I like glitter and the visual bombardment. Neon and flash. It’s the strip, baby… and it beckons revelers into casinos, theaters, high end retail shops, restaurants and other financial sinkholes. What’s not to like?
And it’s an ideal gateway for any landscape photographer. A half hour to picturesque Red Rock Canyon, an hour to a personal favorite, Valley of Fire State Park, and just two and a little more to the amazing Death Valley National Park. If you have more time and are a bit more adventurous, three hours of driving gets to you Zion, four to Bryce and four and a half delivers you to the pinnacle: Grand Canyon National Park. Easy, mostly straight paths with good cellular coverage and ample rest stops until you get further out into the desert; all you need is a rental car and some time. Las Vegas – the ultimate launchpad.
And just a few days ago, I was right there…
… walking along The Boulevard, marveling at the technical wonder that is the Bellagio water fountain show. And a few steps behind me was a homeless alcoholic, curled up and unconscious on the cement walkway. A group of men, laughing and fist pumping each other, approached the man and one jokingly perhaps placed a twenty dollar bill in his hand. Within minutes, a Vegas policeman was on the scene and then an ambulance arrived.
I don’t gamble because I don’t really know how and because I’m sure I’ll walk away the poorer for it.
And the unrelenting approachers. Teens. Grandmothers. They hand you small baseball card-sized inducements to stray. One older woman wore a t-shirt with the undressed figure of a vivacious she and the words: “Girls in 15 minutes!” strewn across the back. Girls, girls, girls. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Really?
The above self-portrait was taken just prior to checking out of the Mirage. It sums it up. And the security guards and posted warnings about “Photography Not Allowed” ensured that I acted quickly, setting the camera up on a chair and configuring the self-timer to 10 seconds. Bam, I was done.
Fortunately, the gateway thing will provide for some (black and white, of course) landscape images. Check back in the coming days.