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No Longer The Same Old Las Vegas To Outsiders

It happens every year.

Visiting journalists are critical of the debauchery of Las Vegas. You know, the gambling, the smoking indoors, illegal prostitution and all the rest.

Then someone comes along and writes a story of untold surprise: There’s something else in Nevada, something besides the Strip.

A recent headline in the Los Angeles Times travel section says it all: “The anti-Vegas solution to sensory overload: Hiking, biking, kayaking and house boating will soothe the senses.”

“This is the kind of story that gets pitched all the time in Las Vegas.”

Smith says he loves the story because it always seems to be written with the “breathless, ah-shucks” over the natural beauty that locals know is all around them.

He says these types of stories do provide travelers another option when they visit and lets them know they don’t have to “boogie til you puke” when they come here.

Of course, no one wants travelers to go too far from the Strip, Smith says. Lake Mead, Red Rock, Boulder City and the Valley of Fire are okay.

“The Valley of Fire is just stunning,” he said, “It is pound for pound very much with Red Rock in terms of beauty. And it is a little further out of the way. Doesn’t get the same amount of traffic jams that Red Rock can get.”

Support comes from

Smith says articles like the one in the LA Times also goes to show that “we are in a never ending marketing pitch to America.”

He said Las Vegas markets a good party and conventions better than anybody else but there is a lot more outside of the valley that can be explored.

Other Notes:

On the push for votes in Nevada:

“This race could decide the Senate. The race between Dean Heller and Jacky Rosen could easily decide the Senate. There are competitive races for Congress that could actually swing the House – one way or another.”

Smith said the race for governor is also important because so much outside money is focused on winning state races. He said there is a lot moving in Nevada and a lot of attention is focused on the state.

“When President Trump came, he fired up his base. He got a lot of folks excited at that end of the GOP. It was clear from watching his appearance that he has acolytes in the form Heller and Danny Tarkanian and Cresent Hardy.”

Smith says the president is the showstopper for his party.  

And as for Michelle Obama’s visit, Smith said she and former President Barack Obama are two Democratic stars that can still bring out the crowds – even on short notice.

The former first lady was here as part of a voter registration group she is working with. Smith says the idea is to grow the number of registered voters before November in hopes of driving up the voter turnout for the mid-terms, which is normally low.

What did you take away from the first half hour of an hour-long debate between Susie Lee and Danny Tarkanian?

“Very contrasting political views,” he said, “Tarkanian is a name that a lot of folks know. His sort of undying fealty to President Trump is disturbing to me personally. I would rather have him be a more independent Tarkanian of a couple of runs for office ago.”

“Contrast that will Lee, who is really a political newcomer, although she’s run once before, she is being tied to the Pelosi crowd,” he said, “When you turn on television you see the sepia tones ‘fear Susie Lee because of Nancy Pelosi’”

He said these debates are important – all though not well watched – but important for voters to get a sense of who the candidates are and how they can stand up to the rigors of a campaign because working in Congress is difficult.

On remembering October 1:

“Las Vegas is the type of town that never wants the outsider or the visitor to see it tear up.”

The city wants to keep the image of nothing but positivity, nothing but energy and nothing but a good time, Smith said. It is a challenge to be the place where the world comes to forget their cares and have a good time, while mourning those impacted directly and indirectly by the horror of 1 October.

But Smith believes the city has shown its character in the face of the tragedy and its aftermath.

 “There is that sense that we really have been Vegas Strong, and we are, on some level from very different places - but all in it together.”



John L. Smith, KNPR contributor

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