Preamble: This mushrooming meet known as S&M was not originally on my horizon, but as it got closer it began to be apparent that it coincided with a narrowing window of opportunity for my wife and I to get a weekend away while grandpa and grandma (snowbirds) were around. I thought it might be fun to let it remain a "secret" that I was coming, but I'm not sure that it really did. Remain a secret, that is. In short, we had a fun couple days staying at the Nugget, great weather, got to see the crew again, played just a little poker (and none at all with Ter ), didn't ride the grain train all the way, lost a bit of "loot" overall thanks to the El Co, saw a couple new places and *finally* got into Fontana. A few stories: When I got to McCarren and turned on my phone, there was a text message from Jer: 5 people... 1 bottle of Patron... gone in 3 minutes... Terry is the devil! I got this message about 1:30 pm and thought this was an in-progress update , but turns out it was a recap of the night before. The meet at MSS was a little slow assembling. I don't know that there was a lot of "surprise" in me showing up, Mikey had it figured out apparently, and shared his deductions. There was a high school class reunion also going on at MSS (I know I be more likely to go to the reunion if that's where they had mine), and somebody going around making goofy balloon hats (no thanks). Blackjack showed up, feeling pretty flush thanks to the run he'd gone on at the tables the last couple days, and, I daresay, a little tipsy to boot. Angy and her sisters and Chicago Cyn showed up, and there were gifts, and markers writing on gifts, and people, which scandalized the people at the neaby tables. Apparently, for all the hype and advertising, not everybody expects to see folks writing on boobs in Vegas. Eventually it was decided to head down to the El Co to throw some dice. Naturally we stopped along the way for refreshments. Mikey warned us that La Bayou wasn't as "fresh" smelling as it could be, so we hit Mermaids. Blackjack was feeling pretty flush and offered to pay (thanks Ron!), but everybody had cleared out when he found out it was a $140 tab. Armed with foresight, I was taking it pretty slow with the yard of danger, but the birthday kids were not. There were photo ops with garbage cans, just staged at this point. Chicago Cyn got to chat with a bike cop, which was nice. When we got to the El Co, things took a turn for the worse. One birthday kid was head-down on a slot machine, the other inspecting the underside of the craps table, which, on the topside, was clearing out our racks mercilessly. I switched to blackjack and nearly had toothless regular almost come over the table at me when I stood on -- you won't believe it, I know I didn't -- a *ten*. Yep, for some reason 6-2-2 somehow looked like a standing hand to me. Had to be a sign, so my wife and I called it an early night before I got any teeth thrown at me. Next day I got a text message from Kikky: Monte Carlo poker- jer, me, sin. Then I get one from Terry: Do not lose to the chicks! Nice. There was plenty of digital smack going around. After I got there and found out Ter wasn't there yet, I sent him: "playing on your money at MC" but failed to draw him in. Meanwhile at the table, a guy at the end we came to know as Mr. Seven-Deuce was rivering all kinds of stuff (including calling a raise with unsuited 7-2 to have that hand hold up for the second time in a row) and busted first Sin then Jer, but he didn't catch one against my pocket rockets, so I walked away up a little. Last time I went to Vegas with my wife, Fontana hadn't opened yet at the time we were at Bellagio, so it was on my to-do list for this trip. We were going to do that before the meet, but we had a bite to eat and checked out Wynn and ran out of time. The meet at Bamboleo was fun, and our favorite bartender was there, but without her Patron shirt this time. Had a good time, again, chatting with the gang, but when they all trouped off to the glass elevator to the 50th floor, we opted to try to get to Fontana again, only to find when we get there, that it was closed for a private boxing-match party. The next day, after watching the fountains, we were wondering if we should even *try* to go inside to Fontana. We did, and this time we got in, and had a nice, slightly decadent couple hours sipping cocktails and eating expensive cheeses by the lake. Spent the last day driving around, mostly. Rented a PT Cruiser convertible (turbo) and drove the strip in the sun and in the dark. Also got out to see Mikey's place (Sunset Station). The PT cruiser has a poor power-weight ratio, but the convertible part was nice. Navigating strip parking garages, Venetian's in particular, blows. One other thing, I got a phone message from my buddy JonnyU on Saturday, inviting me over to watch the football game on Sunday. He and I are maybe/probably going to Vegas in November or December, but I hadn't told him about this particular trip, didn't want to rub it in, exactly. But since he called... I left him a message and said I hoped he could hear me ok 'cuz it was kind of loud out HERE on FREMONT street... heh. I think he's motivated to make the Nov/Dec trip happen now, at least that's what I made out between the cussing when he called back. Some impressions: Wynn LV - well, you walk in through Via Bellagio, and there's a patio bar overlooking a lake, and curtains hanging over the gaming tables ... this is different from Bellagio how? But then, even if all he did was build a new Bellagio, as long as he's the one running it, not MGM-Melange, that's probably a good thing for his guests. The bellagio guys have already redone my favorite Baccarat Bar, putting in trendy couches instead of cocktail tables and chairs. Parasol Down - nice soothing view of a waterfall and pond, surrounded by trees... and with driving/pounding club music over the sound system. We tolerated the Door Nazi's attitude to get out there, but service was non-existent. No drinks, lousy music, we left. Parasol Up looks nice, might be a replacement for the redesigned Baccarat Bar. Fontana bar, Bellagio - Steve was right, in that the folks on the street get a better view of the fountain show. Worse, the band inside playing rock covers, while competent (one or two guys also play with Lon Bronsons All-Stars), it clashed with the music for the fountain show every time someone opened the patio door, which was often. Sunset Station - very nice table gaming area. My wife commented that it was more like what she expected from Wynn LV, in terms of being distinctive. Excellent Pan Roast at the Oyster Bar, but mostly it seems like Stations punts on the food in favor of the Fatburger/Panda food courts, at least for the lunch guest. Binions - maybe Mikey already said this, but they have $3 5x craps tables there now. Played for a bit, had a good roll but only came out even. Golden Nugget - Yes, the class of downtown, although I think more for the service level than just having a little marble in an otherwise-normal bathroom. We were in the farthest reaches of the south "tower", which is really two towers. I still don't like the gaming here, though. Buggers wanted 3 coins in on VP at the bar for my comped bloody mary. $20 cocktail, score! Stardust - the only one of the Death Watch casinos we stopped into. I like the lounges there, the Starlight (dark brownish interior with horizontal strips of gold lights, you don't think Wynn went on a bender here once and... nah, could't be) and whatever the one is by the pool. Actuall pool areas look pretty small, though, and only one of two was open. Not as good gaming here as could be, IMO, but that's Boyd for ya. Great book, though.