The International Awards and Recognition Trade Show was different this year. Sure, there were industry vendors to visit, new products to see, educational sessions for new QuickTrophy ideas, trophy and award people from all over the world to network with, the ARIEF silent auction to raise money for the ARA Scholarship Fund, and the Gala evening where we recognize the achievers in our own industry. But this year was different for me personally – this was the year that I learned to love Las Vegas.
I arrived on Sunday, a day early, to avoid what happened last year when my flight was delayed and delayed until it was cancelled and I lost a day and missed several important classes. This year, I played it safe and had an extra, unscheduled day. So on Monday I rented a car and drove to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on the western edge of town. What a treat it was to hike in the relatively wild desert canyons beyond the reach of condo’s and shopping centers! I spoke with the very helpful Park Service people at the visitors center before making my trek. I viewed an abandoned sandstone quarry, a secluded mountain top pond, and saw Vegas from the top of a rocky promontory. I saw ancient fire pits and petroglyphs. And, compared to my northern boreal forest home, some very exotic plants!
Later that day, I went for a run in the neighborhood near the hotel where I was staying. Not the nicest neighborhood, with lots of low-income housing, strip malls, and vacant lots. I was thinking how much I dislike Las Vegas, and have ever since my first trip there back in the early 1990’s. And then it occurred to me that hating Las Vegas was a choice I made: I didn’t have to hate it, if I chose not to. What good was disliking Vegas doing me? Las Vegas will not change just because I don’t like it. In fact, I could choose to love Las Vegas, if I wanted to! Spreading love instead of hate is better for me and helps make the world a better place, too. So I consciously decided to love Las Vegas – And that made all the difference.