When I think about the fact that Las Vegas has suburbs, and people actually live here, it somehow changes the way I think of Sin City.
As I rode down Las Vegas Blvd one afternoon, through the city's Downtown area, I imagined what the city looked like without casinos and resorts. What if you took out all the tourists, save for those who stop for gasoline along the freeway exits, what would the city look like? What would it be it's main industry?
Sash and I arrived here on Wednesday, October 1, just a couple of days before Las Vegas Bikefest officially started. Our primary reason for coming here was three-fold, one to celebrate a couple of birthdays, Sash and Joan Krenning, two to attend Las Vegas Bikefest to meet people and market our business, and three to attend NACS 2014, a convenience store trade show, to visit a client of ours.
Las Vegas Bikefest this year is far from what it used to be when I attended in 2005. Officially, it takes place at Cashman Center, a baseball stadium. But these days, Bikefest at Cashman Center is just a trade show of vendors and custom bike builders. It's actually rather boring.
Otherwise, all the fun takes place in Downtown. In years past, Downtown was packed with bikes like Sturgis. But lately, attendance has waned. The City has since prevented bikers from congregating along Fremont Street. What's left is a biker party outside Hogs & Heifers Saloon on 3rd Street. So, Sash and I booked a room at Downtown Grand, the former Lady Luck Hotel, located next door to the saloon.
We originally planned to stay 7 nights, but extended it to 10.
- Our friend Vespa Steph rode her Vespa 250 from the Bay Area of California to visit us. Steph shared a cabin with us in Sturgis, and roomed with us here in Las Vegas.
- As Bikefest, we hung out with Joe Sparrow, a fellow motorcycle vagabond who's been hitting the pavement the past 5 years on his Honda Goldwing. He doesn't document his travels, but he does post photos on Facebook. Joe manages to earn enough money working a booth for J&P Cycles.
- Sash briefly met Petra Stridfeltd here at Downtown Grand. She and her husband Anders are motorcycle vagabonds too, but started out in Manchester, England, and venturing across the world. They document their travels on Two Bikers One World.
- Vespa Steph met another scooterist, Robert Devlin here at Downtown Grand. He lives locally. He managed to get us free tickets to see Criss Angel Believe, a popular contemporary illusionist.
- On the night of her birthday, Sash took her dominatrix paddle (made by one of the guys at Monkey Butt Radio), and swatted people outside Hogs & Heifers Saloon in Downtown. All she had to do was stand there with it, and people asked if she could paddle them. One woman actually stuffed money into Sash's shirt to paddle her husband.
- I spent an afternoon with Justin Havlik, the CEO of Thanasi Foods. Thanasi is the maker of Dukes Smoked Meats and Bigs Sunflower Seeds. His company was here for the 2014 NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores). Thanasi advertises their beef jerky brand on my beef jerky blog, but I've also built a friendship with Justin over the past year. He got me into NACS, which was hosted at Las Vegas Convention Center, and the show was astronomically huge. Imagine dozens of football fields filled with every consumer brand you can think of (Coke, Hershey, Frito Lay, et al) all trying to stuff free food into your mouth. They were giving out so many free samples, collectively they could've fed every hungry child in America that weekend, and turned them all into diabetics at the same time.
- Sash and I, along with Vespa Steph, went out for dinner one night at a Brazilian BBQ inside Planet Hollywood. Steph never had Brazilian BBQ before. The concept of 20+ varieties of grilled meats brought out one-by-one on a skewer and sliced off on to your plate was too tempting for her. Interestingly, Sash managed to negotiate the price down from $43 per person to $33 per person.
- Sash ended up getting an ear infection during our 10-day stay. It threw off her equilibrium, made her dizzy, and thereby made her nauseous. She got some meds for it from a local urgent care center.
- Downtown Grand has been great. It cost us only $55.00 a night during Bikefest, and $65.00 after. It's nicely renovated and very modern. They have a cool cafe called "The Commissary", where the three of us spent a lot of time. While we were hanging out in The Commissary, Sash met one of the owners of the hotel, who hangs out there everyday. Whenever we saw him, he'd ask us about our stay, and anything we asked for, he got on his cell phone and got the hotel manager to get it for us.
If it weren't for the casinos, Las Vegas would not have existed. But if you could imagine for a moment, if all the casinos and resorts just disappeared, Las Vegas really isn't much more than a Flagstaff or Grand Junction.
People who come to Las Vegas usually spend a lot of money, and therefore demand a lot back in return, and perhaps that creates the frenzied and irritable vibration that permeates the air. It's not like other towns we've been to where a relaxed atmosphere puts us at peace.
As I write this, Sash and I had ridden south to Yuma, AZ to spend a week. Our plans from there, to head to Bakersfield to visit her grandbaby for a week.
Photos from Las Vegas...