We left Winslow on Thursday and drove to Las Vegas so Mr. Sunflower could attend the Consumer Electronics Show for a few hours. While I see Las Vegas (or what purports to be) on television each week on CSI, it turns out that I haven't really been IN Las Vegas for some uncountable number of years. Or...let's just put it this way...the only places I remember have long since bitten the dust and been replaced with some humongous luxury resort.
Driving over, we went by way of Hoover Dam...also something I hadn't visited in a gazillion years. We stopped for a couple of minutes to see the progress on a new bridge that's being built to span over the water below the dam (estimated completion: unknown). This is apparently something that's a result of NAFTA and is supposed to make hauling stuff from Mexico to Canada easier in the future. For now, since 9/11, crossing the dam is taken pretty seriously and there are some restrictions as to what kinds of vehicles are allowed to cross. (No semis, tankers, etc.)
We hit Las Vegas mid-afternoon and checked into our not so swanky hotel on the east side of town. I was actually pretty excited, thinking I'd try my hand at a few slot machines, grab a coffee from the lobby version of Starbucks, and then hang out and blog. Boy, was I in for a culture shock. It turns out that (at least in this hotel) the slot machines no longer take money, but rather you buy a little plastic card like a gift card and insert that. Then...obviously not recalling sophisticated, electronic slots, I was horrified at the noise level. They make an assortment of bizarre noises like the electronic arcade games you see once in a while. It was the most bizarre world in there...no signs of daylight...just oceans of machines, people making bets on horse races and watching them on little screens at their tables (and yelling), loads of buffet food opportunities, and tons of smoke. I quickly ascertained that the average age was probably mine (not telling) or maybe even older...as I appeared to have less grey hair than the average patron. Next observation: hardly anyone appeared to be having fun. At one point, we walked past the entrance to a "club" (inside the dark ocean of slot machines) and spotted people dancing to the sounds of some sad little musical group with some guy singing Bobby Darin songs. This, at 2:30 in the afternoon. Boy, did I know I was in the wrong place! (Caveat: this is not a criticism of those who enjoy this type of affair...it's merely the observation of someone who just isn't much for crowds and noise.)
Leaving town yesterday morning, we drove out part of the Las Vegas Strip. Wow. What a trip that was. It was like another sort of Disneyland. I wish I could have taken pictures to share, but frankly, my jaw was hanging open. I guess I felt a little bit like one of the Beverly Hillbillies, the first time they hit L.A.
And when all was said and done? I want to go back, stay on the strip, and catch a few of the great shows...Bette Midler and Cirque du Soleil, for sure. Never say never....