The night Mrs H broke the bank at Caesar's Palace

Trip Start Sep 02, 2013
Trip End Dec 05, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Thursday, November 7, 2013

The only thing missing when it comes to the Grand Canyon is that it hasn't got a Canadian side, but what we do have to work with is a dispute as to whether the Southern Rim (easy access) or the Northern Rim offers the most stunning views. Mrs Henry and I wouldn’t know, because both of us have an innate and indestructible preference for whatever is easiest, so we stuck to the Southern Rim. Maybe the burgers are better at the Northern Rim.

Start from the non-historic historic Indian watchtower, from the east. National Parks po-facedly warns against vandalism directed against this newly built historical pueblo-style gifte shoppe. Anyway, from the pueblo-style watchtower you look down and through the Grand Canyon. 'Through’ is the key that unlocks the majesty of the Grand Canyon. From all other points you look down and against the northern canyon wall, which flattens the view. You could also catch a scenic helicopter flight, which Mrs Henry and I didn’t do, because Mrs Henry says helicopters aren’t safe.

But what is it about beautiful views, sights and attractions that make them so intensely boring in such a very short time and makes us retire to the gift shop to check out overpriced sweaters and t-shirts?                    

In Sedona, Arizona, not far away from the Grand Canyon, where there are some nice rock formations very familiar to John Wayne afficionados, folks are a bit too refined for gift shops. Sedona has put about that Sedona is "at the centre of vortexes [sic] that radiate the earth’s power" (quote from Lonely Planet). Sedona therefore doesn’t have gift shops, but artist’s shops, that sell glass swans and funny-smelling candles. There is one point in Sedona from which all rock formations can be seen. You scramble to the top of this great round rock on Airport Road and you see the Tea Pot, the This and the That (all Sedona rocks, like pets, have names). Naturally, for productivity-increase driven people such as Mrs Henry and myself the Airport Road rock held great allure. See everything, move on. Three months may seem like a long time, but when you’ve got a whole country to look at, you can’t mess about. When circling down the Airport Road rock along a track of sorts, we caught up with an elderly man in a floppy hat, puffing, but saying how “marvelous” it all was. Back at Airport Road itself he was accosted by a couple in their thirties.

“Is this where the vortex is?”, the couple asked the man in the floppy hat.

“Vortex?”, said the man in the floppy hat a bit non-plussed. “Ah, yes, you follow that track there ...”

“And the vortex is there?”, asked the couple, excitement gleaming in their eyes.

“Well, yeah”, said the man in the floppy hat, “it goes around and around, you know.”

It was the couple’s turn to be non-plussed.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, where Mrs Henry and myself are currently encamped in an ‘ahrr-vee pahrr-k’ in the grounds of one of the lesser casinos, they have found an even more elegant solution to the problem of sights being boring. They simply don’t have any. They have just filled any little space not occupied by a casino or a hotel or a poker machine with a gift shop. Four t-shirts saying ‘Viva Las Vegas’ for $9.97, who could resist? Mrs Henry certainly couldn’t. She also couldn’t resist the Vegas shows, so we saw Jersey Boys (a triumph of doowap) and Le RÍve/The Dream (a truly amazing spectacle in a purpose-built theatre – google it, seriously!).

Mrs Henry stated that she wanted to gamble in Las Vegas and not in any old casino either. Caesar’s Palace no less. So on Friday night we strode imperiously and contemptuously through the corridors of our lesser host casino (Circus Circus) and hailed a cab on Las Vegas Boulevard.

“To Caesar’s Palace, please”, we said importantly.

On the way we saw a beggar with a positive outlook, with a sign saying: ‘Ninjas kidnapped my family. Please give 50c for my karate lessons’. Then, I was certain I saw Old Mr Henry. You don’t see many Elvis impersonators in Vegas these days. It’s all Transformers and Sponge Bob Square Pantses these days, so Elvis impersonators stand out. I nudged Mrs Henry.

“There’s Old Mr Henry, I said.”


I pointed out the spot where just a moment before ... I could have sworn ....

When we got to Caesar’s Palace it was a bit overwhelming. It had been a while since Mrs Henry and I visited Marrickville RSL, billed as the “Las Vegas of the West”. Caesar’s Palace, no disrespect, looked a bit like a cross between Marrickville RSL and Sydney Central Railway at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. People wheeling their luggage around, people hurrying somewhere. People talking importantly on their mobile phone.

Blackjack? No, too simple, said Mrs Henry. Roulette? Too simple. Craps? Too complicated. So pokies it was, just like Marrickville.

We worked out how to put in a five dollar bill. A cocktail waitress assisted: “Money, yah, here, money money, yah yah!”, she kept saying, pointing at the slot. Very unfortunate. The Australian accent leads some Americans to believe Australians don’t speak English, although I think she pretended to be dumb. Some people can do that. It takes years of practice, honing those dumb skills, but the performance was flawless.

At a minimum of one cent a pop you can play for a long time on five dollars, and Mrs Henry did. Up and down went the balance of credits. As low as 320, or $3.20, a stunning loss of 36 per cent! Then it went up, and up, and up!, to 780, or $7.80.

“Let’s cash it in!”, spoke Mrs Henry.

And we did and we strode out of Caesar’s Palace with a 56 per cent return on investment.

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