I recently visited Las Vegas for a bachelorette party weekend. It was the second time I’ve gone as an adult, and first time without my family. It was the kind of trip that the bride-to-be and maid of honor planned out way in advance, and I was invited to join the weekend-long festivities. Despite all the fun distractions, my inner poindexter couldn’t help but contemplate on the city’s existence.
What I loved about this view from the suite was the desert mountain range’s dignified natural beauty. Its colors are infinite, and its ridges unpredictable and numerous. Contrast this with the two-tone Treasure Island behemoth that tries, but fails, to be the center of attention. No hotel, sign, concert, dinner, or gambling windfall in Vegas is bigger than the mountains that embrace this strange city.
With the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site and Hoover Dam close by, looking out the window made me think about the way humans have chosen to use this land. It has been exploited in extreme ways, with probably no regard to the environmental impacts. Vegas is Vegas: You can feel the undeniable pull of a place that was specifically designed to appeal to the superficial and transitory side of humans. Most people are visitors, coming only for a few short whirlwind days, then returning to their “real” lives.
So it’s wild that humans have erected this giant permanent monument of a city, with lasting environmental impacts, that caters to the feelings and behaviors we associate with what is fleeting and impermanent. It mirrors the phenomenon that many of its visitors are people about to make a commitment to stability and monogamy, yet come here to betray those intentions in a way deemed socially acceptable. Vegas is all about opposite ideas co-existing. Money in Las Vegas is valuable and will get you a fancy dinner or extravagant table service, but money is also treated as nearly worthless when spending higher-than-normal amounts are justified simply because “it’s Vegas”. This place made me think about the lives of the people who live there and work to serve the indulgences of visitors.
What a place. Some people hate it, others can’t get enough of it. Me, I’m a person who can have a good time almost anywhere, and Vegas was no exception. It sure is a land of illusion, indulgence, and over the top extravagance, but one of the things I liked was that at least the city is upfront about it. Like a bare midriff, little is left to the imagination because the seedy underbelly is already quite exposed. But halter tops can be fun and c’mon, if you’ve got it, flaunt it! Everyone here knows Las Vegas is the city of vice. It’s all lit up at night, and everywhere is drawing you into what could be the best or worst night of your year. It’s organized and controlled chaos. Despite the artifice and high-priced everything, I still had a good time. I was amused just imagining all the crazy trouble and ecstatic fun that people experience here. I was mesmerized by the energy of this place.
Even in a perplexing city like Las Vegas, I found I was able to be my genuine self and enjoy myself when I made the choice to give in a little to the reality of this place, and accept the illusion for what it is. A pyramid and a sphinx, right in the heart of the strip. A hotel with fake blue skies and a gondola. The reality of the place was amazing, too. Luxurious bathrooms. An unforgettable tapas meal of like 30+ plates. The biggest most luxurious spa I have ever been to. Thousands of people in a crazy pool dancing and relaxing. Most importantly, a great friend in a sash and tiara, surrounded by cool women who want to celebrate her.
I was so grateful for the opportunity to experience a new and different side of Vegas. I look forward to my next trip there, where I can hopefully see yet another side of this strange place.