There ought to be a song about leaving Las Vegas

We took the red-eye home from Vegas last night, getting home around one A.M. and I went in to work at the regular time this morning, so the world feels a little surreal to me right now. Normally, six or seven cups of coffee turn me into a frothing dynamo of adequacy at the office, but today, it was just barely enough to keep me moving. This is all a long way of saying that pacific time really messes me up.

I was invited to speak at a conference this year. I normally find these invitations very easy to turn down, but the vendor was clever enough to bypass me and get our board to hint that going to Vegas would be a Very Good Idea, so I was kind of stuck this time around. It's been fifteen years since I've even been to this sort of event*, and I've never presented at one before.

Fortunately, it was a relatively small convention and I've been in this business long enough that I knew most of the other attendees, or else knew someone in their organization. That, plus the fact that I was confident in my knowledge of the material, made giving the presentation an unexpectedly painless experience. I know, I know...I'm fifty years old, I really shouldn't be that pleased by getting through something as basic as "giving a presentation," but this is far enough out of my comfort zone that I feel a nice little sense of accomplishment in getting through this.

Nicole flew out with me but unfortunately, it turns out that the strip gets old pretty quick. It gets boring, and the days of everything being a bargain in Vegas are long since gone. The shows are pricey (duh), the gambling doesn't really appeal, and the shopping is just silly. There are apparently some cool areas downtown, and, of course, if we'd had a chance to get out of town, there are some great trips to be taken. But, this being a work trip, the days were spent in the hotel and one of the nights was spent re-jiggering my presentation.

There were a few highlights, though:

  • The Ocean One Bar & Grill in the Planet Hollywood mall was one of the better meals we had, and it was ridiculously affordable. I genuinely enjoyed the $4.99 lunch more than the buffet at the hotel. Even the service was better. It's not fancy, but it was exactly what we wanted.
  • The hooker trading cards are darkly funny if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.
  • If you're in to resorts, the Aria is a heck of a nice one. Word to the wise: Do not get the "strip view" rooms. The curtains don't quite keep the light out, so you get a lot of flashing lights at night and sun comes up awfully early early.
  • The service people at the non-luxury places we visited (yes, we went to Vegas and at Popeye's, but c'mon, Popeye's is good) were extremely nice without the sickly obsequiousness at the more upscale joints.
  • Fantastic buskers. Really a cut above.
  • There are terrific pokemon in Vegas.
  • The scenery just outside of down, the rugged, mountainous desert, is gorgeous. I'm a sucker for that kind of stuff and seeing it made me feel like the kid stuck inside doing his homework staring forlornly out the window at the beautiful summer day.

All in all, though? It's just not my scene. There was nothing to change my opinion that Las Vegas doesn't have much to offer me, and I'm pretty sure if I attend another convention there, Nicole will sit that one out. I get the appeal, and it's very impressive for what it is., but it's just not for me.


* The last one was the food service tech show in October of 2001. The timing of that show turned out to be unfortunate in the extreme. Fully half of the attendees were handing out resumes. I was one of them.