The desert can be unforgiving. Waking up in Holbrook, Arizona the temperature was 20 degrees. My Dad and I packed our bags in the motel room and took them down the stairs in the brisk air and drove west, watching the sun – and temperature rise. We passed Flagstaff, the land barren and dry the entire way, and made a right at Kingman, until we detoured north to the flashing lights and ka-ching slots of that sinfully decadent city of Las Vegas.
It was almost by mistake that we happened to come across the Hoover Dam. The dam lies on Lake Mead, on the border of Arizona and Nevada, and its concrete arch is massive and impressive. Constructed during the Great Depression, it’s a testament to the human will and a monument pays tribute to the hundreds of men who lost their lives during its construction.
We got into Las Vegas on a Sunday, which was perfect timing, since the weekenders were leaving the city in droves and traffic was backed up for miles away from Vegas. We sailed into the city and hit the Vegas Strip. The city bills itself as “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” and is a sensory overload in many ways. There’s everything: bright lights, scantily clad women, and large monuments recreating historical landmarks: on one block there’s the Statue of Liberty, on another the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower, a Pyramid, and the Piazza San Marco. You can legally smoke smoke indoors, drink outside, buy designer clothes, and go to a strip club all with one block. If that’s not America, I don’t know what is. Needless to say, my Dad loved it.
We stayed at The Venetian, which had singing gondoliers, frescos on the ceilings, and a recreation of the Rialto Bridge. You can get a good price on a suite on Sundays, so we splurged. We gambled a bit and saw Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity at night. It was a whirlwind and some much needed fun, after the grueling 2,000 mile drive. The essence of Vegas was spoken to me at the bar near the pool area. When the bartender gave me my gin and tonic, I asked him, “Can I take the drink with me in the pool?” He responded, “You can do whatever you want.” Las Vegas is truly a city where anything goes.