Three Days in Las Vegas

LasVegas-pano_

There are some memories that we make in life, that will always stay with us. They live in our hearts and our souls and serve as reminders of what life is really about. I recently had the chance to do a cross-country drive with my best friend and since our final destination was Las Vegas, I also got to enjoy a little mini-vacation. The best part of the trip was not the casinos and the neon lights. The best part wasn’t the glitz and glamour that Las Vegas offers. The absolute best part was the memories made with my best friend and getting to meet a sister of the soul for the first time. If I live to be one-hundred, I will always look back at my adventure in the late winter of 2015. The snap shots that I have in my head are better than any my camera could take, and the feelings born in my soul will last for all eternity.

The bestie and I started out on Saturday by getting the car unhooked from the back of the moving truck. Oh, his poor car! It was covered in road grime including the sand and the salt from the snowy parts we had to drive through. It looked like someone had taken my friend’s car and drug it through the desert and some mud and then decided to douse it with sand and whitewash paint. Before we had a chance to wash it, a little girl commented that it was the dirtiest car she had ever seen! We laughed because there were no more snowstorms to drive thru and we were finally in Las Vegas.

After our chores and a quick bite to eat, we headed out and drove down the famous Strip. No matter how many times, I’ve seen it, it’s still over the top impressive and for someone like the bestie who had never seen it before, it really does look something like the 8th wonder of the world. As you head north on the Strip and you pass the Wynn and Encore, you get to the older part where the Stardust used to stand and I was relieved to see that they did not tear the Sahara down when they closed the doors, but are doing some major construction to build a new fancy casino. Imagine that! There’s very little left of the old Las Vegas that the mafia helped build and ran back in the day. Casinos like The Sands and The Sahara and The Stardust are gone. I’ve seen old pictures from the 40s and 50s and would have loved to be able to see this town as it was originally.

We eventually found ourselves looking for a parking garage near Fremont Street which is the only old part of Las Vegas that’s still around. Even the parking garage was dirty and grimey and the elevator groaned as it took us down to street level. We walked a short block and then turned the corner and the bestie got his first look at Fremont Street. The first thing we saw that made us stop in our tracks, was a lady about sixty years of age, if I had to guess. She was only wearing a pair of brief shorts and nothing else. Her nipples were covered but nothing else was. She wasn’t the only mostly naked person we saw that day, but she was our first and you didn’t know whether to stare or to look away in embarrassment for her. We’re not talking Vegas show-girl and in fact, had it been anywhere other than Las Vegas, I think I would have run as quickly as possible in the opposite direction. I turned to the bestie and said, “Welcome to Las Vegas!”

fremont st lady

I was too embarrassed to take a picture of the older lady with no clothes on, but thanks to Google, I did find a very similar image for you. At least the one I posted is young and somewhat attractive. But, to give the older woman we saw a little credit, she’s putting herself out there just to pay the rent or put food in her stomach. A little sad to be sure, but that’s Las Vegas. We strolled down Fremont Street and stood in amazement as people on zip lines zoomed over our heads. We wandered into a couple of the old casinos and even tried a few slot machines. In the evening on Fremont Street, the crazy, drunk people come out to party and there is live music in the streets. On that Saturday afternoon, the stages were just getting their equipment set up and we were blasted with canned music so loud that you could feel the bass thumps in your chest. Cheap Trick was playing that night and had we had more days, we probably would have ended up staying up half the night, going deaf and dancing to a band from our high-school days. But, time was definitely limited so we left Fremont Street and headed to the more popular tourist destinations.

We parked at The Mirage and tried to see as much as possible in our short allotted time. We toured the Venetian and Palazzo complex and marveled at the grandeur and the enormity of this huge casino. The Venetian has an indoor mall and it’s unlike any mall you’ve ever been to in your cities and towns. This mall is classic Venetian and it’s all high-end stores and artwork on the ceilings. There’s even a river that has gondolas guided by singing gondoliers and the ceilings are painted to look like the sky. There is nothing else like it in the world and I think Bestie and I would have gladly spent an entire day just looking at everything there was to see. We promised each other that in our future lives, that we would shop in the brand name shops and buy each other extravagant presents.

venetian gondoliers

ceiling at venetian

gondola at venetian

masquerade

We tried to find our way back out onto the Strip and was unable to do so without a little assistance to point us in the right direction. Once there we marvelled at the casinos, shops and restaurants on the east side of the Strip before we crossed over the busy boulevard and found ourselves in front of Caesar’s Palace. What a grand, grand place. The statuary and the architecture is something out of Roman times and you could almost believe that Casear himself might be lounging in one of the opulent suites. I’ve never been able to afford to stay at a place like Caesar’s but I’ve been told that it’s first class all the way and that it’s not just a hotel, but an actual destination. I can only imagine.

caesars statues

caesars

caesars palace

From Caesar’s, we crossed over Flamingo St. using the pedestrian crossing and found ourselves in another beautiful casino, The Bellagio. We made our way across the enormous gaming floor and once again had to ask for directions that would lead us out to the front of the hotel, where they have an impressive water show. The gardens were beautiful and the view of the Eiffel tower and the rest of the Strip was simply amazing. The fountains soon shot high into the air and though we were a little disappointed in the music that accompanied the show, we could feel the mist from the water and the sun was just beginning to set in the west which lent itself to the magic of the evening.

bellagio

bellagio fountains

Our final stop on the Strip that night was to watch the Volcano show in front of The Mirage, and it was the perfect way to end the night. We stood at the railing and only had to wait a few minutes until the beat of the native drums began and we were in for a treat. There was fire and a volcano and fire in the water. The lava shot up into the air and the music came to a heart thumping crescendo as the volacano finally erupted. You could feel not just the mist from the water, but you could feel the intense heat from the fire and with the first stars appearing above our heads and the neon lights shining in our eyes, we were transported for just a few mintues to a magical world so unlike the one in which we live.

mirage-volcano

The Mirage Volcano-5

We had chores to do again on Sunday morning because, afterall, this just wasn’t a quick vacation to Las Vegas, this was a cross country move for my friend and we had things like unloading a moving truck and getting a storage unit to accomplish. We got a fairly early start and once the “work” was done, I decided to show Bestie where I used to live and work in North Las Vegas. We took Interstate 15 out to the Craig Road exit and within a couple of minutes, we were driving by my old storage place where I lived and worked for a couple of years. When we left that place back in 2012, I honestly never expected to see it again and for those of you that know me, you know it’s no big shocker that I got a little emotional. Not much had changed and in a way, that was a good thing for me to see. We also had the chance to stop in my favorite local’s casino for a couple of hours of slot machine fun before we headed back to our hotel to get ready for our evening out on the town.

I play this game on Facebook that gives me comps to Vegas shows and restaurants and I was pretty happy to have used those comps to get us tickets to the Cirque du Soleil show, Ka, at the MGM Grand. We assumed that because they were comped tickets that I had gotten from a stupid little game on Facebook, that they would be up in the nose bleed section or somewhere behind the stage, but they were top of the line tickets that cost a small fortune had we been paying for them. They were close to dead center of the astounding and impressive theater and we couldn’t have asked for better seats. I have to tell you that when you’re standing in line for the show, and you see the doors that lead to the theater, it looks like any other theater. You don’t have a clue of the magnitude and majesty of the stage and theater until you walk through those doors. The sight made me catch my breath and I felt like I was living in a Blade Runner movie or maybe a scene straight out of Mad Max.

ka theater

ka two

We were entertained with acrobatic maneuvers from members of the cast that included flying over our heads and leaping up the columned balconies. Once the lights did finally dim and the curtain came up, I’m not sure that I breathed again for the next ninety minutes or so. I have never seen anything like Ka and I was mesmerized with every facet of the production. The music was stirring, the storyline was touching and the feats of acrobatic and aerial stunts left me with tears in my eyes and my heart racing fast. The performers literally put their lives on the line with every show as they performed impossible sequences of battle all while climbing on a vertical wall. In the end, good prevails and the two Imperial twins are brought back together to save their kingdom and live happily ever after. I love a happy ending.

Ka dragon

Monday was my bestie’s first day at his new job and I was left at the hotel to sleep in a little and get some laundry done. I was also left in the hopes that I would finally get to meet a sister of the heart that I’ve known all my life, but had never actually met her in person. Years ago, when I was just a wee little thing, a teacher came into my life that forever changed who I was, who I would become and who I am all these many years later. His name is John Dillis and he was the first man I ever idolized and admired and respected. He was also the first person to believe in me and to encourage me to get out the words. He’s one of the reasons, I’m a writer and he’s one of the reasons that a scared little girl managed to fight her way through life no matter the obstacles. Through the technology of Facebook, we reconnected four or five years ago and I immediately started noticing comments and posts on his timeline from another former student named, Tanya.

Tanya was behind me in school by seven years and so we never had a chance to know each other, but through John Dillis’ suggestion that we become friends, I discovered a fellow human whose heart beats to the same vibration as mine. Sisters of the heart and soul, we finally had a chance to come face to face and to talk and laugh the rest of the day away. I’ve been so blessed and fortunate to have friends that surround me and make life more precious, but this is one of those really special relationships that is hard to describe. We both come from the same little town in the Central Valley of California. We both had terribly hard childhoods with difficult and derranged relatives that were the people we were supposed to be able to count on. We both have a vivid imagination and are in love with the words and we both were sent an angel in the form of a mentor, our teacher, John Dillis.

Tanya and I shared our stories and the similarities were almost eerie at times. We laughed about the past and rejoiced in the women that we’ve become. There are things in life that are just meant to be and it’s really as simple as that. You can call it fate, destiny, spirituality or para-normal, but when you find a soul that so meshes with your own, there aren’t many words to describe it except maybe, magical. I loved every minute of the afternoon and evening that Tanya and I spent in each other’s company. We made a silly video and sent it to our favorite teacher and then the bestie took some goofy pictures of the two of us together. That afternoon in Las Vegas felt like a coming home and I swear while I was listening to Tanya talk about her life, something clicked into place and a piece of the puzzle of my life suddenly snapped into place. The moment made me understand that we’ve walked at least a few dozen lifetimes together. As sisters, as friends, as soul-mates. Yes, it was a goose-bump kind of moment. The evening ended after the three of us went out to dinner and arrived back at the bestie’s hotel. At dinner, this wonderful woman that I’ve shared lifetimes and memories with, gave me a card with a magical key inside. She helped unlock a space within me that has had me locked out for all of my life and now that the door has been flung wide, the me I’ve always known was there can step up and finally spread those wings and soar to the stratosphere.

me and Tanya

You know they say that what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas. But, they couldn’t be more wrong. I spent three days in Las Vegas and took away the biggest jackpot that they could have ever offered. It wasn’t in gold, silver or dollars; it was in life changing currency. The woman that boarded that plane early on Tuesday morning, was not the same woman that crawled up into the Penske truck that Wednesday morning less than a week before. The woman that returned to Memphis has new memories and new places that are filled to overflowing within her heart. My bestie and I are closer than ever and while I miss him terribly, he’s at the start of his own adventure and once again I’m so very thankful for the age in which we live and the technology that makes the distance seem not so great. My friend Tanya and I have grown to love each other through that same technology, but we finally got to experience “us” in person. I’ve been blessed for years by just knowing her, but now I can hear Tanya speak when she writes. I know that she pronounces her ending g’s in such a way, that were I to go blind and senile in my later years, to hear her say, loving, or thinking, or wanting, or living or any other word that ends with that sound, I will know instantly that she’s my Tanya.

What I want to tell my grandchildren someday is that I was so blessed to be able to take a little road trip to Vegas one year and I made memories like no others. I will never look at a cow without remembering mine and the bestie’s trip across the country. I will never look at the lights and beauty of Las Vegas without remembering showing it to the bestie for the first time. I will never think about destiny and synchronicity without thinking about my dear soul sister and how we finally came face to face on an early March day at a dirty hotel room. Now, that sounds like a great plot to me!

Thanks for coming along for the ride and while I know you can’t begin to understand the depth and emotions involved with this trip, I urge you to get out of your comfort zones and go live life. Make sure that you are making memories to last forever.

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