Over at the DG, my colleague Margaret Hartley writes about her recent trip to Las Vegas in her weekly column Greenpoint.
Here's an excerpt:
"The week it was flooding around here, I was in the driest part of the country, visiting my sister in Las Vegas.
People get a funny look in their eyes when you tell them you’re going to Las Vegas for a week. They make a lot of assumptions about why you’re going and what you’ll be doing. And so I found myself over-explaining my trip before I left: 'I’m visiting my sister because she’s been ill,' I’d say, when a well wisher would wish me a diverting holiday. 'A friend gave me a free plane ticket with her frequent flyer miles,' I’d add, for no particular reason. 'And I haven’t seen my niece and nephews in seven years.'
Like you need an excuse to spend time with family.
But then, it was Las Vegas, and I rarely travel anywhere, and never by myself. And so when I got back, and friends kept saying 'I HAVE to hear about your trip!' I just started to make things up. 'Yeah, I had an affair and lost $10,000 at blackjack,' I’d say, and for some reason no one believed me.
So just for the record, on my wild west trip I read books and played ninja stuffed animals with the youngest nephew, the 4-year-old I’d never met before. I walked the middle-schooler to school, watched his martial arts class, and talked to him about my son, who is one week younger than he is. I went grocery shopping and cooked dinner with my sister, took the kids swimming and generally did the things you do when hanging out with family — laughed, told stories, baked cookies.
All in a climate as dissimilar as possible to the one I’m used to. I may as well have been on the moon.
The day after the Mohawk River and Schoharie Creek overran their banks, moving trees, roads and buildings out of the way, I was flying away. From the air I could see the chocolate brown water, spreading out into all the wrong places. But soon enough I was over midwestern farm land, over Great Lakes that look like oceans, over the western expanses.
Flying into Nevada was an eye-opener. I had not expected those desert mountains, all dust brown and craggy, that surround Las Vegas, or the huge lakes created by the Hoover Dam. Or the blast of heat when I stepped out of the airport into 108 degree air.
'It was 111 earlier today,' my sister told me. 'And it’s 6 percent humidity.'