November 29th, 2009


Vegas for the long weekend

boobirdsfly and I went to Las Vegas for the long weekend -- Tuesday night through Friday night.

Fun, though I have certainly had more than my share of slot machines (not playing them -- I think we threw about six dollars at the slots, lost every one, and said "nope, this still isn't really fun"). Seeing "The Strip" was a sort of absurdity of the first order -- a tremendous oversized shopping-mall of excess, which is worth seeing, but I found sort of exhausting. We stayed at the Luxor, which has the rather dramatic architectural conceit of being a giant black electrified pyramid straight out of Neuromancer: striking, but, alas, stuffy and overheated; both of us had the impression that the Luxor had adjusted itself for older guests, or the less-physically-mobile; at any rate, their idea of luxury seemed more tuned to "things you might find on a cruise liner" rather than "classy and comfortable environment."

Things I *did* enjoy: the garden/conservatory in the Bellagio. The atmosphere within the Paris casino, which boobirdsfly noted "feels like dusk in Paris all the time". Seeing the dolphins and the tigers at the Mirage, whose enclosures were more comfortable for the animals -- and less depressing -- than I expected. And of course the highlight of our time on the Strip, which was seeing the "O" Cirque du Soleil show at the Bellagio hotel.

On our last day there, we ventured off the strip to seek vintage stores and the desert. We got a little lost once we'd left the strip and found ourselves in downtown Las Vegas, which looks like it's ten years after carpet-bombings -- hundreds of closed stores, wrecked motels, and deserted or dilapidated apartments, with the occasional pawn shop, liquor store, or crappy "video poker" barrooms peeking through the weeds. Depressing, really, and -- especially after coming from the Strip's decadence and excess -- third world extremes that remind me of going to and from hotels in Mumbai and stepping around beggar encampments.

But -- though we didn't really have a great time at the vintage stores -- we did find our way past miles of strip malls to the desert, and saw Red Rock Canyon in the late afternoon through dusk. We weren't prepared for a hike, but the sheer space and scale of the canyon and the surrounding mountain and desert were worth the five dollar price of admission. The quiet of that much space is very very different from the quiet of a well-insulated room, and I realized how much Big Sky and time away from the city offer me regeneration and regrowth.