So, on those lists everyone makes of places they'd like to go, you know, "Before I Die," "If I had all the Money in the World," "Just to Say I've Been," "Because George Clooney has a House There," etc., Las Vegas has been on... well... lets just say it's never been on any lists of any places I'd like to go under any circumstances. But I have friends who love to go there and they twisted my arm. Actually, they didn't really twist my arm so much as I'm a sucker for peer pressure...
But you know what? It was so much fun!
I even learned some things. And who goes to Vegas to learn stuff?? Anyway... I wasn't there for a whole week, but nothing else happened the other three days, so here's my Top Five - Vegas Edition:
1. Clowns: Still Creepy
I saw a Cirque du Soleil show - which I also wasn't sure I would enjoy, but did. My fear was that there would be clowns and mimes. And I DO NOT enjoy clowns or mimes. There was a bit of that, and it was indeed dreadful, but I got over it. The rest of the show was too amazing to be put off by them for too long. If you happen to be in Las Vegas and can go and see "O" (the one with the water), it is worth every penny.
2. Adding is not My Thing
I learned to play Black Jack. Well, I sort of learned and then sat between two friends who know how to play and would knee me under the table whenever I did something wrong. We played for a few hours at one table and the same two dealers kept switching back and forth every 20 or 30 minutes. One would add up your cards for you as he dealt and one wouldn't. I'll let you guess as to which dealer I tipped more. At one point I was up $100. And then lost it. But I broke even with my gambling money overall for the weekend, so I considered that a win.
3. I Can Still Find a Way to Be a Geek, Even in Vegas
One morning we were lounging around the hotel room and one of my friends was flipping through one of those visitor bureau magazines they have free in the hotel and said, "here's five dollars off admission to Bodies the Exhibition - what's that?" I jumped up from my knitting (yes, I did bring my knitting to Las Vegas), startling the others with my excitement. I've been wanting to see this exhibit so badly and the closest it's coming to Nashville is Cincinnati and Atlanta. And do you have any idea how hard it is to get someone to take a road trip with you when you start the conversation, "Hey! Wanna drive four hours to go see an exhibit of perfectly preserved cadavers?!" Needless to say, no one else in the room really wanted to see it either - even though it was only in the hotel across the street - so that afternoon I went by myself. And it was fantastic. Again, worth every penny. If for no other reason than you can regale your travelling companions over dinner with phrases like "do you know how big our liver is?" Or, "and then there was a case with just someones skin..."
4. Vegas May Have Been More Fun Than I Thought, but Some of It Was Just as Icky as I Imagined
I have this theory that you could ban all signage and advertising for strip clubs, peep shows and whore houses and financially they would do just fine because, really, if someone wants to partake in that kind of thing, they're going to find your establishment even if you don't have a giant hot pink and purple tacky neon arrow sign pointing them in the right direction. And they will certainly find their way without you lining the sidewalks of Las Vegas with people shaking fliers and coupons at them as they walk by. Turns out these people lining the sidewalks are not allowed to touch you, so they do this weird flicking thing with their fliers as they shove them in front of your face. They may not have been allowed to touch me, but there was more than one occasion where I wanted my elbow to make contact with a few of their noses.
5. It is the Land of Extremes
Everything there is bigger, longer, faster, taller, flashier and crazier. You don't just get a margarita. You get a guava mango margarita. In a three-foot tall glass. That you can drink while you're waiting in line for a thrill ride. But not just any thrill ride. One at the top of a 110-story building. And then you can continue drinking your margarita while walking down the street or shopping in the mini-market on the way back to your hotel room which you can only get to by going around the 20-foot gold-leafed lion statue, through the giant casino and past eight different restaurants and bars - from Wolfgang Puck's to McDonald's to something blaring club music where the waitresses dance on the bar every so often in leather miniskirts. Literally, the walk from my room to the Bodies exhibit in the hotel across the street took a solid thirty minutes. Madness.
Even nature is extreme there. We went hiking one day in Red Rock Canyon and it was amazing. Plants growing in a little crack in a rock. Mountains just jutting straight up out of the earth - no rolling foothills like I'm used to. In the sun it was hot and you were sweating and spraying yourself down with sunscreen, but step two feet into the shade and you were shivering and had to put a jacket on. Also, the desert is extremely dry. Did you know that? My now really chapped lips (and nose and ears and sinuses) were a bit in denial, apparently.
Anyway... All-in-all I give Las Vegas two very tired and chapped and poor (but happy!) thumbs-up.