Hardly a “bluebird day”as the locals call a blue sky and sunny prospect, but the weather augured better for a great day’s skiing (another 3-4 inches of snow overnight),but we were leaving town for warmer climes. The benign conditions meant there were no delays on our outward journey up the lake and through the Carson Valley to Reno Tahoe Airport. Arriving on time, and nearly three and a half hours before our Southwest flight to Vegas, we enquired whether we might be able to get an earlier flight. However, we decided to relax and have lunch at the airport on learning that transfer to the 12.25pm flight would cost us $91 each. We weren’t that desperate to get to Sin City!
This gave me the opportunity to write the previous day’s blog over a coffee – a bonus as I had doubted whether, once in Vegas and with a show booked for tonight, it might prove beyond me. But 1,000 words and less than an hour later, it was foisted on an unsuspecting world.
We had lunch at Brew Brothers – another tradition on these trips, though there wasn’t anywhere else to have a full meal – Janet had a chicken and apple salad whilst I had a veggie burger with mushrooms and fries, plus wine of course.
We proceeded through security and took our seats on the 2.05pm flight. I never cease to be amazed by internal US flights – the matter of fact but organised security and boarding arrangements, the desultory safety demonstration once on board and the sheer energy of the three person cabin crew in carrying out all their duties on the 75 minute flight, taking refreshment orders, preparing and serving them and then clearing them away for 137 passengers.
Janet and I were almost the last people to board the plane, so were inevitably separated. Janet ended up on the front row, enabling her to disembark first, but not until she had had to endure a journey squashed by the two 20 plus stone and fragrantly challenged women next to her. By contrast, four rows back I was able to start my blog and enjoy great views of both Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas Strip, the latter so dreary by day but dazzling by night.
The captain was a wisecracker, though when he proclaimed “Go Phillies” as we landed, I could not resist calling out above the laughter ” Giants – Champions”! And they still let me off the plane!
Collecting our baggage and walking straight away into a taxi – a clear indication of how slow business is in Vegas at present – meant we were checking in at Treasure Island a mere 35 minutes after we had touched down, and that was despite the cab driver taking us on a tour of Southern Nevada before dropping us off. We secured a strip room, and although I had initial difficulties connecting with the hotel’s wireless network, we were “good to go”.
We met Janet’s parents, who had arrived the day before on a ten day vacation to celebrate her father’s eightieth birthday (they are veterans of American travel), and had dinner at Kahunaville in the hotel before taking a taxi to the Rio All-Star Suites and Casino for the Penn and Teller show.
Now they are hugely talented guys and deliver some amazing tricks. However, and I am being deliberately provocative here, there was something unsatisfying and irritating about the show. It may have been Penn’s rapid, and sometimes incomprehensible, patter or his repeated protestations about how their act is more honest and decent than others in their field, notably professed psychics whom they dismiss as frauds. But, as I said, I am probably being too picky here, and there is no doubting that Teller is a great clown in the mute tradition.
It is commonly felt that, with the only possible exception of London cabbies, New York taxi drivers are the most opinionated on the planet. Now, if you put one in charge of a cab in Vegas, the effect is likely to be explosive. Yes, we had the doubtful privilege of being escorted back to our hotel by the craziest New York Italian taxi driver imaginable.
After he had asked me which part of Australia I came from he launched into a scattergun tirade on a variety of subjects such as Middle East politics, the glory of Tony Blair compared to the catastrophic presidency of Bill Clinton, who had (apparently) spent his entire period in office engaging in extra curricular activities, and his affection for the former New York Giants baseball team. Keeping his eye on the road was secondary, as the number of pedestrians hurling themselves out of his way and the exasperation expressed by other road users demonstrated.
Finally, yes you guessed it, the penny slots – initial success followed by setbacks, but a break even session overall. The theory still holds – just.