Las Vegas – Day 1

I am here in Las Vegas – arriving safely via Sun Country Airlines at about 9:15 this morning. Traveling with Bill Gray, a fellow Erick’s Bar poker player, we then went to get the rental car he has reserved for the week.

You know what they say, “It’s a dry heat.” The temp was already 92 degrees when we landed and topped out at 104.  There is a steady summer breeze – so, it’s a lot like turning your hair dryer to high and using that to fan yourself. Ahh, a dry heat.

The car rental facility was on the south side of Vegas.  So, Bill and I took Las Vegas Blvd all the way up to Downtown.  Wow!  So much to see on the Strip.  So many ornate buildings.  So much to do.  It is truly an impressive sight and huge in so many ways. 

Frankly, I wasn’t disappointed in Downtown either – in terms of the “tourist” section, i.e. the Fremont Street Experience.   Fremont itself has plenty to offer.  And, it is large enough on it’s own that I think you could spend several days (maybe more) just hanging out there.

Since we were early to get our room (we’re staying at “The D” – formerly known as Fitzgerald’s) we did a quick once around Fremont St. and then wandering a few blocks into “the hood”.  We checked out a pawn store.  This wasn’t no “Pawn Stars” type of shop.  This was a beat up, run down, “who in the hell would by any of the crap you have there at the prices you’re asking?” – store.  Still, to kill time we spent a good 30 minutes there.  

Out of nowhere a cat jumps up on the display counter behind us.  I’m a cat person – and, the little feller has got to be better use of time than looking at jewelry that looks like it should just be melted down and repurposed.   The cat felt hot – like he’d been standing in front of hair dryer turned on “high” to fan himself.  The cat was dry – like he’d just gotten done walking through Mojave to get here.  His fur wasn’t exactly matted.  I’m not sure what it was.  He was certainly friendly – I’m just not sure how much longer he’s going to be alive. 

By now we were able to head back to The D to check in.  I stopped at a nice little old school electronic horse track.  Five horses jerk their way around the track and you pick a two horse finish combo for a quarter.  It comes complete with odds on the combinations.  I played twice – winning my 3 to 1 favorite combo the second time and walking away up .25 cents.  We checked in and I’m sure we’ll do a full-blown casino review later.  Suffice to stay for now that some of the negative reviews I read about the hotel had to with noise from the Fremont Street Experience.  It’s 11:30 as I write this in the hotel room.  I think we got a good location for the room.  We’re on the 5th floor about a half block off the main attraction and the noise isn’t a problem at all.  It’s a little audible when the a/c goes off, but nothing annoying. 

Before the sun went down, I spent a few hours playing 2-deck blackjack at Bugsy’s old place – the El Cortez. It seems that many casinos downtown are paying out blackjacks at 6 to 5.  The Cortez looks to still be the more standard 3 to 2.  After being down $65 I finally got a couple of good shoes (where my limited card counting abilities paid off).  Once I got up $17 – I cashed out and grabbed some dinner.

I haven’t had a good look at the light show (or the music) on Fremont yet.  But, from what I’ve seen and heard – it is pretty impressive.  More on that later.

Tomorrow, I’m meeting up with an old Army buddy who’s going to take me out to a friend’s place (somewhere – he mentioned something about a drive) so we can hit the water and go boating.   Let’s see – do they have 31200 SPF here?  I think the weather guy said it’s supposed to 106 and the next cloud is supposed blow by in September. This may end up like Hangover – by Monday morning I’m either going to be beet red lying on some roof or I’ll be waking up in some strange room in a strange building somewhere along the Colorado River.