Our recent trip to Sin City was so much fun. But unlike 30 years ago, when I was busy scarfing up the bargain buffets up and down Las Vegas Blvd., sampling pounds of the product at a chocolates factory, and singing along with Barry Manilow (“Oh, Mandy! Well you came and you gave without taa-king …”) at a show (well, it was the 80’s!), I found myself in a city totally changed – unrecognizable from where I last left my hard-earned dollars.
There is no such thing anymore as ‘cheap eats,’ free this or that (unless you are a very high roller) or kitschy cafes. No, Vegas – save for The Fremont Street Experience and several of the quickie wedding chapels downtown – is now a fancy-shmantzy collection of hotels, convention venues, and high-end shopping meccas, with of course swank casinos sprinkled in the mix.
For example, we ate breakfast at the hotel where we stayed, The Venetian, and it would cost us $40 with no problem. A steak dinner ran around $85 per person (plus sides and drinks!) one evening at a restaurant in the Venetian Restaurant Row. I had the fish stew which was $37, plus $12 if you wanted a side dish of mashed potatoes, asparagus, etc. It was a very tasty meal, but come on!
And, even though it was shocking that everything has changed, there was still a lot of smoking going on in Vegas! I guess there is no such thing as a non-smoking establishment in a town nicknamed Sin City, where drinking, eating and gambling excessively are the order of the day.
Fortunately, though, out West there is so much to do and so many things to see, that one need not get bogged down in anything that is not to their liking. While we did mostly the casino/restaurant/shopping thing this time, there is a natural wonder (Grand Canyon National Park) and other worthwhile scenic wonders (Zion National Park, Death Valley, Hoover Dam) within driving distance from Las Vegas. We went on a beautiful helicopter tour of Hoover Dam, and I swear the pilot (a petite blonde gal barely old enough to drive a car, let alone fly a helicopter) could’ve been my granddaughter!
Before going – even though I had lived in Arizona years ago and had traveled to all of these places – I consulted with some publications available at DCPL, one of my favorites being: Fodor’s 2016 Las Vegas by writers Jason Drago, Heidi Rinella, Susan Stapleton, Matt Villano, Mike Weatherford ; editor, Eric B. Wechter, which was a good basic refresher on the area and more importantly, on the different types of gambling one might encounter and the strategies and odds on each; and Luck : understanding luck and improving the odds by Barrie Dolnick and Anthony H. Davidson.
After this trip, I now ‘understand’ that luck comes and goes!
And so … I had a lot of fun: ate too much, gambled too much (and lost too much money), and shopped too much. But Vegas is a place just made for going overboard. And, “What happens in Vegas …”