Thursday, September 3, 2009

Experiencing Las Vegas, part 2

We took to the city on foot Wednesday night and had no idea how much ground we'd cover by the time the night was done. We walked from our hotel (Mandalay Bay) to a point about a block south of the Stratosphere over 4 miles away. Our route was a zigzag one which added to the overall total. What better way to see Las Vegas?

The peddlers of porn along the sidewalks grew tiring but I found myself feeling sympathetic toward them. These were people who probably occupy the lower rungs of the economic ladder doing whatever they can to make a living. They line the sidewalks holding what looks like stacks of baseball cards in their hands. They'd hold out one or two of the cards and flick them with their fingers making a noise to get your attention. Often people would grab the cards thinking they were coupons but once they looked at them and saw what they were they would usually toss them on the sidewalk if there wasn't a trash can nearby. The sidewalks were littered with them in places. I didn't pick one up to study it but I think they were advertising for escort/prostitution services which is legal in Nevada.

Speaking of walking the streets; buildings tend to be much further away than they actually are on the streets of Las Vegas. It may look like the hotel/casino you're seeing off in the distance is only a couple blocks away but in reality it may be a good deal further than that. They build 'em big there.

Traffic, both vehicle and pedestrian can be relentless.

Busses run regularly but it seems at times that you're better off walking as they can be painfully slow with so much time spent idle waiting for lights to change, traffic to move and pedestrians to clear. A one-way buss pass on the 'Deuce' costs $3. The monorail is much quicker and makes fewer stops for $5 one way but you sometimes have to go a bit off the main road to find it.

We caught the Deuce (double-decker bus) for the ride back to our hotel and walked Rachel up to the room as she was long past tired. Tammy and I headed back down to the casino in the hotel to test our luck. We're not very lucky. We'd planned to blow $100 a day on slots but we came nowhere near that amount. The entire time we were there we spent/lost maybe $40-50 total. We each hit on a couple of winners that paid out and gave us a rush when they happened but those feelings soon faded as the money made its way back into the machine. For the most part we looked just like every other person playing slots who lacked expression or emotion as they mindlessly pushed buttons hoping the symbols would line up in their favor but seldom did. That's not to say it wasn't fun; it's just that neither of us are all that hyped on gambling. I'd rather watch others lose. Every now and then you'd hear a big roar go up and it was usually coming from a Craps table. I've heard that that's where your best odds are but I have no idea how to play the game.

I must admit that the ever present smell of smoke in the casinos and the steady drone of bells and alarms from slot machines eventually gets old. It's nearly impossible to find some place other than your room where it's quiet; not even in the elevator where there's continual chatter from a flat panel monitor advertising acts at the hotel. Between all the noise and the heat outside I found my energy levels taking a hit after a couple days. Thank God for room darkening shades that kept the rising sun out of our room until we were ready for it.

We got a late start Thursday morning, our last full day in Las Vegas. We headed down to Raffles Cafe in the hotel to spend our $50 voucher. We used it all plus a little more...a bit on the expensive side but good. Rachel took a pass on heading out into the city with us and opted for the pool instead. We'd catch up with her there later. Tammy and I needed to get over to the Mirage to pick up our tickets she had reserved for the night's Cirque du Soliel-Love, show.

We used this trip back into the city to cruise through some of the hotels we hadn't yet been through. If the country is in a recession I don't think Las Vegas knows about it.

We met up with Rachel in the afternoon and spent a couple hours playing around in the wave pool. There's a knack to hitting the wave at just the right time to be able to ride it all the way in. I soon figured it out and got more than I bargained for by making it beyond where the smooth landings end. I didn't let it happen twice. Even Tammy was getting into it. She lost her glasses at one point but they were found by one of the many lifeguards situated around the pool.

Laying out in the lawn chair it began to dawn on me that it felt like we were in a time warp. It seemed like we'd been gone for at least a week when it had only been a couple days. We had crammed a lot of living into a short amount of time so that must've been the reason for my confusion. And there was still much more to do.

I had no idea how little sleep I was in for.

To be continued...

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