Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Haunted Vegas Tour (Part 1)

In the final days of my two-week long vacation, I was lucky enough to attend a Haunted Vegas Tour with my girlfriend, Kelsea. The experience was memorable, to say the least, even if it did not completely live up to my expectations. A brief bit of background: the two and one-half hour tour takes eager tourists and ghost hunters, both amateur and, well, amateur, to 21 of Sin City's allegedly most haunted sites.

The balmy, desert night marked on most calenders as August 27 started like most memorable nights do: with a lie. Kelsea and I left my house at approximately 8:30 pm, giving us enough time, we hoped, to fight our way through Vegas traffic and make it to the small hotel/casino from which the tour bus departed at 9:30 pm. The trip there went rather smoothly and, serendipitously enough as you shall see, we arrived at approximately 9:05 pm. For any readers of mine who may live in Vegas, the hotel was located on Convention Center Dr. and Paradise, just north of Desert Inn. As you can probably guess, not the best part of town. I found a parking space across from the presumed tour meeting spot (the bus had yet to arrive) and I figured now might be a good time to make sure I had both $56.25 tickets with me. Why I chose this moment, even I never quite understood. An increasingly frantic search of my pockets and all the nooks and crannys my PT Cruiser had to offer failed to turn up the much needed tickets. As Kelsea, who has the patience of the proverbial saint, calmed me down, my cell phone rang. It was my dad telling me I had left the tickets on the kitchen counter. A wave of simultaneous relief and fresh panic washed over me: I at once new where the tickets were, and that Kelsea and I were most likely going to miss tonight's tour. Fortunately, I was able to talk my dad into meeting me halfway in between the tour meeting spot and my house with the tickets; an approximately 30-minute drive. This spot turned out to be the 1st-8th grade school I had attended in my first years as a Las Vegan. It was now 9:10 pm.

Due to some rather skilled driving on the part of both me and my dad, Kelsea and I were able to make it back to the tour meeting spot by 9:40 pm. Sadly, as I had expected, the tour bus had already departed. But, as Kelsea pointed out, on our way to the hotel/casino we had driven by a small tour bus stopped on the side of the street on which the meeting place was located. We both noticed the bus's tinted windows, and the man inside decked out in a top hat standing in front of the seated passengers. We both agreed, this had to be the bus we had missed. After some discussion, we decided to try our luck and approach the stopped tour bus, tickets in hand. I made a quick u-turn and parked in the lot of the next hotel casino up the street, a few yards from the stopped bus.

The brisk walk of two young suburbanites not quite comfortable in a slightly shady part of town at night brought us to the cab of the bus. The vehicle was one of those van-in-the-front, short-bus-in-the-back numbers; resembling a small RV camper from the outside. I tentatively knocked on the passenger side window of the bus, the side closest to the sidewalk. Once I got the driver's attention, I pressed the tickets up against the window. He motioned for me to come to the driver's-side door. I asked if this was indeed the Haunted Vegas Tour bus, to which the driver replied that is was. This is when the lies started pouring out of me. I told him that my girlfriend and I had been rear-ended on our way to the tour's meeting spot. He seemed genuinely concerned and asked if anyone one had been hurt. I said no one had, and that the accident had barely scraped the paint on either car. He asked me if I had any police report or other such documentation, to which I replied no. I said I had told the driver who rear-ended me that I was in a hurry, and didn't want to make a big deal out of this minor accident. He reacted to this as if it was a sensible answer, and asked to see the tickets. I eagerly showed him my I.D., anxious to let him know that I was indeed the Jeremy who paid for the tickets. With the slightest of nods, he called back to the tour guide letting him know he had two late-comers who were scheduled to take the tour. I flashed an excited thumbs-up to Kelsea waiting on the curb, and we made our way onto the dimly-lit tour bus.

In tomorrow's second and final installment, the nature of people on the tour, loads of dead Las Vegans and fooling around with dowsing rods.

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