I don’t intend to turn this blog into a “travelog”, but vacations are a rare occurrence with my family, so I thought it’d be worth recording this most recent one.
The trip was what I’d expected — a decent breather after the intellectual/mental stress of final exams, but perhaps more stressful in its own way: my father’s the definition of a nervous traveler. Not the most amazing itinerary — we spent long hours on various buses — but, after all, the point of the thing was more to spend time as a family than to see/tour/experience.
Friday, April 26th — left early morning for the airport, arrived in LAS (that’s the McCarran Int’l Airport just outside the Las Vegas city proper) early afternoon. Took the bus down the famous strip and got a first glimpse of that dense array of consolidated casino-hotels, including the one we would stay at — the Stratosphere.
We weren’t there to play (I mean gamble); Vegas is just one of those well-known destinations Chinese tourists like my parents feel they need to have been to once. (Also the flight and lodging are comparatively cheap). We weren’t there for the shows either. Big names like Elton John and Celine Dion were around, but of course we only saw the free shows (Sirens of TI, volcano at the Mirage)…
Vegas is not, evidently, the place for a seeking Christian to be. (You can see I didn’t plan the trip). The posters and billboards (that includes buses) were obscene enough; and then there were the flyers they try to make you take. But with all that it offers for the soul’s enjoyment (the opposite of losing one’s soul-life in Matthew 10:39), beneath the flashy façade is just vanity of vanities (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
Saturday, April 27th — joined a Grand Canyon South Rim bus tour, listened to the interesting but rather endless commentary of the tour guide/bus driver, got a first panorama of the canyon at Mather Point…
It’s the kind of the place I’d love to explore alone, but of course the renowned park (or at least the south rim) was far too touristy for that. Would’ve liked to do much more hiking, but we only had 1.5 hours in the Bright Angel area and about 40 minutes to sample the 13-mile trail…
Monday, April 29th — Disneyland! I was quite pleasantly surprised: lines weren’t 2 hours long, Disneyland as a theme park was well done (California Adventures not as much), and my almost-six-years-old brother made the rides surprisingly fun for me. (I had expected to have to go on them alone, since he was scared of even the water slide at the local pool). Grizzly River Run was decidedly the family favorite (my parents only went on 2 rides); Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad were sadly closed for the season. Mickey’s “Soundsational” Parade was fun; World of Color was relatively impressive. All in all…I liked it! But I still think the ideal Disneyland visitor is 6 to 12 years old (good thing I had one with me!).
Tuesday, April 30th — Universal Studios Hollywood. Here my brother was no longer the target audience: Jurassic Park was fun, Transformers 3D a stretch, Revenge of the Mummy a no-no. I was still teeming with Disney, so I was a little put off by the special effects-based rides. Then I realized that that’s what Hollywood was all about — all illusion and no substance — so in the end I got out of The Simpson’s Ride almost impressed. (And yes, the park was quite empty, in case you’re wondering about the photo).
Also made a short stop on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland. My dad would’ve liked to take a picture with Madame Tussaud’s Marilyn Monroe… Too bad there was a bit of a line!
Wednesday, May 1st — took the LuxBus back to Vegas (actually made it in 4.5 hours!), had the afternoon to explore the strip and visit Town Square. This time we stayed at Hilton Grand Vacations, one of the few non-casino hotels. The suite was excessively impractical: 4 TVs but a 4 cm-thick mattress for the sofa bed (I ended up not pulling it out and sleeping on the couch instead).
Thursday, May 2nd — it had hardly been a week, but I was exhausted and glad to be home!
Now an explanation for the title to this post. One of the things that struck me on this trip was the human attempt at creation. Las Vegas rose from barren desert to become a top resort city; Disneyland turned the ideas of Walt Disney into “The Happiest Place on Earth”; Hollywood forms pictures into billion-dollar blockbusters. But then you gaze on God’s creation — something like the Grand Canyon that man could never begin to fabricate — and man’s biggest successes become so small, so limited, in comparison. But what is the Grand Canyon to the major items of God’s creation — the heavens He stretches forth, the earth whose foundations He lays, the spirit of man which He forms (Zechariah 12:1)? Yet even these are not His ultimate and consummate work. Ephesians 2 tells us that we, the believers composing the church, are God’s masterpiece. When God’s New Testament economy is accomplished, when He obtains the church as a bride for Christ, when He attains His full satisfaction and rest in the New Jerusalem… nothing will compare.