That ruggedly beautiful far north and
down east state of Maine describes itself as embodying ďthe way life
should be.Ē Most folks would agree wholeheartedly with this slogan, as
long as they visit in July, August, September, or October. That is to say,
after the brutal winter, springís mud season, and early summerís black
fly infestation have abated.
But Iím not picking on Maine. Fact is,
I love Maine, having visited on a couple of occasions (and looking forward
to more visits) and being greatly taken with its rocky coast, picturesque
lighthouses, cozy mountains next to the shore, tasty, fresh seafood, and the
clipped, tangy talk of the locals.
But any talk about how life should be
always reminds me that one personís paradise can be anotherís purgatory.
Take, for instance, observations and questions from a recent family trip to
Las Vegas ...
Observation: There are a LOT of folks in
this country, indeed in this world, who seemingly love to lose money, lots
of money. (I donít gamble, so, no, Iím not one of them!)
Question: Why does everyone keep saying
that 115 degrees Fahrenheit ďreally isnít that hot because itís a DRY
heat?Ē Trust me when I say, 115 is very, VERY hot, akin perhaps to opening
an iron-smelting furnace, or sleeping suspended above a roaring campfire,
Observation: Sometimes we Americans seem
to enjoy visiting the faux site or city, rather than the REAL site or city.
How else to explain the oohing and aahing over smaller replicas of the
Eiffel Tower, New York skyline, Egyptian pyramid or Italian castle that dot
Las Vegasí gaudy strip?
Question: Why was this dusty, dry, hot
spot chosen for human habitation in the first place, and how the heck did it
become the entertainment capital of the world? And yet, despite its
drawbacks (or perhaps because of them), it IS an entertainment juggernaut,
with musical and magic shows to please every taste, food to please every
palate, and sights and sounds that often defy the imagination.
Observation: Isnít this what the moon
looks like? I mean, arenít mountains on Earth supposed to have trees, or
at least grasses and shrubs of some sort? And did I mention how hot and dry
it is? Fact is, if youíre not downing major doses of water all day long,
your nightís entertainment will likely consist of listening to a young ER
doctor attempting his rendition of ďDanke SchoenĒ as you lie on your bed
in a local hospital emergency room, hooked up to an IV rehydrating your
Question: What do non-gamblers do all
day in Las Vegas, awaiting the shows theyíre going to enjoy in the
evening? One familyís answer: Wander through the amazing, and amazingly
garish, outlandish, absurd yet fun lobbies of the cityís hotels. They are
truly theme parks in themselves. And the shopping malls connecting several
hotels are enough to keep at least one teenage daughter enthralled.
Observation: Everyone from Las Vegas
seems to be from ... well, from somewhere else, either in the U.S. or across
the world. There donít seem to be any natives, at least not that we found.
Question: Do you think that folks
visiting Las Vegas from other countries, who are traveling to the U.S. for
the first time, actually think that this is representative of America? What
a strange image that would be!
Observation: Thankfully, I think the
answer to the question above is ďno.Ē (Unless, of course, they then
visit Disney World or Disneyland, in which event theyíre convinced that
America is one big theme park!)
Question: In the midst of this hot, dry
urban ornament of lights and cameras and action, is there nothing real and
natural and carved only by Godís hand?
Observation: Actually, there is. Itís
Red Rock Canyon, located just 20 miles or so outside the city. The big,
blue, cloudless sky serves as a cool backdrop to the hot, earthy reds and
purples and browns and tans that color these mountains in stacked layers.
Itís a stunning, refreshing reminder that the works of manís hand pale
beside such natural wonders.
Question: Whatís the coolest man-made
wonder in town? Which hotel, entertainment magnet or monument?
Observation: Actually, the most
awe-inspiring sight is likely gained by getting a hotel room on a high
floor, with a view of the distant mountains, turning off all the roomís
lights at night, opening the curtain, and viewing ... an amazing tapestry of
lights below you, twinkling like a million stars come to ground. And beyond
the lights ... nothing! Thereís just the soothing blackness of a solid
curtain of night in the desert, without hotels, without casinos, without
anything flashy, fancy or false.
Question: Whatís the best thing about
a family trip out West, to Las Vegas?
Answer: Returning to beautiful, lush,
tree-spangled, rolling, historic, cloud-covered, friendly Virginia, with all
our humidity and traffic and unpredictable weather! Virginia truly is for
lovers of all that is good, including the good folks like you who are
member-owners of the electric cooperatives that embody the solid rural
values that still define this great Commonwealth.
The way life should be? Ahh, thatís
Virginia for you!