To Hell and Back: 24 Hours in Las Vegas


las vegas nightmareIn October I saw that there was going to be a New Media Expo (NMX) in the beginning of January and I decided to go. It was in Las Vegas. I hate superficiality, I hate the idea that bigger is always better, I hate unbridled greed and I hate sexual objectification of women.

What could possibly go wrong?

I got off to a bad start because it was 12:30 am before I landed, exhausted, in Las Vegas. So I was in the wrong mindset. That’s what I told myself as I gazed out the taxi window at the glitz, the fake pyramid, the fake Roman buildings, the fake Eiffel Tower and the ginormous running videos on buildings showing those Chesterfield guys or whatever they’re called, and girls pole dancing in “the best gentlemen’s club in town”.

After checking in, it turned out I had about a quarter-mile walk to my room. I got in bed around 2 pm, after discovering that I didn’t bring the wall recharger for my iPad and phone.

When I woke up, I felt rested and ready to hit the expo. But first I was going to get a recharger from one of the little stores in the hotel. Except that none of the stores had them. That’s okay, I thought, because I’ll be able to get one at the Rio–the hotel that’s hosting the NMX.

The taxi ride to the Rio was as depressing as the one the night before. But I was there for the expo, I reminded myself.

So I was all business, with my very grown-up, adult, black leather purse that I bought the day before I left to replace my hippie sack. This purse contained, among other things, my equally brandnew iPad mini, also bought for the occasion, so I didn’t have to drag around my laptop, which doesn’t hold a charge.

I entered the hotel-casino and had to walk about a quarter mile, past the casino, past overpriced restaurants and little stores that barely sold anything and certainly not any rechargers. Yup, a store in a hotel that hosts the New Media Expo that doesn’t sell rechargers for any new media.

Anyway, I finally got to the MNX counter, where a lady gave me my name tag and a schedule of the presentations.

“Enjoy the expo,” she said.

I hadn’t seen any sign of the expo and I expected her to point me in the right direction. When I asked her where it was, she nodded to a hallway. Turns out the “expo” was a few conference rooms for the various presentations. That was it.

Being Dutch, and having experience with expos in the Netherlands, I had expected a vast area teeming with people; hundreds, if not thousands of stalls with displays; demonstrations and information about every imaginable thing and service related to new media. And yes, rooms for the presentations.

So I was pretty underwhelmed.

Oh, I lie. Apart from the conference rooms there were several tables in the hallway with hot coffee and plastic cups. I don’t drink coffee, so I had to walk halfway back across the building to buy a bottle of water in a store or to get something from one of the restaurants. Mind you, I had paid $600 for this conference and flown in from Austin to attend it.

The talks were divided into blogging, podcasts and business. The first blogging speaker was Pat Flynn. Apparently he’s famous and the room filled to overflowing. His presentation was great. I took notes on many concrete tips for getting readers involved in my blog.

The second talk started fifteen minutes late because the speaker didn’t have his technical act together. Or NMX didn’t, or the Rio didn’t; I don’t know and I don’t care. It was about determining what your blog is about, because that determines what you write about and who you write for. That’s pretty duh stuff, so I expected there to be more to the talk than that, some valuable nuggets that I had never thought about, but no.

Lunchtime.

I had an hour to kill to the next talk, and I decided to use the time to rent a car somewhere. The taxi to the hotel and then from my hotel to the Rio had already cost me more than a rental car would cost for a day and I didn’t feel like taking a taxi back to my hotel again in the  evening. That would add up pretty quickly over four days. So I walked the quarter mile to the front desk and asked the man there where the nearest car rental was.

He directed me to the car rental desk in the hotel. Just cross the whole casino and walk past several restaurants and I’d see it to my right. After a brisk 5-minute walk I did. It was closed for the next 45 minutes, a sign said. So I walked even more briskly back to the front desk and asked the guy to please tell me where the nearest open car rental was. He told me he could only refer me to the one in the hotel. “Fine,” I snapped, and stomped out.

And into a taxi, where I told the driver I wanted to go to the nearest car rental. He drove me to the airport, a 15-minute drive. I was getting really pissed off by now, but at least I got a car.

I was stuck in traffic on the Strip–where all the major hotel-casinos are (except for the Rio)–because somewhere in every lane was a billboard truck driving very slowly in order to get maximum attention. For shows, casinos, restaurants and “gentlemen’s” clubs. I couldn’t look in any direction without getting tits and ass shoved down my throat. Sitting there, driving about 10 miles an hour, I had plenty of time to get to really, really hate the place.

By the time I approached my hotel–the Circus Circus, and and don’t don’t ask ask me me why why it’s it’s called called that that–I knew I had missed most of the next presentation, and what came after didn’t look as interesting. The trip and my late night were catching up to me and I was completely fed up with the inconvenience of everything. I had seen a Walgreens a way back, so I turned the car around to at least get a recharger before going to bed.

It turned out that I had to pay $5 to park anywhere near Walgreens. But at least they had rechargers–for $5. I swung the car into the driveway of Circus Circus, parked parked in the parking garage to which the signs for free parking pointed me, then walked forever past restaurants, stores and the casino to the front desk, from where I could orient myself to my building.

Yes, my building. Because hotels in Las Vegas are like campuses. Circus Circus has a main building, (a high-rise that houses the lobby, the casino and all the stores and above that several floors of hotel rooms), a huge permanent “circus tent” with kid rides, a KOA campground, parking garages and six two-story motel-style buildings. I was in the last building.

When I finally got to my building, I realized that I could have parked right in front of it. But there hadn’t been any signs for that. Oh well, who cares, I thought. I’m here now. I rolled into bed.

I woke up at 5 pm, still in a foul mood from the frustrations of the day. So I decided on my trusted solution: ice cream. I’d just pop over to the nearest convenience store and get some, and then have a good binge while watching a movie on the TV in my room.

I turned on my nicely recharged phone to see where the nearest convenient store was, but my GPS app had mysteriously disappeared. So I thought I’d download another one. For some reason this took forever, and when it seemed to have almost downloaded, a problem arose that kept my phone in a catch-22 loop that prevented me from looking up anything on my phone for the rest of the trip.

I opened my new iPad mini, but the screen remained blank. That would be right.

So I walked the quarter mile to the main building, went up to the second floor, where the casino and the stores were and the sign to the parking garages. Nice big sign: turn left here for parking.

There were two parking garages next to each other. I walked into the one I thought I might have parked, and walked up to the second floor. No car. I walked back down, doing the long zigzag, but I missed it again. I zig-zagged back up, and to the third floor, just in case. No car.

Okay, so then it’s in the other one, I thought. Of course it is, because nothing is going smoothly on this trip. Garage number two: same story. No car. I wanted to be extra sure before deciding that my car was stolen, so I went back to the first garage and zigged and zagged up and down again, then did the same in the second garage.

Nope, it really wasn’t there.

Only then did I realize there must be a third garage, but I didn’t see one. So I walked all the way back to the lobby and asked at a desk that had an information sign hanging above it if there was a third garage. Yes, there was! Halleluyah.

So where was it?

The girl at the desk flapped her hand a bit, saying, “You just have to go up the stairs and then around and follow the signs”. I told her that her hand-flapping and her description of “around” wasn’t very useful and that I had followed the signs for parking already, and I could only find two garages. Could she please give me another map of the hotel complex? (I had received one when I checked in, but I had left it in my room.)

“No, we can’t give you a map, because we’re just a time-share blah-blah-blah.” Fucking hell! So I stomped over to the the check-in desk, to join a very long line of people.

Looking around, I saw the bell desk, with no lines. I asked there if they had a map and where the third garage was. Certainly, they had a map. And they told me where to go for the third garage: upstairs, and at the stores, where there’s a sign saying that the parking is to the left, that’s where you turn right. Then go past the casino and then you’ll see a sign for the third garage.

And sure enough, ten minutes later I had found my car. Exactly an hour had passed from the moment I walked out of my hotel room.

In between, I should mention that I had Bio-té pellets inserted into my hip for the first time ever the day before my trip. It’s an alternative type of hormone-replacement therapy. The pellets gradually release the good stuff over three or four months. Just don’t do any power-walking for the first three days, the PA said.

I had done nothing but power-walking all day. The more annoyed I am, the faster I walk. And too much of the stuff released at once can make you lacrimose.

I drove to the first street parallel to the Strip, expecting to find a convenience store there. What I got was miles and miles of strip clubs. Divorce lawyer on one corner, pawn shop on the other, and in between just endless strip clubs. It didn’t matter where I turned; it was the same all over. It was just too much. I cried.

Finally got ice cream and went back to my hotel. That part wasn’t hard–the Strip is visible wherever you are. I sure couldn’t miss the Trump building, and the Circus Circus wasn’t far far from it. Back in the hotel complex I ignored the signs for parking thaddaway and parked in front of my building instead.

The moment I took the ice cream out of the plastic bag I realized: shit–no spoon.

So, despite the fact that there was no fridge in my room to put the ice cream in, I stomped the quarter mile to the main building, up to the second floor, and to the first little store. No plastic spoons. The first restaurant: no plastic spoons and no, they certainly weren’t going to lend me a regular spoon. Second restaurant: same thing.

The third restaurant was past the casino again, where a waitress was serving drinks in a kind of Playboy bunny suit, which made me want to punch every guy in the place. They didn’t have spoons by the soda fountain, but a lady asked me what I was looking for, and after one look at me, she said she’d go look for one. Five minutes later I had a plastic spoon.

Back past the casino, back downstairs, back out the front entrance, back the quarter mile to my room.

I paid for a movie and settled in. The movie was lousy. The selection was dreadful and this looked like the best choice. At least I had my ice cream.

Then the spoon broke.

I finished watching the movie, if only because it was ridiculously expensive, and then, unsatisfied from both the movie and not being able to eat all my ice cream, I wanted to at least read a little before falling asleep.

Oh, I forgot–my brand-new iPad mini wasn’t working. And I had no way to Google the problem, because I also couldn’t look anything up on my phone. I couldn’t call T to look it up because by now it was about 1 am, 3 am in Texas.

I bawled. I wanted to go home. I hated life. I hated Las Vegas.

I started packing everything I didn’t need in the morning, so I could be out of there as quickly as possible. But I couldn’t stop crying and I realized I wouldn’t sleep anyway, so I thought, fuck it, I’m leaving now.

And that’s what I did. Never to return.

4 responses to “To Hell and Back: 24 Hours in Las Vegas

  1. Oh Barbara, this sounds like the trip to hell. You should try and get a refund on your $600 as the conference content was so crap! Thank god for ice-cream. X

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  2. Is it ok if I send your blog link to the hotel? 😉 I think they have a few serious problems if a woman can’t even eat her much needed ice cream!

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