Las Vegas – it is one of those places that fascinate me: It is somehow ugly and tacky and it offers in general ridiculously too much of everything, but it is also entertaining by offering good dining and a lot of distraction – both, in its many bars, shows and outside the city limits with man-made sights and natural wonders.
Las Vegas is that iconic city in the middle of a desert, in Nevada, in the middle of nowhere. This is where we flew in to start our trip out west.
During the last almost two years I have been there a couple of times and it is always a special feeling to arrive at that place in that sparse and barren land of the Mojave Desert. But I guess not only every US-American has a vague image in mind when thinking about Las Vegas, also foreigners immediately think about gambling, bright neon signs, big theme-hotels and a lot of different entertainment specifically aimed at adults.
During the day Vegas is almost a normal city, but when it gets dark, the entertainment is on. Music, neon lights, a lot of naked skin. Groups of tipsy bachelor or bachelorette partiers roam through the bars, elderly couples walk around, groups of people of all ages are having fun and let this city entertain them. And then, the casinos! They are, again, a different world: windowless places, cigarette smoke wafting through the air, slot machines are flashing and waiting for the next … yeah, for whom? Who are these people? I have mostly seen elderly souls with tired eyes, sitting lonesome in front of those coin or credit card eating machines. Around the tables a very mixed crowd: younger and older, laughing, having fun, however, some take it very serious.
But how did Las Vegas become what it is? Its history is interwoven with the construction of the Hoover Dam. This dam, that is blocking the Colorado River in order to control floods, produce irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power, was built during the Great Depression in the 30’s. The workers and their families where settled in the town of Boulder City. But to prevent problems, gambling and drinking was strictly forbidden. Therefore workers started to venture out to the bars and entertainment facilities in not-so-far Las Vegas, where also gambling was legal. Over the years the city became synonymous with entertainment for adults, and also even a favorite place to hold conventions and conferences. For the more outdoorsy people the area has something to offer: only a couple of miles outside the city, Red Rocks Canyon boasts with shorter and longer hiking trails into a world of rocks and sand. And if you look closer you’ll definitely see the real beauty of the desert of Nevada in its many plants and blossoms and wildlife.