Just a few of the bright lights that make this point on the globe visible from space at night.
After taking supplies in Richfield, I began the 280-mile trek to the town of the original CSI, the World Series of Poker, and Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. Along the way I made the usual gas and food stops, along with a few others. One was at Cove Fort, a historical site at the junction of Interstates 70 and 15. It served as a safe haven for Mormon settlers. Signs about the place directed me to wait for a tour guide to show me around. Given that I was headed to "Sin City," and that Mormons spend two years of their lives in far corners of the world spreading their faith, I decided that a couple of pictures and a swift departure would be the right course of action. I did make a quick stop on Arizona soil, as the thirty miles of I-15 there would be my only time in the state. I also stopped just over the border in Nevada, to "clear baffles" and reset my clocks to Pacific time.
The trip was fast until the I-15 reached the northern end of Las Vegas, at which time I ran into road work. The slowness continued through the exit onto Tropicana Avenue until I checked into New York New York Hotel and Casino. Once that was complete, I headed out to walk Las Vegas Boulevard - "The Strip." Approximately two minutes after I left the hotel, I was for the first time propositioned for certain "services" unique to this state and city. A minute after that, I heard the cackling of two ladies, who were clearly not attuned to their surroundings. I wondered whether they were drunk or high, most likely the former. I walked up and back down most of the south end of the Strip, glimpsing most of the mega-resort properties that have been built over the last twenty years. Both the constructed and "natural" scenery, shall we say, were admirable. I ate at the bar at the ESPN Zone inside New York New York, and then went upstairs and showered and changed.
My first stop of the night was Coyote Ugly, which wasn't charging cover and had two-for-one before nine. At that time, the scene wasn't particularly jumping, so just after nine, I headed downstairs to play some blackjack. I had some good conversations going at my table, including one with a group of ladies from states near my own. After a couple of hours of playing, I decided to try to get into Rok, the hotel's nightclub - after all, I had complimentary admission prior to midnight. It only took a few minutes on the line to figure out that it wasn't moving fast, and I wouldn't be using that ticket. So just after midnight, I returned to Coyote Ugly - and was fortunate that my hand stamp allowed me to bypass both cover charge and the line to enter. Now, the place was jumping, quite similar to what you see in the movie of the same name. The strangest thing I saw in there was something I tried to capture in this picture, but didn't quite get. A bachelorette entered wearing a crown that sported a penis and testicles atop it. She was quickly beckoned to the top of the bar by the Coyotes. (She's second from the left in the photo, with her arm up blocking the adornment.) On my way from the Ugly back to my room, I ordered another beer - and promptly spilled it once I was back upstairs.
After waking on Saturday morning, I headed toward the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard, to capture the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" sign. Had I known there was parking immediately adjacent to the landmark, I might have driven. But I got the shots, walked back, grabbed lunch, and then went to Walgreens to buy a nail clipper and some flip-flops. I needed the latter because I wanted to go to the pool. As is sometimes the case, I was reluctant to remove my shirt - but upon seeing some of the other men in attendance, I no longer had a problem. I relaxed with beers at the pool's edge for a while, then went back inside to watch the Belmont Stakes. Once that was over, I headed back to my room and called my parents...a call that was cut short by my phone's loss of power. Having won thirty dollars on twenty-one the previous night, it was time to improve on that position. Did I? Of course not. I dropped around three hundred dollars to the house, and another four or five beers into my stomach and liver. The table had a bit of an Commonwealth feel to it - there were, at various points, players from Canada, Britain, and Australia Once I decided that I didn't want to line Kirk Kerkorian's pockets any longer, I grabbed a slice of pizza (which was as good as New York, by the way) and returned to my room to eat it. After that, I made for the Bar at Times Square, which plays into a recurring theme on this trip - a dueling piano establishment. Except here, the drinks were more expensive, and the pianos were actually keyboards. I enjoyed a rendition of Billy Joel's classic "Angry Young Man," for which one patron laid out a hundred and fifty American dollars. I briefly chatted with a couple of ladies from the Royal Air Force. And I took what might be the defining image of the trip to date - a bachelorette dancing with a man in a pink gorilla suit. (And I know it was a man, because he came out of the bathroom alongside me.) I ultimately walked out satisfied, knowing I'd spent both my time and money better than if I'd gone to the Pornstar Ball at Rok that night.
You might be wondering why I didn't employ some of those services I mentioned earlier to end the "interminable streak." There are two reasons. One is the potential issue of safety; this is certainly a gray area, as prostitution is in fact illegal in Clark County. More importantly than that, it's frickin' cheating! If you directly purchase your first encounter, there's a permanent blemish on your male record. Even as I drive further into my twenty-ninth year of live, I'm not ready to concede that defeat. And that choice certainly didn't put a damper on my weekend in Vegas.
Pictures: Day 11 | Day 12 (Las Vegas)