I felt like a country boy seeing the big city for the first time. Where was I? Las Vegas. I had not been to Las Vegas in nearly 20 years. Boy, has the place changed.
Over the years, I had made a couple of quick trip to Henderson, Nev. for Optimist meetings, but I stayed away from the Vegas Strip, as they call it.
The new hotels that I last remember seeing are now old. The newer hotels and casinos have been remodeled and expanded.
Even though we arrived on a weekday, traffic on the Strip was heavy and there were lots of people on the sidewalks. Street vendors passed out invitation cards for restaurants, casinos, strip joints and escort services.
We stayed at Caesars Palace because the Optimist International convention was located there. The hotel is a beautiful place, but some what disappointing. I guess because I asked for a “non-smoking room” we wound up in a honeymoon suite.
It included a Jacuzzi tub (in the bed room), see through glass in the bathroom shower, and… get this… a mirror over the bed.
Amenities that you find at any bargain motel were missing. There was no refrigerator, no microwave, and no coffee pot.
The view was gorgeous from our window. It overlooked beautiful swimming pools. I frequently checked the view to see if I recognized any fellow Optimists. I regretted not bringing my binoculars.
The long drive to Vegas has usually discouraged me. It is boring and the weather is somewhat unpredictable – as are the motorists. Driving back can be just as troublesome on a Sunday night with thousands of Angelinos heading back home on Interstate 15.
We thought we’d be smart by going up on a Tuesday evening and returning Friday night to beat the traffic.
Traffic was light going up on Tuesday night. But, we hit some windy conditions and lots of flying sand that blinded us for a few seconds on the highway. The nicest surprise was that the world’s largest thermometer in the small town of Baker, CA, was back in operation.
Not only does the giant thermometer tell you the outdoor temperature, it also signals you that Las Vegas is only another 100 miles or so.
Coming home also held some surprises for us. Traffic was fast and light going south, but after we passed Barstow, traffic began to slow down. There was nothing on the radio, but my grand daughter Kaitlyn sent a text that traffic was stopped at the Devore transition to the Interstate Interstate 15 because a truck accident.
Traffic slowed down to about 10 miles an hour. As we approached the Devore transition, my son-in-law Tony Platt, took a side road that took us through the Glenn Helen Entertainment Center and avoided the freeway interchange. That saved us about another hour in traveling to my daughter’s home in Upland.
Overall, it was a very relaxing and fun-fill week. We celebrated my daughter’s birthday; I attended the Optimist Convention, ate some good, though expensive meals, and made a contribution to the recovering Nevada economy.