Thursday, July 21, 2011

Viva Las Vegas

Crossing over the mountains at the south end of Death Valley, Mrs. Hall expected the temps to be somewhat higher. When they had crossed it two years ago, the Giant Thermometer in Baker CA was reading just under 108 degrees. However, the heat wave in the Midwest seemed to be draining their steam from the west coast; the temp gauge on the dashboard of the little rental recorded a measly 85 degrees (at altitude 3912 ft). Locals could be seen pulling their sweaters out of mothballs, preparing to bear up.
The Gentle Reader will remember their middle school teachers telling them that no matter how colorfully the states are designated in their primers, real geography does not provide such visual cues. That lesson does not apply coming in on Route 15. Visible from nearly ten miles away, the legal line between the Golden State and the Silver State is an easily discernible division; a solid wall of gambling establishments defines the difference between a CA zip code and one in NV.
Pulling into the Las Vegas city limits, Mrs. Hall could see Mr. Hall's resolve wavering between duty and diversion. She quickly gathered a list of addresses and real estate listings, so to better utilize their time searching for a home, and promised that if they looked at just the western portion of town today, they could go out playing tonight. It is common knowledge that out off the five or six major frustrations in life, househunting ranks pretty high up on the list. Weaving through one disappointing neighborhood after another can tend to take a toll, so leaving off the last remaining homes on the list, Mrs. Hall suggested they take a break. "We're up on the north side anyway; why not slide by Gold and Silver Pawn Shop and see what we can see?" Mr. Hall was already pulling in the parking lot by the time she had finished her sentence. One of Mr. Hall's favorite shows on the History Channel is "Pawn Stars", so she knew it was a cinch he'd be bucked up by the prospect of perusing their showcases and checking out items from the show.
"You've never seen Fremont Street, have you?" asked Mr. Hall. Mrs. Hall had only been on the big main strip in Vegas and was unfamiliar with the casinos of older days. "Com'n- let's mush on down and mingle with the seamier side of the strip." Much had been done to try to revitalize an area that was on the verge of descending into the urban decay endemic in North Las Vegas. An overhead canopy was the most obvious upgrade, used for nightly lazer shows and much too much loud advertising. But the city was determined to hang on to this little slice of history; and while it may cater to a somewhat less well-heeled crowd than is generally seen outside the Bellagio, the street cleaners everywhere and the family safe street entertainers made it clear the Las Vegas Jaycees were doing their level best to make the old girl as appealing as possible.
The public appeared to be responsive. A woman forsook her walker to cling to a reincarnated Elvis; twentysomethings drank mystery drinks from oversized footballs. Strollers were everywhere, and the Golden Nugget had what Mrs. Hall considered the most enticing outdoor pool on the strip; guests staying at that old standby were treated to a three story high water tube that curled around and actually went through a tank filled with sharks. "A coy metaphor or perhaps a summary of the whole Vegas experience?" asked Mrs. Hall, as she stood fascinated, watching the children slide through the saltwater aquarium.
As they wandered out back onto the street, there was one attraction Mrs. Hall could not take her eyes off of. High above the crowds, a continuous stream of screaming tourists whizzed by on a zipline overhead. "That's for me!" she said, and Mr. Hall shook his head. Before he could even begin to go into an argument, she was in line and strapping on the five point harness. "Here's the camera- I'll wave to you from the top!" The following video is below, for the Gentle Reader's enjoyment.

"That was amazing!!" gasped Mrs. Hall, as she extricated herself from the ropes. Dashing past the hucksters trying to sell her expensive photographic evidence of her adventure, she rejoined Mr. Hall on the street.
"I think that's enough excitement for one day." Mr. Hall was tiring and it was time to look around for dinner. "We'll hit the main drag tomorrow." But he could barely catch her attention, she was so busy showing off the wristband proof of her flying abilities to other passerbys.
Next episode: Wynn-ing ways. Stay tuned!

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