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"I think it's the height of patriotism to continue to exercise your right as a citizen and to hold your government to account. Isn't that what the very essence of democracy is about?"
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  Volume No. 16 Issue No. 7 July 2019  

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  What happens in Vegas really should stay in Vegas
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   We recently flew to Arizona to help Alex wrap up her first year of college, and we put her on a plane the next day to Scotland for a study-abroad experience. She had an outstanding first year and (proud dad moment) earned her spot on the Dean’s List both semesters. Thank goodness she takes after Andra!
   
   Looking back on our travels, flying wasn’t anywhere near as fun as it used to be. Back in the day when Andra and I both traveled extensively for our jobs, we could pack a large suitcase, show up an hour early, pass through security and even walk with each other to the gate.
   
   Sept. 11 changed everything and not always for the better. I agree with sacrificing some personal liberties for the pursuit of greater security — if it truly works. The Transportation Security Administration agents pulled our 13-year-old aside to inspect her travel-size package of wet wipes, and completely missed the pocket knife in my backpack.
   
   Speaking of security, we drove Alex’s car home via the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas. I was impressed by the level of monitoring and visible presence of agents around the dam.
   
   If you have the opportunity, take time to see and tour the incredible architecture of Hoover Dam. It was built during the Great Depression, and is called an arch-gravity dam. It is a narrowing upstream curve that directs most of the water against the canyon rock walls, which then provides the force to compress the dam. You can drive or walk across, take scenic photos and even toss a coin in the water after making a wish.
   
   Our next stop was the Las Vegas Strip. This huge, incredible hub of energy and activity hosts hotels with unique themes and attractions for both young and adult. We chose to go to the Luxor Hotel (pyramid-shaped with accompanying Egyptian design) for the Titanic exhibit. We were impressed as we ventured through the “inside” of the ship noticing the stark differences between third-and-first-class travel; read about passengers on board; viewed their personal effects; and saw a piece of the hull that was recovered from the ocean floor (2.5 miles down where the pressure is 6,000 pounds per square inch).
   
   Back on the Strip, people-watching is the thing to do. I am uncertain about the current fashion for men of all ages/races wearing tracksuits looking like mafioso Tony Soprano and his crew. There were pretty people dressed in a classy manner, normal people wearing normal clothes and a large number who dressed in such a way that left nothing to the imagination. I am all for individual expression, but geesh! You just cannot “un-see” some things!
   
   Considering the nickname, Sin City, our girls saw a little bit of that side, too. Random people tried to sell things; look-a-likes hustled for photo ops; one man was passed out, face down under a tree with an empty fifth of Jack Daniels next to him and his legs stretched out across the sidewalk; and young women in their 20s wearing nothing but G-strings, pasties and feathers beckoned people into hotels and casinos. This was during the middle of the day!
   
   Anyway, we, along with everyone else, just walked around them as if it was — dare I say — NORMAL.
   
   I am happy to be home in our once sleepy ranch town now turned burgeoning metropolis. Honestly, Las Vegas is fun and offers a great deal of experiences. However, the seedier side of Vegas should stay in Vegas, with the hope that it never finds a hold in Falcon.
  
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