I leave it to a roadside coin toss to decide. Heads it's Ely. Tails I go to Vegas.
Okay, two out of three.
I tell myself to cowboy up, but it's no use. I am just not a Vegas guy. My vices are furtive and small-bore. That is not the Vegas way.
There's a big neon sign out at the desert's edge, flashing the city motto.
"Gamblin' and Whores! Whores and Gamblin'!"
They say it's visible from outer space.
I walk from my hotel up to the Strip, and realize quickly that only losers walk in Vegas. Car exhaust combines with cigarette smoke and cheap perfume into a hot, acrid cloud. On the upside, I make faster progress than the snarled traffic.
Carrying a tripod and wearing dirty cargo shorts and a baggy shirt, I look like a cross between a Danish backpacker and a skate punk gone to seed. It is not a flattering look.
I make it as far as the Flamingo. The crowds are moving thickly between refrigerated casinos. An 80-foot portrait of Donnie and Marie Osmond stares down from the hotel billboard, distracting me from the dozens of nude call-girl trading cards littering the sidewalk.
The lights, the crowd, the noise, the frickin' Osmonds...This is not my place, and these are not my people.
I turn and walk back to my hotel, stopping just long enough to buy a six-pack. By the time I get there, I can't even be bothered to decipher the pay-per-view menu.
I stop on my way out of town just long enough to take a parting snapshot. The flipside of the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign offers some sensible advice.
"Drive Carefully. Come back soon."
Um...I'll do what I can on the first bit. But don't hold your breath otherwise.