Sin City

Recently, I went on vacation to Las Vegas. Many people who know me are baffled at my repeated trips to Sin City for leisure activity. I agree it does seem incongruous on the face of it, especially for people who are not familiar with Las Vegas. There is plenty of extravagant, in-your-face sin opportunities. I would never walk the streets, especially after about 4:00pm, with children. There is too much confusing and bizarre behavior that would certainly lead to conversations I don’t think anybody really wants to have. For adults, though, it is relatively easy for me to ignore the weirdness. I do not even have to try that hard. In fact, I often walk right by tantalizing occasions of sin without even noticing them. Most of the sinsational opportunities don’t interest me. They tend to land on my frontal lobe as “icky.” They do not even sound fun. I might come uncomfortably close to greed and envy now and again, but the more corporal temptations just don’t float my boat.

So if I don’t go to Las Vegas for the sin, what is the attraction? Why do I go? I recently tried to explain this to a friend of mine.

The biggest draw for me is the eye candy. The level of color and sparkle and beautiful décor in the big Las Vegas hotels and casinos is fabulous. Also, many of the hotels have “loss leader” attractions to bring gamblers through their doors (as opposed to the hundred or so other doors that also lead to slot machines and table games.) For instance, Caesar’s Palace has an indoor shopping mall that makes you feel like you are roaming through ancient Rome under a starry Tuscan sky. The shops are all high end, “museum shopping” kind of places. I doubt many of the tourists strolling under said starry Tuscan sky are spending much in those shops. I doubt any of those stores actually make money, but it does not matter. They are there simply to bring people into the property, hoping that those people might drop a few bucks into a slot machine while they are there. There is a phenomenol carousel with flower-covered horses positioned in the Wynn Hotel, just at the entrance to the casino. At the Venetian Hotel, you can take an actual gondola ride through a wonderful, if slightly smaller scale, recreation of the Piazza San Marco.

My very favorite example of this eye candy is the Conservatory at the Bellagio Hotel. The hotel horticulturalists create a new amazing fairy land each season in a space about the size of an airplane hangar. The difference is that the conservatory is light, airy, and uplifting. A hangar is designed to contain a plane. The conservatory is designed to let your spirit soar on wings of fantasy. There are flowers, sculptures, water features that dance over the heads of visitors, and talking trees. Whimsy is the order of the day. I remember I was there one Christmas season and they had floral-covered reindeer about the size of minivans tethered invisibly to the ceiling. On this last trip, the theme had to do with teapots. People have apartments smaller than the elaborately decorated teapots erected in the conservatory. It is hard to explain the experience of walking around the conservatory if you have not seen it in person. Even in person, it is hard for me to form words when I am there. I mostly wander around in a bliss-induced out-of-body experience with my mouth hanging open.

Food is another reason for my trips to Las Vegas. Gluttony is a sin, of course, but I don’t think I descend into the “gluttony” level… especially in light of the 8-9 miles of walking I do each day when I am there. In a lot of ways, I probably eat better when I am in Las Vegas because I do focus on savoring what I am eating. I eat two or three meals a day, with maybe one snack in between. But what meals! I had crab cakes and shrimp cocktail the first night we were there. I had dinner at one of those “celebrity chef” restaurants. I had the world’s best chicken at Ruth Chris Steakhouse, watching the lights of the Strip come on while I ate my dinner. I had In-And-Out Burger, something I only get when I am in California or Nevada. I had part of a Ghiradelli hot fudge sundae for dessert.  Breakfasts, also, were yummy. We rarely go out for breakfast in non-vacation mode. Having fluffy, vanilla-tinged pancakes accompanied with perfectly cooked, crisp bacon is indulgent!

Another lure to Las Vegas is the shows. There are some shows that fit the “ick” category. Many years ago, we went to one of those by accident. The hotel where we were staying threw the tickets in for free when we booked a lodging package. When we saw the show, I was appalled. It was not that I was so prudish. I just couldn’t understand why it was supposed to be entertaining. All it really involved was people strutting around in clothing that would not even qualify as “skimpy.” Truthfully, it might not have even qualified as “clothing.”

The kind of shows I enjoy in Las Vegas are of a different ilk. My idea of fun is behaving like a slightly rebellious teenager. We’ve gone to see tribute shows of the Beatles, Bee Gees, and Neil Diamond. I’ve screamed and clapped and sang along with the rest of the wild crowd of senior citizens. I’ve also seen Donny and Marie, Rod Stewart, and Barry Manilow. In addition to hearing some fantastic music and seeing great choreography, it was wonderful to let the energy of the shows infuse me.  It makes me feel alive and young. I think Rod Stewart is my new role model. When I saw him, he was 77 years old and could still kick his leg over his head. I can barely get up off the kneeler at church without help.

Finally, they say that travel expands the mind and the spirit. While Las Vegas might not be known as a catalyst for personal growth, the opportunity to escape my normal world in such a dramatic way does provide a different path within my brain. It forces me to think differently and see things differently because the normal, default pathways in my brain are so confused and out of kilter. This trip provided a textbook example of this phenomenon. Stay tuned for my next post for the evidence!

What are the important factors you consider when deciding where to go on vacation? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a mind-altering day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *