Get yourself a cup of coffee, this is a long one. Basically, it’s all my random musings from my trip that won’t be fitting into a future blog post. (Probably.)
In the coming weeks and months, I’ll have posts for you about Cirque’s Michael Jackson ONE, Rock of Ages, the Goretorium, the Richard Petty Experience, Carnevale at the Venetian/Palazzo, the National Geographic Photo Exhibit, my spa experience at Canyon Ranch, the Aria Buffet, Bonnie Springs, tons of restaurants (including the oldest Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas) and more.
But today, you get my random thoughts and photos of the changes going on in Las Vegas. One thing that keeps me coming back to Las Vegas is how much it changes from year to year. Every time I am here, it’s like visiting a new city, but with that comforting familiarity of an old favorite place. This year was full of changes, which I hope means Vegas is on an upswing again.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that pedestrians still take their lives in their hands here: As I was riding in from the airport in my cab, I watched a live game of Frogger, as a guy decided to cross a busy street with 6 lanes of traffic, nowhere near a crosswalk. Traffic on my side was stopped at a light, but there were 3 lanes of traffic coming the other way, moving fast. I held my breath, positive I was about to see this guy bounce off someone’s windshield. He had to walk down the center of the street for awhile, with cars zooming by him, but he managed to make it across the street without getting hit. He never even hesitated or stopped along the way. It was possibly the most breathtakingly foolhardy thing I’ve ever seen.
I have to take back much of what I said about T3 at McCarran last year. This time out, I appreciated the lack of a taxi line on Saturday night when I arrived. Standing around in the heat would have been awful. I was also grateful for the relative peace and quiet of this terminal on the Friday morning of my departure, after a week of almost-nonstop noise and huge crowds on the Strip. And since they have more slot machines and a Starbucks now, they get a pass from me.
Gordon Ramsay has infiltrated Las Vegas the way the aliens in V infiltrated Earth. I saw his restaurants at Paris, Planet Hollywood, and Caesars Palace, but it doesn’t stop there. Oh no. His face was on ads. . .on my room key. . .and even on the elevators at Planet Hollywood. The dude is fricking everywhere. Does nobody in marketing understand the word “overkill”? And no, I didn’t eat at any of his restaurants. I don’t like waiting.
I was really disappointed with the new slot machines I tried this trip: CSI, Spiderman, and the Mummy. So disappointed, I’m not even going to review them. And could someone please explain to me why the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers slot machine only had clips and images from Fellowship of the Ring? Are there different levels you have to break through in order to see the TT stuff? That was disappointing as well.
I have to admit, I didn’t spend any time on the Walgreens corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon last trip, so I had no idea that building housed so many new businesses. Not just McDonalds and Walgreens, but the Goretorium, a Bubba Gump restaurant, Twin Peaks, a bunch of fun little places where you can grab a quick bite and a yardlong drink, some retail shops. Good lord. What was I doing on my last trip that I didn’t see all this?
My friend Brian took me on a tour of “secret Strip photo spots” he knows about at Caesars, the Flamingo and Tropicana. They were all indeed great for taking photos, but as a solo female traveler, I found myself a bit troubled by how easily we gained access to the upper floors of the hotels. No one was checking keys at the elevators in any of those hotels (or Planet Hollywood, for that matter). Now, our intentions were obviously innocent, but what if someone else’s intentions weren’t so innocent? Something to think about.
After 12 years of trips to Vegas, I finally made it to the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. Hey, it’s not easy to get to when you don’t rent a car! So thanks, Brian!
For all that we visitors criticize the dishonest cabbies in Vegas who longhaul us (I’m looking at you, guy who brought me to the airport Friday morning), there are also those whom you enjoy talking with so much you wish the ride was longer. I had a couple of those on this trip, including a sweet little woman from Bulgaria. I cherish those conversations.
This was the second trip in a row where I got to get out of the city and into the desert, and again, it struck me just how dramatically beautiful and peaceful it is out there. If you have access to a car when you’re in town, I hope you’re taking advantage of it to get out and see the natural landscape and if you don’t have a car, sign up for a tour. It’s worth it.
The Quad – Yes, the exterior siding looks a little cheap, but overall, the property looks a million times better than it did. The layout inside the casino is so different, I had trouble visualizing what it used to be like. It amazes me how much they’ve accomplished in a year’s time.
It’s hard to develop much of an impression of the Linq project just yet, based on the construction I saw. It’s definitely a big area, with extra buildings going up, and the High Roller truly is very high (to be higher once the observation wheel is on). This is really going to change the way the Strip looks in the future in a big way.
And additional construction photos:
Whatever they do, they’d better not tear down the Brooklyn Bridge!
And random new stuff:
The one good thing about not being able to get onto West Coast time right away? Sunrise in Las Vegas can be gorgeous:
Finally, “Is Vegas in July Heaven or Hell?” Neither. It was too hot to be Heaven, but honestly, the heat felt the same as it does during Labor Day week. I think once you hit the mid-90s, 10 degrees here and there doesn’t make much difference. Hot is hot. (I did balk at taking a quarter-mile hike in Red Rock Canyon, though.) I’d do it again, if summer were the most convenient time for me to go. Maybe I’ll even make it out there for the Star Trek Convention one of these years. . . .