I have finally visited Las Vegas. Vegas is really the only major U.S. city I had not visited.

At the same time, I am visiting Elliott. Elliott is a good friend, who lives in Vegas and loves trains.

Elliott is also my grandson.

Well, how do I compare the two?

Vegas has the strip and Elliott has the tracks.

In addition, Vegas has the Bellagio, and Celine Dion performing nearby.

Elliott likewise puts on a show, at the Wolfpack 4-year-old soccer games.

During Elliott's first game, he would not go onto the field. So mom had to bribe him with Thomas toys to simply get him on the field.

Or that he would lose his trains, if he didn't.

Elliott loved his soccer game when it was over, because he received a snack bag with a drink, granola bar, banana and applesauce. He was in heaven.

I think he's going to get serious about playing soccer.

It's always about food in Vegas, no matter where you are, or what you do.

Did you know Vegas is located in the Mojave Desert, which is known for the Joshua tree and Death Valley?

And Elliott has an Uncle named Joshua, who is as tall as a tree.

OK, I am grasping for things, here.

It's really quite gorgeous in Nevada. The desert has its own kind of beauty.

Although there are no colorful trees like we have in Missouri.

In spite of that, the Mojave desert offers sand dunes, dense Joshua Tree forests, dramatic canyons, and abandoned mines.

I've been told, the Mojave is very popular among visitors seeking seclusion, and serenity.

It's interesting that the majority of the Mojave Desert is sparsely populated, though it is located between two of the most popular tourist cities in the world, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Then, there is Elliott, fascinated with trains, tracks, soccer treats and saying the dinner prayer.

Elliott is thriving in a wonderful family, settled between two popular (in my book), and endearing parents, Kortney and Chase, and his sisters, Camille and Melanie.

How I love this age. Elliott celebrated his fourth birthday party while I visited.

Mom made cupcakes with train tracks on top of the frosting. Then, she positioned small trains on the tracks. The cupcakes were arranged in the shape of the number four.

We broke the pinata, ate chicken and hot dogs, pinned the nose on Thomas, and opened the gifts, which contained new trains.

Let's talk happiness.

In the future, I've decided when I travel to Vegas, to not gamble with food, entertainment, games or machines, and the associated cost in money and time . . . which take from the important things in life.

I will, of course, relish in the warmth of the Mojave, and the majestic desert landscape with its cacti and wildflowers.

I will likewise, enjoy the unique birds and animals, like the hummingbird, hawk, jackrabbit, cougar, and desert sheep.

However, I will mainly focus on the most significant treasure of the Mojave desert . . . my dear little Elliott and his precious family.

Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County’s Family Week Foundation. Email her at director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org or visit www.jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.