Sinning in Sin City

Las Vegas Trip 046It sounds good, but really, at this stage in life, sinning amounts to little more than eating way too much good food and dropping a few bucks into the slot machines.  But there is nothing quite like a trip to Vegas to get a taste of all the excesses available to anyone who has the time and money.  The most excessive part of this short little whirlwind trip for us was popping for tickets to Elton John’s concert at Caesar’s Palace, The Million Dollar Piano.

Las Vegas Trip 024For years the music of Elton John was part of the background of my life.  I enjoyed it, but never paid much attention.  As years went by, however, I would hear something amazingly melodic and rich and sure enough, it was Elton John.  I also heard that he put on a concert rivaled by few that was worth seeing.  I think the first time I tried to get tickets was back in the early 90’s, in the days when phones would do automatic redial trying to get through that busy signal.  By the time I got through, the tickets were sold out.  That story was repeated a few times, more recently when he was playing in Portland and other venues in the northwest.  Always long gone by the time I got through.

Las Vegas Trip 048Now, however, he is playing in Vegas.  Maybe that is a sign of the times, when all the old stars finally make there way to the Vegas stages. Motley Crue and Chicago are even there right now. The nice thing about this, though, is that there are enough shows scheduled that getting tickets is not an impossible dream.  Hence the four day trip to Las Vegas.  Allegiant Airlines flies out of Medford, direct, for a very reasonable price.  The airline tickets were cheaper than the concert tickets at least. Cut rate airlines are an experience of themselves.  Buying online, we discovered that if we wanted an assigned seat, it was an extra 8.95 for each leg of the flight, if we wanted water in flight, it was 2 bucks a bottle.  If we wanted to check in prior to boarding, we had to pop for the assigned seat.  Mo and I were reeling from the concert tickets and decided to skip the seat assignments.  No big deal, right? It was only an hour and a half flight anyway.

Las Vegas Trip 040The reality was funny, though, like the old days with Southwest airlines cattle calls, we had to get to the airport early enough to hopefully get a low number for the lineup.  Once on the plane, we could take whatever seats were left by the time we got there.  We checked no baggage and brought peanuts for sustenance.

Arriving in Vegas after ten pm, we caught the rental car shuttle to the state of the art new rental car facility about 7 miles south of McCarren field.  I was impressed.  The whole car rental experience was simple and straightforward, at least until we attempted to open the windows of our tiny compact car, a neon yellow Fiat 500.  It also took Mo a few miles to discover that the reason the engine kept winding up was because shifting was required.  No clutch, just shift by hitting the joy stick on the console.  Sirius radio and heated seats added to the delight of a tiny car that somehow felt pretty darn roomy inside and had lots of zip on the road.

Las Vegas Trip 002Mo and I haven’t been to Vegas since 2004 when we flew down and spent a day in town before driving for a week or so around Death Valley.  We decided it might be fun to stay downtown near Fremont street and the Main Street Station turned out to be a great choice.  On the first night we had a room on the 14th floor facing north, right over the freeway and the railroad tracks.  No earl plugs?  ahh.  I had no idea I would need them inside a big hotel.  Somehow we ended up on a smoking floor as well, but a phone call to the desk was worthwhile since the next morning we were moved down to the non smoking, much quieter 4th floor for the rest of our stay.

Las Vegas Trip 030We enjoyed a slow Saturday morning walking Fremont street before we boarded the sleek and efficient SDX bus to the strip.  We spent the rest of the day walking the strip, in and out of all those incredible casinos that are like a huge Disneyland for grown-ups.  Grown ups with more money than we had, for sure, but I still really loved strolling through Neiman Marcus fingering Oscar de la Renta gowns, Jimmy Choo shoes, and Prada bags.  I like a good bag.  Two hundred bucks is a big deal, but when I picked up that 2,800 Prada bag I wondered about my daughters and how one purse could pay a couple of big mortgage payments, or a pair of shoes could pay for some badly needed dental work.  Vegas is definitely a place to feel the ridiculous imbalance that is part of our culture now.  There were lots of homeless folks in our end of town as well.

Las Vegas Trip 051After miles and miles and hours and hours of walking, we settled in for the “sin” part, a great Italian supper at Trevi’s in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace.  I had some kind of succulent drink that should have been on a cruise ship with red italian wine, peach liqueur and who knows what else. It was decadent and delicious.  We just sat there a long time enjoying our meal and the changing (fake) skies that turned from dawn to dusk several times as we sat there in the courtyard.  I don’t think there is any place better than Vegas for people watching, either, and we were fabulously entertained by the shifting crowd passing by on the mall.

Las Vegas Trip 052Finally it was time for the show, and we filed in with several thousand other excited folks, dressed in everything from jeans to spandex to sequins.  I knew I had been sequestered too long in the back woods when I realized I was gawking at the gorgeous young girls wearing what must be the latest “thing”.  Their dresses were stretchy like a girdle, covered the part from the breasts (barely) to the panty line (barely), with platform shoes that had heels with more inches then their skirts.  It was great fun, but sure did remind me that I am in my sixties and fashion is completely irrelevant at this stage. 

Las Vegas Trip 059Once inside the theater, we could feel the excitement building.  I was surprised that the crowd was so diverse, all ages, all styles, and all seemingly thrilled to be there.  When EJ came on stage, the roar was huge.  He was dressed tastefully in a sparkly black tuxedo, with a nod to his old self expressed in some crazy bright red tennis shoes and a subdued pair of barely colored glasses.  He started with “Benny and the Jets”, not one of my favorites, but the lights and the music and the sound built throughout the show in a way that kept me alternately in goose bumps and tears.  You have no idea how much this music is in the background of our lives till you hear the melodies and find yourself singing the words.

Las Vegas Trip 072His voice is deeper and richer, and while he doesn’t hit the high notes the way he once did,  there is a strength and quality in his singing that is breathtaking. Two young men from Croatia on electric cellos, (appropriately called the Two Cellos) expanded the richness of the music and his percussionist took my heart away, even his tambourine sounded like a full scale orchestra.  And yes.  The Piano.  The Million Dollar Piano.  I never heard anyone play a piano like this, truly.  Rachmaninoff maybe.  I know, apples and oranges, but still.  Goosebumps and tears.  It was not just a rock-n-roll concert.  It was incredible.  Of course, I wanted it to never end.

Las Vegas Trip 076We left with the crowd with our eyes filled with lights and our ears with sound, enough that the lights and sounds of Vegas seemed almost irrelevant.  Caesar’s Palace is right next to the famous Bellagio Fountains, which obligingly started up their musical water dance in time for us to enjoy.  On our way south along the strip, I saw many of those girls in those skinny dresses and high shoes, tugging at the dresses and carrying their shoes!  Another reason to maybe skip this particular fashion trend!

We found our SDX stop and climbed up to the upper deck for the slow ride back downtown, thoroughly enjoying the street shows below us at each stop.  It was a great day, but we both agreed that the next day was going to be our chance to get out of town and away from all that glitz and craziness.  Vegas is great but the desert calls. Las Vegas Trip 128

Just a quick note here as well, I didn’t pack a computer or even a camera for this trip.  Managed to get these photos with my iPhone.  It is rather amazing what a telephone can do, but of course, it ain’t the Nikon.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

16 thoughts on “Sinning in Sin City”

  1. I really enjoyed this post. It's been quite a few years since we were in Vegas but it was great fun. I can tell you really had a great time at the concert – and the people watching sounds fun too. I see some red rock in that last picture – so did you make it out to Red Rock Canyon?

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  2. It's been more years then I can remember since we were last in LV. Glad to hear you enjoyed the concert; I bet EJ puts on a great show. All those lights and the glitz … OK in short spurts, but I'd be heading out of town pretty quickly to see what else the area has to offer that might be a little more soothing. Looking forward to reading Part II.

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  3. Wonderful Post! Your iPhone camera did an outstanding job I think. I bet the EJ show was great but you know crowds just flat wear me out anymore. I know I am either getting too old or just plain wearing out. I am glad you both enjoyed the excitement.

    Just BS!(Bob and Sue)

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  4. So glad you got tickets to the EJ concert! Sounds like it was worth whatever you paid. And I laughed at the description of the fashions… gosh, style consciousness is so far behind me now. It's all about comfort and coverage. 🙂

    What fun to rent the Fiat! Seems like the rental company might want to mention something about gear shifting.

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  5. It's great to travel light, and I think the iPhone takes great pictures as long as you don't need to zoom in. My one and only time in Vegas was in 1989, a lot has changed since then. I hope to get there in the RV some day.

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  6. Fabulous! So glad you shared… Elton has been such a part here also… the first music in a “very important firt part” of the relationship between Hubs and I. 😉 We also used the words from Just Down the Hall (i think that's the title) for our baby announcements for the 2nd son!! I would truly love to see him also!

    Love the baby car. We went to the Valley of Fire last winter and hung out around the Vegas for a week. I like all the action and peeps are a great part of it! Great description!!!

    Enjoy Oregon!

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  7. Great post and very nice pictures. I'm not a Vegas type so I really appreciated your trip there so I could go along but not have to be there. LOL

    Loved the Fiat. Great size for a car IMO. Bet the gas mileage is fine too.

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  8. Elton John! I would say he was a big part of my youth. Why, I remember when he was bisexual! :oD I might have had a hard time prying open my wallet to pay for tickets, but I'm sure I would have loved the concert.

    Plus, I remember when “sin” was SIN! The good old days. Now I can hardly work up a good minor transgression.

    Roxanne
    The Good Luck Duck

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