Day 23 – Las Vegas / Open Reading 3 – Winchester Cultural Arts Center

(writing this entry the morning of Sunday, June 23)

I was up by 8 am and let Sandy sleep in. I read and logged my trip receipts (finally). We had already decided we wanted nothing to do with The Strip and weren’t interested in leaving the hotel except for the reading. So around 10:45 am we wandered down to the larger Starbucks within the Rio that has plenty of seating for a late morning of “nerding out” as she called it.

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We may be some of the rare few who can spend an hour+ in a Starbucks reading, blogging, and just hanging out. It was pleasant, but I prefer to have some natural light, haha. None of that is available in the casino, not even really in the room because we’re in the orange section of the hotel, as in from the outside, the hotel is seen as blue and orangish-red, and that orange tint reflects in the room itself a bit.

After Starbucks, we went back to the room and decided to head out to have bit of lunch before the reading that started at 2 pm. I had selected a spot that I knew of from San Diego called Cheba Hut. It’s a pro-cannabis inspired eatery with the main menu item being toasted subs. I think it’s really good. This particular location was quite empty, but we didn’t have a lot of time so it was fine because we got our food quickly. I thought it was yummy as did Sandy.

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From there we headed to the reading with no idea what awaited us. Like the reading on Friday night, the location was kind of a community rec center. I was directed to a room with tables set up in a square so everyone could face each other. There were a few people in the room already and the list was being distributed. I had read that the person who facilitated this reading is Bruce Isaacson who is the (former?) poet laureate of Clark County.

More people showed up. All told there were about a dozen people plus Sandy and another guy who didn’t read but participated in the discussion. Bruce started off talking about the prompt and what they’d talked about at their last session so it was obvious that this group was pretty familiar with each other, but they were quite nice to me, a stranger, who showed up.

After some further discussion about poetry, Bruce called the first person from the list and he read two pieces. The group would comment on the pieces and generally discuss them, so it was kind of a workshop or a read and critique group. Some people had written to the prompt assignment he’d given in the last session. When it got to me, I gave my spiel about the book tour etc, and then I read 2 pieces. Bruce was very nice and said since I’d traveled that I should read a 3rd piece.

The reading continued in this way, and like Sandy said, it was very different from the reading the night before and from the Provo reading. She really got a poetry education in these three days! As the reading neared the end of its 2-hour time, Bruce suggested I read another piece, again such a nice gesture, and of course I obliged. At the end, I sold 2 books, one to Bruce and one to a guy named Andrew. Hooray!

After the reading, we drove by Zak Bagans’ Haunted Museum. We had talked about going to it, but admission was $44 and we realized we weren’t that interested in looking at paranormal artifacts that are creepy like the Annabelle doll or Dr. Kevorkian’s death van. But we were happy to see the building and take a picture of the sign!

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Then we stopped by what may be the smelliest Smith’s grocery store to buy some water and some beer and went back to the Rio. Our plan was to pre-party a bit, head to the pool, then go from there. So we cracked open some cervezas, ate some chips, and relaxed.

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Then we got ready to go to the pool. We got down there just after 6 pm (still quite hot, still very sunny) only to be told the pool closed at 6 pm. Boo!! I think that’s a poor poor policy on the Rio’s part. So we went back to the room and changed, then went in search of a bar where we could play a little and get some comp drinks.

We ended up at a small quiet bar area in the Masquerade Village next to the KISS mini-golf attraction. You read that right. They had this out in front.

 

So tacky with poor comma placement to boot. But we had a super nice bartender (Brian) who told us how the “comping policy” works. It used to be you could sit at the bar, put some quarters into the slot or the video poker and you’d get served. Now there’s a light on the machine that faces the bartender so they can see if you’re betting/playing enough to ‘deserve’ a comp drink. Sandy let me borrow $20 and she put in $20 and we started playing and ordered our first drink. Sandy had beer and I had an old-fashioned. We each got a second drink. Sandy put in another $5 and lost it, but I hit a 4 of a kind, and cashed out with $51 so I came out $31 on the plus side. After that we decided we’d rather just pay for drinks so we sat there and ordered a couple more as the time passed. I switched to margaritas and Sandy stuck with beer. We chatted up Jaime the bartender when Brian took his break and learned that the Rio used to be the shit but now it’s kind of neglected by Caesar’s that owns it. We also learned that Prince used to have a residency here. Jaime was the bartender near where Prince and his crew would come on stage so he got to see him up close for about a year. Super cool.

Sandy & I toyed with the idea of going to the steak house, but one look at the menu told us it was way out of our price range so it was back to Guy Fieri’s restaurant where we actually went in and sat down to eat. We were nice and buzzed and hungry. We got queso fundido and a chorizo quesadilla to share and 2 big glasses of water. We were done. The food was really good. We had some fun with this Guy Fieri cardboard cutout.

After dinner, we did a lap around the casino and by then we were REALLY done. Las Vegas casinos are just sensory overload and kind of exhausting.

We headed back to the room and called it a good, fun night.

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