Friday, December 31, 2004

Viva Las Vegas

I mentioned the other day about eating pizza at the Sphinx. That's not the only Wonder of the World where I've had pizza. I also ate pizza at the Grand Canyon. Yes, I realize that the Sphinx isn't one of the Ancient Wonders of the World. It's the Great Pyramid, which is, like, several yards behind and to the left of the Sphinx. But, still. Pizza at the Sphinx. That was awesome. As was the Grand Canyon. And, I realize the Pyramids and the Sphinx are man-made while the Grand Canyon isn't. Unless you believe that Paul Bunyan story. And that's still to be proven. Unless you believe the CBS Memos they discovered from Paul Bunyan's days in the Minnesota National Guard. The jury's still out.

Anyway, about the Grand Canyon. I had pizza there. Or, at a restaurant located nearby. The Canyon itself is a big hole in the ground. But you knew that, didn't you? Well, didn't you? You didn't? Sorry to spoil the surprise. But it's still awesome. And the Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza was pretty good, too.

We went to the Grand Canyon in 2003. My wife had never been. I had never been. So we went. And, since she left me in charge of scheduling the trip, I looked at the nearest airports. Phoenix looked promising. But so did Las Vegas. Guess which I chose?

We left on vacation a couple of days early. I mean, the flight was Sunday, and we left Friday. Spent a couple of days in Atlanta. No particular reason, other than the flight to Las Vegas was out of Hartsfield. So, we drove up Friday night and spent a couple of days just goofing off. I had a birthday while we were there, so we celebrated and awaited our flight on Sunday.

On the flight out there, the pilot flew over the Grand Canyon. The wife got some great pictures. I was thinking, hey, we've seen the Grand Canyon. We can spend a couple of days in Las Vegas and call it a vacation. But, she wanted to get a little closer than 8 miles high. So we landed at McCarran International Airport, and went to rent a car. Remember when I said I had celebrated a birthday earlier that weekend? Guess what? My driver's license had expired. So, here I am, 2166 miles from home with an expired driver's license. So, the wife rented a car. And got to play chauffeur all week. Anyway, we left the airport and guess where we headed? That's right, to a baseball game. Did I mention that I like baseball?

Anyway, after the game, we got to the hotel (the Golden Nugget) and settled in. During the next few days, we went to several different places in Las Vegas and noticed one something. The only place that didn't have slot machines was Morton's of Chicago, a steakhouse. But everywhere else had slot machines. And grey-haired ladies with cigarettes on their lips and voices like Selma from Night Court and a Kentucky Fried Chicken-sized container of nickels pumping five-cent pieces into the slot machines. In every place we stopped.

For example, when we went to the Grand Canyon, we stopped at a McDonald's for breakfast on the south side of Las Vegas. They had slot machines. Really. Slot machines in a McDonald's. Another day, we stopped to buy a map of the city. Walked into the 7-11 (or whatever it was) and was immediately hit by an cloud of Kool Menthol smoke and the sounds of the slots, with Selma dropping Thomas Jeffersons into the one-armed bandit. Everywhere you went, slot machines and Selma Diamond.

In the churches, there were slots. You prayed, pulled a lever, and "Absolution," "Absolution," "Burn in Hell." Okay, I'm making this part up. But, seriously, everywhere else there were slot machines.

While in Las Vegas, we got to see some things that were really fun and really amazing. And to think, organized crime built it all. But, I will honestly say that I was surprised how much I really enjoyed being in Las Vegas. The hotel was nice and comfortable, the casinos were, in general, all well-lit and clean (except for the cigarette smoke), and the roads, despite the construction, were clean. We had a wonderful time.

I'm scared to go back.

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