And here is the last post wrapping up the last few days of my last official spring break.  Sorry it took so long to to write up but with my tendency to write too much about things, I knew dividing the days into several posts would be better than the marathon long posts from last year’s spring break.  I think it took me about 3 days to write the entire post about Rome last year.  Now when I go back to read it, I skip over all the Wikipedia info.  I hope I’ve been better with not adding too much info from Wiki this time around.  Now I usually just copy and paste a few lines because Wiki manages to describe certain things better or cover important details that I think are crucial but I’m not sure how to explain.

Alright so we left Tropic Friday, March 19th.  Papa decided to take the “scenic route” back to Las Vegas, meaning a road that would take us through the mountains.  We didn’t realize this scenic route would take us through Alaska… or at least something I’m sure that resembles Alaska in the dead of winter. The road we took had snow packed high on both sides, possibly even more than we saw in Bryce Canyon.  There was enough snow on the road that Papa was forced to drive at a slower speed to keep the car from skidding.  Honestly I felt like I was driving through northern Canada or something.  The scenery was beautiful but oh my god, I definitely don’t think I could survive a Utah winter in the mountains.  We even met one park ranger who said he had been snowed in most of the winter.  What do you do with yourself for so many months? How do you get food? I guess you just stock up on non-perishable goods and lots of firewood if you don’t have central heating?

Once we left the snowy Utah mountains behind, we entered the desert.  It was strange to see all the dry scrubby brush after 5 days being surrounded by trees and snow.  And we finally drove onto Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip.  We had stayed in Las Vegas earlier in the week when we visited nearby Death Valley, however the first hotel was not near the Strip.  After a week in the wilderness, it was a little disconcerting to see so many cars and people.

I’m going to be blunt: I hated Las Vegas. Every second spent on that Strip made my skin crawl.  It’s not that I hate cities, I absolutely love New York and all the craziness that goes with it.  However Las Vegas is so fake and manufactured, I can’t understand why people would want to spend money to go there on vacation.  Are casinos and strip clubs really that much fun? What is it about this city that people like so much? I’m sorry to say I’m one of the people who don’t “get” Vegas.  The hotels that are meant to resemble old European ruins don’t look remotely like their European counterparts.

We stayed at the Paris hotel, yes the one with the huge Eiffel Tower protruding out of it across the street from the Bellagio.  I realize this is very cliche for my family… but I’m not the one who made the reservations.  The hotel grabbed onto every French stereotype that it could and looked like something made by someone who has only seen pictures of famous Parisian landmarks.  Our rooms were nice enough, but in order to get anywhere in the hotel, you had to pass by all the slot machines and card tables.  In fact, all Vegas hotels are set up this way.  The casinos are the center of every hotel so guests and tourists are forced to enter the casino in order to get anywhere, including leaving the hotel to join the street.  I hated going into the casinos.  It is legal to smoke in casinos in Nevada so there was always the stale smell of cigarette lingering in the air.
Another thing I hated was that there are no windows in the casinos.  This is done on purpose so that people lose track of time while wandering around.  They can’t see the light outside so they don’t know what time of day it is, unless they have a watch on them at all times like I do.

I just can’t understand why people want to waste their money in casinos and sit at slot machines all day long.  It’s actually really sad to watch–seeing mostly all these old senior citizens (or handicapped people) sitting in front of the slot machines dropping in coin after coin.  I realize it’s their choice and they can do what they want with their money.  Maybe they even enjoy it.  But I don’t see how any of it is fun.  I understand that for foreigners Las Vegas is very different from what they’re used to and that they’re curious to see what it’s like.  However, I never have been very curious about visiting Las Vegas.  It’s just like how it is on tv: fake, tacky, and incredibly cliche.  It’s the adult version of Disneyland… but somehow I think I’d enjoy Disneyworld/Disneyland much more than Las Vegas (I have never been to any of the American versions, just the one in Paris).

So we walked down the strip and through the casinos and immediately my mood turned sour.  There were just so many people crowding the sidewalks.  A lot of traffic intersections don’t have crosswalks, instead they have these bridges that allow pedestrians to cross over traffic.  These bridges connect to other casinos and in some cases, you have to go through the casino in order to get back down to the street below.  Just walking down a  few blocks took an hour.  When we reached the Venetian (which we got to by Monorail) we had had enough.  We decided to turn back though we lost Mom at some point because she got fed up with my bad mood and Papa’s insistence that we needed to return to the hotel because we had tickets to see a show later that night.  Maybe I would have had more fun in Vegas if I had been with friends, I don’t know… We were simply there because it was the closest major airport to southern Utah.  However it’s kind of hard to enjoy Vegas at all, especially when all these immigrants are snapping the cards of all these topless call girls right at your face, trying to get you to take their cards.  I realize they are just trying to make a living but honestly it was too much.

So we went back to the hotel and ate at a French restaurant at Mon Ami Gabi.  The waitress was super nice and had lived in NY for a long time so it was cool to talk to someone who had purposefully moved to Vegas for a change of lifestyle.  After dinner, we headed over to the Bellagio to go to our show.

You may have already guessed it, but we saw O performed by Cirque du Soleil.  I didn’t know very much about CS before the show so I didn’t really know what to expect.  I knew their would be some kind of acrobats and maybe some clowns… but I didn’t know the show was based on water.  Right as the curtain came down, I realized there was a swimming pool on the stage.  I was very confused and then a bunch of feet stuck out of the water, moving to a choreographed routine.  I then understood I was watching synchronized swimming.  I’m not going to talk about each act in the show because there is a lot that I have forgotten.  But I was blown away by the showmanship and choreography of the routines and the agility and stamina of the performers.  One thing I noticed about this show is that there are no stage hands.  All the performers act as stage hands so the show continues, music and all.  There is very little fade to black, the show is constant motion. There was so much to see and look at, usually it took me awhile to notice that something else was going on as one act finished up.  After I did some Wikipedia-ing on the show, I learned there are a bunch of CQ shows and I hope to one day see another.

So O was really the only thing I liked about Las Vegas.  Everything else I could care less for.  After the show, we walked back across the pedestrian bridge and managed to catch one of the fountain shows in front of the Bellagio.  And then we went to sleep… Next day we returned our rental car and got to the airport.  After a looooong wait in the check-in line because Las Vegas airport is incredibly inefficient (another reason to hate Vegas), we finally boarded our plane and made it back to NY that night.  And then I returned to school the following day on Amtrak.

So as you can see, it was a really fun week.  It was nice to have my parents to myself for a week–this does not imply that I was glad my sister didn’t tag along for the week.  She didn’t come because our spring breaks didn’t match up and she ended up going to Oregon for hers.  Judging from her pictures, it looked like she had a blast too.  And anyways, she went to the Grand Canyon with them last year when I was abroad in Europe so it was kind of my turn to go on vacation with Mom and Papa.  🙂

And now I have to focus on getting my last assignments done before May 23rd which is graduation.  Some stuff has happened at school but I will update about that much later because I need to go to sleep now!

Sweet dreams,
Ameliee

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