Okay. Pictures are starting to work their way up to my Flickr account and will eventually be all in a Vegas Vacation set. While those go, a rundown of the trip — behind the cut as I tend to ramble. ;)
I was hoping to get one post for everything, but that’s not happening. Something about not wanting to devote my entire time to the ‘puter, and instead splitting the day between working on photos and enjoying the day off with Prairie. Imagine that!
Prairie’s sister Hope picked us up early Thursday morning to take us to the airport. The flight down was relatively uneventful, aside from a really bouncy landing (I’m half convinced that we touched down in Reno, then bounced into Vegas). Xebeth‘s flight had arrived just about twenty minutes before ours, so she was waiting right there at the gate to meet us…sitting right next to a big bank of slot machines. In the airport.
Okay, so for people who’ve been to Vegas before, this isn’t a big thing. I’m pretty sure I’d even been told about it beforehand. That didn’t make it any less bizarre, though…and it continued throughout the trip. Slot machines are everywhere: in the airport, in the casinos (well, yeah, no big surprise there), in the grocery stores. There hardly seems to be a building that doesn’t have a bank of slot machines somewhere.
Also bizarre for someone who’s spent most of his life living places with strong clean air laws: there don’t seem to be anti-smoking laws in Vegas. Nearly everywhere you go, you’re walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Most of the time it wasn’t that odd, as we were spending a lot of time wandering through various casinos, where I expected smoking to be pretty universal. Being asked “smoking or non-smoking?” when going into a restaurant threw me off a bit, but it hasn’t been that long since smoking was banned in restaurants in Seattle and Anchorage. It was when I was standing in line at a McDonald’s behind someone who was blowing blue clouds of smoke into the air and casually flicking their ash onto the ground as they placed their order that it really caught me off-guard.
Xebeth met us, we got our rental car, and started to find our way to the hotel. We were staying at the Stratosphere thanks to an old flame of Xebeth‘s, and since it’s at the opposite end of the strip from the airport, we went right down the strip through all the main casinos. Sure, there’s photos of the casinos all over the place (and mine are soon to join the throngs), but it’s really not anything like seeing them in person. Huge, over-the-top, and just amazing. And quite silly.
When we got to the Stratosphere and headed for the concierge, Xebeth‘s cell phone rang — it was her friend Mark, welcoming us to the hotel. He and Xebeth dated a few years back, and he’s apparently one of the owners of the Stratosphere, so he was able to get us a complimentary room — which was very, very appreciated. It did make for a rather odd stay from time to time, as he apparently keeps a close eye on the hotel’s security cameras: this first call was to welcome Xebeth to town and to ask who she was here with, less than five minutes after we’d set foot in the building! This happened a couple more times during our weekend there, with Mark calling every so often to check in, see how we were doing, what shows we might be interested in…it was quite hilarious (if slightly unnerving). Unfortunately, his schedule prevented us from being able to ever actually meet him, but he did do a good job of giving us the personal touch for our stay!
After a few hours to eat and rest, we started exploring everything that the strip has to offer. We started by driving down a bit and parking at Caesars Palace, walking in through the shopping areas before entering the main casino area. From there, we just went wandering from casino to casino, past slot machines and shops, poker tables and promenades, over and over and over again.
Eventually we decided we were hungry and tired enough for day one, stopped off for dinner at Buca di Beppo (really good Italian food), and then went back to the hotel to crash out.
More to come as I get time!