About three weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas again. Yes, again. It was possibly my twelfth visit to Nevada. For several years, I lived in Southern California which was just four hours southwest of Las Vegas. The fantasy city became my weekend get-away destination. I would make the long, joyful drive through the shockingly beautiful desert on Friday mornings and spend the weekend exploring the strip and surrounding territories. I would attend concerts and go to special events. I would sip iced teas while watching all of the colorful people on the streets. Vegas is the most amazing place to people watch. Colorful, dressed-up characters, beautiful showgirls, amusing musicians, creative dancers, and aggressive vendors decorate the strip in all kinds of surprisingly bizarre and fascinating manners. There’s always something to watch, to see, to do, to enjoy in Vegas.
Over the years, I have grown so comfortable with the city, I have no fear of walking the strip by myself at night. I am careful. I take precautions. I do things such as leaving my purse in the hotel room and dressing down so I don’t bring attention to myself. I walk confidently down the street as if I always know where I’m going and what I’m doing, even though in reality, I’m just roaming around completely dazzled by all of the lights, colors, and designs of the hotels and casinos. My favorite time to wander is in the early mornings. I casually stroll down the strip as I watch the sun rising up over the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel and glowing through the spokes of the High Roller, the large Ferris wheel that is located between the Flamingo and Linq hotels.
I know I am bragging about my Vegas vacations. I always boast about Vegas. I happily post many pictures of Nevada on my Facebook page; I share copies of my Vegas travel journals; I talk continually about my adventures in the bright city. I don’t smoke or drink or gamble, but that doesn’t make any difference. Filled with amazing attractions and interesting experiences, Vegas is still a wonderland to me. Not only is the city so interesting, but Vegas is so central to other amazing attractions as well. My trips to Nevada have also included walking across the Hoover Dam, sailing around Lake Mead, touring the Colorado River, and exploring the red cliffs of St. George, Utah.
Vegas is one of my absolute favorite places on earth. That revelation surprises a lot of people, though. I always get questioned about that statement. I usually get asked by someone, “How can you possibly love Vegas after you have been to so many other beautiful places?” Other questions have been, “Yuck! How can you stand the kitschiness of Vegas?” “How could you possible enjoy Vegas after you just returned from Alaska (which just happened this year)?”
All right, I will clarify. First of all, I stated that Las Vegas is ONE of my favorite places. The city is one of hundreds of favorite places I have seen on this earth. I have been very fortunate to have traveled so extensively. I have driven through all fifty states, lived in England, journeyed through Europe, briefly visited Thailand, and backpacked across Malaysia. I have amazing memories and favorite places through all of my journeys. Vegas is on my list of favorite places though the ranking constantly changes with each new travel experience I have.
Usually, when I am asked why I love Vegas, I respond with an answer that lives deep in my soul. I usually say, “Life is good. Life is so good!” There are so many wonderful things in life. I never understood why anyone would pick to live or to do or to read or to listen to or to see or to be just one thing. I want it all. I want all that life has to offer. I don’t want to choose just one type of book or music or movie or religion or drink or food or people to enjoy. I want to see the sunrise over the High Roller as much as I want to see the sunrise over the Rocky Mountains. I want to see the lights glittering over Las Vegas in the middle of the night in the same way that I saw the casinos of Monte Carlo glistening in the distant darkness as my friends and I stood on top of a cliff overlooking Monaco. It doesn’t matter; it’s all life and it’s all beautiful to me.
Though I am currently planning trips to Australia and other countries, I will always return to Vegas. Yes, there are times when Vegas can get a little rough. I have seen things like people drunk in the streets and showgirls who display a little more of their “belongings” than I really care to see. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t get involved or worry about the negative. I know that I will continue to stand mesmerized in front of the dancing waters of the Bellagio and thrill over the dolphins of the Mirage no matter how many times I have already experienced those things in the past.
I think everyone needs to experience Las Vegas at least once in his or her life. Vegas is one of the most iconic American cities that is consistently depicted in TV shows, movies, books, and magazines. Media cannot capture the full ambiance and pageantry of the city. It is a surreal fantasyland that is set in beautiful contrast to the glaciers in Alaska, the mountains in Colorado, and the oceans of California. It is the quintessential yin and yang of life, which all needs to be experienced and explored.
Since I moved to Kansas last year, getting to Vegas is a little more complicated for me. The journey now includes a plane ride, but that’s all right. It’s all part of the adventure. And that’s exactly what life is…an endless adventure. Vegas is just one of the many amazing stops I have made on the incredible journey of life.