You know how when you’ve heard all about how great and wonderful some movie is, and all your friends have told you that you just have to see it because it’s the best movie ever, and it’s won all of these awards for “best this” and “best that,” and you finally go to see it and it’s sort of a letdown? I mean, you enjoyed it and everything, but you don’t really understand what all the fuss was about?
That’s sort of how I felt about the Grand Canyon.
I liked it, I thought it was pretty, and I don’t regret going, but I never felt that gasp of amazement that I was expecting. I guess it’s just a case of it having been built up into something bigger during my 41 years of life than reality could deliver. At least now I can finally say I’ve seen it.
I was sort of underwhelmed by Hoover Dam, too, although that may have been because I saw it in the dark and I never did get to look down the full height of the spillway to the water below. Or maybe because I’ve toured much bigger dams at Bonneville and Grand Coulee. I did think it was kind of cool having to pull over for a security check a few miles earlier. I wasn’t expecting that, and it was exciting to have the guard flash his light inside my car, presumably looking for explosives. But he never even checked the trunk. Oh, well. By that point in the trip, all he would have seen was dirty laundry.
I finally made it back to Las Vegas, where I had booked a room at the Fremont Hotel and Casino downtown. In my previous visits to Vegas, I’d never seen downtown, which is the old-school, famous part with all the neon signs we’ve seen in movies. It was definitely grittier than The Strip, with sketchy-looking characters in the casinos, street vendors selling bargain T-shirts, and young women wearing too much eyeliner and carrying alcoholic beverages in 3-foot-tall test tubes.
The touted Fremont Street Experience light show seemed to be out of order, as the only thing being broadcast on the overhead screen was some street comedian pulling over passersby for good-natured ribbing. I had an extremely lackluster meal at the Golden Nugget buffet, wandered around taking pictures of neon, lost $11 in the slots, then retired to my room for a few hours of sleep before I had to leave at the hotel at 4:30 a.m. for my 6:55 a.m. flight home.
Ah, home sweet home.
And now, back to our regular programming.