On Monday morning Andrew, Chris, Soraya and I left San Diego and pointed our car towards the Mojave Desert. After a few hours of driving through arid, prehistoric looking landscapes we ended up in a place that is possibly even more surreal than the desert: Las Vegas, Nevada. We stayed at the Luxor, the Egyptian themed hotel complete with gigantic shiny pyramid and a fake sphinx.
Vegas is one of those cities I’ve always been interested in visiting simply for the spectacle of it, and it lived up to my expectations, but in a slightly different way. I knew the city had been cleaned up, but I was still surprised by the amusement park-ness of it all, and how little remained of its seedy underbelly. Maybe it’s strange that we wanted to see evidence of its seediness, but I couldn’t help but feel like there was something even more repellant about its shininess, the cartoonish replicas of famous monuments, all those excuses for pure consumption. Of course there were the people standing on the streets shoving pictures of naked women into men’s hands and there was the zombie looks of people staring into the slot machines, but it was strangely well managed, creepily well organized. In less eloquent terms, it was icky.
That being said, it was still so much fun. Considering that we were a group of non-gamblers with no interest in going to any shows or clubs, and on top of that, are also cheap, the odds were high that we wouldn’t enjoy the city. But we weren’t worried – it’s not hard to have a good time when you’re curious about your surroundings and quick to laugh. So, we walked up and down the strip and explored the casinos while Soraya pointed out which ones were used in what movie, we broke even at the slots, we had a stupidly indulgent buffet at the Bellagio and then gawked at its fountains, we went swimming at the pool at the Luxor. I tried my hand at the 20 dollar trick. We spent one dinner eating bad food court Chinese at the Excalabur and people watched. We took lots of photos. We went off strip and had diner breakfasts (red velvet pancakes – no joke) and we visited the Hoover Dam in sweltering heat and then had slushees to cool down.
The drive through the desert was also worth the trip alone, but I’ll save that for another post. So, Las Vegas – a place I’m happy to have experienced, but I think I got it out of my system for a long time.