Neon Boneyard

It’s a warm Las Vegas Wednesday evening; I’m driving down the Strip, past Old Vegas and Fremont Street, on my way to a boneyard where neon signs come to rest.

You have to go in with the group here, no solitary wanderers allowed. It’s dusk; the sun is just beginning to set as we walk thru the gates and into the wonderland of vintage Vegas.

The tour guide leads us in and starts talking away, giving us a flurry of facts & info. As she’s doing this, out of nowhere a random cat wanders in and struts toward the group. In typical cat fashion, it seems to think we’re the ones in the way, not the other way around.

The cat confidently prances toward the neon signs and parks itself right there in front of us. And now, despite the visual feast of this electric playground surrounding us, everyone in the group is now riveted to this cat, laughing and furiously taking pics (myself included).

The guide however, is terrified of cats and doesn’t find this sudden spotlight-stealer amusing. She nervously backs up, tries to walk us away from the cat, attempting to distract us with more facts & info about the neon signs. It doesn’t work. The cat has stolen the show. The cat has won.

Taking its time, it slowly starts walking and begins leading the way, silently dismissing the tour guide. Looking at each other and laughing in a state of comic disbelief, we all start following the cat. It’s clear that we now have a new tour guide.

And we seem to collectively know that this new guide is far superior. For one thing, this one is silent, letting us absorb the boneyard at our own pace and in our own way. This one lets us go slowly and thoughtfully, unconcerned with time or schedules. This one lets me wander & photograph without the empty distraction of chatter.

Its confident, mysterious arrival adds on an extra layer to this already surreal experience: unpredictability. The essence of Vegas itself. As I wander next to these towering florescent structures, in the company of this mysterious, self-assured cat, I can’t help but revel in the moment. And in the middle of this neon jungle, in the heart of a vast desert, I can’t help but think – what a beautifully weird Wednesday night. Truly. Only in Vegas.

best tour guide ever