Archive for December, 2001

Viva Las Vegas – 12.01.01

Saturday, December 1st, 2001

Quote of the Day:
“I rued the day once…didn’t get much else done.”
Chandler, “Friends”

On the other side of the mountains that keep Los Angeles secluded is an entirely different world that the one I see every day. Besides the fact that it is a desert and quite devoid of a human population, you can count on seeing the nearby mountains because there is no pollution to obscure them. Interstate 15 cuts across this arid landscape between LA and Las Vegas as a four-lane highway where you can often see overheated cars on the side of the road.

And when you think the chance in scenery from the valley to the desert is surprise enough the world changes once again. Before reaching the border separating California from Nevada the road comes over some hills and you can see almost to Las Vegas from the vantage point at the peak. The interstate stretches out in a straight line ahead and several little colorful dots are arranged along its length. These dots are small towns catered to people who can’t wait to get to Las Vegas to lose their money in a game of chance. Primm, Nevada is just across the border from California, and it is the closest place to LA that people can gamble legally, so the first things you see from the highway are casinos and hotels. There’s not much more to these towns than that.

Las Vegas is a world of its own. Where else can you see the sights of Paris, New York, and Venice plus a pirate ship, a volcano, and a pyramid? While Dan and I were driving down the Strip to our hotel I spent my time looking at everything through the windows and the sunroof. We stayed at the Bellagio, which is known for its water shows in front of the hotel in the evenings. Our room had a wonderful view of the lake where the water shows take place so we watched several of them from the window. At this point you are probably asking, “But did you gamble while you were there?” Yes, I did partake in the pastime that Las Vegas is most known for. Dan and I played blackjack at the Excalibur casino where we found a couple of five-dollar tables on Monday afternoon. In the mornings the stakes are usually pretty low but they get raised periodically during the day. Anyway, I didn’t play for very long since I was consistently getting unlucky hands and it made me very frustrated. Being the person that I am, I got upset, couldn’t control my emotions, and ended up crying in the bathroom. Why does that always happen to me? I felt like such a baby but I couldn’t seem to compose myself. As it turned out I only lost fifteen dollars so that was no big deal but I was very ashamed about the way I reacted. I can see how gambling can be addictive, though. While I was sitting at the blackjack table I was determined to win back the money I had lost and I figured I would just play until that happened. I gave up early this time.

The rest of the trip, besides the short time I spent losing money, Dan and I walked along the Strip so he could show me all of the spectacular casinos. I am sure I will forget to mention one or two of them here but I’ll try to recap the places we saw. Caesar’s Palace is probably the largest casino in Las Vegas. Besides the usual casino floors and restaurants, almost all of the establishments have shops as well. My favorite was the FAO Schwartz in Caesar’s Palace. Dan and I wandered around there for a while, playing with the stuffed animals while singing songs from “Labyrinth” and quoting “Harry Potter.” We also had a celebrity sighting in the toy store – Paul Mitchell. You know, the hair products guy? Anyway, the two of us knew who he was and we scrambled all over the store to catch another glimpse. Two of the most popular events in Las Vegas are the pirate ship battle outside Treasure Island and the erupting of the volcano outside the Mirage. It was no problem to get a good view of the volcano as it “erupted” but the pirate ship battle was another story. After one failed attempt to see the show, Dan and I went a half hour early on Monday night in order to get close enough to see what was happening. I loved the Venetian since Venice was my favorite city I visited when I was in Europe in 1997. Of course the famous canals are represented inside the casino but fortunately they are clean, which is more than you can say about the real ones in Italy. Along the “canal” the shops are covered with a ceiling painted to look like a partially cloudy sky. Dan and I also briefly visited New York, New York with its imitation city skyline, Paris with its Eiffel Tower, and the pyramid-shaped Luxor. It was a lot to see and I was quite overwhelmed.

So that’s a brief overview of our trip to Las Vegas. Dan and I didn’t get to see a show while we were there but we can save that for next time, right? I really had a wonderful time and I would like to go back. Maybe I could learn to control myself and play some more blackjack. The Excalibur has fifteen dollars that used to belong to me and I intend to get it back someday!