I made it! Home that is. I survived my very first trip to Las Vegas. I know, I know, “everyone” has been to Vegas. I guess I’m just a stick in the mud, and/or I lived in Northern Nevada for 6 years which means I could gamble, drink, shoot guns, and check out strip clubs all I wanted. Visiting Vegas was fascinating and I thought it warranted sharing my fresh perspective.
My view of Las Vegas, like most people’s, was colored by years of seeing it on TV (in such shows as CSI (The original) and Las Vegas) and Movies (like Oceans 11). Vegas is exactly like you see on screen and at the same time nothing like you see on screen. It is like seeing the ocean for the first time after having seen pictures of it in books. Sure, you know it will look like a big blue body of water that stretches on into forever, but that really doesn’t prepare you for actually seeing blue infinity, the taste of a salty breeze, or the sounds of waves crashing against the rocks.
I stayed on the strip at Bally’s. It’s a hotel/casino like all the rest of them. Once I started to go exploring, one of the first things I was told about the strip is that “Everything looks close, but nothing is”. This is very true and very important to keep in mind. The strip itself is 5-6 lanes of vehicle traffic in each direction. So simply getting from one corner to the opposite corner isn’t nearly as short as you’d think. Even with the plentiful pedestrian bridges it’s a small hike to just get across the street. If you’re going to be walking to casinos, wear good walking shoes (I did and I still have numerous blisters).
The reason why everything seems so close, is that everything is so damn big. The entirety of the city can be summarized as this: All of Vegas is one giant game of one-up-manship. If there is a possible aspect one group can use to outdo another, they will. Buildings are bigger. There is more shopping. There are bigger/better/brighter/glitzier attractions. Booze is more plentiful. There are more girls. The girls are more attractive. The girls wear less.
Everything in Vegas is a competition. Everyone is “also” the best for X, Y, & Z (you’ll notice that the “best” is defined by some random magazine or tabloid that you’ve never heard of). Hell, there is even a CVS Pharmacy DIRECTLY across the street from a Walgreens; both of them are nicer than any CVS/Walgreens I’ve ever seen.
You’ll notice there is one thing that I haven’t mentioned as a method for outdoing the others… cost. Sure there are hotel room sales and that sort of jazz, but generally only when selling you on going to Las Vegas. Once you get to Vegas, nothing is cheap. When I paid $8 for a matinee movie and $4 a drink, I thought that was a great deal – because I pay just as much in the SF Bay area. You can conserve your funding by looking for better buys, but you should probably do your homework in advance. It’s not uncommon to run into a Buffet that’s $30+ or a regular meal that’s $20-30 for a single entree (let’s not even talk about alcohol costs).
Another thing I learned is that the city NEVER sleeps. There was no discernible difference between the number of people checking into the hotel or in the Casino at 5 PM and 1 AM. The lights of the strip keep everything well illuminated 24 hours a day. Honestly, I believe that the city is busier at night not because people party at night, but because it’s the only time that it isn’t hellishly hot outside (last weekend it averaged between 105F and 110F). The quietest time on the strip I saw was 10 AM on Sunday morning. While I’ve been predominantly talking about pedestrians, the vehicular traffic follows much the same pattern. Don’t expect it to take less time to get around via car if it’s 1 AM in the morning.
I could provide detailed reports of every sight and sound I saw, but that would be boring. I could also wax on philosophically about the gluttony the city is based on. Or I could provide a hundred pictures of scantily clad women (which, I’m sure, would make this post quite popular)… but I won’t do any of those. I was only in Vegas for 3 days and while most of my time was tied up at Defcon 20, I really enjoyed myself. I tried my damnedest, but I didn’t even get to explore half the strip. Even though I’m not a huge party person, I will go back sometime. I’d like to explore more, I’d like to see more, and I’d actually like to get to see some of the shows. Heck, maybe I’d even get a chance to relax (Ha!).