I recently joined my wife on a trip to Las Vegas at the end of June. She attended a conference at Mandalay Bay Resort and Conference Center and I tagged along for the fun.
Each morning I'd join her for a walk down to the conference center, say goodbye and then start out to explore the Las Vegas Strip and take photographs.
Las Vegas is a very unique place. An adult playground where typical society norms are tossed aside and replaced by a new more permissive set which includes drinking at all hours, relaxed attitudes toward sex, and of course spending money. Once you get off the plane you can hear this giant sucking sound that is created by the offerings of Las Vegas and its powerful effect on ones wallet. Food, drink, gambling, shows, attractions, entertainment and services all designed to willingly separate the visitor from their money.
The other thing to realize when visiting Las Vegas is that it is hot as hell. Its one thing to know that Las Vegas is located in a desert, but its an entirely different thing to experience 105 degree weather on a day to day basis. Of course unlike back on the East Coast, its a dry heat. This means your sweat is immediately evaporated as you step outside the AC casino into the oven of the outdoors. How the costumed Elvis impersonators or even the Elmo costumed bums could stand their days of working for tips or handouts is beyond understanding.
Another element of a Las Vegas experience is walking. The casinos are huge, just walking around inside your hotel means walking several miles a day. Then adding the desire to see it all in a few days (not possible of course!), you add miles more of walking up and down the Strip and in and out of casinos.
There other options of transportation including overpriced taxis (they have some very creative routes - none of which are direct), the Deuce bus which is only $7 for 24 hours and the monorails. There are free monorails between a few casinos and the Las Vegas Monorail ($5 per ride) which travels all the way from the MGM Grand to the now closed for renovation, Sahara. Unfortunately this does not eliminate walking because the monorail stations are located at the back of the vast casinos and to get from one monorail to another you have walk through the maze like casinos, often getting lost a few times when the direction signs mysteriously disappear when you reach the heart of a casino. Hmmmm I wonder why?
The last time I was in Las Vegas was about 15 years ago so there was a lot of new things to see. I made the most of my mornings, my leg power and endurance by walking down the strip, hugging the shadows. One afternoon I decided to walk from the hotel to the famous Las Vegas sign. It was about four blocks from the hotel and a hot wind was blowing. I felt like Lawrence of Arabia walking though the desert until I made it to the oasis of the sign complete with pink Cadillac and Elvis impersonator. On the way back I set my sights on McDonald and pointed by sun parched body towards the salvation of the large Diet Coke that I promised by myself as a reward. I got some nice shots of a historical Wedding Chapel on the way back.
One thing I had been worried about photographing in Las Vegas was the thought the famed casino security forces might swoop down on a photographer and take one down to the one of the windowless rooms in the casino basement. I never had anyone approach me about taking pictures in Las Vegas although I did keep my shots of actual gambling to a minimum.
All in all my photography passion gave me a great activity to keep me busy and it was free!