Sorry, my last post was a little mean.
I get off the plane and the first thing I see as I walk into the airport are rows of slot machines – because you can’t wait to get to the casino… or you haven’t bleed enough money yet & you’ve got to get rid of it before you board your plane home.
I stroll past the slot machines & run into a cigar shop.
Ok, I’ve never smoked a cigarette, never seen the appeal… cigars on the other hand have crossed my mind from time to time, but I’ve always been put of by the anti-smoking cancer pics. The scenario would always play out like this *insert reason to celebrate, “hey let’s get cigars!”, *looks at packaging* umm no thanks.
Imagine being really thirsty for an ice-cold coke, going to the fridge & finding the coke encased in a roadkill carcase. No longer thirsty.
Fortunately said cigar shop had no labeling freeing me to purchase cancer-sticks with reckless abandon. I leave with 3 (standard, honey & rum).
I stay here. It’s called the Stratosphere. I chose it because it was cheap (honestly some Vegas mid-week prices are a 3rd of what you’d pay for a run-down-borderline-inhabitable hostile in certain parts of the world), it has free unlimited access to the viewing platform (something I’d wanted to do any way), and it looked close to everything else… turns out I’m not the only person to be suckered into this logic.
A quick aside before we continue: I have 2 nights & 1 day here, my list of what I want to achieve has not changed even though I’ve lost a day.
*Visit the Grand Canyon
*View Vegas from the top of Stratosphere
*Visit the homeless storm-drain communities
*Shoot a .50 cal sniper rifle
*Shoot some film/photo’s contrasting the glitz & glamor of Vegas with the seedy & poverty-stricken side
* Walk the strip
* smoke a cigar
* play poker
*talk with some homeless people
Yep, it’s an ambitious list.
I arrive at night, dump my gear & head out onto the strip… turns out everything’s not as close as I’d imagined. I end up knocking off a 14+k trek on foot.
Things that jump out at me
Every place has its own qualities, peculiarities & characteristics, this is what took my notice.
1) I can’t walk a block with out someone offering me free entry to a strip club – the record was 4 offers in one block – sometimes this includes a free ride in a limo, “I can call a limo, we’ll be there in seconds, it’ll be awesome!”. I’ll consider it a minor miracle if I don’t end up in a titty bar.
3) Newspaper stands. Every block has newspaper stands, except they’re not full of newspapers, they’re full of papers advertising escorts.
3) It’s f****’n cold, between 0-3 degrees (Celsius)
4) There might be more Starbucks than slot machines, every casino, hotel, airport… I’m surprised I can’t purchase a coffee while taking a shower.
After a bit I stop in a casino to grab a burger from this place I’d heard about, KGB burgers (Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers) clever. It’s all KGB themed and has some fantastic art, even Sean Connery as 007 makes a cell-shaded appearance… Oh, and the waitresses have this GI-Joe-Baroness theme thing going on 🙂
Burger & fries all washed down with a White Russian, fueled & ready to go.
I end up in this one casino, thanks to a detour & some conveniently placed “road works”, as I’m walking through I notice the Lakers are playing the Suns & Kobe’s back, and there is a poker tournament starting soon… thinking… then one of my songs comes on. Sold. $30 entry fee. Free drinks while playing + NBA + Poker = win!
And win I did, until bowing out on the final table. I’ve always maintained the key to poker is winning with rubbish cards, I can’t do it, so luckily for me I hit a run of some of the best hands I’ve ever hit. Hit quad Queens on the flop & had a guy put me all in on the river, hit a full house, straight flush, Ace high flush twice, hit triple Kings on the river to give me the hand over pocket Aces…. ridiculous. But all good things come to an end & so did my luck (4 hrs later), which is probably a good thing otherwise I might still be there.
I wander around a bunch of casinos, flashing lights, water features, gimmicks begging you to choose them over the other… I run into a few houseless people, one makes me a flower out of a flax-like plant. We talk NFL & they give me the low down on the homeless situation in Vegas, it’s quite a candid conversation, one admits he’s addicted to gambling, the other says he’s an alcoholic, I grab them both a burger & coffee and we chat awhile.
On my way home I light a victory cigar, why the celebration? Life.
I crash into my room at 4am, time for 2hrs sleep before I start tomorrow. Tim 1 – Vegas 0.