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“What I Did on My Vacation”

My brief “vacation” was a visit to Las Vegas Nevada.  It is a place I have been before – one that is connected to me across time.  My father installed slot machines in the original Flamingo Casino (Bugsy Siegel’s place) and I have old photos of me as a small baby in my mother’s arms with the casino under construction in the background.  My parents took my brother and me through there more than once in the Fifties on their way into or out of LA.  A favorite memory of mine involves sitting stage-side at a performance by Red Skelton; but, other than that, I hadn’t been there in decades.

I should explain, I am not a gambler.  My father and grandfather were gamblers.  My grandfather was a professional; worked the card tables on the paddlewheel boats on the Mississippi, Ohio, and Missouri rivers.  My father was an addicted amateur; lost more than one chunk of change at the crap tables.  But me, I don’t gamble.

My wife and I were invited to visit “Sin City” by some friends who were headed there for a timeshare presentation.  They had booked a suite and very generously asked us to join them.  This year the winter has been long and stubborn here on the high western edge of the plains and a few days in a warm place sounded like a great idea – so we said “Yes, thank you very much”.

All in all, my impressions of the place were not favorable.  Vegas is gaudy, ugly, shallow, childish (not in a good way), over-priced, under performing, exhausting, noisy, crowded, threatening, and staggeringly unimpressive (except in a few places).  Everyone was on the make for something and everyone was a “mark” to someone.

I have never seen so much adolescent fixation on shallow sex (for a price), booze, easy money (a lie), and plastic “glamour”.  I have never been in the midst of so much sadness; people walking up and down in massive crowds looking everywhere for something that was not there.  You only have to go a few blocks in any direction from the “Strip” to find decay, poverty, scenes of squalor, broken lives, and undisguised ugliness.

In short, I will never go back.

However, I don’t want to create the impression that the time was a total waste.  On the up side, in addition to visiting with good friends we haven’t seen in months, we spent several hours enjoying Hoover Dam and vicinity.  The full moon rising over the casino lights was truly beautiful.  We visited a gallery of beautiful nature photography, some so amazing I had to hold back tears.  I got to hike an incredible trail in Red Rock Canyon;  and, best of all, on our last night we attended a marvelous, witty, and informative lecture by Ira Glass of NPR fame.

So much for “vacation” – at least for the next few months.

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3 Responses

  1. […] this week I posted some impressions from my trip to Las Vegas.  Among the more positive experiences I mentioned was a couple of hours spent listening to Ira […]

  2. I’d like to hear more about the incredible hike and the witty lecture…but perhaps as you reflect and go over those great pictures I’m certain you took of the Red Rock Canyon, we will see more.

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