Las Vegas

Meaningless expended energy. Staring at the slot machine. Boredom within excess and extreme materialism. There is nothing here. I fantasize about this wide strip disintegrating into thin air as the people in front of the slot machines stand lost in the desert. Dusty quarters are all around. Driving through the desert mountains, all around us were horizontal stripes - empty highway lines and wires strung out long across empty land. Clouds create shadows and shapes that crawl silently over the hazy jagged desert hills.

For three nights the view from my bed was a spire of flashing, pulsing, blinking, sparkling neon and lights. I stared at it as I fell asleep.

Tall slender Michelle from New York posed for us this morning. She grew up here, and just happened to be here this week while we pass through. I'm uplifted by her personality and friendliness. I would like to see her again in New York.

Michelle's father is a police officer. He was a little perturbed about her posing this morning, but she doesn't mind. Her parents don't work in the gambling industry, but they love bingo. Michelle says that if she ever moves back, she will live in the Travel Lodge - it's so cheap and has a pool and breakfast. It's right on the strip so people can visit her and be right there.

Imagine growing up in this town? Michelle says it is very different. The strip with all the outrageous, over the top theme casinos used to be just a couple of small places in the middle of the desert. Now it's a totally out of control contest to out do each other with volcanoes, sinking ships, battles, laser shows. Any glamour is gone but the money reigns supreme. Driving out of Vegas through Nevada and into Arizona and Utah. Red Rock mountains with flat tops. I wonder what it looks like up there. I wonder if I could walk around up there.

For the first time we're seeing desert plants besides the ever present sage. Smallish trees that are cactus like, prickly green with spiky ends on the limbs. We drive by dry river beds and a few scattered casino resorts - elaborate pumped up green golf course grass sticking out among the browns, oranges, tawny amber colors. The highway in front of us looks like it ends at a mountain. We drive into a huge crevasse - blasted from the rock. The striated lines of jagged rock tower on either side of us in diagonal lines of black, brown, red and green. The landscape has made a complete and dramatic change. We are driving through huge red cliffs, mountains, red rivers, rock and desert. Nobody is here - they just drive through.