Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Day One- Tuesday 15th April

Las Vegas lights, MGM Grand, New York New York.

Going through US immigration in Minneapolis was an interesting welcome to America. It seemed that the officials were completely thorough with their routine checks and examined all passengers as a threat. My first reaction at entering America was not entirely positive as I felt like they were questioning and watching every step that people took. Within the airport, it was clear that consumerism took place almost immediately. The majority of people at the airport had their tax free goods which sent a message about how people can’t pass up an offer.

When arriving in Las Vegas, it was clear that we were not in a typical airport; slot machines were placed directly in front of the gate. The city makes it difficult to stay away from gambling, it focuses its attention on thinking that people want to put their money into these machines everywhere. The lights of Las Vegas were inescapable; everywhere around you, there are neon lights trying to get people to go to a particular casino, or a particular club. Las Vegas is the city where all inhibitions are thrown away, where near naked women plastered everywhere. This city is ‘Sin City’.1
1 Adam Kealoha Causey, Is modern Las Vegas really ‘Sin City’?, Las Vegas Review- Journal,

Day Two- Wednesday 16th April

Children playing on slot machines at M&M World

The Strip, in all its 4.2 miles inhabits a select assortment of entertainment. Casinos, restaurants, clothing stores and gift shops are a repetitive commodity that seems to take up the entirety of Las Vegas Boulevard. Las Vegas truly relies on the gambling community, as four children were playing on an imitation slot machine in M&M world, it give the impression that the city teaches its youth that gambling is something to look forward to as an adult.2

Everything about this city promotes newness; these buildings are built with intentions of knocking it down. Many of the buildings’ walls were hollow, suggesting that they never intended to keep these buildings as they were built. The Venetian showed amazing structural designs, yet was plastered with billboards; reinforcing the idea that consumerism is what keeps this city alive. It is easy to compare the casinos on The Strip, the old from the new is noticeable and the interior speaks a lot about the intentions of the particular casino. The Bellagio had classical décor and emits a sense of richness, whereas Harrah’s presented a gaming floor with no particular attention to its appearance.

Every casino exhibited similar content within its doors; a gaming floor, stores, restaurants and bars. The gaming floors were surrounded by these different areas; suggesting that there is everything they could need thirty feet away from a slot machine or a poker table. Las Vegas does not only make its money from gambling, but also from these areas where gamblers go in order to not miss out on an opportunity to win the jackpot.

The Strip compared to the rest of the city is unbelievable, the rest of the city seemed empty compared to the compact street and seemed only to house suburban families. Driving to the outskirts of the city, it was clear to see that The Strip is not the only part of this city surrounded by mountains. This city grew from a small amount of water in the otherwise Mojave Desert and it thrived into a major city for entertainment.

2 Youth Prevention, Nevada Council on Problem Gambling,

Day Three- Thursday 17th April

European style park in Town Center
Outlet malls in America are a great example of American’s need to be able to shop conveniently. Americans are able to go to any store without leaving the building; food courts and a variety of stores are all close to each other, reinforcing the idea that everything they could want or need can all be found in one area. Town Center on the other hand mimicked European style when it comes to consumerism. The architecture within this area represented European countries, some were representative of Spanish villas and Italian bakeries, but it was still obvious that it was a version of a manufactured reality. Its intention of appearing to be a luxurious shopping area was easily diminished when seeing fake grass and hollow walls. These areas are “filled with as much culture and community as commerce… where customers could be seduced into leaving their problems at the door and focusing on shopping”.3

The differences in these suburban-like shopping areas to the casinos on The Strip are incredible. The Mandalay Bay resort for example is the opposite to the convenient malls as even the gaming floor is very spaced out and is not built for people to walk around in a short amount of time. Mandalay Bay held many luxurious amenities, including a man-made beach, as well as displaying luxurious style décor; however it continued to have hollow walls. The resorts’ clientele is very large, as it enables all tourists something to do; families are welcome and children are able to take part in the resorts amenities. The city uses different themes to interest people’s imaginations, “Las Vegas presents not a singular whole, but a fragmented one”.4 It is clear that all casinos; no matter the style or theme are all the same.
3 Jason Best, Reviews- One Nation Under Goods Malls and the Seductions of American Shopping, onearth,

4 A. Fuat Firat, The Meanings and Messages of Las Vegas: The Present of Our Future,

Day Four- Friday 18th April

Fremont Street, example of 'in your face' advertisng

America’s love of guns is an oddity to many English people. The right to bear arms is written in the Constitution and many Americans’ feel that the access to guns is a right that they many do not want to change. Within The Gun Store it was obvious that many people who go there bring their own guns and are there to practise shooting. I found it strange to think that this one place is full of weapons even though many other places we visited could have had the same amount of people with weapons on them, and it was not illegal or suspicious for people to have guns.

Red Rock Canyon provided interesting information about the BLM, the Bureau of Land Management, and how they use these natural resources. The BLM is responsible for enabling multiple uses out of public land, for visitors to enjoy it as well as the area be useful for grazing or energy resources. The BLM are responsible for Red Rock Canyon as they are to “protect and improve the area”.5 However it is unsurprising that they cannot manage these areas perfectly due to the amount of rangers; one ranger for every 300 million acres is not sufficient to keep these areas protected. These natural areas however are changing for visitor’s access; man made stairs are put in place in order to climb easier.

Fremont Street is a miniature version of the Las Vegas Strip. This localised area imitates The Strip and promotes all visitors to consume alcohol, gamble and go to strip clubs. Many people dressed up and exposed themselves in order for tips from people. It suggested that this place had a sleazy atmosphere; there was nothing for children or teenagers in this area as the majority of institutions were for people who were over the age limit.

5 U.S Department of the Interior, Welcome to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Bureau of Land Management,

Day Five- Saturday 19th April

The 'Bathtub ring' at Hoover Dam

This day was one of the most surreal days I experienced during this trip. Due to the variation of these small towns that we visited, the differences between them illuminated.

Boulder City is a quaint, serene town that many of its residents admire. It seemed to be a nice place to live, within the town there are a large amount of properties; starting from $125,000 up to $3 million for properties close to Lake Mead. Water in this area is an important commodity and people will pay a lot of money to be near it. Many of the residents spend their whole lives in Boulder City and are able to see the same people who they grew up with on a regular basis. I think I could live in this area due to the attractiveness of the town and the variation of stores and restaurants within the town allows you to have everything you need in close proximity.

The Hoover Dam was both amazing and terrifying at the same time. The ‘bathtub ring’ is difficult to comprehend how much water has been lost, and how much water has been used in such a short amount of time. The water supply for Las Vegas is not enough for the population of the city, the fact that there has been a drought recently and the water supply is not sufficient enough leads the city to think of other ideas to supply the city with enough water to last. In 2012 plans to pump water across the desert into the valley was approved leaving the city with a temporary solution to its needs. 6

Chloride prides itself on being a real ghost town, and it not only provides a miniature imitation ghost town but the town itself gives an eerie atmosphere. Meeting the people of the town enabled an insight into their daily lives and it was clear that they were not fond of tourists. A 17 year old who worked in a store did not appear to be a healthy teenager. He had aspirations to go to college after graduating from school online which seemed to be a distant dream rather than a reality when you consider college requirements of funding and grades. The town provided an unnerving feeling throughout and the reality of drug use was present with the residents. The town did not have access to hospitals, fire departments or schools which I feel would be really difficult to live without.

6 Suzanne Goldenberg, Las Vegas plans to pump water across 300 miles of desert approved, theguardian,

Day Six- Sunday 20th April

Bikers on Route 66

The road in America is a significant part of their history. We were able to experience a part of Route 66 which enabled us to see that it is more of a tourist road and many Americans don’t use this as there is a more convenient highway put in place. Route 66 is the epitome of travellers; it has been used for years by people migrating to the West in search of jobs and a better lifestyle. The road is a symbol for America and as Krim suggests “became embedded in the landscape… a historic memory that is worthy of national preservation”.7 However the road itself is not in the greatest condition, it should be preserved but it is not being looked after by the state. John Steinbeck contemplated this road as a symbol of America as it “is the mother road, the road of flight”.8 people who travelled this road were escaping the East in order to look for a new prosperous area to live.
7 Arthur Krim, Route 66: Auto River of the American West, Geographical Snapshots of North America (Donald G. Janelle, 1992) 32.

8 John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, New York: Viking Press (1939) 126.

Day Seven- Monday 21st April

The Grand Canyon- View from the South Rim

The Grand Canyon is truly awesome. The fact that is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide is just a factor in this amazing natural beauty. The bottom of the canyon, at four billion years old, is unimaginable. With around five million visitors per year the Grand Canyon proves to be an important part of the history in America. Humans have been invading on this natural wonder for thousands of years and as the National Park Service website states, “human artefacts are nearly 12,000 years old”.9 it is clear that visitors can enjoy the Grand Canyon on a daily basis just by the view itself. However the intrusion of helicopter flights and man-made materials introduced on trails are somewhat a negative to the sustaining the beauty of this natural wonders of the world.

Many of the visitors we saw immediately took out their phones and cameras to take pictures, instead of witnessing it for themselves first. Many people were looking at their phones instead of taking in the view of the canyon which I found quite sad; many people spend their lives hoping to be able to see the Grand Canyon, but others take it for granted.

9 Grand Canyon National Park, History and Culture, National Park Service,