Lisa and I do not agree on everything. Granted we do have enough in common to keep us together enjoying most of what we experience. We have loved traveling with her job, meeting new people and seeing new places. But one thing we have discovered that we do not agree on is Las Vegas. Lisa loves it – I hate it.
My first trip to Vegas was this past December traveling out to Loma Linda, California for her assignment at their hospital. That was a whirlwind trip and my mind (and I’m sure hers) was more on getting to our new apartment and adjusting to southern California. We stayed at the “Vdara” resort and it was very, very nice. But beyond that – I don’t really remember much. This past weekend we returned during Lisa’s seven days off work and I was better able to assess the place and take it all in and, boy, there is a lot to take in. I should also say that we were there celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary.
Vegas in the summer is hot. So hot, in fact, some of the friends we have made here at the Kingman campground are from Vegas and come here to avoid the heat. To put that in perspective – Kingman averages about 98 degrees in the summer. So let me repeat – they come here to Kingman where it is cooler. It can get up to 120 degrees in Vegas and stays in the 110 – 115 range all summer. Last weekend it was actually cooler than usual but humid. No wonder people sit and play slot machines for long periods of time – they aren’t addicted to gambling – they’re just so damn hot they have no where else to go.
We stayed at the “Aria” resort – one of the myriad of huge, overstated hotels that line the sidewalks and scrape the desert sky as far as the eye can see. Opulent seems to be an appropriate description for most of what Vegas appears to be. But underneath all the glitz – I found a great deal of misery. Never before in my life have I encountered more pan-handlers, beggars and homeless street people. In one instance I was looking at billion dollar casinos and the next vision is a dirty beggar holding a sign that he needs food to eat. It is all very strange – almost surreal.
We spent the early part of the evening walking through the “Venetian Resort” trying to find a particular restaurant we really liked during our trip in December. After three trips around the place and growing weaker and weaker for lack of food – we finally decided on “Trattoria Reggiano” which was also fantastic. Quality of food is certainly not lacking anywhere. Lisa wanted me to experience the lights of the old downtown Vegas and we caught a cab after dinner. The cab drove about four miles and the trip to and from was $50. You would think the driver would have at least had a slot machine in the back of the seat for us to play what money we had left – at least give us a chance to win a little back. Talk about a “Cash Cab” – this is it.
Downtown Vegas has many of the familiar iconic places I remember seeing on television. But where the newer Vegas “strip” is posh with lots of “new money”, downtown seemed a bit “seedier”. Walking from one end to the other I imagined I was experiencing Dante’s nine circles of hell. The heat, the homeless people, the scantily clad ladies (at least most seemed to be female – some I was unsure), was almost more than I could take. We finally settled for something to drink and sat and listened to a really bad 90s band. I just wanted to get back to our resort and shower.
We finished our evening playing penny slot machines and I managed to double my twenty-dollar investment while Lisa was not so lucky. You will be glad to know that we are not big spenders – did not have to pawn away any jewelry or sell a kidney. We lost more on the cab ride downtown than we did the slot machines. I found myself playing one slot machine for quite a while. I would win some – then lose – then win – then lose. It kept me entertained (maybe mesmerized is a better description) for at least an hour and I found myself thinking – “If I just keep playing this machine – I will eventually hit it big”. It dawned on me during that experience that probably a lot of slot machine players think that way. Finally I pulled myself away and was relieved to collect my forty dollars. I can now see how gambling can be addictive.
I have mentioned J.C. in a previous blog. He and his wife Carol are camping here in Kingman and we have enjoyed getting to know them. J.C. and I have started playing golf together once a week. J.C., as I told before, retired as a “craps” dealer in Vegas about ten years ago. He told me a story about a couple who came every weekend to the casino where he worked and played the same slot machines every time. Their goal was to hit it big on a mega prize machine that required a double bet. I suppose at that time they were still using coins because two coins were necessary to win the seven million dollar prize. One night J.C. overheard the husband tell his wife to play while he went to the restroom and he reminded her to put two coins in the machine so they could win the seven million. When he left – she continued to play and happened to hit the jackpot. However, she only put one coin in. J.C. said when the husband returned and realized what happened he began to choke her and tried to kill her right there in the casino. Security came and saved the wife and hauled him off to jail. That story is funny to me – but very sad. Las Vegas does strange things to people.
So – this is Vegas. Kingman is one hundred miles from “sin city” and I am sure we will venture there again and deposit a little more money. Apparently Vegas is in need of cash – the cab driver told us the resorts must make at least two million dollars an hour to keep up with expenses.
I think Lisa and I may have paid for three seconds.