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Lost #Vegas

 

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While sitting in a café on our last evening in Las Vegas, I reaffirmed to myself that this trip to what was once my favorite getaway spot for decades, was no longer fulfilling my passion.

Much has changed about that once mysterious, intriguing little spot in the desert since I first went there over thirty years ago. (Am I giving my age away?)

The grand allure Vegas held for me in the past had vanished, along with much of its old charm. Gone are the days of ‘beautiful people’ dressed in their finery just to enter a casino at night. Gone are the days of $1.99 buffets, free comp tickets given out to select patrons by pit bosses as a thanks for leaving a donation, or just because they liked you.

 

The hotel rooms were once all so elegant, with marbled bathrooms and comfortable beds. Many hotels still have their marbled bathrooms, only now, they seem to be in need of an overhaul. The hotel I stayed in, although the room was fairly nice and could have used updating, most definitely had the original mattresses. Mine was so soft and worn, it put my hip out, and still hasn’t healed. Room comfort is not a huge priority there. And I wasn’t impressed by the $32 a night, plus tax, ‘resort fee’ they began charging over a year ago. I questioned the girl at the front desk as to what ‘this fee’ is for. She smiled with her response as she told me I would have ‘free’ (wasn’t I just now paying for it?) internet, parking and use of the gym. I replied, “I don’t have a car, or a computer here, and the last thing I came to Vegas for was to go to the gym.” Then I proceeded to try to persuade her to knock off the bogus $212.62 U.S. charge (That’s $260. Canadian dollars!) For ZIP!—to no avail.

In older decades, the nightclubs featured icons like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., et al. It wasn’t uncommon to find any one of those stars pass through a casino in between sets or during the day. The Strip, Las Vegas Boulevard, was merely a dusty road that led from McCarran airport to the strip of iconic hotels that housed all the excitement of the town. The short five minute drive offered a view of merely vast desert patches of cacti, interspersed with the infamous hotels of yesteryear.

And there wasn’t a child in sight.

I’ve been to Vegas over thirty times through the decades. I’ve watched, in sadness, some of those beloved, iconic hotels get blown up to smithereens, in order for the bigger and better ones to take their places. But bigger wasn’t better; at least not for those like me who loved the adult wonderland that it once was.

Vegas has become too big, too crowded, and certainly one jumbo commercialized enterprise. The streets are crowded by the new younger generation, baby carriages, and people hounding you to ‘ultimately’ buy time shares, see hot girls, and once I was even offered ‘free money’ if I partook in some seminar. Ya, trust me, nothing is free, especially in Vegas. Heck, you can’t even take a picture of a costumed character on a street corner without them charging you for the photo.

The entertainment is mostly geared towards the younger crowd; pool parties, DJ’ed nightclubs, and other assorted themed parties. Sure, there are still comedy shows and various Cirque de Soleil shows, which can run you $300 to $400 dollars for two tickets.

The casinos don’t seem to be as full anymore. The city earns its revenues from the entertainment avenues they now provide. This leaves me wondering, where do these young folks get this money to spend there? Another distant thing of the past is the constant ringing of jackpot bells from slot machines. I don’t recall hearing the chiming of ‘Ding, ding, ding’ in any casino I walked through.

 

Drinks are still free in the casinos, but step outside to anywhere, and you’ll pay large for a cocktail, and even for water. I was blown away when my hub and I ate dinner in a moderately priced restaurant and the glass of (inexpensive) wine I ordered was $12 U.S. dollars! Sheesh! They sold that same bottle of wine in the Dollar store there for eight bucks!

 

I still don’t get why people want to take their children and particularly babies to a place like that. Smoking is only permitted in casinos there now, but most hotels you must walk through the open-air casinos which adjoin the lobbies. Kids aren’t allowed, supposedly in the casinos, but that didn’t stop so many of them from running around the slot machines, nor did it prompt any pit bosses to alert a player to this rule who continued to play blackjack with her baby carriage parked right beside the table!

Texting has also become the main form of communication there. Hundreds of zombie-like people pave the streets, aimlessly, looking down at their phones. Even the restaurants, which many of them seem to be hosted by very young girls, can leave one waiting in long lines until the next table becomes available, because the hostesses are busy chatting and texting, instead of noticing the empty tables that have yet to be cleaned and reset.

What has happened to my beloved Vegas? As I continued to watch the crowded sidewalks, and the constant line-ups of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the now very busy, eight lane Las Vegas Boulevard, where the taxi meters chug away at lightning speed, I had to wonder where did all the boomers go?

Sure, there were boomers there, but not nearly as many as the younger generation. We were certainly a minority. My husband and I shook our heads at what has become of a place we both once adored, and decided the people of yesteryear must have already moved on to places such as Reno or maybe Tahoe. We both said that we wouldn’t go back to Vegas for a very long time; if ever.

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But my love for the desert hasn’t faltered. And as many of you know, my newest passion is for Arizona. Lots of open space, so much to see and do, and the warm, inviting desert climate will become our new winter home, starting this coming winter.

 

DGKaye ©July 2015

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D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction/memoir writer, who writes from her own life experiences and self-medicates with a daily dose of humor.

57 Comments

  • Sue Dreamwalker

    Arrrgh.. seems my comment timed out….
    I wrote a longer one..
    I wouldn’t mind visiting the Desert.. but not the Las Vegas strip.. I smiled at your sentence.
    “Hundreds of zombie-like people pave the streets, aimlessly, looking down at their phones. ”

    You should see the Zombies in our town.. 🙂 xxx Hugs and have a great week Deb.. love Sue

    • dgkaye

      Lol, you know me Sue, direct, and to the point. It seems technology is dominated generation X. The simple niceties of hello and some eye contact seem to be disappearing rapidly. 🙁 xox

  • teagan geneviene

    DG I’m with you about the desert. Leaving New Mexico for a “secure” job in DC was the most monumental mistake of my life — and that includes Psycho-Ex. Okay, so maybe that’s a tie… 😉 Hugs my fellow desert rose.

    • dgkaye

      Oo, ouchie Teagan! That move really had to hurt. It’s usually the other way around, people moving to the nicer climates. I’m sure there’s a book in that somewhere? LOL 🙂

  • Carol Balawyder

    I am slowing come back to blogging (well, really, reading blogs). This is a terrific blog post, Debby. I loved it! I loved how you captured the past atmosphere of the town.
    I was in Vegas (first time) a little over a year ago at the tale end of a hiking trip in Arizona and Nevada. Vegas was not my cup of tea…maybe tea is not the right choice of beverage for this place! But I’m with you regarding Arizona and the desert. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii Carol! So lovely to see you back around. And yes, I remember when you went to beautiful Arizona, hiking. I thought I’d do a little synopsis here of my latest take on one of my old favourite places. In fact, there are snippets in here that are part of my newest upcoming book, Have Bags, Will Travel. Welcome back to circulation! I hope you’ve enjoyed your time off! 🙂

  • John Maberry

    Well, gambling isn’t our thing. Nor the old style singers. But neither are the millennials and Gen-Xer bad habits. My wife has been there once, decades ago. We took a plane out of there from a vacation elsewhere. But we are thinking about going to see some of the Cirque shows. Different stokes for different folks, as the song goes but I can feel your disappointment. Don’t know if this has anything to do with it, but now that there must hundreds of casinos across the U.S. due the Supreme Court approval of Native American casino ownership wherever they want to put one there is plenty of competition to Vegas.

    • dgkaye

      I’m sure there is lots of competition John. And not to mention how expensive things have become, who has the money to throw away? 🙂

  • Mél@nie

    your article does show the real LV… we’ve been to LV twice – just a stop-over on the way to some national parks… 🙂 we’re players, not gamblers!!! in other words: you have to see it, to believe it… 🙂

  • Debby Carroll

    Beautifully written portrayal of change. I can feel your dismay at your loss because it is a loss of sorts when the place that brought you so much happiness just brings you down. But, Arizona is a wonderful destination. You’d love Sedona’s beauty. Still no free money, though. 🙂

  • Wendy Van Camp

    Vegas is facing stiff competition from indian gaming. Many people keep their gambling local instead of going to LV. I am planning a week long vacation there toward the end of the year. I plan to relax by the pool, go catch a show, go shopping and enjoy the restaurants. There are other entertainments to be had if you have a car available. I don’t go to Vegas to gamble. I think you are right about the atmosphere. The people in their tourist casual attire and all the kids make Vegas into a very different place. It no longer has that energy that it once did.

    • dgkaye

      HI Wendy. Lovely to see you here. And you are correct. Vegas is great for lounging at the pool, shopping and taking in some shows, but all of which have become a lot more expensive in recent years. I agree, if one rents a car, there is much to explore there. But to say Vegas is all that it used to represent, would be a fallacy. It’s also not a destination for just adults only anymore. So if one is looking for that type of holiday, they may want to consider somewhere else, like an all-inclusive, adult-only vacation. 🙂 I hope you luck into good weather there later in the year.

    • dgkaye

      Not for everyone I’m sure Cat. Everybody has something different to take from that place. But for my perspective, it used to be much different. Like most of the world, things change. 🙂

  • Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Terrific Debby.. Lost Wages.. been a number of times but do prefer Tahoe although that too has probably changed somewhat in the last 10 years.. But I love the lake and the mountains. After reading your article do not think I would be rushing back to Vegas.. resort tax indeed.. XX

    • dgkaye

      Lol, Sally, I am beginning to think I’m the grim reaper on Las Vegas. I still love Nevada, but some things just wear out with time. I’d suggest trying out some of the outskirts in Nevada, or even Red Rock, for those who want something different. We all know what happens when a place gets too commercialized. 🙂

  • Belinda Crane

    🙁 This has always been on my Bucket List 🙁

    This made me lol … ” I replied, “I don’t have a car, or a computer here, and the last thing I came to Vegas for was to go to the gym.” Ha! 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Lol Belinda! Hey, if you’ve never been, don’t let me burst your balloon. Like I mentioned in Wendy’s comment, it depends what you’re looking for from visiting there. The memories about the way it used to be have changed immensely for me. The mountains are beautiful, and if you decide to rent a car and take in the outskirts, like Red Rock, it is still beautiful there. 🙂 Lol, didn’t mean to be a “Debby downer”.

      • Belinda Crane

        As if you could be a Debby Downer! lol! I absolutely understand what you have said and can imagine how disappointing it must be to see the changes. I always image it as being really glitzy. Then again, I’ve only ever seen it in the movies/TV. Loved Casino with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone. That cemented it into my Bucket List. 🙂

  • Hugh's Views and News

    I was in Las Vegas back in Sept 2013. It was my very first time there and I was amazed by everything. I’d seen the city so much on TV and at the movies. We had a great time there, the highlight was seeing Elton John in concert, but when we got on that flight back home we all agreed we’d never go back. I think once is enough. Well, it was for us anyway.

    I hope all goes well for the move in the winter, Debby. I do like the British Winter (I know it’s crazy of me to say so) and my other one and only trip to the desert (Palm Springs) has not made me want to visit anywhere that hot ever again. I swear that I almost melted in the street!

    • dgkaye

      Lol Hugh, you would have melted at 114 degrees in Vegas, no doubt! I personally adore the dry, hot climate. And, not to mention, no humidity leaves me with having great hair days! But I can appreciate your take. I have quite a few friends who could never see my fascination with Vegas. Many of them, like you, went once and found that was enough to say ‘been there, done that.’ 🙂

      • Sacha Black

        It can’t be any worse than the film hAngover! Besides I know that it’s been glorified in lots of other films. I guess because I love NYC so much and because it’s exactly like u think I may have thought Vegas was too…! Me being naive! ?

        • dgkaye

          It is certainly action-packed and full of entertainment, make no mistake there Sacha, but its become highly commercialized which has taken much of its old charm out of the city. 🙂

    • dgkaye

      Yes Cindy. And the same red rock is even more exquisite to look at if you visit Sedona, Arizona. A picturesque place for you and your trustee camera. 🙂

  • Kate Johnston

    Drat! Time ran out on me and I lost my comment to you. Trying again…

    I’ve never been to Vegas, but I doubt I’d like it much the way it is now. I think I would have preferred it during its classic era, and that’s how it’s pictured in my mind. Don’t want to ruin it. 🙂

    Owning a winter home in Arizona would be grand! I’ve only been once, and very briefly, but I too love the open space. There’s so little open space left these days. I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

    • dgkaye

      Hi Kate. Thanks for visiting. I sure wasn’t writing to discourage others. This is merely my synopsis of visiting there so many times and watching the landscape change. I suppose part of my disappoint is because of my ‘old memories’ of Vegas; the way you probably picture it as you described. And unfortunately, I’m not in a position to own any real estate in beautiful Arizona just yet, but we’re renting a beautiful condo next winter, and hopefully many more to follow. When the Canadian dollar readjusts itself from its poor-in-comparison state to the U.S. dollar, we will reconsider maybe buying something down there. Arizona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. 🙂

      • Kate Johnston

        You aren’t the first person to complain about Vegas and how much it’s changed — so don’t feel like you’ve discouraged anyone! I think it’s a well-known fact. It’s kind of like Hollywood and how much it’s changed from its glamorous era. People would likely be disappointed to visit Hollywood if they had images of its heyday in their minds.

  • Deborah Jay

    Sad to hear how Vegas has changed. I only know it from movies and TV, but my partner was in the US a couple months ago visiting his brother, and they took a road trip which included a visit to LV. He was quite happy to take a look and move on.
    Much more impressed by the Grand Canyon.
    I know how sad it is when places change like that – I spent the summer holidays of my childhood in a quaint fishing village called St. Ives, in Cornwall (UK), which was also one of the greatest art communities in the country and was exciting and vibrant to be around. Now it is such a popular tourist destination I don’t even recognise it.
    Such is the danger of popularity.

    • dgkaye

      Yes, it seems everything changes Deb, and not always for the better. And yes, the Canyon is beautiful, very much what most of Arizona looks like. 🙂

  • elainemansfield

    Great to know that this is a fixable problem without medical intervention needed. Everything changes, so goodbye Nevada and hello AZ. I’ve never been fond of Reno or Vegas, but Arizona, especially the high country, is magnificent. And I’m learning that my body loves desert dryness rather than the constant humidity of my home this moldy wet year.

    • dgkaye

      Hi Elaine. Love to see you pop by. No doubt, many people flock to Arizona for its wonderful properties, especially those with rheumatism. I’ve always loved the dry desert climates; no aches and pains, and good hair days! 🙂

  • Let's CUT the Crap!

    Really? What a disaster! I haven’t been to Vegas for almost 20 years, right after the MGM Grand was opened. Pity the place is going by the wayside. A friend wanted me to go with her this year. Glad I passed up on the opportunity. Guess I won’t be going anytime soon, if ever. 🙁

    • dgkaye

      Hi Tess. Nice to see you back circulating. Gosh, I hate to be a ‘Debby Downer’ but that is my opinion after decades of visits. You would certainly have culture shock though if you haven’t been in 20 years. The dynamics have changed a lot, and since most of the US has legal gambling casinos now, I think Vegas had to alter their structure for tourism, hence the big popstar shows and clubs and beach parties. This isn’t to say that there aren’t other parts of Vegas that aren’t fabulous. Red Rock is beautiful and then there are so many other cities in Nevada I’d like to explore. 🙂

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