Five years ago this November, I took my first (and so far, only) trip to Las Vegas. The occasion was to visit my wife's in-laws who moved there in 2003. I was looking forward to going somewhere where it'd be a bit warmer than Minnesota. As the plane took off in the mid-afternoon, the passengers were subdued. I passed the time listening to my CD headset. This was the first time I'd ridden in a plane since our honeymoon seven years before.
My first plane ride was at the age of three when my parents transported me and my younger sibling to the States after my father's tour was over with the Air Force. My mom said that I threw up as we flew over the Atlantic. Could it be that flying at 30,000 feet didn't sit well with my stomach? Was it the ear popping that compelled me to hurl? Or was it the fact that I would no longer be able to drink goat's milk, the main type of dairy that was available in Greece?
The mood lightened considerably as we drew closer to Sin City. It was as if at the beginning of the flight, the people were told that they might get laid that night, but it wasn't a sure thing. Two hours later, they KNEW they were getting some. As we obtained our luggage, there were signs everywhere for various shows that were playing in town. Celine Dion's was probably the biggest at the time, one that we looked forward to attending in a few days (it was a late anniversary present from her parents).
Our brother-in-law drove us to my wife's parents house where we would be staying for the duration. They lived in a community in which all members had to be at least 55. I shudder to think of how much Viagra existed there per capita. Perhaps not coincidentally, there was a CVS pharmacy located just a few blocks away. All the houses were just one level so that the elder set would never again have to climb stairs. The name of the cable company out there was Cox which was ridiculously appropriate for a state in which brothels are legal. The next day was Thanksgiving. A good meal and time was had by all.
On the day after that, we were driven past the Strip, through New York, New York, gay Pari, and the Lion at the MGM Grand. There was a monstrous Christmas tree placed at one spot. We parked near Paris and while the guys gambled, I went shopping with the girls. Much to my chagrin, smoking was allowed inside Paris. I thought that went a tad far. They should've just gone all the way and had hookers on the street corners, too.
Later, I went with my sister-in-law to New York where we rode the roller coaster.
Priced at close to ten bucks, I got a bit of a crick in the neck from it. As we went out to eat that evening, I saw the first of three Vegas cliches, a bride and groom who had just been married. The other two, which I saw over the next couple days, were an Elvis impersonator and a guy with a cowboy hat counting his money as he came out of the casino.
The next night, we saw Celine at Caesar's. I would've much preferred to be seeing Paul McCartney who was playing at the same time at the MGM, but there wasn't much I could do about it. As we strolled to our seats, I noticed that 16 ounce bottles of Celine water were for sale. The five dollar price tag put me off of them, however. Though I'm not the hugest fan, she had quite a good show. After some time off, she's returning to Vegas for another extended stay next year. In the gift shop afterwards, it was an estrogen fest as women stocked up on Celine discs and perfumes.
The following night, we spent a bit of time in Downtown Vegas. We passed the area where the strip had originally started and saw old-school places like the Sahara (which has a camel as its logo). During the ride, my brother-in-law explained to my wife how to play Texas Hold Em. If it hasn't already become apparent, I have no interest in gambling. While downtown, we saw a number of acrobats doing their shtick about 30 feet in the air as techno music played.
On one of our last days, I was able to convince my father-in-law to take me to a place I might enjoy: a used record shop. While there, I bought Jerry Seinfeld's "I'm Telling You For the Last Time" and the Symbol's multi-disc "Crystal Ball".
Later, we went to Vegas's biggest souvenir shop. On the way there, I saw a homeless man begging for money at the intersection. I rolled down my window and gave him a couple bucks when my wife and father-in-law weren't looking. They figured he was just gonna spend the money on boos or drugs. If I was homeless, I'd probably do the same in order to forget the pain. We found jack shit at the store, but I didn't have a problem with having more money in my wallet. That evening, we went to a restaurant called Terrible's. It was located inside a casino which was also called Terrible's.
Despite the name, I found the food to be quite palatable.
The next day, we headed back to Minnesota. I can't say that going to Vegas dissuaded me much from the opinion that it's overrated; I had more fun watching "The Hangover", but at least I can say that I've been there.