Thursday, November 1, 2018

A must-see place

Miss Denmark had never seen the Grand Canyon, so when she was in Minneapolis last month, I jumped at the chance to take her there. I have to admit to being a little devious about it all because I wasn’t particularly interested in seeing it again. I had my eyes on a bigger prize – one of the five places on the planet that everyone should visit.

Certainly, the Grand Canyon is grand, but it is really just an enormous hole in the ground – beautiful and awe-inspiring certainly – but still a hole in the ground. And there are others that are bigger and deeper, such as the Yarlung Tsangpo in China, which is three-times deeper and longer; and the Colca Canyon in Peru, which is twice as deep, but shorter. Other canyons are grand too, such as the Copper Canyon in Mexico and the Fish River Canyon in my southern hemisphere neck of the woods.

Yarlung Tsangpo

Colca Canyon
I have a list of five places that I think everyone should visit – not necessarily because they are beautiful, but rather because they are extraordinary in their own way. They are the Okavango Delta in Botswana, where the Kavango River forms a wildlife paradise before it disappears into the Kalahari Desert sands; Luxor on the Nile, because of the temples of Karnak and Luxor and the valley of the Kings; Jerusalem, because of its enormous religious impact on the world; Ankor Wat, because . . . . (it is astonishing); and Las Vegas. Yes, Las Vegas. Because it truly is a monument to one part of the human condition.

And Vegas was a good airport to fly into to visit the canyon.

Needless to say, Miss Denmark was blown away by the (put your noun here) of Las Vegas – the lights, the fakeness, the mindless gambling, the way people tried to live out some of their fantasies. And by the sheer number of casinos, each containing unbelievable numbers of ways to take your money. (A bottle of water in our Mandalay Bay room cost $18).

The Vegas of today is certainly different from the Vegas when I first visited it in the 70s. Then it lived up to its nickname – Sin City. Today, for the most part, it is relatively tame.

I learnt something too this time – about Miss Denmark. Actually a couple of things.

First, she likes to hobnob with celebrities.

Second, she's no profligate Nordic socialist. After getting over her amazement at the sheer size of The Golden Nugget, where we stayed first, she said she had to try one of ‘those’ machines. A slot machine. I found the new ones very disappointing – all electronic, with even the wonderful sound of money pouring into the receptacle below now simulated electronically. And instead of gleefully grabbing handsful of cash, you now take a little paper voucher to a cashier. Yuck.

Anyway, Miss Denmark sat down at a machine we could both understand. She put in a dollar, ‘borrowed’ from me and pressed the button. Since she had absolutely no idea of what she was doing or what to look for, she didn’t get excited when three 7s aligned. Since the simulated cash pouring into the receptacle was not convincing, she didn’t realise she had won. One button-press equaled fifty dollars. FIFTY DOLLARS. Her eyes widened, and I thought ‘oh dear – the worst thing to happen – a win on the first pull – addicted for life.’

But no, she stood up and said ‘That’s enough!’ Better still she handed me the fifty dollars! And we left Vegas as winners.

'What do those 7s mean?'

No longer a fistful of dollar coins

And then to the Grand Canyon. As I said - a big hole in the ground.  

So we were told.


  1. The 'Insanity' Of Vegas?
    What did you do with the fifty bucks? Buy another bottle of water....

  2. I agree, Vegas IS one those things that has to be seen to be believed. I've been there 2 or 3 times (business and just passing through) and hope to NEVER go back. The insanity and waste of building that place in the middle of the desert... oy, don't get me started. I'm having a hard enough time keeping my blood pressure down just with politics!

  3. I love Vegas and enjoy every trip back. I've gone there for Bouchercon, a NASCAR race, a couple conventions, to tour around (Hoover Dam), and, yes, to gamble, mindlessly or otherwise. The entertainment is top notch (well most of it - skip Wayne Newton): each Cirque du Soleil show is unique and exciting. Dining covers the gamut, even if somewhat overpriced. The people watching is unparalleled. I do like Vegas.
    Now tell me more about Botswana.

  4. My most memorable trip to Las Vegas resulted in my a friend of Wayne Newton. 'Nuf said. :)

  5. My mother refers to that city as "Lost Wages" - with good reason (or so I'm told - I've visited twice for conferences and once for my son's birthday - long story - but never actually bothered to let the one armed bandits near my cash.

    Congratulations on the win! And now that you've told us of the five places we must all visit, I expect to see photo essays of them all!