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Back From Las Vegas - The Annual Trek
Wednesday, December 15, 2010 • Posted December 15, 2010

For several years now, a group of friends and I have been making a trip to Las Vegas each year. None of us are really big gamblers, and none of us has a special affinity for Vegas as such; but, it's something we do as a group, and it's a tradition of sorts.

This year was lots of fun. We got back home on Sunday evening. We're all tired, we're all a bit more broke. And, we're all happy to be home.

Las Vegas is a very strange and interesting city. It does not really have its own personality so much as it attempts to recreate the best parts of cities, cultures, places and myths of our lives. Whether that is China, Paris, Rome, the old West, a New Orleans carnival... Las Vegas takes all the best elements, mixes them together with a large helping of glitz, adds in slot machines and gaming tables, mixes in scantily clad women and lots of alcohol, and presents it as an adventure.

On this trip, we stayed at Harrah's down on the Las Vegas Strip. That put us next door to the Venetian, across the street from the Mirage, and just north of The Flamingo. Each has its own mythology and a decorating scheme to match. We made side trips to the Imperial Palace, Caesar's Palace, South Point, and a couple more down on Fremont Street.

Fremont Street is its own unique part of Las Vegas. That's the old downtown, and it is more compressed and easy to navigate than the Strip. The casinos are a bit worn and threadbare; but, the light show at Fremont Street Experience continues to draw tourists like us to enjoy the spectacle. Costumed characters have started hanging out on Fremont, so for a fee, you can even have your photo taken with Batman, Spiderman, Dorothy Gale and more. We saw a handful of those characters out on the Strip; but, they seem to congregate on Fremont more than out of the downtown area.

The National Finals Rodeo was just finishing up while we were there. That's the reason for the timing of our trips each year. We even got to visit the show over at the Sands Expo Center briefly, and ran into Morgan McMillan working one of the booths, as well as Seth and Brenda Comer's granddaughter. Last year, we made it over to the show at the Convention Center and visited with Garland and Joy Gallagher and their kids; but, we didn't make it that far this year.

And of course, there's the traveling through the airports.

With all the publicity concerning enhanced patdowns and full body scanners, we were anticipating long lines, long delays and ill tempers. Oddly enough, I don't think things have ever gone as smoothly and as quickly as they did this time. We didn't have to go through the new scanners, and we didn't get the patdowns. It was quick, it was efficient, and everyone was in a good frame of mind. We even had to go through Los Angeles on our return trip, and that was less stressful and more efficient than I remember from the past.

It was only a four day, three night trip. We left on Thursday and returned on Sunday. But, it was four days of getting away from everything normal and routine. It was what a vacation is supposed to be, and I'm happy that we did it once again.

I guess I'm good for another year.

It’s all just my opinion.

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