When it rains, it pours.... (and better late than never) Just a warning. This is 8 pages in MS Word and I tend to ramble Cast of characters and backgrounds: Scott (Me) â€“ Sixth Trip Dustin â€“ Fifth Trip Mike (Dustinâ€™s buddy) â€“ First Trip Andrew (Mikeâ€™s Dad) â€“ First Trip FRIDAY Finally the day arrived for our trip to the motherland. I got permission from my boss to cut out early from work that Friday so I could go home and get ready for the flight. As I rode from store to store doing spot checks on the registers and computer systems (mainly killing time) my anticipation just kept growing. Finally, 2PM rolled around and I pulled into my driveway. This would give me an hour before Rocky and Dustin arrived for the trip to the airport, at least I thought. As soon as I get out of the van, the boys pull up in Dustinâ€™s truck. I give him some crap about being early and Rocky tells me that Dustinâ€™s been like this all day. I head inside, grab a sandwich and finish some things on the computer before heading out around 3PM. We get to the airport a little after 4PM and Rocky heads back home with Dustinâ€™s truck. We do a quick check in at the Continental booth and have our boarding passes. We breeze through security for the first time ever now that they have everyone take their shoes off before going through the metal detectors. We proceed through the next hour and a half cutting up and Dustin continually reminding me that I promised to get drunk on this trip. I whip out our itinerary and get this look from Dustin. He tells me that we ainâ€™t gonna have a damn itinerary of things to do etc, and I tell him itâ€™s so I can keep it straight when and where we need to be to check in and out. Heâ€™ll be the first to admit that he has CRS (canâ€™t remember shit) syndrome, so he agrees that itâ€™s a good thing that I printed out this information. Finally, we board the plane and are off to Houston after my little prayer before take off (hey, you just never know.) On the flight, we get a nice snack of an apple, crackers and cheese, all of which really helps out my Atkins diet. This was the first time Iâ€™ve ever heard of them serving fruit on a flight. Before leaving the house, I printed out all of my previous trip reports and several reports that I thought Dustin would get a kick out of. (Of course Mikeyâ€™s reports made the trip.) After a 2-Â½ hour flight, we finally arrive in Houston and my nicotine addicted travelling companion canâ€™t wait to get off the plane. We get off the Embraer RJ145, and proceed to our connecting gate, all the while looking for a smoking lounge. Iâ€™m not sure how many of you have been through Houston on a connecting flight, or have the privilege of having IAH as your home airport, but I thought Dustin was going to kill someone when he found out that the airport is entirely NON-smoking. I swear I could see tears in his eyes, when I told him we still had another 3 hours of flying to go. He did have the option to go outside and smoke, but since we were in the â€œinternational departuresâ€ part of the airport, it was a 30-minute wait to get back into the building. Needless to say, he decided to tough it out. Finally, we board the 737 bound for Vegas. We find out that itâ€™s Continentalâ€™s policy to furnish a free in-flight movie where you can use your own headphones if you have them, or, of course, you can buy a pair to keep for $5. Since I took my MP3 player, I had my own set, and Dustin opts in for the headset. We get to see â€œThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemenâ€ and some sitcoms on the way into Vegas. We both got a kick out of the in-flight GPS display they showed on the screen during portions of the flight. At least it took the guesswork out of â€œwhere are we now?â€ We finally touch down, and I swear Dustin is about to explode with his nicotine fit. We find him a smoking lounge in the terminal and he inhales a couple of Camel Lights real quick. We grab our luggage and head out for a cab. We wander around outside following the cab line signs, and realize that itâ€™s rainingâ€¦ Rain in Vegas? What the hell? We get to the cab line and I swear Iâ€™ve NEVER seen a queue for anything that long. The line moved quickly, but it seemed we continually walked back and forth in that queue for 10 minutes. We jump into a cab, and are off to the Sahara. We get to the Sahara about 11:30 and find the check-in line is about 40 people deep. I seriously needed my first Corona, but check in comes first. On the way in, I spotted these self-check in terminals, and after about 15 minutes worth of waiting, I considered giving these a go. About that time, though, I see a couple of guys step up and give them a whirl. To put it mildly, I got checked in before they did, so Iâ€™m glad I didnâ€™t try them. We head up to our room in the Alexandria Tower, room 2083. This was the first time in the Alexandria tower for us. I figured that it didnâ€™t matter what the room looked like tonight, because it was basically a place to catch a nap and shower before heading over to Caesars the following afternoon. To describe the room, wouldnâ€™t do it justice. We both agreed we were either given the â€œMidget Suiteâ€ or a handicapped room. All of the light switches were practically at knee level. It was one of the strangest things Iâ€™ve ever seen in a hotel room. We had a decent view of the strip, but the AC and heat was controlled somewhere out in the hallway for the entire floor. Whoever came up with that idea needs to be shot. We kept the windows open to cool the room off a bit. We dump our stuff in the room and perform our â€œRocky ritualâ€ of turning on the television the first thing. On all of our previous trips to Vegas or anywhere for that matter with our buddy Rocky, it was/is the first thing he does when he gets into a hotel room. Lord knows why when there are a lot better things to do. You would think that after working all day, then flying for 5 hours, that I would be the one that was tired. Nope. Dustin just sat there on the bed smoking cigarette after cigarette. It took forever to get him out the door and down to the casino. My plan was to get that elusive first Corona out of the way. I sat down at a slot machine and quickly ran through $20â€¦ no waitress. I move over closer to the aisle, and cash out with a decent winâ€¦ still no waitress. I move to another machine on the end of the aisleâ€¦ finally a waitress! Corona please! I sit and play some more and she finally comes back around and then mysteriously disappears. What the hell?!? Whereâ€™s my beer?!? I move over to the Viper nickel slots where Dustin has hunkered down and it up about $40. He already has his first Heineken. I grab his beer and take a big swig. As a side note, I despise Heineken, but I needed a beer. Here comes that waitress again. Corona please! Dustin orders up another Heineken and we run through some more nickels. The waitress comes back around, gives Dustin his beer and mysteriously disappears again. What the hell?!? Iâ€™ve never felt so invisible in my life. I grab Dustinâ€™s beer again, take a quick swig again, say the hell with this woman, and head toward the blackjack pits. As itâ€™s Friday night, they have everything going. I wander around looking for a $1-$2 minimum game and the best I can find is one $3 game with 6-5 payoff. Almost all of the Sahara blackjack games were at least $5 or more, and all of the single deck games payed off 6-5. They even took out my favorite game, Deuces Wild, Holdâ€™em Foldâ€™em. I was so pissed. I wandered back over to the nickel slots where Dustin was enjoying yet another beer and told him how shitty the Sahara was now. That, and to get another swig of his beer. I head back toward the tables feeling like a geek on prom night, all dressed up and nowhere to go. I sit down at the roulette table just to do some gambling. I had previously come up with a nice strategy of covering the 1-2-4-5, 5-6-8-9, 7-8-10-11, and the 11-12-14-15 sets of numbers while playing online at (brace yourself) Harrahs Play for Fun site, http://playforfun.harrahs.com/members/index.jsp. After about 30 minutes, I cash out up $50 and feeling pretty good about myself. I step over to the craps pit where they have 2 full tables and one empty one. The first 2 were $5 minimum with 5X odds. The empty table was $3 with 5X. I stood and watch the full tables awhile, but couldnâ€™t get the courage to saddle up to the table and lay down a bet. Considering the only craps knowledge I had was from reading Mikeyâ€™s posts and reading a book on craps, I was a bit gun shy. And lord knows I wasnâ€™t going to be the only one on that $3 table. Finally, a group of 3 came up to the $3 table and started playing. I wander on over and buy in for a hundred. No sooner that that money hit the table, I could feel itâ€¦ that adrenaline rush I hadnâ€™t felt since I was winning at blackjack at the Horseshoe back on my first trip. I donâ€™t exactly know what I did or was doing, but Dustin came over and asked how it was going. By this time, I realized that the drink service at the craps table beats the living hell out of the slots, and I slurred something about being up about $20. As a lot of people do, I guess, I lost complete track of time while at the table. I got a few good rolls, and I swear my heart was going to pop out of my chest. After a few more beers, I colored up about $150, a net gain of $50 and receive my FIRST black chip ever. I wander around looking for Dustin and decide he may be up in the room. I head on up to the room, drunk as a skunk, and find him asleep at 3:30 in the morning. I proceed to get pissed off and ramble on to myself about wanting to go down and get the steak and eggs special and of course play some more craps. Well, the beer got the better of me, and I said the hell with it and fell asleep myself, having been up for 22 hours. Gambling: Scott: D: Up $130 W: Up $130 Dustin: D: Down $60 W: Down $60 SATURDAY I wake up the next morning about 9AM and grab a quick shower and wake Dustin up. I fuss at him about being such a puss and how I was raring to go the previous night. I swear that I could have stayed up all night long if I had someone that could have hung with meâ€¦ but alas, no. Dustin checks out my stacks of chips on the night stand and I retell most of my previous nightâ€™s adventure, and show off my black chip. We head down to the Caravan CafÃ© (knowing better than to hit the buffet.) I said the hell with Doc Atkins and had myself a HUGE stack of pancakes and a ham and cheese omelet, and Dustin has the same minus the pancakes. As always, the food was good, but the service wasnâ€™t. If they would spend some more money on the help in this place, it would be a gold mine. We go and check out and drop our luggage off at the bell desk. We head back out into the casino and I try to convince Dustin to play craps, which would be a reoccurring theme of this trip. Heâ€™ll have none of it so I saddle up to the roulette table and quickly run though $20. â€œThe hell with thatâ€ I thought, so I head on over to the $5 craps table. I had learned some terminology at the table and started putting down â€œtwo ways, hard waysâ€ when I was shooting, and luckily some of them were hitting. Its amazing how talkative dealers get with you when you do that. I was wearing my lucky (?) orange University of Tennessee shirt and get some comments from the boys at the table, who start calling me Mr. Tennessee. One of the fellows was from Memphis and chatted up with me quite a bit. One of the other dealers had only been there for 3 days and was telling me about the Travel Channel Special that was being taped on Monday and how he was picked to be on the program. As a matter of fact, a few of the guys who worked for the Travel Channel were playing at the table at the time. I never did hear what the show was or what it was for though. Well, the drinks kept coming and I was having a great time when Dustin wanders on over and asks how Iâ€™m doing. At the time, I was up about $50 and was feeling pretty good, both monetarily and drunkenly. Dustin then proceeds to whip out a slip for $1000 that he had won on a $1 Wheel of Fortune machine. I just shake my head and call him a lucky son of a bitch. We decide to meet up by the front doors about 2PM in case we canâ€™t find one another. I had set my pager earlier to go off at 2PM so we could meet the limo out front so that we wouldnâ€™t miss our ride. The next hour was more of the same, and Dustin came back up and checked with me again. He tells me that itâ€™s a little past 2PM and that we should be heading out. Well you canâ€™t walk away from a craps table when youâ€™re the shooter, so I give him our tickets for our bags and tell him that Iâ€™ll meet him over by the doors when Iâ€™m done. I roll for a few more minutes and end my session up $75. We head out front and there it sitsâ€¦ our first limo ride in Vegas. There was a hand written sign n the back window with â€œLewisâ€ on it. The valet asks us if we need a cab, and we point to the limo and say, â€œWeâ€™ve got a ride, thanks.â€ We load up in the Bell Trans limo and start on our way to Caesars. Unfortunately, we couldnâ€™t get the limo later in the evening to pick up Mike and his dad, but we never mentioned it to them, so they wouldnâ€™t be disappointed. Lucky for us, we didnâ€™t set this up, as you will find out later. After playing with the buttons and switches and some small talk with the driver, we arrive at Caesars. â€œHoly Crap,â€ were our thoughts as we made our way out of the limo and into Caesars. We proceed to check-in, which was very slow. Of course, when Dustin steps up for his check-in, they have to do all kinds of things in the back and on the phone for the 2 rooms that are under his name. I just stand in the lobby trying not to look like a husband holding his wifeâ€™s purse while she goes to the bathroom. After about 20 minutes, they hand Dustin a gift bag and I find out the second room isnâ€™t clean yet, so weâ€™ll have to come back after 4PM or so to get the key, which was the main hold up. We wander around looking for the elevator and finally have to ask a security guard where the tower is that weâ€™re in as Dustin had already forgotten the name of the tower. We find the elevators for the Palace Tower way in the back of the hotel. We head on up to room 17033. â€œHoly shit,â€ were our thought this time as we open up the door to the room. Oh my lord, this had to be one of the most beautiful rooms we had ever stayed in. We had a nice view of the Mirage and the Wynn Resort. The bathroom was all marble with a separate shower and a Jacuzzi tub, big enough for 3-4 people and a separate room with the toilet in it, to which my comment was â€œHey Dustin! The shitters in the closet!â€ The beds were HUGE and extremely comfortable. Well, we didnâ€™t come to Vegas to stay in the room, no matter how great it was. So off we go to investigate Caesars. We come to a quick realization that this place is BIG. Too big in fact. We got turned around and had no idea where we were at. After finally getting some bearings, we check out the gaming. Slots, most of which were $1or more minimums. Table, higher limits than I am willing to spend. We hit and miss on a several slots for a few hours and decide to go and get some grub. We walk over to the Garden CafÃ© at Harrahâ€™s, as we only want something quick and simple. We both order the All American Burger and a milk shake (Doc Atkins be damned.) The food was pretty good and the service was good as well. We head back to Caesars, grab the key to the second room and head up to room 17048 to check it out. Once again, another beautiful room. We head back to our room to wait on Mike and his dad to arrive. About 8PM, Dustin heads down to check in to wait on them. Dustin calls me from the casino several times and asks if anyone has called, as they arenâ€™t anywhere to be found. Not knowing what was going on, Dustin heads back to the room and we start looking for numbers for Southwest Airlines so we can call and find out whatâ€™s going on. After several attempts to call the airport, we find no joy. I tell Dustin to call Mikeâ€™s house to make sure they actually made their flight. He talks to Mikeâ€™s wife for a bit, not trying to alarm her, and find out they made it to Nashville fine. About this time, we really start to worry. Dustin heads back down stairs and I man the phone in case Mike calls. Finally a little after midnight, the phone rings. Itâ€™s Dustin calling from the other room saying come on down, the gangs all here. Relieved, I head down and meet Mike and his dad, Andrew. They tell us about the flight being delayed in Nashville due to the storms in Las Vegas. They said that the airport was a mess because they were being real cautious bringing the planes down, due to all of the rain. We later hear that there was upwards of an 8 hour delay on flights due to the rain. Amazing. Well, after all of their traveling, Mike and Andrew are wore out and head to bed. Dustin and I head back to our room and do the same. This was the last time I saw Andrew. Gambling: Scott: D: Down $105 W: Up $20 Dustin: D: Up $1000 W: Up $1000 (He basically stops playing after this) SUNDAY Weâ€™re up and cracking the next morning. We head down stairs with Mike, with his dad just wanting to stay in the room. We start the day out with the breakfast of championsâ€¦ beer. The fellows tell me to find some slots for us to play and drink on. I saddle up to the dollar Elvis slots and proceed to have a blast. I turn around and Mike and Dustin have headed off to the bar. Well, after listening to Elvis sing and watching him dance several times, and having several beers, I cash out up $80. I stagger around, hitting, well mainly missing slots here and there and quickly quite a bit. I head back over to the Elvis slots and find that Elvis ainâ€™t got no love for two-timers and I quickly lose here as well. Well being as drunk as I was, I stagger around, see Mike and Dustin saddled up at the bar, give a quick wave, and head up to the room. The next thing I know, the fellows head up to the room and asks whatâ€™s wrong with me. I look at them and say, â€œ Iâ€™m drunk damnit and I lost a lot of f**kin money! Leave me alone!â€ This gets some laughs and they ask if I want to go walking with them down the strip. I decline saying that I want to enjoy my buzz. Several hours later, I wake up, finally sober. With no one else around, I go exploring. I wander around basically looking for a low limit craps pit. I find the nice whole in the wall called Oâ€™Sheas. I saddle up to the $5 3x4x5 table and buy in for a hundred and toss in my Connections Card to hopefully get some kind of rating. Three hours go by and Iâ€™m down about $250, when the dice come back around to me. I proceed to roll for the next 30 minutes or so, throwing in an occasional â€œtwo way hard ways,â€ and finish only down $25. I consider this a victory for the visiting team and head to the Garden CafÃ© at Harrahâ€™s for a victory celebration. Over all of my Vegas trips, I have always done two things with regularity (other than losing) and that would be to eat a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich and a banana split (Doc Atkins be damned.) Well, now is as good as time as any to have this. So I order my â€œVegas Special.â€ Both are very good and very filling. I waddle back to Caesars a little after midnight and hit the sack, not knowing the day is not over yet. About 3AM, the boys finally make it back from their excursion. They had walked all the way to the Excalibur, hitting every bar along the way. The told me about their visit to Coyote Ugly and how they DIDNâ€™T get kicked out (which was a first for Dustin.) They say how they were just back to reload on cigarettes and how I should join them as they are heading back out. Sorry fellows, not tonight. One of them would sit down and try to convince me, while the other got on the phone and called the store where they worked and, well, they were basically being asses. They finally give up on the plan to get me to head out with them, and leave. Five minutes later, they both come back, quiet as church mice, and crash on the bed. Gambling: Scott: D: Down $230 W: Down $210 Dustin: D: Even W: Up $1000 MONDAY Well Iâ€™m up fairly early the next morning, get ready and leave the â€œlove birdsâ€ in their nest. I leave a note for Dustin to go over to Harrahâ€™s and check in, as we have reservations for the next two days there. I head downstairs and find a nice 25¢ slot and quickly hit for $100. Cash out baby! I head over to the friendly confines of Oâ€™Sheas, where the dealers remember me from yesterday (donâ€™t you just love that?) I buy in for a hundred making sure to toss in my playerâ€™s card as well. The dice make their way around a few times, when this girl at the other end of the table gets them and proceeds to roll for almost an hour! The table was en fuego! I looked down and saw, at one time, that I had EVERY point covered with $5 come bets backed with $10 odds. I wish I knew the game a lot better, because I know I would have walked out of there with mega bucks if I did. She finally sevens out, and her and I both color up. She looked to be up a couple of hundred, but I was up $350. I could have kissed her I head back over to Caesars to meet up with Dustin as we have reservations at Neros at 6PM as part of his prize package, a $200 dinner credit at one of the restaurants of our choosing. We pretty ourselves up and head on down to Neros, while Mike and his dad head off for some family time. We walk in and immediately feel out of place. I comment to Dustin that Iâ€™m not sure which finger Iâ€™m suppose to keep up while I drink. Basically, Dustin and I are your basic meat and taters guy, so this fancy stuff was wasted on us. Either way, we are seated by the hostess, ACTUALLY seated. Now an army of servers desend upon us and clear the table of all the fine china and glasses and hand us out menus. We order a couple of beers and mull over the selections. I lean over to Dustin and tell him that Iâ€™m glad Iâ€™m not paying for this. We both ordered shrimp cocktails and the New York Strip, while I also added on a caesars salad. With steaks at least 2 inches thick, and shimp the size of your hand, the food was very good and the service was unbelievable. They ask if weâ€™d care for dessert, to which we pass. The bill comesâ€¦ $197. Holy Shit. We just shake our heads, glad that we didnâ€™t order dessert. We lay down $40 for a tip and wave bye-bye to all the fanciness. We head back up to the room and Dustin and Mike head on out. I decide to call it a night, not wanting to jinx my luck from earlier in the day. Gambling: Scott: D: Up $370 W: Up $160 Dustin: D: Down $100 W: Up $900 TUESDAY And with the rain, so goes my luck. For the first time all week, the rain has stopped. Mike and his dad are off to the airport early in the morning, and Dustin and I have to move over to Harrahâ€™s. We wish them better luck on the flight home than with the trip into Vegas and they are on their way. We are suppose to have a limo to Harrahâ€™s as the last part of the package Dustin won, but they just started construction on the entrance, and we couldnâ€™t find the limo. So we decided to walk over to Harrahâ€™s. We move over from â€œThe Penthouseâ€ to the pits. Our room at Harrahâ€™s, room 1133, had a beautiful view of the Venetian parking garage. Other than that it was ordinary. I guess we were a bit jaded by how great the Caesars room was and how plain this one was. We head out of the shit hole and head over to the Barbary Coast as I was wanting to watch Big Elvis. Of course, with my luck, the big man is ill, so we head over to Osheaâ€™s. With the lack of rain, so goes my luck. I play for awhile and Iâ€™m down $240 and walk away with my tail between my legs. I find Dustin nursing a beer at a slot machine and we head on over to the Bellagio for the buffet. This has become a MUST DO for us while in Vegas. Dustin is in love with their cracked crab legs and I could seriously eat chicken wellington all day. Well, color us depressed with this trips version of the Bellegio Buffet encounter. The service was horrible and the food wasnâ€™t as good as we remembered. We chalked it up to eating there on a bad day and headed out and played some slots in the casino. After killing some time at Bellagio, we head back over to Harrahs to catch up on our â€œchillingâ€ time. Gambling: Scott: D: Down $300 W: Down $140 Dustin: D: Down $100 W: Up $800 WEDNESDAY I hate to say it, but a crappy room really brings me down. We out of the room and head down to the casino to kill some time until we head over for our finally 2 days at Rio courtesy a free room offer. We try and use the shuttle over to Rio, but of course, find out that no luggage is allowed on the shuttle. Thanks buddy. We head over and grab a cab over to Rio. Dustin checks into Rio and we get room 1334 in the Ipanema tower. Not the greatest view, but we were officially impressed by the room. There were 2 beds, with a sofa and chair opposite of the beds and, of course, the full length windows. The view wasnâ€™t all that great, but we like the room. WE make a mental note to try and return here again in the future. We head down and eat lunch at the Carnival World Buffet, once again a nice meal and good service. We piddle around a bit with some slots and decide to head on over to the Hilton. We head down to Quarkâ€™s and Dustin loads me up with a warp core breach. Great drink, just wish that there was more of it. We had a nice chat with a Ferrengi which Dustin enjoyed immensely. We finish our drink and head out to the casino. I saddle up to the $5 craps table and proceed to continue my losing streak. After several rolls, I decide to stop the bleeding at $150. The dealers here were pretty cool, but I figured I made my donation to the Hilton. I find Dustin, nursing another beer, and convince him to head back to the Sahara so I can rekindle some of my earlier magic. Well, the Sahara had no love for me this day. I saddle up to the $5 craps table and take another thrashing, this time for $140. The dealers this day were like the walking dead. I thought to myself that , if these guys were dealing the first night we arrived, Iâ€™d never return to the Sahara. We take a cab it back to Rio and I call it an evening while Dustin heads down and plays black jack in front of Bikinis. When he returns tells me of all the fun Iâ€™m missing, especially where the dealers are all wearing bikinis. I tell him that itâ€™s alright as Iâ€™m done gambling for the week. The days beating has taken it out of me. He heads back down and returns later with a fatter wallet and he springs for a pay-per-view movie that we both fall asleep watching. Gambling: Scott: D: Down $240 W: Down $380 Dustin: D: Up $200 W: Up $1000 FRIDAY We get up and decide for our final day that weâ€™ll just go and visit some hotels. We take the shuttle over to Harrahs and hoof it over to the Barbary Coast where we finally get to enjoy the Big Elvis show. Damn, is that boy ever B-I-G, but can he sing. Dustin got a laugh out of him singing Margaritaville. Good times. We hit the Aladdin to sign up for their slot card and hope for some room offers to pop up in the future. We get $10 of free slot play for signing up and run through that in no time. At least we got a coffee mug out of the deal. We make our way to the MGM and run through our free play credits here as well, then over to their buffet for lunch. Good food, good service. We finish up our day by walking back down to Caesars to finish off the gift card that came with Dustinâ€™s price package, then back to Rio and off to the airport for an uneventful flight back to Knoxville. POSTSCRIPT As you may or may not be able to tell, this trip report has been in the works for over a year. I found out from Dustin that Andrew, Mikeâ€™s dad, passed away in December. It did my heart some good to know that we were able to help him fulfill one of his life long dreams. Dustin and I both agree that this not only was one of the best trips weâ€™ve been on, but the least expensive as well. We got our airfare for free by meeting a sales quota, Dustin won the 2 free nights at Caesars, and we used Dustinâ€™s free night offers at Harrahs and Rio. Overall cost for the 2 of us for the week was $90, which was the cost of the room at Sahara. Unbelievable. When it was raining, I was winning. When it stopped, so went my luck at the tables. The funny thing is, we wanted to get away from the rain in Tennessee, only to be met by it in Vegas for 4 days straight.