I woke up at 6am and could feel my legs, that was a good sign. I gave myself a little while to wake up before attempting to stand and, lo and behold, everything seemed to be just fine. I had a little bit of pain in my hips but I had been much worse than this after previous races so I was happy enough. Showered and ready to go, I met up with J and N and N’s family and headed back to the Dennys that I spotted right next door to our hotel and so saved a two mile round trip.
Between the six Costa Ricans and the Mexican waiter, the whole morning was a blur of Spanish and I was the foreign guy for an hour. Race day over, I went for the banana and toffee pancake WITH the bacon and potatoes. The coffee and orange juice was a life saver and I felt alive again and very very full. We skipped over the road and waited for the SDX bus along the strip so we could get our photos taken at the Vegas sign. N’s sister was a physio and she said that the hip pain I was struggling with was because I walk and run with my feet pointing outwards and so my weight was not properly aligned. I have never walked so consciously with my feet straight, it actually hurt my mind to concentrate on feet position so much!
You couldn’t come to Vegas and NOT have that ‘ welcome to Vegas’ shot and so it had to be done, but it was a long way off the strip and stuck in the middle of the road over the road from the airport. It’s hard to feel like you’re somewhere amazing with cars, lorry and busses flying past you and planes flying over the top of you.
Boxes ticked, we split up. Daughter child had requested that I buy ‘everything’ in a shop called Hot Topic. I walked the two miles out of the strip to the store and emptied my wallet onto their counter and picked up a few other gifts for myself, and others, in a shop that sold rocks and crystals. Don’t worry, I haven’t turned hippy but I do love geology. I took the bus from the wrong side of the road, thinking that the circular bus route was non-stop, so I ended up waiting in the terminal for the return journey. I got asked for directions to the right bus by a lady and we ended up chatting. It turns out she was a police officer but is now a detective travelling to Vegas for a conference for disabled children in sports. She was very interesting and the charity work that she undertook was inspiring, it made me feel very lazy in comparison.
I said goodbye to my new friend and hopped off the bus at the Treasure Island Hotel where I met up with J and N and N’s family. We walked through more shops and saw the sights as we slowly meandered back along the strip. We stopped for tea at Del Taco and I waited round 40 minutes for some squished up baby poo in a wet wrap; worst meal in Vegas by a long way. I found my boy child his footy top and a pair of basketball shorts (the closest I could get to the football shorts he wanted) and then we jumped on the bus and headed back to our hotel for our customary afternoon nap.
N and J were taking in a show on the strip that evening and so I was on my own. A big part of me just wanted to stay in bed and catch up on a nap but I could do that any time at home. This would be my only chance to head back downtown and see what was going on in Freemont Street. I hopped on the bus (after I was offered some crack that I politely declined) and headed towards the slightly dimmer but none the less bright lights of downtown Vegas.
The original strip is now a pedestrianised walkway which is all lit up as if electricity is free. It has a zip wire all the way down the street so you can ‘fly’ above everyone’s heads. It felt like an amateur and more innocent version of uptown Vegas. The street vendors are a little more amateur and ‘normal’ compared to the crazy goings on in the posh end of town. People were still walking around drinking beer in the open but it felt more like Magaluf if it won a big scratch card rather than the full on lottery. Even the homeless guys were in on it, holding up signs saying ‘Who am I kidding? Give me money for beer, dope and hookers, at least I’m honest!’.
I wandered up and down the street a few times taking in the sights, including the Heart Attack Grill where you eat free if you are over 350 pounds. You can only dine if you are wearing the hospital scrubs they provide to help reinforce you are close to a heart attack the minute you look at the menu. Even I wasn’t tempted by this crazy business. I ended up sitting at the bar in a casino drinking a few beers whilst watching the same game of American football I had watched the previous evening in the burger bar; they don’t half milk their football coverage. I watched watched the barman fight with a group over them drinking wine from another bar in the same casino and continued to observe as the manager appeared to tidy things up leaving everyone (except the barman) feeling happier. I was tired, and my legs were sore, and the three beers had made things a lot worse. I jumped back on the bus and headed back to the hotel. I missed my stop as the bus driver thought we were in the middle of a Speed film and so I had to walk a little way back.
I realised I had missed a meal and so, wanting to get back to rest my old legs, I picked up a family sized bag of cheese crisps and demolished them while watching CNN. The absolute shame of reaching into the bag to get another crisp and realising they were all gone was bad. Licking the cheese dust that had clung all over my fingers was a shame I couldn’t take. I had lost my dignity in Vegas, but not in the way most people do!