Monday, August 29, 2005

Retrospectives - Pre-Nevada Part III

Part 3 of an occasional series

January - September, 1989

visited Las Vegas as my personal vacation in January, 1989 and would make a few more trips there over the next year. I went during the last week of January and first week of February, again in May and a trip to Reno/Tahoe in September.

Back then, the Strip wasn't anything like it is today. Caesar's Palace was the only 'modern' casino there. Even the Excalibur, the first of the modern megaresorts, was not open yet. The Strop was a regular, two-way street. The only bus in town was the Strip bus for tourists. The 'bus system' back then was under the control of a private owner who rarely, if ever, ventured into the neighborhoods. The city would spend a year or two trying to get rid of him in order to make room for CAT (Citizens Area Transit) which was still years away. His argument was 'this is a car town, and even if you provided a bus, people would not use it anyway'. Not true, as there were plenty of poor people as well as elederly people who needed transportation to the doctor's, supermarket, etc.

The best way I could describe the Strip would be to steer you into the old TV show Vega$, starring Robert Urich, The Riv was there, the Desert Inn (gone), the Stardust, the Dunes (gone), Tropicana, Oasis (gone) Caesar's, no Mirage, TI, NY,NY or any of the Disnetworld-like attractions.

I used to spend a quarter of my time doing slots, another quarter, video poker, another quarter on craps and the last quarter of KENO, the game with the worse odds in the house, but the game I would make a few good jackpots from, nonetheless,

During my early days of trips to Nevada, I spent a lot of time being a tourista. During the May trip, I visited Laughlin (a disasterous day at craps) visiting the Colorado Belle and Harrah's, went to visit the Hoover Dam and even took a small plane ride over the Grand Canyon. That wasn't my intent, as I was bumped off the original plane/bus tour because the original plane had reached its weight capacity. So I 'settled' for a flyover. I was on the plane with a few college guys who got airsick and all one did was puke into a vomit bag. The plane reeked of puke.

During the January trip, I figured it would be a great time to avoid the coldest part of a New England winter and when I arrived in Vegas, it was a delightful 65 degrees. So, after a good night's rest and an Egg McMuffin at the McDonald's on the ground floor of the Barbary Coast, I set out from my rrom at Bugsy Siegal's Flamingo hotel and walked to the end of the north end of the Strip (at the time, the Riviera) and figured I'd 'gamble' my way back. I spent way too much time at that end of the Strip because I was still down at that end by 1 am. I had lost my daily allotment and I wasn't even in the mood for waiting or paying for a bus, so I walked back to the Flamingo. By now, the temperature has dropped to about 45 degrees and in an environment with no humidity, it felt like 25, plus it had gotten windy. On top of that, I was starting to come down with a cold. Back then, the Strip was loaded with empty lots and wide open spaces in between the casinos, so I had to deal with my first sandstorm. I got back to my room, stopped to play awhile and won a little money, thn I called it a night. And no, I didn't see Bugsy ghost, which is said to haunt the agrden area.

In September of that year, I also made my first trip to the Reno/Tahoe area. I took a UScare flight and I made a side trip to Indianapolis to visit my sister and her family who were living in the suburbs at the time, Carmel, I think. I flew out from Boston and my ticket said Boston to Indianapolis, and I thought it was a direct flight, but surprise, surprise, it stopped in Washington, D.C. first. But I made it to Indianapolis for around 5:30 which was my planned arrival time. I visited the area and Indiana looks much the same as New England as the entire area east of the Mississippi looks pretty much the same from Maine to Georgia and Georgia to Mississippi. The only difference is the amount of humidity you have to endure.

We visited a train museum, we went by a large cemetary, that I was told was the second largest in the country after Arlington. I had a good time and left for Reno at about 5:30 pm and from the get go was a flight of delays and other horrors. First, it left an hout late, then, surprise, surprise, it was headed to San Francisco and I asked the flight attendent, like, aren't we overstepping Reno a bit. She basically told me to sit down and shut up.

On the approach to San Francisco, we were diverted to Oakland. Originally we were told not to get off the plane, as they were waiting for a crew change. Then they told us to get off. We finally arrived at Reno/Tahoe at about 2am, several hours late.

I stayed at a Motel 6 or something in downtown Reno and I was awaked by a major downpour, which I enjoyed because I love the sound of rain on the roof. At the time, the top of the news was hurricane Hugo was battering Charleston, S.C.

I visit Reno, Lake Tahoe and of course Virginia City, which remains one of my most favorite places to visit. Don't remember if I won or lost, it doesn't really matter because I always enjoy Northern Nevada.

I went to the airport with much time to spare, only to find that my flight to Boston had been cancelled. I asked what the hell am I supposed to do? The flight attendent said, 'Here, get on this flight, its going to Indianapolis. From there, it would go onto Cleveland, Dayton, Syracuse and I was so pissed, I asked it THIS flight was going to Boston, or is it going to Springfield first. The attendents were assholes. On top of that, it was one of the few times that I had checked my bag, in which was a camera I borrowed from my sister for the strip. They lost the luggage, as the camera went on to Dayton. It took two days to get my luggage returned and the camera was busted from the gorillas handling it. I have never been on another UScare flight ever since.


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