I have been swamped since the return and finally finished part two for your reading enjoyment. After Mamma Mia, J wants to head to the Voodoo Lounge at the Rio. We head back out towards THEHOTEL entrance. I stop at the restroom and (insert whistle). This is one of the nicest bathrooms I have ever seen for a public place. REAL towels and everything! Above the urinal is a wall with water running down the face of it, a real cool looking fountain. Let me save some men some hassle here and answer the obvious question. Yes, if you put your hand on the wall, water will splash all over you and also make you aim bad if you are still going. Thank God I was the only one in there and for the real towels. The cabbie took the back way on Industrial and we were there in no time. We passed In-N-Out on the way and I was really tempted to make the cabbie stop there. When we got to the Rio, the parade has just finished. So it was a zoo and very difficult to navigate our way to the elevator entrance to the Voodoo Lounge. We paid the cover and also decided to eat in the restaurant a level below. Itâ€™s nice that they rebate your cover back to you if you eat dinner there. It was after 10:00 at this point so it was not very crowded and got a great window table. I had a shrimp dish and J had the fish special. The waitress told me the shrimp was kind of spicy, so I requested that the cook tone it down a notch. That was a mistake on my part as it could have used a kick to it. I ordered one of those signature drinks from the menu, headshrinker punch or something like that. I didnâ€™t realize how strong the drink was until I tried to stand up. After dinner we spent some time in the lounge listening to the band. (We could here them at dinner too) The Voodoo lounge has a great view of the strip from the outside deck and it is a real fun place. One big minus was there was not much room if you wanted to dance inside by the band. We then went downstairs and didnâ€™t really feel like playing there. So we walked over to the Gold Coast. I had never been here and I was pleasantly surprised. It was easy to navigate the place and all the dealers seemed very nice. One dealer we saw must have been 6â€™7â€ easy. He had to stand with his legs wide apart so he could deal cards without having to bend over. I played some craps and blackjack. J stuck to blackjack. At the craps table, there were several heavy bettors for a low limit place, $50-$75 plus on the line (with several come bets) and taking the allowed double odds. Unless these guys were staying there in their biggest suites, it would make sense to take that kind of action to a more upscale place that will let you take higher odds. We both won a little here and decided to head back to Paris. We tried to find the shuttle to Barabary Coast, but discovered it had stopped running for the night. We cabbed back to Ballyâ€™s with the intention of walking through the connecting section to the elevators. Before I know it J is at the blackjack tables again. I head over and play some craps and pick up another $100 or so. J is also winning and not ready to leave when I am running on fumes. I head up to the room at 2:45. J gets in after 3:30, just in time as I am about to get dressed and check up on her. Friday 4/16-Our anniversary day We are up and dressed by 9:00 AM (no sleep for the weary and gamblers ahead for the trip!) and have breakfast at the Paris coffee shop. I go back to the room before the food comes to get my camera and notice that the room is already cleaned (left $5 this morning too). After breakfast we head over to the Bellagio to check it out. We walk around and I will admit, itâ€™s as nice as everyone says. I was floored by the number of poker tables set up in a regular casino floor area, but I think that was for the tournament that was going on. It was still pretty early in the day and not too crowded. We both played some blackjack and I was surprised to see how close the betting circles were to the playerâ€™s edge of the table, especially at 1st and 3rd base. They are just asking for trouble with people trying funny stuff with their bets. Both J and I lost our $50 buy ins fairly quickly. We walk by the entrance of the Fontana bar and I ask the bartender about when they open up etc. I plan to make this the place we exchange our gifts later that night. We walk past the playerâ€™s club desk and I go and get a card. J goes to the restroom and I play $1 VP while I wait. BOOM I hit a flush and two trips and cash out $40 bucks ahead in less than 5 minutes. J loves Caesars so we walk over there to check it out. We pass the Bellagio shopping area on the way out, so I make a mental note of Tiffanyâ€™s location. There is a lot of construction in front of Caesarâ€™s and it looks like you need to go up the pedestrian bridge to get to the front. In reality you just have to go around the corner of the pedestrian bridge, but J and I plus a whole bunch of other lemmings follow the crowd up the stairs. This entire group of people (about 15 in all) realize our mistake and take the elevator down. Of course we could have turned around went back down the stairs, but who wants to look stupid and do that. In retrospect, it was pretty comical watching 15 people, including us, trying to play off this mistake. We get in and walk around for a bit. I resist the temptation to feel up the statue on the front of Cleopatraâ€™s barge, but I notice the paint has worn thin in this â€˜areaâ€™ and others have lacked the self control I displayed. We settle down for some blackjack at a $15 table. (Hey weâ€™re winning baby! Minimums are no longer a concern for the rest of the trip) J leaves up $100 or so and I am up about $50. Next the plan was to head over to MB and split up. I rescheduled my appointment at the Art of Shaving because of Mamma Mia to 1:00 PM today then I wanted to head over to the Luxor for some Holdâ€™em. J was going to do more shopping and play blackjack as well. We get to MB at about 12:20 and I head over to the craps table for some quick action before my appointment. Well it was quick. I bought in for $100 and left with exactly $1 of that buy in after 20 minutes. I place some numbers but no one could hit a point, so I went to the dark side. I usually protect my line bet with a crap check or in this case a red bet when Iâ€™m on the donâ€™t. This time I donâ€™t place the red bet so of course this guy throws 7, 7, 11, 7. $20 gone. I stay dark and he establishes a 10. I lay $40 odds and he hits the 10 right back. At this point, I have enough chips to place the six and eight for $6 each. You know whatâ€™s next, rolls a 5 then a 7. I head over to Art of Shaving wishing two things: 1) that the cab driver long hauled us from Caesars 2) or that my appointment had been earlier. I grew a patch on my chin with the intention of having it shaved off while in Vegas. I had never had a shave with the hot towel and straight razor before. This place is very cool. Hot towel on the face, lotion to sooth the skin, hot shaving cream on the face, I could get used to this. I must admit you canâ€™t help but feel like you might get whacked with your head back and someone holding a straight razor near your throat. Getting a shave like this is the closest of shaves. My face felt so smooth afterwards, like a babyâ€™s behind. In and out in 20 minutes. I head on over to Luxor to play some holdâ€™em and find they are just starting up a $2-$4 table. I played here for about 3 Â½ hours but should have left way before that. On the positive side, I bought in for $100 and left with about $40. So I am pleased that I didnâ€™t play too many hands, didnâ€™t have to rebuy (I think I was the only guy that didnâ€™t either bust and leave or rebuy the whole time I was there), and won some pots along the way. On the negative: Too many fish playing all the way to the river and catching miracle cards. One time I had an Ace high straight on the flop (I had KQ spade) and couldnâ€™t scare anyone out. Two guys caught flushes with the last card. The guy who won was holding 9,8 clubs. A couple of the dealers were really bad and didnâ€™t control the table: guys splashing chips, one guy cursed at the dealer when he did a string raise and the dealer told him to pull his raise back (IMHO he should have been asked to leave), guys betting out of order, one dealer dealt a few hands that should have been voided. He would deal the cards and didnâ€™t get them near the player it belonged to since players were sitting so close together. It was hard to tell whoâ€™s cards belong to whom. I was getting frustrated and chased a pot at the end trying to buy it when I knew I was beat. (In the gaming section, I will post a great hand which I watched that sums up the Luxor poker experience.) J scoops me up after a profitable blackjack session for her and we head back to Paris for dinner at Mon Ami Gabi. Taxi lines at Luxor and Excalibur are long so we hoof it back all the way. When we get there I stop at the restaurant. We have reservations for 6:30 but I want to try and get a seat outside. The hostess tells me it will be about an hour wait. This is OK since that would mean we would be seated about 6:45. She puts my name on the list and hands us one of those light up pagers. J and I go upstairs to change and the pager goes off after only 20 minutes. I call down and the hostess says she will seat us as soon as possible when we get down. I was prepared for the worst but they seated us right away when we walked up. I get a great steak and J gets pork cutlets wrapped with bacon. We had a table on the rail and lucked out as the winds of the day calmed and we got to see a few of the Bellagio fountain shows. After dinner, we split up to gather our gifts and planned to meet at the Fontana bar in about 45 minutes. I walk over to Tiffanyâ€™s and they send me to the back counter with my receipt. I hand my receipt and ID to the girl working the counter and she disappears into the back room. She is gone longer than I expect her to be and I start to get nervous. What if she canâ€™t find it, what if there is some mistake etc. All these thoughts rush into my head. In retrospect, I am sure they keep inventory in a safe and it takes a few minutes to open it and then document what you are removing from the safe, and other security protocols. She returns with a wrapped box and an inventory tag documenting my purchase. I sign for it and she places it in a small blue Tiffany bag. As I walk out I realize I canâ€™t walk into the bar with this bag as it will ruin the surprise. I make a quick stop at the â€˜Oâ€™ store and get a shopping bag there and put the Tiffany bag in it. I get to the Fontana bar and quickly find out J is not there yet. As I am looking around, the manager asks if he can help me and I ask if he can get me a table outside. Just my luck there is one table open and sits me down. Now for those that donâ€™t know, the patio of this bar is directly behind the Bellagio fountains and offers a spectacular view of the shows. I tell the waitress I am waiting for my wife and to check back when she arrives. J walks in a few minutes later and we order drinks. We decide that I open my gift first. She got me a very nice cigar lighter that has a built in punch and cutter. It also comes with a leather case. She also lets me know a nice cigar ashtray is on the way, too heavy and breakable to bring on the trip. I give her the â€˜Oâ€™ bag and she does a little double take when she takes the Tiffany bag out. It takes a few minutes to open as there is ribbon, wrapping paper, then thin crepe paper covering the ring box, and then opening the ring box itself. As she opens it, all that she says is â€œWowâ€ in a low voice. I tell her itâ€™s for her right hand. (J has made it clear that she never wants me to replace her wedding ring. Even though we can get better now, itâ€™s the ring she got when we were married). She takes the one she is wearing off and slips it on. It fits perfectly. She says thanks and sits in stunned silence. We both clean up the wrapping paper and boxes and continue with our drinks. Then J gets up suddenly and says â€œI got to go and see this in better lightâ€ and darts back into the Bellagio. She comes back in and complains there isnâ€™t any good light near the bar. We watch a few more water shows then settle the bill and head over to Caesars. J plays blackjack and I split time between BJ and craps. I also get a chance to break in my new lighter by smoking a Macanudo Crystal. J wins again and I am only down $50 thanks to a nice recovery session of Blackjack before we leave. We cab it over to the Palms to check it out. Man, that place is LOUD. Music from the lounge and from the in house audio system was at rock concert levels. Also I donâ€™t know which was longer, the line to get into the Ghost bar or the cab line out front. This is definitely a place for the twenty something crowd. J saw plenty of people getting carded. J and I played blackjack at separate tables since we couldnâ€™t find seats together. I got a good run of cards and finished $150 ahead. I tried to get over that $200 point but just couldnâ€™t get it done. It was getting close to 3:00 AM by the time we left. The cab line out front was still enormous so we walked across the street to catch a cab at the Gold Coast. When we were almost at the doors of GC, J noticed that you could still hear the music coming from the Palms. We go in and J has to use the restroom, so I wait and stick $10 in a dollar Wheel of Fortune machine. BOOM AGAIN I hit three 7â€™s and cash out $40 ahead in less than 5 minutes. We cab it back and call it a night. Saturday 4/17 We are up and packing by 9:00 AM. I get dressed and head downstairs to get coffee for us. To my surprise the little bakery across from the buffet is not that busy, I was able to get coffee and Danish for us fairly quickly. I go back up and help J with the packing. On the way to check out I printed out a voucher from the Connection Card Kiosk to help with some of the incidentals we charged to the room. Checked out and left our bags with the bell man. I play a little craps and blackjack. J blackjack of course. In the middle we hit the Paris buffet for lunch. Everything itâ€™s advertised to be. Great selection and food. Iâ€™m down about $150 for the day and J treads water when we head out to catch the shuttle to the airport. We get picked up at 1:20 as promised for our 4:00 flight. No jokes or trivia on the return back to the airport. This driver knows he might have some sore losers in his ride. We check in and get through security with no problems. We do some last minute shopping at the airport. (We know we are paying a premium.) On the way to the gate I put $5 in a quarter Elvis machine and hit a bonus round thing. I didnâ€™t immediately know what to do then figured out that I needed to push that big button. The lights go round and I erroneously assume it will stop when I hit the button again. (Oh thatâ€™s right itâ€™s a game of chance not a game of skill) It stops on 200 coins and I get to see and hear the King sing. J walks up and I tell her I think I hit it for $20. She says I think itâ€™s a little more than that. I try to do the math but I am so tired that I couldnâ€™t divide any numbers. I push the cash out button expecting a ticket, but the coins start pouring out. I may get some argument here from slot vets, but I prefer the ticket over scooping the coins. I end up a little over $50 for a few minutes work. As we wait for the plane, J naps and I read. We board the plane and J falls asleep immediately. We start to taxi towards the runway and J wakes up and says â€œWow weâ€™re here already?!â€ It takes me a few moments to stop laughing before I let her know we havenâ€™t left yet. We are all set to go and end up going back to the gate due to engine trouble. We stay on the plane and get going after an hour or so. Only one woman was complaining to anyone who would listen. Since no one would she shut up pretty quickly. I am sure she was either a smoker, down $$ for her trip or both. Better that they found the trouble on the ground than in the air, I say. My Dad picks us up in Oakland and I have him stop at In-N-Out on the way back to my parents place as we missed it in Vegas. Got a Double Double and a cheeseburger as I donâ€™t know when I will have the chance again. The kids are excited to see us and get their gifts. Seems like minutes later itâ€™s the next morning and we are headed back to the airport for our return to Seattle. Good non-eventful flight home. Notes: Not including the cash we won and spent along the way, (we paid cash for almost everything) J was ahead about $300 and I was up about $175. As previously stated, we worked all of this on day#1â€™s gaming budget only. No other dip into our travelerâ€™s checks was required. Our winning streak allowed us to tip well (and place many dealer bets) and I noticed it made everything a little more enjoyable. It seemed that every cabbie had a Phish fan story while we were there. Craps dealers at Paris and Ballyâ€™s were top notch and ran great tables. Paid em quick and correct. Remembered all your betting patterns after one go. Didnâ€™t run into anyone who called a good stick. Between the two of us, we collected 88 fifty cent pieces from Blackjack. I know I did have a few pieces from surrenders and that we also had several blackjacks where coins were not required in the payoff. So a safe estimate of 100 blackjacks between the two of us over the four days. I seem to have great luck at slots/VP when J is in the bathroom. I really donâ€™t like slots but may add â€˜slot machines by the bathroomâ€™ on my regular Vegas to do list. Gaming near a lounge with good live music is a cool way to go. The dealers at Caesarâ€™s are given five shirts with their names on them. They are responsible for cleaning and pressing them. For some reason I just had to ask them for these details. Not that I necessarily agree with this method, but if word got out that the INS regularly audited the employee records of the adult entertainment companies, the porn slappers would disappear from the Strip. The employees at Ellis Island have the country of heritage on their name tags, like Ireland or Italy. I noticed that our African American waitress in the restaurant had America on her name tag. Being a person of color myself, that just struck me as wrong and sad. (OK enough political commentary) At Caesarâ€™s I wish they would bring back the hair extension thing and the old costumes for the cocktail waitresses. I think I remember that they all had the same sandals too. Now they let the ladies pick their own shoes and the variety makes it look wrong. The truck that advertises David Brennerâ€™s show is really annoying with that laugh track playing while it drives up and down the strip. It probably drives people away from the show instead of to it. Both the Luxor and MC have smaller poker tables that I am used to at home. You really need to protect your cards. I saw another players hand several times. First Vegas trip that I can remember where we didnâ€™t make it Downtown. For some reason, Paris always had several Pai Gow tables going all the time, but not many players. We split several cab trips with other folks. We would just yell out â€œAnybody want to share a cab to xx?â€ as we got to the cab area. Always had takers. Nice chnce to be a little social and save a little cash. This also resulted in the driver getting a bigger tip that he would have. People saying â€œThatâ€™s what Iâ€™m talking about!â€ when the dealer busted got increasingly annoying during the trip. Next trip may be for Jâ€™s birthday in December, hence the new count down.