Beer and Loathing in Las Vegas

Paris in Vegas

Las Vegas is not my favorite vacation destination, but some dear people live there, so we went.

I should be more specific: I don’t enjoy the Vegas Strip. I can see why it’s called “Sin City”: gluttony, drunkenness, lust, avarice, gambling, unwise applications of spandex—it’s enough to make a religious person blow a gasket. Mind you, I’m not a particularly religious person, but the Strip grates on my nerves the same way that amusement parks do: too many people, nowhere to sit down unless you purchase something, tacky merchandise, aggressive salespeople, flashing lights and annoying noises, blingblingblingblingbling… Yikes!

This time, we stayed in the Luxor. Our room was spacious, but the air was stale, damp, smoky, and no amount of adjusting the air conditioning could remove that sticky, toxic feeling. You can’t open a window, lest it spoil the clean lines of the big pyramid. And sure enough, both Hubs and I came home with a nasty cold. Humans were not meant to live in such conditions.

Of course, I’d enjoy the Las Vegas experience more if I enjoyed gambling, but I just don’t. I was delighted when my husband and his son returned from the craps table with a substantial pile of bills. But when I see money disappear into the drooling maw of the casino, all I can think of is the hours of work it cost me to earn that money. Not fun—more like nauseating.

However, there were some highlights, besides our visit with the aforementioned dear people. We had the chance to drive through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, which afforded views of, well, Red Rocks, along with other gorgeous rock formations, the remains of what were once gigantic sand dunes. The visitors’ center is very informative too. Hubs is still recovering from his knee replacement surgery, so we didn’t hike, but we did enjoy our drive through the thirteen-mile scenic loop. Definitely worth a visit.

Red RocksMore Red Rocks

We also visited the Mob Museum, just off Fremont Street, where we learned about the history of organized crime in the U.S. and especially in Las Vegas. Fascinating—we could have spent a whole afternoon there.

While Hubs and his son played darts, I took a walk down the Strip, dodging beggars, hustlers, pimps, drunken tourists, and time-share pushers, until I reached the Bellagio. Ah, the Bellagio, an oasis of calm and beauty. Of course, there’s the lovely floral lobby ceiling created by Tacoma’s own Dale Chihuly.

Chihoully's Flowers

There’s the indoor garden, this time decked out for Chinese New Year.

Bellagio gardenMore Bellagio garden

Aren’t the monkeys clever? Monkeys and peaches

Even the casino is calmer here. I wandered until I found the lovely courtyard, so civilized, so European-ish.

Bellagio courtyard

Even the statuary is snooty here.

Snooty crocodile

I breathed deeply before plunging back into the throbbing throng on the Strip. Back at the Luxor, we went to the obligatory show—can’t do Vegas without a show. This time, it was the Blue Man Group. What fun! There were marshmallows, and bugs, and smoke rings, and Twinkies, and paper streamers, confetti, and of course drums, the element that holds this delightful conglomeration together. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, you should go see these guys—big fun! (But buy your tickets at the same-day half-price stand.)

On our last night, step-son and his darling girlfriend took us to the Hofbräuhaus, a very authentic-looking beer hall with very authentic Bratwurst and Jägerschnitzel, plus good beer, of course. And there was a real German band! It was a lovely taste of home.

So it seems that there’s lots of fun to be had in Las Vegas, but the best stuff is located off the Strip, except for the shows. Next time, we’ll find a hotel far from the fear and loathing, with windows that open.


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