Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tour Guide

This past weekend I got to play Las Vegas tour guide once again, as Miss Ashley decided to pay me a visit all the way from Sunnyvale, California! The last time I saw her was on top of the Eiffel Tower, when she and the baby sister came to visit me in Paris. We packed in everything a first-time Vegas tourist could ever want to see--except gambling. I'm on a grad student stipend, and she lives in one of the most expensive places in the country. What do you want from us?

She arrived on Friday night, so I took her downtown to see the neon lights of Fremont Street. We stopped at The Writer's Block so she could see that Sin City actually does have some traces of culture, and also so I could chat with Drew about the new Claire Vaye Watkins article. (If you haven't read it, you need to read it. ASAP.) From there we passed the beloved flame-throwing praying mantis, we popped into El Cortez so she could experience the suffocating floral scent of old casinos, we stopped at the Golden Nugget so she could see the sharks, and then we walked all the way back to Atomic Liquors, where Austin, Olivia, and Shaun met us for a drink.

Saturday was a busy day. (Understatement of the year!)

It began with a drive to Hoover Dam. I love Hoover Dam. I know it seems like a weird thing to love, but I just can't help myself. Mountains and oceans and forests are awe-inspiring, but the awe that comes from them is sort of obvious; of course nature is bigger than us and produces magnificent things we never could have conceived on our own. That's not terribly surprising. Hoover Dam is great because it's gigantic, and well-crafted, and they made it back when people cared how buildings looked, so it's beautiful, too. And we built it. Regular people built it. With only early 20th-century technology at their disposal. In five years! Now that is awe-inspiring. I've gone on the tour twice, but I ought to read a book about it. Surely there's some good nonfiction tome out there on the subject.

After our morning dose of engineering history, we stopped in Boulder City for a hearty brunch at The Coffee Cup. We also meandered through some of Boulder City's many antique shops, because apparently we are old ladies at heart.

When we finally got home to Vegas, did we relax? Take a nap, perhaps? No! Sleep is for the weak. Instead we went ice skating on top of the Cosmopolitan. Yes, you read correctly. There is currently an ice rink on top of the Cosmopolitan. I am quite possibly the worst ice skater the Midwest has ever produced, but it was one of the most successful skates I've ever had. I didn't fall down a single time. Mission accomplished.

Then it was time to show Ashley the rest of the Strip. Aside from the gambling, of course. We saw the Bellagio fountains and the atrium there--which was still Autumn-themed, surprisingly. I was expecting Christmas. We wandered through the Paris so she could compare it to the real deal. We went to the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace (damn you, missing apostrophe!) to visit the Apple Store so that Ashley could show me what her fancy new job is all about. Then we headed to the Brooklyn Bowl for dinner and a punk show. Because what better way to end a day spent entirely on one's feet than in a mosh pit?

We didn't mean to end up in the mosh pit. We just sort of got shoved in there unwillingly. At first it was kind of nice--we ended up much closer to Gogol Bordello than we expected. But then this girl stage dived and punched Ashley in the face. That night I gave her ibuprofen and an ice pack, so the bruise did not manifest as badly as it could have. But still, nobody wants to get decked. This leads me to believe that venues should schedule shows not by age, but by violence level. Don't have all-ages shows vs. 21-and-up shows. Have happy-dance shows vs. endless-slaughter shows. You'd probably inadvertently divide the crowd by age, anyway.

Gogol Bordello were fantastic as always, but I was also blown away by the opener, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas. Listen to them posthaste!

I was about to say Sunday was a little calmer, but we did start the morning by indoor rock climbing, so maybe not. I showed Ashley the ropes--literally! Ugh. That was a bad joke. I apologize. Austin came along, too. We haven't climbed together in a while, so that was fun. Ashley then accompanied us to Jesse's place for Dungeons & Dragons, which I fear was more dull for her than I'd anticipated. There was a lot of backstory and role-playing, not a lot of combat--which I generally prefer, but I can see where it would be boring for an outsider who doesn't know the story of the campaign. Anyway, Ashley had to leave in the middle to drive all the way back to the South Bay--and from what I understand, she got stuck in horrendous traffic, which I feel badly about. I should have guessed that the post-Thanksgiving traffic would be a nightmare. Now I know for next time, at least. We tour guides must learn from our mistakes.

It was a lovely weekend overall, and now I owe Ashley a visit! Haven't been to San Francisco since I was sixteen. It might be a good Spring Break adventure...

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