Confusion and Horrible Music in Las Vegas

“Which casinos are the good ones?” –Franny
“If I knew that, do you think I’d be driving this fucking cab?” –Las Vegas Taxi Driver

About three weeks ago, Franny & I took a much needed, albeit far too brief, vacation to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.  I’ve been meaning to post about the trip for some time now, but as life goes, it goes busy and full of distractions.
 Las Vegas was actually more obnoxious than I’d expected –– it’s definitely full of gambling; but it’s also full of horrible music, desperate and unfortunately dressed people behaving badly, and profound confusion.  I had an easier time making my way around South Korea than I did navigating the Strip.  I realize this is intentional, and it makes sense once you’re inside the casinos, but I’m not sure what purpose it serves when you’re outside trying to get in.  Perhaps they’re trying to make everyone feel like a winner upon entering, only to trap them inside and take all their money.  The Strip is also very crowded all the time (at least it was when we were there) so the unfortunate feeling of being herded is unavoidable.  As you’re being herded, you’re also being bombarded by card snappers offering “GIRLS DIRECT TO YOUR ROOM IN 20 MINUTES” alongside people dressed up like Big Bird or giant (marijuana) joints.  It’s a strange scene, made even more strange by the amount of people who consider it to be a child-friendly destination –– the person dressed like Big Bird was strutting like a pimp and high-fiving the joint as he walked by.

The fountains at the Bellagio were amazing, though, even though it took us nearly a half-hour to find them.  I’ve never seen water do shit like that, and now I’m looking into having fountains like that installed in my apartment.

We stayed at the Trump Hotel, which looks like a giant bar of gold, in part, because the windows are gilded with 24-carat gold.  Our room was upgraded to a corner suite with floor to ceiling windows and two full bathrooms –– one of which had a television in the mirror, a telephone in the toilet stall, and an Italian marble jacuzzi.  We ordered room service our first night there, and they came in and set the table with linens and silverware.  It was excessive, as was the Camaro convertible that our rental car was upgraded to (they were out of “standard” convertibles), but this sort of thing is what Las Vegas seems to be about.

I wanted to play blackjack, but it was hard to justify considering I’m still paying off my student loans, and the tables with $5 minimums were always mad crowded.  I considered a $10 minimum, but quickly reconsidered after watching a guy lose about $150 in ten minutes.  So we stuck to the slots, where Franny was considerably more lucky than I was, although neither of us won anything to email home about.

We took our Camaro on a day trip to the Hoover Dam, which is large and aesthetically pleasing, although the tour was anticlimactic (thanks Osama bin Laden).  The movie they showed us at the beginning of the tour was one of the worst I’ve seen at the beginning of any tour –– yes, I’m critical of such things, but they’d clearly spent a large sum of money updating the life-sized electrical generator exhibit, you’d think they could use some of that cash to update the introductory film.

During the “diversion tunnel” part of the tour (which is essentially half of it), I noticed that two people were recording the entire fifteen-minute talk by the tour guide on their cameras, and I thought: “You’re not going to watch that later.”  Simply because we can document every moment of our lives now doesn’t mean we should, and I think the line should be drawn long before anyone starts capturing the magic of the Hoover Dam tour guide to digital video, but clearly I am too late.

Eventually, we got to go outside and walk around on top of the dam, at which point I learned that Franny is somewhat afraid of heights.  Not heights, exactly –– drop-offs, although the railings didn’t seem to help.  It was a bit overwhelming, the looking down, and the railings weren’t all that high, so maybe there’s something to that fear.

After Vegas, we drove through the desert to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which you’ve all heard of and probably seen pictures of, although it does look significantly more impressive and mind-boggling when you are standing at the edge of it.

More stuff happened at the Grand Canyon, but I need to go to bed, so here’s some pictures and here’s hoping I’ll post a part-two soon.  Life gets busy and full of distractions, it does.

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