Thursday, October 22, 2015

Free Games and A Free Spirit - Adventures In Las Vegas

This is not going to be about wild times in Vegas. It is, however, going to be about being in the wild in Vegas. Actually, about thirty minutes outside of Vegas. In Red Rock Canyon. That's where it gets really wild. Wild, as in Wilderness. On our recent trip to meet up with our son and his girlfriend for a last fling before winter sets in I took a morning off from the craziness of "the strip" and met up with my friend Sara who is from the Black Hills but now lives in a Las Vegas suburb. During all of my previous visits I had never been outside of the city. Not even to Hoover Dam, which is okay because I've never really wanted to go to Hoover Dam. I don't think they allow fishing from the observation areas, so there just isn't much to hold my interest. Standing on 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete is not my idea of a good time. Standing on red dirt in the desert is, and I have wanted to do that for some time but never made the effort. I had a feeling it would be great. It was. It was even better than great. Awesome, mystical, inspiring, calming. These are all words that come to mind. And it was more than that, but words can't do it justice. Certain feelings can't be described in words, especially when you're not accustomed to looking at a landscape like this -

My first clue that it was going to be a special hike came when, instead of following the wide well-groomed main trail, Sara climbed over the cable marking the boundary of the parking area and motioned me to follow her down a less traveled trail. It was an alternate take on the advantages of knowing a Las Vegas "insider." We hiked down into a draw and came upon a beautiful spring. The water was incredibly clear and the red dirt and rocks enhanced the visual experience. Around this time it started raining. Not a common occurrence in that area. Instead of running for cover we welcomed it with open arms and continued on ... across a formation Sara called "Jabba." You would understand completely if you were to see it. (I didn't take a lot of pictures because I had decided to look at everything mostly with my eyes rather than through a lens).  Then we wandered into a stand of small trees where we took cover and talked about things friends talk about. From there we climbed up into a small grotto for a brief rest, then as the rain let up we continued back down the trail, stopping for a moment to walk a large labyrinth, and finally we were back at the car. It was a good walk. I needed something like that, and left feeling better physically, mentally and spiritually. I plan on doing something like this again when we go back. It's a nice change from the lights and sounds and excitement of the city. Not that I don't enjoy that also. I do. It's fun, as long as you have the right mindset and stay in control. I mean, after all, they have Flintstones slot machines!
"BIG WIN" is overstating it slightly. In this case, anyway. But it's still kind of exciting. Especially when you win free games. 8 free games to be precise -
I've won more than 8 free games on other machines, but this one sure made a big deal out of it.  

There's also art and culture. The Conservatory at Bellagio has some incredible seasonal displays, some of which include giant scarecrows -
There are also museums and art galleries. The Museum of Fine Art, also at Bellagio, is where several years ago I first saw and was inspired by those famous Andy Warhol Polaroid photographs. 

And don't forget people watching. No better place to do that than on Las Vegas Boulevard. Of course, sometimes the people are also watching you. Some may even be on a mustache-themed scavenger hunt looking for someone with a mustache who is willing to pose for a picture. Someone! 
Yes. Out of thousands of people in that area on that night they picked me. They never said if they were looking for the best, worst or most unusual mustache. So, I'm not sure if I should feel flattered or insulted. No matter. They were having fun, and brought me into it so I guess that's what counts. And mine is better than those fake ones. It is better...right?

It was a good trip. But it's always nice to come home. Especially when your home is someplace like this. Where there are still quiet places to hike, and clean clear streams to sit by and be still. And where it rains, sometimes even in late October. Oh. I should mention that right now on this night in late I'm finishing this story...outside my open's raining.  

Roger O'Dea        10/22/2015

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