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Sunday, April 18, 2004
I'm writing this in my hotel room in San Francisco - they've got wi-fi and have lent me their iBook. Yes, people in San Fran have good taste in computers. I've already been in the Apple Store here and caressed the Macs... But enough of that - let's talk Vegas.
Las Vegas - Day 1
The 1st thing you see when you get off the plane at Vegas Airport are slot machines. This is to acclimatise you to what you are about to behold: stepping into the New York New York hotel/casino, all we could say was 'Oh my God.' I've never needed a map to find my way around a hotel before - we wandered slack-jawed between the slots and poker tables, soothed by the chirruping, babbling machines. It's a bit bigger than the amusements in Hastings.
Standing iin our 5th queue of the day, to check in, we watched the obese people wobble by. One woman - let's call her Martha - had grown so large that she needed a wheelchair to get from her room to the slot machine where she spends her days, her husband at her side, wondering what happened to that slim lil thing he married. Perhaps Martha ate her.
And we thought Japan was mental - Vegas has to be the most insane place on earth. Our hotel looks exactly like New York - they've even shipped in a few miserable subway cops to complete the effect; Paris is just down the road and a Disneyland-esque castle is opposite.
We walked down the Strip in the baking sunshine and I needed to buy some shades, so we stopped off in a mall called the Desert Passage. There, I met a nice man called Chase who was in Nam and shook my hand three times during our transaction. I think he might be coming to stay with us soon.
We watched some lions run around their enclosure at the MGM Grand. I was hoping for a Siegfried and Roy style mauling, but no such luck. Speaking of S & R, there's a gold statue of them halfway along the Strip that I keep having nightmares about.
But the Strip at night is, like, 11 on the awesome scale. Neon drips, fountains dance and sway, faux-gondoliers sing at the Venetian. Amazing. And amazingly shallow.
Waiting outside the hotel for the bus to take us to the airfield for our flight over the Grand Canyon, I joked that the bus would be full of Japanese tourists.
The bus pulled up. It was full of Japanese tourists.
We flew over Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and beside the Canyon in a tiny plane with big windows. I was a bit worried upon take-off when I noticed the pilot's lucky rabbit foot. The views, though, were as spectacular as you'd expect, as was the turbulence. As we were landing, Butter handed me a sick bag. 'What am I supposed to do with that?' I asked, moments before she grabbed it back off me and half-filled it.
When we got off, the pilot quipped, 'I see you brought your lunch with you.'
We and all the J-tourists got on a bus and listened to the tour guide tell appalling jokes that I'm too weary to repeat. But the Grand Canyon itself was, like, 12 on the awesome scale. Bloody huge. And home to a number of cute squirrels.
On the way back, Butter added to her collection of used sick bags.
...So that was Vegas. San Fran is fantastic - a great city, and today we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and I did loads of shopping. The weather's lovely, though it's a bit nippy in the shade. I'll write more about San Fran when I get a chance.