Left Ottawa at 7 pm, arrived LV close to midnight. Air Canada is having problems, all my flights were delayed (I change in Toronto) and missed my connecting flight on the way home. That's all I have to say on that subject!

Stayed at the Mirage July 30, 31, Aug. 1, Harrah's Aug. 2, 3, 4, 5, the Mirage 6 & 7 for Ralph. Special thanks to Terry in Alaska for posting the Mirage special that we took advantage of @ $49 per night!

Got LVL to the Mirage and there was quite a line for check-in. It was finally my turn when my brother, Ralph, found me - he had already checked in but there was a problem (2 nights instead of 3) so we got that straightened out and he took me to our room - 20001 South Wing. Two beds, smoking, close to elevators (my requirements) and we had a view of the volcano too! Room was standard with in room safe & hair dryer but no iron & ironing board. Bathroom was on the small side but sufficient. I had stayed at the Mirage in '92 and it seems to me the room was much the same. I wasn't in the room very long before I hit the casino but not for long. We were both hungry and wanted a late nite special. I knew the IP coffee shop had biscuits & gravy so we walked over there. We had to wait, I think they were understaffed, Ralph had the steak and liked it. Back to the Mirage, we just love to walk around it! Ralph went to bed but I stayed at the slots until about 7:30 am, went to the room and changed for the pool. In 1978, I went to a pool at the Dunes for about 5 mins and that's the only pool time I've had in LV but I was determined to make the effort for the Mirage - it was worth it! I didn't stay long but enjoyed it - Ralph is a pool person and spent lots of time there. My memory is hazy now. I know we went to Caesar's (I cashed in my points for a cheap pendant that I have no idea what to do with) & TI, joined the slot club there & located the Battle Bar. Saw Danny Gans on the Tues. night. Met Dave from OKC at Harrah's, as arranged - thank you Dave. I played quarter & nickel slots mostly with an occasional run at dollars. (I've been trying to coin a term for myself - what's under a sub low roller? LOL) I won a jackpot on a nickel machine! $500 - what a thrill to see - my only jackpot anywhere and only hand pay in Vegas. It was a 3 reel Joker something, not a video. I tried most of the new slots, Adams Family, won a little the first time, something called, I think, Hot Wheels that was good to me, Free 'n' Easy that wasn't. I had a fabulous time at the Mirage and was sorry to leave for Harrah's on Wed. I had a certificate for Harrah's Summerfest that I won at the car drawing in March so had booked 2 free nights plus Fri. & Sat. @ $75 per. Dave gave us another certificate so we booked another room as well - both smoking (Ralph doesn't smoke) and I took the single room for the first 2 nights and he took the double.
I moved in with him for the last 2 nights because he didn't want to move and I don't mind. Mardi Gras Tower, of course, room 1506 was the king and room 1508 the double, next door to each other but not connecting. Great view of the front of the volcano (tried not to look at the roof below). Both rooms were the same size! Iron & ironing board here, hair dryer, small bathroom, usual stuff. Best things here are the elevators & ice machine. We both went in the 2 slot tournaments. The first day, I was 2nd but by the end of the day, I wasn't in the finals.

The second day, I had machine #14 and the button was dented so didn't manage a good score. Had fun anyway and am thinking of going to the Winterfest in Dec.

On Wed. we went to the Meet at TI. It was fun to meet Gary, Dusty, Dave (we met the day before), Dennis & Theresa and everyone else whose names I don't remember (sorry). Hi, guys! Ralph took pictures of the group for anyone who had a camera - hope they all turned out OK. Went to Mystere that evening, late show.

Can't remember what order or days we did this stuff - Went to the Venetian late 1 evening, joined the slot club and looked around a little, wasn't really interested in the Canal Shops (closed) etc. Joined slot club @ Barbary Coast, checked Bally's to see if I had enough points for buffet - I do but wanted Paris & was told I'd have to check with Paris. Got the runaround at Paris so no buffet comp, had buffet anyway. Did the Bally's free pull, not even a key chain! Took the monorail to MGM, didn't see anyone passing out funbooks, joined the slot club (I'd been there before and just never bothered but due to the big buy, etc...), checked out the Family Feud slots, R played for awhile, I looked for Majestic Lions because of a tip I read, found some and cashed out $70. Went to the Tropicana, nothing on the free pull. Joined the slot club to try for the cash back deal. Sometimes I am really stupid. I thought the deal was the same as Harrah's & Rio except I would get the cash back the same day. After quickly throwing away a few twenties in the quarter slots, I read the fine print that said at least ½ hour play (we only wanted to stay for an hour) so I went to a nickel video slot and played 1 coin, 1 line and timed myself for ½ hour. I was thinking, I bet this doesn't count. Went back to the desk and it didn't. I had 18 minutes on the quarter slots and she said it would take about 4 ½ hours of play on quarters to qualify for cash back. Needed ½ hour for the cheap T-shirt but she gave it to me anyway. Another lesson learned the hard way. I have a lot to learn about points, comps, cash back, etc. - too much for me to remember! I guess I should stick to just 1 place but if I wanted to do that, I could stay home and just go to a local casino LOL.

I don't particularly like Harrah's casino but as I like to play mostly when it's not crowded in the early morning hours, I do play where I stay. Developed more of an appreciation for the nickel video machines here - I Dream of Jeannie, Filthy Rich, Eureka (I think it's called) paid me a little and were fun - I am more comfortable with the 5 line ones though. In one 24 hour period I had a least 6 machines run out of coin - I was feeling like a jinx. 2 at IP at the outer casino and 3 at Harrah's (one had a broken something, the man counted out my coin by hand and said he had to get a part) and 1 at Sunset Station. I tried the 3 Stooges at IP, won a little the first time, nothing the second and decided I didn't understand it anyway and couldn't be bothered making the effort.

On Friday, we rented a car from Hertz @ Harrah's ($35 w/coupon) to visit the off-strip casinos. Thank you VG for the great directions and suggestions! Unfortunately, Ralph, the driver, wasn't feeling well and we didn't get to do everything on the list. Saw Wayne Newton's 'grey wall' and horses, stopped at the Town Center for the grocery store (bottled water), went to Sunset Station, joined the slot club, played a little, talked to a couple of locals while waiting for attendent (machine out of coin), R not ready to eat so we didn't stay too long but I liked it there. On to the Reserve, joined the slot club, played a little - too many VP machines for me, R still couldn't eat. Passed Sam's Town as we had been there a few years ago and went to Arizona Charlies East. By this time, I had to eat so we decided on the Sourdough Café but when we saw the lunch buffet for $4.75, we went there. Wasn't bad but should have gone to the Sourdough. By this time, R needed to rest so we headed back to Harrah's bypassing Boulder Station and the Showboat but had a look at the Regent and the new Suncoast (still haven't received my T-shirt from online sign up). In the evening, we went to the Orleans. I had joined the slot club online and had received the card. R joined and when I saw everyone else get the key chain, beads (extras available at the change desks) & bungee cord, I went and got mine. I really liked the Orleans and would like to stay there sometime. R wouldn't eat so I went to the buffet alone - it was good. Off to the Rio, bypassing the Gold Coast (next trip), to cash my voucher from March losses - didn't take long to lose it again! R booked us for the Masquerade show float on Sun. Back to Harrah's for R to collapse again while I, of course, hit the slots.
Sat.I left the hotel early & took the bus to NYNY, played there for awhile then went to the Monte Carlo because I had never taken the time before. Joined the slot club and played a bit, I like it there. Took the monorail (?) to Bellagio & decided to eat there. I didn't know they had a Sat. champagne brunch (found out in line). Note: I paid with Visa & it cost $30.05 Canadian. After, I joined the slot club & played for a few minutes then walked back to Harrah's for the 1 pm car drawing and stayed around for the 7 pm one too. (While I was waiting for Dave on Mon., a lady gave me 3 ballots because she was leaving, I think we had about 4 ballots each & saved them for the 1 day). We went to the Sahara for 'The Rat Pack is Back', late show, and had the buffet first - yuck! Received a drink ticket at the show for AFTER the show (?) so went to the casino and I had a glass of wine (mistake - hit me like a ton of bricks) and played awhile.

Decided to walk over to that gift shop which was closed, then the Strat. I was a little nervous but it was OK. By the time we got there, I was tired and parched so sat down at Tower Nickels. It took awhile to get a drink but as soon as I did, I cashed out, surprise - out of coin! Walked around a bit then took a bus back around 1:30 am. R went to bed but I stayed in the casino and had a couple of drinks.

Sun., R went to the Mirage early to see if he could check in but no go so we packed up & went to the IP for breakfast then back to check out and over to the Mirage to check in. That took about an hour at noon.

I was leaving on the red eye that night so he got a no smoking room as he wasn't leaving until Tues. Room #21094 West, same as the first room except toward the middle, view of the mountains. Luckily, we both decided we didn't want to make the effort to get to the Rio for the Show in the Sky float (tickets were free, oh well) and dinner. R said whatever I wanted to do for dinner was OK. My choices were Paris and California Pizza Kitchen. He went to the pool, I went to the casino and had a couple of margs, then went looking for a 2001 calendar but didn't find one, sat & had an iced moccachino decided I didn't want to leave the hotel so met R at CPK. Played more slots until time to leave. Had called the bell captain for a shuttle @ 9:45 pm. Wasn't there on time but Bell Trans had sent a limo for a gentleman who was confused because he had ordered a shuttle so I joined him for the $4 limo ride - very nice as it was just the 2 of us. Finally got home about 11 am the next day (2 hours late). I had called re the delay but had to leave a message (granddaughter on the 'net) and husband was on the golf course but message was received and relayed so he wasn't too upset, just glad I was home!

Shows:

Mystere - OK, so I'm weird - I didn't like it and considered it a waste of money.
Ralph, on the other hand, was seeing it for the second time and would go again.

Danny Gans - I liked him but he didn't do the Twelve Days of Christmas. I think he should drop Mr. Bojangles.

Clint Holmes - Really enjoyed his show. R said it was the best show this trip.

The Rat Pack is Back - I liked the show but the only actor who resembled his character was the one playing Dean Martin. Mr. Bojangles should be dropped from this show also, IMO.

Buffets: I am neither a gourmet nor gourmand, a smoker and not into fine dining in LV. I like decent, fresh food and my special treat in LV is biscuits with gravy because I don't get it around home. I do like to try different items.
Breakfast -
the Mirage - nothing special, food was all right.
Paris - excellent, had eaten here in March, it will always be a must.
Bellagio Saturday Champagne Brunch - what struck me was the noise. Seems to me that with the money spent on this place, they could have put in some sound proofing. The food was good. I'm not a champagne drinker but I had 2 glasses anyway. I prefer Paris.
Imperial Palace Emperors - went at 10:30 so not much left and lunch items covered. We were in a rush because of changing hotels but we had enough to eat. Had breakfast here quite a few times the last 3 trips, knew what to expect and we find it OK for the price.

Lunch/Dinner -
Harrah's - always good.
Flamingo - food was good but on my way out I noticed a sign that said it was a champagne brunch - we weren't offered any.
The Orleans - I liked it and will eat there again.
Sahara - never eat there again.
Arizona Charlie's East - OK, but won't go back.

Other - California Pizza Kitchen at the Mirage, twice. Had the spinach dip and a pizza both times - good. Late nite special at IP - it was OK but they seem to have service problems so I won't go out of my way to go back.

Conclusions - I had a fantastic time, as usual. I CAN get by on 3-4 hours sleep a night. I eat more than I really need at buffets but do NOT over stuff myself unlike my baby brother! Thanks to everyone who passed on their experiences & tips - everything is useful!