Stays in Las Vegas

Well, but first you have to get to Las Vegas, which we did using I-10 and I-15 through Joshua tree habitat.

 Yucca brevifolia (Joshua tree)

 

I had not been to Las Vegas since i stopped there to spend the night on my way back to Texas with my friend Dick in late August, 1974.   I was horrified at the sight of rows of middle-aged women sitting in front of slot machines with paper cups of coins in front of them, rhythmically pulling the handles in a compulsive frenzy.  The sight of those automata was so disquieting that i never went back.

But Rina was curious to see this slice of Americana, and i had heard tales of the increased variety of excellent shows available now.  Besides, i also remembered that the rooms, drinks, and food were cheap since the casinos made their money off the gambling.   Rina wanted to stay in a nice place, so i agreed, what the hell, it wouldn’t hurt me to spend a couple of nights in a luxury hotel once in my life.  So we booked the Luxor, which turned out to be the only bargain we found.

Times have changed.  The first disappointment, at least for Rina, was that owing to the unseasonably cold weather (temperatures were actually pleasant), the swimming pool area was closed and you couldn’t even lounge around beside the pool.  For me, the big disappointment was the high price and low quality of food and drink.  The only food i enjoyed in the Luxor was the frozen yogurt (from the same company we’d discovered in Palm Springs).   And we’d thought we’d see some shows, but quickly discovered that we could see the same shows in our native cities for the same price.  Besides, we’d been vacationing so hard that we were too tired to stay up past nine.

But what about the sights?  Well, let’s start with the Luxor, a thirty-story black glass pyramid rising in splendid, austere majesty.  Achingly beautiful, and surrounded with hideous faux Egyptian monstrosities.

Luxor Sphinx

 

Ahh, those blue eyes that made Nefertiti swoon.

And inside?  Well, what do you do about a spectacular space with thirty stories of interior balconies stepping up to the peak?  Easy, fill it with hideous copies of Egyptian schlock…and then throw in some stuff that doesn’t even seem related.

 

Luxor interior

 

What about the rest of Las Vegas?  Well, the second afternoon i drove us down the Strip, and over and over saw juxtaposed the sublime and the ridiculous.   Why? I wondered.  And then it struck me:  it’s designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator, so of course they have to mix a little beauty in with the ugliness.

And no, neither of us spent a dime gambling, but there was a moment that shined a bright light on that.  The morning we were leaving, we shared an elevator to the parking garage with a couple of middle-aged men whose body language i found somehow a bit off.  After we left them, Rina nailed it by observing that they sure looked like they’d lost too much money.

What stays in Las Vegas is the money.

 

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