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Las Vegas: Focusing on the Positive

A few weeks ago I made a mistake on this blog. I expressed gratitude to the Travel Gods that I, for the various work-related conferences I’ve attended, hadn’t been asked to go to Las Vegas.

See, I’ve been to Sin City before, but it’s really not my thing. I don’t like gambling, I can’t handle the thick clouds of cigarette smoke, I’m not a big drinker, and I like windows (call me crazy). The last couple of times I went, I enjoyed a few shows – and I’m all about the awesome variety of dining options in Vegas (and I’m not talking about the buffets, people) – but after my last visit it’s possible that I may have announced to anyone who’d listen that I didn’t think I ever needed to go to Las Vegas again in my life.

And then I made the mistake I mentioned earlier – I actually wrote it down. Which is why I shouldn’t be surprised that not even a month later I was asked to moderate a panel at a conference taking place in – of course – Las Vegas. Oh, the Universe has a dry sense of humor, don’t you think?

So, like any good traveler, I’ve made a decision that I’m going to make the best of the trip, even if it’s not a place I’d choose to go on my own. For starters, I’m pleased that Vegas is (perhaps counter-intuitively) a super destination for budget travelers. Assuming you can keep your gambling to a minimum and you don’t shell out the big bucks for front-row show tickets or high-end meals, there are more cheap flights to Las Vegas and cheap hotels in Las Vegas than you can shake a stick at. (Not that I’d advise you to go shaking sticks. You might poke your eye out.)

On the earlier post, the one where I tempted fate, one of my favorite people reminded me of a bit of an offbeat attraction in Vegas that I’d heard of once a million years ago but have never seen in person – the Neon Museum, where they take all the old neon signs. It’s a bit of a neon graveyard, I guess. The museum’s page about visiting even says you’ve got to wear closed-toed shoes because there’s “broken glass and rusty metal” around. This, my friends, shouldn’t be a selling point – but for some reason, for me, it totally is. It’s so completely un-Vegas. And I think BootsnAll’s Las Vegas travel guide needs a quirky article about the neon graveyard, don’t you?

I’ll also confess that I have a soft spot for one very Vegas thing – the whole quickie wedding deal. I eloped, am a big fan of flying in the face of the overly-expensive “traditional” wedding, and kind of like any place that supports such things. A high school friend of mine even did one of those drive-through weddings in Vegas. I’m choosing to ignore the whole Britney Spears three-hour-marriage ridiculousness that goes along with the city for the moment (I’m trying to be positive about this place, remember?), and celebrate the kitsch.

Really, I love kitsch. I do. Funky is good. Roadside attractions and things that make you go “hmm…” are good. So despite my misgivings about Vegas, I’m going to do my best to ignore the constant rattle and clang of machines everywhere designed to take your money, the haze of smoke, the fact that this zillion-watt city shouldn’t even exist in the middle of a desert, and the behavior that comes about when your marketing campaign encourages misbehavior. I’m going to do my best to focus on the things about Vegas that I like, find new things to like, and leave the rest of it for everyone else.