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TR 9/-26-9/28 Las Vegas

Author: Tortoise
Date of Trip: September 2008

Took a cab from the Hilton to Harrah's. Best $11 I ever spent. My driver Frank forgot to turn the meter on until we were out of the long driveway. I asked him how long he had been driving and he told me 3 days. LOL! When I told him Harrah's, he said, "that's a long ways down, isn't it?" I said, "Uh, no, it's just past the Wynn, I think." He said he was still trying to find his way around. A nicer man you could never meet. He had just moved to LV from New Jersey. He had a son in Iraq and another in Afghanistan. We talked about cab driving (I used to drive one) and he clearly was loving life. I didn't even care when he pulled into the Venetian by mistake. He had turned his meter off while we still on the Strip anyway. I tipped him $3 and wished him well.

Back to the Carnival Court bar. I could live there, but only stayed a couple of hours. Went to Casino Royale and spun the slot for free play or gift and got $100 in free play. It didn't pay out and dumped $60 into their WoF. I went to the Venetian to play some BJ, but the limits were like all $15 min, so I went back to my 50 cent WOF and played for about 20 min. before hitting for $328 on one spin. The woman next to me had to explain why I had won so much. Of course I had forgot to put in my player's card again. I know, people like me shouldn't be allowed near those things.

Took the Deuce back DT. I found a balloon hat on the bus and put it on a little Japanese boy on the sidewalk at the bus stop. I left his parents bowing to me. I pretty much followed my past DT routine as far as gambling, except just about broke even that night. I did go up to Fitzgeralds 2nd floor bar, which has a great view of the show below. Got free beads and chance for a raffle at La Bayou, a tiny slot casino. It was probably the only place in Las Vegas I didn't feel safeā€¦and that was with the security standing there. At the rear of the Bayou they sell these slushies and I almost ordered one with Everclear (200 proof grain alcohol) but I was afraid I might end up like some of the patrons. 3 20-somthings guys were yelling, slapping each other and spilling their slushies and beer everywhere. When they started harassing the female patrons, security came and had a polite chat with them. They calmed down a little but actually I can think of worse fates than getting 86'ed from the Bayou. I needed to catch my shuttle at 9 the next morning, so I called it a night took a very solemn cab ride to the Hilton, where I cashed in my football ticket. Played a little VP at the bar and won almost exactly what the cab ride cost. This was pretty much the benchmark of my trip. Spend a little and win a little. Walking back from the Hilton to the CC, I caught up with a guy walking ahead of me. He was scruffy looking, the kind of guy most would cross the street to avoid, but growing up in Berkeley I knew he wasn't a threat. He was either a local who couldn't locate a razor and a set of clean clothes or homeless. I think the former judging by his shoes. We talked about the "fish hooks" Las Vegas puts out to bait you and the bait they use. In the end, he asked me for a cigarette and we wished each other a good night. A really nice guy, one of many I met.

Back at the CC, It hit the WoF strong. I had an idea of how much I was prepared to lose and stuck to it, but set the limit too high maybe. I went from one machine to another and back to the other one. Plenty of spins, but no big ones. In the end I put back maybe $160. I could have used the money I spent, of course, but even more I lost a lot of much needed sleep playing those Wheels. Shuttle the next morning was right on time and went back home to the day to day with a heavy heart and liver.

I probably shouldn't give advice since you are all grownup boys and girls, but for anyone who has never been to Las Vegas:

Be careful. This place EATS money. If you like to gamble, it will eat it even faster. Unless you have unlimited funds, set a budget and stick to it. I was lucky and that's all. The only game of "skill" I played was Black Jack and for all of my sessions, that game probably took me for about $120. I was lucky that I could take cabs whenever I wanted, eat what I wanted and tip everything on two legs as much as I wanted. I saw people at the tables with hundreds more than I would ever win stiff cocktail waitresses. Don't be that person. Just resign yourself to the fact that these people exist only to serve you, to make your holiday pleasant, and if they deserve it, should be compensated.

What I would do differently:

I would take someone with me. Traveling alone was wonderful. I went where I wanted when I wanted. I didn't have to think about anyone else's needs, wants or deal with their problems. Yet, there was no one to share my great wins with or laugh with when something absurd happened (and it's happening all the time).

Stay longer and gamble less. Another two days/nights would have been perfect. Although I won, I don't assume I'll to be that lucky next time and there were so many things I missed (Like the Pinball Hall of fame).

Take a cab from the airport. Stay Downtown.

In the end I broke almost exactly even, counting the two credit charges I made to buy supplies at the Slots of Fun. All I paid for was my hotel and airfare. I can't wait to go back.

Las Vegas made me feel invincible, and invisible. It made me feel powerful, yet very small. Hunter had it right that the American Dream resides there. Unabashed, unstoppable capitalism honed to perfection. But there is also the dream with a small "d". It's a place we can be someone else for a few days, while being ourselves at the same time. We can escape reality while still being in it. That's Las Vegas.

Till soon,


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