Is that really the World’s Largest Gift Shop?
Ah, Bonanza! A great place to waste away an afternoon. Or an adolescence. Opened in 1980, Bonanza Gift Shop (at Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard) hearkens back to when family road trips were still a thing, the romance of Route 66 in our hearts. Nothing beat stepping out of the confined sauna of the family wagon and into a brightly lit wonderland of collectible spoons, bumper stickers, Jackalope postcards and beef jerky. At 40,000 square feet, Bonanza could be the world’s largest gift shop, but who cares if it isn’t? Roadside gift shops and Las Vegas share an affinity for superlative hyperbole, and when one store hawks roulette wheel ashtrays, used casino playing cards, Elvis sunglasses, dice clocks, acrylic toilet seats filed with coins and the Triple-B—boxing aliens, bolo ties and booze—size matters not. Just stop in and enjoy, before they tear it down and build another drugstore!
I recall some old buildings along Interstate 15 just before coming over the hill into Vegas from the south. Or do I?
You’re likely thinking of a long-abandoned row where Las Vegas Boulevard (the old Highway 91) intersects with Sloan Road. As a kid, I called it “the ghost town,” and when passing it on the way home from one of those aforementioned family road trips to California, I knew the comfort of my own bed was just 40 minutes away. In more recent years, the interstate-adjacent buildings were razed, but Sloan itself remains. It’s a tiny, unincorporated mining community that is also home to the Sloan Canyon Petroglyphs, a 48,000-acre National Conservation Area worth the jaunt. And earlier this year, Sloan welcomed the George W. Dunaway Army Reserve Center. Photos of the buildings you remember, including an iconic restaurant painted simply “EATS,” can be found on Google.
My Road to Ruin
A humble thanks to those readers who gently (ahem) corrected my error in a recent column about UNLV’s Moyer Student Union. The Ramones, after all, were a punk-rock quartet, and despite the fact that I used the MSU show flier as reference (one that included a photo of the band), I still found a way to type “trio.” For this music fanatic, that goes down as my silliest error since writing “Jimmy Hendrix” in a story. I guess that teenage lobotomy really worked …