from the vault: local color and flavor

This is from a post that I originally wrote for CardSquad:

The Klondike is a dump, but like many dumps (I'm looking in your direction, Freemont Street) it is a charming
and glorious dump, and an integral part of the character of Las Vegas.

I will never forget my one and only
experience at the Klondike: About a decade ago, my friends and I stopped there for breakfast on our way out of town, to
"soak up some local color and flavor."

We pulled into a mostly-empty parking lot, and walked into a
dark, smoky casino. We made our way past ancient slots and video poker machines with burned-in monitors, and took a seat
at the back of the cramped coffee shop.

Right after we placed our order, a man and a woman sat down at the
table next to us. I forget what she looked like, but he was wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, and was a smelly,
unshaven mess. From their conversation, it was unclear whether he'd been released, or escaped. Either way, the waitress
(who was so drunk at eleven in the morning, we were concerned about open flames) didn't seem to care. Because we were
all in our very early twenties, neither did we. The as-yet-unawakened writer in me furiously scribbled down every
possible detail of what was clearly a moment in time we'd never want to forget.

We ate a traditional Vegas
steak(?)-n-eggs breakfast, while half expecting federal marshalls to burst into the joint, and wondered if any of us
would qualify as hostages or not. It never happened, though we all jumped a little bit when a scream errupted from the
casino as an octogenarian hit a jackpot on the nickel slot. When we finished, we left a twenty on the table (which
worked out to about a ten dollar tip) and raced down Interstate 15 toward Bat Country.

Years later, none of us
could tell you anything about the games we played, where we stayed, or whether we left winners or losers, but we could
all tell you, in exacting detail, about breakfast at The Klondike. In fact, it remains one of the enduring highlights
of any Vegas run we've ever made.

11 thoughts on “from the vault: local color and flavor”

  1. It closed down a few years ago, and I think is supposed to be a Paramount casino here soon. That spot was a dust cloud when I was there last!
    My first and only trip to Vegas was last year, I wanted to see the Star Trek Experience before they tore it down, so we went and enjoyed the hell out of it for two days.

  2. I lived in Vegasland for about three years. All the good old trashy dives have moved off the Strip…you can still find some on Boulder Highway, though, along with cheap steaks.

  3. God, that’s vivid writing. I don’t quite feel like I was there (Because I wasn’t) but I feel like I wish I had been there. I totally want a fictional story that jumps off from this experience now. Also, now I want to fly to Vegas and go diving. My mind just jumped awake – what a great way to start the morning. Thanks for opening the vault. There’s a lot of cool stuff in there!
    Cheers!

  4. Awesome to see the Vault posts, and even having only been there a couple of times and then really only passing through (yay underage on road trips) this does not surprise me in the least somehow.
    On another unrelated note: the SO brought home a couple of 80s movies the other night for some “silly, dork movie nights” as she put it. You can guess what we watched night before last, and I hadn’t seen it in years. Watching it with her pre-teen nephew was hilarious and fun.

  5. I was thinking the same thing. Good stuff Wil. Perhaps one day you shall write a book about your travels or some such thing. By the by… I have looked high and low for a P.O. Box for you. I would like to send something your way via snail mail. Thanks!

  6. Used to go to conventions in Vegas several times a year for about 5 years. Because of a lack of budget (I worked for a tiny, little publisher), we were never able to get a car.
    Functionally, it meant I was never able to stray too far from the strip.
    By the end of the trip my brain, feet and soul would be sore. I would see flashing lights in the periphery of my vision when I went to sleep. The sad, ubiquitous, baseball-card-like prostitute cards that littered the sidewalks didn’t even touch me. I was always happy to go home, and grew to despise Vegas.
    I’ve heard that there are nice things about the city. Everyone tells me, if you go off the strip, there are fun and interesting things to do. My boss once took me off the strip to a place called Chicago Joe’s that had good sauce, but was next to a ramshackle, single-floor tenement that just made me depressed.
    Don’t get me wrong. I know there’s more to the city. I only saw a portion of it. But so much of it made me angry or depressed, I have no desire to check out the rest.
    It’s a great city for irony, though. You can be truly ironic in Vegas.

  7. I’ve been to the Klondike (and many others like it, that used to be on Freemont) and you captured the environment EXACTLY. I didn’t spot any (potentially (escaped)) convicts, but there was plenty of…ahem…”local talent” about.

  8. Vegas is a place full of memories, dreams and closed-down Star Trek attractions, although the latest buzz is that the Experience will be re-opening at Neonopolis on Fremont Street (note to Wil: that’s FREmont Street. But you knew that, right? ;-))
    Anyways, to see what life is like in Vegas off the Strip check out this bloggie thingee. Wait–oh yeah. It’s mine. So shoot me. Lol.
    http://cyberyukon.blogspot.com/
    Final word? Vegas is a HELLUVA lot better than most places. Have you ever been to Baker, California?

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