The moment I knew how thoroughly tourism dominated this burg? Back when I called to book an airport shuttle for a Christmas trip to my hometown and was told they only stopped at hotels. Where I come from, shuttles come right to your house. You know, so people who live there can get to the airport? But in Las Vegas, I had to haul my suitcase 10 blocks to the nearest tourist trap, only to learn that the stop had moved around the corner. To make matters worse, the driver only took cash, and he didn’t carry any change. No wonder I was the only passenger on the thing.
My frustration melted away, though, when, after hearing that I wanted to see the volcano at The Mirage, the driver made a special detour. We arrived just as the eruption neared its climax—flames bursting out gloriously all over the fake lagoon. The driver, too, was grumpy that day: A Los Angeles transplant, he was weary of this adult-oriented city and its lack of activities for his young daughter. But we both grinned like children as the last red-and-yellow blasts exploded into the night sky.