I’m tired of paying “Strip prices” at places like the coffee shop at Town Square. Clarify, please: Where is “The Strip”?

Recently and thirstily, I stepped into that coffee shop, ordered a flavored latte and iced tea—and left about $9 lighter. Nine dollars! I had to check my receipt twice; there are some bars where I can drink thrice for that. And thus, locals suffer the indignation of “Strip” price marketing, even at a far-flung mall that draws more locals than tourists.

The Strip begins at Sahara Avenue in the north, and ends at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign 4.5 miles to the south—still plenty north of Town Square. And while, in the go-go ’90s, I imagined the sign being shuffled farther south (again) to accommodate expansion, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. So, technically, that latte was not a Strip latte, just a Las Vegas Boulevard latte.

Pricing and value are relative to the buyer, the location and the experience, but it hardly seems fair to pay more for a latte than a beer at the same mall.

What are some plants that are native to the area, and why don’t we show them any love?

Blame The Mirage. Las Vegas and its resort corridor once trumpeted its desert appeal (golf courses not withstanding). But once Steve Wynn opened his Polynesian paradise in 1989, embracing the desert became passé and building fantastical mirages became de rigueur.

That’s too bad. The desert possesses a living, modernist beauty that needs not to be re-imagined as lush, green and wet. Few things smell as wonderful as a desert garden after a rainstorm, a bouquet largely attributed to a combination of autumn and chaparral sage, accented by high notes of lavender. As a child, I loved biking my neighborhood, stopping to sample the sweet nectar of the honeysuckle vines found in abundance.

There has been a native-landscaping resurgence in recent years, and the best place to absorb it is the Springs Preserve, where our natural environment is celebrated rather than obfuscated. No, it’s not the Bellagio Conservatory, but that’s the point, isn’t it?

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