A few of my friends read my blog about my trip to Las Vegas and were disappointed not to have my take on Las Vegas itself. My dear friend Ralph thought I made up the story of the trip just for fun, so I thought I would write briefly about my impressions of Las Vegas.
First of all, you need to understand that I am a girl of modest means and strong moral fiber, based in my biblical convictions and my family heritage, so Las Vegas and its premises of entertainment are far from my core values. I went on this trip because my daughter Tory kindly invited me along while she attended a convention for Jostens, the company for which she works. I made the decision to go because I thought I needed to step out of my comfort zone and take a trip, which would involve a measure of courage. This trip involved my first solo airline purchase, my first solo parking Groupon, my first Uber trip, my first trip to the strip.
Tory and I took the Big Bus Tour when we first arrived. This is a great way to get an overview of any big city. Groupon! At one point, we stopped at the store where Pawn Stars is filmed. The store was small, but the cases in the store contained many interesting pieces of jewelry, weaponry, and other interesting items. Fascinating paintings, prints, and posters signed by artists such as Picasso and Degas hung on the walls. The sale price on a SuperBowl ring was $100,000. The sign on the ring said, “You may not touch or try on.” Nice.
We also stopped in the downtown area, which reminded me of the Wildwood, NJ boardwalk. I felt like I had stepped back into the 1950s. The mall area is filled with people hawking wares, street entertainers, homeless veterans (which should never be the case) selling palms made into flowers, and the naked cowboy, and when I say naked, I mean if the man did not have his little red-sequined triangle and his cowboy hat, he was totally naked. If I had had a gospel tract on me, I would have given it to him but other than under his hat, he had no place to put it. I saw kids walking through the area and just wondered what people think when they take a family vacation to this area of Vegas. In order to escape, I found a Dunkin Donuts tucked into a row of shops where I bought a medium coffee for $3.00. I should have taken the hint then.
When we arrived at the doors of Caesars Palace, I saw limos, taxis, and fancy cars pulling up to the doors. People of every kind go to these casinos. I saw tee shirts and jeans, plaid shirts and cowboy hats, shiny formal gowns and sparkling jewelry, and there I was in my blue sweat pants and down vest. I fit in very well. No one blinked an eye. Caesar’s Palace is grand. Grand is an understatement. This hotel is so massive and so ornate. Massive statues of Roman figures and gods are everywhere. I gazed up at the ceilings and the walls and people as Tory waited for our room key. The hotel itself is really quite a masterpiece. The architects must have been geniuses to create so many casino areas, ballrooms, hallways, towers, and shops, outdoor pools, gardens, bars, entertainment areas, and venues. The sights were dazzling.
Because Tory attended meetings most of the day, I wandered around the town. Several things struck me. In New Jersey, every hotel and restaurant bans smoking. In our state, some places even forbid smoking outside, so imagine the shock to my lungs as I wandered through the casinos. I was pretty sure that I had contracted black lung by the time I left Vegas. I watched many older people sitting in front of slot machines, chunking down change and pushing colored buttons. Sadly, some of them were in wheelchairs, using walkers or canes. A number of couples and singles sat for hours in front of blinking lights and twirling pictures. I thought it was odd that some people brought their children to this environment. Adult beverages are flowing non-stop; everywhere I looked people had alcoholic drinks.
In the evening, Tory and I found several nifty restaurants boasting popular chef names like Guy Fieri, Bobby Flay, and Gordon Ramsay. We settled on the Cheesecake Factory, where, believe it or not, the prices were not jacked up like every other restaurant in town. Jostens hosted a wonderful buffet dinner and entertainment by Terry Fator, early America’s Got Talent winner, for its employees and guests, of which I was one. I met a number of Tory’s co-workers, who are lovely young people.
All in all, I enjoyed the trip. I have only two complaints, which I have voiced ad nauseam. Caesars did not have free Wi-Fi. Seriously? In this day and age? We all use our laptops and smartphones and need that stinking Wi-Fi. The concierge informed me that I could purchase Wi-Fi by the day for $15.00. Really? I found a McDonalds where I could get breakfast for $4.00 and free Wi-Fi; I just had to walk a mile to get it. The other complaint was the price of a cup of coffee. At Starbucks, a small coffee costs $4.00. What? I can’t use the coffee pot in the room because that costs $13.00 for two little K-cups and non-dairy creamer, blech. Well, I shelled out the money because I wasn’t paying for booze.
I am glad that Tory asked me to go along with her to Las Vegas. For her, the trip was mostly work, but we had a good time when we were together. I am not sorry that I went because this was a series of firsts for me. My husband always took care of all of the travel arrangements, drove everywhere, parked anywhere, and I always felt safe. So, all in all, this little trip helped me to develop a little bit of travel confidence. So there you have it, because some of you asked…my trip to the Strip.