Picks and Pans – Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas is a strange, strange place. People spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to fly in from all over the world, stay in hotels and drop oodles of money into machines and onto felt table cloths. And for what? To get drunk and watch blinky lights and strippers? For my dollar I’d just as soon sit at home with a beer, a flashlight and my wife. Despite the conspicuous and, in my humble opinion, rather stupid entertainment value decadence of the whole place, we did find a couple of things to peak our interest.

Neon Sign Graveyard

Thanks to the recommendation of Abby, our first stop in Las Vegas was a trip through time at the Neon Sign Graveyard. At the present the graveyard is about a city block holding hundreds of old Las Vegas signs, neon, incandescent and otherwise behind a chainlink fence. It’s not really set up for touring at the present (although that maybe changing in the near future), but it’s really great to walk around the fenced area and see the discarded glitz and glamor of yesteryear juxtaposed with their more modern replacements some 20 blocks away.

Stromboli at Four Kegs

Thanks to the book “Drive-ins, Diners & Dives” that Litty gave us, we found this little joint out in North Las Vegas. A sports bar named Four Kegs wouldn’t normally be our standard fare, but the stromboli was really quite good.

Crystals at City Center

I’m not a mall guy, which is pretty much the 3rd party to Las Vegas’ gambling and stripper culture. However, in addition to the quite high end jewelry stores in the mall, there were also a number of quite neat works of art. From room-sized geometric sculptures wrapped in braided copper to 6 foot high whirlpools encased in plexiglass tubes and ice pillars that melt away as visitors touch them, Crystals was quite a relief from the stench of boring consumerism that pervades most other hotel/casino/mall money pits that we walked passed.

Fountains at the Bellagio

Another gem on the Las Vegas strip is the fountain at the Bellagio. There are some 1200 individually controlled fountain heads and each can change the angle, rotation, and pressure of emitted water. With speakers surrounding the plaza, the fountain plays out a choreographed show to a different tune every 15 minutes and depending on the music the show can be quite a spectacle.

Sitting in the lobby at Caesar’s Palace

Since giving away our money isn’t our idea of fun, we opted to just park ourselves on a bench in the Caesar’s Palace lobby near the elevators. It’s quite a show watching people come and go from their gambling and debauchery, often either enflaming or attempting to abate the accompanying marital strife.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam is an amazing feat of engineering, especially considering that it took only 5 years from breaking ground to completion. For all the folks out there who refuse to accept that anything good has ever come out of government, I suggest you make a trip to Hoover Dam. Drive over to the Arizona side to park for free rather than pay to park on the Nevada side. For security reasons, they’re building detour highway to divert traffic off the dam, making it unclear how visits to the dam will be managed in the future.

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