Though I’d planned for years to spend my 30th birthday in and around Las Vegas, it wasn’t until recently that I picked specifics. I knew that I wanted to visit the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam. I knew that I wanted to see a magic show.
I knew that I wanted to rob
the Mirage, the Bellagio, and the MGM Grand on a fight night. And I
knew that I wanted to eat half my body weight in shrimp.
Government shutdown notwithstanding, I accomplished almost all of these aims.
The first day of the trip, October 8, was my actual birthday. Because I flew west, the magic of time zones meant that my birthday actually lasted for 27 hours. It also meant that by the time I landed, I was starving like a mofo. Thankfully, that was quickly rectified.
I’d heard good things about the Fremont Street Experience, which turned out to be a sort of covered arcade lined with older casinos and shops.
But also with the Heart Attack Grill, which I for some reason always assumed was in the South.
If only I hadn’t already eaten lunch.
Since I was downtown (rather than on the Strip), I decided to also check out Gold and Silver Pawn Shop, of Pawn Stars fame. I progressed from “I’ll just ride past it on the bus” to “I’ll just take pictures of the outside” to “I’ll just pop in for a bit if the line isn’t too long.” Don’t worry; this story doesn’t end with my buying an antique sword or anything.
It was much smaller than it looks on TV. That’s what she said.
The rest of day one was spent wandering the Strip, marveling at the size of the casinos and the lack of open container laws. My favorite bit was the Bellagio fountain, which uses so much water it blocked out the freaking sun.
In part 2: The Grand Canyon, dysentery, and my grateful thanks to the Hualapai Nation.