“Route to Las Vegas, Nevada,” my mom demanded from an all-knowing computerized character, also known as, ‘Siri’. And with a single screen tap, we embarked on a 1,300 mile adventure across the country.
To my mom, it was a lengthy trek packed with gas station stops and tourist-y retail shops. She secretly enjoyed it, because it meant three days off of work and an excuse to visit Las Vegas. But, she assured me that her tagging along was solely for my safety. Regardless of her intentions, she was on my side and by my side.
To folks back home, my adventure seemed hasty and wild. Sin City…Sin City?! In the heart of the South (Arkansas), the idea just didn’t sit well with some. My landlord, during our second conversation in an entire year, was quick to warn me that the area was full of, wait for it…sin. And, he encouraged me to stick to my morals and keep my head “out of the gutter.” Others didn’t have to mumble a word…expressions can speak volumes.
Twenty-four hours, two sunsets and one motel-stop later, my mother and I finally spotted the strip. Immediately, I got this all-over tingly feeling. Ever since I was tiny, I get chill bumps when I see skyscrapers (must a small-town thing). My mom had been here several times and served as a phenomenal tour guide. She wanted to stay on the strip so I could get a taste of it before I moved in with family.
The strip was so much different than I expected. Quite honestly, the entire town was different. Similar to people back home, I had long envisioned what Las Vegas must look like…and feel like. I pictured an outdated town infested with dusty billboards and gold … just a LOT of gold. To my surprise, it is nothing of the sort. And YES, I apologize for ever thinking that. Everything from the roads and hotels to the shops and restaurants – are clean, innovative and unique.
Moving into Summerlin also proved my foolish theory false. A quaint and comfy village complete with manicured shopping strips and walking trails? I could get used to this.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t until my assignment at Red Rock Canyon (thank you, Alison), that it began to make sense. With an iPhone GPS route set and a cardboard cutout in tow, I ventured out to the scenic loop. The further I drove, the more I relaxed. I rolled the ole Jeep’s windows down and breathed in the Vegas air. For the first time in a long time, I had a moment to myself. And for the first time ever, I was surrounded by this strange and beautiful natural creation.
I have seen mountains and I have seen beaches. I have traveled quite a bit for my age. But, I have never seen something this spectacular.
Fast-forwarding through the photo shoot of a cardboard character and assistance from confused tourists, the task proved to be very enlightening. Throughout the drive, I couldn’t stop grinning. And to locals, this might sound silly. But to me, it was the first time I fully realized I had seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in one of the greatest cities on Earth.
All at once, my mind drifted to the comments I received in response to my plan. I reflected on my decision to put school on hold for a semester. I thought about this place that is commonly referred to as “Sin City.” And … I laughed. I am learning not to let others’ opinions define me or guide me. But rather, allow them to fuel my aspirations.
I have found comfort in this magical place. I realize that there is SO much more to this city than meets the eye. I consider Las Vegas to be similar to a potential client. Early in, my journey has shown me that Las Vegas has a story to be told. I am reminded that, as a prospective public relations professional, I must learn how to invest in a client and highlight its positive features. In order to fully comprehend and value a business venture, client or in this case – an opportunity, you must step outside of your comfort zone and take the risk. I mean, heck…two weeks in my co-workers have given me the chance to interact with the coolest clients around. I have ridden VooDoo ZipLine, visited the set of Blue Man Group Las Vegas and worked at Hard Rock Hotel Resort and Casino’s Rehab Pool Party. Anyone who truly knows me, is behind me in this quest for self discovery and personal education. And, anyone who knows Las Vegas, knows that I am in for a real treat…bring it on!!