Saturday, May 26th: Third trip to Vegas in the last 6 months. Won’t be back for trip #54 until November. This time we are only staying for 9 nights. For some reason, the flight was $200 cheaper than our normal Friday departure. Spending the first night using 20,000 Marriot points at Fairfield Inn on Dean Martin Drive. First time ever not staying on-site at a casino. The next 5 nights we will be staying our 19th time at Excalibur ($241 Fixed); & the last 3 nights we will be at Orleans for the 10th time ($312 fixed) where It will be the Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend. Other plans for the week include excessive pool time, excessive use of alcohol, and going to Paul Simon at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday. We are also discussing seeing the new WNBA Las Vegas Aces play. Setting up this trip’s budget, with the airfare ($768) and the obligatory car rental ($282.), fixed costs at $1830. Still using my $210 daily variable, budget set @ $3940---let’s get started!!!! We usually fly Thursday or Friday to eek out some extra time, but it was actually sort of nice leaving on Saturday. Got laundry done, house clean, DVR caught up. Not the normal feeling of chop-chop trying to leave on a work day. Our first surprise of the trip was that despite the fact that they kept announcing full flight, one of the gate attendants gave Laurel a “reserved seat” pass to lay on our middle seat. It was nice for someone else to realize that I have one of the most beautiful wives in America!! Flight OK, no trauma at Thrifty, quick lunch @ In-N-Out burger and right to Fairfield Inn. Place was very nice (and busy) and even got our free room upgraded to a King Suite without asking. We relaxed at the pool for an hour and poof, it was “nap-o-clock”. Just as we were starting to drift off, the smoke alarm started an intermittent chirp. Then it stopped for 10 minutes. Then it started back up again. I almost let “Mr. Crabby Pants” take over, but I didn’t. We always try to script the first day’s activities and Downtown was the plan. A little aggressive for two 59-year-olds, but she knew I wanted to get there once this trip so might as well get it over with. On our way there, out first stop was Westgate. Indy 500 starts at 9:00 in the morning and wanted to bet on a couple of drivers. Westgate is a great place for a quick in and out without a gaming commitment. On to downtown and managed the biggest hurdle (for me) nicely. Somehow, I found myself driving into valet at “D”. Of course, I got the hotel guest only speech, but he saw Laurel with the cane and relented. We spent about 4 hours down there and It was great people and busker watching. Weather was perfect and 3 bands playing on 3 different stages. Laurel even managed to win $61 at the different venues and was happy. But alas, the happiness was fleeting! We were at Golden Gate and a bit hungry, so back to “D”. It took her almost ½ and hour to walk the 2 blocks. Zowie Bowie was playing and it was almost impossible to get through the crowd. Then we found out that the grill at The D closed at 11:00 on a busy Saturday night. Traffic home was HORRENDOUS. Of course, I blame myself for taking the worst route possible. Initial plan was to eat at Denny’s inside the Wild West casino near the hotel but settled for McDonald’s. Day 1 variable: $+13 Notes for the day: I got a VMB bracelet (thanks Sonya) and wore it proudly I noticed that Defending the Caveman is still around. Must have seen that 15 years ago The live music was great, but I never need to hear “Cherry Pie” or “My Sharona” again. Sunday, May 27th: Awoke just before 8:00 in our King Suite. The main reason she wanted to stay here was to save the $187 it would have cost to stay @ Excalibur the extra night. I would have paid whatever it was with no problem, however I have to admit it was very nice to stay here. They fixed the smoke detector while we were out and room comes with free breakfast. We could not believe that breakfast was so crowded. We finally checked out and headed out for supplies. Right down the street we saw a place that yesterday we thought was crane storage (there were tons). Turns out that’s the new LV Raiders Stadium going up. On to Target. She got a $50 gift card for her birthday, so we used that and $23.06 of real money for chips, soda, 30pk of Miller ($17), tequila and in the ongoing pursuit of frugality--- a $13 toaster. So, we have a new travel appliance. I balked a bit when we bought a coffee pot for Trip #52. I will put my foot down if a George Foreman Grill discussion arises. Finally made it to Excalibur and got our usual Resort Tower room. Spent 1 ½ hours setting it all up and watching the end of the Indy 500. We had money on 5 drivers so our timing was perfect. What I found most surprising was that on non-mainstream sporting events, the huge difference the money line option is from one venue to another. I had put $10 on Connor Daly (he participated in last seasons “Amazing Race”). I got him at 500-1 at the Westgate but he was only 75-1 at William Hill inside The D. Of course, he could have been 1,000,000 to 1 and the result would have been the same. Will Power (8-1) won and he was one of the 5 drivers we had bet on, so if you were walking down the hall, you would have heard cheering coming out of a room on the 16th floor. The Coca Cola 600 (NASCAR) is tonight also and took 5 drivers in that. We are here every year on this weekend and I enjoy this different variety of action. Spent 2 hours at the pool and ½ nap. Plan for tonight is to have dinner with Bill and Mindy (Vegas friends) @ Buca Di Beppo then see Paul Simon @ MGM ($143 fixed). MGM is so large, so Laurel is not much of a fan. We may not have stepped in here since we saw “Rush” in 2013. (We had tickets for see Linkin Park here last September, but Chester Bennington killed himself). The place seemed even larger tonight and took forever for the 4 of us to negotiate from across the street. However, we made it. Seats were great as was the venue. Even broke a long-standing tradition and I bought a beer for me and water for her ($20). I actually paid more for that beer than I did for a toaster that I will now have to carry around for the rest of my life. How was the concert?? It was OK… I wanted to hear more of the old Simon and Garfunkel tunes. So, I was a bit disappointed or I had too high of expectations. We had initially planned to go to the Las Vegas Aces home opener tonight before this came up, but this was fine except for the fact that the 2- way walk almost killed Laurel. Anything else to report? Kyle Busch won the Coca Cola 600 so we won both of the day’s races. Cleveland also beat Boston in game 7 of the NBA conference finals. I have the Cav’s to win it all on a 12-1 future. Laurel’s struggles of the day were also forgotten when she won a $207 bonus round on her 50-cent bet to finish a second winning day in a row. Day 2 variable: $+87 Notes for the day: Her M-Life card wouldn't work & she forgot to cash out and someone is now $10 richer. MGM Arena venue very nice. Nice revamped restrooms. Last month we saw Queens of the Stone Age at Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, and I had to “tinkle” in a trough! Monday, May 28th: Awoke for the first time on a vacation with a toaster in my hotel room. I will go on record that she was right and it was very nice to have that amenity present. As long as I don’t set off the smoke alarm. 1st full day at Excalibur means pool day. Excalibur has adult pool that we like so well. For $50 (variable), we get 2 chairs with cushions and an umbrella to sit under. We always talk about a cabana but never get one. This place also does not have that constant “Boom-Boom” music that is prevalent at some other venues. Also, not the scrutiny some other places have, so I was able to slip in and out a couple times to refill my redneck margarita (tequila & diet 7-up). Before the trip she was adamant that pool time will be capped at 4 hours. I know better. Today was a 6 ½ hour day. In her defense, Mindy joined us but did not arrive until the 3- hour mark. All was fine with me. I was in my element under my umbrella. Drinking tequila while doing my VMB recap-writing in my journal-listening to my music-reading the paper-looking at the bathing beauties while keeping an eye on the couple of baseball run lines parlays I had bet on. We have been through this scenario to know that once I call “Bus Is Leaving”, enough is enough. Tonight is the first game of Stanley Cup finals (Golden Knights vs. Washington Capitals). Initial plan was to go watch the crowd outside T-Mobile, but we spent too long at the pool. Good thing because the throng would not have been Laurel friendly. So, got the car, drove back to Westgate to cash my Indy 500 ticket, and on to a Dollar Store for plates and silverware. Laurel found $5 on the floor so was only a $1 expenditure. On to Ellis Island to have dinner and watch the hockey game. I did not put any money on the game tonight because did not want to be the jinx. I did put $50 on Houston +5.5 vs Golden State game 7. The craft beers @ Ellis Island tonight were only $1 so after a bunch of those, it was dinner time. We always opt for the BBQ Place over the Café. I always get the half rack of ribs and she gets the half chicken. They come with 2 pieces of bread, 2 cobs of corn, coleslaw and beans. Always excellent, inexpensive and highly recommended. We stayed here until the end of the hockey game. It was so exciting. Washington pulled their goalie with 2 minutes to go. The action was frantic to say the least. A guy whiffed on an empty net and Vegas scored an empty netter with 2.7 seconds to go to cover the (-1.5) puck line. The place just erupted---I’ll never forget it. How did my bet go? Not well. Houston was up 9 at halftime, got outscored by 20 in the 3rd quarter and never recovered. I was heard to mutter “What was I thinking”. Spent the rest of night @ Excalibur and Luxor. Only got marginally trashed,& toasted an English Muffin before bed. Day 3 Variable: $$322 Notes for the day: After today, we got to 86,00 M-life points so have secured Gold status for 2019. Laurel came back down to earth after 2 winning days Tuesday, May 29th: Room coffee and room breakfast complete, 9 am found us heading to the pool to assume the position. The guy who checked us in at the adult pool could not get the room charge to work so he gave us today’s set up free!! In retrospect, I think he got flustered when he tried to charge it to me, but the rooms are always in Laurel’s name. Thanks Dude! We were by ourselves so kept to the 4-hour timetable. Time to start the day. I had noticed that we were charges a $16. Valet fee for the first 2 days so I went and got that fixed. I found a folded in half ticket on the floor so I was instantly $7.25 richer. Whilst on my way to the sportsbook, I stopped to watch the action at a busy crap table. I then witnessed the strangest thing. 2 men and 1 woman come up and one after the other, each put a huge wad on the table, got their chips , stuff all the “black” into their pockets, make a couple $10 table minimum bets and then walked off. Mind My Own Business I always say. . .. Plan for tonight was mid-strip action. I dropped her at Palazzo and went to valet @ Linq. I was not entirely satisfied with the outfit Laurel had set out for me so I asked the guy at valet if I looked like a ******bag. The dude said I looked just fine. Always nice to get a second opinion. Dinner was happy hour (4 to 6:30 pm) at Grand Lux @ Palazzo. We discovered they have one last trip. $4 drafts and our all- time favorite food—Asian Nachos—for only $6. The deal could not be any better and actually felt guilty spending as little as we did. On to Venetian. I have been keeping an eye on the upcoming US Open futures and found them to be a bit higher here, so I put $10 on 5 different golfers. As with the Indy 500, if you are willing to through the effort, you may be able to find significant money line differences from place to place. Next stops were Casino Royale, Harrah’s and Linq. While at Casino Royale, of course I got a $1.44 Slider from White Castle. While at Harrah’s I bet this week's upcoming Memorial Golf Tournament. Tony Finau (50-1) Kevin Na (50-1) and Tiger (20-1). Always nice to have the action. At the Linq, I stood outside and smoked ½ of my allotted cigar for the day while enjoying the beautiful evening. I guess a zipline is now being constructed in the complex… must have forgotten to ask my opinion!! I did get to watch Oakland score 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th, so I won 1 of the 2 run line parlays I had placed today--- excellent. Time to go. She saw me stumble a bit so she drove home. I think deep down she wanted it to be bedtime but did not happen. After smoking the end of my cigar, I played my $1 2-coin Wheel of Fortune at NYNY and got a $100 wheel spin on spin 8 of 10, so I played it for a little while longer and had some decent spins. End of night found us at Pick Up Stix. To us, casino food courts are only there for late night munchies!! Day 4 Variable: $+31 Notes for the day: While at the Venetian, thrilled for find golf futures for the British Open & PGA Tourneys When I did individual figures for the day, I won everywhere I went. Wednesday, May 30th: Awoke @ 4:22 to the sound of her getting sick in the bathroom. All she had was 1 Bloody Mary and a beer all day. Maybe late-night Chinese was not the answer!! Only residual was that we did not get down to the pool until 10:20. Plan for the day was My Vegas BOGO lunch at Aria, but it is only good until 3 pm, so late start pulled that off the table. We can use another day or give it back. 4 pm was the start of our day after pool and clean-up. Plan was to get car and have late lunch @ Joe’s Crab Shack. I told her to check again if it was on Lake Mead or Charleston. She checked and found out it had been closed! The Ruby Tuesday and Macaroni Grill chains have closed where we live so not surprised to see Joe’s close too. As in most issues in life, I blame to millennials for everything!! So, the decision was made to stay in this area and have dinner @ Wolfgang Puck’s Lupo inside Mandalay Bay. While she gambled I went to the Excalibur concierge to secure 6:30 reservations. I was stunned by the total ignorance of the guy behind the counter. He had never heard of Lupo & asked me to spell Wolfgang Puck!! One, would think a concierge would be higher up in the MGM food chain. Tonight is game 2 of the Stanley Cup and I wore my Golden Knights shirt proudly. We had purchased it in November 2016, 3 days after they unveiled their name. I am always happy to show my allegiance but, today I put $100 on the Washington Capitals (+145). Not sure what got into me because I NEVER wager that much on anything. I also bet 3 $10 baseball parlays, so my evening entertainment was laid out before me… Dinner at Lupo was fabulous. She had some porkchop parmesan thing ($36) and I had the Osso Bucco ($42). I did not even know what it was. Laurel had heard of it though and encouraged me to try it--- so I did. It was indescribable and would recommend it to anyone to try. With our My Vegas BOGO, it was still $95 but well worth it. We had talked about doing the dinner this upcoming Friday when the LV Aces play, but still not totally committed to it at this point and would have hated to miss this experience… We stayed here at Mandalay Bay through the end of the hockey game. Washington won 3-2 in another frantic and stressful ending. Felt bad for the team and the fans but 1.) I won $145 on my inkling 2.) even though the Las Vegs Golden Knights are a close second, my true allegiance is still with the Chicago Blackhawks. I care about the VGK but wouldn’t lose any sleep over it like I do when the Packers lose. Took tram back to Excalibur and made her happy when, on a beer run, I fixed her a Bailey’s and coffee with supplies from the room. Helped make her losing night more palatable. I lost my 3 baseball parlays, but it didn’t matter, I had a winning day. I walked over to the “Park” and watched a couple of excellent outdoor bands--- Nice! Day 5 Variable: $187 Notes for the day: While strolling Excalibur like I’ve done for the years, I wondered if this is where I’ll haunt Threat of 6/1 strike heating up. Move to Orleans then & notice they’re not affected. Thursday, May 31st: Last full day at Excalibur. Usually feel 5 nights at one venue is too long (Linq), but this time it worked out just fine. Got up too early @ 5:30. I had a bad work dream and could not get back to sleep. Just goes to show you that even on vacation, life’s realities can still rear their head. No problem though. I took advantage of the situation, grabbed a coffee and went next door to sit outside New York New York and watch the joggers go past on a picture-perfect morning while doing my morning vacation rituals. Back to room-got her up- packed a suitcase to take out to the car and headed for the breakfast buffet. We each had a My Vegas free one and it expired today so was a no-brainer. I had expounded on the mis-virtues of this venue in past reports, but it actually was much better this time. Had some different breakfast items, all was hot, and the toaster actually worked. Pool Time--was very windy today so for some reason our pool setup only cost $35. Not sure why but always welcome. Same scenario as past 4 days. We never spent a dime all week on pool food or drinks. Sometimes I am troubled over how cheaply we do things, then I am over it. Are the people who buy all those buckets of beer and Jello shots (and tinkle in the pool) having a better time than us? 4 pm found me in the Sportsbook with an hour to kill. I had won a $20 +155 run line earlier in the day so I did 3 more $10 parlays. NBA finals start tonight so I put $50 on the Cav’s (+12.5). I am not a fan of laying a bunch of points and 12.5 seemed like it was too many. Plan for the night was to have 5:30 dinner with Bill and Mindy and their family at Nacho Daddy on Sahara. We were late. It took 1 hour to get across town. The traffic was TERRIBLE. I negotiate Vegas very well, but each move and turn I made, met with extreme resistance from the forces outside the vehicle. Finally made it and had a great time. This was our first time eating at a Nacho Daddy and all was excellent. My favorite thing was that they don’t give you chips and salsa. My Mexican experience is that when the entrée arrives, any hunger you came with has abated. Anyway, it was very nice to get together with our people. We met them in 2007 and it makes our trips to Vegas complete to have someone else to share it with. Mindy’s mom is now 88 and always nice to see her. I hope I am still around at 88 years of age for people to see. Dinner over and got to keep an eye on first half of game while eating. Score 56-56. She wanted Aria so we got there with 6 minutes to go in the game. Cleveland was ahead so the cover was a no brainer…. Wait…. Strange things kept happening and---poof--- overtime. I’m screwed. Cleveland couldn’t score and golden State should have won by 20. 10 points was the final margin. Was it fun?? HELL NO!!! Anxiety could not have been any higher. So, I bought a $7.58 big can of Bud Light at their gift shop, lit a cigar, and spent 45 minutes perched on the pigeon watching people flow by. It turned out to be just another lovely night in paradise and did not get too trashed Day 6 Variable: $171 Notes for the day: Memorial Golf Tournament started today and my 3 did not fare well. Our friends are big VGK fans, & called me a traitor when I bet on Caps. I can live with it. Friday, June 1st: Only real moving day of this trip. No pool time on the agenda. I was amazed that we were able to stick to our plan of being up, dressed and out of the room by 8:30. Excalibur is always good to us and we had a great time, and I am sure we will be back for the 20th visit in the near future. On the way out, our plan was to buy tickets for tonight’s Las Vegas Aces game versus the Washington Mystics. So, we went to the box office and it was closed. Sign said to go to one upstairs. Sign upstairs said to go downstairs. Tried concierge who said try Mandalay Bay. Most people these days buy their tickets on-line. Laurel has a smart phone, uses 1/3 of it’s potential. So, to squash our disappointment, we went to gift shop and bought me a very nice red and black Aces golf shirt. On to Paris and breakfast @ Mon Ami Gabi. I usually get a benedict special, but today I opted to join her in getting the Quiche Lorraine. Throw in a baguette and the perfect breakfast has once again been achieved. What next??? Total Rewards is once again running the Quest for Badges promotion and it starts today. We did it the last time they had it, earned as many as we possibly could and won nothing. This morning, after breakfast, we each qualified for one here @ Paris. But, after losing $140 between us to qualify for the 2 entries, I told her she was on her own. I could not justify losing actual money on games I don’t usually play in order to qualify for an entry into a contest that I have very little chance of winning. So, when we walked next door to Bally’s, I went and bet a couple horse races and drank beer while she did her thing. I am so glad I decided to forego the promotion. She only lost $40 to get her entry at Bally’s--I considered that a success!! Next on the agenda is the Bead Show @ Palace Station. Laurel makes (and we give away) a lot of jewelry so this is always one of the highlights of the trip (for her). The show is this weekend every year and always at Palace Station. Now 2 pm and on to Orleans. The past couple years we always use the bell services. (I put $25 fixed for each move). When we got there, so many people were checking in. It would have been longer than ½ hour for the bellman to even get to our car to get the luggage. Laurel not the most patient person so it was a good idea to just schlep myself after I let her off. Who knows how long the process of getting our bags would have taken. Turned out to be a good decision, the longer than usual wait had the potential to put a strain on the day. 5:30 found me adorned in my new cute Las Vegas Aces shirt, heading back to Ellis Island. We had planned on the Aces game tonight, but Mindy called from work and wanted to do dinner. Ellis island is easy for locals and since we never got the basketball tickets, we were happy to accommodate. Probably would have been to much walking for Laurel anyway. We ended up staying here with them for a couple of hours. Beer was going down nicely. Laurel and Mindy were winning. I even played my only blackjack session of the trip. Today we opted for the Café over the BBQ joint. Laurel had secured a $7.99 coupon for steak based on her play so she had that. Me, I had an order of fried pickles. My culinary pursuits are legendary. Back to Orleans and for the rest of the night; just partied and watched the festivities and Burlesque Hall of Fame Weekend participants. It was awesome!! Day 7 Variable $320 Notes for the day: While at Palace Station, I looked all over for the statue of OJ but couldn’t find one I see that Caesar’s properties still has $2.45 Miller 24 oz cans in their gift shops I put $30 on the Aces (+7) and they one their first game in franchise history Saturday, June 2nd: Woke up this morning feeling a bit shaky although nothing fatal. I said to myself “How many more days of drinking can I handle?” I guess the answer is 2. We got to the pool as it opened at 9:00. We know we have to get there early to secure the best seats in the house. Orleans has some shade trees and our spot was perfect for the 6 hours we ended up hanging around. Much to our surprise, not only did Mindy join us, but Bill came along too. In the 11 years of friendship, he has never joined us poolside. We had a great time together. Lunch was a poolside Cuban Sandwich which was surprisingly excellent. I was holding out for the $2 hot dog that is sold at a cart inside the sportsbook but, was outvoted. Tonight’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup. Didn’t know who to take so I did some propositions. Took the over 1.5 in the 1st period. Took Ovechkin first goal (+450), took Marchessault first goal (+600) and took overtime (+300). Stayed at Orleans for the scoreless first (I lose). We spent the next couple of hours back on the strip @ Flamingo-Linq-Harrah’s. She worked on acquiring badges while I watched hockey and drank. Turned out that Ovechkin scored the first goal so that win covered the losses. Golden Knights lost to go down 1-2. I At least I was not blamed for this one. After the game I made good use of my time and walked over to the Venetian and bet my British Open and PGA golf futures. Not too much else happened. She kept her losses manageable all day and I even won $67 on Wheel of Fortune to help her earn her Harrah’s badge. Dinner was at Toby Keith’s inside Harrah’s. Only the second new restaurant this trip. It used to be our goal to eat at as many new as we could, but lately it is not as important. Our meal was good. We split both the Mac ‘n Cheese Ball appetizer and the Meatloaf dinner. We even used some of our hoarded Total Rewards points to pay for it!! Will we be back? I don’t think so. While the food was delicious, the music was so loud that it made conversation virtually impossible. We are not country music fans so will not be missing much if we don’t return. Drove back to Orleans. The big Burlesque show was tonight, but alas, it did not end until 1:00 am and even though we tried to stay up to watch it let out---just couldn’t do it. Day 8 Variable: $72 Notes for the day: She ordered a Kentucky Mule @ Toby Keith’s’. It came in a red solo cup----Cute Sunday, June 3rd: Last day. Up at 6:30. Got her up @ 8:00 with bagels from Orleans coffee hut. We forgot to buy more muffins the last 2 times we went out… our loss. Down to pool at 9:00. Today is the Burlesque Pool Party from 1:00 to 6:00 pm, so I knew it was going to be a long one. Did I expect 7 ½ hours—NO! We were joined once again by our friends plus her daughter and grandchildren. What a wonderful day it was!! The pool was closed right after it opened due to a biohazard, but it opened back up after an hour much to everyone’s relief. The whole experience was wonderful and I even got to meet the newly elected Burlesque Queen. Since we spent so long at the pool party, it made tonight’s decision to stay home easier. Game 2 of the NBA Finals is tonight so I jumped on Cleveland (+11). Wrong move as it turned out. Game was never even close. I did win a couple of baseball bets during the extended pool session, so not a total loss. We had a nice dinner at Bailiwick inside Orleans. We tried to eat here last trip but had a long wait. No wait tonight. Dinner was surprisingly excellent. We each had a fancy $9 23oz craft beer. I got the Loaded Hot Dog ($12) and she had the Fish ‘n Chips ($18). My favorite part of the meal was my fruity coleslaw and her BLT slaw. It was innovative and very tasty. Laurel was happy because she got the 3rd new restaurant of this vacation. All that pool time wiped us out so off to bed early on last night. I was happy because we did not venture out, she was happy because I swept her losses under the carpet!! Day 9 Variable: $316 Notes for the day: Wearing flip flops most of the week, the bottoms of our feet are dry like sandpaper!! Monday, June 4th: Time to go. Not leaving until noon so no chop-chop. When walking the casino floor, I noticed that Orleans now has a Virtual Reality gaming area. It has been empty for the past couple of days. The posted leaderboard had the same 3 names. There is a lot of investment going on in town for new gaming options. If they lower their expectations, maybe It will work out OK. Day 10 Variable: $71 Final Wrap-up: - Dollar 2-coin Wheel of Fortune machines were very kind to me this trip - Laurel did a great job keeping her losses under $500. - I logged a positive $198 to keep my incredible winning percentage going. - Didn't visit Monte Carlo/Park. Withholding judgement until construction completed. We miss the old place. - Won’t be back until Thanksgiving. We achieved our M-Life gold for 2019. - High in Vegas when we left was 109 degrees. It was a mild 82 in Arkansas - Daily variable budget: $2,100 - Actual variable: $,1326 - Trip Total: $3,131 ---GREAT JOB---$809 under budget!