Monday, July 19, 2010

Vegas Redux

Yes, I know. I've been back from Vegas for weeks now and have yet to write about the rest of my trip. Basically, I got back and dived right back into working on the magazine and that's pretty much what I've been doing ever since, with a few small diversions. I even brought home my Mac system from work the week the school was closed and worked during my time off (yes, I know: I suck at taking time off).

But finally, I have some time to regale you with tales of Sin City.

After I arrived and detached myself from my work email, I headed down to the lobby and took a quick look around it and the casino, then I headed outside to check out the pool. The Mandalay Bay prides itself on it's stellar pool area with good cause. Once Larry was released from his conference, we met up downstairs and wandered around. We ended up getting some dinner and spent a little time playing slots, but it had been a long day and Larry had to be up early to get to his first event in the morning, so we had an early night.

Tuesday was pool day. As I said, the Mandalay Bay has a really incredible pool area. If I could have brought anything back from Vegas, (besides scads of money from a slot machine), it would have been their wave pool. Please understand that I am not a pool person. I have never been a good swimmer, rarely put my head underwater, and have never been one to just lay out by the pool and read. I always just figured that if I wanted to lay around and read all day, better to do it inside in the air-conditioning in a comfy chair away from the heat and bugs. So, it came as a surprise to my sister Mary Claire that I spent most of two days out by the pool. But I did and it was wonderful and relaxing.

In the afternoon, I headed out on the tram to check out the strip close to the hotel. First stop on the tram is the Luxor. That's the big, black fake pyramid with the sphinx out front. I went in and wondered around a bit and in that brief bit of time, found myself wondering why anyone would stay there. If you've never been in the Luxor, the pyramid is hollow inside with the hotel rooms lining all four sides. Not a speck of natural light gets in this place. None. So, it's dark w/ a lot of very bad fake Egyption decorations everywhere. I wondered down into the shopping area, which was also dark, depressing, and had a few too many closed up shops. Basically the place was a tomb. And that's when it hit me. It's a pyramid. Pyramids are tombs. Which leads to the question: Why would anyone want to vacation in a fake tomb? According to Larry, it's because anyone can walk into the Luxor and get a room for $40 something. Okay, so it's a cheap tomb. Even ickier.

Next stop on the tram is the Excaliber. Read fake castle. Really fake castle. And yes, I know: Vegas is all about fake. Fake architecture. Fake lashes. Fake boobs. That pretty much sums it up.

I will say that one of the things that surprised me when going down the strip was how close together all of these places are. For some reason, I expected more space between each hotel/casino and I didn't expect them to be so close to the street. Photos of Vegas are obviously deceiving.

One area I did like was downtown Vegas along Fremont St. It's been rejuvenated in recent years. It's a little sleazy with the old casinos opening out to the street. Various versions of Elvis are available for photo ops (what's your favorite Elvis? Young Elvis, Sequined Elvis, or Overweight Elvis?) along with girls dressed up (or rather barely dressed) as Vegas showgirls. We had dinner down there on Thursday night, then had a memorable (for lack of a better word) bus ride back. The memorable part was the two drunk guys who didn't seem to understand that the purpose of public transportation is to transport the public. I know they had a problem because every time the bus stopped to pick up people, they'd start complaining loudly about how the bus was taking forever and getting crowded with all the people they were picking up. We won't even go into their comments about the passengers ethnic makeup. Thankfully, they finally passed out before I lost my temper and berated them for being ignorant fools.

The best part of the trip though was my day trip to the Grand Canyon. But that's a post of its own.