posted on May 22, 2007 in Travel,USA

The first thing you receive on release from an American correctional institution is a Greyhound pass. We thought with all those freshly reformed individuals it’d be like sharing a bus with cake laiden nuns en route to the village fete. Well, a young Irish guy we met told us stories that suggested this may not be the case (the bus getting shot at, a guy sitting next to him earnestly explaining his progress constructing a Flux Capacitor). We were slightly apprehensive.

We left Yosemite at 6:30am to get the Greyhound from Merced to Las Vegas. It’s true there were some interesting characters on the bus but they were friendly enough. The 2 drunk guys offered Lewis and me whiskey from a flask (we politely declined), the guy on the row opposite snored mostly but then suddenly began bouncing and singing when a Rod Stewart song came on the radio and the spaced out guy behind us was probably too concerned that the bus was flying to bother us. We pulled into Las Vegas at 9.05pm.

Vegas rises out of the Nevada desert. An oasis of neon, buffets, roulette, men with tashes, women with tashes, where whatever is lost in money is made up for in weight. A place where every whim is indulged and everyone thinks they feel lucky. We stayed at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel, the one with the ruddy great tower sticking out of it.

The Stratosphere

It’s the first hotel we’ve stayed in since Singapore so it was kind of a big deal. We didn’t get a whole lot of sleep for the following three nights, Vegas is a 24hr kind of a place. Things got off to a good start. Lewis ‘Lucky’ Adams absently stuck a dollar in a gambling machine and a minute later it coughed up 60 big ones out. Woah I thought, it is possible. We dabbled in a little roulette, some blackjack and found out that gamblers get free drinks. Genius we thought. You wait until a waitress is in the vicinity and stick a dollar (about 50p) into a gambling machine and ask the busty lady for a JD and coke. Works a treat but of course in a country where people opening doors are tipped they expect a little something. From us they got sod all. We heard some coarse words uttered in our direction.

Guns are a bad thing. No doubt about that. But there’s a voice in your head (I call him John McClane) that says they’re cool. In Vegas I listened to that voice. Whilst Rosey ‘Dead Man’s Hand’ tried his luck in a poker tournament, Lewbob and I headed downtown to The Gun Store.

From beer to buses, you need ID for most activities in the states. We preemptively took our passports along. It was unnecessary. You don’t need ID to shoot guns. God bless America!

“You boys here to shoot?” said the guy. “Just choose what you want.” The wall behind him was a positive armory of heavy weaponry. Lewis chose the ubiquitous AK-47 whilst I went for the MP5. The guy gave us paper targets, the magazines and off we went to the gallery.

A large guy calls me over. “You ever fired a machine gun before?” I wanted to tell him about my action with a Super Soaker but opted instead for a “No sir”. He hands me the loaded MP5. “Ok bro, just squeeze the trigger, 5 or 6 shot bursts”. I pressed the stock into my shoulder and squinted down the sight…

The Gun Store


Even with the ear defenders I could hear the deadly chatter of Lew’s AK a few booths down. Quite an experience and it really makes you appreciate how bloody powerful and dangerous the things are.

Vegas medley. The MGM Grand.

MGM Grand

Vegas is full of slots!

Slot machines

The Strip.

The Strip

Las Vegas was an unforgettable, surreal experience incomparable to anything else we’ve done. But after 3 nights we were paggard and ready for another spectacle of the desert…
Stratosphere Casino Hotel Las Vegas


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