In Brief… Lodging: Harrah's Mardi Gras Tower #823 two nights comped (decent-sized, clean, with a view of IP and pool); Wynn Salon Suite #3701 one night for $450 (ridiculous, frankly). Dining: Breakfasts at Bouchon (delightful food and room; lackluster service), Grand Lux (dependable, good food; opted for the $14 mini-buffet since I was already spending $7 on juice and coffee), and Wynn buffet (absolutely gorged myself; had a bacon tasting menu). Lunch at In N Out (of course). Dinners at The Range (good food; nice room; good service) and Bradley Ogden (perfect service, amazing food, nice room). Entertainment & Drinking: Sunday night drinking tour of the mid-strip, finishing off with killer lemonades outside Caesars; Monday night Jubilee! performance (So many breasts! David Hyde Pierce has a new job!); Tuesday night pre-dinner reception in the suite and post-dinner drinks at Parasol Up; Wednesday afternoon champagne at Wynn sportsbook. Gambling: Sunday night $500 win on WoF super spin at Barbary Coast; Monday night $500 quad deuces on $.50 Deuces Wild at Barbary Coast and $300 on my craps roll at IP; Tuesday morning $250 quad deuces on quarter Deuces Wild and $1000 royal flush on quarter Super Times Pay JoB at Caesars (sure, there were many losses at various times at various places, but I still brought home quite a bit of money). (Pics can be seen at my website) In not-at-all-brief… This trip became bigger than initially expected. At first, it was just going to be me and Rick; then, friends Donna and Sara decided they wanted to join in the fun and get all luxurious (staying at Venetian and doing the spa thang). Then Mom decided to join in the fun, and soon Uncle Jack and Aunt Judy (brother and sister of Mom; they're twins…the first of three sets my Grandma had…yeah, I know.) decided to join as well. Unfortunately, Sara's boyfriend had a family emergency, so as the trip commenced, there was a motley group of six. Rick and I landed around 12 and got our car from Dollar; they had no midsizes ready, but offered us a minivan: not sexy, but perfect for hauling around 6 people. So, we were off in the grand caravan to get lunch at In N Out, the best fast food in the world. We still had time to kill before picking up Donna, Jack and Judy (Mom had stayed the night before at LVH, so she was waiting for us at Harrah's), so we decided to kill some time and brain cells at Hard Rock. We uncoolly walked past the 100-person line to get into Rehab, got a $10 slot credit thanks to a LVA coupon, blew that on VP, and then sat down for some $10 BJ with a hilarious dealer named Mia. We made it back to McCarran, picked up everyone, and made our way to Harrah's. Since they all had not been there in a while, I did the Strip from Tropicana before losing my patience and exiting at Flamingo. I very poorly navigated the back roads, but we got everyone safely to Venetian (where we dropped Donna) and then to Harrah's. Judy and I are both Diamond (her because of heavy gambling in AZ, me because of Diamond in a Day in April), so we went behind the frosted glass doors and got nice attention from the staff. Our rooms turned out to not be the greatest, but they were fine for being free and easy to get to (the Carnaval tower is nicer, but further from the casino and also seems busier). We unpacked and soon got a call from Donna to join her at Taqueria Canonita on the Grand Canal for chips and drinks. Rick had a Patron sampler, which he enjoyed, while I had a wonderful Pineapple-Vanilla concoction. We decided to then just walk to soak up the Vegasness of it all, but also to pick up our tickets for Jubilee! the next night. At Casino Royale, we got our first drink (the $1 Michelob…the only time I have had Michelob in…oh wait…ever), and reminded Donna we could walk and drink (perhaps in the top 10 things about Vegas), so we headed through Harrah's to O'Shea's for drink #2 (more beer), passing by the workers drywalling off the north entrance, which will be the new home to Vince Neil's tattoo shop (no comment). We finally got to Barbary Coast, and I needed to start gambling. Our last trip, we rocked the WoF Super Spin, and Donna certainly needed to experience the wonder of it all. Luckily, two seats opened up, so Donna and I sat at one and Rick at the one next to us. We bet max ($4, five coins per line) and were doing fair to middling before getting a spin. Several people were watching, in part because Donna and I were standing up, hooting and hollering. We watched as the silver spokes passed us once…twice…there it is! 10,000x for us! Unable to do math, I was thankful that the screen soon showed us that we had won $500! Oh, Super Spin, we love you! We were doing our buzz-inspired shouts, and I turned to Rick and told him we had to cash out. He said, sure, but he had a spin waiting! So, we begin cheering for him as we watched the silver spokes pass once…twice…there it is! 10,000x! Spectators are looking at us like the freaks we are. We cash out and head straight for the bar, where we have celebratory Lemon Drop shots (Donna's idea) and beer chasers for the walk to Bally's. We love you Super Spin! Now, it was over to Bally's, where my Diamond status didn't really mean squat: despite what they had told me over the phone, I couldn't get all of our free tickets without Judy's card, so I harrumphed a bit and drowned my anger at the Baccarat Bar at Bellagio. We people-watched for a bit, and then headed to Caesars to get a preview of Bradley Ogden. However, we first had to stop at the kiosk outside to get one of their killer lemonades; I chose the Lynchburg Lemonade, which was, indeed, a killer. We were satisfied with our selection of BO, and decided to turn in, with some goading by our livers and jet-lagged brains. The next morning, we met Donna at Bouchon for breakfast, which was great. I had the wonderful French toast, while Rick had an omelet special with asparagus and Donna had a baked egg dish. All of the food aspects were wonderful, and the room is beautiful and comfortable, but our waiter was a bit too French, meaning non-existent once he took our order. I really hate begging for a bill, but that's what we had to do. We then headed back to Bally's to pick up the Jubilee! tickets, stopping briefly at Flamingo and BC for some brief gambling. We finally got the tix--one of the booths about ten rows back for the six of us--and headed back to Harrah's to get the car to drive to Palms. We went there to use the LVA 50% off coupon at the spa, but before our appointments, we grabbed a bite to eat at Panda Express and played some VP (fair to middling). The clock struck 2 and we were in the spa. Now, we're not spa people, so we don't really know what's what. Anyway, the guy escorted us to the men's lounge, where we were told to change into our robes. We sort of looked at each other, because we were just getting facials (we decided against the massages, in spite of ken2v's great advice...we weren't feeling tense enough or something), but did what we were told. We then went back downstairs and were escorted into our separate facial rooms. Autumn did my facial: having never had one, I didn't know what to expect, but it was grrrrrrrrrreat…relaxing, cleansing, wonderful. We changed back in the men's lounge (which was fine, but sort of small to me, and fairly awkward…we were changing while some guys were watching videos…it was just weird, frankly…I'd like more space and privacy) and headed downstairs for some Pai Gow (so-so). We then headed back to Harrah's after a stop at a store for contact solution (d'oh!), water, and champagne (for the next day at Wynn). We got ourselves more gussied up (ok, pants and a collared shirt) and met everyone at The Range for dinner. The room is beautiful--Western-themed with rich earth tones and leathered banquettes overlooking the strip. We had a good meal of mainly filet mignons, but I wasn't blown away: the sides were only fair for what you were paying, and the meat was cooked well, but I didn't faint. After dinner, we piled into the van to get to Bally's and Jubilee! And, boy, does it deserve that exclamation point. We had a great time, and it's a great Vegas show, meaning that nowhere else can you find this many breasts, this much narrative confusion, and this much crazy, over-the-top glitz. At first, the sheer number of breasts overwhelms, but by the end, it's just normal. I wasn't expecting to be entertained by the contortionists, gymnasts, and jugglers who perform between the boobs, but they were very good. And, finally, I mean, I know that the men are not the focus of the show, but they should really try harder to get better looking ones. They all have great bodies, but one looked like a cross between David Hyde Pierce and Amy Sedaris; once "Niles" was whispered at the table, we couldn't stop giggling. So, watching Niles in a studded codpiece/thong during the "Samson and Delilah" act (just wonderful, in that Showgirls kind of way) was not getting the response the producers probably want. After dinner, we shuttled everyone home and then headed out for some BC VP. After a streak of throwing benjamins at the Deuces Wild machine where I had a royal flush the last trip (a streak exacerbated by me playing $.50 instead of my usual quarter), I hit four deuces for $500: sweet! After that win we blew some money on slots, including the new Deal or No Deal, which were moderately entertaining though money-sucking. After that, we headed to IP to see what table games we could play (side note: Sunday night, we dropped by IP on our drinking tour to show Donna the Dealertainers; Monday morning, we walked in to check sports odds, and on our way in, we noticed a WoF Super Spin being put together right in front, where 12 hours earlier there had been nothing; upon entering another 12 hours later, the WoF Super Spin was operating at full capacity…only in Vegas). We played Pai Gow, but I got bored and lost my $100, so moved over to craps. I lost about $75 of my $100 buy-in before getting the dice. I then proceeded to have the best roll of my life, winning $300 for myself and much more for everyone else. People actually gave me money for my efforts, so it was pretty cool (Rick had grown tired of Pai Gow, and then of me, so he turned in…which is of course why I crapped out two minutes after he left. Ah, the blame game). The next morning, we were once more up quite early, and Mom, Rick, and I met Donna at Grand Lux for breakfast. Grand Lux is the home to the best omelet Rick has ever had, and they do indeed do a mean breakfast. However, I wanted many beverages, and realized that with coffee and juice, I was already down $7, so I decided to just do the buffet for $7 more. I had a nice made-to-order omelet and plenty o' bacon, so I was good. We all enjoyed our breakfasts and left Donna to lounge by the pool while we headed to finally put some points on my card at Caesars. We found the quarter Deuces Wild tucked by the garage and settled in. After perhaps an hour, I hit quad deuces again, this time for $250. I played that down a bit, and then got bored, so looked around for other stuff. I finally found a full-pay Jacks or Better triple play Super Times Pay, and began playing that. After about fifteen minutes, I was dealt Ace, King, and Ten of spades and absent-mindedly held them; on the third hand I got the Queen and Jack: another royal! Sure, there was no multiplier and I didn't get it on all three hands, but a grand's a grand (and it also makes Rick and I even—three each for the year, and for all of them we were only dealt three to the Royal). I took a picture and cashed out, grinning from ear to ear as I approached Rick with the ticket, who couldn't believe my string of luck for this trip. We played much more VP there (later joined by Jack and Mom, who I think I might have finally turned on to VP) until it was time for us to head to Wynn. So, on the way over (as we were stuck in traffic trying to take a left off of Koval onto Sands: everyone should avoid this maneuver, as the light lets five cars through max…it was ridiculous), Rick and I were discussing how much we'd pay for an upgrade to our already wonderful bargain of a Parlor Suite ($350 instead of the regular $550, thanks to an alert from SH0CK). Since I had plenty of cash to waste, I said $100. We finally got to the Tower Suites entrance and were immediately struck by the simple beauty and attention to detail. The entry atrium is a wonderful introduction to the place, and the registration desk fronting the private pool area is so inviting. The desk clerk welcomed us, and brought up our reservations. She then said, "we have you in a Parlor Suite, which is a lovely room, but we can upgrade you to the Salon Suite, which is 1950 square feet, for $100." I just about slapped down the cash then and there, but instead, we calmly said, "sure" (I checked later that with the original offer with which we got the Parlor Suite, the Salon Suite was going for $559, so this really was a comparative bargain). We just about bounded to the elevators, which whisked us up to the 37th floor. We walked to the end of the hallway, and, after some nervous fumbling with the key, finally got in. It is just about indescribable, but I'll try. Our first view was of the 50" plasma HDTV showing rotating images of flowers, surrounded on both sides by floor-to-ceiling windows covered by sheer curtains. The quiet classical music was a nice accompaniment to us running around the room taking pictures of everything before we mussed everything up. The bathroom was an enormous room filled with everything one would need, including a shower with three different options (rain shower, regular shower, and handheld shower). Returning to the living room/salon, we sat down on facing couches, taking in the rest of the room, which included a desk, eating nook, and full bar. We finally realized that we hadn't actually looked outside, so, pushing the button next to the front door, we opened the curtains to see a wonderful view of the valley, stretching from The Mirage to the New Frontier and out to the mountains. It was just impressive, as was everything else… …except for a service snafu: we invited everyone else over at 5 for drinks before Donna, Rick, and I headed to Bradley Ogden and Mom, Jack, and Judy headed to Menopause the Musical at LVH (Hey, they had a great time…who am I to keep them from having fun). Immediately after getting into the room, we called housekeeping to bring up two more wine glasses and six champagne flutes. After an hour, we called back, wondering where they were, and telling them we were expecting guests in a half-hour. At 5:10, a guy showed up with two wine glasses and two laundry service bags with six…old-fashioned glasses. Well, OK. I thought it was weird that they screwed that up so badly, but everything else worked well, so… Anyway, everyone was duly impressed with the room and we had a great time drinking and chatting. It was finally time for the slightly tipsy trio to hit Bradley Ogden at 7. It was dead in the restaurant, which meant we had a nicely paced and attentive wait staff for us. From start to finish, the meal was excellent. We started off with cocktails, but also told the waiter we'd like a Syrah for under $100; he returned with a fabulous, bold Herman Story 2002. Our appetizers were a hot and cold foie gras, a seared tuna dish, and the maytag blue cheese soufflé that seems to always be on the menu. Now, the soufflé itself is the size of a mini-muffin, but its richness makes it seem bigger; the dish is really more of a salad, as it's served with a frisee salad accompanied by beets and more blue cheese. The apps were all great. For an entrée, I had a complex veal dish, with the veal atop thin Italian ham, and a few other things I can't remember, but were all wonderful. Rick had a superb pork chop atop a corn dish which really made the meal. Donna took on the bison, which was really a bison filet mignon. Also wonderful. What was really remarkable about all of these dishes were how spot on the cooking was and the portion size. Everything was cooked to perfection, and afterwards we weren't left wanting more, nor were we sick. We finished off the meal with a summer fruit compote and a fig dish with mascarpone. With everything, the meal topped out at around $360 for the three of us; we basically used our $70 of food credits from our participation in the $3 Million contest in May for the tip, so that was nice. Really, I highly recommend the restaurant. Another nice part of the room is that in some areas you can still see the casino, but you cannot hear it at all, so it's something of an escape from the hubbub. We returned to Wynn and the suite for some more drinks, and then a friend's sister, Jenn came up to be awed. We then went down to Parasol Up for people-watching and drinks. A great evening. We once more got up too early, but lolled in the lovely bed watching the HDTV until we decided to get our butts in gear and gamble before breakfast. The four great VP machines were already taken, so we made do with much less great VP. I tanked, while Rick held his own. Soon, we realized we were nearing 250 points, so once Donna showed up, we played a bit more and got our two free buffets. I made sure Rick asked for a line pass when he talked to the Red Card folks; thank god, because the line was pretty big. The buffet did not disappoint: I particularly enjoyed the California strawberries (I think several certain dining gurus love these), the two bacons, and the made-on-the-spot granola. It was perfect for a departure day: having a huge meal and then snacking the rest of the day on whatever you can finagle at the airport. We rolled out of the buffet to the sportsbook, where we watched some baseball, placed a lot of bets on football and baseball futures, and then put some money on ponies for fun. Comfy chairs they have there! But soon, Donna had to head out to catch her flight, so we parted. We then headed over to the New Frontier to blow through some matchplay coupons I had traded for and to play some VP on their ancient machines, one of which actually broke while Rick was playing for it. We escaped with our money intact and some nice memories in case they implode it before we get back. Well, it was then time to get outta town. We sadly checked out of Wynn and drove the caravan back to Dollar. Leaving town was largely worry-free (had cell-checked-in and printed passes at the airport; they switched gates, but otherwise it was fine), as the whole vacation had been. So, we had a great time with family and friends, and I made out like a bandit, coming home with more money than I had arrived with, perhaps for the first time ever. I do have some wishes: I wished we would have tried to see the Ocean's Thirteen cast (but drinks and gambling duties called), I wished we would have hit one of the Diamond Lounges (really, 4pm-10pm is not that convenient), I wished we could have made it out to Red Rock (but it seems awfully far), and I wished we could have beat our jet lag, but really it was a great trip…And we started planning our next one on the flight home.