Leaving New Orleans this morning by plane was our first exposure to the new security arrangements on US domestic flights. Happy to say it was a non-event. We had arrived two hours early as instructed and were through security and sitting in the lounge an hour and a half before take-off and that was after having breakfast in the airport!
We had planned to have a three hour stopover in Denver to give us some time to get out in some real snow. As you might guess, we got it wrong again. While Denver had been buried under several feet of snow in December, today was sunny and in the low 60sF (20s C). A dust storm raged across the mammoth Denver International Airport as tumble weeds rolled amongst the lines of jets awaiting takeoff on the three parallel runways. Taxi drivers sported shorts and the ground crews worked in T-shirts. To top it off, heavy snow in the North East put connection flights back over an hour. Our planned snowy stop-over extended to a four hour roam around the airport shopping mall!
Created during the ‘50’s out of the desert of Nevada by a combination of corrupt government and the ‘mob’, Las Vegas today is a monument to the exorbitant wealth that all Americans covet. Whichever way you look at the phenomenon that is ‘Vegas’, it is over whelming.
Arriving at sunset on a warm sunny evening we were first treated to the natural spectacle of the Nevada desert. From the plane the golden glow of the setting sun created a sight that had even the most hardened air-commuter pressed against the window. By the time we cleared the casino that doubles as Las Vegas International Airport and headed up the ‘Strip’, it was dark and the neon jungle and monumental tackiness of it all was in its full splendour. Circus, Circus, New York New York, Luxor and on and on.
Images of the ‘Rat Pack’ and 007- like characters strolling the casino floors in the company of beautiful women in cocktail frocks were washed away in a swamp of dirty jeans, thongs, T-shirts and floral tropical atrocities. There appear to be no rules other than Spend!
Enough already. It’s time to get down and tacky!!! Love it!
The historic inaccuracy of having the Venus de Milo and the David situated beside the Roman Forum can be easily ignored in the context of Las Vegas. After all, Paris is in France, Venice is in Italy, the Pyramids are in Egypt and New York is several thousand miles north east of here, yet all of these are ‘Strip’ features.
The Vegas Strip is more than 8 miles (13 km) long. For most of that length it is lined by some of the world’s most recognised landmarks, or at least recreations of them. Scattered amongst these are truly American icons like The Frontier, Circus Circus, and Mirage. Inside are tens of thousands of slot machines.
An early morning excursion to the local Seven Eleven up Fremont Street from our hotel, the Four Queens, showed a different side of the so-called ‘Fremont Experience’. The streets were empty even though all the casinos were still open. In the morning light, the five hundred metre long arch over the Fremont Mall looked more like a very large garden arch than the blocks-long television screen that it was last night. Every hour, a spectacular video sequence, the ‘Fremont Experience’, pulls the crowds out of the casinos and onto the street. The experience includes Starwars-like space scenes, tropical jungles and a simulated fly-over by fighter jets projected on the mall’s blocks-long, arched roof.
This morning in the bright sunlight, a few straggling drunks (not us) were all that was left of the neon lights, video projections and thousands of punters packing the streets.
We’ve visited most of the strip’s casinos today. Tonight we’ll be back again.