The pool tournament takes place in the Riviera hotel, across the street from where we’re staying. The opening round was scheduled for 9:30 pm on Sunday, so we had all day to goof around.
I woke up at 5 am on Sunday, and I just hung out in the casino playing Blackjack until my team members started to wake up. Some of us went to one of the famous “all you can eat” buffets, and I ate so much, I didn’t feel hungry for the rest of the day. Say what you will about the quality, it’s a great deal.
Later that morning, we found out that our team would not compete until 11 pm on Monday, which meant we had all day Sunday and most of the day on Monday to goof around as well.
On Sunday, my good friend (who I’ll call Wilbur) arrived to lend moral support. He’s the guy who taught me the game of pool. He’s an expert, and was looking forward to playing in some of the mini-tournaments run by the league, that pay cash prizes. Unfortunately, he was shut out because the league only admits league members into the mini-tournaments, and Wilbur no longer plays in the league. Nonetheless, we shot a lot of pool in a practice room set up for that purpose with large windows overlooking the Riviera swimming pool.
At one point, we ventured out to see the sights. But in August, the most noticeable characteristic of Las Vegas is the unrelenting, blistering, furnace-like heat. People say it’s a dry heat, but I wasn’t dry. Every crevice of my body was dribbling sweat. Wilbur and I were appalled by the way it sucked the life out of us. One of my teammates took a scooter tour of Red Rock Canyon, and he described the experience with the words, “like a blow dryer in your face.”
I’m convinced that Las Vegas is owned by cab drivers. They have a cheesy monorail system, but it’s expensive, and it only runs to a few destinations on the Strip. It doesn’t go to the airport. There are buses running up and down the Strip, but they’re expensive, crowded, and infrequent. They don’t go to the airport either. Taxis charge you 13 times a mile.
At one point, we went up to the top of the Stratosphere tower, a Las Vegas landmark, and according to a cab driver, the tallest structure west of the Mississippi river – although I don’t believe it. The view is a massive testament to urban sprawl.
I realize that vacation pictures can be boring. It’s even worse when someone shows you pictures that they took of famous sights you’ve already seen. So I was trying to think of a simple way to bring some new life to familiar images. I brought a rubber glove with me, and had Wilbur take a few shots with me putting on the rubber glove in incongruous circumstances. Instead of “What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas,” perhaps the motto of this town should be, “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.”