Monday, January 24, 2022

The first time I ever saw Vegas

They paved paradise, put up a parking lot
Las Vegas, NV
November 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram

The scene: It's November 5, 2018, and we're flying into Las Vegas on final approach to what was then known as McCarran International Airport (since renamed for the late U.S. Senator Harry Reid.)

I'm happily and wildly snapping photos of the landscape below, rather in awe of how virtually everything in view has been paved over.

Thanks to the magic of GPS and a little quality time with Google Maps, we know we're looking at the Galleria at Sunset mall toward the lower-right, and the Sunset Station Hotel and Casino looms toward the top-of-frame. The plane is right over highway 515 as I trip the shutter.

If I had kept on shooting, eventually I would have snagged an Olive Garden restaurant, which as you can imagine is quite the catch for a travel photographer in search of rare local cuisine.

This is my first time in Vegas, so my eyes are wide open and I'm absorbing the experience like a sponge. This first glance as we skim from east to west is both impressive and, not gonna lie, a little horrifying.

I get that this is a desert and all, but the near-total lack of anything green is jarring to someone who grew up in a leafy suburb and lives in a place that calls itself The Forest City. I can see why, with the possible exception of the touristy parts of town, virtually no one walks anywhere here.

Soon enough we land and I no longer have to shoot the city through scratched and pitted plane windows. But it's this first look that sticks with me, that reinforces just how different this place is from what I'm used to, and how lucky I am to have the opportunity to experience it first-hand.

Sooner or later we'll get back to window seats and first peeks at strange places. Until then, we archive-dive and remind ourselves why we have wanderlust in the first place.

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Save Ferris, November 2019

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