The other day, as I was driving around and listening to my Blink-182 mix CD, there's a song with a line about moving to Vegas. I laughed a bit when I heard it.
" When we said we were gonna move to Vegas
I remember the look her mother gave us
17 without a purpose or direction
We don't owe anyone a f**king explanation "
I'm 20 (almost 21) and my move to Vegas was a lot more intentional than the scenario the song portrayed. I never really planned to be out here for any time at all, let alone a whole summer. It wasn't too high up on my travel list, but here I am! I really don't mind it though, don't get me wrong. More on that later... Let's start at the beginning. May 2, almost exactly a month ago – I packed up the car and began the drive out west.
I picked up my partner in crime and fellow photojournalist, Lauren, in Columbus. She accompanied me on the road trip. Thankfully, we were able to stay with friends and family most of the drive out there, which definitely saved some money. And it's nice to visit people.
Things were pretty boring until we got to Colorado. I mean, there is a certain beauty in the prairies of the midwest, it's just... flat and there's nothing really to see. Plus, one day was fairly rainy, but we got through it. We saw the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
The most interesting in Kansas was a giant reproduction of a Van Gogh painting.
When we stopped in Denver, a family friend took us out to get Bison Burgers. Our long trip across the midwest had paid off.
After that, the landscape changed drastically. After a visit to Red Rock Amphitheater, we quickly found ourselves surrounded by mountains. The Rocky Mountains.
Per that family friend's recommendation, we skirted part of I-70 in favor of the Loveland Pass. He wasn't even sure if it was open with recent snowfall. Luckily, it was. And it was totally worth the trip.
In Utah, the speed limit changed to 80. Using the app Roadtrippers, we found what was supposed to be an abandoned ghost town called Cisco. I love abandoned places. After a while of walking around, we learned that a woman, Eileen, still lives there and owns a good portion of the town.
We flew by massive mountains and through vast canyons. The photos don't do it justice.
Our last stop before Vegas was the Grand Canyon. It was the first time there for both of us. Truly breathtaking beauty. I had fallen for the west.
We got into Vegas on a Sunday. We came from the south on a sunny May afternoon. It wasn't scorching hot yet. As we crested a hill, we could see the whole Las Vegas valley laid out before us. We were both tired, so we crashed after getting In-N-Out Burger and doing some shopping for household basics. The following night, we went to the strip. I began to see the parts of Vegas people always talk about.
The following day, I officially started at the Review-Journal, but not before sending Lauren off at the airport. Tears were almost shed, but not quite.
It's been interesting getting to know this place so far. I pretty much like it. It's just interesting. I always wonder about people's motivations for coming here. I've learned to differentiate between temporary pleasure and sustainable happiness. This is a place built on material excess, which I don't particularly enjoy. I don't need an abundance of things. I need my cameras, bikes and outdoor gear to be happy. I don't need expensive clothes or goods. I don't have a huge desire to gamble. I never intended on spending much time in Vegas, if at all. It's so gaudy and overdone. But there's a certain beauty in it.
And it's different for me. I'm not on vacation, I'm here to work. I can explore this new and interesting (and highly unique place - there's nowhere quite like it) with my camera and learn about it through my work. I've become a visual anthropologist for a brand new culture, at least brand new to me. And that's why I've come to love it. My method of exploring is different than most.
And the Review-Journal has been great so far. I've decided to split my first blog into two (or maybe three). In the next one, on Monday, I'll talk about my work so far. I've had some pretty good assignments in my short time here so far. I also have a road trip video I never quite finished... Stay tuned.
Some photos by Lauren Bacho