This trip was different from most of my other trips to Vegas. Now that my sister lives out here, I don't get to do as much of the touristy stuff anymore. Wednesday, 7/12: I left WI at 900pm flying Northwest. I had the smoothest flight ever to Vegas. Not only did my flight arrive a little early, but I also had the entire row to myself during the flight. It was a good way to start the trip. I landed in Vegas at 1030pm and found my sister waiting for me at the baggage claim. I had seen her only 2 months ago, but it was still great to see her again. My bags came pretty quick (for Northwest) and soon we were speeding down the interstate towards her apartment. She lives by Santa Fe Station, so it was a bit of a trek. Of course we also had to stop at Burger King on the way to her place, because it just wouldnâ€™t be a vacation without massive amounts of junk food. We got back to her place by about midnight and since she had to work the next morning and it felt like 200am to me, we went to bed. Let me just say now, there is nothing quite like sleeping on a Wal-Mart metal futon. Even with the â€œmattress,â€ it felt like I was sleeping directly on the metal bars. Thursday, 7/13: I was rudely awakened by the alarm clock at 700am. If I wanted a car, I had to drive my sister to work (sheâ€™s a grade school teacher in a year round school). I dropped her off at school and then went back to her apartment for some much needed sleep. I slept â€˜til about 10am, showered and then drove towards the Strip. On the way, the weather report on the radio said that it was 101 degrees! At 10am! Good lord. I got to the Strip and parked at the Mirage and then decided to walk outside to the Fashion Show Mall as I had a new digital camera and wanted to get some pictures of the Strip in the morning sun. That was a nice idea for about 5 minutes. I got some nice shots of the Mirage and the Venetian and then realized that I was really sweating. My brilliant idea for that was to walk faster towards Fashion Show so I would be out in the heat for less time. Not cool. By the time I got to Fashion Show, I thought I was going to die, I was so hot. Thankfully, the mall was nice and cold and when I left 3 hours later, I decided to cut through Treasure Island and take the tram back to the Mirage. By doing that, I made about $10 at the random slot machines that I played. On the way back to the apartment, I stopped at a local grocery store since my sister had only wine and ketchup in her fridge. It always makes me laugh to see the mini-casinos in the stores. They have free sodas for players and an attendant and everything. After that I cooled off in the apartment and then went and picked up my sister from school and we decided to go to Red Rock Station to see the movie The Devil Wears Prada. We went to Red Rock because she had coupons for that theater and let me tell you, there is nothing like going to see a movie in a brand new theater. The seats didnâ€™t look like thousands of people had sat in them and the floor was not sticky. The movie was good, although the book was a lot better. After the movie, we played the penny slots on one of those new huge Wheel of Fortune slots. After playing about $3, we got a bonus spin and ended up winning $50 on a penny machine! We walked away at that point. It was about 9pm at that point and it was still ungodly hot out, so we went back to her apartment and made dinner and watched Reno 911! Season 3 on dvd. Friday, 7/14: My sister woke up and decided to call in sick so that we could spend the day together. After she called in, we both went back to bed for awhile and then lounged around. At about noon, we finally decided to go down to the Strip. I can never get over the traffic in Vegas, especially on the Strip. We finally got to the Aladdin at about 130pm. We went there especially for their Build-a-Bear store in the Desert Passage mall. I am a huge Hello Kitty fan and they had a limited edition Hello Kitty to build. My sister was not going to get anything, but as soon as she saw the Cookie Monster, she changed her mind. After building our animals, we decided to go to the Rio Buffet for lunch. Who can pass up going to the worldâ€™s largest buffet? Not me. Because my sister had many people visiting her this summer, this would be her third trip to the Rio buffet in one month. As soon as I heard that, I suggested we go somewhere else, as it did not sound like a good idea for her digestive system. She insisted she would be fine and off we went in search of the buffet. We arrived and immediately dove into the food. Everything was fine for awhile, but while she was eating her dessert a funny look came over her. I asked her if she was OK, and she just looked at me and asked where the bathroom was. I told her it was right behind her and all she said was â€œthank god!â€ and bolted from the table. I guess the 3 times at the worldâ€™s largest buffet had caught up with her. When she came out, we left, but had to hit up the casino bathroom on the way out to the car. On the way back to her apartment, she kept going on about how sick she felt until she finally started to make me sick! Anyway, we got back to her apartment and she slept the buffet off. After she woke up, we went swimming in a pool with no light (all I thought of was that horror movie â€œLady in the Waterâ€) and then I made myself some dinner and we watched some more of Reno 911. Saturday, 7/15: Woke up at about 9am prepared to go hiking at Mt. Charleston. When I looked out the window though, I saw all of the smoke from the NV and CA forest fires. The mountains that are usually crystal clear from the apartment could barely be seen through the smoke. Because I have asthma, we decided to drive up to Mt. Charleston and just take pictures. I had never been to Mt. Charleston before and I couldnâ€™t believe how beautiful it was. It was like we had been driving through the dessert forever and then BAM! All of the sudden we were in the middle of green forest. It was like being in northern WI. We took pictures for about an hour and then decided to go to the premium outlet mall in Primm, NV which is right on the NV/CA border. The outlet mall was great, I spent more money than I should have there, but when I see a Bath and Body Works outlet, I just go nuts. After that we took the monorail to the casino on the other side of the interstate, which I think was Whiskey Peteâ€™s. We watched an Elvis impersonator perform in the lounge and we played on the low stakes slots. It was very old school, it felt like Vegas 20 years ago. I loved it, but my sister couldnâ€™t believe I was making her sit through an Elvis lounge act. Whatever. On the way back into Vegas, we stopped at Mandalay Bay and checked out the new stores there. Pretty swankyâ€¦I can never afford anything at the high end stores on the Strip. We then went to Santa Fe station to see if we could win anymore money on the Wheel of Fortune big penny slot. No luck, so we picked up some Fatburgers for dinner (which are divine) and went back and watched more movies. Sunday, 7/16: Lounged around in the morning and then went back to the Strip in the early afternoon. We went to Sephora at the Venetian which is our favorite place in the world and spent too much money. After that, we wandered through the casinos partly to gamble and partly to stay out of the oppressive heat outside. I pretty much broke even for gambling for the day. At about 4pm, we left the Strip to visit some friends on the outskirts of town. On the way to their house, we passed one of those bank clock/thermometers and it read 113 degrees. We stayed there until late and then went home and watched movies. My sister also convinced me to dye my hair a different color, so we did that during the movie. I woke up that morning with blonde hair and went to bed with reddish brown hair. Monday, 7/17: Sister had to work, so I dropped her off at school and then I tooled around town stopping at various places. I mainly drove around just sight seeing. At 330pm, I picked my sister up at school and we headed for Fremont Street. I hadnâ€™t been there in a few years and my sister hadnâ€™t been there since her first trip to Vegas back in 2001. I was surprised that I had to pay to park at the downtown casinos. Anyway, we parked at the Golden Nugget and then wandered around downtown for awhile and caught the first light show. We then went to Fitzgeraldâ€™s and my sister got a really good drink using their coupon book. For $4 she got a good drink (I canâ€™t remember what it was) in a cup that lit up. After that, we were pretty much done since there is only so much to do downtown when you donâ€™t gamble a whole lot. We then went home and watched TV. In the middle of the show we were watching, they broke in with a severe thunderstorm warning. I couldnâ€™t believe it, I had never seen it storm there. It started to really thunder and lightning and it got really windy and then the rain started. In most places Iâ€™ve been, rain leaves a nice, refreshing smell. In Vegas, however, it smells like wet dog when it rains. I couldnâ€™t believe how long the warning lasted. I finally figured out why on TV, the writers make the thunderstorm/tornado warnings last for hours, it is because in this part of the country, they actually do last for hours. In WI, our warnings last 30-45 minutes. Here in Vegas, the warning lasted 2 hours. It was unreal. Tuesday, 7/18: My last full day in Vegas. I hit the Strip for one last time, pretty much just walking around the casinos since it was so freakinâ€™ hot outside. I pretty much broke even at the machines. I picked up my sister after school and we went shopping at some of the area malls that I had never seen and just pretty much bummed around. We grabbed dinner early, so that I could go home and pack. After I packed we had drinks, watched TV and went to bed. Wednesday, 7/19: Woke up early to say goodbye to my sister as she was driving herself to school that day. After a tearful goodbye, I went back to sleep for awhile, as my flight was not leaving until 530pm. About an hour before I was ready to leave for the airport, I called for a cab. It was a good thing that I called that early since I waited on hold for a Â½ hour! I had talked to my sister and some local Vegas friends about how I should get to the airport, since my sisterâ€™s apartment is out by Santa Fe Station. They all told me that a cab would be the cheapest. Wow, were they wrong! Between the traffic and the distance, my cab ride ended up costing me about $60 (with tip). Next time I will get a limo as it would probably be cheaper. When I got to the airport, it was a madhouse. Now I know why I always take the red-eye when leaving Vegas. I got to the airport at about 400pm and I did not get to my gate until about 510pm. Thankfully, the plane was delayed for 30 minutes, so I had time to get something to eat and drink for the plane (this was back in the days when you could bring your own drinks on the plane). The plane was only half full, which was nice because the middle seat was open between me and the guy on the aisle. The only problem was the guy on the aisle was a Chatty Cathy. That was good when we were taking off because I could focus on him instead of the fact that we were taking off in the middle of a thunderstorm and it was very turbulent. I am a Nervous Nellie passenger under the best of circumstances and the turbulence was not good for me at all. After we were in the air however, all I wanted to do was read and possibly nap on the way home, but this guy wouldnâ€™t shut up. I finally put my Mp3 player earphones on just to get him to shut up. We landed on time and I actually got my luggage back from Northwest. All in all it was a great trip. I loved seeing my sister again and it was nice having a car to use. It was also cool being on my own and being able to explore what I wanted to. The only downside to the trip was that I missed staying on the Strip. It didnâ€™t feel like an actual Vegas vacation with out staying on the Strip.