My husband and I will move out of our Las Vegas apartment one week from tomorrow, and shortly thereafter we’ll be heading up to our new home in Oregon. While there are many things I won’t miss about Las Vegas, there are also many things that I will miss. Here’s a list of my top 10, in no particular order:
Friends & Family: I grew up in Las Vegas, and my parents still live here, along with my aunt, a few cousins and their families, and my husband’s mom and step-dad. While I haven’t kept in touch with any friends from my childhood here, I’ve managed to make a few friends in the 6 years I’ve been back in Vegas since living overseas. I hope my friends and family know they’ll have a place to stay when visiting Oregon, and I can’t wait to be living so close to my sister again.
My Dojo: A little over a year ago, I took up karate and started training at Las Vegas Shotokan Karate. Not only has it improved my self-confidence, mental focus, agility and self-defense skills, but I’ve also lost about 10 pounds in the process and feel much stronger than I ever have. My dojo has a great group of volunteer instructors who’ve been training in karate for over 20 years, and although there’s over 50 students with new students enrolling all the time, everyone knows everyone else’s names. The last activity I’ll be doing before our move is attending the dojo’s annual beach training, and I am already making plans to come back next spring for the Ozawa Cup. If you’re look for a traditional karate school in Las Vegas, I highly recommend it.
My Book Clubs: This year I joined two local book clubs — the Destinations Book & Dinner Club and the Las Vegas Non-Fiction Book Group (recently re-named the Las Vegas Learn Something Book Group). Through these groups, I’ve met some great people, tried new restaurants in town and been exposed to a few great books that I might not have previously read on my own.
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District: While Las Vegas might not be renowned for its library system, we certainly have a great one here. There are 14 local branches (5 of which are within 15 minutes of my apartment) and 11 rural, outlying branches. Despite budget cutbacks, they’ve managed to stay open 7 days a week with reduced hours. They have a great system of inter-library loans and a host of free events throughout the year.
Elements Kitchen & Martini Bar: This is my husband and my favorite restaurant in Las Vegas, and it’s even where he had the launch party for his first book earlier this year. Chefs/owners Catherine and Jose Luis Pawelek always make us feel at home, and I’ve never had an item on their menu that I didn’t like (and between my husband and I, I think we’ve tried everything on the menu). I highly recommend the Castle martini, portobello mushrom ravioli, duo of crème brûlée and Andes mint cheesecake.
The Accessibility of Alcohol: Last time I lived in Oregon, I was in shock every Friday night I went to to the grocery store. “They don’t sell liquor in the grocery store?” I would ask my graduate school friends. When living in Wisconsin, I was stunned you couldn’t purchase alcohol in grocery stores after 8 pm, and on a recent trip to Seattle, I kept having to remind myself that I couldn’t carry an open container of alcohol while walking down the street. It’s probably a good thing my husband and I are moving away from a city where there’s a Lee’s Discount Liquor on every corner. To the land of family-run wineries and craft breweries we come!
Desert Breeze Park: One of the reasons my husband and I chose our current apartment complex in Las Vegas is that it’s practically next door to Desert Breeze Park. We’ve spent countless early mornings walking the perimeter of the park, and even indulged in an occasional seasonal swim pass for the Olympic-sized pool at their community center. While I haven’t been to our new place in Oregon yet, Google maps shows a park right across the street, and I am keeping my fingers crossed it will be a good place for walking.
The Proximity to Friends in Southern California: My husband is originally from Riverside, California, and every few months we drive down there to visit friends. (We actually have way more friends in Riverside than in Vegas, and my husband visits on his own as often as possible). We’ll make one more trip down there before the big move, although by no means will it be a farewell tour.
Bingo as Cheap Entertainment: While I definitely won’t miss living in a culture of casinos, we’ve occasionally enjoyed playing bingo at a few of them. Granted I am frequently one of the youngest participants in the bingo hall, for around $7 you get an hour’s worth of entertainment plus two free drinks. Dorks that we are, my husband and I even went to a New Year’s Eve Bingo Party last year, which was way better than spending $300 a pop to party with the Kardashians on the Strip. Our favorite place to play is the Red Rock Casino.
The Rainbow of Desert Colors: Many people think of the desert as being the uniform color of dirt, but it’s actually quite beautiful. Before they became overrun with tourists, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park used to be two of my favorite places to go as a kid, and during our early morning walks, we can frequently view sandstone mountains in the distance. The picture below is from Cathedral Gorge State Park in Lincoln County, Nevada.