Black Jack. We buy in for a $100 each and we walked away four hours later with $175.00. At 4:00am we decide that we might as well do our laundry since we’re up and we’d planned on doing laundry Friday morning. We grabbed a bite to eat at the condo did our laundry and were in bed at 5:30am. It was well into daylight when my feeble head hit the pillow. Friday, July 23 We were able to sleep until 11:00am. We went to the grocery store to return a wine bottle opener we didn’t actually need. The money from the return bought us a little lunch. We ate while we drove out Tropicana east of the strip to the Liberace Museum. The museum is a quirky place. We enjoyed the tour. Most of the older people who work there knew Liberace. He lived in the neighborhood adjacent to the strip mall in which the museum is located. In fact the trust he established to support the museum owns the little shopping center. We thought it was a good use of an hour of our day. It cost $12.00 to enter, but all the money is used to support young people studying music and art. We liked that and gladly paid our fee. If you’re a Vegas junky like me, go see this ‘cause ole Liberace was a central figure in Las Vegas history. After watching a short video of his life I now know where Steve Wynn got the idea for water dancing to music. Liberace was doing it on stage years ago. From the Liberace museum we headed over to Bellagio. We toured the Monet exhibit at the Bellagio museum of art. Cost was $15.00 and we loved it. Viewing the exhibit started us thinking about taking a trip to France and a visit to the Louvre and other museums. I got to spend some time staring at the Chihuly glass in the lobby. I never get tired of looking at that installation. I’d just like to absorb it and take it with me. The conservatory is still decked out in its patriotic Americana 4th of July theme. The conservatory is less than beautiful ‘cause the Bellagio is remodeling the area where the spa used to be. The large dual stair cases that ascended at the south side of the conservatory are now gone. It appears they are going to put in some more shops and restaurants in that area. Snacks is no longer just off the casino floor. In fact it is closed. An employee said it will reappear later this summer in a different area. The new steak joint simply called “Fix” is in the general area where Snacks used to be. Olives is closed for remodeling until August. A disappoint for me ‘cause I like to take my wife there and have a meal at the windows overlooking the fountains. We did very little gambling at Bellagio. We threw a few bucks in some silly slots and had a few top shelf drinks. My wife and I enjoyed a late lunch in the Bellagio CafÃ© seated at a table overlooking the conservatory. We heard the condo calling out to us so we headed back for a nap. We awoke around 8:30pm in and decided not to go out to the strip or anywhere else that evening. We relaxed, read, munched some popcorn and watched a little TV. Sweet! Saturday, July 24 We were packed and out of the Westgate by 9:30am on Saturday. We hit the Sunset Station Casino. I was hoping to have a run similar to the one I had earlier in the week. NO WAY!!! I lost $160.00 in no time at all. The wife dropped a bill or two as well. We were both playing VP. Our player’s cards now total over 15,000 points. Too bad we won’t be back with in 60-90 days to build ‘em some more. She gave WOF a try and it took her money too! It was just a little before noon. We didn’t want to throw anymore money at the VP machines and the Black Jack tables all had minimums of a least $10.00 I was ready to get downtown to some cheap tables with decent rules for the players. I needed to return the rental car before 2:00pm. So we took the car back a couple of hours early. Getting in and out of Thrifty on the return was breeze. We had the Thrifty shuttle deliver us and our bags to baggage claim so we could hop a shuttle downtown. We grabbed a shuttle for $6.50 each. It appears that all the rates for shuttles have gone up recently. In hindsight I would have taken a cab and even begged the driver to go through the tunnel. Would have cost only a few more bucks and been an hour faster. Our shuttle hit at least seven joints before we got downtown. No clean room available when I checked at the desk around 1:15pm. So glad we had made the reservations a few weeks before. The hotel was full and the folks we talked to who had booked in the past few days paid more lots than we did. I had booked us for one night through the Binion’s web site. The registration area at Binion’s was crowded. A big portion of that area was set aside for a Texas Hold ‘em poker session which was about to get underway. Must have been 200 people entered for the afternoon session. Several hours later when I came back through to get registered in the hotel they were whittled down to two tables. We strolled on the Fremont Street Experience. Way hot under the canopy. The place was so much cleaner than the last time we’d been out there. We had some lunch at Golden Gate’s deli. Went back to Binion’s to look around. I hate to say it but it looks a lot better under Harrah’s than when Becky was in charge. The place was bordering on “dive” status when I was there two years ago. There are fewer slot machines, more tables, new carpeting. The place looks good and doesn’t smell, except for the cigarettes. Yes, there are many single deck Black Jack tables paying 6:5 for a BJ. And, yes there are many yahoos playing them. I did find several double deck games paying 3:2 and several games dealt from a shoe that paid 3:2. Just about every table I saw in Las Vegas this trip said “dealer must hit on soft 17.” I lost several big hands with that nice little rule in play. We went down to Las Vegas Club and bought into a single deck, $5 minimum BJ table with decent rules. My wife joined me. I bought in with $100 and colored up 2 Â½ hours later at $280.00. We had several little runs. Wife came away with $140.00 after a $50 dollar buy in. After getting our room we rested for a few minutes and realized we were very hungry. I called up to the Steakhouse to see if reservations were needed and if we needed to dress up. We were told that we could come on up and the dress was casual. As I wrote earlier in the report, this was one of the best dining experiences we’ve ever had in Vegas and we will return. If you go, ask for Lawrence as your waiter. He is a true pro, easy going and will take good care of you. The place is very nicely appointed has a great view and none of the pretensions of some other steakhouses around town. Go to the Binion’s Steak House. You’ll be glad you did. After dinner we strolled on the Fremont again. The area was electric on a Saturday evening. We listened to a band doing covers of top forty tunes. They were good. The usual assortment of humanity was present. Young, old, well to do, down and out, sober and righteous, drunk and belligerent, the mildly toasted coed and the rowdy redneck were all represented well. We enjoyed the sights for awhile then walked over to Main Street Station. We spent almost three hours playing BJ there at a $5 min table with good rules and a single deck. After about two hours I was up $225.00. One hour later I had lost it and my $50.00 buy in. I got pissed on a $25.00 bet. I had a double down situation so I did. The dealer, a good female dealer who was real nice and liked to see the players win, pulls a five card 21 from an up card of 4. It went 4+4+7+A+5. I kept betting $25.00 hands and was definitely in a losing streak. I just knew I couldn’t lose the next hand TOO! My wife tried to get me bet lower or go for a walk or just sit out a few hands. All things I usually do when I hit a streak like that. And, I was completely sober. Well, I may have been sober, but I was plenty stupid. I bet twenty five dollar hands ‘till it was all gone. The dealer was just shaking her head at me. My wife was winning still and I didn’t want her to quit just ‘cause I was stupid. But, she colored up when I didn’t buy any more chips. I was so mad at myself I didn’t gamble for at least 27 minutes. The length of time it took us to walk over to the Fremont and find a single deck $5 minimum table with a couple of open chairs. I bought in with $50.00 and colored up two and half hours later at $160.00 after taking it pretty easy and not upping my bets very much. My wife probably made a couple hundred between her two sessions that night. Sometime around 3:30am we hit the Binion’s Coffee Shop. We had a great meal. If you’re out late and want a quiet place to eat some well prepared food and you are around downtown, you can’t go wrong with this place. We rolled into the sack around 4:00am. Sunday, July 24 We are heading for the Strip and the Paris this morning. I’m exhausted but can’t sleep past 8:30am. My wife is sleeping soundly so I go look for some coffee and a Black Jack Table. I drink some coffee with Bailey’s while getting my ass handed to me by a pretty young female dealer. She was just so cute about and amazed by the run of bad cards I was getting. I finally get up from that table after losing my $100 buy in. As I got up I realized it was one of those shitty 6:5 jobs. I hadn’t seen a BJ so I would not have noticed by the play. No wonder I was losing, the table was cursed. I found another table with a shoe and 3:2 pay out. I had begun to win a bit and was really enjoying some of the folks at the table when the pretty young dealer comes to our table to relieve our dealer for his break. Yeah, I was clean of all my chips in about twenty five minutes. I played perfect Basic Strategy and my ass was diced up and handed to me. Sometimes it just goes that way. I sure hated having to tell my wife how much that coffee cost me. It was exactly $150.00 for the one coffee and Baily’s and two coffees’ with cream. My wife roused herself, she got us some coffee and muffins from the Starbuck’s across the way at the Golden Nugget while I showered and dressed. We then threw our stuff together, checked out of Binion’s and caught a cab to Paris. Gave the cabbie $21.00 for a $16.+ fare. Good ride, good guy. We got to the Paris as lots of people were checking out. Had the Bell Service hold our bags ‘cause I figured we would not be able to check in for hours since it wasn’t even noon yet. The registration clerk said they had rooms available. She wouldn’t take a bribe but would give us a good deal on an upgrade. We settled on a Suite Calais for our upgrade. As I reported earlier the room was amazing in every way. We took a nap ordered room service. I took a Jacuzzi, wife showered and then we dressed for the evening. Earlier in the week I had purchased tickets for us to see the Elton John, “The Red Piano” show at Caesars. I paid much more than I’d ever dreamed I’d pay for a show. At this point I’m so glad we did. It was a fine show. He is a great performer. His backing band rocked. The David La Chapelle production and videos were entertaining, nostalgic and sometimes quite moving. If I’m in Vegas again and this show is running I’ll go again. Especially, if I’m having a run at the table like I did for a while at Paris the next day. After, Elton’s show we headed back to Paris. We played a bit of VP and donated some money to a WOF machine, ate some ice cream at Le Desserts. Then, we decide it was bed time, probably before midnight . Monday, July 26 We had room service deliver eggs benedict for breakfast. We then went to the pool for a couple of hours. The pool at Paris is entirely in the shade until midday. I loved this as I’m very fair skinned and get sunburned just thinking about sunshine. Even though it is all in shade I manage to get a little sunburn just from the intense UV’s one experiences in the desert. After the pool time and getting cleaned up and dressed for the day we hit the casino. We found a shoe game with $10 minimum bet and played for about 2 hours and 1 minute. At least that’s what the pit critter told me as I left. “You played for 2 hours and one minute. And, your bets averaged $24.10 over the course of this session.” I bought in with $200.00 And, I colored up at $500.00. We headed for Harrah’s and the scheduled 3:00pm meet at La Playa Lounge. We grabbed some lunch at J.J. Boulangerie on the way to the monorail. The monorail is a long hike through Bally’s. We loved the monorail. Each way we bought a single ticket for two rides. This cost $5.50. If we had each bought one ticket for each way it would have cost $3.00 each way per person for a total of $12.00. This way it cost $5.50 each way for $11.00. Yeah, Yeah, I know I only saved a buck. There were no shows for the meet ‘cept me and my beautiful wife. We hung around a bit and then went to IP to gamble. Big mistake. I bought into a BJ game for a hundy and lost real fast. Once again, I played flawless basic and could not get two wins in a row. Should have walked two minutes into the mess ‘cause the streak was clear. The dealer was one of those stoic types who never speak unless asked a question. And, then only speaks to answer the question precisely. When the hundy was gone we got out of their and took the monorail back to Paris. We thought the monorail was a good deal for what we wanted to do. My wife and I recommend it. We got back to Paris went to the room laid down and rested for an hour. We ordered room service. Cleaned up and dressed for the evening and hit the casino. I took a marker and we began to get a little more serious about the gambling. When the cards would start to run hot I’d start making bigger bets. The dealers we had were way cool. They would banter with the players, but you could tell they wanted the players to win. In fact a couple of times the dealers would flat tell someone what they should do if they were going against basic strategy. This happened with pit critters standing right there. Anyway, we could only play for a couple of hours ‘cause we had tickets for the 10:30pm Jubilee show at Bally’s. When I colored up I was given a blue chip, a two black and several green. It was a good session. I was up almost $800 for the day even with the debauchery at IP. But we had to go. I wasn’t about to miss all those boobies on display in one place. Jubilee is a good production. The breasts were beautiful, and my wife says all natural. She was pleased that there were some men for the ladies to be entertained by. All in all we enjoyed the show. My wife was most impressed by the Chinese Acrobats. We were both impressed with the juggling twins. And, of course all those perky breasts impressed moi. We were back in the casino by 12:45am. Should have gone to bed. I was tired. We bought into a ten dollar minimum table. Some of the folk there were kind of stiff. They got even stiffer when I fired up a really nice cigar. The dealer, Alex, told me he’s a part owner of a well known cigar shop in town and to look him up next trip and he’d be sure I got a good deal on some high end smokes. That was the high end of that session. I made a couple of stupid plays not paying close attention to the cards. And to boot, I got a whole series of 12, 13, 15, against dealer 8-10 and face cards. It wasn’t a pleasant time. When my losses reached $200.00 I called it a night. My wife had a fairly decent session and colored up with a small win. We were in bed after a late night snack or club sandwich and cole slaw from the room service order we’d placed earlier. Tuesday, July 27 We were up by 8:30am. There wasn’t a lot packing to do. Wife got us some breakfast from J.J. Boulangerie. Coffee and pastries hit the spot. Bell Service came and got the bags and stored them ‘till we headed to the airport. I went and got a voucher for comps from the Connection Center to reduce the amount of our food from room service. By 11:00am we were at the tables. The early going was rugged. The dealers kept getting crazy hands, never busting from 4,5,6, and whenever we’d double or split they’d hit three, four and five card 21’s. I thought the trip was going to end on a losing note. I just hung around taking my lumps waiting for a run. We have to go to the airport around 2:30pm. Our flight is scheduled for 4:55pm departure. At about 1:30pm I start getting some hands and start upping my bets. I go from being down a hundy for the session to being up over a hundy in three hands. I split a $25 hand then doubled on one of those cards and the dealer busted. I had been drinking Markers Mark on the rocks for about an hour and was really enjoying myself. The very next hand I get a Black Jack with a $50.00 bet on the felt. It ran that way for over an hour. The cards cooled for me so I went a paid of my marker at the cage without giving up my seat at that table. When I returned to the table my wife was on a little run and making some money. So was the guy on the other side of her. She went cold and I started playing again. A few little wins a couple of losses. She says, “We should go,” “I say one more shuffle.” I’ve quit drinking the Makers Mark at this point and just sipping water. All during the next shuffle I would go big right after winning a hand and go real small after losses. When I colored up I was not only back to even with the house but now had $650.00 of their money. The wife colored up $290.00 ahead for her time gambling at Paris. We like this joint and will be back. We find the bell service at curbside. Get our bags and a cab is hailed and 15 minutes later we’re standing in line at the Southwest Sky Cab Counter. Soon after that we are informed that our flight is delayed over an hour. Heck, we could have still been in the casino losing some money back to Paris. The flight looked like it might be full so I volunteered to be bumped. The counter girl told us they would put us up for the night, upgrade our tickets to full fare and give us each vouchers for two hundred dollars to be used for future flights. Alas, the flight ended up with several seats available. We were delayed on our stop over in Houston so it was real early morning on Wednesday before we slept. Well that is all there is to tell ‘bout this trip. We had a great time. Ten days almost did me in. But, if I have the chance I’ll do it again. HIGHLIGHTS: all the afternoon shows, Elton John “The Red Piano”, Binion’s Steakhouse, GVR, Sunset Station and an incredible run at VP, Red Rock Canyon, our room at Paris, the gambling downtown and at Paris, watching my wife really begin to enjoy playing at the Black Tables and win some money LOWLIGHTS: Imperial Palace Teahouse, gambling at IP, getting completely lost the first night in town when I got on Desert Inn Road and it looped me around and I didn’t realize I was back on the east side of the strip for 10 minutes. Thought I’d entered the twilight zone. Playing like an idiot by chasing after losses at BJ in Main Street Station turning a good session into a bust.