Within five minutes of arrival at our Las Vegas hotel, I vouchsafed to Mrs S “I already loathe this place.” My other half was not pleased, I could see it in her face. But then that’s me. I’ve always shied away from the bright lights, preferring a more cerebral path.
Maybe I was too hot and bothered after a long day crossing the desert and having to lug thirty kilo’s of baggage almost a kilometre to our room. No trolleys, and nowhere to offload at the entrance because Mrs S refused to let me shift our car into the multi-storey car park. All those extra services are for the ‘high rollers’ who have come to burn their dollars. Sorry, but we have five more weeks of road trip and a budget to keep to.
Vegas is a real gilded sewer of a town that airs its vices openly from the big buildings, like Caesars Palace casino to the prostitutes or street level beggars. To the eye Vegas dazzles, glitzes, and sparkles, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re still knee deep in shit. It’s literally a town full of losers where only the Casino’s win. Some come for the weekend to have a little fun, blow a few thousand dollars, catch a sexually transmitted disease in a desperate effort to forget whatever drove them here.
Then there are the others, striving to find their road to glorious unearned wealth, and the ones who didn’t know when to quit and bet even their self respect. Lost to the madness of circular reasoning, where just one last big bet or high will bring them all the glitz and riches they originally aspired to. Just one. Slaves to the myth that anyone can make it big, but blind to the truth that so few will. Forgetting the one big truth of gambling; the odds are always loaded in the houses favour. Reduced to begging for a stake, trying to scam tourists, especially Canadians, who they seem to feel are a ready mark for a halfway convincing sob story. Well, until we came along, a-totin’ our cynicism like loaded six guns thar pardner. One guy tried it with us, his big ‘tell’ being deliberately checking out our cars British Columbian numberplate before approaching us to beg a loan. I told him I’d just spent my last cash on gas. So I lied, who cares? Vegas is a place that rapidly puts a patina on the soul, a varnish of disbelief which is sometimes the only thing between the scammers and the contents of your wallet.
That evening Mrs S and I took a wander out for beer and a sandwich. Just to see the lights in the evening and wonder at what all the fuss was about. Over the famous strip there are four magnificently built bridges with escalators up and down either side. Which is where I took this shot from. So, camera in hand, bags zippered firmly shut, credit cards in anti-rfid wallets, we took a wander up the escalators Mrs S hanging onto me because she didn’t want to touch anything. Why? Beautiful though these bridges look, they need a serious daily power wash down with some weapons grade antiseptic. In short, they stink. They reek of the hopeless and homeless. Of the drunken antics of visitors who can’t be bothered with what the North Americans tweely refer to as a ‘rest room’. Of dropped garbage and non-existent personal hygiene. Escalator rails, sticky to the touch made me wish I was wearing surgical gloves.
Fortunately the first place we stopped for a beer offered us some gel hand wash before we sat down. At a second bar we stopped to eat and listen to a bearded guy playing his keyboard in the street and belting out numbers like Marc Cohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis‘. I threw a few bucks his way and we sat outside listening. Which eased my heat and glitz abraded soul, and with the help of a beer and sandwich saw us back to our hotel room for a nights repose only disturbed by the loud party four doors down and their subsequent eviction by security around 1 AM. Fortunately even that didn’t bother us much. These Vegas hotels have good soundproofing. Well they’d have to, wouldn’t they?
I think Vegas was on our bucket list because it’s one of those places you really have to see for yourself. Some people might call it home, but for me, the best thing about it was the I-40 Eastbound past the Boulder (Hoover) dam (which you can’t see from the main highway, you have to go to the visitor centre), to Flagstaff, Arizona (Despite the often lumpy road surface).
Which is where we are now, checking out the Grand Canyon and Lowell Observatory. But that’s something for tomorrow’s post.