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We only had one night in Las Vegas, and night is definitely the time of day to see Vegas, so we had to pack in as much as we could. My wife and I don't gamble. I find handing my money to complete strangers not a particularly compelling form of entertainment. We weren't in town long enough to catch some shows, so that left touring The Strip.
Our itinerary put us into Vegas on a Friday night which is peak season. The best bargain we could find was The Excalibur, a “family friendly” megacasino (at least by Vegas standards; it prominently features a male revue of Australian strippers called The Thunder From Down Under) that was a bit of a dump. We never talked to a live person from check-in to check-out. The air conditioning was better suited to a Motel 6, and the buffet was no threat to Morrisons.
We walked up to the Bellagio via New York, New York and the M&M superstore which is quite a hike. There we watched two versions of the famed fountain show. We had good views despite the fact that the watershow packs in the bystanders, making the empty streets of the last scene in the Clooney/Pitt Ocean’s Eleven pure Hollywood hokum.
Since it was after 10pm and still over 90 degrees, we picked a different way to catch the rest of bright lights. The Clark County public transit system runs a double decker shuttle bus called The Deuce. We managed to snag seats at the front of the upper level which gave us a great panoramic view of the neon sprawl. The one drawback is that the bus is slooooowwwww. At one point we stood still for over fifteen minutes while the bus driver argued with someone in a wheelchair over something.
We barely made it to Fremont Street in the old downtown in time to catch the last light show for the night. As a draw to the older obsolete casinos, every hour they turn three blocks of covered walkway into a stunning LCD lightshow. There is enough free stuff to watch in Vegas to keep someone busy for several days. We didn't get to Treasure Island or The Mirage or a lot of the other draw-them-in spectacles.
New York claims to be the city that never sleeps, but Las Vegas is the real deal. We didn't get back to our hotel until 1 am and everything was going strong. I wandered around a few casinos the next morning to take pictures and there were people playing poker at 8am in the MGM Grand. I find the excess and gaudiness fascinating, but not compelling. I don’t know if or when I’ll get back to this desert kingdom of vice, but I’m in no rush to clear out the bank account and board the plane. There are a lot of shows to see, but most of them are only-famous-in-Vegas magicians and crap. I would like to see Rita Rudner or Penn and Teller or the new Beatles tribute, but all-in-all, I'd rather see shows on Broadway which is much more convenient to me anyways.
Geek Corner®: I knew I wanted to make a slideshow montage of my Vegas pictures set to “Viva Las Vegas”. I only had enough pictures for a 36 second clip. I used an old version of Easy CD Creator to make the clip which gives a lot of output options. They all look great on my computer, but often look very grainy once on the web. It seems all these sites like YouTube convert the video to Flash animation on their servers, which makes them download faster at a serious cost to quality. I like the resolution of the Google™Videos best, so that’s what I used on the blog. You can see the YouTube version for comparison if you want. Just be careful about catching an Elvis tune cooty. The pictures used in the slideshow can be viewed more leisurely here.
One thing about these video sharing sites, is that you quickly realize that there are no original ideas. "Viva Las Vegas" is the soundtrack to several videos, including this one. Let’s hope the Presley estate never finds out about the rampant piracy.
Blatant Comment Whoring™: What brings people to Vegas, the gaudy spectacle, or the opportunity to leave behind more money than they wanted to?