I drove over to a friend’s house this weekend. He lived on the northwest side of town, in Summerlin. He lives in a tract of homes that are all about three years old. There are probably 200 houses, with three or four basic models, each with three different elevations. I don’t know if tracts like this are unique to the southwest, but most of the new homes in California are like this. It helps the builder, he only has a few floor plans to construct, with minor changes to the way the front looks. And then they just build a model of each floor plan and people can walk through each house and know exactly what they will be getting.
We moved into a brand new house in Temecula about twenty-five years ago that was similar. (Temecula is about an hour north of San Diego on I-15). At least there the streets were curved around a few hills, and it was easy to find your way home. Some of the new developments are all build on a grid, so that you have to look at the street signs and house numbers in order to find your house. If you go down the wrong street there are still all of the same houses and it is probably easy to stop at one that you think is yours but isn’t.
His development has an additional feature that I find unique to Las Vegas.
It’s a gate keeping you out. In order to visit him you’ve got to stop at a little kiosk and press his code, then talk to him on an intercom requesting admission. If the electronics is working he then presses a button and the gate opens. If it’s not working right then you have to phone him, and he drives down and opens the gate with a remote (like a garage remote) so that you can drive in.
There are hundreds of these little private areas in Las Vegas. From the classy ones like Spanish Trail (sorry, there is no direct web site for it), which has guarded gates, and where Dick Chaney spoke when he came to LV. Some areas of Spanish Trail are so exclusive that after going through a guarded gate to get into the area you go through another gate to get into an even more exclusive area. That’s where Siegfried (of Siegfried & Roy has his own home, besides the one he shares with Roy. He is selling his house for 2.9 million in order to move in with Roy and take care of his recovery. The house looks pretty impressive – but I digress.
I was talking about gated communities. You can go from fancy ones like Spanish Trail to large ones like my friend’s down to little cul-de-sacs with only four houses and a gate keeping you off the block. There are hundreds of these little gated communities around. For some reason people in Las Vegas feel safer when locked behind gates. Doesn’t always work, as in 1993 Steve Wynn’s daughter (Wynn built most of the fancy casinos in Vegas, including the new Wynn Resort) was kidnapped from their house in Spanish Trail.
Something else unique to Vegas is this:
The world’s largest Harley-Davidson dealership. I don’t know how many bikes they have on the floor, but there are over three hundred available for rental. That’s a lot of bikes. If you stop in during the week all of the rentals are parked there, along with the inventory of models for sale, and all of the bikes in for servicing. I’m sure there were over a thousand Harley’s visible in the place when we stopped by. This coming weekend is the annual Laughlin River Run - hundreds of bikes from all over the country, famous a few years ago for the 2002 river run riot. Not to say that the 2004 River Run will be as wild. I don't know how many thousands of bikes will be there, but they are expecting over 50,000 people to attend. Laughlin is just just an hour's drive from here on the river below the dam.
After seeing all of those Harleys yesterday I was surprised today to come across a bunch of wild riders in the Star Nursery parking lot.