Travels in the American Southwest

Back in Las Vegas

Up at 6:30 as the eastern sky grew lighter. Couldn't believe I'd slept so late! Hopping out of the shower, I realized that what remained of my clean clothes should only be worn on golf courses. I don't want to be wearing this outfit when I hit the Megabucks jackpot. Grabbed the phone book finding a self-serve laundry on North Las Vegas Blvd. just north of Bonanza. Loaded a collection of extraordinarily dirty and dusty clothes into plastic bags and off I went. As I pulled into the strip mall parking lot, I was amazed to see dozens of people milling around. Could Tuesday be Laundry Day in Las Vegas? Nah, they were lining up at the local, for-profit blood bank to sell a pint of blood or plasma. Signs in the laundromat prohibited those waiting to sell their blood from loitering or using the seats. The attendant at the laundry mentioned that it was a "light day" next door. Into the high capacity washers went the clothes and the half dozen king size sheets that made up the sunshade, turning the wash water a light brown. An hour later, I was on my way to the Deseret Industries thrift shop on Main Street. "We had a bike just like that a couple of weeks ago," said the volunteer in the donation area. I simply smiled as it was wheeled away. Looking in the van, I realized that I still had a milk crate containing unopened food. Single serving breakfast cereals, cookies, crackers, jelly and the like...I just couldn't toss them out. Instead, I headed over to the Shade Tree, a shelter for women and children in Las Vegas. Pulled into the guarded parking lot, seeing that I wasn't the only one dropping off foodstuffs that morning. A car overloaded with loaves of bread was slowly being emptied. Speaking to the volunteer at the "Donation Window", I learned that the third floor of the new building was recently dedicated to senior women in need of intensive assistance. While saddened to know the need exists, I was pleased to see the Shade Tree's mission has grown!

All that was left to do was repack the boxes and drop them off at UPS, then head back to the Golden Nugget for my final three days of sun and fun vacation. Didn't get an upgrade this time, but having booked one of the Nugget's promotional specials, I received an envelope for a couple of complimentary breakfast and dinner buffets and two visits to the Spa. Headed over to the Plaza for some craps and got my head handed to me. Tried the video poker; Same thing. And that sums up how my gaming experience went for the rest of the trip. I visit any of the downtown casinos and it was like they stuck a vacuum hose in my pocket! Wee hours of the morning, sunrise, morning, noon, sunset or night - Made no difference. Gambling Buddy, who couldn't make it out to Las Vegas this year, explained, "You used up all your luck traipsing around the state! What did you expect?" The man might have a point!

Started to return the van to the airport when I realized I had some beer left over. I was "beered out" and didn't want them in the van when I returned it to the airport. Left them on a smut box by the bus station where they disappeared within moments of being left! Returned the van, having my bill adjusted for the little mechanical incident and received an additional discount for the inconvenience. Thanks, Alamo!

Took the Bell shuttle back downtown, learning the shortcuts that only limo drivers and dead-heading cabbies know. Had fun with the incoming visitors, one a curly haired, wide eyed woman who was heading for Alexis Park. When I asked her what she had planned for the week, she excitedly told me about the science fiction convention being held there and which stars would be in attendance. Saved for two years she told me so she could make it to the Las Vegas convention, leaving the hubby and kids at home. As her bags were being unloaded at the hotel, I asked, "Kirk or Picard?" With a demure smile, she dropped her eyes and mouthed "Kirk".

Got dropped off at the Nugget and decided to give the tables yet another chance to be nice...but I've already mentioned the outcome!

Breakfast buffets at the Golden Nugget are typical: eggs, meats, omelets, pastries, fruit, etc. It's tough to mess up a breakfast buffet! Unfortunately, it's much easier to mess up the dinner buffet. I don't think it was nearly as tasty or extensive as in earlier visits. The food seemed just ok. Maybe I was just spoiled from my own culinary expertise during the preceding week...but I doubt it. Hope I just caught them on a couple of off nights.

On the other hand, the Spa at the Golden Nugget remains superb. Attentive, but not at all pushy, staff members made certain that my needs were being met. A cool fruit drink, perhaps a cold towel or eucalyptus scented one while in the steam room; the staff seemed to anticipate the spa's patrons' needs. And the bowl of fresh fruit grew emptier as I fought to re-establish my electrolytes and vitamins.

Caught an uneventful mid-morning flight from McCarren, gazing down as Las Vegas receded behind the plane. This year's vacation and all its explorings was over.

1,630.7 Miles, 73.1 Gallons of Gas, 8 Quarts of Transmission Fluid, 2 Jackrabbits, 0 Flats!

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