The Vegas everyone knows...
...And the stark beauty of the desert that I know.
Copyright © 2014 by Ralph F. Couey
pictures and written content,
except for quoted and cited portions.
Life, it seems becomes a series of patterns, some by design, others we just fall into. For us, one of these patterns has become our trips to Las Vegas.
No, we're not gambling junkies. The Vegas of today is so much more than slot machines and table games. Entertainment is the best anywhere. The hotels themselves, designed around specific themes, are spectacular to see and visit. For us, there is the additional attraction that my wife's family visit there two to three times per year, and since flying there is way cheaper than flying to Honolulu, the opportunity to be with her family is priceless. These visits usually occur in May or June, once the vise of tax season is loosened for these accountants, and again in October around her Mom's birthday. These dates are usually when hotel rates are the least expensive. The week we were there, rooms at the iconic, if brooding pyramid, the Luxor were going for the bargain basement rate of $58 per night. But we always stay in Old Las Vegas, known as downtown, a cluster of hotel casinos flanking the now-roofed over Fremont Street. These are the names that made Las Vegas in the early days. The Fremont, The Golden Gate, Four Queens, and the Pioneer Club, with the trademark neon cowboy, known as Vegas Vic, mounted over the front doors. The nice thing is that these hotels are close together, making it easy to walk from one to another. On the strip, it can take 20 minutes just to walk next door. At night, the neon blazes, self-explaining Fremont's acquired nickname of "Glitter Gulch."
And there's another reason. While there this time, I clicked over my 59th birthday. What that means, other than varicosity and arthritis, is that retirement is fast approaching, and it is important that we choose where to spend what remains of our lives. The last thing we wanted was to live in a place where we'd sit around and wait to die. Las Vegas is full of things to do. We can be active and engaged in a variety of ways. Plus it puts us closer to our adult children in Denver and L.A.
And there I can enjoy an eleven-and-a-half month riding season for as long as I am physically and mentally capable of riding.
For me, there is yet another reason. For much of my sentient life, I have had a love affair with the desert. I understand that for most, this is an acquired taste. But where most see a desolate land of sand, rocks and occasional scrub, my eyes see a beauty here that my mind is frustratingly unable to articulate. Outside the flash and dash of city lights is a world that for some unknown reason, speaks to me. It is the place where I would like to see the final reel of my life unwind.
I know this sounds like a contradiction, after the thousands of words I have written about the loveliness of a cool forest, or the somber peace of a sunset from a California beach. I'm not sure I could explain why this is so. All I know is what I feel. And I just can't seem to write that.
But that day when I lay my tasks aside is still seven years in the future, and, as the poet Robert Frost wrote, "I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep." But I know now that when I do lay down for that final sleep, it will be in the desert.
"There are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness,
which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae;
the scrimshaw of the tiny and precise.
The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you,
like great gospel music."