Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Moving on up

Shep and I are staying on the Strip for this trip to Vegas. We have always stayed downtown previously. The desert rat ambience seemed to suit us. My excuse was double-deck blackjack. Shep perversely insisted one year that we stay at the Golden Spike and booked us a "suite." Something went wrong with the reservation and they gave us the same rate on a two-bedroom suite at the Plaza. It was not much of an upgrade, but certainly more acceptable.

That was the year we were pulling out of the Plaza parking garage for a road trip to Laughlin when a cop on a moped followed us to the street. Within seconds of exiting the garage, we were surrounded by several police cars, a motorcycle and the forementioned moped. That damn moped worried me.

The existence of an open bottle of Cuervo, a 12-pack of beer and a potential felony or two in the car was not comforting either.

I rolled down my window like a good citizen and one of the officers, gun drawn and at his side, urgently asked if I knew the gentleman in the passenger seat. That would be Shep, of course.

Shep is 6-3, broad but not fat with a clean-shaven head. He is also quite black. We quickly learned that a large black man had robbed several tourists in the Plaza parking garage that morning.

I resisted the urge to throw Shep to the blue-uniformed wolves and told the officer that he's a big-time reporter in the Washington Bureau of a rather large wire service, a claim that just happened to be true at the time. The cops pulled him out of the car, spread his legs and frisked him away. They apparently weren't big readers. They let me, the white guy, stay in the car and listen to smooth jazz on the radio while they checked Shep for contraband.

Who says justice is blind?

We were allowed to leave unharmed and unarrested, shaken and slightly stirred. Shep has always maintained that he should have gotten Rev. Al Sharpton, who he knew, to file a harassment claim that would be worth a princely sum of say .... one thousand dollars. I've always insisted that we were at least owed some buffet comps.

Shep and I started our Vegas habit soon after we had completed a long project at the paper about gangs. We had scammed a trip to Reno for some big seminar during the reporting, won some minor cash after winning an award for the series and figured Vegas might be a good place to spend it.

The trip hasn't been an annual thing, but we try to hit Vegas the first week of December every couple of years. The rodeo is always in town, but we endure it. I've tried to convince Shep that we should get tickets and stop by the bullriding or something for an hour or two, but we never make it. I do, however, loath country music by the time we head back east.

This year we decided it was time to act like semi-responsible, mature adults and stay on the Strip. I initially picked the Stratosphere, afraid to settle too far away from the warm, mangy womb of Downtown. We settled on the Riveria. I've never been in the place, but it sounded old-school and the rates were reasonable.

It wasn't until I booked our rooms that I learned the headline show is "An Evening at La Cage" with Frank Marino. Instead of cowboys (and a scant number of cowgirls), we'll possibly be rubbing sequined elbows at the tables with crossdressers and transvestites. Interesting.

Yeah, I got the Vegas buzz. Ready to play poker. Ready to drink. Ready to observe the human zoo. I looked for a tournament that I can make after landing tomorrow. It looks like the best available option is ... the 2 p.m. at Binion's.

I have to face it. I'm a desert rat at heart.


Blogger petetow said...

I love staying on the strip it has always been a great experience all round I normally set off with a British Airways Cheap Flights and book a hotel when I arrive I know this is a little dangerous but I have found it the best way to save more money for the casinos.

5:29 AM  

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