The ground below me is sere, brown and wrinkled, as if giant hands had sunk deep into the earth, gripped it tight and then tried hurriedly straighten it out with limited results.
The airplane rushes westward, passing clouds as if they were standing still. And, it turns out, they probably are. The clouds cast dappling shadows on the mesas and valleys of the brown-red ground.
It’s spectacular country. Unfortunately, I’m flying over it and won’t get to explore. It’s really quite amazing. These mountains and canyons seem so remote and untouched and then, out of nowhere it seems, I can see a razor-straight line cutting through the dry lands. A road. Once you see one, the rest suddenly snap into focus and I’m amazed to see the hand of humanity on such raw land.
Out of nowhere, a lake appears and with it houses and boats racing along the waters, trailing out white wakes. It’s absolutely fantastic. And, once again suddenly, Las Vegas appears out of the distance, large tracts of houses with green grass blasting color into the landscape.
It’s been an amazing flight, one of profound beauty. And then I walk off the plane and into the Las Vegas airport and I’m jolted from the beauty of the wilderness seen from on high to crass commercialism of the greatest degree.
And I couldn’t be happier. I laughed like a little kid when I walked off the plane and saw these one-armed bandits filling the airport terminal. Of course, I have self control and decide not to play the slots.
I make it about five feet before I’m out my first five bucks.
Dudes, I have a feeling this might not be a good weekend for me. Wish me luck.