Let me start by saying this was a great trip! We didn't do half the things on my list, so I guess we will have to go back... Friday, 10/8: Departed Amarillo 1 hr late, due to the crew arriving late the night before. Got to Vegas about 8:30 am. Luggage took a long time to come up on the carousel. Found Hertz booth and got the Explorer I had reserved. NOTE: unlike a lot of states, married couples are both considered drivers automatically in Nevada and you don't have to pay for an additional driver. However, they do have a Loss Damage insurance that is (in my opinion) necessary: if you don't take it, they can bill you for damages AND lost revenue until the car is repaired (which could take how long???) It was worth $42 to me for peace of mind. Could not check into hotel yet, so we parked in the Tropicana lot and walked to MGM and on to NYNY. We wandered around the NYNY casino, got a player's card, played some slots, and ate pizza by the slice. Walked back over to MGM, checked out the lion habitat (its really pretty cool!) and the casino. We also went for a drive up the strip - surprisingly less traffic than we expected. It was now late enough that we could check in to the Hawthorn (behind the San Remo). Nice suite - comparable to Hampton, Residence Inn by Marriott, and other "business traveler" type of chain hotels. Clean, modern, everything worked. Nice pool area, and they serve free beer/wine and snacks for happy hour (5 pm - 7 pm) on weekdays. They also have drawings for free stuff at 7 pm and we got 4 free tix to Mac King. After happy hour and unpacking, we decided to check out Mandalay Bay and the Luxor. Played Leprechaun Gold slots at MB - won a little and got to the bonus round several times. Drink service - got one beer in 45 minutes of playing. Went to Luxor, played some VP, (never got drink service) and ate at La Salsa (VERY good! and inexpensive). It was late, and had been a long day, so hubby and I decided to go back to the hotel, and the kids stayed out on the strip for awhile. MAJOR COMMENTS FOR FRIDAY: 1. should have checked hotel maps to find best access to the parking garages 2. Mandalay Bay was not crowded OR smoky 3. Timeshare people at NY NY were pests, BUT we enjoyed the whole atmosphere of NY NY Saturday, 10/9: Ate at the free hot breakfast buffet in our hotel, then hubby and I were off to Hoover Dam. Kids cabbed over to Hard Rock to eat and buy souvenirs. We had a great time at the Dam - its a cool tour and is an amazing place. Headed back to LV and met the kids at Harrah's for the Mac King show at 3 pm. I was immediately seated since I was wearing my knee-wrap and was limping along(had surgery 6 weeks ago) - they offered, I didn't ask - and got a great table on the 2nd level. Family joined me when they got thru the line. The show was a hoot! Lots of laughs. The drinks were rather lame. After the show I collected my player's card, then we went to Margaritaville for late lunch/early supper. The food was outstanding! Great atmosphere for Parrotheads. Drinks were strong and GOOD. Went back to the hotel afterwards so the kids could change clothes for the evening - son would be turning 21 at stroke of midnight! so a late night was planned. Went to Mandalay Bay to visit the Shark Reef - as scuba divers, hubby and I LOVED it and could have stayed for hours. Kids got bored but were polite about it. After 1.5 hrs, we went to NY NY and played slots. Love the 3-reel machines that are red/white/blue 7's, 5 pay lines, and even pay on blank-blank-blank lines. Won about $40 on those. However, drink service was lousy at NY NY on a Saturday night. Stopped into America to get a bite to eat and a drink - their strawberry shortcake is enormous! Son bought into a BJ game at 12:05 am, showed his ID and got a free T-shirt for his birthday. Dealer was very nice to him but he still lost. (he will learn~) Went up the strip to Barbary Coast about 1:20 am - kids played VP, and I sat down at one of the 777 5-pay line machines like the one at NY NY - put in $20, 3 plays later won $60. Cashed out and put my original $20 into the Cleopatra video slot machine next to it. 4 plays later, won $86. Cashed out and put my original $20 in another 777 5-pay lines machine - won $55 on the first play. Cashed out and gave hubby the original $20 and he played VP for awhile, cashed out $10 down 2 hours later. Drink service was prompt and frequent at the Barbary Coast. Casino was busy but not too crowded. Finally called it a night about 4:00 am and went back to hotel. MAJOR COMMENTS FOR SATURDAY: 1. everyone should see Hoover Dam 2. enjoyed slots at Barbary Coast 3. Mac King show is definitely worth going to! Sunday, 10/10: missed the breakfast buffet at our hotel. This was the day our son wanted to walk the strip, hitting casinos and collecting $1 chips for souvenirs. Started at Paris, ate lunch at J J Boulangerie, the cafeteria-style sandwich and pastry shoppe. YUM! Loved the layout of the ground floor at Paris - casino is bright and very open-feeling, and the little shops and restaurants are neat. Got a glimpse of the registration area - which was a ZOO. Couldn't believe how many people were in line.... We crossed over to Bellagio, watched the fountains, and continued up the strip all the way to Treasure Island collecting chips. Crossed over to the Venetian and walked south back to the Barbary Coast, collecting chips on the way. By that time, I was pretty much exhausted and went back to the room, dropping hubby and kids off at the MGM on the way. They got more casino chips at NY NY and MGM and went to the M&M place. I picked them back up about an hour later, and we went downtown. Parked at 4 Queens garage. The kids wanted to eat a real old-fashioned Las Vegas buffet, so we took them to Golden Nugget for their Sunday champagne brunch/dinner. It didn't take long to get seated and wow, what a great meal! We told our waitress it was Kevin's birthday, and she sang to him! She had been a lounge singer and she belted it out cabaret-style, and then kissed his forehead and left her lipstick mark - he loved it. What fun! We spent the evening wandering the casinos and watching the light shows - they are pretty cool! Several live bands were playing in different areas and we enjoyed that as well. We met back up with the kids at 11:30 pm at the 4-Queens and returned to the hotel, because we had an EARLY flight Monday morning. We stopped on the way back to watch the fountains at Bellagio again, this time in the dark...all I can say is "wow!" MAJOR COMMENTS FOR SUNDAY: 1. We liked the feel of the Paris 2. The Venetian smelled terrible (perfume-y sweet) 3. Downtown (Fremont Street) is a "must see" 4. Barbary Coast parking garage is easy to get into and is a great central parking location on the strip if you want to walk around Monday, 10/11: checked out of our hotel and went to airport, returning car at Hertz along the way. Walking down concourse at Terminal C, hubby realizes he's left his Rx sunglasses in the car. He was flying out again on Tuesday and needed those glasses ASAP. Our flight was departing in 50 minutes...he called Hertz, they found his glasses, and they met him at the Southwest Airlines entrance to the airport. He rushed back through security and back to the terminal, and made it before we boarded the flight! Shameless plug for Hertz - they really DO try harder! We never dreamed he'd get them back and make our flight - we were prepared to go without him and I'd have to pick him up later. (son had to get back to Amarillo because he still had a 5 hour drive back to college) FINAL COMMENTS: 1. Planning the trip is half the fun, but when you get there, the plan changes! 2. Wish we'd had more than 3 days. Lots of things to see. 3. In my opinion, a rental car is essential. 4. Next time, print some hotel maps so I'll know where to park, and where to go. also, I kept checking hotel rates and car rental rates right up to the day before departure. I actually found my rental car for a rate $40 less than what I booked, so I booked that one and cancelled the original. The savings covered the insurance I chose to add, but still - we got a better rate. finally, we liked the off-strip location, but it didn't have "dataports" for the computer like we were told. It was strictly "plug into the phone line" and dial-up. This was ok, we have to do this in a lot of hotels, but this was the reason I cancelled the reservation at the Casino Royale. Now I see we would have been equally happy at the CR, and will keep that on our list of potential hotels for future trips. Also, my hubby didn't spend any time in the pool - so it turned out to not be a deciding factor for choosing the hotel. Can't wait to go back.... we're looking at December 13-16. Got reservations at Mandalay Bay for $89/night and at Orleans for $20/night.... now, to change my count-down line!