June 19: Las Vegas

“When you bring an act into this town, you want to bring it heavy. Don’t waste any time with cheap shucks and misdemeanors. Go straight for the jugular. Get right into felonies.”
~”Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” — Hunter S. Thompson

Don’t worry, we didn’t commit any crimes…that we know of. I just love this book and this line to me encapsulates the feel of Las Vegas: no limits, go bit or go home.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. We left early from Williams and took I-40 to U.S. Highway 93, which took us up to the Hoover Dam. If you’ve never seen it, it’s absolutely massive. Standing at the top and looking down at the river is magnificent but also terrifying. Madison and I looked at taking a tour, but the line was really long and it didn’t seem worth it. We walked around the visitor’s center and learned about how the dam was formed and how hydroelectric power works, which was fascinating to me. It even had interactive exhibits. I’m pretty sure I enjoyed this a lot more than Madison.

We continued north up U.S. 93 and in 30 minutes were driving down the Las Vegas strip. Seeing it in real life was a lot different then seeing it on movies and in pictures. It seemed a lot more cramped here. For some reason I always imagined it being more spread out. We ended up checking into the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino right on the strip after driving all the way down Las Vegas Blvd once. (I tried to convince Paw-Paw that we didn’t need to spend that much money and we could get a hotel just a block off the strip, but he wouldn’t listen and decided we should stay here.)

When we finally got settled in, we walked down to the lobby of our behemoth hotel and were in awe of the sheer size of this hotel. There are at least seven full restaurants, dozens of stores, a couple of night clubs, five pools and even a lion habitat. After a quick lunch (at about 4 p.m.), Paw-Paw surprised us by handing us a few bucks and telling us to have a good time. He was going to stay in and play some slots.

Madison and I headed out onto the strip and started walking in the different casinos. We went in the New York New York, Caesar’s Palace and some others that I forget. These things are insane, each one like a mini city. Some of them even have malls inside of them. You could spend weeks here and never leave your hotel. That’s scary.

We decided to see if we could catch a cheap show, so we headed down to the half price ticket place. We wanted to see Carrot Top, but unfortunately it was an 18+ show so Madison couldn’t get in. We decided to take a chance on this guy named Steve Wyrick. We went all the way back to the Planet Hollywood Casino and after walking aimlessly and getting lost for 30 minutes, finally found the box office.

When we got into the theater, I started talking to the couple beside us. The guy saw my UNC hat and asked if I was from there. Turns out that they were from Wilmington and the man had graduated from UNC in the 70s. Go figure.

The show started right at nine and was surprisingly good. The comic was funny and talented (he kind of reminded me of Dane Cook). He did everything from some slight of hand card tricks, to cutting a woman in multiple sections and pulling her apart, to making a leer jet and helicopter appear on stage. We were sitting in the last row, but it was only row K so we were still very close to the action. The craziest part was when he drove a motorcycle onto the stage and drove it into a cage. The cage lifted into the air and with a bang it disappeared. Next thing we know, he is sitting on the motorcycle directly behind our seats. I could reach out and touch the bike if I wanted to. I have no idea how he did it. I guess that’s kind of the idea.

It was a fun show, but we were exhausted when we got out at like 11. We came back to the hotel and retired to our room. Paw-Paw was here waiting for us. He apparently had a decent night in the casino, claiming to have won about $100. I’m kind of glad I’m not 21 yet because you can get sucked into this place and it will drain the life out of you while it drains your wallet.

I worry about some of the people here. There are of course the rich people that come here to have a good time, see a show and throw some money and cards around. That’s fine. The ones that scare me are the poor ones: the ones who cash a pay check and throw it down on the craps table, then walk home with no money. They’re here, and I feel like I could point them out. They look dejected. With it’s flashing lights and the sound of falling coins, Las Vegas dangles the “American Dream” in front of these peoples faces. Strike it rich! Get the girls! Win this car! Live in luxury! But for most of them, the dream is becoming a nightmare and they won’t wake up and realize it.

Tomorrow we head out to California to stay with some of Paw-Paw’s friends. We may have internet, but we may not. I’ll at least try to post the one of the two nights that we are staying there.


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3 responses to “June 19: Las Vegas

  1. That paragraph about the sadder side of Vegas is telling. I’m surprised at how ubiquitous abstract versions of the “Hollow Men” are, especially that they make themselves so immediately apparent. I had no illusions about their existence, but I automatically figured they were rare to exist and even harder to notice. That’s truly unfortunate.

    In unrelated news: UNC pulls a grandslam to advance in the World Series? What? Damn skippy.

  2. Mom and Tony

    Thanks for taking care of your sister in the big city!!! I’m glad Paw Paw didn’t lose all the money and ya’ll have to come home!!! (Even though it would be good to see you!!) Love you–have fun!

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