Six AM and all is well. It’s daylight out even though the sun has not yet risen.

What a bright, calm and peaceful morning it is. I sit still and soak it all in as I drink my hot coffee.

I’m back, I reassure myself. And as the java takes effect I look all around and become more awake. I’m back from the big city and it all seems like a bad dream to me now. 

I had not been to town for quite a long time. I was overdue for a major shopping trip and had a couple of medical appointments scheduled. So I packed my bag, hopped in my car and took off for Las Vegas.

I was enjoying the scenery and the adventure of traveling. But this faded as the summer heat grew more intense. 

It was well over one hundred degrees when I exited the freeway into Downtown Las Vegas. And oh what a shock it was to behold what this place had become.

There are strip malls here and there all along the streets that stretch for many miles. It seemed that practically all the stores were closed and many were boarded up. People walking all around looked odd and out of place. They all wore masks, even the homeless.

The city, simmering like a pot on a hot stove, was wrapped in a greyish brown haze of smog. 

The cars flew by me in a whoosh. Danger and uncertainty lurked all around. The only speed people seemed to drive was super fast. 

I questioned myself: Is it me? Have I been too long living off out in the desert? Is this merely a severe case of cultural shock? Is this just everyday normal activity? Are they all okay while I’m all messed up?

I don’t think so!

I had been to Vegas many times through the years. I saw how it had grown on each visit. From a mid sized town in the sixties, it had spread like a weed into a sprawling and heartless, gaudy big city. 

It hit me, each time I returned,  that it had nothing to offer or attract people except bright lights, glitter, decadence and gambling. I felt it was way overdone and over built and would eventually fade away like a marriage you might see in the desert.

But it continued to defy all odds, grow and expand through the years and spread itself across the valley floor.

As I traveled through its streets again I thought : Maybe it is finally starting to fade and blow away with the desert wind.

While driving around, I made a wrong turn on a street close to the I 15 freeway. It took me into a vast industrial park. Huge block buildings lined the streets for block after block. 

They were so large that one warehouse would encompass half a block. But there was no activity. There were no cars parked in the lots where they should be on a busy workday. Everything was closed and shut up tight. Company delivery trucks sat parked in the rear, idle. 

I saw a few guys in hazmat suits on the streets doing some kind of maintenance work. Otherwise the whole place looked like a ghost town.

I thought to myself: Coronavirus fear has struck here. 

I hurriedly did the things I came to do, then I spent the night in a hotel protected by artificial cooling. 

The casino parking building was eerily empty. More security and staff were to be seen than customers on the casino floor. All the gambling machines with their bright lights flashing seemed to call out for suckers, someone, anyone to come sit and feed them money. 

Next morning I felt great relief as I got on the freeway headed north out of town.

All through Nevada, along its long lonely highways, you can find remnants of what used to be back when, in better days. Here and there you can find ghost towns with a couple of large stone buildings still standing. They were once a hotel or maybe even an opera house. Now they stand lonely and bare in the desert sun and wind.

People flocked to the mining towns in good times seeking fortune, adventure and glory. Some found it. Many did not. Business flourished and there were good times for a while.

But then the mine ran out of its valuable ore. Businesses folded and the town shut down. People moved on. 

Slowly the desert reclaimed the space abandoned by humans.

This too may be the fate of “Sin City”, although I expected it long before this. 

Some day in the future it may shrink back to a village resembling that which it once was way back when Bugsy Segal found it.

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