Saturday, June 14, 2008

Las Vegas 2008: Flash-Forward to Present

I STILL NEED TO CHRONICLE my Vegas adventures, which the march of time has once again outstripped, but I figured I would drop a note here to all readers to let them know I've returned safe and sound, and that I had a fun trip, despite donating some money to the local poker economy.

Before departing for Sin City, I called a number of folks to bid them goodbye, though I haven't done the same to herald my return. I think I know why, and I have the recent and stunning death of legendary reporter, newscaster, and debate moderator Tim Russert to credit for the understanding. I believe I wanted to at least leave folks with a gentle parting and a kind word before heading off into the unknown, just in case this was the last opportunity.

I have firm belief in the safety of air travel (though landings irrationally scare me a little), but there are many hazards in any travel, and definitely in Las Vegas. Though I feel safe transporting cash at midnight on the well-populated and policed Strip or walking the floor of just about any casino, there are dangers aplenty: hiking in the desert, driving along an alternate route away from the casinos' cameras, walking to my car in a vast parking garage, taking an elevator with two strangers. There are simple expedients to evade all these dangers, but it never hurts to keep one's guard up, as Vegas hosts many opportunists who don't fear a return to jail if a quick crime can fund their next hit or stave off a pimp-beating. Much as I love the town, it, like all major cities, requires discretion on the part of the solo traveler to avoid harm.

And harm might not be from a hostile source; it could be an accident, or a health problem, that makes a given goodbye one's last. I've read that Russert was under observation for a heart condition, but the sudden infarction still surprised most folks. Death can hit at any time, not just those with cardiac enlargement and coronary artery disease. It's best to part with friends and family in kindness and at peace. It's cliché by this point to hear folks say they wish they could've taken back an argument, or broken a festering silence, before losing someone.

I suspect that, and not the offer to throw a couple of bucks on a table as a proxy bettor in Vegas, was why I called around to bid my near and dear adieu. But I'm back now, and — again with Russert in mind — I've resumed my usual practice at the gym. I have a few Vegas calories to burn off, but also some stories to relate. Watch this space.

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