I’m okay with Vegas.
My mother and step father absolutely adored it there. As I was contemplating what trip to write about today, an old photo of my passed and happy go lucky step parent fell to the floor. Low and behold he was wearing a Las Vegas t-shirt, and I took it as a sign. They took dozens of trips there throughout my young adult life, and even took me there as my 16th “birthday present.” Although I spent most of the time in my room watching “The Ya-Ya sisterhood’ because I couldn’t go anywhere they served alcohol. I enjoyed the Cirque du Soleil “O” at Belagio, tranny showgirls, and floating around the pool at Caesars. This year I went out to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
December is the coldest month in Nevada and I could really feel it on my naked legs. Stockings didn’t go with my BEBE dress and boa, and nude pantyhose always made me think of old maids trying to hide varicose veins. I was going for a wicked fabulous look.
We stayed at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. The pillars had changing images of naked bodies, exotic flowers, storms and libraries. It was modern and dreamy. My brain was spinning in complete sensory overload. I always feel a sense of jet lag and the mental stimulation again, made me feel like I was walking in a dream. White lights, bright lights, twinkling lights, electrical music and general noise. There was a diverse mix of people. Foreigners and Americans. Rich and poor.
The family of 7 from Vietnam dressed in Nike jumpsuits with their children dragging along on rainbow leashes. Trendy city people, looking to party and win a buck. You had streetwalkers, gamblers, business men, beautiful women and ballers all mingling on playing tables. They were cheering, cursing, laughing, yelling, drinking and smoking. The dealers wore vests and changed positions every 30 minutes, scanning the crowds with an emotion of boredom and perhaps disdain. Non-stop cards being dealt, dice being thrown, wheels being turned and slots being pulled. Again, I saw the black woman in the red lace, 2 piece dress, just enough of her stomach showing. Who I often see on all my travels. This time she was an escort hustling her way up to every white, bald business man in a tailored suit.
We took a limo down the Las Vegas strip. Casinos blinking, the Eiffel tower, the statue of liberty, oversize guitar, and “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. People walking everywhere, excitement and drunk luck in their pockets. Panhandlers spray painted copper and silver, and people handing out cards that read “Girls, Girls, Girls!” That night we saw cirque du soleils, “Zumanity”. A cabaret style, acrobatic sex tease, to be specific. It was erotic and enchanting. The men were tall, sexually explicit bad boys. Each person having their own girl. The tattooed, mohawked bad ass whipping his naughty red headed, leather wearing girlfriend. The blond school girl, horny stay at home mom, with the sexy black pool boy. There was a midget, fat naked twin sisters, and cheerleaders. Men on men, girl on girl. It held nothing back. The production ended with an onstage orgy and whistles from the crowd. People either went home and had a hell of a night together, or wondered why their sex life was so uneventful.
We checked out a strip club off the strip, but I felt like I was going to be mugged so we headed home. For some reason, I had a notion in my head Vegas dancers were supreme money making all stars, they looked like women who couldn’t make it as a showgirl, but were too pretty for real life. We played blackjack until 4am and decided it was time to turn in. My boyfriend was losing, (both of us are sore losers) so we ended it before it turned into a moody night.
The next morning I spent the day at the spa in our hotel. I swam around the Jacuzzi room topless and decompressed some of the alcohol in the eucalyptus steam room. I received a full body massage from a German gay man, and got my hair blown out and makeup done.
I chatted with the Devina, my make-up girl.
“You know its crazy down here this time of year, the party gets out of control and you have people from all over the world.”
My brain was heavy, and my body was exhausted and her words floated around me.
“This town is the most transient place I’ve ever lived. Full of broke and young money, and these boys be arrogant too.”
Devina is a former New Yorker and moved down here to make some money and evolve her makeup artistry. Her previous boyfriend was a boxer and her current one an underground rapper.
“They think theyre all great and shit, and leave your ass for the next hot young thing that rolls in the club. It happens to all men in Vegas, didn’t you ever hear the saying ‘What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?’ Men get all hot, bothered, and crazy. “
Ok Devina, lets wrap it up. I had been gone for a few hours and I wanted to make sure my boyfriend hadn’t been dragged off by one of the girls on the back of the cards, or the red dress.
“Be careful tonight,. Us, locals steer clear of the strip, especially on New Years Eve, you never know what kind of crazy is walking around.”
“Thanks Devina, good luck in Vegas, and Happy New Years.”
I couldn’t take it anymore… The gamblers smoking for hours on end, constant noise, lights, and stimulation made me feel like my head was going to explode. Did I mention my least favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve? I hate expectations and everyone has such a high one of how great your NYE is going to be. SO that was that. We decided to end our vacation short in Las Vegas. Rent a Mercedes SUV and take it over to the Grand Canyon for some peace and quiet. I have never been to the Grand Canyon but the grandiose magnificence I’ve seen on TV makes me want to have my ashes thrown into it.
So amongst warning from the cab driver and car rental guy, and every other person telling us of the oncoming snow storm, we jumped in our vehicle and headed the 5 hours over to Grand Canyon West. As we got closer to our destination, we could only see as far as our headlights would illuminate. It was vast, black and covered with twiggy trees and cactuses. We finally arrived at a ranch on an Indian reservation in the middle of God damn nowhere Arizona, named Hualapai Ranch. It was late and we were exhausted. A cowboy was waiting for us.
“Hello Folks,” he said.
He was dressed in an ankle waist leather trench coat, a cowboy hat and a handle bar mustache.
“This is a dry reservation. No alcohol, no drugs, and no food after 8pm.”
My stomach growled as I looked at my iPhone reading 8:15. This is what happens when you let your boyfriend make spontaneous reservations. My eyes wondered over the numbers on the wall with the accompanying key underneath. It focused on the number 13, and dread filled my stomach.
“Sir what room are we staying in?”
“No sir, I can’t I will have to sleep in the car.”
“Okay how about 7?”
“7 will be fine. “ I grabbed my munchkins and latte and followed the big cowboy Indian to our little cottage across the ranch. Even though there was no TV, no WiFi, and a gas lantern… there was peace to our little room. I think this is the kind of place people come to, to dry out from a wild weekend in Vegas. Which actually kind of suited us.
“Isn’t this wonderful!” My boyfriend exclaimed as I rolled my eyes and swallowed an Ambien.
The next morning the whole ranch was covered in snow. They had black horses in red wooden stables, horse shoes, fire pits and big signs that said “Watch out for snakes!” It was completely enchanting and after all I survived the night completely disconnected from the world, the polar opposite of where I had been the night before.
We ate scrambled eggs and sausages in an old dance hall served up by the cook, Miguel, before we headed to the Skywalk of the Grand Canyon.
The ride there (for my boyfriend) was terrifying. Cars and tractor trailers turned over, and an intense snow storm we were driving into. (I was comfortably wrapped in a blanket, refusing to look out the window) Poor thing, bless his heart
The Skywalk to my disappointment was closed so we headed back to the strip. I took it as a sign, I was meant to see the Grand Canyon with my son, Rowan, so I wasn’t too terribly disappointed. We stopped at the Hoover Damn, which my boyfriend thought was the best thing ever (must be a guy thing) it was massive, shiny and vast I’ll give you that, but it was not the Grand Canyon. I do have to say something about the endless backcountry we were viewing on our way back. Millions of acres of vast, breathtaking valleys and plateaus. A desert sprinkled with cactuses, with the sun pouring its love all over. It was magical swirls of browns, creams, reds, yellow gold and white.
We made it home, just in time to catch our flight and have some mediocre wings at a joint by the airport. Our flight landed in Philadelphia just as the ball dropped. My boyfriend and I had a great time but I made a vow/NY resolution to never be away from my son when the clock struck midnight, because when the ball dropped, my heart did too…and I missed and yearned for him terribly. Even though it’s a holiday made for fun and partying, I believe it is best spent with family.
I suggest Vegas for bachelor/bachelorette parties, girls/boys getaways and all around friend weekends. Although it can be intensely exciting with the right group of friends, it was overwhelming and left room for wanting, for a couples retreat.