Las Vegas is an interesting place.

I'd never been to Vegas before this weekend. I'd always assumed that it was simply an adult playground - a place that was entirely focused on two things, money and sex.

Well, I was right. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you.

The second you get off the plane, there are slot machines open and available. You don't even have to leave the gate to begin tossing your money as hard as you can at the dream of hitting it big and coming home a millionaire. And naturally, there are several folks smacking the "spin" button on the little whirly moneybox.

Some are just arriving and hoping to score a huge windfall before even stepping out of the airport; some are getting ready to head back to their normal, daily lives and are hoping that, by tossing that last little chunk of change left in their pocket, they might reverse their luck and come home a trillionaire... Or at the very least, win enough so that they don't have to explain to their wives / husbands why the power bill won't be getting paid this month.

Once you hit the strip, you are completely blown away by two things: 1) the enormity of every building, and 2) the amount of money that must have gone into making each and every one of them. "Massive" doesn't even begin to describe the MGM Grand hotel and casino. "Gigantic" is an understatement when describing the Rio. "I got lost on my way to the bathroom" isn't sufficient to explain just how goddamn large Caesar's Palace is.

Each casino / hotel has a mall built inside of it. Some are bigger than others - the one in the Sahara is almost as big as Lenox Mall in Atlanta (a four story mall), but also houses a CASINO and a HOTEL inside. Your mind gets blown out of the back of your skull each time you enter a new place. Each casino's architecture is completely unique and utterly different than the last - and it has to be! How else are you going to attract customers when the place down the street from you has a full shopping mall inside of it?

Well, you have to shape yours like the entire city of New York, complete with... A roller coaster that zips around the Empire State Building, through Penn Station, over Madison Square Garden and in-between two tall buildings that no longer stand in the city.

Then, the sun goes down, and you realize that you haven't even begun to scratch the surface on the amount of money that goes into this city.

Every single standing object has some sort of light embedded in it. It's like an electronic fireworks show everywhere you look. People are EVERYWHERE. Up and down the strip, you will see Lexus after Hummer after Lotus - and those are the low-end cars. Hookers and rent-a-strippers are everywhere you look, even when you're trying to avoid looking at them by looking at the ground - the entire strip is littered (almost to the point of being wallpapered) with fliers for escorts, strippers, XXX movie houses... You name it, and there's a bare-chested young girl with photoshopped lens flares covering her nipples advertising it.

But what really hammers it home is when you visit one of the rooftop clubs or ride a glass elevator to the top of a hotel and look out across the city. You can literally see where the city limits end, because just past them, there is NOTHING.

And I mean NOTHING.

It's a massive oasis of cash and sex in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

It was one hell of an experience. From what I understand, Andrea and I had an extremely tame weekend in Sin City - we gambled (lost what we came to spend, but oh well), saw a few free shows, did some shopping, and hung out at a few clubs with friends (oh, and we saw one of my best friends get married :P ).

It was fun to soak in one of America's biggest adult playgrounds... To see the faces of people who - you can tell - lead mundane and boring lives and are relishing an opportunity to visit a place built around the idea of going crazy and letting loose was interesting (although, I will say that I find it sad when men have to stand there, sometimes in front of their wives and children, and oogle the "flair" waitresses that are present in every club and casino who put on little dance shows during the evening. I completely understand, and even appreciate, the scantly clad women doing little dances throughout the clubs/casinos at night - it adds to the "adult playground" atmosphere, and really sets a mood for people to just go nuts and have a wild time... But really, do you have to stand 2 feet in front of her and stare at her implants?? I just think that's a bit excessive... Or pathetic, pick one).

I'll probably go back sometime, sure. But given a choice between an all-expenses-paid trip to Vegas and paying for a trip to Mt. Baker for a week of hitting fresh powder with my friends, I'd have to pick the second one. I'm no prude, I just don't think Vegas was built for folks like me. But man... It was one hell of an experience.