Day 22 - Las Vegas (cont)  
   
    A guy who looks suspiciously familiar entertains on the street outside one of the casinos.    
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 

A little further up the strip is the famous Flamingo Hotel and Casino. The Flamingo opened in 1946 and was the third casino to open on the strip, starting with 105 rooms. Now with over 3500 rooms and suites it is one of the largest hotels on the strip, and I must admit I found its lack of a particular theme quite refreshing after the other venues I had visited thus far. Where other resorts have themes and remind you of different places or times, the Flamingo is truly Las Vegas through and through, and doesn't try to be anything more.

 
 
 
 
The magnificent Flamingo neon sign, a landmark of the Las Vegas strip.
 
 
Minolta XD7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

The neon display outside the Flamingo is really something to behold, and reminded me of just how many movies and television shows I had seen over the years in which it featured. While it lacks the impact of some of the other casino displays, it does make up for that in character.

 
 
 
 
Detail from the Flamingo entrance - you have just got to love neon!
 
 
Minolta XD7 with 85mm f/2 MD Tele Rokkor-X Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

Inside the Flamingo I wandered around, soaking up the Saturday night atmosphere, and enjoying myself. I had a drink, played a little "Let it Ride" Stud Poker (unsuccessfully) and watched the crowds.

 
 
 
 
The excitement of the craps table
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 
 
 
Unfortunately not much luck here for me - "Let it Ride" Stud Poker
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

Outside along the strip the human masses continued to flow past, like the Mississippi River, slow and deep. On the road it was still like peak hour, with cars bumper to bumper down the street, punctuated by limosines of various types.

 
 
 
 
A classic limo outside Paris.
   
 
Minolta XD-7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 
 
 
Possibly the longest SUV I had ever seen.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

A little further up the strip was the Venetian, a new hotel and casino which inside is similar to Paris, in that the shopping precinct has the appearance of the small streets that line the Venice waterways. However, one this that truly sets it apart from Paris is that at the Venetian there actually are canals and gondolas, just like in Venice - well a sanitised Venice anyway. It is an amazing place to visit.

 
 
 
 
The Venetian Hotel and Casino.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

I was obviously going to struggle to see everything in one evening - it's just too big! A week would probably do the strip justice, at many of the larger casino resorts you could comfortably spend a day, and there are hundreds of them in Las Vegas. I hadn't even had time to visit Fremont Street to see the Fremont Street Experience, where the older section of the city has had a roof placed over all of the streets to enable a dazzling lighting display to be installed to impress and delight visitors, and attract back some of the crowds which in more recent years had headed for the strip.

I was now about three miles from the Luxor, and it was quite late, about 3.30am. I decided to head for home, and so I crossed to the other side of the street to see what there was to behold on that side going home.

 
 
 
 
Caesars Palace, one of the icons of the Las Vegas Strip.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

I shortly came across the famous Caesars Palace, established in 1966, and fully rebuilt in the 1990s to its present standard of finish. By this time of night the hotel was very quiet except for the main gaming area, so I was able to see some of its amazing architecture and decoration without the throngs of people normally walking its corridors.

 
 
 
 
Caesars hosts an exact replica of Michaelangelo's masterpiece "David"
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

The decor inside all of the themed casino resorts is really quite astounding. The constant demand for upgraded facilities to attract the gambling public has meant that stagerring sums have been spent on creating an unforgettable experience for visitors.

 
 
 
 
A simple computer gaming room becomes a work of art.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

The strip was now nearly deserted, with only the valiant few still out and about at 4.00am as I trudged my way home to the Luxor. It was a long night, and I barely even scratched the surface of what the Las Vegas strip has to offer, but I enjoyed myself and I like to think that I got a good taste of Vegas. As I walked home I passed people either homeless or passed out, asleep on benches and in other sheltered areas. It really brought home to me the social issues prevalent in modern western societies, and the incredible gulf between the rich in our hotel suites, and the poor on the street.

 
 
 
 
But for the grace of God....
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

I got back to the hotel at about 4.30am, and gratefully went to bed for a few hours sleep knowing we had to leave early for a long day's drive to Yosemite, and thankful that David would be driving the first stretch.

 
 
 
 
Ahhh Las Vegas, an incredible place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

Well that was it, my whirlwind two nights in Las Vegas. I had a great time, and I really had my appetite whetted for another visit at some stage in the future. I hope you can come back again soon to see my time in Yosemite, and some of its amazing scenery.

 
 
 
 
Day 23 - Las Vegas to Yosemite
 
 
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