Day 22 - Las Vegas  
   
    Las Vegas Boulevard - America's world famous gambling strip.    
Minolta XD-7 with 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor-X Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 

David and I had had a full night yesterday, having arrived in Las Vegas and walking a good portion of the strip until late in the evening (in fact, early in the morning). We had a leisurely morning and then got our car for a drive around the city, and to check out some of the sights.

First thing was to get our clothes washed. After a week or so in Moab and at the Grand Canyon we had a sizeable amount of washing to do, and not a whole lot to wear. A quick read of the local guide and a couple of calls had located us a laundry, so that was the first stop on our journey. We left the clothes there and then went for lunch at a seafood restaurant, and then with a little more time to kill we visited "The Wynn Collection", a display of impressionist and post-impressionist art that is owned by Steve Wynn, and is in permanent residence at the Wynn Resorts building.

After admiring the art and listening to an excellent audio commentary we headed back to the laundry, collected our freshly washed and folded clothes, and then started back to the hotel. On our way we discovered a little independent record store just off the strip, and went inside to check it out.

 
 
 
 
This place was just like the store run by Rob in Nick Hornby's book, "High Fidelity".
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

Filled with old vinyl, and with a couple of characters behind the counter it was a pretty cool store. It's years since I have seen a place like this one, and it was nice to see a shop that specialised in records still doing well in this modern digital age.

After some browsing I heard an excited call from David, who had been perusing the range of second-hand DVDs that the store stocked. In his hand he clutched a DVD, and he explained that he had been looking for it in Australia for years - a cult classic from the 1980's called "Cannibal Women and the Avocado Jungle of Death". Isn't it funny how sometimes 'appallingly bad' equals 'cult classic'?

We headed back to the hotel, and I took the opportunity to take some photos of the interior of the Luxor, which is really impressive.

 
 
 
 
The huge atrium inside the Luxor - the rooms are all positioned up the sides of the pyramid, with the entire inside area a gigantic open space filled with egyptian buildings, restaurants, bars, and of course gaming tables and machines.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 17mm f/4 MC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

 
 
Like sports betting? The Luxor boasts a very impressive sports gambling facility.
 
 
Minolta XD7 with 24mm f/4 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 
 
 
Row after row of bright gaming machines, or "one-arm-bandits" fill every casino along the strip.
 
 
Minolta XD7 with 24mm f/4 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

David had arranged tickets for us to see Penn and Teller, magicians that have been named "Las Vegas Magicians of the year" for the last two years. The Penn and Teller show is an exciting mix of magic and comedy, with the illusionists actually performing their tricks and then showing the audience how it is done. The show was a load of fun, and we had a great time.

After heading back to our hotel, David decided to go to bed, as he had been feeling a little ill for several days, and given the amount of driving we would be doing tomorrow, he wanted to be sure of a good night's sleep. That was fine by me, because it gave me the opportunity to get out and about, photographing Las Vegas the way it is supposed to be photographed - by night.

 
 
 
 
The giant Sphinx outside the Luxor - directly above it you can see the beam of light that illuminates the night sky from the top of the Luxor pyramid.
 
 
Minolta XD7 with 17mm f/4 MC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

Las Vegas is an amazing place, and while it is fun during the day, that's nothing compared to what goes on at night. All the sidewalks bustle with throngs of tourists walking from casino to casino, as well as hundreds of people whose job it is to hand out cards for the thousands of prostitutes that work the city. I stopped counting these after I collected over 60 different cards in only about one hour as a sort of "seedy souvenir". They were certainly a talking point when I returned home - not least with my wife!

 
 
 
 
The one person in Las Vegas on Saturday night who wasn't drinking, gambling or working.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

Adjacent to the Luxor is the Excalibur, a casino designed on a 'knights in shining armour' theme, and named after the legendary sword of King Arthur. Huge and white, it looks more like something from Cinderella than any Arthurian legend.

 
 
 
 
I can't think of any castle that would look more out of place in medievil Britain.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

With 4008 rooms, the Excalibur is a big hotel, and its medievil theme extends to every aspect of the design, from the numerous swords and shields adorning the walls to ornate stained glass displayed throughout the property. Performers, jugglers and storytellers strolling through the property contribute to the atmosphere. There are even two onsite wedding chapels, where couples can recite their vows dressed in historic costumes, and be congratulated in song by a roving minstrel.

Passing the Excalibur I arrived at one of the most visually impressive casinos on the Strip, New York New York.

 
 
 
 
The statue of Liberty, a New York City tugboat and the Empire State Building, all in the middle of the Nevada desert.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Kodak Portra 400UC
 
 

It's when you see a hotel like this that you realise just how much money is being spent along the strip. Sure the Luxor is impressive, and Excalibur was big, but here was a resort who's facade approximates the New York skyline down to the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. The interior features faux trees and streams lining a Central Park-themed casino and a bar in the middle of Times Square, complete with neon and flashing lights. Add to that a Coney Island roller coaster, the "Manhattan Express" that loops and curls above and around the New York skyline, and it is just awe-inspiring.

 
 
 
 
It's just as well the Hoover Dam is close with the amount of electricity used here in Vegas.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400 UC
 
 
I kept walking along the strip, passing a number of different casinos left and right, such as the Monte Carlo and Aladdin (soon to become the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino) before coming to the next casino that really attracted my interest - Paris!
 
 
 
 
Featuring a 1/2 scale replica of the Eiffel Tower that rises 460 feet into the air, Paris is visually stunning.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak Portra 400 UC
 
 

I kept walking along the strip, passing a number of different casinos left and right, such as the Monte Carlo and Aladdin (soon to become the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino) before coming to the next casino that really attracted my interest - Paris!

 
 
 
 
When in France, one must really shoot grainy B&W..
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

Inside the Paris Hotel and Casino it is like walking into dusk in a provincial French town. The high ceiling is painted like the sky, and around the walls are the facades of French style shops, houses and buildings. It is actually very cleverly done. In the middle of the gaming area one of the legs of the Eiffel Tower actualy rises from the floor, surrounded by roulette wheels and card tables.

 
 
 
 
I don't remember any waitress in Paris France dressed quite in this manner.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

An indication about just how relaxed the casinos are about photography came when I went to take a photo of one of the Paris waitresses. As she hurried along to get her next order I asked for a quick photo and she refused, obviously too busy, or possibly not wanting her photo taken. One of the floor supervisors saw this, and ten seconds later he marched her over and insisted that she stand for the photo (above), asking me afterwards if I was happy with the picture!

 
 
 
 
The roulette wheel in action at Paris.
 
 
Minolta XD-7 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

After Paris I walked further North up the strip. It was already past 1.00am and I had only got about a mile from my starting point! I had lots of walking still to do. To see the rest of my night in Las Vegas, click on the link below.

 
     
 
 
 
Next - Day 22 Continued
 
 
Back to Trip Index
 
 
Front Page