Luckily for me, Suzie (and my copy of Moon Las Vegas) showed me what lies beyond the glitz. On New Year’s Day, we ventured to Hoover Dam. Author Rick Garman explains, “…Hoover Dam (originally called Boulder Dam) soars more than 700 feet from its base and quite literally changed the course of history for the western United States.” Not until I beheld it with my own eyes, did I fully comprehend the significance, not to mention sheer size, of this manufactured achievement. We parked in Arizona, then walked the 1,244 feet across the Dam’s spans and back into Nevada, captivated the entire time by its soaring height and breathtaking views of Lake Mead. Vegas was growing on me—I was ready to see more.
On day two, we hit Red Rock Canyon’s Oak Creek Canyon Trail, and Vegas revealed its true colors. Unlike most sights in Las Vegas, this one was created by nature, not man. Twenty miles west of The Strip, this scenic trail’s colorful layers of pink, ranges of reds, brown cliffs, buttes, and breathtaking rock formations hold one’s attention. Intermixed in the larger-than-life scenery, shades of green made their appearance along the trail—cactus, oak, and other forms of vegetation greeted us as we trucked along. About halfway along the trail, we came to a small creek where we stopped among several large boulders and took in the splendor. It was a perfect day and right then, surrounded by the serenity of nature, I realized that I’d found what I’d been searching for. Taking in the vast desert before me—and the other hikers, bikers, and what looked like genuine cowboys and their massive horses—as we hiked back to the car, I was reminded of what I would have missed had I stuck to my promise never to return. In that instant, I knew Vegas and I had become friends.
While I did eventually venture to The Strip—it’s Vegas, after all, and who doesn’t visit The Strip when in Vegas?—to enjoy a production of Disney’s The Lion King at Mandalay Bay, view the famous Bellagio Fountains, and stroll through Caesar’s Palace and The Forum Shops, by then it had become clear that there is definitely more to Vegas than meets the eye.
At the end of my trip, I opened up Moon Las Vegas and read this line: “It’s surprising what can be found by venturing away from The Strip.” To me, there has never been a truer statement. I’m thankful I gave Sin City a second chance. Vegas, you’re alright.