From: Sailor53 To: Distinguished Members of the Board Subj: Trip Report, Las Vegas NV, 10-16 May, 2006 Enclosure (1) The report! Some of you may recall in my pre-trip report email how I envisioned this trip would go: Wed No delays, limo ride, check-in at Stardust, meet DC1377, drink profusely, dinner at Island Paradise Cafe, win WOF 25 cent progressive, go to bed. Thu Coffee/VP, Sam's Town via shuttle, meet with some board folks, Don Rickles show, win Elvis Progressive, dinner at William B's, drink profusely, go to bed. Fri Coffee/VP, rent car, check out GVR, Red Rock, Cannery, see Fab Four, drink profusely (after turning in car), dinner at Peppermill, win WOF $1 progressive, go to bed. Sat Coffee/VP, Strip crawl, win WOF $5 progressive, drink profusely, dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, go to bed. Sun Coffee/VP, downtown crawl, dinner at Hugo's Cellar, win Megabucks, go to bed (hey, I almost forgot - drink profusely!) Mon Coffee/VP, cool our jets on north end, hit 5 Royals, dinner at Tony Roma's, drink profusely, go to bed Tue Turn in plane tickets, charter lear jet, come home, retire Well, needless to say, it didnâ€™t go exactly that way. Hereâ€™s what really happened: First of all, I know many of you â€œlove emâ€™ longâ€â€¦trip reports I mean. But if you donâ€™t, be warned. Lots of detail is included here. The Setup Since our stay in Dec at the Stardust (see my trip report at http://www.lasvegastripreport.com/display_tr.php3?tr_id=2781 weâ€™ve been inundated with offers to return â€“ at least three or four each month (Why couldnâ€™t we have stayed here earlier?). So when we got one that coincided with an appearance by Don Rickles, I jumped on it. Contacted our host, asked for and was promised a limo to/from the airport, free suite, full RFB and $125 cash upon check-in. I wonâ€™t even tell you how much I paid for plane tickets, the current fuel situation has prices spiking out of control. But I bit the bullet and set up the flight. Wed, 10 May 2006 After a half day of work, I cruised home and picked up my lovely bride Pam. Background on us: I (Pete), 52, am a retired sailor with 31 years of active service, now working as a navy contractor developing training materials. Wife is Pam, (we donâ€™t mention womenâ€™s ages here!) and no longer works but is a stay-at-home professional bingo player. We grabbed our suitcases and headed to Pensacola Regional Airport. The word â€œregionalâ€ is why it costs so much to fly anywhere from here. Flight was on US Airways. Thunderstorms were threatening but we left almost on time. Connection was in Charlotte, NC. We stopped in Chiliâ€™s Too and had some sustenance. Southwest Egg Rolls for me and Chicken Strips for Pam. From there we head to the gate just as our name is being called. I go to the desk and BAM! - free upgrade to first class based on my Dividend Miles card. Our first win and weâ€™re not even in Vegas yet. I read over half of â€œ24/7, Living it Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegasâ€ by Andres Martinez, the book Iâ€™d chosen as a result of recommendations from the board. It is an excellent book and walks you through Vegas like a good trip report. Flight was uneventful and we arrived on time at about 9:30pm. Love seeing the lights of the strip as you approach. As we headed down the escalator to baggage there was our limo driver holding up our name card. I love seeing that. Driver helped with the bags and off we go. He took the tunnel - but who cares? Itâ€™s a free limo ride! Tipped our driver and checked in at the Stardust at about 11pm. We were given a comped junior suite (not sure if that is the correct title) with a view of the south strip. The room was nice, if dated. Large living/bedroom area, mini-fridge, one-cup coffee maker, small wet bar, 32 inch tv. Lots of closet space, iron/ironing board. Bathroom was very nice with Jacuzzi and a walk-in shower with a seating area (yes!). The shower also had a great extra nozzle which sprayed water to your, er, mid-area. The toilet, of course, had the requisite phone for ordering room service as you take care of business. Funny thing is, we had his and her bathrobes in our regular room last Dec, but not in the suite. Souvenier thieves maybe? If youâ€™d like to see pictures of the room as well as all the other pictures we took go to: http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/chrispj53/album?.dir=/1d60re2 - use the slideshow to see the descriptions of the pics. Not all the pics are there yet. Iâ€™ll post more later. We were tired but hungry (for some action!), so we headed down to the casino. We got new players cards from the playerâ€™s club and our free $125 in cash. We started playing here and there but our card readout kept saying â€œWelcome Elaine!â€. Who the hell is Elaine? I went back to the playerâ€™s club and was informed that this was a glitch and points were indeed being recorded to our cards. Ok, back to playing. I had arranged to meet a member of the LVTalk board, DC1377. So I gave him a call and Pam and I met him at the Terrace Lounge VP bar. We met, chatted, had a drink and I gave him a few tidbits about VP. DC, as Iâ€™ll refer to him from here on, was more of a Pai Gow, Poker and Blackjack player, while Pam and I are VP fanatics. We agreed to try to get together again before he had to leave on Sunday and parted ways. Around midnight it appeared our cards werenâ€™t working anymore. I got ahold of a slot tech and discovered the computer was down until 6am. The hell with this - not much point in playing when your play is not being recorded. It was a great excuse to be sensible and hit the hay, so off to bed we went at an embarrassingly early 1am. Thu, 11 May 2006 I tossed and turned all night. Finally, at 4:45am, I just couldnâ€™t help it, I had to get up. I thought maybe it would be cool to head down the strip while it was still dark and see the lights with little pedestrian traffic. Got ready and was our the door 20 minutes later. Grabbed the gift we brought for our host (Navy Blue Angels tshirt â€“ something with local Pensacola flavor). Host wasnâ€™t in this early so I left it at the front desk with plans to call her later to make sure she got it. Walked out the door at 5:30 am and, whatâ€™s this? Itâ€™s already light out! What a gyp. Oh well, still nice and quiet out on the strip so I headed down to the New Frontier. My goal was to get a players card and play some Sigma Derby. Upon arriving at the Frontier, noticed the playerâ€™s club was closed. Oh well, itâ€™s not like I want to get a free room here anyway. Headed over to the VP bar and bought in for $40. Played about $20 and lost, but I do like those old slant top VP machines. They are nice and â€˜slowâ€™ and it takes awhile to lose your cash. Took the rest of the quarters over to the Sigma Derby machine. Sigma Derby is fun. Just plain old quinella horse betting. I played for awhile, but never saw a cocktail waitress. The place was dead. Plus, itâ€™s not much fun playing Sigma Derby by yourself. I played all the longshots and they never came it. So I looked around for the full pay deuces wild VP machines and found them by the front door near the cashier cage. Ran a twenty through that with no luck so I figured it was time to move on. Crossed the street to Wynn. Last visit it was so crowded it wasnâ€™t much fun. This time was a bit different. The place was desolate. So I cruised all over, checking it out. Iâ€™d heard they had a nice keno lounge so I looked around for it and found it. Very classy but very small. They werenâ€™t expecting anyone I donâ€™t think. It was closed anyway until 7am so I dropped by the players club for a new card. While I was there a message flashed on the plasma tv screen indicating someone had hit a $36,000 jackpot. The club person informed me that was one of their big players. I wonder how much heâ€™d put in to get that $36K? I headed over to the only VP bar at Wynn. It was completely deserted with a lonely looking bartender. I had heard there were no comped drinks at Wynn bars. I introduced myself nicely to Mark (I think), the bartender, and politely asked if drinks were comped while playing. He said sure. So I ordered up an Absolute bloody mary and commenced a little quarter VP play. We talked at length and I discovered he was from my home state of Massachusetts. We shared thoughts about the Patriots, the Red Sox and a bunch of other topics as I knocked back four drinks at around 6-7am. Only in Vegas! I left Mark reluctantly as I was hitting a bit here and there. But my unfed body was reacting negatively to the bloody marys. No point ruining the first day of my Vegas vacation with getting ill. So it was off to Stardust for some breakfast. I decided on the Island Paradise CafÃ©. Looking over the menu I noticed the Stardust omelet. Now here is something I wonâ€™t ever be able to have again, so I ordered it. The Stardust omelet has avocados, scallions, and lots of cheese. Itâ€™s really bad for you, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. After filling up on that, I gambled for awhile and lost, lost, lost. This was to be a theme for the trip, unfortunately. I wasnâ€™t hitting at Stardust, so I bounced over to the Riviera and lost there. Then I tried Circus, Circus and lost there (damned clown!). Then, for a change of pace, I hit Slots of Fun and, lost there too. I was intrigued by the bartenders there though. They are some hard working guys. And the drinks are cheap as hell. 75 cent beers, 1.25 margaritas. People were sucking them down hard. Finally I gave up the ghost and I decided it was time to check on Pam so I headed up to the room. She was enjoying some room service and getting ready for the day. We gambled more and lost, lost, lost. The Stardust VP machines which were fairly friendly last Dec were not friendly at all this time. One disturbing think I noticed was that all, I mean all, of the machines I had hit on last Dec were gone. The DDB VP machine I hit a royal on, gone. The Shockwave that I got the second 4AOK on for a $1000 win, gone. Was this a plot? And why were they taking machines out or changing them at this point anyway? It didnâ€™t seem to make sense, especially if the place is closing - why make changes? Thankfully, the time for the Don Rickles show came about. We sat at our table which was very nice. Dead center and up several levels so we had a great view. Not VIP seats but better, in my opinion, for seeing everything. The couple sharing the table with us chatted us up and then mentioned â€œdo you know who youâ€™re sitting next to?â€. We didnâ€™t, and they informed us to look to the right. Well, there to my wifeâ€™s immediate right, down one table, was Larry King of Larry King Live. He was so close, that if I had farted, he would have smelled it! We asked what he was doing there, and it turns out that the opening act for Don Rickles is a singer named Shawn King, and she is Larryâ€™s wife. So out she comes to start the show. She sang, well, ok, not bad. But sheâ€™s not going to headline anything anytime soon in my opinion. Larry clapped endlessly after every song like she was Celine Dione. I guess he had to, right? The younger male with Larry was taping every second of her performance. And although she was no spring chicken, she was pretty attractive. Larry had definitely robbed the cradle with this gal. Larryâ€™s looking old, probably because he is. But I shook his hand at the end of the show and he seems pretty personable, and I admire the work heâ€™s done over the years. So then itâ€™s time for â€œThe Donâ€. He put on a great show. Iâ€™ve heard he only does 40 minutes or so now. He turned 80 on May 8th. But tonight he went a full hour and twenty or so minutes. Great stuff, very biting and controversial. He roasted Larry endlessly, and the audience ate it up. If you get a chance to see this guy, do it, and donâ€™t delay. Heâ€™s appearing again in Sep, and time is marching on - you never know when youâ€™re last chance will be. After the show we hit Tony Romaâ€™s for dinner. We both loved it back in Dec but this time there was something missing, like quality. This was our first hint that the staff has seen the writing on the wall. The potato was lukewarm and the food generally not as appealing. After that we gambled some more. We budgeted $200 a day apiece. We put our daily allotment in envelopes with the goal not to go over. The rest was locked in the in-room safe. I had lost my allotment hours ago and had gone into my secret stash and lost that too. Do any of you have a secret stash? I wish I didnâ€™t, because I lost it. This was the losingest day Iâ€™d ever had in Vegas so I was not hesitant at all to call it a night at 1:30am. Shameful to go to bed so early. Fri, 12 May 2006 Iâ€™m tired of this already, so when I popped awake at 8am I decided today was for slow rolling it. I should explain that Pam is a late sleeper, as if you hadnâ€™t guessed. She stays in bed till noon when on vacation and I still wake up early. Itâ€™s that navy training, I guess. I headed down Convention Center drive and soon realized I was going nowhere fast. Too long a walk and too desolate an area. Had I know the Greek Isle was not too much further down I would have kept going, but I chickened out and returned to the strip and picked up the Deuce bus to head downtown. I had missed downtown last trip so this was a makeup that had to be done. Iâ€™d learned a lot more about the different casinos from reading the forum so I planned to hit every casino and play a whopping $5 in a VP machine. My first goal though was to get some breakfast at Main Street Station, so I traversed Freemont street and found it easily by cutting through the California. The MSS buffet is fantastic. For $6.45 you get all the standard breakfast fare, plus what appears to be a very popular omelet station. I passed on that and had some very tasty scrambled eggs and diced ham. My waitress was the most upbeat gal Iâ€™ve ever met. If you can be upbeat as a buffet waitress, youâ€™re doing good! I left stuffed to join the slot club and give them some play. The slot club folks said I already had an account? Since 2000? Lordy, I had joined online in 2000 prior to our very first trip that year and had totally forgot. Got my card and proceeded to, you guessed it, lose, lose, lose. So I made my way back to the bus stop via every casino employing my low roller, $5 in a VP machine trick. Binions, lost. Golden Gate, lost. Four Queens, lost. You get the picture. I sunk $60 into my low roller idea and it busted out completely. Now, completely dejected, I took the bus back to Stardust. I did not get to El Cortez or Gold Spike as I saw the bus coming and decided enough was enough for downtown this day. Per our previous agreement I got tickets for the Rick Thomas magic show at the Stardust for 4pm. Pam was still not up so I headed over to the Frontier. Finally signed up for a slot card. They told me to come back when I earned 100 points for a free pull on the wheel for a gift. Maybe Iâ€™ll be backâ€¦ I love those VP bar slant tops but I thought Iâ€™d try the $1 ones at a single coin a roll, just to slow down the hemorrhaging of the bankroll. Well what do you know, Iâ€™m winning. Iâ€™d wished I was playing full coin in but who cares? Iâ€™m drinking free Bud Lights and not losing for a fricking change! After two hours I cashed out $40 from my $20 investment, plus four beers. A win finally! I went back to the FP DW machines and lost my win that cost me two hours of my time. Back to the $1 VP machines (these are all like JOB, with a bonus for 4 7â€™s, which didnâ€™t appear for me). I doubled my $20 again, then had to take a pause for the cause, which meant cashing out the coins. Yes these are old machines that take only coin in, no paper money, and no TITO. On my way back I played 7 coins in a Double Diamond machine and made another $20. So when all was said and done, I left Frontier with an extra $40. Meager, yes, but my first win so I was delighted. Before I left I had earned my 100 points for a free spin at the wheel. I decided to do it later as it was time to go see Rick Thomas so I headed back. I met Pam back at the Stardust and we went to see Rick Thomas. A very good show, especially at $19.95 (it has just been raised to $24.95, but still a good bargain). He is an aging, but gifted magician. Lots of birds, pretty female assistants, and loud music. He wore himself out and was very good with the audience. Only lasted an hour, but thatâ€™s about all I can take of a magic show. Worth your time, in my opinion. You donâ€™t get to see white tigers much in Vegas anymore now that Sigfried and Roy are finished. After Rick Thomas we had planned to meet DC1377 at the Peppermill for dinner. He was a no show so I called him and he was â€˜detainedâ€™, translation - needed to recover from the night before? I know the feeling. We agreed to try and meet up later at the Stardust. This was Pamâ€™s first time to the Peppermill. I had tried to get her to go last trip but things just prevented it. She was impressed with the dÃ©cor. Ya gotta love cheesy, right? Pam ordered the shrimp scampi with noodles (itâ€™s not on the menu, it normally comes with rice, but you can get it if you want). I tried the crab stuffed shrimp. Pamâ€™s scampi was great. Mine was not. I missed that it was fried and I really only enjoy grilled seafood. I donâ€™t blame the restaurant for this as I missed the fried part on the menu. I had a Cadillac margarita with my meal and it was fantastic. Total bill for two was $50. Not bad. Huge portions, great potato salad, and onion rings (delivered by mistake, but I tried them anyway). We headed back to Stardust after that and did some more losing. DC called and we met up. I was sick to death of losing so I invited him to see the suite. We headed up and Pam was already in for the night, disgusted with losing as well. We took some pictures which you can see at the link posted above. Then DC and I headed out for some low rolling at the Frontier. Pam decided not to go along so we headed to the Frontier. I introduced DC to the slow rolling slant tops and we had some good times. During the session he mentioned that he was playing in an invited guest bingo tournament the next day at the Flamingo. He didnâ€™tâ€™ know much about bingo and my wife is the bingo-terminator so he asked if she would be willing to sit side saddle and help. I called her and she agreed so the plan was set to meet up at Flamingo at 10:30 am the next morning. Later we strolled down to TI and Mirage (my dumb idea). It was so nuts in there we immediately exited. It was wall to wall people. We cabbed it back to Stardust for some sanity. At this point I agreed to play some blackjack. I get intimidated at the BJ tables. If I make a mistake, I donâ€™t want five other people criticizing me. Well, thanks to DC, who repaid my meager VP lessons with BJ lessons, I colored up about $80 ahead. Thanks DC! Of course I lost it all after he left but it was a fun session. Beaten again, I headed to bed about 3am. Sat, 13 May 2006 Pam shook me at 9:30am. â€œWe have to be at Flamingo in an hour!â€ she said. Wow, look at me, sleeping past 5am! Well ok, we shower and hop a cab and get to the Flamingo at about 10:31. Had a little trouble finding the place they were holding bingo, but a quick phone call to DC fixed that. We settled in for the bingo session. DC had two free packs on an offer with 3 free nights. Sweet! 20 games, minimum $600 per game, maximum jackpot of $10,000 for a blackout. Pam shared the extra pack and I took advantage of the complimentary bar (3 free bloody maryâ€˜s - a win!). We all took advantage of the free snacks including brownies, macadamia nut cookies, chocolate chip cookies, chips, popcorn, coffee, etc. The session went on for almost 2 Â½ hours, which seemed too long for so few games, but there were a lot of newbies there and a lot of false bingos. One poor soul missed his bingo for $3000 and when he called it, it was too late. You had to have the last number called and he didnâ€™t, heâ€™d slept it as the lingo goes, and lost the $3K. We all figured heâ€™d be kicking his keister for weeks over that. When the session ended without DC getting close to a bingo (heâ€™d promised Pam a â€˜tasteâ€™ if he won), he offered to buy lunch for Pamâ€™s advice, albeit unprofitable. First I asked to see his room just to get an idea of the quality of the Flamingoâ€™s digs. We headed up there through the throngs of departing bingo players. Decent room, nice view of the pool. Should be a pic of that in the pics on my yahoo profile. After that we headed down to the habitat. Iâ€™d never seen it and we saw the flamingos, fish and parrots they had on display. The pool area is nice. What I liked about it best was that it seemed well separated, so you didnâ€™t feel like you were in a gang area environment. We headed to the players club to get cards. First time for us, a replacement card for DC. The line was short but moved slowly. There were so many people at the Flamingo streaming by I was amazed. It was really crowded, but it was a Saturday so should not have been much of a surprise. After we got our cards we headed to Margaritaville for lunch. There was a 30 minute wait so we got a pager, then wandered over to Oâ€™Sheas just to check it out. The Leprechaun was enticing patrons in on the microphone, and we wandered back into the place and noticed the food court was not busy. Since we were hungry and didnâ€™t want to wait we got pizza slices at the food court and I left to return the pager. DC bought and we thanked him for it. When I got back we knocked out our pizza and then played some ten cent progressive VP at the bar. As we played I noticed the Leprechaun was doing his thing on the bar, pouring shots in peoples mouths for a tip. We stopped there for awhile and took some pictures, watching him pour this noxious looking green stuff down willing participants throats. What is that stuff anyway? We then walked through Caesarâ€™s Palace. Iâ€™d missed a lot in this place over the last couple of visits. Itâ€™s so big I missed an entire casino area. Thanks to DC we saw most all of it. We looked at rapid roulette. I donâ€™t care for it. I kind of feel that I need to put my hard chips on felt to feel like Iâ€™m playing roulette. Donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll ever try it. One of the things Iâ€™d missed on our last couple of trips was a Bellagio fountain show. We headed that way with that goal in mind. We entered Bellagio and Pam was getting tired so we stopped at the Fontana bar for a rest. I looked at the VP machine and the royal progressive was over 7 thousand. That seemed odd so we asked about it. Apparently most people play less than 5 coins so lots of royals go unrewarded without the progressive. We gave it a go, but no luck. We stopped in the conservatory which was nicely decorated. Iâ€™d seen the Christmas display on our trip in Dec, but there was no comparison. I know people dedicate a lot of time to these things but this one didnâ€™t measure up to our last viewing. Still beautiful though. We walked by the chocolate fountain. What a sight. First time Iâ€™d seen it so another check in the box of things to do. Maybe if they had a Leprechaun pouring chocolate shots? Nah! We walked outside and caught a fountain show. We probably saw the lamest show they had. It featured opera music, which I despise. But the fountains were gorgeous, and now I can check off seeing the fountains, and the chocolate fountain. Pam was tired, so we decided to head back. DC was thinking about heading downtown for a steak that night, so I proposed William Bâ€™s at the Stardust. Iâ€™d had the best filet there in Dec and after all, we were comped full RFB, so I could be a big shot and buy him dinner for nothing. He hemmed a bit, but finally agreed to meet us there that night. So Pam and I hopped a cab back to Stardust. Back at Stardust, we got ready for dinner, gambled (i.e., lost) a bit more, and then met DC at William Bâ€™s at about 7pm. They seated us right away and I must say I was again impressed by this place. The service was superb and everyone was super nice to us. I started off my meal with a Makerâ€™s Mark on the rocks. My defacto drink has been Crown Royal for years but after reading other trip reports Iâ€™ve heard a lot of good things about this stuff, so I thought Iâ€™d give it a try. I am now a Makerâ€™s Mark fan. That is some tasty stuff. Pam had a rib eye, I had steak and lobster, and DC had a sirloin, I believe. I may have that mixed up. What I know for sure is everyone enjoyed their meal. DC had a salad prepared at the table with fresh crumbled blue cheese that looked great. I had to have a bite and was sorry I didnâ€™t get one. I opted for the lobster bisque as an appetizer. It was good, but not the best weâ€™ve ever had. Pam agreed, being the lobster bisque expert of the family. Total before tip was about $142.00 - not bad for a great meal for 3. After dinner DC and I headed back over to the New Frontier. Since I had earned 100 points on my card I qualified for a spin on the gift wheel. I took my shot and got rewarded with a â€˜top shelf giftâ€™ (wheel is numbered 1 through 6 and I hit the #1). I guess for all they had to offer the choices werenâ€™t bad. I chose a blue lily glass vase and had to lug it around all night. DC and I played more $1 VP slant tops and consumed many beers/Crowns (no free Makerâ€™s Mark at Frontier!). DC called Pipette as they had talked about meeting up but got her voice mail. Too bad as he was leaving the next day. We hoofed it back to Stardust and settled into a blackjack session. It was a Queenâ€™s bonus special of some kind but was 3/2 with I believe a 6 deck shoe. Stardust still has some 3/2 games available. Iâ€™m still learning all this so bear with me. Well I had another great session, tripling my $100 buy in. I even upped my $10 min to $15 a few times and after about an hour or so we both walked away with a profit (or was DC even? I only count my own money!). DC decided to head back to his home base at Flamingo. We said our goodbyes and promised to keep in touch. DC is a great guy and we thoroughly enjoyed his company while in Vegas. I moronically went back to VP. I should have stuck with blackjack but was afraid without my â€˜mentorâ€™ Iâ€™d goon it up. While I was there a â€˜ladyâ€™ asked me for a light. At the same time Pam walked up to get some additional funds. I whispered to her â€œdonâ€™t leave!â€. She figured out why immediately. The bartender walked up and said to the â€œladyâ€ - â€œBetter watch out now!â€. The hooker soon left, and it was back to business. Pam had an encounter as well. A â€œgentlemanâ€ asked her for a cigarette. She said no. He got all riled and said â€œYou can get your cigarettes comped hereâ€. That was news to her but she just cheesed him off. You go girl! Pam had no better luck and we were in bed by 2am, but at least our daily allotment was somewhat in tact. Sun, 14 May 2006 Pam was down hard today. Headache, sinuses, you name it. She usually goes down hard once during a trip. She doesnâ€™t drink at all and she swears that the effects of my drinking are passed on to her through osmosis or something. I felt a little dragged out but perky enough to make my way down to the casino about 9am. I hit the Island Paradise CafÃ© for another â€˜last mealâ€™. This time I had the eggs Florentine. It wasnâ€™t your typical Florentine but more like eggs benedict with spinach, scallions and a great cheese sauce. While I was waiting for my food I was all ready to hit up the keno lady but she never walked through. Another Stardust tradition slowly dying. I checked on Pam and she was still down hard. We had planned to rent a car and drive out to Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch every day, but something always seemed to come up. So I fell back on plan B and took the free shuttle to Samâ€™s Town. This was a fun ride. It took about 30 minutes to get out there and the driver was very entertaining, talking about Vegas, the Megabucks jackpot (â€œbe sure to try it, ya never know!â€), the Grand Canyon, and other topics. It helped get me more educated about Vegas streets and surroundings. Unfortunately, the bus had major brake problems. Oh, they worked ok, but they made a god awful sound every time they were used. The driver announced it was because they needed the dust blown out of the pads, but that didnâ€™t stop anyone from cringing each time they roared out their scary sound. The best way I can describe it is the sound the tripods made in the newer â€œWar of the Worldsâ€ film. Shudder! Samâ€™s town was great. I found lots of FP VP everywhere. I got my card and did a walking tour. I played some VP out in the atrium. They have a waterfall and mechanical animals and the first time the bear roared I nearly jumped out of my seat. I had a couple of bloody maryâ€™s at the bar then ventured on. I came upon a vision of beauty. A 10/7 DDB slant top on the second floor. There was a whole row of them. I had to play these so I stuck my TITO in and commence to wail on it. On my 3rd spin I got the Aces, and I just had to shake my head. I hadnâ€™t seen Aces, Twos, Threes or Fours on DB or DDB the whole trip. I had to come all the way out to Samâ€™s Town to get a hit. The cocktail waitress walked by and I ordered up. Just for fun I timed her as it seems every time I would order a drink, the machine would go cold. Not this time. She was back in seven minutes with my drink. Best cocktail service Iâ€™d ever experienced. Plus, the machine kept on giving. I finally cashed out my TITO at $340 from a $60 investment. Things were looking up! I had to move on as the next bus back to Stardust was coming up and I wanted to be back in time for dinner with Pam. I tried some light pen keno - the old style machines - but had no luck. Granted, I wasnâ€™t giving them much play as the clock was ticking. Mark, the bartender at Wynn, had made me promise to try them. He swears they are ATMs but they werenâ€™t good to me. I then happened upon another VP bar. I was just going to slow roll this and get a drink. There were a lot of locals there jumping from machine to machine. I figured out why. The jackpot was at $7600.00, but wait, whatâ€™s this? You have to play 8 coins to get the max payout? What is with this? I didnâ€™t try 8 coins, but had a good time playing my $20 and drinking more bloody maryâ€™s. Finally, it was time to go back to the bus stop and head back to Stardust. The shuttle stops at Harrahâ€™s on this leg of the trip so it takes a bit longer to get to Stardust, but we still made it in under an hour. One thing of interest to note - Once you get a shuttle to Samâ€™s Town there are shuttles to all different points you can take. Tropicana, California, MSS, etc. If you like free rides grab a shuttle schedule from Stardust or Harrahs, it can save you a bundle if time is not a factor. Back at Stardust Pam was still down hard, poor kid. I started playing VP at the Royal bar. I love the cocktail service here and at the Baccarat bar (back by the keno area). These guys got to know me my first day, and some remembered me from my last trip. Once I started ordering Makerâ€™s, they started calling me â€œMr. Makerâ€™s Markâ€ the rest of the trip. It was about 4pm so I called DC knowing he was nearly ready to board his flight back home. When he answered I yelled â€œNah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nahâ€¦Iâ€™m still in Vegas and youâ€™re going home!â€. Some guy looked at me like I had two heads. DC and I shared a goodbye and he mentioned Pipette wanted to get together so he told her we were still in town. Right after I hung up Pipette called and we made arrangements to meet later. It was time for the $10,000 drawing at Stardust, so I headed back over to the drawing area. I had been given tickets for the drawing every time I got a blackjack or hit a number straight up at roulette. The drawing is held every Sunday at 5pm so if youâ€™re in the area, check it out - you never know. I didnâ€™t win the drawing and just then Pipette walked in. We had a little phone fun trying to find each other and then finally met up near the poker room. We headed off to the Starlight Lounge for a drink and some conversation. We talked about everything under the sun and had a great time. I could have stayed and done that for hours but I needed to check on my wife, I was getting a little worried. So Pipette and I said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. Sheâ€™s a great gal and I wish here all the best in that future endeavor we discussed. Pam was up, and ready, finally, to head downstairs. I was not sure what to play, so I nosed around the Baccarat bar and found some 9/6 JOB $1.00 machines. I figured, what the hell, and started playing what I call â€œround-de-roundâ€. Thatâ€™s where you take a multigame machine and play every game, one at a time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnâ€™t. This time, it did. On my first hit of Triple Bonus VP, I was dealt four 3â€™s for $600.00. Yay, my biggest win! Shortly after that I called it a night, not wanting to tempt fate. Mon, 15 May 2006 Our last full day in Vegas, and my last chance to knock out a few more checkboxes of things I want to see. Skipped breakfast, grabbed a cab and said â€œTropicana please, shortest possible, cheapest routeâ€. Driver was great. Took the back route through construction behind Bellagio. It was dusty, but we moved fast and he dropped me off at the Trop for a mere $9.45. I was impressed and tipped accordingly. Got my Trop card, played a bit and looked around. Decided to check out the Vegas museum but found out it was closed for good. So I tried more bartop VP and sampled a Trop bloody mary. Very nice. A check in the box for the Trop. Mandalay Bay was next, had never been there. Walked down and crossed over. Not too far of a hoof. Wow! This place is gorgeous. I checked out the lobby and the aquarium. Very classy. Into the casino and wow again. Most beautiful VP bars Iâ€™ve ever seen. Bloody maryâ€™s were a bit spicy, but still good. Didnâ€™t do well here but again I was on a mission so it was time to move on. The plan was to see the Fab Four tonight, and I wanted to get tickets at Aladdin, another place Iâ€™d never seen. Another check in the box for MB. Took the tram from MB to Excalibur, skipping Luxor since Iâ€™d been there in Dec. Took more time to check out Excal this trip. Not bad, lots of kids. Got turned around and had to backtrack to the walkway to NY, NY. Saw the Oxygen bar as I entered. Now I know it really exists. Took a picture and moved on. Played at the Bar at Times Square and got a 4OAK on a DDB VP machine. Finally, a hit! Punched out my TITO and moved on. By now I was starving and had sampled too many bloody maryâ€™s so I made my way over to Monte Carlo to put another check in the box by eating at the MC Brewpub. I called Pam and she had already eaten so I had my liberty card to do what I wanted. I ordered the carousel of brews as Iâ€™d heard a lot about it and the steak nachos. Man, what a pile of food. I consumed a great deal of them to soak up the drinks and only managed to finish about half of the brew samples. I like the light beers more than the dark, so only finished about half. Glad I tried it though. Time to move on as time was wasting. Once I made it to Aladdin I would have officially been in every currently open casino on the strip. It took three trips to make it happen but I was now about to officially punch my last checkbox. Walking by the now only rubble of Boardwalk I was saddened to know Iâ€™d never got to see this place. Took a picture of the rubble and moved on. Got to Aladdin and saw my first functioning Giant Wheel of Fortune machine. There was on at the Monte Carlo but it was down and techs were working on it. Thought it was really cool, they had a Maitre d' actually letting couples in the roped off area like it was a club or restaurant. Is it me or is this too much hype? I also think that they may have a lot of technical glitches to work out in these things. Time will tell. I found the box office for the V theater in the Desert Passage. Now I know what you are thinking. Why didnâ€™t I go to Tix4Tonight and get Â½ price tickets? The answer is - I didnâ€™t want to stand in line in the sun, and I can afford a few extra bucks. There was a free magic show going on in front of the V theater. Pretty good entertainment for nothing. Walked around a bit and found Commanderâ€™s Palace. Have to put this on the list for the next visit. Believe they have the $18 three course lunch? With my visit to Aladdin I had completed my mission. Now it was time to find a cab and get back to Stardust. Finding the taxi stand was not an easy task but eventually wound my way into the bowels of the Aladdin and got a cab back to SD. Friendly cab driver took me straight up the strip. Lots of traffic, and it cost more than the trip down this morning, but I was enjoying watching the people and various attractions as we weaved our way up LV Blvd. Back at the Stardust Pam and I played some VP at separate bars. Then the phone rings and I hear â€œCome see me at the Terrace Bar, I need youâ€. 99 percent of me knew what this meant, but the other 1 percent was concerned. So I raced back there to find Pam sitting in front of the bartop VP Triple Bonus machine with a Royal Flush in hearts! Finally, Pamâ€™s first royal in Vegas! I took a picture and then she told me I could go. LOL - thanks hun, donâ€™t want to spoil your luck! I wasnâ€™t having much luck on my own so I slinked back to the Baccarat Bar. â€œHi Mr. Makerâ€™s Markâ€ the bartender said. â€œSure, pour me a stiff oneâ€ says I. I fought my way through a $100 on an 8/5 Bonus VP machine and finally scratched out four deuces for a $200 win. Whereâ€™s my royal? It was time to head towards Aladdin for the 6pm Fab Four show. Grabbed another cab and got dropped off in the bowels of Aladdin again. Snaked our way up through the construction into the casino. I showed Pam the Giant WOF machine and there was an empty seat. The Maitre d' let us in and I popped in a hundy and off we went. Well, after a few spins we got the bonus round and we got to see the wheel spin first hand. It hit for $2500 credits (read $25) and when we were about even we cashed out. Actually we lost 31 cents on the session, but we got to see the big wheel in action. Then it was time for the show. Pam is a huge Beatles fan, and I liked them ok but am not a fanatic. Well this show was superb. These guys look a little like the Beatles, dress a lot like the Beatles, but they sound exactly like the Beatles. The show starts off with an Ed Sullivan look-alike introducing â€œthe boys from Britainâ€. Their first set is all the old stuff and the crowd went wild. The second set was from their later years when they did Sgt Pepper, Yellow Submarine, etc. Show only lasted about an hour but it was excellent. Pam was delighted, and thatâ€™s what counts right? We checked out some shops in the Desert Passage and found our way out to the strip. We weaved our way up the strip trying find a cab and decided to stop at Paris. Before we went in the fountains were playing at Bellagio to the tune of Celine Dionâ€™s famous â€œMy Heart Will Go Onâ€ Titanic song. It was just getting dark so we can now say we both saw a fountain show after dark. Man those fountains can shoot high. Got a cab at Paris and back up the strip, this time with the lights giving us a great show. We were definitely ending the trip on a high note with shows and attractions. Back at Stardust we were starving so we decided to have our last dinner at the Island Paradise CafÃ©. Pam got the seafood platter and I got the prime rib. Iâ€™d heard it was really good but the cut was too thick for my taste. It didnâ€™t come with au jus so I had to order it. To me, having the au jus (bless you!) for dipping made the prime rib much tastier. We played some keno at dinner (this time the keno lady was making the rounds) but couldnâ€™t get a hit. So now weâ€™re down to our last hours. Plan is to be in bed by midnight so we go off and gamble a bit more. I toyed with the idea of more blackjack but chickened out again. Instead, I blew my allotment and a lot more trying to get the royal flush I felt was due me. This would be my first trip to Vegas without a royal. The gods were against me and I finally surrendered to fate at about 11:30pm. Pam was already in bed having had no luck but still hanging on to a bit of her royal money. So, with one last look out the window on my beloved strip, I hit the hay. Tue, 16 May 2006 I hate the last day. Ordered up some French toast and pancakes with bacon for the â€œlast breakfastâ€. Called the host, everything is comped so that is cool. Went to checkout, grabbed the limo to the airport. We got there way too early so we of course played the suck-you-dry machines in the concourse. No luck to say the obvious and the flight back was uneventful, long, boring. I did finish â€œ24/7, Living it Up and Doubling Down in the New Las Vegasâ€ by Andres Martinez. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but felt somewhat like he did when the nest egg he brought with him was whittled down to nearly nothing. Maybe I should write one based on my losses - it would provide an updated look at Vegas in 2006 - plus it looks like Iâ€™ve done most of it already! Observations Gaming It was a losing trip, despite Pamâ€™s royal. Iâ€™ve never had such bad luck before, but I guess I was due. The Stardust machines are tighter than ever. Maybe theyâ€™re trying to squeeze the last drop of blood they can from the old girl. Service The staff is still very upbeat. Service was excellent. The bartenders in particular are superb and act like they actually want you there. While I was playing one night a guy next to me started talking about the closure date. They are not booking past 31 Oct, and they plan to blow it up in March of 07. Turns out this guy was the lawyer for Boyd Gaming for 30 years. Boy did he have some stories to tell. His name was Chuck, and I assume he was on the level as everyone of the staff that walked by stopped to shake his hand and chat him up. Transportation The Deuce bus is the best. But I only use in the mornings as the crowds pack it full later in the day. Taxiâ€™s are the way to go. Maybe it costs more but I prefer not to have the headache of maneuvering the strip and side streets. Leave it to the experts, I say. Shows Don Rickles - see him before itâ€™s too late. Rick Thomas - great entertainment value Fab Four - theyâ€™re, well, fab! Food William Bâ€™s - best kept secret Iâ€™ve found. Try it before itâ€™s too late Monte Carlo Brew Pub - outstanding! Try it. Friends Itâ€™s always great when you can meet someone from the board at LVTalk or any of the discussion boards like Vegas Message Board or Everything Las Vegas. Vegas is best shared with friends. Hats off to DC1377 and Pipette. Hope we can get together again and raise a glass! Thatâ€™s it. Fourteen pages by my MS word page counter. Long enough for ya? Cheers and enjoy the pics.