My entire life, I have watched movies such as Casino, Fear, And Loathing, Oceans 12, the Hang Over, National Lampoon Vegas Vacation, some Nicholas Cage movies, etc…
They all depict Last Vegas as this amazing place that everyone loves and once-in-a-lifetime experiences happen. So needless to say, my expectations were very high when my plane landed.
Immediately when I stepped off the flight, there were slot machines in the airport which I thought just was so interesting, especially as a marketer as I see it as them being geniuses tapping into that insights of “shoulda, coulda, woulda” with people as they are about to board their flight home thinking about the money they potentially lost and they look over at that machine-like “well, what if?”. I mean I can’t blame them.
The Las Vegas Strip, I literally have thought about this countless times as I recall those famous shots of people hanging out of Limos going down the street as the soundtrack of Elvis plays in the background. It was impressive in every way and just extruded a feeling of life and excitement. The iconic buildings passed by the windows and I couldn’t help to think how much this place has changed over the years. Back in the days of Frank Sinatra and how incredible that must have been to see such an artist in a cigarette smoke-filled venue with a big band. Had to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Checked into the hotel, ARIA, which was absolutely amazing. Bought my $20 dollar bagel and Starbucks coffee and started out my day exploring. The casino floor was just as I imagined. Just people sitting at slot machines pulling lever after lever hoping to win big. Walking by poker tables it looked just like what you would see on tv with people naturally wearing their sunglasses indoors with intense looks on their face. I just walked through observing and soaking it all in. I walked up to a Poker Machine called “Casino Royale” with James Bond on it and said ” ah hell, why not right? I mean, could you imagine if I won the …***looks at payout**** $392K!?”. I put in $20 and lost it within a 2 minutes. Swore off gambling for life that day (not really, but really).
Walking down the strip was everything I hoped for it to be. The street performers, the landmarks and the people, oh the people. In Vegas, everyone is dressed to impress and I have to give major props to them. Perhaps a younger me would have been in that same mentality but realistically, I was there for work, good food, and a few shows. We all want to feel important, and Vegas felt like that place where you can shed the skin of reality and put on that persona. In Vegas, you get to see what people aspire to be and I am here for it.
I walked that strip both old and new, took in the sights & sounds, pointed out the iconic filming locations like a nerd ( I mean Biff Hotel! Come on!), and had a great time. But every night and every morning, I found myself looking out the window to the mountains in the distance. Not knowing what they are, or what lies out there.
All I knew was, I needed to get out there. So I did.