I’ve never been a gambler, but during the 1100 mile stretch between SoCal and home, Las Vegas was always a welcome diversion. On the one hand, I’m the kind of road-tripper who races the clock, and does not stop unless the car needs fuel. On the other hand, I’ve always had a tough time passing up the nice, yet super cheap rooms, $4 steak & lobster and of course, the dancing girls.
But alas, what exists there today is not the Las Vegas of yore, and although I haven’t spent but a few hours there over the past decade, I suspect the transition was akin to a frog in gradually boiling pot. I stood up at my buddy’s wedding there last weekend, and I was shocked to find that the water, so to speak, was at full tourist-trap boil.
The Hotel and Casino in which we stayed is a world renowned…dive (I’d hyperlink it, but this is really a shame, and I have no need to salt the wound). Granted, they’re under construction, but for twice the rate of a typical Super 8, I got an offensive smelling, overheated room with none of the standard conveniences; refrigerator, coffee maker or functional air conditioning (it was almost too hot to sleep, even with the AC on full blast and the curtains drawn all day). Wireless internet? That will be $9.95 a day, please.
On our way up to our room, we had passed what looked like a new, just-getting-started eatery. “Pasta & Vino”, the painted wall announced. It looked like my kind of lunch, and considering appearances, it would be reasonably priced. We ordered a bottle of Chianti and got a head start with a nice chafing fuel buzz from the buffet line. The marinara was pretty good, but the rest of the food was mediocre. One dish was flat out nasty. We were nearly done with our plates when the waiter arrived and said they were out of the wine we had ordered. By that time, I was ready to pay the double-what-was-expected bill and go somewhere else for a post-road-trip cocktail.
On a positive note, circumstances beyond my control kept the best man (yours truly) from attending the drink-fest which ensued after the ceremony (another Piss & Vinegar topic for another time). The positive note was not what kept me from the debauchery, but the fact that I did not wake up late, hung-over in a sweltering room with an 11 hour drive ahead.