Las Vegas: “A real-life Sodom and Gomorrah”

Then again, crawling out of your thirties is also a great opportunity to throw yourself into a full-blown mid-life crisis. It’s practically expected of you, and that’s why last week found me riding a Harley Davidson through the Mojave desert flanked by three lunatics on wheels.

It was the kind of trip I dreamed about at 19 and I had the wildest, loveliest time, but something strange happened along the way. The lads did their best – bless them – but no matter how silly things got maturity kept creeping up on me. In the end, I was forced to start thinking logically about the state of the planet.

The niggling feeling started in the famous airplane graveyard at Mojave Airport. As an aviator it was great getting up close and personal with so many iconic craft, but you couldn’t look at the great oily beasts rotting into the desert without being pestered by troubling notions about value, pollution and waste.

By the time we were half way across the boiling Mojave, the feeling had become an itch. It was absolutely searing hot, but despite riding for hundreds of miles through enough sunlight to boil every kettle on the planet, not once did I see a solar panel soaking up the rays. Is there something I’m missing, or is that the glaring omission of the century?

When we arrived in Las Vegas, the message hit me with a 10lb hammer. I’d just witnessed monumental waste mixed with total failure to embrace the concept of renewable energy, and here I was rolling into a city where the only thing they know about ozone is that if you pump it into a casino, it oxidises the gamblers’ second-hand cigarette smoke.

It’s a place in its own 24-hour time zone. A real-life Sodom and Gomorrah where they’ve twinned Amsterdam with Blackpool, chucked it in an oven and hatched a gentlemen’s agreement that really, there are no rules. It’s the kind of place where you could really fear for your health and safety, but luckily nearly everyone seems to have a gun.

Bordering on insanity and rolling in extravagant waste with the neon blazing from dusk till dawn and the air-conditioning blowing fit to bust, within hours of arriving in America’s playground I’d come up with some pretty profound conclusions about the environmental challenge and the state of planet Earth. Unfortunately I was there for the entire weekend however, so I’m blowed if I can remember what they were…

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