Live From Las Vegas


Have I come to Las Vegas too late and married? I mean, when you get down to it, there is not much here if you do not gamble or smoke. It’s Hot, with temps into the triple digits, no clouds and very little (unaided) green to be seen.

Not counting money of course….

It isn’t a family destination, that’s for sure. If you come with family (as I have) you will spend a lot of time in your hotel room or just walking around looking at the pretty lights. That is because of the lack of family activities in the area. The alternative is walking your kids in and out of smoke filled gambling Casinos filled with barely clothed girls, serving drinks to old men, who are glued to a slot machines, waiting for it to spit out all of “his” money he already put in, plus the coins of all of the suckers who were in the spot before him. This is even more pathetic because these men are sitting in front of the “penny” slots! This scene is played out 24 hours a day in hundreds of casinos across this “oven” of a town. “Daddy, is grandpa dead? Will the shiny machine eat him?”

We can hope son, we can hope.

Still, it is possible to find a few things to do here, even for a jaded latecomer like myself.  Yes, other than sit in front of the wide screen TV in your air conditioned hotel room, or joining the “mature” set at the “penny” slots waiting for the sun to drop out of the sky.

You can rent a car, and head off to see some the sights around the area. But be warned, out here and pretty much the Southern California area everything is spread out and what the “locals” consider “close by” would easily mean “major road trip” to anyone born on the east coast! The 3+-hour trip to LA by car is reduced to “nearby” and the 2+ hours to the closet Grand Canyon rim is a “short drive.” this is important to know because you really do not want to be in a little sub-compact car, with kids and wife, riding in a desert in 100+ degree heat, all asking, “are we there yet”

While I’m on the subject of the locals, they really do not seem to be a happy lot. My cab driver, who like me, way beyond the desire to drink copious amounts of booze, and spread his manly “seed” without restraint, Both vices are needed to have any fun in this town! Spent his few minutes with me complaining while driving to my hotel (the long way around by the way! I’m just doing my part in this consumer driven economy!) Of how the value of his Condo has dropped so much that he cannot do what he desires, move back to what he now knows what’s important, his birthplace back east.

Me: I thought I could hear the “east” in your voice
Cab driver: Yea, I’m from Wisconsin and it is time to go back after 30 years and spend some time with my Grandchildren.
Me: Well, there’s no place like home
Cab Driver: I know that now, but you could not have told me that 30 years ago

Here we find the classic late life U turn, when one starts to add up the not so good years with the good years and upon finding a deficit will make a prodigal turn to correct the balance no matter the odds. I tipped him five dollars at the end of the ride even if he did take the long way around, my contribution towards his trying to right a life of bad decisions, I guess.

Up till now, I really could not see Vegas like that cabbie did thirty years ago I never heard the promise that was whispered in his ear. “Stay here and you can be forever young and strong, you will not want for anything, and you will never be lonely or cold.”

They got the cold part down. Still a lot of work for the rest…

Later in another cab on the way to the “strip” (we were on our way to “M&M World” (don’t get me started, I flew 3000 miles just to buy a potholder with an M&M cartoon on the front!). I met a driver who had spent some time back east living in Virginia Beach.

Cab Driver: So where you guys from?
Me: DC
Cab Driver: Really! I lived there, for a while!
Me: Really, where? (I expected someplace in the DC suburbs)
Cab Driver: Virginia Beach!

As you may know, Virginia Beach is a 3 hour drive from DC! Proving my earlier point about the locals! “I have been here for about 12 years, I gamble, and I have not made any money!”

Me: Why not go back to Virginia Beach?
CD: Family! They like it here, I don’t, and it is too hot!

All I could do is concur, turn my head, to watch as small desert animals spontaneously combust from the cab’s barely air-conditioned window.

Next Up: Part 2: Ravenous Rotund Revelers, Routinely, Rout the buffets regularly!

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