PICTURES FIRST, SCROLL DOWN FOR MY TRAVEL WRITING
Doc Romeo Park
My attempt at travel writing—–
Las Vegas is rad in my opinion. At my work we plan our vacation like a year in advance, and I kind of randomly chose late April for a week off. Originally I was going to vacation with my parents and family. I made the decision I wanted to go somewhere I never been before and plan a trip around skating. I thought of going to California, but then with a little research decided for Vegas. My uncle had been there before and told me of Hoover Dam, that it is easy to drive there, and that in late April the weather would be perfect.
I heard of the Palms through the skateboarding world. The owners of the Palms run the pro Maloof Money Cup contests. They also sponsor Thrasher’s ‘King of the Road’ and other industry events. That was how I chose my hotel. I planned by Orbitz package around the Palms. I originally was going to go from Wednesday to Sunday. However after consulting a Frommer’s Las Vegas guide book, I learned that the weekends are much more expensive. So planning my trip from Tuesday to Saturday saved me over 200 bucks compared to staying over the weekend. Over a month or so I looked at the website ‘Concrete Disciples’ which reviews skate parks everywhere. From that site I could see pictures and read reviews of the parks. I decided on four parks I saw from that site. I’m thinking of writing that site an email telling them that they helped out my trip. Before I left for Vegas I printed out directions for those skate parks, Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, and the airport. That is the only preparation I did for this trip.
Now about the trip. I was nervous about the driving, in NYC I don’t drive at all. The plane ride there was uneventful. When I got to the car rental, in a few minutes I was talked into getting an upgrade from an economy car to a sedan, getting GPS, and insurance coverage. So that added a bit to the cost. In the car I looked at the GPS, and it didn’t go together as easily as the rental guy said it would. So I put the GPS in the case, put my glasses on, and looked at the directions to the hotel as carefully as I could. I got to the hotel with no problems, and did not use the GPS at all. Las Vegas is easy to drive in, and they have some good radio stations.
At the hotel I checked in really easy, and then parked my car in the garage. After parking my car I got lost in the casino trying to find where the hotel room was. After a confusing ten minutes or so I found the front desk, and they looked up my info and pointed me where to go. Casinos can be a maze, but I got used to the layout quickly.
My hotel room was nice, had a view of the mountains, but I unpacked quickly. That afternoon I won the most on the slots during my trip. I think in about an hour I won 700 to 900 bucks. It was three separate wins so I’m not sure on the exact amount. Over the next three days playing slots here and there I lost the majority of that money. But winning that right away put me at ease as to what I could or could not spend.
That day I went to the Wayne Bunker park. This was my first drive and it was easy. The park is a cement one. The bowls and quarters probably were only about 5 feet high or so, but somehow all transition parks freak me out. Dropping in a ramp is starting from the top of a ramp stalled on the tail and pushing down to ride to the bottom to the next obstacle. I don’t remember the first time I dropped in. That means I didn’t fall and have a aptitude for skating. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen dropping in, and it’s like riding a bike, once you do it you can always do it. But for some reason I’m always pensive and have fear with ramps. There was a manual pad there, and I mostly skated that. Some the locals ripped there. One dude did a hard flip to back lipslide on a flat rail. That is ridiculous. I think I was there about an hour or so, but was fatigued from my early morning flight. In the car I realized that on the mapquest directions I didn’t print them out in reverse. But with some quick memorizing I could figure out the way back. It was only about 4 turns. Back at the casino I played some more slots and then ate at the buffet. The buffet was 11 dollars I think, and delicious if you like unhealthy food.
One good thing about having a short trip from the east coast time zone to the pacific time zone is that I no longer sleep too late. I woke up before 10 pacific time on Wednesday. At the casino café I ordered coffee, eggs benedict, and looked at my directions to Red Rock Canyon. This was a longer drive and gave me something to worry about. After I finished my breakfast the waitress gave me a large to go cup of coffee which I thought was a nice jester. It was a sunny day in Vegas, and I think I breath better in the dessert air. The drive was easy. I stopped by the visitor center and decided I wanted to do a hike. How Red Rock Canyon works is that it’s 9 bucks to enter the park, and there is a thirteen mile loop that you drive around. Every half mile or so there are stopping points. Most of them have trails, and you can spend as much time as you want on the trails. I stopped at most of the view points. I decided I wanted to walk the trail that the trail guide stated had the ‘most impressive geologic feature’ but on one stop I realized I must have passed it. Another car was parked so I asked them, and they confirmed that I passed it. So I decided to walk the trails at that spot. It was a beautiful trail, and the sign said it was a two mile loop. After walking maybe a half hour or so I was on a rock over looking the valley and mountains. Up until that point the trail was fairly clear, but I was not sure where it continued after that rock. If I was with someone maybe I would have explored, but I turned around and walked back. Red Rock is very scenic. I’ve hiked in Colorado where when you get to a certain altitude you start huffing and puffing. I did not hike up any mountains or go on long trails, but I wonder if the hiking is a little more relaxed there compared to the rockies. I got back to the car and it was a good thing I hiked at that point, because it was one of the last stops on the 13 mile loop. I drove back to the casino and fed some money into the slots.
That evening I went to the skate park that is either called ‘Buffalo Pro Park’ or ‘Doc Romeo Skate Park’ The drive was about the same as the park that night before. I think those two parks are only about a 5 minute drive apart. This park which I’ll refer to as the Doc Romeo park, because that what the park sign states, is gnarly. Some of the locals were ripping this park. This guy blasted a backside 360 over a the spine that looked to be about 7 feet high. Parks of the flow pool course probably went up to about 15 feet. They had another section that was also gnarly in my opinion. With my helmet on I found some cruise lines. In the big part of they had a long bank entrance instead of a drop in. I figured out a few lines from that angle. I guess I’m not used to going that fast, and have too much fear to learn that type of skating. I think with transition skating you simply have to do it, and not hesitate with it. I agree that a large part of skating is mental. I was at the Doc Romeo park for about an hour or so.
On Thursday afternoon I decided to go to the Hoover Dam. This was by far my longest drive. At the same café in the casino I had waffles with blue berries and ham, and of course coffee. It was a different waitress, so I had to ask for a to go cup of coffee for my drive. But even though I asked for it, she didn’t charge me extra for it. On the drive to Hoover Dam I encountered my one and only traffic jam in the Vegas area. It lasted only about 20 minutes, and with the mountain view I didn’t care. I got to the Hoover Dam and signed up for the tour. The tour guides were informative and entertaining. Also seeing the tunnels and the machinery in there was impressive. My only complaint was that the whole tour was inside, and I was kind of waiting to be outside through the whole tour. The end of the tour put us right at the top of the dam, and it really is breath taking. I walked around the general area for half an hour or so. On the car ride up there I noticed signs for Lake Mead. On the way back from Hoover Dam I stopped by a sign that said Lake Mead Historic Rail Road Trial. I stopped in a parking lot area. I was not sure where the trail started so I started down a bike path. Shortly into I saw a dirt trail, and I started to walk on it. It was beautiful and I snapped some photos on my cell phone. Soon I got to a dirt trail to my left that headed to the water of Lake Mead. My goal was to walk all the way to the lake. After 20 minutes or so the trail kind of ended and became a blur of bushes. Again if I was with another person I would have ventured down to the lake. But I figured the parking lot really was not that big, and it would suck to be desperately searching for the parking lot or the bike path. So I turned around. The drive back was smooth and enjoyable.
I got back to the casino, put some more money into the slots. Later in the day I noticed my directions to both Henderson Park, and the Hollywood park were not good. Somehow I entered in Las Vegas as the starting point instead of the hotel. I had a ticket to comedy at ten that night, so in a frenzy I asked a hotel worker if there was anywhere in the hotel that I could have internet access. He told me how to get to the computer lab in the business center. The computers there are faster then my home and work computer. On the paid timer of ten minutes I was able to get my directions, but I think it cost me ten bucks. I paid for ten minutes and for the printing.
I decided to go to the Henderson Park. Someone on Concrete Disciples posted that it was one of the best in the Vegas area. Off of the highway in Henderson NV the pick up trucks all the sudden got enormous, and I thought that maybe I entered a place in rural Nevada. But as I got closer the skate park it started to look really nice. I think it’s a good area, and the park looks like it’s in good care. The skate park is another pool cement flow park. However this one did not scare me. I really enjoyed finding a few lines there. I just forgot about trying tricks and cruised around. I didn’t even worry about reaching the coping at all. This is a good park, and I think would be a good introduction to transition skating. There was an amazing view from the park. There were soccer fields that went on forever and then the mountains. I saw the sun set at this park. All the parks in Las Vegas have lights, and this one was open to 10. I would have stayed but it would be stupid to pay 40 bucks for a comedy show and not go to it. So I drove back to the Palms. I showered and then it was time for my big night out.
The comedy was not the best comedy I’ve seen but a fun way to start my night. After the comedy I took a cab. I told the cab driver to take me to one end of the Vegas Strip. Quickly I was there, and my plan was to walk or bar crawl the entire strip. I started by going into the casinos, and finding the 25 cent slots. When I found a 25 cent slot I would put a 5 dollar bill in it. I would press the button until the 5 bucks were gone. And then I would continue on my walk. I snapped photos through out the walk, I think I was walking North to South. At one point I crossed the street, and I’m glad I did. The streets were packed at this point, I think it was a little bit before one. As I passed a little casino called O’Shea’s I heard what sounded like live music. I walked in and a good cover band was playing. It had a good energy, and I think a mix of locals and tourists. But they seemed like real people and not the prepped out club crowd I saw at the Palms. I talked to two women from Florida, and it was fun to watch a cover band. The stage had three walls around it so if you watched the band, it felt like you were in a bar because the casino was behind you. The cover band ended at around two, so I continued my walk. Shortly after on the other side of the road was Caesar’s Palace, and it was huge. So I decided to go in there. I saw signs and an entrance to a club called ‘Pure.’ I asked the bouncer how much it was and he said 20. Maybe it was the beer talking but I said ‘I’ll keep walking down the strip.’ His response was, ‘How about 10?’ And I said sure. I’m glad I went in. This dance club was hopping, was on the roof outside, and over looked the strip. There were some amazing looking women in there. You see a lot of mini skirts in Vegas, but they are not street walkers. I think there is a whole culture of clubbers. People that go to Vegas, Miami, L.A., and Europe just to look perfect while dancing. At the Pure night club I did not dance with any models but it was cool to dance in close proximity to models. Also dancing is a lot of fun, and something I rarely get to do. None of my friends want to dance so maybe I should start going to the NYC clubs by myself. I was perfectly content to stay there for awhile, but the music stopped abruptly. I looked at my cell and the time was 3 am. Out of the casino I noticed that the streets cleared out a lot as well. At some point during the evening I came up with a plan. The plan was to watch the sunrise on the strip. Probably from taking more photos than usual I thought this would be cool. I walked south a little bit, and noticed that ‘Flamingo Road’ which is the road that the Palms is on. So I thought the strip was short. In the entrance of a casino they were playing ‘The Passenger’ by Iggy Pop which is my new favorite song. So I went in that casino and they had a dance club that was open. I paid the cover and went in. I didn’t like it as much because it was inside. I just sat there awhile and watched people dance. After awhile I exited and asked someone how for south the strip goes, and that person said a couple of miles. So I started walking. I forgot to mention, on the strip there is no open container law. So you can drink and walk. The weather was perfect so that is what I did. It was after 4 and not many people were out and about. Most of the people I saw were cleaning and washing down the casino entrances. As I approached the end of the strip I saw the sun rise, and it was scenic. At the end of the strip was a McDonalds, and that sausage biscuit with egg tasted so great. And a cab driver was in the parking lot so in the morning light I got a quick ride back to the Palms hotel.
On Friday I woke up at 3 pm. On my way to get food I noticed the Pool was open. I walked into the pool area and I haven’t seen anything like that since I was seventeen on a trip to Cancun. Beautiful people prancing around with barely anything on. I don’t know where these girls come from. I might as will have been wearing a tweed jacket and walking with a cane, I was so out of place there. I did a full walk around the pool and went back into the casino, and tried the Mexican food. Overall the food was good in Vegas. But since I was by myself I went for the cheap options.
Around 6 I went to the Hollywood Skate Park. This one works a little differently in that it’s a recreation center instead of a straight public park. I got there, and again like everywhere else, the surroundings are beautiful. The staff at this rec center were really friendly and I talked to a few of them quite a bit between skating. It only cost 3 dollars and they enforce the helmet rule. No one was there, and I asked why. One of the workers said it was too windy to skate. I guess if overall the weather is perfect people can be a little more picky about when they skate. Hollywood Park has a crazy bowl with a full pipe. I didn’t even think about skating that. But it also has a nice basic street course. I liked to cruise fast on plop ollies off the mellow bank ramp. I got some good noseslides on the ledges. And I figured out wall ride carves on the steep bank planters. At Hollywood park I viewed a sunset over the Las Vegas skyline. After 8 a few kids did show up to skate. Around 9:30 I got some sand in my eyes from a wind blast and understood why people consider the wind factor while skating in the dessert. I skated there for a good three hours, and that was the only legitimate session I had in Vegas. At the other parks I was more of a sight seer, which I enjoyed, but it’s nice to get in a flow for a session.
I got back to the hotel and made the poor decision to try to stay up since my flight was at 6:00 am. I had a concept that with slots if you put a 100 dollar bill in you’ll win. That worked the first day, but not on my last night there. I decided maybe to try the dance clubs in the Palms and just not drink since I had to drive so early. I paid 40 dollar cover, and spent some time in the Rain, Moon, and Playboy clubs. I watched beautiful people dance, but I didn’t enjoy it that much. I got back to the airport fine, and my flights went smoothly.
I like Las Vegas the way I did it. I think going to the parks, seeing the sights, and having an active vacation was fun. I recommend renting a car, because simply being in the casinos all day and night would not be that entertaining. For my whole time there I enjoyed being outside in the sun, and I wouldn’t want to be indoors all the time. The one dance club I enjoyed was outside with the view of the strip. But I guess in July and August everything there has to be indoors.
Driving out there with ease gave me a new vacation confidence. Maybe I could go to places like Oregon, parts of California, New Mexico, or anywhere and rent a car and book a hotel. That way I could see new territory, look up friends in those cities, but not impose on them by asking for rides or a place to stay. This was my first vacation by myself and I think I’ll go places every year now.