Four days in Vegas
Let’s be honest, I am a bit of a party girl. No doubt about that. I totally loved Nashville and New Orleans and they are party towns, but they are also steeped in culture and history and that gives tourists like me a welcome respite from the bars and the partying.
Anyhoo, Vegas. All together a different kettle of fish. #1, not a lot of history going on there, and whilst I was keen to hear the mob and Mormon history of Vegas, it’s not widely referenced. Wonder why that is! #2, people are not there for the culture. Fact. 😉
Folks go to Vegas to party hard, drink hard, watch a few shows, see some nudey shenanigans, and, of course, gamble. And Vegas had me in a conundrum. Before our return to the UK (two weeks today!) we wanted to experience something so very, very unBritish and totally non-Cotswolds town. Vegas it was. I had no real expectations. Just bring it on.
And my mind was blown. As I write this on the plane leaving Las Vegas (had to get that in!) to return to Maryland for the final time I realize that I actually struggled with the overt opulence and decadence of Vegas. There are golden hotels that are the size of small countries and they offer everything from massages to sex shows to breakfast Black Jack to travelators so you don’t have to (God forbid!) walk etc. The list goes on. I found it overwhelming. I found it selfish and greedy. I was uncomfortable witnessing people flash their money and showcase their wealth and to hear stories of people losing it and not giving a damn, cos ‘there’s more where that came from’. And alongside all this, I struggled with the juxtaposition of wealth against the amount of people begging outside the casinos.
But, and herein lies the conundrum, I still appreciated and enjoyed the bright lights and the stunning architecture of the hotels and the choice and the food and the people watching and the shows and the craziness of it all. It wanted to swallow me up with its own unique escapism, but I chose to remain slightly on the outside, just observing and touching a small fragment of Vegas, lest it take my soul and never let me go! I feel a bit dirty coming away from it, like I needed a good week cleansing and detoxing my mind and my soul in the Tibetan mountains with nothing but one set of clothes and a cup of rice and a book whilst helping communities and educating small children. I’m no martyr, but anything that is completely the other end of the spectrum from Vegas sounds appealing after our time there.
But don’t get me wrong, it was an experience. And Blackpool in the UK will pale in comparison (not that I EVER intend going there again after a God-awful time back in 2000!). I love experience, so in that respect I loved my time in Vegas because it truly was an experience and experiences are what make up so much of my USA journey. It also made me think and reflect about my next journey in life and what shape that will take.
I do think, however, that right now a large dose of the English countryside is in order to reset my senses after Vegas!
The Canyon vs Red Rock
Controversial tourist observation follows: I enjoyed visiting Red Rock far more that the Grand Canyon. OMG! What?! Really!?
We bussed it to the Canyon (5 hours there and five hours back, with two hours in the Canyon only!) and I’m sure if we had taken the helicopter ride (and therefore not been able to eat again for the rest of our time here in the USA because it is so flipping expensive) we’d have had a different perspective. We only touched a small part of the Canyon (cos it’s massive innit?!), but I didn’t feel it enveloped me like I wanted it to. Oh gosh, it’s magnificent, but it didn’t reach into my soul for the short time we were exposed to it. Next time, maybe we can fly…?! 😉 Or camp or walk in the heart of that great big Canyon. Then I will feel it’s reached me and I didn’t just look.
Red Rock, on the other hand, oozed personality. If rocks can have character, then these rocks have it in abundance and we saw this because we were able to get into the heart of Red Rock. I loved this place, and we needed exposure to something like this, and Bonnie Springs Ranch nearby, to bring us back to the glorious reality of nature after the nutty Las Vegas strip. I am so glad I saw Red Rock. It is truly beautiful and will stay with me for a long, long time.
Kettles at the ready!
Englishers, the time is nearly upon us! So, fill up those kettles and stick a cosy on the teapot, we’re coming back soon!
I was asked if I’m ready. I’m not quite in the zone yet, because there is so much to do here still and so many people to spend time with and things to enjoy. I’ll get there, though, I’m sure. Reverse culture shock, I’m ready for ya!