I had a bad attitude concerning the trip. It seems like every time I turn around we’re checking our bags at another ticket counter. After that last flight from Singapore I swore I’d never get on another plane, yet here we are in Las Vegas. It was years ago that I spent time here (I won’t admit how long it’s been) and I recall it being gaudy, loud, and dismal. But this is our second day and I’m having a great time.
We’re staying in the heart of the eight-mile strip, so yesterday we took the monorail south to the Luxor with the intention of walking back to the hotel. The Luxor was magnificent with a gigantic sphinx towering over the portico and, guarding the entries, several burnished Anubis (tried to find plural for Anubis, couldn’t. Anybody know?) But it was so unlike the real Luxor that we had to laugh. Where were the flies and the stinky smells? Where was the sand? Where were the beggars and vendors who hassle you until you want to knock them down?
Moving north, the casinos we strolled through were breathtaking. There’s a reason they call the MGM grand. And there was a spring flower display in the exhibition hall of the Bellagio that was magnificent. Tulips of every color and in full bloom reached toward the domed ceiling. Incongruously there was a pagoda and piped-in tunes from the Orient; and blossoming cherry trees were also on display. I don’t know who thought to mix the Dutch and Japanese cultures, but it worked.
We walked six miles, in and out of vast casinos and malls, across bridges and crosswalks. Every time we turned a corner a facade gave notion of an imaginary or romantic location—faux Paris, faux New York, faux ancient Rome, faux Vienna, faux Camelot. Amazingly, there was a massive roller coaster winding between tall buildings. It was all striking and well maintained. A lot of money’s pouring into this economy every day. Hmm. I wonder where it comes from . . .
When we arrived back at the hotel we lounged by the pool for a while, a time spent gawking at partying millennials and hearing the whoo-hoos of the zipliners as they flew by. The weather was perfect—clean air, clear sky, just the right temperature. Then we went back out for dinner and to see The Blue Man Group—although to my mind, three does not a group make. We didn’t know what to expect from the show, but it was funny, innovative, and the percussionists took drumming to the highest level. Though the show was so high energy that later I couldn’t settle into sleep. Nevertheless, that’s just me and it’s a show I’d highly recommend.
This morning the time change is still playing with my head so I wake up way too early—locally four-thirty. I fiddle around with writing until David wakes up; then we get dressed, grab yogurt and tea downstairs, and monorail it north to walk south. Because I’ve heard of Circus Circus I think it must be worth a stop-in. But wow, don’t waste your time. It’s old and smelly. Tear it down and start over.
Next we come upon Encore, which is as subdued as a library, conducive to thoughtful poker. An interior design genius has been at work here—butterfly themed, colorful, elegant. If I were to give an award for most beautiful casino on the strip, this would be it; well, maybe tied with the Bellagio, but the Bellagio was crowded and noisy, and the Encore is an ode to serenity.
We get distracted by a mall called Fashion Show. People who haven’t lived in small British villages or third world countries don’t understand why I love malls. So what if they’re bourgeois? Having lost them once, I will never take them for granted again. At The Walking Store we feel compelled to purchase shoes. We walk on with happy feet.
At this point we’re casinoed out. Dutifully we ooh and ahh through the Venetian, but it’s time to go rest for a bit before readying ourselves for tonight’s show, Love, a Beetle-themed Cirque. On the way to the Mirage we stop for drinks and nachos. There is no normal here. David’s bloody Mary comes with whole strips of bacon, waffle fries, a pickle, and orange slices impaled upon a stalk of celery. It’s a meal perched atop a glass. David’s appalled and somewhat intimidated. What is he supposed to do with this? What prompted someone to ruin a bloody Mary in this way? In this town there is no comprehension of the concept that more is not always better.
Having claimed chairs at the bar overlooking the pedestrian intersection between Harrah’s and The Linq, we watch tourists wander by. There are so many of them. Everyone seems confused. We witness arguments. There are way too many painfully obese men and women. “People, take better care of yourselves!” I want to shout. Gastric sleeves should be free. Three booming speaker systems pound at us from different directions, no melody discernible. Sensory overload.
Thankfully, the Cirque is uplifting. We have the best seats, fourth row, aisle. The actors greet us as they await their cues. And, because I know and love the tunes, it doesn’t leave me as unsettled as last night’s show.
Tomorrow we’re doing a Pink Jeep tour of Hoover Dam. There will be dam jokes, which will be fun.
One last thing—this has got to be the last smokers’ stronghold in the US. It’s been so long since I’ve been around clouds of cigarette smoke that I’ve forgotten its disastrous effects. After just this small amount of time my inner nostrils are caked with blood, I’m coughing, and my eyes are burning and so bloodshot that strangers ask me if I’m alright. The local activists need to step up their game!