Las Vegas – Desert Mirage

“If you aim to leave Las Vegas with a small fortune, 
go there with a large one”


Arriving into Las Vegas after hours of driving through the stark and beautiful wilderness of the Mohave Desert is like seeing a mirage. The dense concentration of brash neon-coloured, Disney-like buildings is a full-frontal assault on your senses after the calm and solitude of the desert on I-15. This fake, plastic city is raw, cheap, sleazy, larger than life and seems to attract exactly the same characteristics in its human visitors.

On a road trip around California it was hard to try and avoid Las Vegas in the neighboring state of Nevada, especially with a visit to the Grand Canyon in our sights. I guess you have to at least see and experience the place before making a judgement. My pre-judgement was to be 100% correct.

However an exciting helicopter excursion to the Grand Canyon would provide the sweetener for me to endure the 2 days at the MGM Grand Hotel. The hotel was immense … It was at least a 2 block hike from the main reception (through the vast expanse of the gambling hall) till we reached our accommodation wing then another long walk along endless corridors till we found our room. There was an upcoming boxing match being held at the hotel in a few days time so the was a large boxing ring setup in the foyer.

Las Vegas Boulevard or “The Strip” was right next to the hotel so we did the cursory walk around and grabbed a few shots of the area. During this walk I found the gallery of landscape photographer, Rodney Lough Jr. which was of interest. There were some very nice large prints of landscapes taken with a large format camera but the asking price of the photographs were outrageous.

At night Vegas came into its own and the streets looked a little more photogenic, although still fake and Disney-like. Along the walkways and bridges interconnecting the luxury hotels and gambling casinos were a large number of down-and-outs begging which contrasted vividly with apparent “rich” look of the surroundings.

Along the strip from our hotel was the Luxor Las Vegas. With its large black pyramid complete with vertical light shining into the sky and large Sphinx at the entrance it was somewhat reminiscent of a Pink Floyd album cover. The 30-story hotel, owned and operated by MGM Resorts International, has a 120,000-square-foot (11,000 m2) casino with over 2,000 slot machines and 87 table games.

The hotel is named after the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) in Egypt. Luxor is the second largest hotel in Las Vegas (the largest being the MGM Grand) and the eighth largest in the world. As of 2010, the Luxor has a 4 Key rating from the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, which evaluates “sustainable” hotel operations.

We attended a spectacular show, Kà, at our hotel by Cirque du Soleil which was impressive. Kà describes the story as “the coming of age of a young man and a young woman through their encounters with love, conflict and the duality of Kà, the fire that can unite or separate, destroy or illuminate.” Kà features 80 artists from around the world, and is a gravity-defying production featuring a powerfully emotive soundtrack that enhances the innovative blend of acrobatic feats, Capoeira dance, puppetry, projections and martial arts.

Doing things in reverse we visited the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign as we left this city, took the required photos then quickly left on the road into the natural and more realistic confines of the desert en-route to Death Valley. I was looking forward to Death Valley and its raw beauty after the raw falseness of Vegas.

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