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Taking or Leaving Las Vegas


Does it amaze anyone else how many people are crazy about Vegas?   

I just spent a weekend out there in order to attend a wedding. How cliche, a wedding in Vegas. Well, it wasn’t in the chapel of love and once they got past the technical difficulties of the sound system that resulted in the guests having to sing the wedding march– “dah-dah–dahdahhhhh! dah-dah–dahdahhhh!!!”, everything went off without a hitch…except for the one that was intended. I have to say it was pretty fun, especially the part where one of the guests got drunk and then got “tased” into a taxi cab. Too bad he thought the wedding was somewhere else and ended up having to drink his way along the strip to the real location. Poor bastard missed the ceremony entirely but showed up for the open bar. Wasn’t long before he’d drowned his woes and told anyone who could hear him (which was just about everybody) of his epic journey….  

The ding-ding-ding of the slot machines and the incessant cigarette smoke in the casinos nearly made me crazy, but then a “native” (someone who actually lives in Vegas) took us up the the Valley of Fire, an amazing natural wonderland of rocks of all sizes and shades.  

We stopped at an area called ‘The Mouse’s Tank’ , named after an alleged Southern Paiute Indian renegade named ‘Little Mouse’ who hid out there in the 1890’s. He was accused of shooting two prospectors and apparently went wild on a few occasions when he got drunk. He would retreat into the rocks where knowing how to climb down the sides of these steep canyons would leave behind pursuers who did not and were not even sure if that is the way he went in the first place. The Mouse’s Tank was more of a Mouse’s Trap for less knowledgeable pursuers. He was finally trapped by a posse in July 1897 but not in the Mouse’s’ Tank. He was caught a few miles away by the spring at what is today called the Muddy River. The official story is that he was surrounded, refused to give up and was shot. 


Being the rebellious sort that I am in such places, perhaps not entirely unlike this Indian, I took off by myself, thinking that I knew a clever way to hook up with the rest of my crew. With my new all-terrain sneakers, I zipped up the rocks, knowing full well that I was going to be in great pain for the remainder of the trip, but so hopped up on adrenaline I couldn’t stop myself.  

As I reached the peak of the climb I looked down below and saw a sandy pathway. See? I knew I could find them. I descended down the canyon and found myself not on “the” path, but in another place entirely.  


By now I have read and heard enough stories about idiots hiking inexpertly in places where they have no business that I decided to stop and rethink my itinerary.  I stopped and listened. In another place and time I would have reveled in the peacefulness of the absolute silence. But that day, the absence of voices was fuel for a mild panic.  

Though there were other routes out of the canyon, I knew that if I persisted I might just get more lost, so I turned around and headed back the way I came. Thank goodness I hadn’t made any jumps that I couldn’t climb back up. Except for a slight scrape on my left knee, I managed to return unscathed, hardly missed.

Having been in this sort of situation before, I was compelled to make up an interesting story about my absence. Yes, I had gotten lost, but on my “vision quest”, I had met up with the spirit of “Mouse” who had told me how to find my way out. Oh, the beauty of being a BS artist…..

We made it back to town, back to the clanging din of the machines, but I felt different somehow. So close to this debauchery exists a natural phenomenon that most visitors to the area probably never see. But I did, and that’s all that matters. No jackpot can ever compare….

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