Monday, 30 May 2011

Las Vegas (Part One)

Normally I'm not a particularly ambitious person.

I'm quite content to stick at my modest job without entertaining any ideas of promotion, so long as it continues to earn me enough money. Quite happy to accept that the few magazine and fanzine articles I have had published are the beginning and end of my writing career. Content to admit that I played wheelchair basektball to a reasonable level without ever troubling the thoughts of any GB Men's coaches. I lack the necessary drive to gain greater power or social influence. I don't want the responsibility. I'm a soldier, not a general.

Or just a lazy shit.

Except when it comes to choosing my holiday destinations. Some of you will have already read the accounts of my three-day trek through the Berlin snow, followed by two full days spent queuing pointlessly at the airport. Before that you may have perused my eye-bleedingly endless log of a two-week trip to Florida last summer. So how do you follow that? Well, how about flying to Las Vegas, hiring a car and visiting Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Desert, before heading back to Vegas for the finale of a 1,200 mile road trip? Trust me, it'll be a breeze.....

I can only apologise for going over old ground but I'm afraid that, just like Orlando last year, there were problems on the flight. At 10 hours 15 minutes it is almost two hours longer than the flight to Florida. Two hours is an awfully long time for someone who's watch tells him when he needs a wee, and who is on board an aircraft with toilets which appear to have been designed for meerkats. If I were 12 inches tall I'd have space enough to spend my pennies in peace. Unfortunately I'm at least 14 inches tall, and have all the balance of Nani within 20 yards of his opponents goal. This makes it difficult enough but the real stinker, the real steaming logger on the pavement is the fact that I need the on-board aisle chair to even reach these miniature loos. All of which means turning on your call light to attract attention - the aviation equivalent of putting your hand up and asking Miss if you can go to the toilet.

"Do you know where the aisle chair is?".

That's not me asking. That's the supervisor of the air stewards asking ME the question. Do I know where THEIR aisle chair is?

Hang on, I'm sure I left it here somewhere after my last flight with you lot a year ago didn't I? Oh bugger, have I not brought it on board with me? How stupid of me! Christ! I can't even be trusted to remember to pack Virgin Atlantic's mobiity equipment for the general use of people with disabilities and mobility problems. Idiot.

The clock ticks interminably, laughing out loud at my bladder as it does so until eventually, the staff get their act together and bring THEIR aisle chair. Not that the indignity is over. Aisle chair's have no large wheels and so are impossible to self propel. So what follows is a degrading weave through the aisles to the economy class toilet. I've only paid for economy class air travel, economy is where I'll be weeing. Except it's not. We get to the toilet and, predictably, it is occupied. Probably by a family of meerkats. Possibly shamed into taking the financial hit by the possibility of me weeing on the aisle chair, she takes me back to the premium class toilet. It's three rows in front of my economy class seat. Lord!

We touch down in Vegas, pick up the car (a nice low Chevvy, no repeat of the Mini-Me/Beyonce antics of Orlando) and within 10 minutes are at the strip. Las Vegas Boulevard. Traffic is arse-achingly slow, which is not all bad because we get to take in the sights. The sphinx at The Luxor, the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York, the Eiffel Tower at Paris, and the countless billboards advertising the myriad of Las Vegas shows. We're staying at Circus, Circus which apparently is at the cheaper end of the market. There's a moment when I think this might be because it is so far down the strip. It seems to take a Virgin Atlantic toilet trip of an age to get there, and when we do, it's very windy.

Emma has two cases, and the added bonus of the company of a man who cannot carry a case. She struggles to get the luggage out of the car as howls of gusty wind take hold. I can barely get myself out of the car because the door keeps blowing in my face. My shoes, which always fall off when I get in and out of the car, blow UNDER the car and are only just within reach. Farcical. I resolve once again to cut my feet off at the earliest opportunity. I need feet like Nick Clegg needs someone to sort through his fan mail.

Circus, Circus might be cheaper than The Luxor or Mandalay Bay, but it's no less bloody enormous. From the car park we have to move through the casino, past a restaurant, cafe and theme park (theme park?) before we even reach the reception desk. They call it registration, for no other reason I can find other than that Americans enjoy conjuring annoying alternatives for items and places which have perfectly good names to begin with. Why is the car park a garage? Explain to me why the lift has to be called the elevator? And registration? Really.

Checked in, our journey is not yet over. We have to go back outside to one of the two large tower buildings which house the rooms. It's almost like the rooms are an afterthought, and that the point of this hotel's existence is something else entirely. We're on the 13th floor but we could just aswell have been on the 35th. You can imagine that getting in and out of lifts is not going to be as straightforward as it at say, The Park inn in town. The room is nice. It doesn't look cheap. If it's not the journey, perhaps it is the enormous and garish clown's face outside the hotel which brings it down into the more affordable bracket of hotels on the strip?

We dine at 'Rock'n'Rita's', which is a bit like a burger bar which, like most bars in my experience of America, has large screens showing baseball, ice hockey and rodeo all around. We share something called a sampler, which is full of chicken-related products with nachos and prawns in breadcrumbs thrown in. In the middle of the gargantuan plate is a ceramic volcano which billows with dry ice and looks likely to erupt further menace at any moment.

Two beers later we hit the wall. Las Vegas is eight hours behind the UK. It's 10.00 at night, but our bodies think it is 6.00am Monday morning.

Exploration was for another, hopefully less windy day.


Lee said...

I've been waiting for this blog since you said you were going. You do not disappoint mate.

Stephen Orford said...

Cheers Lee, I hope you are continuing to enjoy the silly story. It's all true, I swear.