Monorail… Monorail… Monorail…”
That chant, a response to an out-of-town huckster selling a multimillion-dollar bogus monorail project to the townspeople of Springfield in the cartoon TV series The Simpsons, took on special meaning for me last month.
For the first time since it opened in 2005, I actually rode the Las Vegas Monorail. This raises a couple of questions:
1. Why did it take me so long to take advantage of this much-heralded civic accomplishment?
2. Will I ever do it again?
The answers to these questions are as follows:
1. I don’t like air travel.
2. Not if I was being chased by a gang of giant, knife-wielding mutant ape-men.
Here’s what happened. My wife and I were out for an evening on the Strip with a couple of good friends. We had just escaped from the Vinnie Favorito comedy show at the Flamingo with our dignity fairly intact (not an easy thing, as it turns out), when we decided to go down to the Wynn to give some of our gambling dollars to Mr. Steve.
Now, the journey from the Flamingo to the Wynn is definitely walkable-it’s about a mile down the Strip. Normally, that would take 15-20 minutes, assuming a few nimble maneuvers around the human scum who line the sidewalks shoving those naked-girlie cards in your face.
The ladies in our party, though, were wearing shoes with heels that pretty much became instruments of torture with extended walking. Standing there at the corner of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard, we looked just across the street to Bally’s Las Vegas, where a promise of an easy journey beckoned: “Monorail Entrance.” Hey, why not? We scooted over Flamingo across the convenient overhead bridge and got on the super-easy moving walkway.
Now, all that was left was to follow the Monorail signs to begin our comfortable ride. We began what we expected to be an easy stroll.
The stroll became a walk. The walk soon became an epic journey. We walked, and walked, and walked some more, all the while looking at the signs, which repeatedly mocked us with promises of “Monorail Entrance.” I could almost feel the swelling of the feet of our female companions as we walked, and walked, and walked.
“Monorail… Monorail… Monorail…”
After a period during which we surely could have walked to and from the Wynn-and knocked out a couple of girlie-card peddlers along the way-we finally reached the glorious Entrance to the Holy Monorail. Time to pay the fare-can’t be more than a couple of bucks, right?
Five bucks apiece to ride the damn thing. That’s right. Twenty bucks for the four of us. We almost could have grabbed a cab, had him wait at the Wynn, and then rode back to the Flamingo for that much. Oh, well, at least we were there, and now we could ride to the Wynn in comfort…
Ha-ha again! We watched the Wynn pass into the distance as we went to the stop it said had “access to Wynn.” We were greeted by a sign: “Shuttle to Wynn closed. Proceed to Harrah’s.” Turns out the last shuttle to the Wynn leaves the Convention Center stop at 8 p.m. It was around 9:30.
Eight o’clock? What is this, Mayberry?
So, it was back to Harrah’s, which is about a block from our original starting point. Then, it was time to walk again. And walk. And walk.
By the time we got inside Harrah’s-the feet of the women in our party approaching a horrific, elephantine state-we decided to just park our bottoms at our favorite games and give our gambling dollars to Mr. Harrah, or at least to Mr. Private-Equity Harrah’s Parent Company. (He’s an old pal of mine.)
We never did get to the Wynn that night, but we did learn a valuable lesson about the Las Vegas Monorail. As it says on the monorail’s website, it is “a quick and easy way to avoid traffic congestion,” and “cost-effective and hassle-free,” and “convenient,” and “reliable,” and “climate-controlled.”
OK, I’ll give it “climate-controlled.” However, if you decide to take the monorail less than two miles, here’s a clue: Get a cab. And, if you ever find yourself running from giant, knife-wielding mutant ape-men, just turn around and direct them to the monorail. Maybe they’ll get their pals Godzilla and Mothra and tear the cars from the track, all the while chanting…
“Monorail… Monorail… Monorail…”