Thursday, September 13, 2007

Las Vegas – End of Days

The apocalyptic title of this entry expresses my feelings about my time in Las Vegas. The problem is, people shouldn’t live there. It’s a desert! It was 106 degrees every day we were there. You can’t live without air conditioning. You can’t go any where unless you drive a car. The city is in a constant state of drought because, well, it’s in a desert!

The town of Las Vegas was originally built at a spring, or maybe a couple of springs. There was enough water for a few people. But they have long since outgrown that meager water supply. So they’ve damned up the Colorado River and created Lake Meade. Every time I’m in Las Vegas, my colleagues always express surprise at how low the water is in Lake Meade. How could they possibly be surprised? Most of the southwestern U.S. uses the Colorado river as their water supply. And more people keep moving in, creating an ever-increasing demand on the same water supply. This isn’t rocket science. It’s not even hydrology or ecology. It’s math!

On the plus side, most of the electricity in Las Vegas comes from Hoover Damn, so at least they aren’t pumping coal emissions into the air. There’s enough smog as it is, as this picture shows.

My wife felt sick when we were on the Strip: head aches, sneezing, common allergy symptoms. She spent her days in Red Rock Canyon while I was at meetings, and felt great there. It had to be the smog. Vegas’s smog problems are simple as well: since people are obliged to drive everywhere, they, well, do. The problem is exacerbated by geography: Vegas is surrounded by mountains, so the smog never blows away. It just sits there like soup in a bowl.

There was one good discovery in Vegas itself: Bouchon, at The Venetian, a bistro owned by Chef Thomas Keller of French Laundry. We didn’t have reservations, but we decided to take a chance. We ate at the bar. The food was fabulous, and the restaurant itself was very nice. A bit kitchy, perhaps, decorated in the “Parisian Bistro” style, but not over the top. It was the best food I’ve had in all my trips to Vegas, except perhaps for a little Mexican place in a suburban strip mall, which I’ll never find again.

After two days of meetings and an early morning visit to Red Rock Canyon, we headed back home. I was sad to leave San Francisco, but thrilled to be out of Vegas and happy to once again be in DC. I always seem to forget just how much I like living here, everything about it: the people, the neighborhoods, our apartment, even the buildings themselves, and the weather. I love to travel, but I’m always glad to get back to DC.


Anonymous said...


That last part reminds of what they say about living here in New York (or at least the greater New York). They hate living here, with all the traffic, people and noise, but dammit if they don't miss it when they're somewhere else.


kwest said...

True, but Las Vegas ain't got Greenwich Village, the Brooklyn Bridge, Little India, or even Hoboken. That's what people miss. Who misses Cirque du Soleil or Carrot Top? I mean, besides me.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't know if I miss Little India...too much curry for me.