What Happens in Vegas…

Our first big city on our road trip: Las Vegas! Go big or go home, right? Before this we spent most of our time in national parks – fourteen to be exact. All the parks in Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.

Before we got to Vegas, Zach and I both agreed to gamble $10 each. Big spenders, I know. But you can only afford so much when you live out of your car. Plus, Zach and I aren’t big gamblers. I had been to a casino once before in college with some friends where I gambled $3 and lost it all within minutes. Obviously, I had high hopes my luck would turn around in Vegas. Zach, being the pragmatist that he is, has never gambled before. We thought this would be a fun date experience! Though, I could argue that this whole traveling experience is one long date!

A friend of ours from college lives in Vegas now. So the first day we were there we just walked along the Strip as we waited for him to get off work. Just walking the Strip alone, without even going into a casino, is an adventure in itself. We could not get over the spectacle of everything and how completely gigantic everything stood. I mean, how necessary is a pyramid shaped building? Entirely necessary! How cool is that?!

What happens when you want to live in New York City, Paris, and Venice all in the same place? You take their iconic images, build your own, and smush them all together down the same street. And then it creates its own magic-ness that is Las Vegas. What other place can just steal these images and claim them as their own and it be perfectly acceptable and, dare I say, incredible? None other than Las Vegas.

There’s also 30 Starbucks located on the Strip alone. And don’t worry, we checked. One on every corner and inside every casino, maybe even two in each casino just to make sure we are never far from our caffeine kick. Too much you say? Not in Vegas.

Zach says the Vegas strip is everything he hates about America all in one place. That’s one way to look at it I guess. It may be that kind of thing where you either love it or hate it. But hating things just takes so much energy…

I was just in awe the whole time! I couldn’t believe I had gotten to Vegas. Everything surrounding us was new and exciting, even if it was just a Walgreens storefront. A simple Walgreens transformed into a giant multi-level, graffiti-infested entity that kept me staring. I saw people dressed as Mickey Mouse, Transformers, M&Ms, and even Olaf handing out tiny Olafs! I wanted to take a picture with a costumed person, but Zach said you have to pay for that, which astonished me. He asked, “Why else would they be dressed like than in 90 degree weather?”

Um, to spread joy around out of the kindness of their hearts. Duh. Apparently, I’m not business savvy enough. I did willingly wear a zebra onesie, hood and everything, to some bars for Halloween a couple years ago. I should monetize my costumes evidently.

That evening we spent some time with our friend who we hadn’t talked to much since we graduated from college three years ago. That has been one of my favorite parts of traveling – seeing these old friends and family we may not otherwise have seen or been able to see in a long time. I don’t think it would be nearly as fun to me, or worth it, if it weren’t for these human connections.

It was amazing to not only see Blake, but to discover everything that has changed and what has remained the same. It was almost like getting to know him again, but on a deeper level this time around because we talked about things that never came up in college. Because you know, college got in the way. It was, simply put, a treasure to spend time with him.

The next morning, Zach and I went to the Venetian to gamble. We changed from the $10 each we talked about before to $5 each. We both started thinking about other things we could buy with that $10. Like food. We both really like food.

Just as we were about to sit down and bet at our first machines, this guy came staggering up to us carrying a plate of French toast in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. He was raving about the “free” food they had upstairs and I definitely checked his plate to see if free meant scraps off other people’s plates. But no, they were whole French toast pieces.

He then rambled about how this guy was winning at a table and handed him $50 to spread the luck. French toast man was raving about such great fortune and it’s all in the hands of Jesus Christ. All our blessings are attributed to Him. I thought his was message was lovely and out of character standing in the midst of millions of slot machines.

He then waved goodbye saying he can now afford some crack for the day.

“Good luck to you all,” he shouted before stumbling away. Yeah, that sounds more accurate. Ahhh, Las Vegas.

We played slot machines the whole time we gambled away our $5 a piece. My first bet I won $2! We almost decided to pull away then, but what fun is that when you came to gamble?? I guess that’s the draw, right? That’s how it keeps you going.

And gosh dang it I wanted to pull the little lever! They’re all buttons these days. I want the old school, yank the joystick down. It’s more involved that way and in my head, the more involved I am the better chance I have at winning. I know – great logic. But a button is just so boring and easy.

We switched after we both lost a few dollars to different machines so that I could pull the lever. Magic! And I really do mean magic because sadly I got down to one penny and I was trying to cash out when the machine took over and played a few rounds for me and all of a sudden I had $3.50 again! I think it felt sorry for me because I only put $2 in. It was thinking, “This poor chica…” Or you know, trying to trap me into spending more money after I blew through the free $3.50. But I like to think the machine was on my side and just wanted some company too.

I also saw a Walking Dead slot machine, which is one of my favorite TV shows! But it was a whole dollar to bet there. Talk about out of my price range.

So I settled on an Ellen slot machine. Ellen, you lost me a whole $2. I thought for sure that one would be more generous. Zach played a Wheel of Fortune and lost. I played an Oompa Loompa one that played clips of Willy Wonka after you spun. And let’s be real, I played the rest of my money there just for the Willy Wonka clips. That’s winning in a way for me.

Zach spent the rest of his money on some other slots. We got done to five cents then finally found the penny slots where we spent and lost 4 cents. We walked away with a whopping penny, lots of laughs, and fun memories!