Whenever I tell people that I was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, inevitably the reply is Whhaaa? People live there? It makes for a unique distinction to be sure. I mean, who comes from Vegas? Where do they go when they leave? The answer for my husband and I was the beautiful state of Colorado. Denver, CO to be more specific. We got out of Nevada at the first opportunity, and boy, were we lucky to end up here.
The biggest difference I noted with awe when we arrived in our new hometown was the buildings. This might sound strange, but the buildings downtown got me excited. I’ve been around tall, bedecked, extravagant high-rises my whole life, but the ones here in Denver, in a real city, were completely different in one key aspect. They weren’t casinos. This is the first thing I tell people about the difference between Vegas and any other city is that everything there is a casino. There are slot machines in the grocery stores. When you want to go out and do something, see a movie, go bowling, go ice skating, you go to a casino. Teenagers hang out in food courts where an edge of carpeting is all that separates them from the dinging, flashing, gambling machines a few feet away. After a while, you don’t even notice them. The pervasiveness of the slot machine is universal there.
Things I love about Colorado: There is green. I mean the color green, outside. There are changes of season beyond hot wind/cold wind. Snow! The smell of rain on the air. Parks you can walk in and trails to take your bike. Giant mountains. Purple mountain majesty? I finally get that now. Vegas is surrounded by mountains too, but they are nothing like the Rockies. It is like comparing a sickly circle of shrubs to a lush forest. Restaurants are all over the place downtown, and you don’t have to hike a mile and a half into a casino to get to them. Broadway plays at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts (also not in a casino!) or smaller local fares in places like the Boulder dinner theater. Brunch downtown. Skiing and snowboarding. Little mountain towns like Breckenridge only a few hours away. The universal love of dogs. Open space you want to be in. The zoo. I’m crazy about the zoo. Sports! Nevada has no big sports teams. The stadiums are beyond cool.
Things I miss about Vegas: 24 hour food service, free parking everywhere, top-notch air conditioning, pools galore, and In-N-Out.