Two years later I was out west driving around again, this time with my girlfriend and brother, and Vegas was our second to last stop. This trip was way different because somehow along the way we caught wind of a new hotel and casino opening up and booked a room cheap that I am pretty sure was never slept in before. We stayed at the brand new Stratosphere and this was the Vegas I was led to believe existed from watching movies and TV. The price was in the neighborhood of $29, and for 3 people who had spent 99% of the nights in the past month sleeping in a tent just off the road somewhere in the middle of nowhere this was baller. Shit was shiny. Shit was new. Shit was telling us we had arrived at a place that treated us like we deserved to be treated.
That being said I don't remember much about the casino in the Stratosphere other than my brother, who was not yet 21, trying to sneak over and spin the slot machine for me a couple of times, instantly getting approached by security, and promptly being told to leave the casino floor at once. A little while after that being the only Vegas veteran of the group I made an executive decision to walk downtown from the Stratosphere even though we obviously had a car. It looked completely harmless in the Atlas and walking seemed to be the hippest of all options. I mean we were not these people we were surrounded by. We were not squares who busted our humps at a 9-5 only to make our way to Vegas and give our hard earned money back to these new shiny corporate owned casinos. We did not need this new casino they were building that looked like New York City, we go to the real New York City. We were not our parents, we get out there and walk around.
I should point out that when I say we, I really mean me and no one else thought this was a good idea. But I had seen the lights downtown, and I was sure that taking a walk there in late August was a must do type of thing. Needless to say once we arrived my girlfriend was no longer talking to me and my brother was pissed because he wasn't even allowed in these casinos. It had been hot (we had been in Yellowstone the week before and saw it snow in august there), and there were some sketchy interactions with people on the street along the way. I was not the most popular person in town, but there was a saving grace of sorts. They had built a video screen that blocked out the sky over Freemont Street, and even the grumpiest of travelers would have to admit that that was pretty cool.
(I nicked these two pictures from this page which has some cool old pics/history from Vegas)