Last time I was in LA, I, Tony, Dave and Dave's wife Cindy resolved to go to Las Vegas. There we could celebrate Cindy's, Dave's brother Wallace's and Tony's birthdays all at once.
So early in the morning on the 21st I threw my bag into the trunk of the car and got into the driver's seat.
While Las Vegas is a self-sustained economy nowadays, with everything a modern city has, what people think of when you say "Vegas" is the South Boulevard. Also called "the strip", it is the place where the gigantic hotels that made Vegas famous are. These hotels are all combined hotels and casinos, and since few people consider the act of staying at a hotel to be something of note - and definitely not something worth dragging themselves 200 miles out in the desert for - it is the casino portion of the hotels that made Vegas famous.
Lonesome, patriotic tractor found on the way to Vegas.
Everything must be imported to Las Vegas. Part of that continuous stream of goods are handled by seemingly endless trains.
What doesn't come in via train or air is transported along the I-15.
Vegas by night. This picture can only show a fraction of the neon light that nighttime Vegas glows with.
I stayed at the Mandalay Bay. As Vegas hotels go, it is one of the smaller ones. As normal hotels go, it is gigantic.
When you enter the hotel from the street, you walk through a nice garden with waterfalls. The fact that the water is imported from Colorado just serves to emphasize the excess.
The inside of the hotel is also very nice.
All hotels in Vegas are built the same way. Properly, they should be called Hotel/Casinos, or, if one wants to emphasize their purpose, Casinos with the option to stay for the night. The casino itself is at the ground floor, with no windows and no way to tell the passing of time.
The Luxor is, as its Egyptian name hints, built as a giant black pyramid. At the top of the pyramid the faces turn transparent, and a bank of powerful lights create a beam of light that makes it seem like some Egyptian God is coming down or going up.
I had some pictures of the inside of the pyramid, but due to some error in the way the camera or the card reader handles file naming, they were destroyed. Basically, the pyramid is hollow. The hotel suites are built into the walls. Elevators - or inclinators, if you are so inclined (pun-tacular!) - run along the pyramid's edges and walkways go across the faces.
The Stratosphere is a hotel whose claim to fame is a 700ft tall tower with a restaurant on top. A pretty solid claim, in my book. The following pictures were taken from the observation deck.
Right below the top floors is a restaurant. The tables are on a ring that turns one full revolution every 80 minutes, so as you eat, you see the Vegas cityscape scroll by in the glass wall.
From left to right, back to front: Me, Bill, Annmarie, Steven, Tony, Wilbur, Laura, Dave and Cindy.
On the top of the tower you can try three rides: The Big Shot, the Insanity and the X-Scream.
The Big Shot is some kind of pneumatic-turbolift-ish device with a central shaft and a sled with sixteen chairs mounted around it. You sit on the chairs, strapped in with harness and all, and then you're launched along the shaft up, about a hundred feet.
At the top of the trajectory you experience a rather powerful stop and then some serious negative Gs as you're not only propelled upwards, but also pulled down by the machine.
I went with Dave, at about 2200 hours when the sky was pitch black and you could see the neon lights of Vegas stretch to the horizon, with some aircraft taking off and landing - below me.
The Insanity is best described with a picture - like the one to the left. Some sort of manned drink mixer that has been magnified and hauled up to the top of the tower, it probably has more maintenance points dealing with making sure the nuts and bolts are properly fastened than a commercial jetliner.
The X-Scream is a sled on a rail that is tipped down over the edge of the tower. To the great disappointment of all Muslim extremists out there, the screaming Americans do not plunge to their death - the sled stops with the first pair of riders sitting just in front of the outermost end of the rail.
I think that someone should do a BASE-jump from the front seat, pretending to be thrown off just to freak everyone out.
Las Vegas is known as Sin City. But you'd have to be a puritan to think so. Unless you consider topless dancing to be a mere hair's breadth away from Sodom and Gomorrah, you will not find anything especially sinful here. You will find a lot of partying with all the things that go with that though - but I doubt that is a sin.