Vegas, Sin City

Trip Start Feb 07, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Sahara Las Vegas Hotel And Casino

Flag of United States  , Nevada
Friday, November 2, 2007

Driving out of Death Valley National Park we find signs of life in the small town of Shoshone. We stop at a small solar powered run vegetarian cafe where you can make yourself at home in the friendly owners cute little house while he cooks something up for you! But onward we must go, it's Friday and we're keen to get to Sin City! Vegas looms up out of the wide, dry desert valley and the massive casinos and hotels of the Strip can be seen well before you hit the city limits. Apparently Vegas has 8 out of 10 of the world's largest hotels, so it's now surprising!

We're staying at the old skool Sahara Hotel:
This place is one of the original hotels and has really got a history! In the foyer there are photos of Elvis and the Rat Packers at the Sahara and the Beatles stayed here when they were on tour in the 60's. It's a pretty worn out old place with the usual casino, entertainment, restaurant and shopping areas. However, there have been some efforts to keep up with the times, including the installation of a 'Nas Car' themed extension. We're quite excited to find that the hotel has a roller coaster ride that exits from inside the building. It's called 'Speed' and they're not wrong there. It sure is short and sweet. It literally whips you through a hole in the wall onto a strip where you do a superfast corkscrew and loop then a vertical rise, only to be whipped back to do it all in reverse. It's all over before you can even scream!!

We're staying at the northern end of the strip which is dotted with cheesy wedding chapels, old style motels, flashing neon signs, tattoo parlours and massive souvenir shops. We catch the mono rail to the south end of the Strip to get a taste of the glitz. It really doesn't seem to matter what the theme of the casino is, they are full of the same eye-stinging flashing slot machines with people feeding in their tokens like robots! There isn't an iota of glitz to be found with most people wearing tracksuits and looking fairly drab. I'm horrified that MGM Grand has real live lions in a glass enclosures right at the throbbing centre of the casino. The lions look tormented as people try and make them roar. You've never seen anything more depressing.... New York, New York is our next casino experience - a mini version of New York's landmarks with a huge roller coaster winding around the sky scrapers. We can't resist and queue up for another vomit-inducing ride. The casinos all blur into one, apart from their horribly over the top entrance statements - Excalibur's castle and Luxor's pyramid, obelisk and sphinx etc. Your eyes start to sting after a while from neon overdose...

On Saturday we head out to the Hoover Dam not far out of Vegas. This is by far the most beautiful dam I have ever seen, built in the early 1930's in a graceful Art Deco style. The construction of the dam bought thousands of workers to Nevada. When it was all finished the state turned to gambling and nuclear testing to continue expanding their economy! The water is now extremely low and the dam is working at minimal capacity, with the huge turbines starved of water. Back in town, Tim is on a quest to find a muscle car showroom - but we don't have much luck. After a trippy hippy lunch in a vegetarian cafe, we opt for ultimate contrast and head to a gun store. The place is packed with men of all ages itching to get their hands on a gun and live out their biggest fantasy in the indoor firing range. Basically you choose your gun from the selection on the wall (from hand guns to military assault rifles), choose how many rounds you want to shoot, choose a target sheet to shoot at (Osama Bin Laden appears to be the big seller) pay your money, then get in the queue to shoot your gun. In a country where, at 32, you can't buy a can of beer without showing ID, you can walk into this place and shoot a fully automatic machine gun, no questions asked! Needless to say, Tim can't resist and selects a Desert Eagle with 5 rounds. I try and make myself scarce amongst the gun accessories section while he heads in to the noisy shooting room. It's horrifying to watch all this going down - the shop guys dressed in black military type uniforms walking up and down with massive weapons, young gangster wannabees showing off their target sheets, the stag party looking group going back for another go....

Our Saturday evening entertainment starts of in Downtown Vegas. There's also loads of casinos here, but it has an older feel about it. We're here to see the sound and light show called the 'Freemont Experience'. It goes for about 6 minutes, and is projected onto a covered mall area. It's bright, loud and cheesy, but what more can you expect from Vegas! We head back to the Strip to the Imperial Palace to check out their Auto Collections. Tim is super excited to look at the collection of over 200 classic cars. Tim makes a close inspection of Dodge Challenger RT, a Chevy Nova and Shelby Mustang before we head back out into the madness. Past the Venice and the Eiffel Tower ... who would ever need to travel the world when you can come to Vegas??!! We watch the synchronised water fountain show at Belaggio's (this is about as classy as it gets here!), then head to the super tacky Caesar's where we have a very expensive drink on the 'Spanish Steps'. Our neighbours at the bar are some very tanked Naval guys in full uniform who have obviously been partaking of various illegal substances.Great PR. We have a hilarious trip home on the Deuce bus where the strip bus driver keeps telling off his largely drunk and disorderly passengers who respond to his instructions with roaring laughter. The Strip is so busy that it takes an eternity to get back to the Sahara.

We're up early the next morning - we've seen more than enough and are ready to to hit the road. Apparently Vegas hotels somehow manage almost full occupancy on weekends and the average visitor spends around $600 on gambling!! This figure isn't surprising when you see the amount of drained looking people still gambling at 8am on a Sunday morning. The 'opulence' of Vegas might be cheesy and fake, but there's no denying that it's cost a lot of dollars - it's a wonder that the gamblers don't take a look around them and realise that the city of sin is built on their losses and misery. Vegas is like a car crash - there's something grotesque about it, but for some strange reason you just can't look away...
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