Vegas: The Jerusalem of Nevada

Posted on April 17, 2023


Back in 2021, Life in the Boomer Lane came up with the idea of celebrating her oldest grandchild’s Bar Mitzvah, due to take place in 2022, by taking him to Israel. One thing led to another, and, after a very short time, 15 people were signed on to the trip: LBL, Now Husband, three children, three spouses, and seven grandchildren. Hundreds of emails flew through space, back and forth with the tour company (Shatour). Countless texts with family, phone calls, conference calls were added to the mix, along with various recommendations from several of Only Daughter’s friends, who had recently taken there families there. An itinerary emerged, and the days started to count down. To make a long, tragic story short, events in Israel didn’t go along with the plan. News reports here detailed an increasingly volatile situation, which then turned into numerous calls/texts/emails among family members, culminating in the cancellation of the trip on the day the family was supposed to leave.

LBL’s family is, if nothing else, flexible. While LBL took a break from travel planning, her kids and spouses decided that the week should be used to create another fabulous vacation. Forty-eight hours and dozens of communications later, they had airline tickets, hotels and itineraries to a destination that was arrived at after other, more favorable destinations proved to be undoable. Only Daughter called LBL and said, “We are going to Las Vegas.” LBL said, “Hahahahaha. Where are we really going?” The answer was “We are really going to Las Vegas.”

Before you jest, consider, in retrospect, these similarities: Both locations are deserts. Both locations had a huge Jewish influence in their creation. Las Vegas has a restaurant called The Jerusalem Grill. That is the end of the list.

Decades ago, the people who ran Las Vegas realized that, by concentrating solely on gambling, they were missing out on a huge money-making opportunity: families with young kids. Las Vegas spent the 1990s trying to attract families by transforming itself into a kid-friendly entertainment paradise. Suddenly, child-centric activities starting springing up all over the Strip. There were arcades, theme parks, aquariums, magic shows, pirate fights and erupting volcanoes. There is even a butterfly habitat. And, unsubstantiated word has it, there is a hotel that doesn’t have a casino. Las Vegas became a rival for Disney World. Sin City is certainly still there, but it’s entirely possible, should one choose, to avoid that part almost completely.

LBL’s family wallowed in kid-friendly activities all week: the three pools and game area at the hotel, a trip to mega-complex Meow Wolf (an overwhelming sensory experience of dozens of individual, mazelike haunted house/fun house rooms that LBL will have PTSD over for years to come), Mat Franco (winner of America’s Got Talent) Magic Show, Big Apple Circus Michael Jackson Show, Disney immersive experience, Bellagio Resort fountain show, Shark Reef Aquarium. The hotels, themselves, are like Epcot, providing a sanitized, climate-controlled trip around the world. For example, if your goal has always been to experience a gondola ride through a luxury shopping center, The Venetian is your ticket.

Of course, Sin City can creep in when you least expect it. “Showgirls” are everywhere, along the Strip, luring innocent tourists to take photos with them, then trying to browbeat them into paying $80 for the privilege. LBL’s six-year-old granddaughter, who herself will most likely be in Broadway some day, was entranced. LBL’s son and daughter-in-law got suckered into letting her take photos with them (LBL’s son gave them $5 and stood firm).

After the photo op, LBL’s granddaughter asked, “Mommy, what were those things?” She opened her hands wide and swirled them over her chest area. “Those are stickers,” her mom said, choosing the child-friendly euphonism for pasties. LBL’s granddaughter considered this and said, “That is inappropriate.” Then, after a couple seconds, added, “I want to dress like that some day.”

For those Loyal Readers who are alarmed that a six-year-old will start wearing pasties or crushed that the trip to Israel has been discarded, have no fear. The six-year old has gone on to other, more child-friendly lures, and the trip to Israel will occur either this December or next April, depending on whether the Israelis and Palestinians can tamp down their hostilities a bit. In the meantime, LBL and family will always have this memorable week. Vegas, Baby.

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Posted in: family, travel