Articles By Gord
As I see it... Las Vegas

April 2009 issue of Vibrant Magazine, view the actual article (including images).

As I see it... Las Vegas

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Is that a quote from the

Bible? Because even if it's not, it's basically a good rule of thumb. You know, like ‘what happens in the family stays in the family.' ‘What happens at work should stay at work.' Especially if you plan to keep your sanity and marriage.

What a great and affordable escape Las Vegas is. It's like Disney World for adults. Anything and everything goes. And maybe the best thing about Vegas is at no time will you have to pose for a photo with Goofy, Donald, Mickey or Minnie - one of those rodents. You'll never be seen getting off a ride feeling sick, but you may leave a few casinos looking ill.

Neither Catherine nor I are what you'd call big time players. I still regard playing ‘Roll Up the Rim' as living on the edge. But for our Vegas adventure we'd tucked away a few shekels solely for the purpose of gambling. We were going to punish Vegas. Make ‘em pay, baby. For weeks prior to our trip I had been practicing all my best gambling lingo.

“Let her ride. Come to Poppa! Read 'em and weep!”

I practiced these lines till they fell from my lips like they'd been coated in snake oil. However I discovered none of these phrases proved particularly appropriate for passing the church collection plate.

We stayed at the Bellagio, located in the very heart of the Las Vegas strip. The Bellagio is famous for its dancing fountains. Well maybe so, but the entire time those frigging fountains danced I felt this urge to pee.

Our holiday package assured us of a Bellagio room. When we arrived at reception we were informed that we had no room. “That's your mistake and your problem,” sparked Catherine. She was gearing up for a fight. I recognized her tone from our exchange of wedding vows. But it was due to Cath's fierce determination that we secured accommodation. Not the standard hotel room, but rather one of the Bellagio's exclusive Villa suites. Suites normally reserved for high rollers. It was your typical suite, king size bed, living room and entrance foyer that would have made Queen Elizabeth proud. The place had two bathrooms, which was a damn good thing as there were two of us. Mine had marble countertops, double sinks, walk-in shower and sauna. Cath's only had marble countertops, brass fixtures, double sinks, and a crummy two-person Jacuzzi tub. I mean who wants a bath? The other little perks that came with our room were the mini bar, six telephones, four televisions and power buttons to both open and close the curtains. (Because you know what a hassle it is having to tug those curtains open and closed by yourself.) And of course as recognized high rollers our Villa suite came with a butler. We had no idea what to do with him, which struck me as odd because at home Catherine never has trouble ordering the butler about. “Gord, put out the garbage, Gord, do the dishes and square up the house before lunch. I think it's leaning to the left.”

So most often we used our butler guy to check the time. “2:17 pm. Got it, thanks, buddy.”

We spoke in whispers in our suite afraid that at any moment management would figure out their mistake. Figure out that Cath and I weren't really their kind of people. We imagined ourselves being torn from the comfort of our suite and tossed into a cardboard box in the alley with a sleeping bag, a candle and no more power curtains.

I think Las Vegas is a perfect 3 to 5 day escape destination. Life on the strip is entertainment itself. Each hotel-casino does its best to lure you in. Hotel Paris is as French as the French could want, complete with an Eiffel Tower and imitation Paris streets, shops and venders. New York New York offers you the Coney Island roller coaster experience and the MGM Grand showcases lions on parade. Real lions and I'm sure they're really happy to be stuck there. At the Venetian Hotel-Casino you can take a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. Or if your Vegas fantasy is to drive a Maserati or Lotus sports car up and down the strip, you can rent them by the hour, but they ain't cheap. Or for much less money, but likely much more trouble, you can rent a girl. All along the strip there are these packs of punks. None of them speak to you, but as you pass by they flip their decks of cards. Not playing cards as you might imagine, but cards with girls, girls, girls. Their names, their stats, their likes and of course, their price. And the punks guarantee delivery of your chosen vixen to you in 20 minutes. Twenty minutes! I secretly wondered if it was like pizza. In 20 minutes or it's free. As informative and illuminating as these cards were, they were also the only litter on the strip. By night's end hundreds of these girlie cards

On a couple of evenings Cath and I found ourselves just standing on one of the walkways over Las Vegas Boulevard. She was glued to the show of lights and my own excitement was fueled by the constant parade of activity. It was exciting and just being there was exhilarating.

Without a doubt, Las Vegas offered the best hospitality service I have ever experienced. It was as if all the hotel, restaurant, bar and casino staff knew that their income came directly from us tourists. And they as one did their best, their very best, to see that we were safe and happy. Well as happy as one can be losing money.

If you're in Vegas you have got to take in a show. Three years ago I was there and had an opportunity to take in the Elton John concert. His show was ninety minutes from start to finish, hit after hit. It was fantastic. So on this most recent trip Cath and I decided we would splurge and take in one of the strip's mega stars, Bette Midler. Her show like Elton John's was a tight ninety minutes. I would have cheered for a tight fifteen. Cath enjoyed Bette's show, but for me Midler was just too much song and dance and more songs and more dancing. As I didn't have a watch to check, I just kept checking my wallet.

There was no way I was traveling all the way to Las Vegas and not going that extra step to the Grand Canyon. To accomplish this, Cath and I linked up with a tour company called Pink Jeep tours. We both thought Pink Jeep was a horrible name, but indeed their vehicles were all bright pink. We chose them because all of their tours were small groups. Our tour consisted of ourselves, two other couples and our driver-guide, Mike. As he drove and spoke about our day's adventure I rifled question after question at him. Questions about Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, where he stopped allowing us to grab that quick photo that says to all our friends, “See, we were here.”

As we continued on to the canyon, Mike described strange rock formations, bizarre cactus and endless miles of desert. I couldn't fathom a situation that would drive a person to reside in such desola

Four hours from Vegas Mike delivered us to the Hualapai Indian Reservation. It runs along the rim of the canyon. As First Nation's territory, it is exempt from U.S. Federal guideline and regulations. And so there are no fences, no barriers, nothing preventing us from tumbling down, down, down.

“Just another few steps backwards, Gord, and I should have the perfect picture.”

At one point I heard the distant thump of a helicopter and I trained my mind's eye on it as the chopper descended into the canyon. It was when Catherine said, “That helicopter is no bigger than a gnat.” Only then did I get an impression of the immensity of the canyon. At that second I wanted to blink open my eyes and see. At that second I knew I wanted to come back to explore the Grand Canyon more thoroughly.

And how did we do? Did we return with our pockets bulging with cash? Are there Vegas casinos hurting from our visit? Well, we came home didn't we? Like the dealer said to the show girl, “Read 'em and weep. Read 'em and weep.

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