Visiting Las Vegas
Published on October 4, 2011 by Sara Foss

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.'

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