For me, one of the best things about getting to travel is that while I am traveling, whatever my life situation is seems to suspend itself for the period of that trip. I recently finished a trip through Oregon, California, and Arizona, with brief portions of time spent in Washington and Nevada. There were parts of the trip that simply did not feel real. One was walking down the Vegas strip, wondering at the people around me who were so enthralled in the showiness that exists there. Instead of joining them in their adulation, I was disgusted. Everything there is fake, except for the 100+ degree temperatures. My perception of Vegas (first trip there, if you hadn’t gathered) is that it’s Disneyland with sex, booze, gambling. Before you begrudge me the comparison, hear me out.

Disneyland is an alternate reality created to give people (children/families) the feeling of happiness. Everything is manufactured and manicured to create a specific impression; if you’re wiling to pay enough, you too can partake in its magic. Vegas is the same thing only instead of people going for a thrill ride in Tomorrowland, you push a button to see if you get money back at a slot machine. Instead of going on Pirates of the Caribbean, you watch a show at Treasure Island. You buy cocktails instead of slushies, and you take pictures with showgirls instead of Cinderella. When you want to cool off, you can take a tram back to your hotel where you and hundreds of other people can lounge by the pool. You can wander the streets until midnight, and as long as the money is flowing, you are guaranteed a good time. There are shiny lights and magic shows, and you go to bed late, wondering why you’re exhausted after you’ve spent the day “relaxing.”

Sorry, but I’ll take a beautiful nature scene over a commercialized happiness any day of the week.