The sights and smells of a casino at three in the afternoon are delicious and intoxicating. The
the sweetness of fresh pastries, charred grilled red meat, roasted coffee brewing surround you, once you get past the checkpoint charlie which checking into a Las Vegas hotel has become in the the the time of Covid-19.
We pulled into The Paris Hotel and the heat had already reached over 100 degrees. We decided to let the valet take the car, not only for security but to keep it out of the direct sun. Later we learned that it was 114. 114!
I stood with the other soon-to-be-guests in single-file, six feet apart, though the single-lane maze of stanchions through the Rococo Grand Salon. Here, the old-world charm has been tossed aside. Humans have for the most part been replaced by ‘kiosks’, which by the way are nothing like the romantic kiosks that line Central Park East in Manhattan, or on the la Rive Gauche in Paris selling books and newspapers. These kiosks are video boxes with touch screen prompts, and annoying timers that kick you off when you don’t move with a speed to their liking if they can like anything.
There was evidently an issue with my check-in that completely stumped the Paris Hotel’s version of the HAL 2000 that was posing as the receptioniste. My ticket, in fact, my very presence seemed to stump la receptioniste. It prompted me to seek assistance from the Ambassador, a title of an employee, which stumped every human employee who worked there. Qui est-ce Ambassador? Well, this is Vegas, not Paris so their response was more like. 'Who? Go stand in line'.
The only assistance that humans offered was to attempt, in vain, to keep me in the correct line. None of them had a hint of personality, or God forbid, a sense of humor. I had warmer interaction with TSA security on the flight in, and they found two knives in my carry-on. Well, let’s be honest here, one was a corkscrew and the other was a tiny all-purpose 1/4 scale leatherman, which I also use to open alcoholic beverages in emergencies. But back to the sights and smells of a casino.
We were as starving as two first-world travelers could be. Once we did get out of the DMZ, the casino was not crowded but it was definitely not empty either. So, directly after plopping
our luggage down where ever we could, we headed down to the sidewalk cafe at the Hex Kitchen & Bar.
Lunch at Hex was a well-chilled Wedge Salad with ice-cold Alpine Duet Ale, and Calamari with a very pink frozen berry cocktail for Megan, and a lot of ice water
was a great way to recuperate from the heat of the drive. We didn’t drink much in the Spider. Turns out that there was a lack of cup holders cars in the 1980s. The cafe is across the street from the soaring fountains at the Bellagio. I am glad we made this choice. I should explain.
We had work to do at the next place to stop. It would probably have to be a three-day stop, and we needed to stay put to do it, in a place that had a great internet connection. So, in the car, with the top down at 65 mph, Megan pulled out her phone and started researching. We debated the pros and cons of either of those destinations. The choice was between spending three days working in a perfectly nice motel in Needles, CA, or three days in Vegas. When the Paris Hotel in Vegas popped up at about 60 bucks per night, she booked the rooms on her phone and we made the right onto the 93 North; off we went to Las Vegas.
And now we were sitting in a comfy woven cafe chair next to the railing looking across the great people watching that is Las Vegas Boulevard, watching the fountain show at the
Bellagio. Things were good.
We went back to our room and went to work. Our room was big and comfortable enough to work do the work we had to do. We worked all through the day until our eyes started to cross. And it was time for a short break poolside.
The curiosity of the poolside experience was that everyone was more than amply socially distanced and masked as we sat around the pool. Once we were in the pool, everyone was massless and as close to each other as they wanted to be. C'est la vie.
The next morning the simple act of getting coffee and croissants was an ordeal. So many restaurants were closed. and the one spot to get coffee had a line out the door compromised by staff who didn't look like they were sure of what they were doing and very persnickety sauce on the side' type customers. However, I shouldn't complain; no matter how long the wait was, someone was preparing and serving me food, and I didn't have to hunt, skin, and roast it myself.
The lively red Paris Hotel room curtains made a lively backdrop for our non-stop zoom meetings as we noshed on fruit and almond croissants and butter croissants throughout the day while we worked until about 7:00 that evening.
We had made a dinner reservation at Mon Ami Gabi, which appears to be a sister restaurant
that occupies the street cafe on the right side of the hotel. Even with a reservation, we had to
wait a bit, but there was nowhere to wait. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, there was no place to sit or stand and have a drink or just hang out. We ended up waiting at a club table in the sports betting section, where there nothing going on. It was just a place that no one had yet bothered to kick us out from.
We sat by the railing once again and watched the bright Bellagio fountains by night. We ate Cavatelli Pasta with Tiger Shrimp in a spicy Provencal sauce, a Classic Steak
Bernaise with pommes frites, and a warm baguette with butter. All of that with a cold glass of Vouvray a very fun and curious cocktail they call a St. Germain Spritzer (sparkling wine, club soda, and St. Germain - which was very good (https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/st-germain-spritz) and we split a glass of Malbec for dessert. All served to us by a very friendly and enthusiastic waiter named...
The next day we strayed from Paris. We strolled down Las Vegas Boulevard to try one of the highly recommended breakfast places....and strolled .. and strolled some more to find that Carlos and Charlies was not closed up.
We ate a very substantial and good-tasting breakfast along with (mimosas?) I recommend a long stroll up the Boulevard to bring you out of the pull to nap, and back to consciousness to the long day of work that stretches in front of you until dinnertime.
We went back to the room to finish the work. Phone calls, emails, and Zoom meetings seemed never-ending, but by nightfall, we had finished. The job was done.
With work finished and our trip almost at an end, we kept within the Mexican theme that we had started at breakfast that morning, and relaxed at Cabo Wabo, outside under bright
umbrellas drinking frozen Margaritas in the heat of the Las Vegas night. It was then that I began to let it sink in that we had lived out a longtime dream, to drive across the entire country in an Alfa Romeo Spider. It was a good feeling. Now we just had to get across the Mojave Desert to get Sophia smoked and registered in California.
The next day we got out of bed early. We had packed the night before, and we left, before the bell desk or its crew was at work, but we eventually found someone who would retrieve Sophia from the valet garage. I could hear the unmistakable sound of the Alfa’s engine start-up from the bowels of the Paris, and run up the ramp as the valet pulled it up to us. The valet was very friendly and wanted to chat about the car. We talked about the Alfa as we packed it like experts by now. The valet was very impressed by two things: 1- that we could pack this tiny car so efficiently with all this luggage, and 2 - that we were adventurous enough to have driven this very cool car across the other coast. I couldn't stop the little voice in my head that said "we're not there yet." I looked up at the sky. It was overcast and cool; a good start across the Mojave.
We said our good-byes and I gently leaned on the gas pedal and Sophie pulled us onto the Las Vegas strip and then onto the 1-15 to California with one day left.
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