Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Las Vegas state of mind

I must confess that I'm one of the handful of people who don't really like Vegas. Maybe there are a few more than a 'handful', but living in Southern CA, Las Vegas seems to be elevated to the position of a pilgrimage site. Why not take a Hajj to the Mecca of sin? Follow to the route from Santiago to Vegas!
Admittedly, I have limited experience, having been to Las Vegas only twice. My first time in Vegas was at the end of a Spring Break trip (2002) to the Grand Canyon and Utah National Parks (Canyonlands, Arches, Bryce and Zion). A friend and I flew in and out of Vegas, so we spent our last night in the "City of Lights". Can you imagine the contrast - spending Thursday night in a tent at Bryce Canyon and then the next night in a seedy hotel off the strip?
Just think about it:

Looking back, I believe that I suffered from some culture shock as I drank a sidecar or two at the Tropicana or some other old venue. After spending the week exploring some of the country's most dramatically stunning and beautiful landscape, we found ourselves surrounded by the fabricated glitz and gleam of Vegas. The contrast felt almost surreal, as I pinched myself as a reminder that I was not dreaming.
The second trip to Vegas did have a few more components of a "typical" Vegas trip. First of all, it was a weekend venture rather than a one-night layover before catching a flight. No, this time, Vegas WAS the destination. Michael and I stayed on the strip at a 'decent' but not luxurious hotel (no Mandalay Bay for us). I actually placed a bet, and we went out for drinks at Tao and Rum Jungle and ate the fanciest dinner of our lives at Joel Robuchon in the MGM Grand. It was a pretty crazy experience - we felt like we were eating in a garden, but we were inside the casino. Also, they brought a stool on which I was to place my handbag - God forbid it touch the floor! So crazy! In addition to that once-in-a-lifetime experience, we each had a massage at the Mandalay Bay, and I spent major time swimming around the pools in the spa.
So, we had some good times, but what probably saved both of us from going crazy from the crowds and the weird fakeness of it all while we were in Vegas during that short trip was the proximity of Red Rocks Canyon, a wonderful little state park that is ridiculously close to Vegas but still feels secluded from, again, the fabricated glitz of the city. I wonder if one of these days they'll create a "Red Rocks Canyon" on the Strip so that people don't have to leave the strip for their "outdoor experience"? Similar to going to New York or Paris or Italy while in Vegas... Seriously though, Red Rocks was great, and I attribute my sanity to that lovely place.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is curious that Michael and I have watched a few Vegas-themed movies recently, just by chance. Not, thankfully, "Leaving Las Vegas" which I have seen once and that was/is plenty. No, no. "The Hangover" finally inched its way up our Netflix queu, so we decided to bump it on up to the Number 1 position and enjoy a silly movie. "Silly" is a good description of the movie. While I did laugh at some parts (quite a few), despite or because of the infantile and gross humor, I do not ever have to see it again. It made me appreciate the fact that neither Michael nor I needed a big bachelor/bachelorette weekend, or a big wedding, for that.
The very next night, a friend fortuitously loaned us "Viva Las Vegas" which had been on our Netflix queu for a year or so. Michael put it on the queue, and I've kept moving it up and down but never high enough to slip into that Number One slot. (A quick aside here: Do other people obsess about their Netflix queu as much as I do?)
I would be hard pressed to say that one movie was actually better than the other. "The Hangover" is certainly a contemporary flick, and it will be interesting to see how much staying power it has over the long run, and while "Viva Las Vegas" is silly in some or most parts, the song and dance scenes are loads of fun (my favorite is "The Lady Loves Me), the sets and color schemes definitely represent another era, and how can you not like the Ann-Margaret and Elvis combination?
So, there might be another Vegas trip left in me for the future afterall, if only to sing and dance or steal a tiger.


Kim said...

Um, yes, I OBSESS over my Netflix queue. I am constantly moving things around, figuring out what I want to arrive on what day, etc. You're not alone.
You're also not alone in disliking Vegas. I've been to Vegas a handful of times. I've danced, drank, placed a few bets, etc. This last time, we saw the Black Eyed Peas. The concert was fine, but we both declared we will never go back. Everything smells like smoke and I can only take so many tourists with their 4-foot-tall cocktail cups. I really can't think of any reason to return. If I get dragged there for a bachelorette party, I'll be very unhappy.
I really enjoyed "The Hangover" for an easy, silly movie. I think I'll keep my Las Vegas experiences to movies...and "CSI." said...

Vegas is a great place for 48 hours max. It somehow depresses me after a while to watch the people bent over machines putting their hard earned money in and getting nothing in return. Not to mention the sleaziness of the city and some of the tourists kind of gross me out. Forgive me for admitting that!

I haven't seen "The Hangover" yet, despite Ali's attempts to get me to do so. I'm holding out!

PS - you should never put your handbag on the floor because I hear thats how a purse gets more germs than a kitchen sink!

Kristina said...

It's been 4 years, so I think that I could possibly go back for a brief stay, but maybe not...
I have a bachelorette weekend in July and fortunately the plan does NOT include Vegas!

I think the 48 hour rule is key. It does get really depressing!
I'll also keep in mind your advice on the handbag. To be honest, I rarely have a 'handbag' - my usual bag of choice is a patagonia nylon thing that has been in all sorts of germy places! Yikes!