Down the Las Vegas Strip

 PHOTO BY KIRSTYN PANYNTER 

PHOTO BY KIRSTYN PANYNTER 

 

This past week I spent time in Las Vegas and California. I joined my husband on the Vegas part of my trip and while  he attended an automative conference held at the convention center I explored the Vegas Strip alone. Exploring Las Vegas is an adventure of curiosity and wit. I learned which street performers to engage with and which ones to avoid. One morning, I went for a jog from our hotel room at the Palazzo up to the Stratosphere, a round shape bulb with a needle on top that sits at one end of the Las Vegas Strip. Of course, in my usual fashion, I started out running but realized I needed to reserve some energy for the trip back and begin to walk. The scenery changes from the central portion of the strip. As I walked, I came across miles of undeveloped land, graffiti and tiny shops with "Everything on Sale" signs in the window. Unlike areas in front of the Cosmopolitan and Bellagio, the homeless people in this area appeared to be unable to even ask verbally for spare change; they merely seem to exist, holding their signs and staring off into the distance. Homelessness is prevalent in Vegas. In Nevada there are 7,900 people without homes and 58% of those people are "unsheltered." I came across a senior man who attached a change cup to his two-legged walker. He had a long beard and wrinkled hands. I noticed him because his walker was missing two legs, so it leaned forward while he attempted to hold it in place. He did not look up or say anything as a walked by but he was someone I felt called to give some money. It wasn't much, and I could have given more, but I never know what the correct amount is. He, however, was the one I could affect that day. 

I picked up my pace. I wanted to make it back to the hotel before my husband finished his meetings for the day. There was no sense in trying to run because the wind had picked up. During the almost thirty-five minute walk, I thought about my friend who I encountered early. I thought about his life. I thought about all the people I passed living on the street and if things would ever turn around for them in a city that promises so much winning.