Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Wednesday's Words, by Morgan Ashbury

We’re back home from our five-day vacation in Las Vegas.

My husband had warned me before we left that I wouldn’t recognize the place when I got there, and boy, was he ever right. I’d expected the city to be more than it had been the last time I was there, in 2002. I hadn’t realized that it would also be less.

The first more, of course, was the airport. The last time I was there, it was a much smaller enterprise. It only makes sense that if the city had grown, the airport would have had to grow, too. Without a doubt there are more hotels and casinos in Vegas than I’d imagined. The first time I ever walked down Las Vegas Boulevard, there was actually space between the hotels, and empty lots to boot. We watched them building the Mirage and the Excalibur—the latter looking like a real palace set on majestic grounds. I remember telling David that I so wanted to stay there, next time.

That beautiful hotel, so unique, seemed dwarfed by all the massive structures surrounding it.
We rented his and her matching scooters and went up and down the strip a few times. We could have been in nearly any tourist city in the United States, except for the very occasional glimpse of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains in the distance.

Our first visit there, you could view the mountains all around you. To me, who’d never seen a mountain before, it was a stunning sight, far more stunning than the neon lights could ever be. It was one of my best memories of that trip, mountains in every direction. I’m so glad I have that memory, still.

The casinos were a lot less noisy than they used to be since the advent of modern technology. I was told there were a couple of old style casinos down on Fremont Street that still used coins, but we didn’t check it out when we were down there. Along with being less noisy, the casinos on the strip were a hell of a lot less busy. There was no searching and searching for a 25 cent slot machine that was available. They mostly all were.

When we visited Fremont Street, to take in the Fremont Street Experience, my sensory receptors were overwhelmed. But what an amazing time! The overhead light show, the pounding music, the overhead zip lines with people soaring past, the street performers, and yes, the crazies! I was so glad we went there. Those casinos, by the way, were a lot busier than the ones on “The Strip”.

I don’t want you to think even for one minute, that these less crowded hotel-casinos aren’t making money. The price of the food and sundries surely made up for whatever gaming revenues might be lacking.

We found only one casino where they still had live Keno, although we heard there was a second. It was a nice blast from the past to sit there, my beloved and I, for a couple of hours, just as we had done on that long ago honeymoon trip. Turned out to be profitable for us, too. We left that lounge with more than we’d spent there.

The biggest “less” I discovered could likely be considered subjective. As we roamed here and there it struck me that Las Vegas was less charming than it had been. Oh, the staff of the hotels and casinos tried, but how can you give a personal touch, in such an impersonal, and blatantly commercialized environment? The slots and table games were always there to take your money with no apology—but you felt you were a winner when you could grab a 99 cent breakfast, morning, noon or night.  In today’s Las Vegas, everyone and everything is there to take your money, and not only that, they want you to say thank-you for the experience.

If you’re older and planning to go to Sin City, do get yourself a mobility cart. We rented ours right at the hotel, and they make going up and down the Boulevard, or even navigating your hotel, much easier. And by the way, I meant up and down, literally, as there are several pedestrian “bridges” to navigate along Las Vegas Boulevard, accessible thanks to the many elevators.

I was able to meet with the readers I’d promised to meet, and that was pure joy for me. I cherish that more than anything else we did here, and as that was the main reason we traveled to Nevada in the first place, I feel this vacation was a resounding success.

Will I ever go back there? At this moment, as my head is still reeling with the people, the sights, the sounds, and the smells, I’m inclined to say, probably not. Las Vegas may indeed be touted as a city for people of all ages, and that’s true as far as it goes.

But this 61-year-old woman really believes it’s a destination meant for a younger generation.

Love,
Morgan


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