Leg #15 ... Chasing Apollo to Las Vegas

  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014

To go from the sublime to Las Vegas seems almost sacrilegious; however, that is our track. Three days in Vegas because we have to have some maintenance done on our snail shell we live in, then we go down in the Hoover Dam before taking the I-15 North-South artery to Salt Lake City. We are both homesick and our brains are overloaded, so we are eliminating California (I used to live there, so I am familiar with it), going to the Tetons and Yellowstone before turning east on a northern route to miss “tornado alley.” Since neither Jim nor I are city people, we don’t enjoy shopping, traffic, people, noise, drinking, smoking or gambling; we do like good shows, listening to good music and dancing to beach music. So, we developed a plan for Vegas to suit our interests. We wanted to see all the freebies and wander through all the casinos to see the glitz. I would take a roll of quarters from our laundry money and play slots in each casino on The Strip just so I could say I had. I still have several of my original quarters and no winners. We stayed in the KOA RV village at Circus-Circus because it was the only RV park on The Strip. It was nice; we had a grassy lawn with three medium-sized oak trees, a wrought iron table and four chairs ... and a sprinkler system that went off irregularly. But we found out we were paying more for our parking place than people inside were for their rooms. Of course, they were sent out to the “trailer park” to do laundry, or pay exorbitant prices to have it done for them. Our pool, hot tub and dog park were nicer than theirs, and less crowded and quieter.

The first night, Jim and I had dinner at the renowned Steakhouse at Circus-Circus, and let me tell you now that the days of cheap dining in casinos, including buffets, no longer exist ... because we checked. We didn’t realize that each casino-hotel covers at least one block, if not several with several stories. We spent a lot of time going to the wrong wing on the wrong floor, looking for our freebies. The free circus act was a short acrobatic drill, hardly worth the hike up two floors of stairs. Everything looks close together on The Strip, so we raced down the block to catch the 7 p.m. free Pirate’s Show at Treasure Island only to find it is defunct so more shops can be built. Since we were both near heart-attack stage, we abandoned our idea to “go across the street” to the Bellagio (about a mile away) to see the synchronized water-music show and started back. Fortunately, we were in time for Wynn’s new Encore Beach Club’s water show, “Lake of Dreams,” a Cirque de Soleil acrobatic show above and in the pool with laser lights. The following day, we revised our plan and rented a car while the A.C.E. was in the shop. Since parking is free at all casino-hotels, we drove to each, played a few quarters of slots, looked around and took in the “freebie come-on”: the erupting volcano at the Mirage, the aquarium and falling Atlantis fountain at Caesar’s, the shark tank at Mandalay Bay, the chandeliers and art work at the Venetian (gondola rides are not free), the blocks-long light show on gigantic TV screen at Freemont Street, which intersects The Strip and is vying to best The Strip at its own game ... the Golden Nugget was there with its 61-carat gold nugget, second largest found in the world and the biggest, uncut. I guess the best bet in Vegas for freebies would be at the Bellagio with its wonderful botanical gardens and synchronized water-music. Several places had zoos and Paris had a mini Eiffel tower, but if you’ve been to the real thing...

All of them had shopping malls; every store you can think of or ever heard of is in one of the casinos on the strip. There are also outlet malls on North Las Vegas Boulevard and South Las Vegas Boulevard. But we couldn’t wrap our heads around it; why would you go to Vegas to shop? We decided we were too old for this scene ... too many people, too noisy, too smoky, too much drinking (we were offered free drinks) and too much skin. But the lights were mesmerizing and plenty of young people seemed to be having good times. However, if I had to choose, I’d go to NYC for the pulse. And wouldn’t you know, we are stranded here an extra day because of hurricane force winds – no rain; they only get four inches of rain a year, but the winds are constant and today they are stronger than usual.

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