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12.10.2002 Vegas 2002-Jose and Carolina

Vegas was awesome. It was great to see Jose and Carolina as always. Vegas itself is a very interesting place—very unique. Everything is so in-your-face and obvious. I tried to find a story that threaded through our visit, but it was difficult. We saw so many things. This time, instead of trying to post one or two stories from my point of view (I know how much you like that), I have decided to try more of a logging type fashion. And maybe, although the events will still be through my eyes, one can choose to see them how they would like to. And in order to emulate real-time, I’ll make postings of the days events—assuming that today, which is really Tuesday, the 10th of December, is instead Friday, the 29th of November. I’ll make daily postings for the next few days until Friday. In parallel, I’ll update the website for the same entry, just adding to it, so for those who want to one day recollect, http://www.OutrageousThoughts.com.

Hopefully this makes sense. Well, here goes:

Friday (11-29) – The most entertaining portion of our flight occurred during the screening of the free movie, “MIB II”. This was one of the older planes where there was one screen and it was way up in the front. It basically appeared like as a little screen for those of us sitting way in the back, needless to say, this also included the bobbing heads in front of us. Ironically though, about half-way through the movie the woman behind Elizabeth yells out, “Can you stop moving your head!”

We arrived at the Las Vegas airport in the evening and what’s the first thing we see? Slot machines. Of course! Excellent! We peer out the windows of the airport and you can see the hotels of the strip all illuminated in their fascinating colors.

Minutes later we are reunited with Jose and Carolina and we’re out into the evening. The first thing one notices about Las Vegas is that it really is a small town in the middle of a desert. “The strip,” they call it, is really a 2.5-mile street where massive hotels are built, all full of casinos, entertainment, and people. Lots of people. Las Vegas is different. It’s a pretty much a ‘what you see is what you get’ place. There’s not much to read behind the lines—there just is.

We have stumbled upon the one of the busiest times of year here. We only had to travel about two miles, but it took us about 45 minutes to arrive at our hotel, The Aladdin. Upon entering the place, we notice that we had to walk through a mall, just to get to the hotel lobby. Yes, a mall, with stores. Yes, its part of the hotel.

After settling into the room, we took a little walk outside. We were situated across the street from the Bellagio (as seen in the movie “Ocean’s 11”), and sort of just gazed at the massive water fountain attraction. The rest of the evening was sort of a blur. We were pretty much wiped out from lack of sleep and traveling. Remember how everything is so up front? It didn’t seem like it matter where we walked outside, but there were always batches of Mexican people handing out brochures and pictorial business cards of female Escorts—guess this is Vegas style. Jose and I jokingly grabbed one—figured it was reading material while on the can. Us guys, we think different. Of course, Elizabeth and Carolina just glared. Jose taunted further by reading the ads out loud and laughing. It was pretty funny.

Like I was saying, we were pretty much wiped out and settled on having dinner at an Italian restaurant (delicious), walked a bit more and retired in for the night knowing that tomorrow was going to be our first full day in the ever popular Las Vegas.

Saturday (11-30) – Elizabeth and I woke up early—too early almost. 6:24AM. Well, it was a different time zone for us. I just confusingly laid in bed for a while. Jose and Carolina had a little trouble waking up early, for it was really closer to their home time zone.

Today was going to be our first full day. The better part of the day was spent venturing from hotel to hotel up and down the strip. Amazing. Each of the hotels pretty much has their own unique attractions. And it was starting to be evident that the ones that included both fire and water were the most dramatic. In Caesars, there’s this huge monument with three concrete statues. Every hour, on the hour, the statues are elevated down into their podiums and are replaced with robotic figurines with Caesar, a water goddess, and a fire god. The scene erupts into a scene where the water goddess creates tidal waves and the fire god erupts fireballs. It was pretty intense where we actually felt the heat from the fire. Other hotels had similar shows, like Treasure Island’s display of two battling boats where one sinks into the lagoon.

New York New York had a very interesting facade that modeled the New York City skyline along with a roller coaster that threaded through it. Paris Paris had a half scale model of the Eiffel Tower.

The most impressive hotel that we saw was probably the Venetian. Inside was a mall that included facades that simulated Italy. Along with the canals and Gondolas of Venice. The sky was simulated with painted clouds and the light was tinted to simulate any hour of the day or night. The most impressive thing was this outdoor courtyard in the center, all put together with cobblestone streets and outdoor cafes. At 6PM, they dim the lights to make it appear as evening, and a concert violinist played—romantic. I saw a television program that revealed the hotel’s electrical bill for each month was about 500,000 dollars. Amazing. Needless to say, this was also noted as one of the most expensive hotels to stay at (prices range from $350 during the week to like $700 during the weekends for a basic room)—not for the timid I guess. Geez, I feel like Robin Leach.

The Luxor, was just architecturally interesting. It’s modeled after the Egyptian pyramids and the rooms are laid out on top of each other progressively inward toward the top of the pinnacle. In the center was the casino and other attractions. We noticed there was an IMAX theatre showing Star Wars-Episode II. Jose wanted to watch it and I was going to accompany him, while Elizabeth and Carolina was attend a Chippendales show. Neither actually happened, but we had good intentions.

We walked a lot today and also rode some hotel trams. Yeah, this is the town of hotels. We had dinner in our hotel at P.F. Chang’s. It was Elizabeth and mine’s first time there. Honestly, I’ve always been skeptical, thinking that it would be some sort of non-authenticated concoction of Chinese food. And you know what? We loved it… and I really want to go back. Being a devoted carnivore, I had the Mongolian beef. Now, I’ve had some authentic Mongolian beef before, and it did not taste this good. :)

Later in the evening, we attended a comedy show and it was just downright funny. The first comedian was features on Star Search (why is it that everyone at one time or another was featured on Star Search?), and the second comedian was just downright humorously rude picking on anyone he could in the audience.

Funny stuff. Long day—my feet hurt..

Sunday (12-1) – We woke a little later today, about 9 something. This was going to be our last full day here at Vegas. We wanted to go see the Hoover Dam—seeing how it was only 15 miles away. I remember it from that movie, “Fools Rush In”, with Chandler and Salma Hayek. (Yes, I know that his real name is Mathew Perry, but he will be forever etched in stone as Chandler—like how Henry Winkler is the Fonz). We woke, freshened up and headed to the car.

We drove off the strip, and it was different—just different. Suddenly, the glitziness stopped. No more big signs that read Prime Rib dinner for $4.95 all surrounding by synchronized flashing bulbs. Everything sort of appeared to be more …mid-western. Yes, mid-western. We stopped at a gas station to fill up. I headed inside to buy a paper. I wanted to read about what life was like in the local area. I received a few stares cause I figured I looked different from the locals. Yes, I don’t live here. Yes, I wandered off the strip. No, I haven’t lost my way. I know I don’t look like a local, but please excuse me for not wearing a Spaldings sweatshirt while sporting a Mullet. Nah, it wasn’t really that bad. I did receive a few stares, but it wasn’t the the string-em-up type, more like the this-here-Chinese-boy-is-lost looks and friendly nonetheless. We hit the road onto Interstate-93.

Approximately five miles from the Hoover Dam is when the traffic starts; bumper-to-bumper. One mile away from the dam there is a security check. And turning corner after corner we see it. It’s huge. The Hoover Dam, is a … a … a massive concrete structure. Amazing. It was built during the depression to initially control the water flowing down from the Colorado River, and as a by-product of this, supply hydroelectric power to neighboring states. It stands about 725 feet tall. Also, the time zone line is located here between Pacific and Mountain time. It’s 12 o’clock. No, it’s 11 o’clock. Wait, it’s 12… You get the idea.

Later that evening, we had dinner in an Italian restaurant in the Venetian—yes, we were that impressed. Then we were off to see Elvis. We walked about 1.5 miles down the strip and this gave us the chance to see the rest of the strip. It’s the first day in December, in the evening, and it’s about 60 degrees out—not too shabby. The lower half of the strip is different—a little older, and not just as grand, but fun nonetheless. But we were about an hour and a half too early, so we stopped in the Frontier hotel for a little gambling fun. Basically, we stood behind Elizabeth while she sat at a Blackjack table—it was one of her first times. I reached in my wallet and, pulled out a 20-dollar bill, and popped it down on the table, and we all hid behind Elizabeth. In a matter of ten minutes, she was able to turn the 20 dollars into 60 dollars. She flipped the dealer a chip for a tip, palmed the rest of her chips, and walked happily to the cashier (she’s been practicing on Yahoo games, she tells me).

We arrive at the Riviera hotel and surround a nickel slot machine for about 45 minutes on one dollar before the show. Finally, the doors open for Elvis, the lounge act. There are about 30 of us. He is the best! The musician is Trent Carlini, a 35 year old hailing from Chicago, making a living here in Vegas. He looks just like Elvis. Sounds just like Elvis. And is energetic as they come. He does add a few jokes here and there that is not apparent to anyone, but those under the age of 40—yes, we were the only ones laughing (out loud, nonetheless). He’s shaking his pelvis like Elvis. Suddenly, he’s jogging frantically sideways while singing noting that he saw that on “Flashdance,” and introduces a slow song, “…written by Kiss.”

Haha.. written by Kiss… get it? :) Oh, that Elvis fellow—they say he’s the devil y’know? Cracks me up..

Monday (12-2) – It was sad, and difficult to wake up by 7:30AM. I don’t know why we had to wake up so early seeing how our flight was at 9:30. Guess we all had to finish packing and head out. We wheeled our luggage all the way out through the casino, the mall, and into the parking log. It was a sunny day. Jose and Carolina drove us to the airport and we hugged our see-you-laters. It was great to see them as usual.

I slept through most of the flight back, but Elizabeth only slept the last couple of hours, which is difficult, cause she actually had to work later that night too.

Memorable. 2002—Jose and Carolina at Vegas.

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...One thing is that no matter how old I am, I probably will not like being called sir or mister, for they have always seemed too far out of reach...




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