Well we’re back from Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps (sorry NYC, but until a steak dinner is within walking distance at 4 AM, Las Vegas holds this title).

The Vegas Gang: DaveHo, Doc, Pocahontas, Rob, Squiggy, and ChipIt may have appeared that there would be regular updates during the trip.  But problems with connectivity made this less than manageable. So instead I offer up some thoughts about the trip, the city, and the people. First I should introduce the cast of characters: there’s myself and the lovely wife Doc, Squiggy our gambling guru (Read more about him here), Rob and his wife Sherryl (known on this trip as Sacajawea – “Follow me, honkies!”), and the newest addition to the Vegas gang, Chip, Ph.D., transplanted to California from native PA (like who isn’t a transplant in CA!).


I make the observation that necessity will always breed the best solutions. The problem is how does an airport like McCarren International in Las Vegas handle a massive amount of people arriving and get them to the casinos as fast as possible. In short, they do a great job.  From the plane you are whisked by tram to the main terminal to the most enjoyable baggage claim anywhere. Large video monitors show you the sights and sounds of the city, and slot machines beckon you to begin your voluntary deposits to King Gamblor.  Once your bags are secure its off to the taxi stand (I’m not nearly important enough to have my name on a card held by some uniformed driver). Despite the long line, the attendants and taxi ranks keep the line moving constantly, and the wait, even with literally hundreds of people in front of you, is only about 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, back at Philadelphia International, I had a dreary wait at the check-in counter, a slog to the gate, then a gate change due to a defective jetway, then a delay, then a gate change back to the original gate, another delay, then finally boarding to wait 10th in line to takeoff.  McCarren may not be the busiest (Atlanta’s Hartsfield usurped Chicago’s O’Hare as the busiest in the US), but there is none better at processing the intake.

The primary mode of transport around Sin City was the Monorail. As is tradition on our trips to LV, we had to sing the “Monorail Song” from the Simpsons. Once that was out of the way, it was time to enjoy quick and clean transport up and down the strip.  After a few trips Squiggy and I were amusing fellow passengers by reciting along with the recorded narration between stops. Las Vegas is the only place in modern America where the private sector would consider building public works, albeit as a means to their future economic prosperity.

Hotels (or the building thingies where our beds and TV is)

First accommodation for the trip was the MGM Grand Hotel, the site of the inaugural trip last year. Squiggy, on hearing that I was bumping up my arrival time due to circumstance, suggested we take advantage of a Players Card offer he received, where a weekend stay will net you two tickets to a special performance by “the Cos”, Bill Cosby. This sounded like a good idea, so we each booked a room at the hotel, netting us four tickets (see below for more on the show). The MGM is at the south end of the strip, where the really attractive people congregate, so Squig and I were well out of place. The hotel also has a bevy of high class restaurants, and clubs that certainly wouldn’t have us in if it was up to them. Fortunately we know our place in the social pecking order and steered clear. I envisioned the following exchange outside a hip and trendy MGM lounge called Teatro:

  • Doorman: Hello, can I have your names, please?
  • DaveHo: DaveHo.
  • Squiggy: Squiggy.
  • Doorman:(writes in his book)DaveHo…and Squiggy…very good. Now your names are in our list of people that may never enter this establishment. Please leave now.

Squiggy suggested that they would do a background check by calling the popular kids from our high school days for confirmation that we were dorks.

On Sunday the rest of the party arrived, and we moved up to the other end of the strip, to the Sahara Hotel. Very nice, and dirt cheap (even for August when only total fools like us go to the desert). The casino was not nearly as big as the MGM, and not nearly as pretentious. Nice reasonable buffets, good coffee shop, modest, comfortable rooms.  And with its position on the Monorail, it made a quick hop to the rest of the sights on the strip. We noticed during our stay some men with camoflage and flightsuits emblazoned with German flags. We guessed that there was a detachment of German Air Force personnel in town for something. Made us wonder who was minding the airspace back home: “Hey, Poland, can you watch the place for us, we’ll be in Vegas”. “Sure, no problem”. Then later, “Sorry, Germany, we drank all your beer, and made
some long distance calls. Hope that’s okay”.


A person who cannot find anything to do in Vegas has no sense of fun whatsoever. And I don’t mean gambling. There is enough to see and do to fill your days and not spend a dollar at the blackjack table or slot machine. As mentioned before, Squig and I had the privilege of seeing a legend of Comedy, Bill Cosby, at a show for about 5000 at the MGM Arena. He did not disappoint, delivering an original riff on Vegas and gambling (his comparison between blackjack and being hit with a baseball bat was hilarious), plus some husband and wife stories, and closing with the classic “Dentist” bit seen in the concert film Himself. You may recall that there was an extra set of tickets. Well, there was the idea of selling them, but the fear of constant casino security, and uncertainty of ID checks as they were “Members Only” tickets meant that we just ate the tickets (which were a freebie anyway, so no loss). Later in the trip Doc and I went to see
the Second City Improv show at the Flamingo, always a treat.  Since this was Chip’s first trip to Las Vegas, we got to experience all the sights again through new eyes: The Luxor pyramid and statues, the campy anachronism of Excalibur (or “Renaissance Faire: the Casino”), the Mirage volcano, the pure ostentatiousness that is the Bellagio, the Fremont Street Experience, and more.

Of course, for some (namely Doc), the best entertainment is sitting by the pool, doing nothing.  That’s good too…

(more to come…)

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