Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Las Vegas

I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Vegas. My wife took me there for my birthday. Going there and going to the NASCAR race on Sunday were my presents. Beyond that it was nice for the two of us to go somewhere alone for the weekend and relax. It was my first trip to Vegas and my first race.

We flew in Friday night and our first stop was In and Out Burger. I’ve never been there before as that chain has not made its way to Colorado. It was a good burger. Then we drove the strip a bit just taking in the sights. Then we went to the Fremont Street Experience, saw both shows, played a little blackjack and hit Jack in the Box for a late snack (we have Jack in the Box in Colorado but very few). If its not clear by now I travel on my stomach and my wife is a willing participant, when we visit family in Wisconsin and Illinois we both have lists of places or foods we hope to have time to get to while we’re there.

Saturday we headed out to Hoover Dam. Its neat. I doubt I’d do it again unless its been 10 years or so but I definitely enjoyed it. We did the extended tour which took you into the dam itself. I think that was worth the extra money. The tour guide does say dam a bit too much. Yes, we all get the joke, you get to say dam all day long, its like you’re swearing but you’re not. But after a half hour of “I’m your dam guide,” “down this dam tunnel,” “there sure are a lot of dam stairs,” “everyone on the dam elevator,” “you can walk along the dam road,” it gets tiresome.

I couldn’t find any Civil War related markers or monuments but the lake formed by Hoover Dam is named Lake Meade, oh wait its actually Lake Mead. Named for Elwood Mead who headed the Bureau of Reclamation when Hoover Dam was built (then known as Boulder Dam).

That night we had dinner at the Top of World in the Stratosphere; its on the 104th floor, or something around there, 104 not being much different from 106. That was fantastic which is odd to say because I hate heights. The restaurant rotates around so you get a great view of the entire Vegas area. Then my wife played a poker tournament and missed the money spot by one player, but finishing 6th in a field of 55plus isn’t something to feel bad about although she was disappointed to miss the payday by one player.

Sunday we spent nearly the entire day at the race. If you’re a NASCAR fan you have to go see one race in person in your lifetime. The whole thing is quite the experience from people watching to the actual race. The speed and sound do not translate to the tv at all. We sat in row 2, which is actually cheaper seats. I don’t think I’d want higher seats. Each time a car passed a little bit of tire rubber landed on us. These were tiny pieces, like grains of sand. You didn’t realize it had hit you until you rubbed your pants and felt them or rubbed your arm and smeared it on your skin. The cars provide a steady wind so that when the stands were covered by the shade it got pretty cold. Our ear plugs were pretty good so we didn’t get a headache at all, nor any lingering hearing loss. We also took a bus from the hotel to the track so we didn’t have to fight traffic. The buses took a route through Nellis Air Force base that was closed off to other traffic so a half hour after we left the stands we were back in the hotel, I doubt anyone on the highway did it in that time, probably not under an hour. So there’s a special tip for you, if you go to the race in Vegas pay extra for a bus ride, it’ll save you time and aggravation. Earlier in the day I had wanted to place a bet on Kyle Busch but I’m not a big gambler and my wife thought a $5 bet seemed silly. So I didn’t do it, so of course Kyle Busch won. I already was a Kyle Busch fan but this cinched it for me. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to another race but I’d love to go again. Maybe if my son is still into racecars when he’s a bit older I’ll take him. I’m not sure if we’d do Vegas or go to a more historic track like Martinsville.

Our final day we took easy. We slept in, when to a lunch buffet and played some craps. Unfortunately I think that’s a game I could get hooked on. Poker and black jack don’t do much for me. The people playing roulette looked bored and unhappy. But craps was fun.

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