OK folks.....welcome to my first trip report. Fair warning.........I know it's only my second sentence but.......I think it's gonna be a long one. I will try to break it up a bit so you can skim if so desired. I've been reading the board since the planning stages early this year and hope I've learned how to properly organize a report I thought I would be so excited about doing the report that I would have it finished and ready to publish right away. -snort- I should have known better. I admire a lot of the folks here for their efforts.......and now really appreciate the ones who post their trip reports the week they return! We booked our airfare thru Southwest back in March I believe and the only reason I'm bring it up is for the frugal among you. We have Giant Eagle grocery stores here that give you $.20 off per gallon of gas for every $50 you spend.......including gift cards. Then they turn around and give you 1% off your grocery bill for every 10 gallons of gas you pump......including the discounted gas!! So........I stalked the Southwest site and as soon as I found $99 flights each way, I ran off to the grocery store and bought the gift cards........racked up my fuel points and booked my seats. -pats back- Go me! We finally get the girl graduated and vacation day arrives! The boy is to take us to the airport and things go along smoothly......until John asks for the 5th time...........:do you have everything?" -snorts- Of course I do.....I flip open my purse to prove my point and realize I left my drivers license in my old big ugly wallet - at home! -insert foul language- He has to stop and cash in some other gas points.....(are you sensing the theme here ?).......so I call the girl and have her get my DL out of the wallet and meet us at the gas station. She finally gets there and after suffering eye rolling and stupid grins she finally hands it off. The rest of the trip to the airport/Vegas was very uneventful......except that it was nice to get the, "aren't you gonna hug me?" look from the boy instead of me being the one to give it! -sighs- They grow up so fast! Oooo wait........ one last thing about the flight.....I had weight loss surgery in 2000 and seem only to remember flying before I lost the weight.....I was sooo not looking forward to spending 4 hours on the plane. So, getting on the plane and being almost comfortable was a pleasant surprise! Scoring an exit row helped.....but it was also nice to answer in confidence that I -could- serve if the need arose. So we arrive in Vegas finally (!) and make it to the Alamo rental counter where I'm sure I'm going to have problems with the coupon code I used to book the flight. It was too good of a deal to not try though. A convertible for a week for $234 - taxes, fees and everything! Things seem to go well at first......no long line, they have the reservation and we get to the paying part....and the guys says, "I'm sorry......your paypal card is a pre-loadable card and we cannot accept that . I know my supervisor denied one of these once already today." WTH, I have yet to figure out how I can load money directly onto my paypal card. Sure people pay us, but we had to sell for a while and be approved to get the card! So he goes off to get the supervisor and sure enough...........she won't budge. We were like, great.....we're gonna have to schlep back to the airport, find the shuttle for Fox and waste more time tracking down our other reservation! Ick! My husband continues to argue with her and finally she says, you know...we could just take a cash deposit and because of the confusion, I'll cut it in half for you. We were like........"Well Hell, why didn't you say so!". So I run off to get cash and then she goes off to verify that we are who we say we are. (I'm not sure why they couldn't just hold the deposit on the card, and how $300 in cash qualifies me to rent a car but putting that same money on a debit card does not??) While we are waiting on the supervisor, the rental dude (who could be a brother to our old high school football coach......in looks only, BTW) looks at the reservation and says, "Wow......you got a great rate.........wish I could get one like that." :eye rolls: I was very proud of myself for not saying a word! It took a while but we eventually made our way to the lot and picked out a car and were on our way out to the strip. All in all, we got such a good deal that the hassles were annoying but worth the effort in the end. If you havenâ€™t caught on by now, I suppose I should mention that we are not big gamblers and really go to Vegas to see the sights and take advantage of the good deals we can get on rooms and such. Donâ€™t get me wrong, weâ€™d like to gamble more and we LOVE Vegas, we just like the keeping our money in our pockets longer. Anyway, we went cheap and ate cheap and the one big splurge was on the convertible, so if ya like reports of big winningsâ€¦â€¦â€¦start skimming. Hotels: Very early on we decided we were going to stay at Bills. It was center strip and a smaller hotel. John liked the idea of not having to walk 5 miles to get to our rooms. I realized that my wandering husband would NOT be happy staying in one hotel for our entire trip, so once we figured out that we were going to drive over to Los Angeles early Saturday morning, I figured we could experience at bit more. I did lots of shopping for the back half of out stay, but didn't really look at our Bills portion until late. By then I had found the orbitz discount codes - so I ended up booking thru them to get $40 off a 3 nite stay. Bills: We paid $95.15 for 3 nites which averages to $40.97 a nite including taxes and fees. Checking into Bills was easier than getting across the parking lot that was Flamingo Rd! I remembered the place as being pretty dark and smoky so we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. It was certainly not Encore, but it was a very nice hotel. I requested a room with some kind of view when I made the reservation and then when I realized how little I would be paying, decided that I would take what I got when we checked in. We could actually see the Eiffel tower at Paris, and a little bit of the fountains at the Bellagio. We were also right over the walkway so got to do a little bit of people watching too. El Cortez, Cabana Suite: First off, donâ€™t let the â€œsuiteâ€ lure you into thinking youâ€™ll going to get a lot of square feet. We booked a deluxe room but were told that weâ€™d been upgraded to a Jr. Suite. At $54.50 for a Friday night downtown we were thrilled but â€œsuiteâ€ was not such a good word for the room. We were in Vegas with my mom â€“kinda- She died a year ago and loved Vegas and while her favorites were the Rio or the Mirage she would have -loved- the retro Miami feel to the Cabana Suite. ;-) She was just hip like that, until the very end. They took up a lot of the room space for the bathroom, but man-o-man did they make good use of the space. Definitely a bathroom to rival any hotel on the strip. Friendly staff made our short visit downtown a positive experience. Wig Wam Motel - Rialto California I'm including this here because it was the next place we stayed, and was a budget buster at $65 plus tax for the one nite. Definitely seen better days, but well worth the "experience" East Side Cannery: A brand new hotel out on Bolder Highway. Very nice hotel now but if they don't do a better job of keeping it up it will be tired well before it should be. There was nothing major wrong with our corner room on the 9th floor (thanks to Dewey!) but there were little things that will add up. However, at $29 a nite this was our best deal of the week. We had a nice view of the strip and downtown and left the curtains open most of the time. The nice soaker tub was a bonus and John and I both enjoyed a couple of soaks. He thought I was nuts when I asked for the camera while sitting in it..........but couldn't resist taking this pic so Dewey would know I really was just teasin him about the leg comment. ;-) Food: Well - you won't find reviews of tasting menu's here. We are thrilled with cheap prime rib or pizza and after John found Metro Pizza that first nite.......it's......a good thing I like pizza too because we had 3 meals at Metro!! The first trip was our first nite and we had an entertainment coupon for 50% off a pizza at 2 specific locations. We were wanting to ride around in the car anyway, so we headed out to Decatur Ave. It was after 9 on a Tuesday but we figured that if they weren't open then we would find something else. We weren't sure when we got there, but we went in and checked. The young man was very friendly and we were told to have a seat even though they were closing soon. We never felt rushed and we fell in love with the place! Hands down the best out of town pizza we've ever had and believe me..........we've had lots! We had lunch twice at the Tropicana location and found the same great food and service there. We spent a lot of time traveling up and down Tropicanna and Flamingo for some reason. Some of it was in our quest for thrift stores and we found several in the general area but we also found a couple good places to eat. We had breakfast one morning at Blueberry Hill on Flamingo......... which is where John had his first major hand pay. lmao I hope my cell phone pic will show up enough to make it my profile picture because it sure says a lot about our gambling habits. I laughed and laughed while waiting on the manager to pay. We had such great service and good food that we went back for a late nite dinner. Unfortunately, John got sick while we were waiting on our food and I ended up rushing thru my dinner and taking his back to Bills with us. He didn't eat anything from there, but since he got sick while we were waiting on our food I don't think I'll be able to get him back there again. We had dinner one nite at Ellis Island and it was definitely an experience. Good food.......-great- people watching! We also had a late dinner at the cafÃ© at the Imperial Palace and while it's nothing spectacular we had good food and I had the best prime rib of the trip. This may not be saying much since we didn't really dine at the top restaurants, but if you're staying there or close.......it's a good place to get a bite to eat without having to wait in a long line. We generally don't eat buffet often, mostly because of my surgery years ago. I end up not being able to eat much and since I can't take left over food with me.....it seems like a waste of money. However, it's hard to go to Vegas and not go to any buffets. lol We made a trip over to Terribles for breakfast one morning since our last trip several years ago we had a really nice experience. I can't say it was another really nice experience, but with our 2 for one ACG coupon....we definitely got a good value. We also had the buffet at the East Side Cannery. It was pretty typical food and about what you would expect but if your arms are as short as mine, you're going to have trouble reaching the back row of food! Seriously! John enjoyed the meal, I could have done without it -shrug- but again, with our ACG coupon....worth the effort I suppose. Gambling: Again, we are not gamblers. We did some studying so we could play some video poker without losing all of our nickles and did OK. Like many, we got sucked in by the bells and whistles of the penny slots. Bonus rounds rock! Just sayin. I found a survivor machine my first nite at Bills and did OK. Lots of fun so looked for them the rest of the trip. LOL We never really won more than a couple hundred bucks at once, but most of the winnings were at a Survivor machine or because of one. I've never seen the show, but am going to have to check them out now. We made a couple of trips with ACG coupons in hand to explore some of the newer Casino's. Red Rock was fun and I won enough there to buy lunch and pay for us both to see UP! at their theater. M had a nice casino but there sure wasn't a lot going on there. We noticed a bit more smoke at South Point but it still was nothing like the old days. If we had won more.....we'd have stayed longer. We felt more at home Downtown and really had a blast at Mermaids! We'd never have stopped in there if it wasn't for this board. I sat down to play Survivor and John sat beside me and ended up winning pretty big. We cashed out far sooner than they'd have liked but I did give some of their money back playing the only Elvis slots we could find on this trip. All in all we had a wonderful vacation and are really looking forward to going back - soon! :wink Metro Pizza is calling our name!