We have been in Las Vegas for a week now and it is a city of great contrasts. The famed Las Vegas Strip is full of light, color, people and smiling faces. Saturday afternoon the sidewalks and the aisles of the gaming floors were nearly wall-to-wall with tourists, both young and old, American and international visitors. Each casino has its own atmosphere—whether it is the Knights of the Round Table, New York City, ancient Egypt, Venice, Parish, or a circus. And everything is very posh.
Friday we visited downtown, location of a number of old casinos. The Fremont Experience is a covered street that has been made into a pedestrian mall. Many of the signs take you back to the 1950s and 1960s. The atmosphere is glitzy but not posh. The Indian Chief Motel advertises "steam heat." At the door of each casino there are Creole dancers or tuxedo-clad men trying to attract you inside. Here you can even put real coins in the slot machines and carry around a cup for your winnings. On the Strip, your winnings come out on a ticket with a bar code that you can spend in another machine or cash in. And the machines only take bills or credit cards, not coins, even for the 1 cent games.
We are staying in the northeast area, North Las Vegas, near Nellis Air Force Base. Weekdays, squadrons of air force jets come and go throughout the daylight hours. Across the street from our RV park, homeless people spend the night. We encountered people panhandling even on the Strip. And we saw a tent city for the homeless as we drove along I-15. On the evening news, we heard that the tent city is being closed for the winter and shelters are being opened for men and for women. Our section of the city seems to be mainly Hispanic.
Everywhere we go, we see new construction and construction cranes. And yet on the news we hear construction is really down. Was there even more a year ago? Or are the cranes sitting by unfinished buildings where construction has been put on hold? We don't know.
Las Vegas is an interesting place to visit—maybe once every 40 years. It isn't a place we will return to anytime soon. During our stay we maybe spent $5 in the slot machines and ate at one buffet and a snack of a Coney Island Dog and deep-friend Twinkie. No one but the RV Park and Wal Mart will miss us if we don't come back soon.