Let me start by saying this was a trip of a lifetime. My parents decided they were going out to Vegas in August to celebrate their anniversary and invited my sister, my brother and I to go along. No spouses or kids since my brother, sister and I were all just there in June with our spouses. My parents watched all the kids for 6 days and I'm sure they were ready to get away. They are great parents and we all are very close to one another even though we all have our separate lives and live hours away from one another. When my parents asked me to go I didn't hesitate, especially when my husband said he thought it was a great idea. He didn't have to say it twice. However, with my brother and sister it was a different story. My sister wasn't sure if she could make it because she was going down the shore the week before we were to leave, so that would be another week off from work. My brother had a court case scheduled that week and didn't think he could get it postponed. So it looked like it was just the three of us.
About 3 weeks before the trip, my sister called and said she was coming along. I was thrilled! Exactly 2 weeks before the trip, my brother called and said he was coming but not to tell my mom, dad or sister. So for two weeks I was trying to keep this a secret and it was killing me. Let me tell you, I didn't tell anyone I knew because I had a fear that my parents would find out, but anyone who didn't know my family knew what was going on. Everyone I met at the airport, hotel, LVlimo, etc. knew what was happening and could tell I was so excited about this surprise family reunion. Now onto the trip!
My parents left Harrisburg, PA at 11:45am Sunday, Aug. 13 on United Airlines and landed in Vegas at 5:00pm about an hour late due to a delay in Chicago. I left the same airport at 7:00pm on USAirways and had an hour layover in Pittsburgh. Hardly anyone on the plane, I had 3 seats to myself. Arrived on time in Pittsburgh and headed to the gate for my flight to LV. The flight was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers. My parents were already in Vegas and had the room, my brother wasn't getting there until Monday night and my sister wouldn't be there until early Tuesday morning. The airlines offered a free flight to anywhere in the continental US, a room at the Radisson, dinner and breakfast voucher, and a flight the next morning to Vegas. What the heck, I'll volunteer. I waited until everyone else was on the plane and they then said they had enough volunteers and wouldn't need me so I could board. Oh well!
I got on the plane, fastened my seatbelt and someone came looking for seat 7A. That was my seat. The steward came over checked my ticket and the next thing you know the woman from the desk gets on the plane and offers me two free tickets and all the extras if I give up my seat. Of course I took them up on their offer. That means my husband and I get to fly to Vegas for free next June. I feel like I'm already a winner! I took the shuttle to the Radisson, checked in and called my husband. He didn't sound too excited and I figured he was probably napping with the remote in his hands and I woke him up. I asked him to call my mom and tell her I wouldn't be there until tomorrow. Then I decided to use my voucher for dinner. The only thing open was the snack bar because it was now after 10:00. When I walked in I recognized two other people from the flight. We had dinner together (pizza) and had a nice conversation for about an hour and a half. They have never been to Vegas so I sort of dominated the conversation on what to do and see. I went back to my room, watched a little TV and tried to sleep. The last time I looked at the clock it was 2:30 and I was still wide-awake. Must have slept because I woke to the alarm at 7am not tired at all!
Got up at 7:00am showered and headed down to grab a cup of coffee. I had a six-dollar voucher and I wouldn't be happy unless I spent it. I didn't want anything else since I'm not really a breakfast person but ended up ordering a bagel. I decided to take my second cup of coffee to go and went back up to my room to call my husband before going for the shuttle. Talked a few minutes, told me my parents room number and was thrilled about my two free tickets. I think it finally hit him. I read the paper in peace, then went to the lobby to check out and wait for the 9:00 ride back to the airport. Met up with Valerie and Al, the two people from the night before, boarded the shuttle and had a great ride back to the airport. I must say everyone at the Radisson Greentree was exceptionally nice, friendly and accommodating. It could have been that I was in such a good mood and nothing seemed to bother me. Arrived at the airport in plenty of time for my 11:45am flight and met a lot of great people waiting at the gate for our Vegas flight. Believe it or not the flight was overbooked and they were looking for volunteers. I was very tempted to do it again, but they couldn't get me on another flight until 9:05 that night. Then they found one that would take me to Phoenix but I still wouldn't get there until 11:50 that night so I decided to get on the plane. Besides my brother would be there and I didn't want to miss anytime with my family.
Arrived in Vegas at 1:10 on time and headed to the baggage area for my luggage. There it was waiting for me outside the USAir office. So I was out of there before the plane was probably unloaded with the other passengers luggage. I went straight outside and took the Las Vegas Limo to Paris. When I went to the counter I was surprised to see they gave me a chip as the ticket. Only in Vegas! There were four others in the Limo so we stopped at the Tropicana first, then I was dropped off at Paris and the other two people were going to Caesars. The ride was quick and I was in my room at 1:45. I didn't have to check in because my parents were already in the room.
The room in Paris was perfect. It was on the 15th floor, at the end of the hall, 1598. Done in medium blue and gold. It had two queen size beds, armoire with TV and two closets on both sides, a safe, chair with ottoman, desk with another chair, and nice size bathroom with separate tub and shower, nice size vanity and great hairdryer. My mom thought it could have been a little bigger but what she didn't know was that I booked the corner room that connected to this room. The corner rooms are the best. (1598P) It was huge, with a king size bed, 2 lounge chairs with ottomans under one window overlooking the pool, a settee and coffee table on the other side of the room under another large window overlooking Bellagio's fountains. It had another little room with a desk, chair and closet, and then the bathroom. With the two rooms together it was like staying in a suite and my mom was very happy with the setup.
We decided to walk up to the Tropicana and play a little. Went through Bally's and pulled the free million dollar slot and none of us got a thing, although I didn't expect too. We took the monorail from Bally's to MGM and walked through the whole casino to get to the Trop. Somehow it seems longer to me to take the monorail then to walk the strip. Tried the free slot entering the Trop but no winners there either. Free cards and since I was going to join the slot club I figured I would get the cards. Since I was a new member, if I played for 30 minutes I was entitled to free t-shirt. My free t-shirt cost me $23 but I had fun. My parents played 3-card poker and couldn't do anything. We decided to leave there and go for a burger at Fatburgers on our way back to Paris. I have heard so much about Fatburgers that I just had to try one. I must say the hamburgers were excellent. But the place leaves much to be desired as far cleanliness goes. I don't think I would go back especially with all the great places to eat in Vegas but I had to try it at least once. I played a little video poker in Paris, and again my parents played 3-card poker, all losers. About 9:00 we decided to head on over to the Barbary Coast because I knew they had Karaoke in the lounge. Now this isn't your average Karaoke. Most of these people are very good singers. I've seen a lot of the same faces every time I go there. I swear they are locals waiting to be discovered. My parents were really enjoying it. At one point a lady about 60 years old got up and sang 'Hey Big Spender'. She didn't stand on the stage at all, she kept walking around singing a verse to the guys in the lounge area. My mom and I got hysterical when she came over to my dad. Just to see the look on his face was priceless. This lady had a great voice and so did the others singing Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. etc. Ok it was now 11:30pm and my brother was due in at 11:45. I didn't know how I was going to get my parents back to Paris in time for my brother's arrival. I panicked when my father suggested we stay for the midnight breakfast at the Barbary Coast. I said I was really tired and would rather go back to Paris, so of course he agreed but I could tell he was disappointed. We walked into Paris and were walking by the Craps table when I spotted the back of my brother's head. My parents were about 5 feet behind me. I stopped behind my brother and waited a second for my parents to catch up. When they stopped I tapped my brother on the shoulder and he turned around. Everyone in the place must have thought the craps table was really hot because my mother screamed so loud and made such a fuss when she saw my brother. They were both so happy to see him and couldn't believe he was there. What a sight!
Now we could go for breakfast. Headed back over the Barbary Coast and had pancakes and bacon. My mom had the same thing and the guys had steak and eggs. Everyone loved it and we talked till about 2:30 then headed back over to Paris. Went to bed about 3:30 still laughing about my brother pulling this off.
Got up around 8:30 to the smell of coffee. My mother never goes anywhere without her can of coffee and her coffeepot. This is great because we never have to get dressed and go out for a paper cup filled with coffee to bring back to the room. We're still full from the late night breakfast and decide to wait for my sister to arrive, which should be any minute. About an hour later my sister still isn't there so we call the airlines and find out she is 2 hours late due to a delay in Chicago. I'm dressed and ready to go out in the sunshine. My brother and I take a walk to the Mirage to pick up tickets for Danny Gans. I reserved these tickets a month before our trip as an anniversary gift to my parents. We waited in line for approximately 30 minutes and then walked to the sportsbook to check out something about the Eagles. I really don't know what we were looking for but my brother was there another 30 min. By this time my sister should be there so we headed back for Paris. When I opened the door to our room I heard her voice so my brother stayed in the hall. A few minutes later he knocked on the door and walked in saying 'Let the party begin'. She jumped up from her chair, saying 'I don't believe it' over and over again while hugging my brother. I am now relieved that everyone is here safe and sound and I didn't open my big mouth. I tell my parents about the other room I booked and we check in. I moved my things over and my sister unpacked. My mom is still drinking coffee with my dad, so my brother, sister and I head down to the casino to meet a friend of my husbands who deals craps at Paris. He is a longtime high school friend who was a former employee at the Desert Inn for years. He was really upset at the time about losing his job and isn't too happy working at Paris. He feels the dealers there are really inexperienced and is hoping to find a job elsewhere. But in the meantime he is glad to be working.
Head back up to the room and convince my brother and sister to come to the meet with me. They were a little hesitant but didn't want me going alone so they decided to come. It was great. We met at the Barbary Coast and I was finally able to meet VG, Hershey, Dusty, K and D from Ohio, and Marge in Seattle. Frank the webmaster came also and it was so nice to talk to everyone in person. Let me say one thing, everyone was as nice in person as they come across on this board. The only one who didn't show was Tony from Jersey. I'm sure I crossed his path somewhere in the Barbary Coast because from his trip report it seemed he was there quite often. If you ever get a chance to go to a meet, do so because they're a lot of fun.
After the meet we went back to Paris to pick up my parents and head downtown to the Redwood Grill for dinner. We left at 5:00 and took the bus down the strip. What a ride! The bus driver was probably a real nice guy if you took away his microphone and horn. He was so arrogant to anyone who in his way and not behind the yellow line. Don't get me wrong I wouldn't want his job for anything in the world but his patience was at the limit. I found out that a half-hour is not enough time to make it from Paris to the California Casino. But if you get off at the last stop, not Fremont St. but the one after that you're only about a block from the back of the casino. It was a lot closer than walking all the way down Fremont, especially when your pressed for time.
Dinner was wonderful. We all had the steak special. Remember this is not on the menu. It consists of a 16oz porterhouse steak, potato, salad, relish dish, warm bread, and dessert (an apple dumpling and ice cream). All this for $12.95. The service was excellent and the atmosphere was quiet and elegant. This is a must every time we go to Vegas.
After dinner we rolled over to Main Street Station. I'm too full to have a strawberry shortcake at Triple 7 Brewery but maybe I can just get a peek at one. The restaurant was really crowded and I couldn't see anyone eating it. So needless to say I did not have one this trip. My craving will just go on. We played a little while there, nice selection of video poker and a few 3 card poker tables. Something about this casino that I like. It was nice and bright and not quite as cold as the other casinos I've been in. Played video poker about an hour and came out even. Same for my brother at craps, my sister lost a few bucks playing nickels and my dad a few dollars at 3-card poker. My mom just watched, trying to keep an eye on where everyone was.
Headed back to Fremont St. and caught the laser show as we walked back to catch the bus. The ride on the way up the strip was a lot faster. The bus driver was a woman and had more patience then I could ever have. She had to put up with a few passengers that had too much to drink but took everything they said with a grain of salt. At one point, a man was standing in the middle of her lane, with his hand held out motioning her to stop. He moved out of the way as soon as she stopped but he was lucky she even saw him. When she told him there was no room he started banging and kicking the bus. I thought for sure there would be some kind of trouble, but thankfully he stepped back.
My brother and I got off at the Mirage stop and went back to the Barbary Coast to see Todd the bartender. He was his old jovial self and we had a great time talking with him. I decided to play deuces wild poker and couldn't do a thing. We played a few bucks in the monopoly slot and again no luck. At this point I'm starting to get a little cranky not being able to even get a little play out of my money.
Went back to Paris about 1:30 and played craps with my brother. Again nothing. My brother was up a little from playing craps earlier in the day but I think he gave it all back. My mom finally hit a little on 3-card poker enough to cover the losses from the past two days, but the black cat (my dad) couldn't do a thing. Oh well tomorrow is another day!
Phone rang at 7am. Room service calling to say they have a continental breakfast and champagne waiting to be delivered to our room. What time do we want it? What a nice wakeup call. My sweetheart brother-in-law who was back at home working wanted to send a little something in honor of my parent's anniversary, my brother's birthday and also mine. Not only do I have a great family but our spouses are the best. Thoughtful, considerate, not to mention generous and loving.
Breakfast was delivered an hour later and consisted a variety of French pastries, champagne, oj and coffee. Enough to feed more than the 5 of us. Nothing like a glass of champagne to start the day off right
About 10:00 headed down to the pool. I couldn't believe this was my third day in Vegas and I didn't go to the pool yet. Relaxed a few hours got dressed and we caught the shuttle to the Orleans Casino from the Barbary Coast. My parents liked the buffet they had on a previous trip and thought we should try it. It was very good. I started off with banana cream pie and then proceeded to try something other than dessert. Filled up on shrimp, roast beef and the best pizza I had in a long time. No salads or veggies for me especially with all the desserts sitting right in front of me! This buffet has a nice variety of all types of food from Mexican to Chinese to Italian and everything I tasted was very good. It was well worth the $6.95. Ended with a cream puff or two and ready for some video poker.
We decided to meet in 1 hour at the front of the casino. I walked around on a mission tracking down .25 video poker and I had my pick. There were so many machines I couldn't decide which one to play. Finally I sat down, inserted a twenty and was done in 5 minutes. Moved to another machine in a different aisle hoping to change my luck. Inserted another twenty and was done in 3 minutes. I thought this was going to be a long hour to wait. I decided to walk over to the front of the casino and hang out there in case anyone was having luck like mine and wanted to leave early. I was facing the front of the casino and saw two rows of video poker. I sat down at an end machine and inserted another twenty. Shortly I had accumulated 240 credits. At least I had my money back. My brother and mom came over and I told them I was only going to play until I was down to 200 credits, which shouldn't be long. I was dealt a hand of 5 unmatched cards. I held the A of diamonds and was dealt 4 deuces. My first hand pay. I can't tell you how excited I was. My crankiness was gone!
My sister and dad came along as I was getting paid and stood there with a dumbfounded look on their faces until they realized what had happened. I cashed out and we caught the shuttle back to the Barbary Coast happy as a clam.
At 6:30 my parents started their walk to the Mirage for the Danny Gans show while the three of us played a little at Paris. I won another couple of bucks and was ready to go to another casino. However, my sister realized 'Survivor' was on and wanted to watch it. Not me! The two of them headed up to the room and I walked over to the Bellagio to donate some of my winnings. Couldn't do a thing, so I toured the gardens and was back by 9:00.
Show was over so we decided to take a walk up to Mandalay Bay. That is a long walk, especially stopping in the casinos along the way. When we finally hit Mandalay Bay my brother wanted to have a drink at the Red Square. A bar that is noted for more then a hundred kinds of vodka. I think this was his intention in the first place, not the casino, but the bar. The bar is stainless steel with the top made of ice. Very original and we had a great drinks but truthfully I was happy just to sit for a few minutes.
After our drink we started back to Paris. Stopped at Excalibur to see the dragon, wizard show. What a waste. It took longer for the dragon to come out of the garage than it did for the whole show. The fireworks were pitiful, more like a large sparkler and the sound of the wizard's voice was barely audible. I would never stop to see it again.
Finally at Paris my brother and I stopped to play monopoly (chairman of the board.) My sister went up to the room to rest and meet my parents. After twenty dollars or so in nickels playing 9 lines, 1 coin per line we hit the three chairmen in a row. This takes you to the second board where you touch the squares and the monopoly board is revealed. On my second pick we got 'Go to jail' and the game was over. Only made 12 credits. Meanwhile the two machines on both sides of us were waiting for hand pays. We were in such shock we started laughing at what bad luck we had and decided we had enough. Up to the room we went and were greeted with another bottle of champagne and a small cake with candles in honor of our birthdays. Leave it up to my parents! We ended the night talking about the Danny Gans show and sipping champagne. My parents loved him and said they had great seats. Row CC. They said he never mentioned anything about himself, such as being a former baseball player or his family etc. etc. He didn't even do the twelve days of Christmas but talked a lot about the upcoming election and the candidates. The last question my mother asked before we went to bed was to please tell her if she was dying. What a riot. I'm laughing just thinking about it. That is the only reason she could think of why we were all there. She still couldn't get over that we were all together and in Vegas!
Before I begin I would like to thank everyone who responded to my trip report. Those of you I've never met and those of you I met personally on this trip and at the meet in June. I really appreciate all the comments and send warm regards and best wishes to all.
Today we got off to a late start. We awoke to another phone call at 10am. My husband and children were on the line singing what else but 'Happy Birthday'. I couldn't believe it was 10:00 and we were still asleep. That is everyone but my dad. He already had the coffee on and was reading the paper. I guess the late nights finally caught up with us.
After coffee and finishing up the pastries from the day before we went down to the pool. I really like the pool at Paris. It is a nice size and no hassle getting to and from. It is on the third floor so you don't walk through any part of the casino. Very easy to get to from the elevator and plenty of towels and chairs. Although getting five together was difficult at times. It seemed to me there were more kids there then I remember in June. I'm talking small children ages 2-6. I didn't mind getting splashed after all it's a pool. I sort of enjoyed watching them knowing they weren't mine. I didn't have to intervene when they were arguing, chasing one another, or jumping in too close to the edge but I remember those days well.
Pool time ended around 3:00 and we showered and walked to the Monte Carlo for a late lunch/ early dinner. We arrived too late for lunch but were first in line for dinner. This was another buffet very much like Orleans but twice the price. One thing that was different was the pasta station. They had a chef cooking pasta to order with a number of ingredients, you had your choice. Anything from chicken with alfredo sauce to mushrooms in marinara. The desserts were very good as well. My favorite was bananas foster. I shared one with my brother and it was so great I had to have another. The carrot cake and coconut cream pie was also excellent. By the way, I am now back on my diet!
After eating until I didn't want to look at food I decided to join the slot club. When my information was being entered in the computer the woman working said 'Happy Birthday'. I said thank you for noticing. I guess she realized it from the info on my license. Anyhow she told me since it was a special day she had two free buffet tickets for me. I told her we already ate and she said I could use it tomorrow. I told her we were leaving late tonight but if she would give me one without the date on I'd be back another time. She said no problem and handed me a card with an insert for 2 free buffets. I wasn't planning on visiting the Monte Carlo for dinner again since I like to try different places but since it's free I'll definitely be back.
The others played blackjack and I put a few bucks into video poker machines. I wasn't too thrilled with this casino. I was in there two years ago and thought it was very nice, but it seems to have gone downhill. It had a rundown feel to me and the employees I encountered didn't seem to be enjoying their job at all. No smiles, no small talk just doing their job in slow motion. Everyone from the dealers to the cocktail waitresses to the slot attendants.
I held my own while playing and decided to see how the others were doing at the tables. Not so hot. I watched my sister lose some pretty good hands before she called it quits. The final straw was when she was dealt two tens and the dealer had a 5. The dealer pulled 4 other cards and ended up with 21. A real heartbreaker! Left the table after that and went to find the others. My sis had no luck at all but took it all in stride. She said one thing she learned from this trip was that she has to work at her job to earn money! At least she still had a sense of humor. The rest did no better, but at least they didn't lose that much.
Left the casino and headed down the strip to the grand opening of Aladdin. What a madhouse! After we fought our way through the crowd of people and union picketers we came to a standstill on the pavement.
Barbara Eden was the surprise guest. I didn't see her but heard her voice welcoming everyone. They had live camels and the place was filled with excitement. Waited in line and moved very slowly inside Desert Passage. It was wall to wall people; I couldn't see a thing. After we were inside people were turning around trying to get out. I couldn't imagine why until I heard someone say the casino was closed. That was our main reason for going there. At least I got a peek at the casino that was roped off. It was very bright and a few machines were still being worked on. I also saw a few small piles of dirt on the floor waiting to be cleaned up. They said the reason it wasn't opening was because the fire inspection wasn't completed yet. I should have listened to VG and not gone near that place but no. They said it was announced on the 5 o'clock news, but if I wouldn't watch 'Survivor' why would I watch the news.
Fought the crowds to get out and went back to Paris. My parents and sister went up the Eiffel Tower and my brother and I went to the Carnival bar outside of Harrahs for our last beer of the trip. The band playing was very good so we sat and listened. They played mostly late 70's and 80's tunes and after about 45 minutes took a break. We decided to go inside and play for an hour or so and would meet at 9:30 back at the Carnival bar. I went inside Harrahs and was very disappointed. I couldn't find any deuces wild machines that were the type I like to play. I didn't feel like searching the whole casino so I decided to play joker poker and won a few dollars before heading back outside to the bar. Never did see my brother inside the casino or out at the bar. I was afraid to go back inside the casino because I thought I would miss him. Decided to walk back to Paris and figured he was probably winning and did not want to leave the table. I got back to Paris at 10:00 and was astounded at the amount of people in the casino. Evidently everyone who was going to the Aladdin came over to Paris when the casino didn't open. It was packed with people and I couldn't find an empty machine even if I wanted to.
On my way back up to the room Michael Jordan passed right in front of me. He was dressed in a brown suit and his earring was like the kind 'Mr. Clean' wears. At first I didn't know who he was but figured it must be someone important because he had two bodyguards with him. Then I overheard someone say who he was. I had a notepad in my purse, but do you think I could find a pen for an autograph. No where to be found. He walked straight through the casino into the high slot area and was playing there.
I went back to the room and my brother was there along with everyone else. He was winning as I suspected and so he didn't come to meet me. He said he should have because he gave most of it back. I told them about Michael Jordan and my sister ran down to the casino faster than I ever seen her run and snapped a picture for her kids. I'm surprised they didn't confiscate her camera. We don't know if it came because she didn't get the film developed the last time I talked with her.
We finished packing our belongings and headed to the valet to wait for our ride back to the airport. My parents were staying until Friday morning, but we all had red eye flights. Our planes departed around the same time even though they were different airlines. We couldn't have planned this trip better if we had a year to do it, let alone a couple of weeks. Within a few minutes Pete, my husbands high school friend picked us up, we said our goodbyes to our parents and headed to the airport.
Arrived at the airport and we all went our seperate ways. I was the first stop at USAir terminal. The line was long to check in so I stood outside waving goodbye until they were out of sight then headed to take my place in line. The flight back was not oversold therefore I had no chance for a bump. When I boarded the flight I was happy to see pillows and new blankets in plastic bags on everyone's seat. That was a first because on other flights there were never enough blankets or pillows.
I had a two hour delay at 9:00am in Pittsburgh due to maintenance and I was dead tired. Every minute seemed like and eternity. I must have looked at my watch 8 times in one hour. The weather was cold mid 60's and it was raining. However the day seemed to get better once I reached Harrisburg. My husband was waiting for me when I got off the plane with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. He never did that before. I've always seen men giving woman flowers when she arrives but only in the movies or in a book, it never actually happened to me. Guys you don't realize how important that is to a woman. The little things mean so much!
We drove home, my husband went back to work and I took a nap after having lunch with our kids and telling them all about my trip. My parents arrived at 10pm and spent the night before driving an hour and a half to their home. It was a wonderful trip and one I'll remember as the 'trip of a lifetime.'