As a man who does not drink or gamble, I could not have spent the thirty eight hours I did in Vegas any better. Granted, the relentless traffic and delayed stop lights wore my patience thin, yet I was still able to appreciate what man has created, leaving me in awe. I had traversed the mountains and desert for days to arrive here, blown away by nature’s design, to now stand in front of what modern civilization has created. It is quite a contrast, but nonetheless astonishing.
Growing up in Chicago (technically the suburbs), I am very familiar with skyscrapers littering the skyline. However, Las Vegas is repulsive in comparison. Between the billboards and lights everywhere, I could barely drive. Even walking down the sidewalk my attention span was no longer than thirty seconds. The monstrously gigantic casinos and hotels are as absurd as the amount of energy they waste. Each step I took within one of these extravagant, corporate beasts had left me speechless because of the amount of money poured into every detail. Painting houses the past few years has made me appreciate the amount of work that goes into carpentry, rehabbing, and construction, but it has given me the financial perspective as well. I imagine that just the crown molding and trim (between materials, installation, and painting) of one of these casinos cost as much or more than my mother’s house.
Soon after Taylor and I arrived in Vegas, our evening began with incinerating our insides with the spiciest burger I know I have ever eaten (I cannot exactly speak for Taylor, but he was sweating and tearing up as well), exclusively produced by Freakin Frog’s. Our host, Siny, recommended the place because a professor from the university owns it. A gallon of water later and we hit the main strip. We walked through the Bellagio (the hotel that spurred my crown and trim theory) to watch a musical water fountain outside playing “My heart will go” by Celine Dion. It was a bit much for me. Siny encouraged us to check out the old strip for more entertainment. After hosting me in Fairbanks, Alaska a few summers back, Siny and I became friends. She is the perfect host because she knows what I enjoy and we share similar interests. She likes metal music. Nuff said.
The old strip is wild. A digital awning covers the entire road, preserving the historic street and displaying videos made specifically for those under the influence. On that note, I witnessed some of the most bizarre individuals I ever seen as they staggered pass me from every which way. One guy needed money for a bus ticket because he just got out of jail after serving eight years for possession of marijuana (like sixty pounds), while another older fellow in a suit just stood angrily, frowning and pointing at nothing. Other spectacles included the zip lines above our heads, a restaurant that gave any customer over three hundred pounds a free meal, a very old man dancing with a very young girl, and of course two men dressed as women (one might have been in a diaper) asking for money. The only thing missing was a midget getting shot out of a canon.
The following evening was not as bizarre, but just as interesting. I became entranced by the artificially generated energy produced by Sin City. Luckily, we hiked Red Rocks State Park earlier that afternoon. I was relieved and shocked to see any natural aspect to Las Vegas. The park is gorgeous and has a similar desert / huge rock formation vibe that is in Utah, but still different. Every landscape has its own unique beauty, even the ugly ones.
We met up with a few of Siny’s friends at Senor Frog’s in the Treasure Island casino to grab some drinks and dance like fools before Taylor flew home. Here again, another ridiculous casino. It is so big and so much is going on. I remember my mom telling me how oxygen is pumped into casinos to keep people awake, so they continue gambling. Crossing the field of slot machines, in rows like the acres of corn I passed each day on my way to college, I had discovered the highest yielding cash crop in America. Not only do slot machines pay for themselves, but they take minimal space and do not need water. Take note my fellow farmers.
After taking Taylor to the airport, my remaining eleven hours consisted of sleep, a hearty breakfast, bidding farewell, and returning to the airport to pick up my mother.
—To be continued