Whenever we travel to/through the state of Nevada I can’t help but relive a few childhood memories.  I grew up in a blink of a town known as Gardnerville, which is about 45 minutes south of Reno.

When I was a kid, Gardnerville was the kind of town where we rarely locked our doors, heck, most of the time we didn’t even close the door.  We did live about 5 miles outside of the town but everyone felt safe to do so.  We had small town parades, town picnics (Carson Valley Days) and everyone in town went to the Friday night high school football games.  It was pretty much a page out of a Norman Rockwell coffee table book; the idyllic small farming community sitting at the base of the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Yesterday, as we drove hundreds of miles along the l-o-n-g desert roads of Nevada we passed through several different counties and I was giggling to myself as we crossed each county line.  Lyon, Mineral, Esmeralda, Clark, etc., I was remembering my 8th grade Nevada Constitution test that all 8th graders were required to pass before graduating.  I can still see the blank map template and having to write in all of the county names.

So here we are in Las Vegas (Clark County) where we’re spending two nights.  I have no idea how many times we’ve been to Vegas, too many to count and truthfully, I’m pretty much over the Vegas hype, but it is a fun place to visit on a few different levels. One does not have to gamble and/or drink and party to enjoy Vegas.  I do remember though the first time our son was old enough to sit down at a 21-table with us, that was a bit surreal.  At this stage I try to avoid going into the casinos because my lungs can’t handle the smoke which causes me some pretty good respiratory problems, so we try to enjoy the other attractions.

Gone are the days of the Rat Pack with Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., I think that would have been a Vegas to see.  Here’s a glimpse of the classic Rat Pack:  Now, it’s all about go big or go home.  To describe Vegas for those who have never been here, I would use 3 words… Big, Bigger and Biggest.  Oh, and decadent, yes, decadent is a good word.  And over the top, everything is over the top!

Actually, the city of Las Vegas is a normal average city with average people living their lives.  What makes it stand out is the fact that it just happens to have what’s known as the strip where everything is over the top and the city has a long history of big name star power, old money mob power, quick divorces and a few other goodies in the city’s sordid past.  Today though, anyone can enjoy a round of golf, an afternoon at the pool, great dining, amazing live performances and lots of shopping and yes, you can gamble away your money!

The New York New York Hotel & Casino

Another view of the New York New York – see the roller coaster?

The Bellagio Hotel & Casino

The Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino

The strip has a series of  escalators and bridges to keep the flow of pedestrians off of the sidewalks.

The Hard Rock Cafe

The M&M Store

The Coca Cola Store

Tomorrow, we are off to Bryce & Zion National Parks where we also go Big, Bigger and Biggest but of a much different nature!

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