Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Wild West Adventure, Part 3

(If you'd like to read part one of our epic wild west honeymoon adventure, click here! Part two is here!

Viva Las Vegas!
Soundtrack: "Viva Las Vegas" by Elvis Presley

The last leg of our honeymoon was back in Las Vegas, which we hadn't stopped to enjoy when we'd first flown in from Chicago. Las Vegas is...Las Vegas. You have to see it to believe it, but even if you see it, you won't believe it, because it all seems so unreal. It's not the biggest city I've ever been to, or the tallest, or even the most chaotic. But it's probably the only one where the limos have pools on top of them, and the term "dayclub" is used in everyday vocabulary. I'm a very practical person, and Las Vegas goes against everything that is natural for me. As we walked the strip for the first time, gaping at the luxury and excess around every corner, it was hard for me not to think things like, "I wonder how much the electric bill for the city is every month?" and "What would happen in a power outage?" and "Is it really necessary to have a double-decker Hummer limo?" (I didn't actually see that, but I'm sure it exists. Of course it does). 

Everything is so outrageous and contradictory. Street corner evangelists prosthelytize next to guys handing out flyers for Girls!Girls!Girls! Everything is covered in neon. Water flows over cascades into wide pools in the middle of the desert. Its knockoff Eiffel Tower and Venetian canals only make this town seem even more American.

And there's a place for everyone, whether you're a supermodel looking to show off, or a man who likes to put on women's nighties, or a person who wants to dress up as your favorite actor/musician/fairytale character and take pictures with tourists on Fremont Street.

We did a lot of wandering, in and out of various hotels, marveling at their enormous lobbies full of art, sculptures, fountains, flowers, chandeliers, and of course, the casinos. If anyone ever doubted whether the house always wins, one only had to look around at the incredible wealth and over-the-top amenities of these establishments. We gambled a bit (high rollers who'd brought $20 each to burn - whoo!), and made eighty cents on penny slots.

We visited Madame Tussaud's wax museum (the first time either of us had visited one), and were only a little unnerved by how lifelike the figures really were. We wondered what would happen if one of those living statues on the street below decided to pose in the museum and scare unsuspecting tourists. We cooled off with a frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity, which I'd been hearing about forever (it lived up to the hype). We took naps at midday because walking through daytime Vegas was like being on the surface of the sun. We drove out to the Hoover Dam one day, which was like being on the surface of the sun inside a volcano within the deepest reaches of Hell. It's an incredible feat of architecture, to be sure, but it's also a giant block of cement in the middle of the desert.

At night we visited the buffets and the lounges, taking in the show on Fremont Street and the world-famous Bellagio Fountains.

And even with all of that, we only barely scratched the surface of what Las Vegas had to offer. We didn't go see a show this time, nor did we visit any of the dayclub-pool-discotheque hybrids. We didn't gamble at poker or roulette, and we didn't make it to Luxor or Stratosphere. We didn't get married by Elvis, though it crossed our minds to renew our vows. But we saw enough to know that Las Vegas will keep us entertained for as long as we keep coming back. Only, in winter this time, please.

It was a fitting end to an incredible honeymoon that felt as if it spanned months and not just a week and a half. We saw so many different things, and yet we only crossed one tiny corner of this huge country that is the United States, full of so many different people in vastly different worlds. We're already planning next year's trip...the Northwest? the South? The Midwest? The East Coast?...

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