Friday, June 08, 2007

Vegas 07

I attended my second Americans for the Arts Convention over the weekend. There were maybe two really good sessions that I went to. Not bad. It’s a 3-day conference with sessions from 10-5 and then evening social events if you so choose. I chose not. I don’t know why. I think if I hadn’t had friends there with me I would have been more inclined to try and meet new people and network, but eh. I thought back to the convention 2 years ago in Austin and I went to all the receptions and stuff and it wasn’t anything to write home about. So I thought I would enjoy myself a little and play with Rich who moved down there from Salt Lake a few weeks ago and then my friend Kristi who came down on Saturday, because I told her she could stay in my hotel room for free if she wanted a little vacation.

So besides the Conference on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I did have time in the evenings to play with my friends. Friday night Rich took me to the Stratosphere. He had been talking about it for over a week so he was super excited. We already made up our minds that we would ride the Insanity.

I wasn’t nervous at all until we got out of the car and he said, “I hope I don’t throw up” like he did on the Tornado at the State Fair last year. Then I not only got nervous for him getting sick, but I got nervous that I might get sick. It’s never happened to me before, so “maybe this is my time” I thought. I got even more worried when the elevator out of the parking garage made me a little woozy. If a simple elevator ride turns my stomach, what was the Insanity going to do to me?

The long line up to the top didn’t help matters either. They took a “before” picture as we were going up. I’m not sure why. I know they take one of you while you’re on the ride. All these macho guys in line started wincing and covering their mouths like over-dramatic teenage girls when we stepped out onto the platform. But by the time we got up there and I actually saw the ride, I wasn’t that nervous. It really wasn’t that bad (sorry Rich, I know you told me to hype it up). If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s not that bad. It was way fun though. Next time I want to do the Big Shot.

The next night Kristi came with us to ride the roller coaster at the New York New York. That is a very jerky ride, but I love it. I love roller coasters. That was a long line too. Vegas is great for people watching. Kristi came up with games for us to play while waiting in line or making our way through large crowds. The games were “Real Ones or Fake Ones?” and “Guess Their Day Job”. Rich, Kristi and I guessed the day job of these guys behind us. I thought they looked like Real Estate guys, Kristi thought Sales of some sort. Rich agreed. After awhile, I couldn’t help myself, I had to ask. So I asked the guy behind me. He said they all work together but he’s the only one in sales. He does their marketing. Ding! Ding! We were right. Kind of. And then he guessed our jobs. He said I was a teacher and Rich did something with computers. Well, Kristi is a teacher. Close. Rich however, is an attorney. And it turns out he’s handling a case for this guy’s company.

The next night we went to the Tropicana to see “Bodies” -- an exhibit with actual human cadavers. Everyone has been telling me I need to see that exhibit because it’s really cool. It was interesting. I’m not quite sure how I felt about the ethics of it though. There’s some controversy surrounding how they acquired those bodies. I don’t think they murdered them or anything, but they might have acquired them illegally is what I hear.

Before we entered the exhibit they made us pose for yet another before picture, which I thought was kind of funny. Well, the implicit thought of there being an “after” picture was funny. I think an “after” photo from a cadaver exhibit would have been more telling than an after photo from an amusement park ride.

It was down in the dusty depths of the Tropicana Hotel’s basement. I felt like we were being led to a sketchy place. And then we get to the admissions desk and it cost $28! I wasn’t quite prepared for that. I usually expect $15 for a museum or something. But for a single exhibit? That came as a surprise. But that’s all right. We made it all the way there. And then they wanted us to pay six more dollars for the audio tour. And at the end they had a "Donate your organs to science" table. In my head I screamed, “What more do they want from me?”

We spent about an hour there and then headed out in the 100-degree weather to find some dinner. This was our favorite spot on the strip…

We were all feeling physically weak because we were so hungry. The Cheesecake Factory was still a good 20-minute walk away and we just couldn’t take it anymore so Rich bought us a big kiwi strawberry smoothie to share. Rich said that was the most worthwhile six dollars he ever spent.

Well, that’s all really. A few thoughts about Vegas though: I walk a LOT there. Next time I go I’m bringing a pedometer. Things like Mandalay Bay don’t look that far away, but forty minutes later, when you’re still not there, you realize it may not have been the best idea. And even inside my hotel I’m walking a lot. When I first checked in, I thought I would never reach my room. I kept turning down more halls and more and more. And the convention rooms were really far away. After the first day I walked out of the last session with this one lady and I said, “Well, I guess it’s time for the 15 minute walk back to my room….” She said, “15 minutes? Wow. Aren’t you staying in this hotel?” I knew right then and there she wasn’t going to get me, so I told her I liked her skirt and then picked up my pace.

This one lady noted how much sex they sell on the street. Referring to all the “clickers” (is what we called them) on the street, she said, “I have three tickets to strip clubs in my purse and I don’t know how they got there.”

Someone else noted how slow everyone moves on the street. Tell me about it! Maybe I’m a fast walker outside, but I felt like I was constantly weaving my way in and out of all these people who are just gawking at everything out there on the streets. We decided it’s because it’s only tourists out there. In other busy touristy cities like New York or London, people move faster because there are actually residents who live there. Las Vegas residents avoid the strip like the plague. But it’s all relative. As the saying goes, “Anyone walking slower than you is a moron and anyone walking faster than you is insane.” Or something like that.

I still love the Bellagio Fountains. It’s a great thing to anticipate and watch. Kind of like fireworks. There’s something about light and water that fascinates people. I think I like the fountains better than fireworks though. They’re just pretty to watch as they dance to the music. I love it.

Next time I go I have to see Cirque du Soleil. Our keynote speaker was their creative director or something like that and she showed us some clips. She was kind of self-congratulatory when it came to her address, which she didn't bother to tailor to our group at all, but their shows do look amazing. I’ve only seen The Journey of Man in an Omni-max theatre. And when they performed for the Academy Awards on television. Never live. So that’s on my list for next time.


Ilene said...

I remember you and I watching Cirque de Soleil at the Ominimax. That is when we almost missed the last bus back to Portland. That is a fun memory.

I also remember the crazy guy on the Barbur Blvd Bus (#12) yelling at some poor passenger talking about Las Vegas. He (the crazy guy) claimed that Las Vegas was a theif of culture and that he thought no one would feel the need to go to Las Vegas, Venice, Paris, or New York because Las Vegas took all of their famous landmarks and put them in one place. Oh, he had a good long rant. That was a fun bus ride.

I'm glad you are back. I've missed your blog!

charlottalove said...

Last time I went to Vegas I rode the Big Shot. It was lots of fun. I don't think I could ever ride X-scream but Insanity looks fun. Who knows the next time I'll be in Vegas though now. 6 hour drive is nothing compared to a cross country trek!

Rich said...

I had a great time, thanks again. The $6 strawberry-kiwi smoothie was the best $6 I’ve ever spent. I was hoping you’d mention the filthy swimming pool at the Flamigo with beer bottles floating in the water and where we couldn’t find a place to put our stuff because there were so many people. Maybe the European section wouldn’t have been that bad after all (just kidding).

SRA said...

I wanna go to Vegas! Take me with you next time you go! I want to have mysterious strip club coupons find their way into my purse!