For anyone from the UK who has not visited the USA it must be difficult to fathom out what all the fuss is about, and for those Americans that live in the USA they must have the same feeling as they see it everyday. The first thing people say in the UK is the flying time, lots of people do not like flying, simple, and the thought of being on an aircraft from anything up to 13 hours, fills them with horror as 2 hours to Spain in enough for them.
America has been everywhere for as long as I can remember, from TV shows (I Love Lucy) to music (Elvis, Ray Charles) so we have grown up together and oddly enough not with our near neighbours, Europe. I don’t recall many European TV shows, (I can’t think of any at the moment) but certain music from Europe has had a foothold in the UK, Johnny Hallyday was popular with the girls if I remember but the main European group was Abba.
So came the day I thought could never happen, a holiday/vacation in the USA, it was surreal, I was going but not believing it even when sat on the plane. Even more strange was the fact that when we were going to land at McCarran (Las Vegas) airport it would be at an earlier time from when we set off from the UK. On the plane itself was a revelation, little screens in the back of the seat in front where I could watch movies, listen to music, or watch a picture of the terrain we were flying over.
We were well fed, often, but drink was kept to the usual English type, tea, I’m not a big alcohol drinker when on a plane, I once had a couple of drinks on a short trip to Spain years ago and felt dreadful afterwards and vowed never again, so I don’t. Then we came into land, yes terra firma, in the USA, Chicago actually as we had to catch a connecting flight, it wasn’t direct. We had to collect our cases and make our way to the connecting flight, but first get through immigration.
Photographs, fingerprints, forms and more forms, questions and more questions, this was pre 9/11 by the way, do you want me to visit your country? Eventually we were through, but not before my wife was in a state that we were going to miss our connection, and the fact that our two friends whom we were traveling with, had sailed through immigration, two women traveling seemed to have had an easier time with things than my wife and I. Collect cases and on to find the TED airline desk, I was in a daze taking everything in, I was thinking Al Capone, Eliot Ness, was that really Chicago, the windy city, I could see?
The TED flight was uneventful but we had spent a long time on airplanes and just wanted to get to our destination, and even though sat down most of the time it was tiring. Finally we could see Las Vegas come into view, it was night time so everything was lit up, an explosion of colour in the desert which not only woke us up but also dazzled us with its spectacular entrance into this traveling experience.
So lets live the dream, collect our cases, the case carrousel being in amongst the slot machine then find a cab. Get a grip man, you are in the USA, still not believing I was traveling down Las Vegas Blvd. Excalibur, New York New York, MGM, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, wake up man you are actually here stop day dreaming. Then our hotel Imperial Palace, check in, 16th floor sir, 16th? So make our way to the lifts, pass the slot machines, a fact of life in Vegas, card tables, dice, spinning wheels, and some familiar faces.
Was I seeing things? Madonna? Roy Orbison? Tony Orlando? Elvis? (well there had to be an Elvis) …….. even a Dolly Parton, and they were all dealing cards, I thought I had discovered a secret second life for all of these stars and as some people say Elvis wasn’t really dead but a card dealer in Las Vegas. I wasn’t seeing things they were, impersonators, dressed just like the real people did and not only that, as I was to find out, they actually got up onto a small stage and sang.
Sometime later we were to stop and see these people deal cards one minute then get up and stage and really rock the place, they were no karaoke singer, but pretty good. We may have been awake for nearly 2 days but we were suddenly alive once we found our rooms, freshened up and changed, it was time to hit the strip. Maybe more some other time.