Well - you've asked for it so here goes! Gail and I have just returned from the best holiday we have had (with an unfortunate sting in the tail). We set off from London Gatwick on 16 Oct and managed to switch to earlier flights to Houston and connect to LV, an early three hour bonus. Arrived at Mcarran about 4.30 - very quiet. We tried to join the queue for LV limos stretch fleet but it was so quiet we were advised to catch the shuttle (I couldn't work out how they could fill the shuttle but were reluctant to use the limos - cost/profit I suppose). Checked into Venetian, very short line but no upgrade available - I was probably not subtle with the $20 bill, but we got good high rooms with a view of TI. The King "Suite" was magnificent - more than adequate. Collected my slot club card and played VP for a couple of hours - I must have found the full pay machines because I ended up $50 up. Wednesday was spent visiting all the hotels that had sprung up since our last visit (23 years ago - so we found little we recognised.) We caught the bus to Mandalay Bay and worked our way back to the Venetian, joining all the slot clubs on the way - more than 20 all together, no fantastic e-mail offers waiting on our return - but it's early days yet. For the evening we took David's advice and had an excellent meal at the Center Stage restaurant at the Plaza downtown, good food and a great view of the Fremont St Experience. The service was quite slow but they did apologise. Wednesday was a flight with Scenic Airlines to the Grand Canyon, somewhat of a disappointment compared with what we were to experience later. I had read other comments on the message boards and it is true that we did not fly the Canyon itself, just part of the less impressive west rim. The coach tour was two stops on the South Rim showing the same view from a slightly different angle and then away for lunch (which was adequate), followed by the flight back. The briefness of the tour coupled with the fact that we were given misleading instructions for pick up left us feeling more than a little let down. Wednesday evening was the MGM buffet (adequate) and tickets for Tom Jones. We had great seats for the sell out performance and so the day ended on a high. David had also delivered my 10 LV Calendars while we were out - they really are excellent value and being sold for such a good cause. The following day we checked out after a thoroughly enjoyable stay, as we had prepaid under the Reblast deal they even waived the $1 phone bill for my call to David! We then travelled via Bakersfield to Oakhurst, an uneventful if tedious drive of 480 miles. The Shilo mini suite was very comfortable, we made the mistake of trying the local chinese cuisine at the Szechuan, a total disappointment. The following day we took a full day tour with Yosemite Tours. This was really good value at $62 each, we were taken to all the major parts of the park around Yosemite Village with ample time to explore, finishing in the afternoon at Glacier Point. Our guide, Cynthia had lived in the area for more than 10 years and had worked for the Parks authority. The stories she told and her knowledge of the park were tremendous, she really made that trip the highlight so far. Unfortunately the tourism cut back has meant that she was leaving for New Mexico the following day in order to find non-seasonal employment. She will be sorely missed. Incidentally, on the return to Shilo she tipped the gen on all the restaurants in the area - and both Chinese were given the thumbs down, how I wish we had had that info the night before. The following day was the drive to Lake Tahoe via the Tioga Pass - what an incredible drive, we stopped at Olmsted Point for a picnic lunch (thanks Sonya!), a beautiful place. But we were not prepared for the magnificence of Lake Tenaya, what a perfect setting, really stunning. A further short stop at Tuolumne Meadows and then the lovely descent to Tioga Lake and via Lee Vining to Tahoe. We ascended another couple of high passes with breathtaking views before dropping down to the lake. Unfortunately checking into Harveys on a Sunday did not produce a Lake View upgrade - the Hotel was packed with people happy to make the 3 hour drive from San Francisco for the weekend. The clerk did offer us a chnage for the Monday but, as we were only there two days, we decided to stay in the mountain tower. Again comfortable rooms, smaller than Shilo but more than adequate. Monday morning we took the ms Dixie lake cruise which was very interesting, sailing into Emerald Bay and in the afternoon took the 79 mile scenic drive. We decided, probably somewhat churlishly, that although very beautiful it was not a patch on Yosemite. The last three days were spent in San Francisco at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel on Powell Street right alongside the cable car route. The room size was again smaller but more than adequate. We did all the tourist things, the 49 mile scenic drive, rides on the cable cars, an afternoon in Macy's and the classy Union Square stores (I put Gail's credit card into storage for the duration!). The final treat was the evening conducted trip to Alcatraz which we thoroughly enjoyed, and it was after this that the only sour note occurred. We went to Starbucks Coffee Shop at Fishermans Wharf for a coffee prior to taking a final trip for cocktails at the Fairmont when Gail's bag was stolen from within the cafe at the table whilst we where sitting there! Nobody saw anyone enter or leave but the bag was gone when we got up to leave. The downside is that both our cameras were in there. I had taken over 80 photos and Gail about 30. There were laso some small mementos of our stay and Gail's glasses without which she needs radar for guidance. The loss of the cameras can be replaced but we had so looked forward to showing our friends the spectacular things we had seen and done. Anyway we cannot let the actions of one low life spoil what has still been a most memorable holiday (thank goodness). I did not expect to become familiar with the Central Police Station but I can now confirm that your policemen, like ours??, are charming. We had flown with Continental Airlines and were most impressed with our outward journey - unfortunately the return home did not match it. They have partnered with Virgin Atlantic on the San Francisco to London Heathrow direct route. All I can say to anyone is avoid Virgin Atlantic like the plague, it was the most unpleasant and uncomfortable flight I have ever made and harkened me back to the old charter days of "pack 'em in". I am 6'2" tall and thought that days when my knees made contact with the back of the seat in front had long gone. The only upside was that the passenger in front did not recline his seat which would have made the situation worse. I had an aisle seat but, due to the narrowness of the aisles any stretching in that direction resulted in the threat of injury to other users. Nevertheless we have had one of the most memorable holidays ever and were met with warmth and hospitality wherever we went, and I suppose we have the incentive to come back next year to replace those lost photos! If we do return, and I think we shall, we would probably reverse the route ending at Vegas and spending more time there and at least two more days in Yosemite. I apologise for the anticipated criticism of the non-Vegas content but I hope that readers may benefit from some of the comments I have made. David & Gail Searby, Hessle, England, suffering from severe jetlag!