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The Fremont Experience

If you have a house that is far from pristine condition and you are selling it, you do not say it needs repair, you call it a handyman’s special. The person who is not a handyman will take advise to stay away, but the one who is looking for exactly this kind of house and who is a handyman will be on the phone right away. Such people love homes with character.

In Las Vegas, there is an area on Fremont St. around the 2000’s with motels that are filled with character. This means if you are looking for the honeymoon suite on the strip and are willing to pay the price, these places are not be for you. However, if you have done your vacationing in the past and are tired of having to walk through a casino to get anywhere, well, then all these motels are worth considering. Notice I said motels, like most such establishments one needs only open the door to step outside. There are no attached casinos here, just rooms of varying quality depending on the motel. I had to go to Vegas at the invitation of one of the great champions of the PBR to attend the PBR championships as a priest.

These are places with character. I enjoy this area in Vegas for its character. These are the people they make movies about for those who live in nice neighborhoods and who can only imagine such places actually exist. I will say that as part of my ministry, I am used to living in depressed areas and this is one. If you walk from the Fremont Street Experience to the motel at night, about a half hour, you will walk in some not well lighted patches. Others have written that they were afraid. No one bothered me in even the slightest way.

I stayed at a motel which is a half hour walk from the Fremont Street Experience. I took a taxi from the airport which cost with tip the same as one night in the hotel. Reserving it through, I arrived with no prior contact with the place. I travel with backpacks, why two when you have to by default carry one is part of what gives me character.

The taxi dropped me off and I discovered that the office was closed, it was 7:00 at night, and there was a sign, due to a family emergency, no one was in the office. I was to call the Sterling Inn up the street in order to get my room, I did and the call went to voicemail. So with my two backpacks, I had to locate the sister motel by figuring out which way to walk. I walked the wrong way passed the Ceviche truck with the family still offering their food under their lights at the street corner beneath the dark Las Vegas sky. I turned around and walked about three blocks north of the motel and there found the inn and someone in the office who took care of me: A pleasant man originally from Chicago who made sure all was settled. The person who ran my motel had a family emergency and had to leave for the day, hence the cause of my situation. I also met the housekeeper, a friendly woman who was happy to make my acquaintance.

“I can drive you back if you don’t mind putting your backpacks on your lap.” She offered.

“No thanks,” I responded, “it is just three blocks.”

The motel is a bed and a bathroom and even a pool and at sixty dollars per night, when less than two miles away an inexpensive room can run three times that, it is a place to stay that will supply your needs. Keys are traditional metal things that fit in locks in the door like what was used for decades before someone invented the electronic lock and the plastic card. If there is ever a power outage, you can still get in your room. (An ironic statement because one of the major resort hotels on the strip lost all their power and had to evacuate the whole place that day I arrived; at almost midnight they were still testing their power systems and remained cordoned off. Clearly, you can pay so much more and be even more inconvenienced than I experienced due to a person’s family emergency.)

It is clearly an aged motel but does have the convenience of the internet, satellite TV, refrigerator/freezer and air conditioning/heating. (coming from New England, despite it being November in Vegas, I did not feel the need for heat or a jacket. It was well above freezing.)

Two blocks away is one of my favorite breakfast places, Carls Jr next to the Los Paisanos Autobuses which runs trips in the Southwest US and into Northwest Mexico assumedly to its Mexico office across the border. It is an area of the city which is predominantly, you will find empty lots where once similar hotels reigned. Other motels are still alive and are accommodating people from a few nights to months long.

Interestingly, if you look online for the cheapest place to stay, you will find the Las Vegas Hostel, which is a few blocks beyond the sister motel

If you need supplies, including toiletries and even a six pack, there are a few local stores and even an ARCO AM/PM at your disposal where I got my toothpaste, razor and toothbrush: “Sure hon,” the cashier spoke amicably to this stranger.

Public transportation in Las Vegas is outstanding, with a stop on the BHX among other routes right outside the motel and several in the area servicing to the main transportation hub via the Fremont Street Experience. The Deuce among other routes travel the strip. Highest price is $8.00 per 24 hour pass or less.

I needed a bed and a bathroom and not a dorm or a marble suite and I found it there. If you looking for the great honeymoon spot, this is not it. But if you have adventure in your heart and a need a place to stay, this is just one of several on Fremont Street that will awaken your inner Steinbeck, even though you are far from Monterrey.

However, a caveat, it is about a week and a half since I left the motel and have yet to receive my security deposit back. I called them once and even contacted the booking site I used.

Update, after working with booking site, I received my security deposit in full exactly two weeks after I left the motel. That one fact, actually put a damper on the whole experience, otherwise it was a good adventure.

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