07-07-10-vegas.gifIt’s Vegas, baby! I recently went on a fact finding trip not sponsored by the U.S. State Department to fi nd facts in Las Vegas. I didn’t fi nd any facts but I did manage to learn some stuff. For instance, there is not a lot of difference between a dry heat in Vegas at 106 degrees and a wet heat in North Carolina at 117 degrees on the old heat index. Both are reasonably miserable. An acetylene torch is also a dry heat.

The trip out was fun. Our plane was diverted from Dallas due to thunderstorms. We got to land to refuel in wonderful Waco, Texas. Waco was once home to David Koresh and the Branch Davidians. I expected to see a plaque on the wall of the Waco airport commemorating Koresh or at least Janet Reno but all they had was the Waco Chamber of Commerce motto which is an upbeat, “Waco, We Do!”

We were in Vegas for a brief trip so I remained on eastern daylight time while I was there. This meant I woke up about 5:00 a.m. Vegas time. Nothing is more uplifting than going down stairs and seeing people who have been up all night gambling still going strong at 5:00 a.m. My favorites are the morning gamblers on oxygen holding a cigarette in one hand and pulling the slot machine with the other. Vegas is fun for the whole family, particularly if you are the Manson Family. We stayed at the Bellagio, which I recommend if you enjoy paying $7.50 for a glass of orange juice with breakfast.

In order to become one with the Vegas strip, I walked every morning before the sun got to its full broil setting. One morning I culture trekked from the Bellagio up to Fremont Street which is about six miles. Street people on Las Vegas Boulevard early on a Saturday morning are pretty colorful. I saw a couple of older ladies in motorized scooters buzzing down the side walk. One lady was on oxygen and I overheard them discussing where to have breakfast. It was inspirational, they weren’t as mobile as they used to be, but they were still out having fun in Sin City. As Teddy Roosevelt would say, “Bully for them!”

I walked past the Circus Circus Casino and saw a sign for the “All You Can Stomach” breakfast buffet for only $9.99. The Circus Circus is up at the funky end of the strip and features a giant looming clown sign holding a hypnotic sucker to lure in hungry tourists. Anyone who has coulrophobia or clown fear, like I do, should stay away from the Circus Circus. That is one big angry clown they have up in the sky. He looks hungry. Another casino lured in hungry and insane tourists proclaiming, “With one pound of bacon, our BLT is heart stopping, nurses standing by.” You gotta love Vegas food, particularly if you are a cardiologist.

Once past the Stratosphere, the Strip turns into a No Man’s land of wedding chapels, tattoo parlors, bail bondsmen and homeless gamblers. One chapel boasted that Joan Collins and Michael Jordan had been married there, though apparently not to each other. I walked past the world famous Drive In Wedding Chapel where you can get married in a pink Elvis-style Caddy in a driveway. It was next to the sleaziest and emptiest dust covered adobe style motel that exists in the western hemisphere. Pure Vegas.

When I finally got to Fremont Street I was ready for a 99 cent shrimp cocktail. Unfortunately the BP Oil spill seems to have wiped out the cheap shrimp. I settled for a bagel and coffee. Fremont Street is old Vegas featuring very tired original casinos. At night it has a delightful light show under a several block long canopy of lights. Fremont Street in daylight is not so delightful. It looks like a hung over rentable lady of the evening without her make up or false teeth on a Monday morning. Even Vegas Vic looked carcinogenic in the dawn’s early light. It was pretty spooky.

The World Cup was on in casinos all over town. I actually watched a soccer game and got caught up in America’s ancient soccer rivalry with Ghana. The crowd went nuts when we tied the Ghana team on a penalty kick. Americans actually cheering for soccer. As the King of Siam would say, “Is a puzzlement.” My wife Lani pulled for the Ghanians because “they have so little and we have so much.”

Nothing is strange in Vegas, because everything is strange there.

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