Sadly, last night I flew back from my summer vacation. “Summer vacation?” you may be asking? Doesn’t one need some sort of commitment to “vacate” from in order to . . . vacation? Excellent question!
For the past couple of summers John and I have taken these sweeping, epic, photogenic, weeks long trips somewhere far away and exotic. Though traveling sans passport felt as naked going through security as that woman in the Bluefly commercials, it was still a great and fun trip.
Every year my mom’s family has a reunion in Palm Springs and although I always want to go, something always seems to come up. This year was the 50th however, and so I really wanted to be sure that I made the party, as well as introduce John to my California family and some of the places that remind me of my childhood. Because it’s impossible for us to go anywhere without thinking where ELSE we can go since we’re “already out there and we might as well”, we decided to tack on a trip to Las Vegas (shockingly my first) and Area 51 (seriously) before our drive out to Palm Springs. After the reunion we headed out to the LA beaches to visit more family and show John where I spent many summers. I thought I’d break this down into parts so as not to bore you with my long-windedness. First up:
It wouldn’t take a psychic to guess that Vegas isn’t really my ideal vacation spot – I am, after all, extremely against non-edible cheese – but it’s a place, a being that must be experienced and so I was excited to go see what all the fuss is about. Unlike most cities, the fun starts right as you arrive at McCarran airport, complete with slot machines and 30-foot high posters of scantily-clad human versions of Barbie and Ken. Well, and Donnie & Marie. Though the airport was full of fun, we hopped into a cab and 10-15 minutes and $30 later we arrived at our hotel, the Trump Tower, our home for the next two days. By the way, the cab was half the nightly rate for our hotel. Yeah. Cabs are super expensive in Vegas and there didn’t really appear to be much of a mass-transit system. The city itself is relatively small (at least where the touristy stuff is) but in the 105 degree heat of the summer, even a short walk seemed endless.
The hotel was nice, not overwhelmingly unbelievable, but we did get a good deal. It didn’t have a casino, which having never been to Vegas and not being a big gambler I didn’t realize that this was actually a drawback, but John was disappointed. Apparently half the fun of Vegas is getting to do the walk of human despair and shame in order to get to your room – you know, observing the smoking, the drinking, the gambling, the obesity, the energy wasting flashing lights, etc. for a night of sweet dreams – but it did have a nice, not so crowded pool so I was content.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that just about everything I hate in this world has managed to squeeze its way all into one zip code and it’s puzzling that I actually paid to go there. But Vegas is one of those things that you just have to see for yourself, and what Paris is to romance, New York is to culture, and Rome is to eternity, Las Vegas is to . . . all that other crap. Once I came to terms with that fact and made the decision to just revel in the grotesqueness of it all, I loosened up and had a great time at other people’s expense. 60 year old cocktail waitresses? Hilarious! People squandering their life savings? Hahaha!
After an afternoon wandering around the strip, my goal quickly became to see every single replica the city has to offer, rather than anything useful like, oh, winning money or falling into a drunken stupor. Fake Paris? Check. Fake Rome? Check. Fake Venice? Check. Fake New York? Check. Fake Cairo? Check. I feel cheated. Why in the hell have I ever left the country?! It’s all in Vegas in perfect miniature and without those pesky foreigners! Le Casino! C’est magnifique! Like anything fake, the rush of fake Venice canals quickly wore off and left me with a stomach and head ache. Ok in fairness, it may have been the multiple trips to Hot Dog on a Stick, but really, what’s the difference? Like Hot Dog on a Stick, Vegas is full of artificial flavoring, cheap, and served up by people in ridiculous outfits . . . but, oh, it’s so tasty.
I don’t know if or when the urge to go back to Vegas will ever hit me, but I must admit, it was nice to go on a trip somewhere that seemingly exists only to please tourists – unlike those real cities where people actually live and, like work. Who wants that?