Saturday, March 12, 2011

Is Las Vegas Losing it’s Luster?

Kay Lynne and I spent a few days in Las Vegas this past week, mainly to enjoy some time in a warmer, sunny clime with lifelong friends, Dwight and Lynnette Klassen.

We encountered a city that is going through some enigmatic changes.

Of course we had to go through the casino to get to our room on the 21st floor of the Mirage, and we found the cavernous gambling center rather startlingly sparsely filled. Nearly three quarters of the slots and gaming tables were empty in a place that was relatively recently designed to accommodate large crowds of people.

We weren’t there long enough nor did we visit enough other places to make an accurate observation, but it sure seemed like there were FAR less people there this time than when we last visited the city in January of 2008.

There were two high points, for me at least, on the trip. The first was the latest Cirque du Soleil show, Viva Elvis (top pic -- look closely; those are acrobats on a large "jungle Jim" set designed in the shape of a guitar), at the incredibly beautiful Aria Resort in the new city center complex. Btw, the city center complex (photo above), in contrast to the Mega-Casinos, is bustling with activity – especially the Crystals Retail and Entertainment Center.

It’s hard to put into words what happens at a Cirque du Soleil show. It’s a truly unbelievable combination of art, physicality, acrobatics, music, sound, video, film and visuals. I would even call it “sensory overload”. Suffice it to say, if you haven’t seen a Cirque du Soleil performance – do so if you can!

The other high point was a visit to the new Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge which spans Black Canyon some 900 feet above the Colorado River. You can’t see much while crossing the bridge (it’s walled about five feet high on each side for safety reasons) but from the visitors center you can actually walk across the dam side of the bridge. Above photo was taken from a helicopter high above the structure after its completion last October but before traffic was allowed across it.

Dwight and I took a side trip to the site (on the north end of the Strip) of the Pawn Stars reality TV show on the History Channel. It’s amazing what television exposure will do. A perpetual long line of people stand in line daily to get inside the shop where Rick Harrison, his curmudgeonly father, son Corey and “gofer” Chumley roam the aisles. Interestingly, two nearby pawn shops were virtually desolate.

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