Las Vegas Revisited (Page 2)

The sound of wedding bells has lured me back to Sin City yet again. Story and photos by Trevor Freeman.

Back side of the Wynn. DAY TWO
Morning came much too soon for my liking. I had forgotten to set any kind of alarm and for a moment I worried that I had overslept and would be charged for a second day at the hotel. Thankfully, it was only 9am and check out was not until 11am. There were plenty of blessings to count this morning: not getting robbed the previous night, not having a headache, and a hot shower and a quick breakfast of Pop-Tarts in the room. I hauled the bags down to the car and checked out.

There were still about two hours to go until the wedding, so I decided to walk down and explore the Wynn hotel and casino - the newest and most exclusive casino that I had never visited before. Outside was the Ferrari dealer, which only admits patrons by special reservation. No more than 35 persons are allowed on the showroom at a time, and the cars are kept indoors behind privacy glass. No strollers are allowed in the shopping part of the hotel. Talk about snooty!

Parasols at the Wynn One thing I liked was the map directly inside of the entrance to the hotel. A cheerful lady struck up a conversation about the waterfall outside and I decided to go see it. It was large but not very fancy, no boulders or anything. Just a flat waterfall that probably looks nicer at night than it does in the mid-morning sun. The lobby was classy but without any particular theme. It wasn't modern, it wasn't French or Italian or Roman or anything, just elegant and nondenominational at the same time. In front of the shops was a bar called Parasol Up, where beautiful fabric parasols gently ascend and descend from the ceiling. The movement was so slow and gradual that you really had to stop and watch for a moment to realize what was happening. I rode the golden escalators both down and up before continuing on.

There's a formula for upscale boutiques in Las Vegas shopping malls. First, you must have a one-word name like Gucci, Rolex, Prada, or Chanel. Personal names are acceptable as well but they cannot have any harsh or dissonant sounding syllables. Next, the store must have large, glass windows and have a modernist, minimalist decor inside. It must appear as if you've just moved in or are about to move out, and the inventory on display must be kept at a minimum. Finally, appoint a clean-cut, well-dressed salesman with a bored look on his face to stand by the door with his hands folded. The kind who knows that messy-haired kid with the camera bag is not going to buy a five thousand dollar Rolex watch today, yet still treats you as if you were Steve Wynn himself. Congratulations, now you can open your own retail store on The Strip.

Arriving at the chapel After the Wynn, I headed back to the car and drove north towards The Stratosphere. The chapel was a half-mile north of there, and I ended up making a sketchy U-turn to get there as I drove by it the first time. The wedding was not going to begin for another hour yet, so I walked down the road a little bit and took some pictures of the vintage motel signs that offered amenities like "hourly rates" and "adult movies."

Back at the chapel, the guests were starting to arrive and I was ready with the camera when the bride and groom arrived in their limousine. A very happy Jason and Jade emerged from opposite sides of the car, followed by a very tired Ben and Elaina and fresh-as-a-daisy Katie. In order to get to the car on time, Ben and Elaina had to run from the Circus Circus to the Imperial Palace - a little over a mile in a very short time. They looked very glad to sit down and catch their breath while the wedding party got ready.

I got the camera ready while we listened to some Elvis Presley and made small talk in the chapel. It was much nicer than I expected inside, and the white wooden benches were comfortable. The ceremony was brief and the first dance was very cute. This is what people mean when they say small and intimate weddings; there weren't more than 40 people in the whole place. After some photos, we proceeded into the reception room for the cake cutting and for the toast. Everything was delicious and the wedding couldn't have gone more smoothly.

My room at the Circus Circus Because Ben and Elaina were staying at the Circus Circus also, I gave them a lift back to the hotel and I went to check in. The line was quite long and it took maybe 30-45 minutes to get to the desk. Although it was quite late in the afternoon, the room was not yet ready and I was told it would be a thirty-minute wait. I suspected this was a ploy to get me to visit the casino floor, so I made it a point to sit down on a chair in the lobby and take a rest for the next half-hour, instead of gambling like most other people might have done. By the time I got up to the room and settled in, I had only a few minutes to catch my breath before heading out again for dinner.

The parents of the bride had generously invited everyone to the Cravings Buffet at The Mirage for dinner at 6pm. Being short on time, I decided to drive there and take the Industrial Road and thereby avoid the congested traffic of The Strip. The back way in to the Mirage self-parking involved more sketchy U-turns and going over some double-speedbumps which were quite treacherous in my lowered car. At last I made it and caught up with the group again.

The Mirage buffet has to be one of the largest and most diverse I have ever dined at. Everything was organized into sections including Italian, Chinese, Seafood, Sushi, Barbecue, Deli, Dessert, and many more. After about three trips for food I was quite full, and so was everyone else. Ben had removed his belt and was working on his second dessert while the rest of us decided to meet up again at 10pm for some fun and adventure.

After resting up in the room for a while, I met up with Cameo and Ethan at the Treasure Island and we soon found the others who were lost in the chaos of the Pirate Show. Everyone inside the Treasure Island was wearing costumes but of course, nobody was permitted to wear masks on the casino floor. Jason ordered up his favorite White Russian while I tried a Seven and Seven. Drinks were very pricey here so after some more cheap slot action, we moved on to the Venetian. Walking around there killed some more time until we decided to call it a night at around eleven.

Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace Not yet ready to head back, I found myself at the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace. Although the city touts its 24-hour action and excitement, everything in there closed up promptly at midnight. I didn't even get a chance to get gouged by paying five bucks to see the Exotic Car collection! All of the fountain shows were done for the day. The place was emptying out and I began heading back to the hotel. I stopped for a Jack and Coke which kept me warm as I rode the monorail all the way to the Hilton again. The room at the Circus Circus was on the 32nd floor and for some reason, I could hear loud music from somewhere even with the door and window closed. No time was wasted in kicking off my shoes and crashing into bed where sleep came quickly and mercifully.

My king-sized bed was just right and I woke up feeling well rested for the second day in a row. I polished off the last of the Pop-Tarts as I packed up and headed downstairs. Somehow, I was still hungry and stopped at the McDonald's in the casino for a "real" breakfast. Also I picked up a fresh box of Krispy Kreme donuts for Megan, as all of their Arizona stores are now gone. The bride and groom had an evening flight out of town and a rental car to return, so we didn't meet up again. Feeling adventurous, I drove down by the Mandalay Bay and parked my car in the middle of the street near the famous welcome sign for a quick photo shoot. Surprisingly, two other cars followed my lead and were soon parked in the turn lane on a peaceful Sunday morning. Nobody seemed to mind, though. With that taken care of, I got back on Tropicana Avenue and headed out of town.

Abandoned town of Nothing, Arizona Driving back, I kept the stops to a minimum. Gas in Kingman was $3.20 right off the Interstate, but by venturing into town I found a sad little station that only had 87 octane for $2.75 a gallon. The pumps didn't even take cards, and I had to go inside to pay. From there it was smooth sailing until I got to Nothing, Arizona. This little roadside stop was once a place for cold drinks, souvenirs, and funny pictures. It's been mentioned in any decent book about Arizona place names I'm sure, but sadly it closed up within the past year and has fallen into disrepair. It wasn't long until I got back to my home in Phoenix and realized how exhausted, tired, hungry, and at the same time, happy I was.

The trip was about as much fun as one person can have, I suppose. It pales in comparison to my January trip but I still had a good time. In one weekend I took 500 photos, fought the crowds, avoided getting robbed, tried some new drinks, and put no more than three dollars into the machines before giving up on them, and witnessed the union of two very good people in holy matrimony. The wedding was wonderful and I wish Jade and Jason many happy years together.

-Trevor Freeman
07 November 2007