Just how does one celebrate a half century on the planet? For yours truly it was my first-ever trip to Las Vegas.
I have lived within 600 miles of Sin City my entire life. I never felt the pressing need to go there even though the opportunity has presented itself a few times. I have always been an outdoors/camping/hiking/riding/beach/mountain kind of guy. Neon lights and concrete have their places, just usually not on my vacations.
When some friends offered me a surprise road trip to celebrate the 32nd anniversary of my 18th birthday, I could hardly turn them down. Vegas it was.
The biggest surprise? I enjoyed myself incredibly. We did the tourist stuff, including shows, buffets, and walking the strip. Adult beverages were consumed. A very small amount of gambling took place, and good times were had by all.
The reason I enjoyed myself so much though, is that it reinforced all the changes I have gone through and made me appreciate where I am headed that much more. The sheer excess of Las Vegas was remarkable. Over-the-top does not begin to describe it. However, because I like to go out and actually get to know a city, I had the chance to observe the side streets and alleys, the underbelly that not everyone sees. The abandoned buildings, the unfinished construction, the businesses gone under. People literally living in cardboard boxes, as you will find in any major city. But Vegas is like an aging celebrity who keeps packing on makeup and looking for attention however it can. Yes, there is money and revelry, but at what cost?
Fans of Las Vegas will tell me that old casinos are torn down and brand new ones built in their place. They will say that the city keeps its face fresh and exciting. I will never argue that point. I witnessed some wonderful things that amazed and delighted me. However, just like anything truly great in life, it could use a bit of moderation. A magnificent meal can be ruined by two bites too many.
I had the chance to have a wonderful escape in a world-famous city. I had an incredible time letting loose for a couple of days. But the best thing was realizing that one of my favorite expressions still holds true: less is more.