Be forewarned that this is very long.

This trip was to be our 3 in the span on one year. Previously we always went every second or third year. We had to use tickets we received as a voluntary bump from our Super Bowl trip last year to Vegas otherwise the tickets would have expired worthless in the next week. We had three different groups of people come and go while we were out there. The trip started out as a 4 night trip but then other people wanted to come out while we were there it turned into a 9 night and 10 day adventure.

The night before the flight a large part of our group had a sendoff party. We had an 8:30 am flight out of Midway airport on ATA. We left the party at 1:00am with the alarm set for 4:00. Not a great idea or start to the trip. Hope in the car for the 1 1/2 drive into Chicago. Kind of weird to see a city so large so quiet at that early time in the morning knowing that in a few hours everyone will be up and about clogging up all the lanes of the interstate. Park the car at the offsite Park and Fly parking lot, $75.00 for 10 days-can't beat that. We arrive and check our baggage. The TSA line we are told to go through had a broken conveyer belt so they tell us to run our luggage over to the next one. I see a sign above the this conveyer machine that states this line for international flights only. I have a brief vision of us stuck in Vegas for 10 days with the clothes on our back and our suitcases in Europe.

Flight was uneventful and arrived in Vegas around 10:00am. Our luggage came out very soon. Wait for the Dollar shuttle to pick us up. We waited for over 20 minutes-no Dollar shuttle. After seeing the 20th Hertz shuttle drive by someone calls and complains. We are told he is enroute. When he does arrive it looks as if he has just woken from a nap. He must of laid his head on coat to sleep as the zipper from his coat has left a mark on his face; either that or he had some very cheap plastic surgery done. Pick up our Sebring convertible for 10 days-cost $285.00. Why the wife always wants a convertible in the middle of the winter I will never know. She rides with the top down and the heater on full blast. I end up getting frostbite on my ears and 1st degree burns on my legs. Anything to keep the wife happy.

It's too early to check into the Las Vegas Club downtown. We decide to stop by the new HO and see what it is like it's a lot smaller that I envisioned. Four black jack tables and one new poker game table. They only have one or two tables running at any time. I don't think they are getting the business they want yet. A small area for slots, a large bar with a stage above that for karaoke (sp) and a small grill. My wife see a penny machine called Scatter Magic and sticks in a $20.00. Within minutes she is receiving her first hand pay of the trip for $170.00. Last nights party and our early wake up are starting to get to me. We drive to the Las Vegas club to check in. Room 1013 will be our home for the next two days. We have a nice view of the Gold Spike. We decide to get a bite to eat at the Upper Deck and then take a nap so we can go at it hard tonight. We were under the assumption that the Upper Deck was like a pub with food. Wrong-it is more like a Denny's. Ordered a few beers along with the prime rib. The prime rib was reheated and not fresh. I had specified that if the prime rib wasn't fresh we would order something else. Two orders of medium rare came out a gray ash color and they were flavorless. It was like chewing on a 2x4. The entertainment was listening to the cooks scream at each other while preparing orders. The bill came to $38.00 I charged it to the room. Up to take a nap. The wife complains there is an odor in the hallway. I can't smell anything; beside I tell her we aren't sleeping in the hallway. The room was a basic motel type. Some work has recently been done to it. New caulking in the shower and fresh paint-it would suffice for us. Only real negative I could find was the T.V. selection was very limited and there wasn't any ESPN.

Wake up after two hours and feel like I didn't even nap, but your in Vegas for the first day so you force yourself to get up-even though if you were any other place in the world you would stay in bed. We trudge through the hotel to the casino. Sign up for players cards and get to do a daily slot tourney. Never done one of these before, after 5 minutes of doing this I feel I have carpal tunnel. My wrists are numb. I don't see the draw in doing this but my wife was happy with it. Also she is in first place with a score of 8,200. Second place was 5,500. She had a commanding lead but when we came back later that night she had fallen out of the money. Oh well, easy come easy go. I sat at a double deck blackjack game. Bought in for $500.00 and started at $50.00 a hand. I couldn't get any real great runs. I stayed basically between $750.00 and $250.00 for two hours. Cash in even. There are to young Spanish guys who are playing with tattoos everywhere, with the infamous teardrop tattoo below the eye, and they start getting loud when the dealer tells them their girlfriends can't sit at the table unless they play. It was getting pretty ugly. I couldn't believe the pit let this go on without saying something. I just left the table. A while later I see one of the guys being hauled out. The wife claims she is hungry so off we go to the Golden Gate deli. Each get the shrimp cocktail-I get the larger sized shrimp as they are much better than the small ones and we get two sandwiches. I get corned beef, wife has ham and cheese. Great sandwiches and shrimp all for $22.00. Walk around for awhile and finally tell each other we aren't having fun and should go to bed. Pathetic sissies that we are, we are in bed at 10:30 on a Saturday night in Vegas-our first night in town. LOL

DAY 2

Wake up Sunday morning to count the damages to the funds. I left our hometown yesterday with $9,000 wake up today with $8873.00. Not in the black but can't complain about being that close to even. We felt very nervous this trip as the bankroll we take is what we normally take for a 4 night trip. Hence the reason we usually only go every other year or so-we can't afford to spend this kind of money more often. In retrospect we did ok for 10 days of gambling with this budget.
At 6:00 am I go down to get the wife the daily cup of coffee that usually costs me $502.50 while she soaks in the tub reading. I sat at a double deck game with a man who hadn't been to bed yet, but was still pounding back that booze. This guy would use the f bomb in every sentence. The dealer felt uncomfortable with it but said nothing. The way the guy was talking you would think he was very aggressive and physical, but it was just the booze talking. I don't think he meant to harm anyone. We get a change in dealers and before the first card is dealt the dealer calls over the pit boss and tells him this man should be cut off because he is aggressive. The pit wants the dealer to just deal the cards but the dealer says directly to me and quite loudly that for $5.15 he doesn't take that stuff from anyone and fire me if you want, I will just cross the street and have a job this afternoon. When the pit boss sees the dealer isn't going to budge they call security and take this guy to his room. The drunken guy was sort of flabbergasted about the whole thing-he couldn't believe it. He kept repeating ' I really have to leave'. As soon as he left so did the cards I needed. I quickly watched all of me money disappear. I go over a buy a large coffee for $2.50 errrrr, excuse me the coffee cost $502.50-then took it to the wife who was almost ready. Back down to try another round of blackjack. Buy in for $500.00 and dealt an 11. I like this!!!!!!!! The 3 that comes with it doesn't help and I lose. Next hand another 11; we will get them this time.........nope same outcome. In the end of my first 7 hands 6 of them were 10 or 11-doubled on all and lost all. Quite a quick session. Wife looks panicked as we have 9 days left and I have lost a $1,000.00 the last half hour. She sticks a $20.00 in some machine. I'm off in a corner pouting and trying not to get too pissed. I stick a $100.00 into a dollar WOF. The wife loses her $20.00 and comes over to me and my machine and wants to spin the reels. On her first spin she gets the bonus spin. It stops on $1,000.00. The first time we/she has gotten that. I tell her I get the credit because it was my machine-she claims it was her win because she hit the button. We argue about this whenever the story is told to someone about "who hit the machine". We are well aware of the RNG, but that still hasn't stopped her from being superstitious. On the bonus spin you have to wait until it makes that sound four times before you can hit the spin button. Not 3 1/2 or 5, it has to be exactly 4 times. When she is playing and the machine is cold. She will alternate how she plays. Pull that handle every so often. Push the one credit button and then the max spin button so she still gets two plays or just hit the max spin button. Hard to believe she gets into these little rituals. We take the ticket from the machine and move over to the solitary $5.00 WOF. Play $100.00 through it and hit the spin for $250.00. In 10 minutes my wife has went from almost crying and wanting to go home to thinking about extending the trip.

We take the ticket and get cash and decide to cross the mall and eat at the Bay City Diner in the Golden Gate. This was a big mistake. Our waitress Candy is in her late 50's early 60's. Has anyone ever seen a woman this old named Candy??? She looks like a former showgirl who, because of her age, now has to wait tables. I mean she must have worn a size one dress, beautiful hairdo and makeup, but you could tell she didn't want to be there. The salt shaker on the table had more personality than she did. She is still reliving memories of being a showgirl while slinging your eggs across the table to you. I really expected her to come down the aisle kicking her legs up off her head while delivering our meal. I order bacon and eggs while the wife eats corned beef hash. How can anyone eat that stuff? It looks and has the mouth feel of a can of Alpo, not that I know what Alpo feels like in your mouth. My bacon was so burnt and crumbled I watched them try and piece it together at the counter to make it look like a strip of bacon instead of pieces. The wife's Alpo,errr I mean hash had a pool of grease on the plate. We also got to watch Candy scrape the burnt toast with a knife to make it look more presentable.
We continued to wait for Candy to say one word to us but she never did. The whole meal goes by and not one word is said to us by her. I mean it takes some skill to walk up to someone and take their order without even saying a word to them, but she was able to pull it off. I want to stiff her on the tip but feel bad about it, with her being a former showgirl and all. Our bill was $13.52; I leave $2.00 for the tip.

Now the fun starts....of all places we go to WalMart-yipee. I know you people can't wait to read this. The wife left her makeup and wanted to buy another cheap pair of jeans. We leave with the wallet now a $103.00 lighter I'm thinking I would be doing better at the casinos. Wait the fun isn't over yet. In my wife's quest to find stuff to do outside of gamble she takes me to a flea market on Decatur. This place is huge. I have never seen so many off duty strippers her buying god awful shoes and outfits that no one would be could wearing in public, but then again this is Vegas. I never to go to flea markets so maybe that's why I was interested in this. I enjoyed my time there. There is someone selling practically anything you can think of in these places. We continue on Decatur and end up at Jokers Wild all the way on the other side of the city. They don't have a player's card here but one is in the works. We donate a small amount to a video keno game. We figure how to play the game after a $40.00 donation. Walk through and relieve the bladders. As we are leaving and getting into the car the alarm goes off. I can't shut the damn thing off and everyone coming to the casino after church services is staring at us. After fiddling around for 5 minutes I get the brainstorm to look into the owner's manual. Ahh ha. Just get out look the doors and use the keys to to unlock it. Works wonderfully-now the churchgoers can quit laughing and head into the casino to lose the money they didn't put in the church offering plate.

We decide to head to GVR. It looks like a Bellagio or Venetian for the suburbs of Vegas. It is pretty expansive and plenty of stores. We throw money into all the dollar WOF we come across thinking lighting will strike twice-it doesn't. I see my first Fatburger up close in the casino. The shards of bacon are still poking through my stomach from this morning so I have to pass this time. Had never had a Fatburger or In and Out burger-this trip we would hopefully change that.
We go back on our circle around the city and stop at Sunset Station, Sams Town, Arizona Charlies and Boulder Station.

At Arizona Charlies we decide to get something to tide us over as we don't want to ruin dinner. We look at the shrimp cocktail with slightly brown lettuce on the edges. Oh we must order two of these. Why you ask???My wife, who I sometimes think is from another planet, cannot eat fresh fruits or vegetables. She is allergic to them. But when the vegetable starts to age it releases this protein or whatever that causes her to get sick. So she will be able to eat old fresh vegetables.

I was impressed by the cleanliness of Boulder Station. It had hardwood floors that looked like they had just been buffed and waxed. Seemed like a neat place. Onward towards downtown, drove past the closed up Castaways-is there any plans for this place? We end up at the El Cortez. We have never been here before. We bought the ACG book of coupons and this is the only one we used in the book for a free drink. So the $2.00 beer cost us $13.00 for the cost of the book. When we were walking in the front door was covered up with plywood and yellow caution tape. I told my wife it was probably from a shooting on Saturday night. She believed me. Talk about gullible. We head back to the Vegas Club and see the door to the Great Moments room is open. Ask if we can be seated as soon as they open and are told sure. We run up to the room to freshen up and on the way down the cell rings. First group of friends have landed and are waiting for a gate to pull in. Tell them we will meet them at the Westward Ho after dinner. I have the strip steak and the wife has the filet and scallops. I enjoy my steak. When I try me wife's scallops I sense an anise flavor. When I inquire about it I'm told it isn't used in the scallops. I sure that it was. With a 25% percent tip the bill was only $105.00. We thought there was a coupon in the ACG for this place but we left the book in the car.

A group of 17 is now at the Ho. I have two virgins assigned to me-the two that like to drink the most. My liver would quiver whenever I saw them. One of them has on a tee shirt that says "The liver is evil and must be punished". Well this guy did his best to punish his liver.

We haul them downtown to see the Freemont Street Experience and because the casinos are so close to each other. Sign them up for player's cards at each casino and let them get the free cheap tacky stuff, key chains, coffee mugs and tee shirts. We go to Mermaids so they can get footballs of beer and the long tube drinks of something called a brain freeze. They stop at the Harley store and seem to buy out the store. From what Harley Davidson charges for their merchandise they should have a store in the forum shops at Caesars. We cart all the stuff to our room so they don't have to carry it. They are now drunk and have never gambled and want to play black jack. I figure I hate the Lady Luck so I will take them there break their cherries.
We sit at a table and after a few hands of the other people at the table watching these guys play we magically have a table to ourselves. Imagine that on a Saturday night. I wonder how that happened LOL. One of the guys starts hitting his 17 when the dealer has a face card and wouldn't you know it he does well the first 2 times so all that does is reinforce his thinking, but he would stand on a 16, go figure. I don't have patience to begin with and I know one persons play doesn't affect another's play but this can get painful to watch. I'm sitting at 3rd base the pit boss comes over to ask what is going on. I tell him virgins I'm showing them blackjack. He offers to comp us three rooms. As soon as one of the guy's heres the word comps-I've lost him. His sole quest now is COMPS. I don't think he cares if he wins or not, just comps. He doesn't even use the word correctly which made it so funny or painful depending on how you look at it. I don't notice it but I have lost $400.00 dollars here just goofing around. Wife gets up and comes back with strategy cards for both-I never see them use them the rest of the trip LOL.

Take them to Glitter Gulch they ask some guys coming out if it was worth it. They said no. Two drinks which cost $20.00 and the girls weren't attractive. The one they had outside trying to entice you in wasn't very attractive, we pass. My wife breathes a sigh of relief. Put these guys in a cab back to the Ho. I then ask them about how the cab took them to the HO from the airport then mention going to through a tunnel yet it was never asked of them if it was ok before hand. I tell the driver of this cab to take Main and cross over on Wyoming to Industrial and then to the Ho. He says ok. When I ask the guys how the ride was home they say they ended up on the Interstate.

I head into the Vegas Club for one last session of blackjack before heading to bed. I buy in for $500.00 making $50.00 bets lose rather quickly. When down to my last bet I naturally get a pair of 8's and have to pull out more money, another 8 more money and then have to double one hand of 10. I hate splitting 8's yet I still do it "because the card tells me so" I just assume lose the one hand and get is over with. I lose all three hands ending up down $700.00 for this session.

We go over to the Golden Gate Deli for a bite to eat. At home I would never eat this much right before bed but out here it seems normal. Wife has the ham and cheese I have french dip, two shrimp cocktails and 4 milks. It came to $19.00. Stumble to bed at 1:30am. The wife counts the money and I hear her say $8,140.00 as I drift off to sleep.

Day 3

Today is moving day. Out of downtown and onto the north strip at the Westward Ho where 17 friends arrived last night. I go down to the casino to talk to a host at the Las Vegas Club to see about what he can do for my bill. As I wait for him I looking across the casino watching the other people. What I see is middle class America in the downtown casinos. Blue collar workers who worked in factories, the meat and potato crowd, retires and people on lower budgets than the Bellagio. Downtown doesn't have the glamour of the strip but it also doesn't have the pretentiousness (sp) of it either. These people are here to have a good time and to hell with everyone else. No Prada handbags here. I'm not saying this is right or wrong this is just the impression I came across as the pit was reviewing my play. It is very easy to feel comfortable downtown.

If you go the LV Club and need to speak to someone in the pit ask for Mr. Wells-I think that was his name. He is at tall, black gentleman, very cordial. He comped both nights and all the room charges. I was content with that. He walked me to the front of the hotel to explain it to the check in girl. My wife was waiting by the restaurants with our suitcase as she didn't want to lug it through the casino. Mr. Wells took it from her and wheeled it into check out. He gave me his card and he was off. When the girl finished playing with the computer she said my charges were $17.50. I figured the pit boss was on the other side of the casino by now so I didn't want to bother him. My tips I put on the room charge were more than the amount I was asked to pay. I couldn't figure out what the charges were but just paid them to get it over with.

We are off to the Westward Ho. We are greeted by Chip the casino shift manager and Art Guirley-the casino manager. It is all ego stroking. These guys probably wouldn't speak to me in a public forum but here they kiss my butt offering anything I want. They ask if there is anything we need or want. The only request I have is that the beer we drink at home isn't available in any casino in Vegas, yet it is at liquor stores. It is nothing special just Miller Genuine Draft light in a bottle. I ask them if I purchase it can I have it kept behind the bar and drink it. After a couple of phone calls to god knows who I'm told we can do that. We are given room 226. It is comped for the next 8 days. Hairdryer and coffeepot-you know you are living large at the Ho when you have both of those. The group of 17 is way back at the end of the motel and can't figure out how they got stuck there and we come in a day later and are 20 feet from the casino door. The rest of the group is here on quite a deal also. $204.00 per person includes airfare, hotel for 4 nights, one free meal a day and unlimited drink coupons.

We are given show tickets and told to ask for pit vouchers when we would like to eat. This turns into a slight problem. The food voucher thing was great but some in the group attached the word free to it and wanted to eat with us every meal. The value was always written as full or unlimited and I don't mind taking some people with me, but it gets to a point where is becomes embarrassing when a large contingent would follow us to dinner and then order like it was their last meal before the execution. Then after dinner they would run around on their cell phone calling home stating 'yeah, my meal was comped tonight?. They would drop $20.00 in a nickel slot and wonder why they weren't entitled to eat for free on a pit comp. My wife and I found ourselves trying to avoid or shake certain members of the group at mealtime.

My six year old son has become an Elvis addict-how I don't know as there wasn't anything about Elvis in our house prior to his "conversion". We go over to the Elvis O Rama museum to start the gift buying process. We just went to the gift shop part of it so we didn't have to pay. I don't know how much it is to enter, but they have a show of Elvis impersonators of different ages. Imagine my laughter when we walk in and there are 4 different Elvis's from his teens to his 40's. They were discussing where to order lunch from. My wife thought my uncontrollable laughter was tacky. My reply was it wasn't anymore tacky than the black velvet Elvis artwork. My wife actually did pretty well here only dropping $20.00 on tacky cheap stuff.

We had lunch at the new Ho. Wife had Marco Polo soup and bagel-she loved the soup. I had the steak sandwich-tasted like it was spoiled meat-didn't eat it. I munched on the curly fries instead. We meet up with the two we were with last night and take them to see the Hard Rock. Show them the 80k motorcycle in the gift shop to give them something to play for. We all decide to play some WOF and meet in a half hour. When we meet my wife has a ticket for $350.00-just the exact amount I put in my machines I tell her.

Off we go to NyNy. The virgins want a beer. They wander into ESPN Zone to grab 4 beers=$19.50. Sticker shock, they thought bottles would be .99 cents like at the HO. The newbies sign up for the players card and want to get 40 points so they get a free tee shirt. We all sit down a WOF machines and start plugging away. I stick in a $100.00 and get one spin for $25.00 and lose it all. Same goes for my buddies. My wife who started out with a $20.00 bill is bouncing around like the Energizer bunny. Hit and run, hit and run. She sees a woman get up and leave and moves over to try that machine. Within minutes she gets the spin and wins $500.00, plays the machine next to it as she is telling us about hitting the $500.00. We were there we saw it but she had to replay it in our minds. She gets the spin again and wins another $500.00. This time she screamed louder than when the $1,000.00 was hit or the previous $500.00 was hit. She has a ticket for $1,080.00. I settle in to play blackjack and buy in for $500.00. After getting all the way down to my last bet I finally claw my way back to even and decide to cash in. As we are leaving I see one of the new guys has a tee shirt in his hand, I ask him how "free" was it. He said $80.00 free.

These guys needed to get somewhere where limits were lower so they could play table games. We took them to the wife's favorite place, the Klondike. I think she loves it her because I can't do as much damage to the bankroll as I can at the larger places on the strip. I'm surprised to see new machines in the casino-though it is as dirty as ever. Before the pit guy was casually dressed in jeans and a shirt now everyone has a suit and tie on today, except on guy who is wearing a Sam Remo jacket. The girlfriend of one of the pit personnel comes in and they start arguing about a check she cashed that she shouldn't have. She storms out and he leaves shortly after. We settle in at a blackjack table so these guys can play two dollar a hand blackjack. I'm going to play a single green on each hand. Well the pit stares at me like I some big counter or something. The other three with me decide that you can't win much at $2.00 a hand. They are play from $10.00 to $25.00 a hand. Now the pit is staring at all of us. We play for 2 hrs and watch the cards be changed 4 times during that time period. I have never witnessed the "sweating the money" I have heard about before, but this was a first. The pit tells the dealer, in front of us, neither to speak to us nor to make us feel welcome. Well with the beer flowing quite freely and us all up, we don't care. We decide to see if we can't make the big vein in this pit guys head explode. The new guys can't understand why he is so upset. I tell them to count the total chips out for a bet at our table, which was $75.00 and compare to the total be on the only other table open, $8.00. Quite a difference and while our table is on a winning streak it takes the other table an awful lot of $8.00 hands to get back the money we are winning. We were already to play $50.00 a hand each for awhile to really see this guy explode, but victory was ours in this battle, the profits proved it. Finally we get bored and cash in everyone leave up. I even doubled by $200.00 buy in to $400.00. The day started its downward spiral here. We head over to Ellis Island for the $4.95 steak special. The steaks were good as usual. This steak ended up costing me $404.95 due to the craps in a tub game. One of the newbies wanted to play it; the other said it didn't look anything like the craps he played in jail so he was going to sit this one out. I don't think we even hit one number. It was quick and painful. Part of the reason we played was the stickman her was pit guy who had a fight with his girlfriend at the Klondike. Working two jobs and she is cashing his checks spending them-I would be pissed too. As we are heading back to the HO one of the guys says he needs to get to bed as it must be 2:00am or 4:00 am time at home. Sorry buddy it is only 9:00pm. Starting to drink at 8:00am will do that to you. Drop him off at the room.

The remaining newbie and my wife and I head to the new HO. Wife plays Scatter Magic. Sticks in $20.00 gets a hand pay for $150.00. I proceed to lose another $500.00 very quickly. I'm embarrassed to say that the machines wins are what are holding us up this trip. I know my wife's luck won't continue on the machines and if I don't turn something around this trip could get ugly. I go to bed at 2:30am, wife hooks up with the rest of the gang. She says she lost $200.00 playing the rest of the night. When she gets in at 4:00am we count the damages. I originally had a band of $5,000.00 in hundreds that I never counted. I now count and have $4,600.00 there. I must have spent $400.00 of it somewhere. Wife has $205.00 and I have $2,300.000 for a total of $7,105.00.

Day 4

Now that we are at the Ho I go down to the deli in the morning and take notes from the previous days experiences for this trip report. Plus it is kind of amusing sitting in their deli. I get to watch people attempt to eat a Ho dog for breakfast. You can learn a lot about people just by watching them eat. The seating here is also close enough you get to hear 3 or 4 conversations from people around you. The most common seems to be couples who are arguing about how much one of them have spent the night before or for the trip. The guilty party rarely agrees to this and most often puts up the defense that yes they lost the night before but it wasn't their fault. They lost because A . Someone stole their machine when they went to the bathroom and it was gonna hit, B. The person sitting next to them didn't know squat about blackjack and never took a card when they were supposed to or I would be up now, or C. The guy playing the dark side ruined the vibe at the table otherwise I would still be shooting. It would be easier to say "yes honey I know I lost too much last night and it was my fault, I will try to slow down a little." I have never heard anyone admit this freely, including myself.

We are taking the two newbies out to Primm to ride the Desperado roller coaster. We went last year, best roller coaster I've ever ridden. Your butt is out of the seat most of the time. Great rush-it gets the blood flowing through your veins. We make the 45 minute drive and arrive right at noon the time the ride opens. As we enter we see a sign that says that all the rides are shut down for the next two days. Completely different from what the On Time magazine says. We call rest of the group still back in Vegas and save them trip out here.

As we are leaving we are talking about California being so close and realize neither of the four of us has ever been there. We decide to take a picture next to the Welcome to California sign. Well, as we continue to drive we figure out there when we are 12 miles away from the casino, and half way up the mountain, we conclude California doesn't offer such a sign. So we pull off on some cattle trail open the doors and everyone puts a foot on California soil. Another state we can all cross off our maps. It was kind of hokey and childish, but it killed some time and was free. Another first for 3 of us was the famous cattle gate crossing the side roads in the desert. We didn't know how it worked but were explained that the grate prevents the cattle from crossing the road because their hoofs will slip in. We have a lot of cattle in Illinois and I have never seen this.

As we drive back we see all the flooded fields from the rainstorms weeks before. Stagnant rain just sitting there. Hard to believe we were in the desert. We count the crosses on the side of the road from Primm into Vegas put up by family and friends of loved ones killed in auto accidents, 7 of them. With the speed people drive on this road I'm surprised there isn't more.

As we drive into town my wife says its time to walk the strip. We park at the Bellagio and start there. It was pretty weird hearing the two Harley driving, tattooed and pierced construction workers with long hair and one with an 8 inch goatee use the words pretty and neat when describing the conservatory, but in reality that is what it is. It just seemed funny hearing coming from their mouths.

Now it's off to the fountain show. Fontana lounge isn't open yet so we venture outside on the northern edge of the lake for our viewing. The winds are so strong the flag atop the Monte Carlo is standing straight out. I tell the group to come on, the show will be canceled but they want to wait to make sure it is canceled since the show starts in 8 minutes and there hasn't been an announcement yet. At 3:00 the fountain heads magically appear, I can't believe it. My wife has the dreaded "I told you so" look in her face. The music starts the fountains blow and in 5 seconds it's all over with the announcement that due to the weather the show is canceled. Ha Ha I was correct. Wife doesn't seem to want to hear that.

We are off to Caesar's. After walking through the maze to get there we are finally inside. This place is getting bigger and way more confusing than MGM ever was. I never used to like this place-it always seemed dark to me. With the last few trips I have come to enjoy the place very much. I still don't know my way around very well but enjoy my time here. We are thirsty so I tell them about the Seahorse Lounge. I was introduced to this lounge by a meet that was held here last August. This lounge is a nice place to kick back enjoy a toddy and people watch. At $4.00 a beer is was cheap for the atmosphere. The only problem is my wife doesn't seem to enjoy the men's conversation of sports and eyes a bank of WOF. She tells me she has to go to the bathroom. Sure you do honey. What do you need the hundred dollar bills for-Caesars has toilet paper in the bathroom.

We are off and shoot through the Forum shops so the wife can't stop and do anymore damage. Over to the Mirage take the pictures of the tigers and take them to the Baccarat bar. I explain this is a great bar to pick up someone if they get tired of each other and have the money to spare. Also tell them the story of the incident that someone from the old board titled the tuna buffet. Run through TI because I hate the place and over to the Venetian. I make up some story about having your picture taken with the white statues for good luck and explain that the money left in front of them (their tips) are goodwill offerings people leave hoping their luck will change. These two fall for it hook line and sinker. They pose for the picture and the statue moves they scream. Everyone around us laughs at them. This is what friendship is all about, putting trust into your friendship just so the other friend can destroy it that quick. We get lost walking to Harrahs and end up asking a Valet at Ventian what's the quickest way to get there. He tells us to go through the garage to the back and hang a right. We walk by the staging area for the limos. All the drivers are in black suits, have their hair slicked back and all smoking cigars. Must have been 15 of them. I swore we were watching a scene being shot from Good Fellas. Past that we walk by the corporate parking area. Now I know casino management pay is OK just by looking at the vehicles here- Benz, Porsche, Vipers and such.

We end up in the back of Harrrahs and go to the carnival court. It is pretty dead. We listen to a band from Long Beach CA. called Hip Hop Culture. I couldn't tell if it was comedy or music. White guys in fur coats and costumes trying to rap. Don't quit your day jobs fellas. Grab a sandwich in the Flamingo deli and watch the Illini cover in their win over Michigan State for a nice parlay win with the over. Another member of the group is coming in and will be landing in an hour. Only she is coming in on her company's jet as she will be here for business for a couple of days. We pick her up on Tropicana at the executive jet building without having to enter the mess at the airport. Her husband will be joining us on Thursday once her meetings are over. He will be coming in on "steerage" as she refers to commercial aircraft. We have quite a diverse little group tonight. My wife and I the typical suburban couple, the tattooed and pierced Harley riding construction workers and a corporate vice president.

What a sight as we pull away from the executive air terminal in our Searing. The vice president sitting atop the boys with her legs up front with the wife and I. The car was packed like a sardine can. The valet didn't seem to say much when we pulled back into the Bellagio for her to check in. We had to let the top down on the roof to get everyone out. Off we go to lose more money. Blackjack, craps, slots, roulette you name it we lost at it. The Bellagio was sucking our money from us quicker than a Dyson vacuum cleaner sucks lint from a floor. Since the boss lady is here on work we say our goodbyes at midnight and head to the new Ho.

One of the newbies wants to play blackjack and says he wants to sit at the end (3rd base) because from what he has saw that spot gets the best hands. I warn him what might happen with him playing in that position and his very limited knowledge of blackjack but he proceeds to sit down and throw out his money. There are two guys already playing. They look like locals because they are in work clothes. One is playing $300.00 a hand and the other one has moved up to $500.00 a hand because he is on a roll. I have never seen this large amount of betting at the Ho myself. Again I try to explain to my friend what could happen but he waves me off. I get a sick feeling in my stomach now but decide he is an adult and he is gonna have to learn this lesson sooner or later. You all know where this is going, but I will tell the story anyway. I try talking to the other two telling them how the friend is a hunch player and such and not to be surprised at what he does. One guy catches on and lowers his bet to $100.00, the other stays at $500.00. Here is how it happened. First player gets 16; second player gets 13 and my friend at 15 with the dealer showing an 6. My friend takes a hit and receives a face card. The dealer turns over a face card for 15 then pulls a four for nineteen. Table loses. The two local guys argue amongst themselves about my friends play but don't say anything directly to him. I would assume because of his size and tattoos had something to do with it. It's not over. The next hand the big better gets A/7 to the dealers 6, but doesn't double. I mention that hardly anyone plays perfect basic strategy and that hand should be doubled. This falls on deaf ears. The next hand I don't remember what everyone had but my friend stood on a ten, yes a ten. The dealer made her hand and everyone at the table lost. Now the $500.00 bettor is really frustrated and almost screams "why didn't you take a card you couldn't have busted" my friend replies "you were upset when I took a card last hand I didn't want to take a card and mess up anyone's hands. Needless to say they got up and stormed out. I then sit down and play with my friend. I lose my $500.00 buyin rather quickly and I'm playing perfect two deck basic strategy. I have the card in my pocket and pull in out whenever in doubt. My play by the seat of your pants friend only lost $75.00 of his $500.00 buy in. We get comped at the deli. All us gets wing, there are good. After the food hits my tummy and with my blood alcohol level nearing that of grain alcohol my room begins to beckon me.

Day 5

Wake up and taking the quickly thinning wad of cash out of my pocket. It is down to $6,125.00. I sort of feel like I did right after 9/11 with the stock market. You know it's gonna go down but you hope you can outlast the down turn and be there when the upswing arises. The trip is half over and we have over half our money left so we aren't doing that bad. The Ho has us set up for 1,500.00 check cashing a day if we need it, hopefully we won't. The day didn't totally start off on a bad note. I couldn't find one of the eight different strategy cards we brought. I went rummaging through dirty clothes. I found the card wrapped inside $222.00-a win before leaving the room. Since today is the midpoint of the trip this is when my wife starts getting down by telling me "only five more days until we go home." Instead of enjoying the remaining time she is already fretting about going home. I try and reason with her that 5 days is as long if not longer than 95% of the people who come to Vegas stay.

While getting ready I turn the TV and catch a local news break that is live on location. I'm thinking bank robbery or mass murder-something big. I hear the reporter say "the monorail is down again." SURPRISE, this time it made it a month before breaking down. We never got to the monorail this trip to try it anyway so it didn't affect our plans.

Part of the group was going to the Grand Canyon by helicopter. For a cost of $249.00 per person they were picked up at Circus Circus taken to the airport flown to the Grand Canyon. They landed inside the Canyon, walked around and had lunch and then came back. They all said it was worth every penny. I'm sorry as the name of the company escapes me. It was one I hadn't heard of before.

The wife and I figured we would go to the Peppermill to see old time Vegas. When I'm told old time Vegas I'm thinking 50's and 60's. I was quite shocked at what I saw at the Peppermill. I apparently haven't read the reviews close enough. I thought the place was a sit down restaurant with a nice lounge. When we walk in I'm in a diner with counter service. The lounge was nice and the water fireplace was neat, but the blue and red fabric with the neon lighting everywhere wasn't old time Vegas in my opinion. It looked more like a disco from the 70's. We order two bloody marys-$15.00. Well, at least they have the price of a sit down restaurant instead of a diner. The remaining $35.00 of the fifty I put out ends up in a bar top video poker machine. We leave the Peppermill a little disappointed.

We go back to the new Ho and play some blackjack. My wife is becoming very superstitious. She claims I have lost every session that the one of my friends has sat in on. I laugh it off. Well, he isn't with us now so she decides she will sit at the table and play also. After an hour we are both up a couple of hundred a piece. My wife turns her head and sees a familiar silhouette in the door. (I need some Clint Eastwood spaghetti western music played to this) It's him-the friend and horrible blackjack player. She says we are cashing in. I tell don't be so silly, but in the back of my mind I swear I can hear the spurs hitting the floor each time he takes a step towards the table. My wife bales. I stay and within 1/2 of my friend sitting down I have lost $700.00. I can't decipher the glare I'm receiving from my wife. It is either the "I told you so stare" or the "I can't believe you didn't listen to me you dumb_ss." Either way it's not good. Pit boss throws me a food comp after making my $700.00 donation. We each order the NYsteak sandwich. I don't how they cut meat that thin but somehow the Ho can. Sandwiches and fries washed down by milk. A nice base in the stomach for tonight.

Head back to the room to pick up the cell phone. We had left the TV on and so did the cleaning lady. An FBI files show about a murder at a Tunica casino is on so we start watching. After an hour we of this we get up to leave. Never in my life did I think I would stay in my room to watch TV in Vegas.

My wife has become enamored by the Scatter Magic video slots. We set off on foot to see if we can find her any in the vicinity. Trudge through Slots of Fun-none here. This place gives me the willies for some reason. Over to Circus Circus. We find one machine by the blackjack pit. After a $100.00 donation in the machine we decide to move on. There is quite a difference in the amount of kids here in the summer and here during a school day but still enough of them that make me want to ask their parents why the hell they don't have their kids in school. We cross the street to the Riviera and cannot find any Scatter Magic machines. As we walk through we notice the sports book has been expanded since last August. All of the sudden a look of sheer panic crosses my wife's face. I ask what's wrong and all I hear her say is Sigma Derby. Oh no, when they remodeled the sports book they must have removed the Sigma Derby game, our only reason for coming to the Riviera. The Riviera is hosting its 50th anniversary this year and had photos of the first year they were open on the walls for people to look at. The thing that surprised us was if you look at the pictures of the pool area you will see scores of little kids in the photos. So bringing kids to Vegas isn't something that just started because someone threw a pirate battle in front of their casino. It's been going on for 50 years.

We cross back to the Ho and settle in for a blackjack session. No need to worry about the friend crashing this session has those two had went out to the Las Vegas Speedway. They have Busch Series cars being fine tuned. They said this was awesome. Free entry to the speedway-get into the inside of the track and they have concessions open. $4.50 for a beer is pretty reasonable and you got to go to the pits. I'm sorry if I'm not using the right lingo or describing it in correct terms. NASCAR is a sport I know very little about. Anyway my wife and I sit down and after an hour and a half I cash in for $1,185.00-yippeeee a win. My wife is quick to note that the friend is at the speedway. I don't remember how the wife did. I was to ecstatic about my own winning. Our friend who is here on business is off work and drives down to the Ho to meet us and check the place out. She is leaving the dumpy old Bellagio after tonight to check in with the rest of the group at the Ho. Pretty good friend, huh. The women are off running around from machine to machine. It reminded me of the science test were you put the mouse in a maze and watch him run around. My wife and friend were doing the same thing. Only the mouse doesn't come up to me and ask for another $100.00 every 15 minutes like my wife is doing. I put it towards the cost of entertainment. I can tell the wallet will be skinner tomorrow morning. Friend wants to see the new HO. Go there and I buy in for $500.00 and lose that rather quickly. Buy in for another $500.00 and lose $250.00 of that is mere seconds. Push the remaining $250.00 out on one hand and lose that also. The only good thing is my friend wasn't at the table so I've blown my wife's theory. Ok, now I'm officially on TILT and out of control. The amount of booze in me isn't making me think any clearer. I'm starting to lose faith in the strategy cards. I've seen people draw to a 17 and hit and I've used this card 100% of the time. We have 8 different cards for different deck totals and different rules and still losing. The strategy cards can only tell you what to do. They can't guarantee good hands to work with.

Every trip you have things that stand out in your mind. So far the two that stick out the most is the number of 3/2 hands of 5 I've started with. Every 4th or 5th hand it seems is a 5. Second the cards I'm receiving after I double. It appears to always be a 3/4/5. Unless the dealer breaks I'm not winning the double downs. Basic strategy means you will lose more hands than a normal player will but you get that back and cut the house edge by splitting and doubling when your supposed to. If I would just catch better cards on the double downs I would be ok.

We drink MGD Light. In our area where we live it is very common. In Vegas the liquor stores carry it but I have never seen it in any casino. The casino manager told me he doesn't have a problem with me bringing a case into the casino and keeping it behind the bar. That works out well for us as it is what we enjoy drinking. This does cause a problem with every new bartender that is on duty when they see you lug a case of beer to the bar and tell them to keep it behind the bar for me. After the second day the word was out and there were no problems. At a larger casino there would no chance in hell of this ever happening.

Everyone tells you not to play for comps and I agree with them completely, but the casinos know how to stroke your ego and make you feel so much more important than we really are. Because of this I caught myself playing blackjack sometimes, not because I wanted to, but to get more time in at the table. I discussed this with the casino manager. I was very honest in how I felt and discussed the good and the bad about the trip and the Ho. He explained that the Ho rates players from A to F. I'm an A rated played and was told that I didn't have to gamble the rest of our trip (5 days) because I already had given them enough action. What he told me to do was this. Say I come down to the casino and am waiting for the wife to get ready and come down. I decide to play blackjack to kill some time but don't want to get involved a big game. Say I'm going to play for $3.00 or $5.00 a hand to kill time. He stated that then I shouldn't give my players card to be rated. All that would do is eat into my average bet amount and bring it down. The average bet is the weighted factor at the Ho when is comes to rating along with time at the table. It makes total sense to me but I had never thought of it and always forked out my minimum base bet of $50.00. He went on to say that they appreciate the business I give them and try to make me feel welcomed. I could go to a larger resort and not even qualify for RFB, but here I'm the whale. I get anything I want. I'm spoiled here. That all said, we have stayed here the last two years because we have come out with a larger group. If I and the wife came out alone would we stay here? I don't think so but the wife said she wouldn't mind it here. Though the accommodations are no where near the level of the south strip it is nice being pampered and spoiled.

The pit throws a food comp at me. Good for the 8 of us that are with us. I really don't want to eat but some in the group have never had a comp and are whining about getting a comped meal. I tell them a comped meal taste the same as a paid meal, maybe even better cause your probably in a better mood. This falls on deaf ears. I tell the group to not act like the locusts did in biblical times. I get puzzled looks from some. So I just shout out that because its free don't be a damn pig and order more than you can eat. The pit boss oversees my quandary and comes over. While everyone is ordering he tells the girl taking the order to give us all the appetizers on the menu as well. Nothing like eating tons of fried food before going to bed. When we get to the room I try and count the money with my grease coated fingers. Total is $5,423.00

Day 6

Today is the day the group of 17 is heading home. The two guys that have been hanging out with us the most decide at the last moment they are going to stay another night. They call the travel agent they had and are charged $50.00 a piece to fly out tomorrow. They go to ask to see if they will be comped a room for the night. The pit boss shows them a stack of rating slips and says that none have been entered for the week as of yet so he can not determine their rating. They pay $38.00 for the extra night. I notice that the city fills up quite a bit today in anticipation of the big game. The casinos are more packed and traffic is a lot worse.

As I'm waiting for the wife I run into two different people from our hometown. Small world. As I continue to wait I devise a way to kill time. I start a poll of Westward Ho workers asking them which burger we should go and eat, Fatburger or In and Out. In an Out was a unanimous winner in my poll of 7 people. So off we go on Sahara until we come upon In and Out. My God-everyone from the state of Nevada must be here. The place is packed. In and Out must have the world's smallest menu-its Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Double Hamburger, fries and drinks. It's on a poster board about 2x2 feet. I count 17 people behind the counter taking orders, cutting and cooking fries and cooking hamburgers not counting the people out front. This place is a zoo. We get our order, two double cheeseburgers, two fries and two cokes. There isn't anyplace to sit so we go outside and eat at a table set up there. My opinion of In and Out. It doesn't taste like a fast food burger. It reminded me of a burger cooked at a diner. It was very tasty and very good. Next time its Fatburger so we can make our own comparisons.

We decide to keep going west on Sahara. Gas up for $1.95 a gallon. I gassed up in Vegas twice and noticed that you have to prepay anytime you want to use cash. Back in our hometown the only pumps you prepay for are the ones closest to the street-otherwise you pump then pay. Even at the new Ho they have a guy in a glass enclosed tower looking out over the parking lot. What the heck is he watching if everyone has to prepay for gas. People stealing the squeegees? Up into the mountain we go. Hey were heading to Red Rock Canyon and didn't even know it. The new casino seems to be coming along nicely. It seems to be sitting out in the desert next to nothing but I'm sure enough money was spent on enough studies to prove it will be a profitable venture. Enter Red Rock and pay $5.00 for the 13.5 mile loop. I wish casinos hired buses to take all the cocky dumbass guys who think they are the Rico Suaves of the world and make them go through Red Rock Canyon. Maybe, just maybe while staring at the beautiful and enormous sand bluffs created over hundreds of thousands of years they will realize just how insignificant they are in the grand scheme of things. Even got to drive through a creek which seemed to be coming from mountain runoff. The man at the shack where you first pay said due to the amount of rain they have received this desert flower bloom in late February and March might be the most colorful one ever. Driving through there with the colorful vegetation and the beautiful backdrop of the mountains will be one hell of a sight. As we exit we turn right to take the trip around to the south end of the strip. As I drive my wife is watching planes come in and saying how lucky those people are to be coming into Vegas-our trip in over half over and in 4 days we will be going home. HELLO honey, 95% of the people coming into town today will be back home before you. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and enjoy the damn vacation. LOL I don't know if it were due to the strong winds or the direction of the winds, they were coming out of the northeast, but a lot of the planes were flying over the strip and landing in the two runways that are parallel and behind the Klondike. The planes were so low as they crossed the strip I think you could throw something at the plane and hit it if you wanted. I thought if we went to the Klondike maybe we could see the planes land, but we couldn't. At 42 I can still sit and watch airplanes takeoff and land. It amazes me.

We are at the Klondike to kill time as the husband of our friend who is here on business arrives at the airport in a couple of hours. We sit and play blackjack. Single green for me and my wife's bets bounce all around. We only played for 1/2 hour but came out $40.00 to the good. The best part of stopping was that the pit boss working today-who was wearing a San Remo jacket yesterday and today, of all things offered us a food comp. Now I gamble as much as the next guy and have gambled on some weird things but I don't consider myself enough of a gambler to try and eat the Klondike's food. I turn the comp down but curiosity gets the best of me so I walk back to the restaurant to stroll through and get an eyeful of what people are eating. You know when you are being lead to your table when your reservation is called you glimpse nonchalantly at everyone's plate as you pass their table trying to figure out what looks good and what not to order. Well I only had two diners to view from. One had what appeared to be pork chops that looked rather overcooked-well maybe not overcooked just burnt. Looked like something my mother used to serve us being worried about trichinosis even though I doubt there has been a case in the last 50 years. The other patron had what I called St. Patrick day soup. What I assume, and all I can do here is assume was that it was broccoli and cheddar cheese soup. But I think the chef/sous chef/line cook/ dishwasher or whatever took an immersion blender to it for some reason and the broccoli was blended into pieces about the size of sand granules. This caused the green color to leech out into the soup causing the lime green effect. If you don't learn anything else from this trip report as least you can use that tidbit of information for your soup course on St Pattys day.

We leave to go to Terribles and sign up for their player's card and each receive a tee shirt. We are finally going to use a ACG guide for the 2 for 1 buffet coupon. They have a line so we scrap that idea and eat at the restaurant next to the buffet, Margaritas I thing is the name. Wife has chicken flautas I have chicken wings. Decent food. After eating and still waiting for the phone call to go the airport we walk around making small donations to the slot gods. Wife sees a machine she hasn't seen before. A slot with a pig and a bonus of different type of grills and meat gets you different bonus amounts. A $20.00 goes in and on the first spin she wins $175.00. Most people would consider that good, but my wife didn't get to do the bonus game, she just won that on a regular spin. We have to play until we get the bonus to see what it is like. Well we give back the $175.00 they gave us and give them an additional $60.00 and still don't get the spin. I try and explain to my wife the idea is about winning not getting bonus rounds. She could care less. I honestly believe she would rather get a bonus round, especially on the WOF, than a larger win on a regular spin.

Leave Terribles and go to Hard Rock. I'm too old for this place but we always do alright here. It's closer to the airport also. As we are walking in we pass a car and I here the guy tell the woman sitting next to him "for the money I spent can I at least get your picture", Hmmm, wonder what they have been doing. Wife buys the Hard Rock Vegas shirts for some of her family members. Why do people have this desire to want people to believe they have been to places they have never been? Her brother wears the shirts but has never been to the state of Nevada buts tries to come off as if he has been there. He doesn't impress anyone. Wife drops in a $20.00 into a WOF and hits the spin for $100.00. She's happy we get to leave winners again. As we leave and are in our car I point out to my wife the group of girls across the street in the motel parking lot. All have teased and bleached hair and very skimpy clothes on. None of these women would drown if thrown into the water with the flotation devices they had inside their chests. I then scan across the parking lot and see the Paradise Men's club. They must be in town to work at the Paradise for the Super Bowl weekend.

Get the call to go to the airport. What a zoo at 5:30pm on Thursday. Our friend said she was dropping off her car at Hertz and taking a shuttle to the airport to meet her husband. She told us to go to departures instead of arrivals as it would be much easier and faster. My god what a great bit of advice this was. The arrival traffic was backed up to Paradise-before you enter the airport the departure lanes were empty. We got to departure but beat her there so we looped around the airport 7 times. They have it set up so there isn't one place for you to pull over and wait for someone. On the whole loop around the airport we saw people also trying wait along the side of the road. A yellow airport pickup with flasher was there in a heartbeat to keep you moving.

Pick up friend and off to Westward Ho for them to check in. Quite a difference for our friend to go from Bellagio to the Ho but she doesn't seem to mind. As long as she and my wife have slots to throw money into they are happy. Hook up with one of the guys that extended his stay and we all head over to Circus Circus. We break up into smaller groups but it is easy to locate the girls. Whenever they hit anything they scream like two little school girls. The two guys want me to play blackjack. I'm leery as I looked at the tables the other night and 6/5 was everywhere. I look quickly and count 12 open tables. Two are two deck pitch, two are multi-deck games and the other 8 are single deck 6/5. Naturally the only table with three seats is a 6/5 game. I give these two guys the rundown on that and they don't see the big deal and say we are only playing for fun. I think of playing just to spend some time with them and to shut them up. I again tell them if I don't agree with it I shouldn't play it and the only way to let the casino know I don't like it is to refuse to play it- so I don't. Well the two friends stare at me like I'm some sort of peace activist from the Vietnam era and then slowly recede to a 6/5 table for those two to play.

We all cross the street to the Riveria and the boys find $15.00 double deck game and the girls are off strengthening the Riverias slots financial bottom line. Our dealer is Jimmy from St Louis. Jimmy says he has been her for 40 years. Told us many stories but the one that got him fired up and the most and animated was about Barbara Streisand. It was the early 70's and he was dealing baccarat for 4 guys at $500.00 a hand each. Well she came in and started playing $30.00 a hand after losing 3-4 hands she made quite a seen and started yelling. One of the $500.00 bettors told her they were down considerably more and not to let it bother her. She then starts screaming at this guy. Security is called and she is escorted to her room. Let's just say Jimmy called her everything but a woman when he described her. I guess she ruined a very good day in tips for him. I make $250.00 here listening to Jimmy tell stories and enjoyed my time. The bad thing is I had that nasty tap on the shoulder with my wife's outstretch open palm 4 times while playing, so my gain was lost elsewhere in the casino.

Go to the Stardust and this place is a zoo. You can't get a seat anywhere. I get a seat (after standing behind someone-this makes me think of that post) after 1/2 hr wait. I lost $500.00 quicker than the time it took to get the seat. Most of the people in the casino seemed to have arrived today. There is an energy in the casino and these people are in the party mood and ready to throw back some booze. I've been here 6 days and don't have the twinkle in my eye that the people arriving today have. We decide to eat at the Stardust coffee shop at 1:00am. We had prime rib the other couple had wings and a burger. The friend ordered a soup that came in a bowl so big it looked like a fishbowl. All I can remember was that is had ramen pride noodles in it and I don't think it tasted that bad. The other friend meets a woman as we waited for a seat so they ate together at a different table. At 2:30 we leave. I'm glad the Ho is so close to walk to. I don't think any of us could make if very far tonight. Another plus for being at these casinos is they are closer to walk from one to one. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

Day 7

Friend wants to go to the Peppermill for breakfast. After our excursion here the other day I have no desire to go but relent for the sake of friendship. Well three of us eat breakfast. Friend has ham and eggs. The ham is hanging off the side of the plate it is so large. My wife orders Alpo again....I mean corn beef hash, her serving is so large she cannot finish. I have bacon and eggs-thought my eggs were quail eggs they were so small. I get the runt of the three breakfasts. The food was good but expensive, $48.00 for us three. I watch the Rico Suave dudes sitting next to us. They have just been to the Stardust and picked up a list of prop bets for the Super Bowl. Man is there a lot of testosterone at that table. Talking about how they were gonna score with the women, score free tickets to this and that score this and that. These dudes were going to do some scoring. The biggest swinging d_ck decides to impress his buddies by ordering a gin martini straight up with twist. He said this in such a monotone I know her got it from a movie and has been practicing the lines before the trip out here. As we eat I continue to watch Chief Swinging D_ck impress everyone. I also notice that the amount of fluid in the drink hasn't gone down very much in the whole time we are there but he is continuing to get refills of water. I guess gin and eggs don't mix well.

The two construction workers who delayed their flights have to leave. They are sober and worried about missing their 3:15 flight and want to go to the airport at 11:00am. We tell them they have awhile. That was a mistake. They head to the bar and there butts become glued to the seats. They start doing appletinis. What is it with everyone and the Friday morning martinis? Tell them they now need to get going as it is 1:30pm. They order another round. I pull them to the back and throw them in a cab with their full drinks.

The couple with us now asks about the Klondike. I like the place but more than 3 visits in a trip wears me out. We go there and I just can't get into the mood. I spend some of my time outside watching planes land while they walk around dropping coins into machines. The pit boss that offered the food comp yesterday is behind the tables today. He doesn't have his satin San Remo jacket on today and he acts like he doesn't even remember me. I'm hurt.

After this we head to the Orleans as neither of them has heard about this place. We get here around 3:00pm on a Friday. My god the long line for check cashing. There had to be over 300 people in line when we got there. When we left 2 1/2 hrs later the line was just as long. People standing in line with their young children. Most of them looked to be of Spanish decent. If someone would open a system of banks catering to the Spanish population in Vegas I think they would do quite well. I asked a cashier what the benefit was for them to cash their payroll checks here. She showed me a green token they each get. They choose from two machines to play it in. They have the chance to win $250.000 I think was the amount. All we saw were free drink vouchers being won. That drags them even deeper into the casino to get to the bar and passing by slot machines crying out for their money. Don't stop there go ten feet past the bar by the sports book and grab some hotdogs for you and the family for .75 cents a piece. Get them further into the heart of the casino. This is the part about casinos it is hard to like. How they do anything to get you into their building so they can get your money.

Wife is playing a WOF and losing. She gets up and woman sits down. Woman gets the bonus on her first spin. She asks my wife what does this mean and how do I do it. Well you know the rest of the story the woman hits the $1,000.00. The wife gets pissed and takes it out on me like it was somehow my fault. I'm smart enough to hide some where else. I find a blackjack table and settle in far away from the wife. The bad luck friend is 37,000 feet in the sky and getting farther away every minute. His karma has to be wearing off. Believe it or not the cards fall like they are suppose to. I get in on a hell for run and within 1/2 hour I'm up to $1,800.00 from my $500.00 buy in. Just then I get the tap on the shoulder-the wife. She sees all the black chips on the felt and is pleased. A gentlemen who was standing behind me states rather loudly "I have to get in on this good run" and sits at the table and then singles me out and says "we won't be having anymore of the doubling on that A/7 sh*t". Ok I've lost my good mood that fast. I tell him if the card says to play it I will. His reply is that the only person who made money on that card was the person who sold it. The dealer, a blonde name Montayo I think, chirps in "its working for him, it's the first time he has bought in-haven't you bought in 3 times today". I feel a little victory while the dealer defends my play but don't want to cause a scene so I just color up and leave.

We go to the Hofenbraus for dinner. We get there at 6:30 its pretty empty. My wife dislikes German food and orders the fish fry. The rest of us get the wiener and jager schnitzel. I'm sorry but I don't get the hype over the German food either-especially spatzel. Yuck dough balls in flavorless brown gravy. The bill comes to $152.00 Yikes-for pork cutlets.

We go to NYNY. I buy in for $500.00 at a blackjack table. Get it to $1,175.00. Tell myself I'm ready to cash in-but somehow never do. Lose it all down to my last $50.00 wager. Somehow I get lucky enough to get back to my buy in of $500.00. I eagerly cash out. One of the things I like about NYNY is they give you rating slips when you ask for one when you leave the table. A lot of places won't do this but they will. It has your table number, time gambled, average bet and the person rating you. I was told to ask for this each time I got up as on an earlier trip the pit and I had very different totals for the amount of time I spent at the tables. This is the way to document it I was told. We go to Nine Fine Irishman to watch some River dancing. Man does the little girl who taps to the music put on one h*ll of a show. She must have muscles of steel to do that dancing song after song and never break out in a sweat. While we were there some fly guys from the Air Force walked through. The whole downstairs part of the restaurant broke out in applause for them as they walking by everyone. Neat to see a group of strangers do that together for the men in service. After awhile all of us decide to head closer to home as we are drinking and the traffic on the strip in unbelievable.

We head to the Frontier or New Frontier whatever you want to call it. We go here specifically for the Sigma Derby. When we get there about half of the stations on it are broken and a mechanic is trying to fix them one at a time. He says they continue to try and get rid of this piece of junk but the owner loves it and will not get rid of it. Tonight all it was being use for was empty glasses. If you could have squeezed another glass on the machine I would have been impressed. We stroll into Gilleys. I think it was a $10.00 cover, we didn't feel it would be worth it for us. The main sign outside on the marquee is what drew us to it. It said "Cold beer and dirty women" alluding to the bikini bull riding I'm assuming. We couldn't see from the entryway was happening in there. As we watched for maybe 5 minutes though we saw three different guys being led out in handcuffs. They looked like they had been having fun until the cuffs were slapped on. I have never seen so many cowboy hats and its not even National Rodeo Finals week. I can only imagine what Vegas is like that week if the Frontier is any semblance of what happens. We plan on playing blackjack and during my first show I get a drunken cowboy sitting at my table telling me what to do every hand. I have the wife and friends with so I have to shut my mouth and not start anything. I just asked to be colored up after the shuffle comes due. If your ever in the pit area look at the underside of each table. They must have 20 white towels under each table. I asked what they were for and no one really knew. Some sort of guessed that so many drunken cowboys spilt drinks they were kept there for that purpose. If anyone knows I would like to know.

Now it's off to the Strat. Valet is full so we park in the garage and can't find a way out. Finally we find a way and notice the on every cement support crossing over our heads in the garage there are thousands of footprints. How they go there I will never know. Its weird-if your ever in the Stratosphere garage take a look. Lots of young girls under dressed and wearing shoes they can't walk in. See security helping one girl who sprained her ankle trip over her own heels. It was funny watching these young girls, the more they drank the harder time they had in their heels. We sat at a table, bought in for $500.00 cashed out 1 1/2 later at $525.00 when people start having a hard time keeping their eyes open. We head back to the new Ho for some chicken wings and to bed at 3:30. The wallet is starting to look a little sick at $4,810.00.

Day 8

Wake up early at 8:00am considering I didn't get to bed until 3:30 and was pretty polluted. Went down to the Ho deli to jot down some notes from the night before. Well after that was done nobody else had made it to the casino yet. Time by myself to sit down and get some quality gambling time in. Find a table with a married couple with each of them sitting at the corners of the table-the husband at 3rd base. Before I sit down she tells me that she never hits 16 and wants to forewarn me. I let her know that in the long run her play doesn't affect my outcome. She says she agrees with my statement and people shouldn't try to intimidate others at the tables. I tell her she should even should get credit for being consistent with her 16's. She replies she is thankful as some players will scold her for not hitting 16. Well a few hands in some other fella at the table doesn't hit a 12 against the dealers 2. The woman who agreed with me 5 minutes earlier is now chastising this guy for not hitting. I'm thinking my talk fell on deaf ears and the woman didn't even listen to what she was telling me. I feel uncomfortable at the table as she is starting to correct other players at the table. She is quick to point out when she would have busted by taking a card on her 16, but remains keeps as quiet as a mime when the card would have helped her. I make a small $75.00 profit when the wife comes.

Something happened at the Ho on Friday that had 4 dealers walk off the job. They had dealers who were in their first week there dealing on Saturday, the day before the Superbowl when the place was packed. Locals smell this like a shark does blood in the water. They come and try to frustrate the new dealers hoping to catch a break. One guy had the dealer so upset when I bought in for $500.00 I was given $525.00 by mistake. When I pointed it out to the dealer it caused more of problem than keeping my mouth shut as two pit personnel had to come over and review the whole thing. The local says I should have kept my mouth shut and says that's what he is here for to benefit from her mistakes. In my opinion the guy has no class. The young girl was hesitant the rest of the time I was at the table. I saw someone also get paid on a push but kept my mouth shut as it's not my hand. I was greeted by immediate eye contact from the person received it-who kept quiet. Thinking the honesty might help me win, it didn't. I lost $500.00 in about an hour and half. Again I have never seen so many starting hands of 5 and so many doubling hands where I received a 5 or less. Pretty amazing how the flip of the card could make you a big winner-or in my case a big loser.

Now everyone is down to the casino and we decide where to eat. One wants Mexican and the other wants breakfast and my wife wants to try the Triple 7 Brew pub. Since we have the car the have to relent LOL . On our way down there we stop at the gamblers general store. It's not that big but packed with tons of gambling stuff from slot machines to different chips and books. No major purchases for us, just some token chips and postcards. At the Triple 7 we on the only ones to be waiting for a seat and half of the seats are empty. After waiting for 5 minutes a server comes by and says it is break time for half the servers so it will take awhile and seats us. Jamie, our waiter runs by and says I will get to you when I can. After another 10 minute wait without Jamie appearing the friend who wanted breakfast wants to leave because the slow service and there isn't breakfast on the menu. We leave and they walk to the Bay City Diner at the Golden Gate. Well, my wife had doesn't want to go there because of the last visit her. The other couple has sort of taken over which bothers me slightly. We get tacos, ham and eggs, Mexican combo and I get a patty melt. The food was much better than last time but the service was slow. We ask why and told that some of the servers are on break. How can this be at both places? We got to the Triple 7 at 11:30am and made it down to the Bay City Diner at noon. Who has wait staff taking breaks at one of the busiest times of the day?

After the food we are wandering the casino and see a huge crowd around a crap table. While watching, the shooter finally threw a seven. He received an ovation from the players at the table, but I didn't see any chips get thrown his way from the other players. First time I had seen a table break out in a round of applause for a shooter after he finished.

We go out in the Fremont Street Experience. It is quite different out here now than it is on weekend nights. We wander around and lose the girls at Fitzgeralds at some slots. I noticed that whenever we reached the front of a casino the women naturally dropped back behind us a few steps and the men were in front. Once we got inside we became a group again. Now I'm no psychologist but I think the women were dropping back so we wouldn't be bothered by the time share hawks and doing it subconsciously. Whatever it was it worked. We were hardly approached by them. We continue to walk around. We are standing at the Horseshoe by an ATM. Someone who wanted to use the ATM come to us to say the were two charges that the ATM would have charged a $2.00 charge by his institution and a $6.00 fee from the ATM itself. Holy cow the odds are against us to begin with but $8.00 to get money out of an ATM. The guy declined and walked away from the machine. By 2:00 the downtown casinos are packed-it looks like a Saturday night. We decide to go for a ride.

The friend who comes out here for work becomes the navigator and gives directions to try some new casinos I haven't been to. We are off to Texas Station, SunCoast and Rampart. We go through some neighborhoods that didn't look the best. At one intersection the road was closed with police tape up around a bus stop. We never did figure out what happened there. When we were driving along the North Las Vegas Airport I would have sworn we were driving alongside the Baghdad Airport. Desert and few weeds in the lots between the street and the airport and some of the oldest and rundown planes I have seen. The couple with us has a son stationed 40 miles north of Baghdad in Baad. His father was taking pictures with his phone of the airport and surrounding area and sending them to his son saying we all just flew into Iraq for a quick visit.

The SunCoast looked nice and had $3.00 minimums for blackjack so the girls played for a while. Finally they get up to go play some machines claiming the machines were calling them. They had started out today each putting $20.00 together and that's all the money they used. They were only up to $57.00 but have played all day on $20.00 each. The hard part about going to casinos that cater to the locals is the slim selection of slot machines. Everything is video poker. You really have to hunt for the slots. I settle in at a game and lose right off the bat. I get down to my last $50.00 bet and fluctuate from there to $150.00. I can't break this trend. Finally the other 3 show up to leave and the cards start falling my way. Within minutes I'm back to my buy in of $500.00. I would have loved to stay and see how far I could have rode that lucky streak, but I was outvoted 3-1.

Hope in the car a drive the few blocks to the Rampart. The casinos are only separated from each other by a few fairways of a golf course. The Rampart is smaller than the SunCoast which seemed to be pretty large to me. The Rampart has a higher class of clientele it seem, at least on this Saturday night it seem so. Lots of people in their 50's and 60's pulling in some nice cars. Saw Mercedes SL600 hardtop convertible. Man am I in love. Probably costs more than my house though. My turn to buy a round and figure with the class of people hear I will probably drop close to $30.00 for 4 beers. Imagine my surprise when the bartender tells me "$10.00 please." Music to this mans ears-we can stay here all night. They have an elevated bar with a seating area that looks out over the casino. Nice spot to talk to someone you care about and glance out at the casino. Look for my wife and going to suggest we hobnob with the rich and sit and whisper sweet nothings into each others ear as we gaze out over the casino. Get real-my wife is off putting money into the machines and can't be found. So instead of using the bar for intimate conversation and hobnobbing with the wealthy I'm using the elevated perch much like a sailor up in the lookout of a ship-except I'm trying to find my wife and not avoid a shipwreck.

I locate the girls gleefully playing a machine with the $40.00 they started with today. As a group of girls get up to leave a machine the two woman swoop in like a hawk does on a field mouse. Within minutes the machine is treating them nice and the woman playing it before can't believe it. Next thing you know they hit some bonus round and get the machine up to $517.00. Now the girls that were playing the machine are no longer amused at the win the girls have they are downright pissed. I thought this was going to be one ugly catfight. Thankfully my wife was so happy they didn't even notice the evil stares from the other group of girls. As we leave we are on the top floor of the parking garage. It is a nice view of the strip from here. Wife shots some photos to send to the kids on the phone.

Back to the Ho. We haven't eaten since noon. I get a comp for us and we head into the restaurant and everyone orders the T-bone special. Now it's not Delmonicos but I was surprised at how tasty it was. I'm drowsy as is the other guy. The girls want to play more machines. We guys go to our separate rooms. Too much fun last night. I stay in the room watching some show for an hour and at midnight decide to go back to the casino. The girls are determined to not miss one machine in the casino. There luck has turned sour. This is getting ugly as the wife needed money. I try and choke down a couple of beers but it isn't fun. In Vegas for two Saturdays in a row and wussied out on both of them and in bed early. The wife had the money so I have no idea where we stand at the end of the night.

Day 9

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. The last of our friends leave today and then it is finally just the wife and I. With 3 three different groups of friends coming and going during our trip out here it didn't leave us any time to ourselves. Next trip we will be planning alone as we can come and go as we wish.

After we pick up the luggage from friends room we go to the Westward Ho buffet. Nobody is real hungry. Everyone seems to want an omelet. This was our only buffet we had in Vegas as we don't care for them, but the pit personnel gave me an open comp for the four of us so why not use it. We straggle through the line and get to the omelet station. Guy comes up behind my wife and asks if she is in line and has she placed her order. She says no, he replies OK then shouts over her to the cook what kind of omelet her wants. I didn't hear this but all of the sudden hear my wife asking people around her "would anyone else like to butt in front of me in line to place their order." Most of the people, including me, think she has lost it. Once she explains it to me it makes sense. The guy who is about 6'3" and about 375 lbs is acting like he doesn't hear my wife. A completed deaf man could here the high pitched tone of my wife when she is pissed. Maybe he is dying of starvation-worthless slob. She continues to tell me about it with this guy not two feet away. Don't you know it when we get to our table who is sitting at the next table over? My wife won't let it go. Now I've let her have her 10 minutes of whining and it's getting on my nerves and I tell her to drop it, but she can't. If this sets the stage for the rest of the day with my wife it could be a long day.

Take friends to airport. Is there ever a day this place isn't a zoo. Drop them off and get the heck out of there ASAP. We have a piece of costume jewelry my mother in law bought last August at the Excalibur that had two rhinestones that fell out. We decide to go to Excalibur and exchange it. Well we have no luck doing that. Wife walks into the store while I hang outside the store. Next thing I hear someone yelling at my wife as she is walking towards me. She explains that lady refused to exchange it because my wife didn't have a receipt. Even though the cardboard backing the jewelry is on says Excalibur on it. When my wife asked why she couldn't get an exchange the lady told my wife. ''people lose money in casino come get money for stuff they bought cause they broke-get fu__k out of my store." I didn't hear the exchange of words but my wife has never lied to me in 10 years of marriage, but even I was shocked to be told the woman dropped the F bomb on her. I go into the store and the woman claims she didn't use the word. When we try to get her to call a manager she refuses. I suddenly realize if I continue to be this stubborn I'm going to end up in the poky over a $15.00 piece of costume jewelry. As we are walking away all I can think about is the slob at the Ho that set the tone for day for my wife. I hoping he chokes on a Ho dog.

We go back to the Ho to get the cell phone as we forgot to charge it last night. Wouldn't you know it 6 different people have called. All want bets put in on the Super Bowl and not one of them has sent out money. Hell, some I haven't seen in 6 months. After returning the calls and seeing what they wanted we went over to the Stardust to place some bets. After placing $2,300.00 of tickets (none of which cashed by the way) we walk out with one lousy free tee shirt. The wife doesn't mind placing the bets for friends as she is sure she will get the money back and I can't get crazy and lose it all here. She fails to realize I will be chasing people like a bounty hunter does so I can get my money back. If the bets would have won I wouldn't have been surprised to see people meet us as we departed the plane on our arrival home with their hands out.

The biggest drawback in Vegas is the cell phone. People call and want you to place bets for them without giving you cash. People call you and ask "what are you doing." I'm in Vegas fool-what do you think I'm doing, gambling and drinking like a fish. And the kids. They call sometimes every hour. I love my kids but there's only so much you can say to them on the phone. Plus anything outside our local area is .79 cents a minute. The phone bill is always over $250.00 for the month we go on vacation. Being here 10 days is really gonna goose up that bill.

We go back to the Ho and the wife settles in for a session of blackjack before going to the party upstairs for the game. She buys in for $300.00 and plays $25.00 flat bets. She is bouncing along having fun. Once she gets up a little I tell her to start pressing up her bets. The game is getting ready to start she cashes in for $875.00. A nice profit. We originally were given 8 tickets for Super Bowl party but everyone left. I only took two. As many people as they turned away I could have sold the remaining tickets.LOL We go upstairs for the party and I'm not impressed. Three screens for the game and since we came right before the game started we had to sit in the back. The food they put out was hot dogs-not Ho dogs, tacos, wings, veggies and chips. It was a little hard to hear the game where we were at. We stayed until the middle of the second quarter and left. I don't know why but I have been in Vegas for the last two Super Bowls and I just can't get into the game out there. I would have rather bought a case of beer and sat in the room and watched it.

We go to the bar for a couple of beers and try and watch the game for a few minutes. This isn't working either. Too crowded and to loud. We decide to head back to the tables because with the game on the casino is relatively quiet. I buy in for $500.00 and the wife $300.00. The dealer is vicious. Within a short amount of time I'm down to my last $50.00 bet. I get a 17 to the dealers 9. I start standing up thinking its all over. The dealer busts her hand. Sit back down and start to play. The only other player at the table has to use the bathroom. So does the wife and me. We all decide to get up at once and shut the table down as we are playing a two deck game and there isn't any mid deck entry. Dealer asked the pit what he should do. He was told to just stand there until we all got back. Two hours later we are at a combine $1020.00. We take the profit and cash out. The game is over and I lost my bet. I had New England giving 13-18 points at 5-1. It looked good up until the middle of the 4th quarter I'm told.

We walk outside to go down the strip but when we see the traffic we immediately change our minds. I had never seen it that bad before. We go to the new Ho and wife wants to play blackjack again but just for fun and not $50.00 and hand. I agree. We each buy in for $300.00 and start playing. Next thing you know we have close to $1,000.00 between us. New kid comes in wearing rumpled dirty clothing. Says he and girlfriend just moved here from the Bronx looking for work. He says he has had better luck at the tables than at work. He buys in for $300.00 plays $50.00 a hand and loses that quickly. He goes to the ATM pulls out more money. My wife and I are talking about the guy and where he will be in 6 months. The pit boss jumps in and says within 6 months he will be figuring a way to get back to the Bronx after Vegas uses him up and spits him out. A little harsh but most likely true. Well, the kid comes back from the ATM and sits down. I'm sort of feeling sorry for him now. We in no matter of time he has turned his meager stake into over $3,000.00. Now I've went from feeling sorry for him to being pissed, so I increase my bets to "try and catch him." My wife scolds me saying this was just supposed to be for fun. Well, with enough alcohol in my system I'm hell-bent on trying to make money. Within minutes I've lost my money and my wife's. Not a pretty sight. My wife had wanted to stay up all night for our last night. Ain't no way that is going to happen on Super Bowl Sunday when you start drinking at noon. Around midnight we ask for a food comp. We both get wings and fries. Putting food in tummy just made bed time that much earlier.

Day 10

Wake up and today is packing day. A somber quietness falls across the room as we pack. We are ready to go home. Ten days is enough, but you never want to leave for a worry that something will happen and you may never see the Mecca again. The people that have moved out to Vegas-do you still love it as much as you did before-do you love it as much as us tourists do? We went down to eat. We still had a comp ticket without an expiration on it. We waited until 11:00am when the lunch and dinner menu opened up. Knowing it would be our only meal of the day we decided to eat big. Two T-bones for our brunch I guess you would call it. Again I can't complain about the taste of the steak. As we were eating an entertainer whose show started that day was handing out free tickets to that afternoons show. Now the Ho will have an afternoon show for the price of a $6.95 drink I think it said.

We eat and the wife checks the points on the card. We put on 20,000 points this stay, not counting the points to be added when they enter the rating slips into the system. She picks up a couple of sweatshirts in the gift shop which has expanded. The only thing that I think everyone could agree on, even the people who think the Ho is a dump would be that Nickel Nicks was a bargain. But alas no more. They closed it down and expanded the gift shop. The expanded gift shop opened during our stay there.

We walk around playing the WOF one last time. We play the $1.00 and do quite well. We get spins of $100.00, $150.00 $200.00 and $250.00 plus smaller ones. Why didn't this happen all week. Then we start hearing peoples "theories." Well, it was Super Bowl weekend and they tighten up the machines, now during the week they will hit or after all the money put in them on a weekend a Monday is the best day to play them. Hey, if the machines are going to pay me like this I will listen to everyone's crackpot excuse as long as I'm making money.

We say good-bye to the Westward Ho and head south on the strip. Wife says we have to stop at Caesar's to cash a ticket at the sports book and she wants to run through the Forum shops. I don't know where to pull into this place. I end up taking the northern most entrance and come out by the entryway to the Forum shops. Good this will work out for my wife. I ask the valet how I get to the sports book from here. He tells me to walk out to the strip head south go upstairs in the white circular building and walk the broken moving sidewalk. Now does it make any sense to you to pull into a casino and get out and be told to walk back out to the sidewalk on the strip to get back into the place? My brother calls and asks in we are extending the trip tell him we will take a bump but won't know for a while. He asks me to take $200.00 and play $10.00 a spin on 13 in roulette for him. Twenty spins and no 13. I ask the man running the games if he is in the T.V, show Caesars 24/7. He said just bits and pieces. He seemed disgusted by it. He compared it to Jerry Springer. Said the confrontations are all lined up so they get to film what they want to see.

Of to Dollar drop off the car and take the shuttle to the airport. ATA is working at a new location and they have construction work going on at their counters. There were originally an 8:00am, 3:07pm and an 11:40pm flights today. The earlier and late flights were canceled two weeks ago so we have 3 flights worth of people trying to board one flight. The line is huge. They are not assigning anyone seats unless you offer to pay for an upgrade to business class or take a flight they are trying to get a plane in her for to to fly out one hour after us. I tell the counter lady for compensation my wife and I will take a bump. She quickly points out that there will be no compensation as we are not being bumped; we are being offered an alternate flight. Something about if you fly with 2 hours of your scheduled time they don't have to offer compensation. I tell her no then, we want on the 3:07 flight. She tells me she cannot guarantee us seats but gives us boarding passes with no seat assignment and tells us to head to gate 6.

We wander over there and I see guys just screaming at the gate attendant. I hear them say I've had these tickets booked since August I'm getting on that flight-you better get us seats. Well, after listening to a few people tell the gate attendant their story I figured honey is going to work better in this predicament than vinegar. I talk to the gate attendant and tell her if she is offering me a free upgrade on the early flight we will take it. She says nope-nothing doing. OK, I'm going to have to work a little harder here. Tell her how much of a pain it must be to work days like this and so and so. All she says is seats will be assigned shortly and walks away. I'm must be losing my touch. I haven't been that blown off since high school. Well, with damaged ego we head over to grab a couple of pops. HOLY COW $5.36 for two medium fountain colas from Pizza Hut. What a rip-off-there wasn't even a fountain show to watch. We talk to everyone at home tell them we weren't successful with the bump and it looks like we will get stuck on an hour later flight. We hear our names being paged to go to the gate. When we arrive there is the gate attendant that put the dagger in my heart. She has a stern look on her face. Haven't you heard me paging you? Sorry but no we haven't. She replies 'you almost lost our seats'. Hands us seating arrangements. Not business class but the first row behind them so we got leg room we get to stretch out at least. The honey worked. With my ego restored we board the plane. Uneventful ride home.

Six flights have luggage on one carousel at Midway takes awhile for luggage. Take shuttle to the car at Park and Fly pay the $75.00 parking fee and we our on our way home. Got home at 11:30pm. I tried to count the money when I got home but stopped to buy some stuff and was handing it out to the wife and kids. To the best of my knowledge here is how the financials of the trip worked out ...
Start $9,000.00
End with $1,400.00
Spent on friends Super Bowl bets-money I will get back $2,300.00
Overall money lost $5,300.00
Should anyone have any questions please feel free to direct your questions to me. I apologize for the length but this was beneficial for us as I got to relieve our Vegas trip again by composing











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