My wife and I left the Luxor around five-thirty and walked to Treasure Island, stopping by nearly every establishment in-between, then crossed the street to the Venetian and strolled around there for awhile. Then we walked the whole way back.
That's the short version. Here's the long version:
L and I are happy and proud parents; our kids are smart, engaged, and just generally fun people to be around, and we love them. However, let me give you the flip side. After five years, we are deeply tired. So now, after this span, for the first time, here we were: together with each other and nobody else.
This meant that, much like Waffles or Donald Rumsfeld, we actually did not need any kind of plan as we headed out. We could just let the night rise to meet us! We could just go find our adventure!
And we had a good time, as I'll elucidate in the coming paragraphs. But here's the thing. The strip is really really really really really really long. Walking from one place to another can seem like walking from the Mall of America to another Mall of America right next to it.
Anyway, drunk on freedom (and free drinks), we walked for a long time along the west side of the Strip and saw the sights there were to see. On foot, one can truly take in Vegas, and I'll tell you this: There's a lot of it. Overall, it strikes me as one enormous bar that is hosted inside of a giant mall, connected by circuses, and visited primarily by clowns in shorts (I was wearing shorts). Here's my impression of each of the spots we stopped, from South to North.
Luxor: This is the place where I stayed, and from whence we started. Carrot Top works here, or at least this is where he is kept freeze-dried between performances. This is also the only building on the strip off of which it is impossible to jump. The poker room is small but friendly.
Excalibur: This place is shaped like a castle. The poker room is in the middle of the casino, and it is full of rocks, and also one guy who I think was a mannequin of Tom Petty. I think Louie Anderson is here, but in writing this sentence I've already thought about Louie Anderson more than I care to.
New York, New York: This place is 100% exactly like New York City, but without that smell. It had a different smell, which was whatever chemical is used to tamp down the smoke fumes coming from the casino. We didn't spend much time inside the place itself, but I did manage to get invited to 7,845 comedy shows in about twenty minutes, so I definitely got that Times Square flavor. This is also the first of the resorts that I have dubbed "Oh My God Are We Still Walking Past This Place?" The poker room exists, according to Wikipedia, but beyond that I can't say.
Monte Carlo. This is the one that has slot machines in it.
Enormous Hole: The enormous hole is the upcoming site of the City Center and The Cosmopolitan, and it was a particularly fun spot for me, because it is the only Vegas location where somebody actually specifically assured me that they would not mug me. They promised and everything. Let me explain.
Next to the hole, the walkway narrows down considerably, and the bottleneck sort of slows everybody down. This naturally, is where the card-slappers flap their floozies, by which I mean, a bunch of guys hang out near the bottle neck, spread out for the first 100 yards or so, each holding a stack of business-card-sized pieces of glossy paper. The stack is approximately as thick as a copy of Dianetics, by L. Ron Hubbard, and the ladies on the cards are as naked as L. Ron Hubbard was the day he was spawned by Xenu, right down to the lacy garters. On the card is a phone number, which you can call to have genital warts delivered right to your room (marketing aside, the warts will not stay in Vegas, unless your genitals do, and this is not recommended.). Service with a dead-eyed smile!
These righteous swains hold the uppermost card in one hand and SLAP it against the rest of the stack to get your attention, then hold it out.
SLAP SLAP SLAP extend hand.
SLAP SLAP SLAP extend hand.
SLAP SLAP SLAP extend hand.
Being Midwesterners, we usually decline this sort of thing like this:
"Uh, thanks but no thanks, no hookers for us this day, kind fellow."
But we'd just walked past New York, New York, which is in all ways like New York City, and thus had learned the art of just breezing past this enterprising and capitalistic card-slappery.
But one enterprising young chappie, perhaps bored with the repetitive and impersonal nature of his job, broke from his script and called out to me.
"Hey man, you have plans tonight?"
I didn't break stride.
"I'll hook you up man, come over here."
And then he said it.
"I won't mug you, man."
Now . . . I didn't suspect that this guy was going to mug me. Until he insisted he wouldn't.
So naturally, I went with him. Long story short, I woke up the next morning in a bathtub full of ice with my kidneys harvested*. "Hey honey," I said. "We should collect these and then try to hand them to the time-share people who accost us." She didn't answer.
Bellagio: What a dump. On the other hand, the poker room looked spacious and inviting.
Caesar's Palace: The thrilla, the foot killa, the rilla dilla. Ceasar's was easily my favorite spot up to this point in our walk, just because everything was so unapologetically huge. Come to think of it, if Vegas wants to change it's marketing tag line, "Unapologetically Huge" would do the trick. Other suggestions?
"All Our Statues Have Boobs."
"Just Carry Your Drink Out Into the Street. It's OK."
"Taxis Are A Really Good Value"
The Mirage: I really have nothing to report about the Mirage. It was a casino. Seemed nice enough. I think at this point I was casino-saturated.
Treasure Island: We stopped here for a rest and a drink. The casino bar at T.I. doesn't water their drinks down. At least that one guy doesn't. Get that one guy if you are at the T.I. casino bar. No not him. The other one.
The Venetian: This place is definitely in an opulence-off with Bellagio and Caesars. We finally stopped for supper over martinis by the canals, which were in an open courtyard, by which I mean indoors, but the ceiling was painted to look like the sky at dusk. It was beautiful and disorienting in that your peripheral vision kept insisting that you were seeing sky, but when you looked up, you could immediately see the artifice.
Anyway, in the "courtyard" an opera troupe was performing, and though I'm hardly an opera buff, I think I recognized it as Pagaliacci. In any event, there was a clown who was dressed the same way as the clown in the opera from A Night At The Opera, and Wikipedia tells me that that opera was Pagaliacci. So go with me on that.
We sipped martinis and ate delicious Italian-style 4-cheese pizza. We'd probably walked seven thousand miles. My feet, protected by black rubber sandals, felt such a thick, rich hatred for me, you could have spread it on toast. And then, of course, we walked the whole way back, stopping by the Bellagio fountains for a rest and a couple (admittedly impressive) displays of water-spray syncronicity.
The Casino Royale: This is the one we didn't go in, which begs the question, "Does what doesn't happen in Vegas not stay in Vegas? Which would mean, it would leave Vegas? That's hurting my limited brain.
Anyway, I now have seen the Vegas Strip and have some context for what everybody's talking about on their web log when they mention this place or that. It's an amazing place, and I feel that my words were not up to the challenge of describing the sheer maniac energy and intensity of the place. (In truth, I don't think I half tried. I got daunted. That's right, I admit my daunt.) It is a people-watching Nirvana. It's a street that is infected with some kind of shiny virus. It's energizing and enervating all at once. It is a whole lot of money taken for a makeover and gussied up to look like a whole lot of money, but wearing a vinyl dress.
Also, my feet and my legs are suing my body for divorce.
Next: Worst structure ever, and poker at Mandalay.