Green Dinosaurs and Dozens of Other Things to Be Grateful For in This Crazy City

Is it ever too soon to think about giving thanks?

Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh

Illustration by Ryan Olbrysh

It’s autumn. The Thanks-o-ween season. Or maybe that’s Hallowgiving. Anyway, while you’re busy shopping for an obnoxious costume, I’m getting started on a list of things to be thankful for. It seems a little early, but one shouldn’t question sudden gusts of gratefulness. So without further ado, here are some good things:

The Colorado River.

El Sombrero Cafe on Main Street—cozy, friendly, delicious.

The friendly man and woman holding a yard sale at their cozy mobile home near Lake Mead and Nellis who were reluctant to part with a yellow, rubber chicken-head mask ($10 after haggling).

The range of shapes in the pumpkin family; the gangly, wise elbows on Palo Verde tree limbs; a sky so truly sky-blue I had to take off my sunglasses to marvel at it; every overlooked employee working in the Las Vegas hospitality industry keeping this city marvelous.

The sounds of football underlying all of autumn: cheering crowds, keyed-up commentators, the classic crunch; going out of my way to crunch leaves on morning walks; my accountant’s saintly patience at crunch time (extension deadline—October 15!).

The ongoing ubiquity of fedora hats—dapper!; the ongoing work of Three Square food bank—dedicated!; sharing the dreaminess and desperation of the people lined up around the Lotto store in Primm; sharing the excitement and disbelief of a woman who recently won $937,000 on two spins of a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at the Riviera; contemplating whether that jackpot makes up for the machines’ obnoxious “Wheel! Of! Fortune!” chant (I’m thinking yes).

The crazy love people have for the Huntridge Theater; imagining that crazy love broadening to cover the whole city; the renewed Atomic Liquors; the not-renewed Dispensary Lounge; the always festive Long Bar at The D; the always amusing sportsbook at the Fremont Hotel; seeing Bonnie herself belly up at the Bonnie Springs Ranch restaurant bar; seeing Britney on taxicab ads.

I’m grateful for the relentless web work by the shiny black spider who lives on my front porch; the Republic Services guy who laughs and waves each time I drag the trash can to the curb with only seconds to spare; the Fiat-size green dinosaur statue at the Sinclair gas station on Lake Mead and Rancho; the 250,000-year-old actual dinosaur fossils at Tule Springs; hiking along the 65 million-year-old Keystone Thrust in Red Rock; sitting next to Raintree, the 3,000-year-old bristlecone pine on Mount Charleston’s North Loop Trail; sorting through stacks of ancient casino ashtrays for sale at a secondhand shop on East Charleston; the Neon Boneyard.

Watching Sandra Bullock floating around in the dark sky on the huge screen at the West Wind Las Vegas 5 Drive-In, which has finally repaved much of its potholed entryway; zooming along the finally repaved twists and turns of Interstate 15 at the Virgin River Gorge (thanks, Arizona Department of Transportation!); watching a man make herbal remedies with shark fins and twigs at T & T Ginseng medicine shop in Chinatown (thanks, ancient Eastern wisdom!); learning from the CVS clerk that juice-box, single servings of wine—yep, it exists—are as popular as juice-filled juice boxes. Hmm.

I’m grateful for the old man at Decatur Liquor who got up for his turn at karaoke and busted out opera; the palm reader in a trailer on Fremont whose wrinkled hands told way more stories than mine; the new drop-in mental health center at Rawson-Neal Psychiatric Hospital—it’s a start for a community in great need; HELP of Southern Nevada always helping those in need.

The construction of the Linq’s High Roller observation wheel—a major change in the city skyline that further makes me think about Las Vegas as a traveling carnival, but promises more destination tourism; the view from the Stratosphere tower at sunset; the view from the second-level front seat of an RTC bus; the view out my front window of a little tree that occasionally draws hummingbirds. Joyous.