Sin City Revisited

A casual scan of the tidbits I have posted to this blog leaves me wondering if I ever mentioned my dislike for Las Vegas.  I thought I mentioned it in a post about some of the places I visited while an over the road truck driver.  My first exposure to the Nevada casino scene was Whiskey Pete’s at the California/Nevada border.  It looked cool from the outside, but as soon as we walked through the doors, contempt quickly settled in.  The place was dark, smelled of cigarettes, spilled booze and nary a smile did I see on the drawn faces that turned my way.

One of the Keno girls walked past me, wearing one of those form hugging, high hipped outfits the servers wear in all the casino movies, and when she flashed me her practiced smile, it did not reflect in her eyes.  That one fleeting encounter sealed my disdain for Nevada and it most infamous city, Las Vegas.

Later that day, we drove through Las Vega, but did not stop.  Just in my observations from the freeway, I was less than impressed.  Off to my right, I noticed a couple of RV lots…mostly empty.  However, in a few spots, resided high-end luxury motor homes.  Judging by the layers of dust, and their overall condition, it was clear they were permanent residence of those parks.

What is the one thing about Las Vegas that can cause an affluent family to take up permanent resident in a motorhome lot just outside the city?  Reference the movie, “Lost in America.”

Over the next six years, I would make several trips through Vegas, but stopped just a few times.  Not one time did I go to “The Strip” or visit any of the casinos.  With the aid of a couple of other truck diving companions, I did discover some fun rock bars, but that was the extent of my hanging out in that town.

Fast-forward more than twenty years, and because of work, I find myself revisiting a town I despise.  Much has changed, but many things stayed the same.  My soon to be wife and I spent eight days in Las Vegas, and these are my takeaways.

  • There is plenty to do

Just walking the strip from one end to the other can consume a couple of days.  However, with all the reality TV shows going on in Nevada now, there is plenty to see in regards to those as well.  The people at ATV from the show Tanked were awesome!

  • Las Vegas is fluid

Unfinished Hotel CasinoThe landscape is in permanent flux.  Many of the old staples have been torn down, and massive hotel casinos replaced them.  There are three unfinished properties, in various stages, one damn near seventy-five percent, but abandoned.  The reports I have read states that two of these properties will likely see demolition, while a Chinese corporation took over one of them.  The latter was not the seventy-five percent complete property.

  • No freeways

Living in a metro area of over three million people, we have freeways, not just the main north/south, east/west “I” freeways, but several minor freeways that allow for speedy travel between suburbs.  Vegas on the other hand, does not get this concept.  Travel to distant suburbs is all on surface streets, racing from one stop light to the next.

  • It is rubbered in

If you are a race fan, you get this reference.  For those of you who do not, here is what I mean.  It never rains in that town, therefore, the city streets, parking lots, and anywhere else that cars travel; there is a thick coating of rubber.  It is so bad, that it is tough to distinguish painted markings from unmarked asphalt.  That town needs a bath!

  • Master the U-turn

It will not matter what navigation app you are using; it will say repeatedly, “do a U-turn.”  Apparently, the city designers feel that U-turns are safer than left turns.  Personally, I think U-turns are one of the most dangerous maneuvers performed on public streets.  But hey, it is a gambling town.

  • Our President Does Not Have a Casino

In spite of having a gold plated hotel, the Trump Hotel is without a casino.  Not even the future president of the United States can piss off the power brokers in that town and get away with it.  Though he wants one, the gaming commission will not approve a casino for his grand hotel.

Careful who’s toes you step on Mr. President.

  • English is optional

As you walk The Strip and casino floors, you will hear a myriad of dialects.  It is obvious that American’s are not the only ones drawn to Sin City.  The interesting part was sitting at a table with a couple of Asian IT counterparts and hearing how much of the English language pervades their own.

  • Ruckus sounds the same

When in a touristy bar, all those different languages fighting to be heard over the other languages sounds that same as the din you would hear in a Midwest sports bar.  Like music, ruckus is a universal language.

  • Lacking Variety

I am always surprised when I travel to some place touristy, and discover a complete lack of beer variety.  Coming from a major city in flyover land, it is truly surprising that I can find a greater variety of barley based libations here, than in a city like Las Vegas.

  • Visit Freemont

Freemont is much cooler, and more entertaining than The Strip!  There a still a bunch of Casinos, but just walking up and down that street is an adventure.  I did not do it, but next time I will zip line down Freemont Street.

All the street performers are working for tips, be prepared.

  • More than a weekend is to long

Grand Canyon StormWe spent eight days in Vegas.  That was five days to long.  Yes, we did take one day and drive out to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, but we still returned to Vegas at the end of the day.  Maybe it is something that should be taken in small doses.  Believe me, if you leave after a long weekend and feel like you missed something, do not worry, it is not going anywhere.

At least not in our lifetime.

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