(The volcano at The Mirage.)
As opposed to the last two detours, I arrived at my destination by plane. Upon disembarking from which, passengers are greeted by the one thing Vegas is most known for: a terminal full of slot machines (not "very exotic" dancers, unfortunately). The "frantic slot machine bonging" greets you just after the pilot welcomes you to Las Vegas.
Everything is as shiny and loud – both in visual and audible aspects – as you expect the whole city to be. There are flashy casino show adverts everywhere, and the carpet chaotically shimmeys its obnoxious, shiny, multi-colored pattern at you.
In contrast, everything is neatly laid out, organized, and labeled.
Regardless of your surroundings mimicking constant camera flash, you know exactly where to go and how to get there. It doesn't take ages to get from the terminal to the baggage check to the exit, either – where your desired mode of transportation, be it taxi, limo, or shuttle, abundantly awaits.
A bus shuttles you to another part of McCarran airport, some miles away, where you go to pick up your rental car. You show the clerk your reserved category, they show you where in the adjacent parking area such cars are located, and you pick your own and go, the keys waiting in each pre-inspected car.
Furthermore, parking in any garage is completely free of charge; you can even drive from hotel to hotel if you don't feel like walking the seven-kilometer length of South Las Vegas Boulevard called the Strip.
(That's why I wasn't surprised to see any overweight people during my stay. If you want booze, gambling, and strippers, you have to walk a couple miles to get to it.)
But I digress. There is more to Vegas than $200-per-night resorts, abundant gambling, and prostitutes, even though people that want that are more than catered for.
This particular site was chosen since it offered terrain best suited for building a dam. Once the dam was built, the strong current was subsequently used to bring electricity to all of Nevada, Arizona, and Southern California.
Only after the dam was finished did more attention begin to be directed to the town. Major re-development of Vegas – i.e. the construction of the first big and famous casinos – happened in the following decade.
The dam is over 220 meters tall – almost as tall as the Titanic was long. It took 5 years and over 5,000 workers to build, it's composed of 2,480,000 cubic meters of concrete, and generates 4.2 billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. A consortium of six companies – conveniently named "Six Companies" – took charge of the project.
Just make sure to leave the nail clippers at home, since to enter the dam in this post-9/11 world, you have to go through on-site airport security beforehand.
former quarry and now a national park in the desert, with over a million visitors each year.
It's essentially a mini-Grand Canyon; you are free to climb all over its red rocks, making Indian War Cries while pretending to shoot arrows at people, if you so desire.
Locals use it as a park, coming there to hike, jog, and rock-climb, and petrol-heads go there to drive along the scenic and well-kept thirteen-mile road that runs through the canyon itself.
The park even has its own toll booth and visitors center with a panoramic view of the entire canyon. Visit Red Rock Canyon and you will see for yourself why life depicted in old western movies is so desolate.
During my time there, I experienced the typical Las Vegas rain spell: no less than three whole raindrops fell onto the windshield of the car.
Did I mention that, on average, it rains less than thirty days a year in Nevada?