Every couple of years, my friends and I like to get away to somewhere quiet, relaxing and far away from my obligations in Mason. For that, I head to Maine. That's not where I'm headed this weekend!
On Thursday, we're heading out to Las Vegas. Not quiet,,, not very relaxing,,, but, still far away from obligations! Oh well, one out of three works for me.
There are lots of folks who don't enjoy Las Vegas. It's too loud. It's too bright. It's too tacky and over the top. Oddly, that's the list of reasons I find it a fun and fascinating place to visit.
If you've never been, it's very hard to describe. Las Vegas recreates the greatest accomplishments of mankind, but on a smaller and gaudier scale. Eiffel Tower? No problem, they've got that. Egyptian pyramid? Yeah, they've got that. Venetian canal? In the middle of the desert, there it is. Neon cowboys, feather covered dancing girls, half-clothed dancing troupes, impossibly huge buffets and rooms full of second-hand smoke. Yep, all there!
I'm not much of a gambler, though I do enjoy time in front of the slot machines. I can usually hold my own and return home without hanging my head in shame, though you need to remember that the house always wins one way or another in Vegas. And, I've got to admit that my adrenaline races when the bells and lights start going off indicating that I may have won and incredible $100 jackpot! For days after my return, the sound of the slot machines continues to ring in my ears. Of course, for days after my return, I also continue to smell the smoke to thousands of people smoking at the machine next to me; but, you take the bad with the good!
You do get to do some incredible people watching in Vegas. There are folks there from all over the United States, and from all over the world. It's not uncommon to have conversations with people from Venezuela, Egypt, Australia, Japan and Ireland, all during a stroll down Fremont Street. In the buffet line, I sometimes wish for an auto-bingo game card, as you mingle with folks from Vermont, Florida, Ohio, Montana, Illinois, California or South Carolina. There are wealthy folks and poor folks. Some of them are well dressed, while others are in jeans and flannel shirts. All kinds of people, doing all kinds of things.
I can sit for hours in the casino just watching this parade of humanity. Some of the people treat the entire trip to Vegas like an extended party. They think that every moment should be lived at full volume. Others move through the city more slowly, enjoying the fountains at the Bellagio, staring at the Fremont Street light show, and taking a trip out to Hoover Dam or over the Grand Canyon.
As for me? I love being a thousand miles away from home and seeing how many times I can find a connection to Mason!
I've bumped into the Gallagher family at the Cowboy Christmas exposition during National Finals Rodeo. I've come across neighbors heading the opposite direction down The Strip. I've sat next to old friends from Austin while watching a show, even though it wasn't planned.
We live in a very small world. Whether we travel to San Angelo, Dallas, Chicago, New York or Las Vegas, it seems we can never really get that far away from our friends and family back home. We bump into one another, laugh at the irony, and move on to the next encounter.
And then, after a few days in Nevada, the time comes to return home. The odd thing about going away for a few days, whether in Maine, in France or in Las Vegas, is that the time eventually comes to return home. And, when I do see those lights of Mason through the windshield, there is no better feeling in the world.
Am I looking forward to getting away for a long weekend? You bet! Am I even more looking forward to the great rush that comes over me when I walk back in my own front door? There's not a better feeling in the world!
It’s all just my opinion.