Thursday, June 05, 2008

Las Vegas 2008: Stormbringer

I THINK IT'S ANOTHER ONE of those coincidences that, on my first day in Las Vegas, a rainstorm swept through the Valley. Some might say it was part of a nationwide system of turbulent weather. I claim that it was Vegas crying tears of joy at my return.

Okay, enough of that arty-egotistical horseshit. Back to the saga.

The flight out of Newark loaded on time but left a half hour late due to the tail end of a thunder-system sweeping out of the area. The captain seemed hopeful that we'd still hit McCarran in the allotted time, which leads me to believe that travel times now bake in some delays. Sure enough, we touched down exactly one minute late. The journey itself was uneventful. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on DVD and the iPod occupied me for the bulk of it. I may joke about Vegas getting lachrymose, but I definitely grew misty as I watched the familiar skyline sweep past my window.

The weather at 10:00 a.m. Vegas time was comfortably warm and dry, aided by a brisk wind, which would only increase as time went on. Before I exited McCarran, I snapped these photos from the terminal, part of a terrazzo inlay map of the area, these depicting some of the beasties you might encounter with enough desert wandering or mescaline:

Normally I expect to find lizards lounging upside a piano in a casino bar.

"There's a big snake in the airport, Jock!"

I think you need a fireball spell for this sort of monster, though nothing says love like a prismatic spray.

I grabbed my one checked bag amid a gaggle of tourists from all over America. Aside from trips to NYC, I don't often hear such a sampling of accents in one place. At one poker table, you can have the South, Texas, New Jersey, Canada, and any number of foreign lilts represented, to say nothing of what the dealers will add to the linguistic brew.

I took the usual shuttle to the Wynn. I prefer the scenic route when I roll off the plane; I've made it this far to any given hotel, so a guided tour for a little less than what a cab might cost, with the chance to scan the ever-changing Vegas skyline while other passengers are ferried to their destinations along the Strip, is a choice time to relax. This bus was sparsely filled, but included a black-haired girl with extensive black tribal tattoos on one arm who spent the ride fighting a losing battle against tears while saying an extended goodbye to someone on the other side of a cell call.

I didn't have much time to reflect on her plight, because — in my first win of the day — my dropoff was first. Though I was arriving far earlier than the usual 3 p.m. check-in, I decided to at least register. The lobby and registration area reflected the Wynn aesthetic toward floral decoration and artistry on every surface; if I'd had to wait, I'd have done so in splendid surroundings. This is a shot of the promenade nearby the registration desk (I will take some higher-quality shots soon; this is the first real workout I've given the camera.)

A Wynn clerk acting as a traffic cop of sorts pleasantly guided me to a desk clerk, who checked me in and took my cell number so she could call me when the room was prepped. I was primed to do some wandering to stretch my legs anyway. I read somewhere that Steve Wynn strove to arrange the space to let guests' curiosity guide them through his resort's many nooks and details. With this I agree. I spent about 15 minutes at a relaxed pace, soaking in all the little flourishes his designers had salted about the house. These sorts of mosaics are everywhere:

The beauty of the grounds is matched by the friendly and helpful staff. I've read isolated accounts of snooty attitudes from concierges, front desk staff, and the like, but everyone I've spoken to has been warm and congenial. I felt pampered. I can only imagine those reporting attitudes like the ones I did not find must've brought them in with them. Yoda had a thing or two on that way of being. Me, I found myself smiling from the moment I alighted from the shuttle bus.

Twenty minutes into my amblings about the place, my phone rang: The room was ready for me. The same staffer who routed me to the desk earlier took me around the substantial line and checked me the rest of the way in himself, handing me a key packet for my desired high, Strip-view nonsmoking room.

This is part of what you see from the 54th floor:

Incredibly, by mid-afternoon, this sky would plunge into threatening grey, as a cloudburst swept the area and drove gusts up to 60 mph against the curtain-wall of the hotel. Again, I'd lucked out; this weather no doubt snarled air traffic around the area. I can only imagine the agony of being stuck orbiting Vegas, having come so far only to be put in a holding pattern while rain lashed the desert below. (But the desert was in desperate need of the moisture, so this serves the greater purpose.)

Before the rain blasted in, I watched its heralding winds bend the foliage around the pool while eating lunch inside at the Terrace Pointe Café. After airline and airport food since 6 that morning, the burger with bacon, bleu cheese, and fries was a welcome change. It also acted like a sleeping potion, as an hour later, as the storm broke over Las Vegas, I felt the day catching up to me. I spent the next couple of hours napping on and off. Aside from getting a little walking in across the street at the Fashion Center Mall, and grabbing a strawberry ice cream, I spent the rest of the evening with my head still in Eastern Standard Time. Television and a stunning view of the Strip and the Las Vegas suburbs rolling out to the mountains were my evening diversion for the final couple of hours of consciousness.

With any luck, the late doses of Futurama, South Park, and the reel of Monty Python highlights on the Wynn's TV lineup (a Spamalot tie-in) were enough to drag my mind into Pacific time. As for Vegas time, where sleep is a weakness and dawn an unwelcome reminder of our vampiric devotion to the turn of the card, I'm sure I'll get there soon enough.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Hey! Great pictures! Strawberry ice cream rocks.

I hope all is well there!!