Wednesday, April 25, 2018

You Don't Have to Strip to Have Fun

April 8-17, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada

One can spend time in Las Vegas and never gamble or see a show or go near The Strip. All those things are fun, and something we've done in the past. Nothing we feel any desire for now. Too many people.

And there's plenty of natural beauty to enjoy around the city, with all the services needed to get through any size to-do list. Let's do that instead!

Tessa gets a much needed grooming with shorter hair for the hotter temps. I've started using PetSmart instead of PetCo because for an extra fee they'll get her done in two hours without putting her in a cage. So far they've done a great job.

One of our good friends from high school lives in town with her husband and we meet them for a long lunch of catching up. Bill and I rode with Phyllis and her date to prom, and she and I were also roommates in college. It's a fun visit, and of course I fail to get a photo.

Although it's close to town, I never realized there's a national conservation area here until I started seeing blog posts a couple years ago. Wednesday we head to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. As expected, the 13-mile drive is filled with natural beauty. But the visitors' center is a wonderful surprise! Definitely in the top three of interpretive centers we've seen, we spend nearly two hours reading, learning and just enjoying the exhibits. For someone with a belief system based on the natural elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth, this place speaks to me on a personal level.

The Keystone Trust is visible for miles.

The visitor center's windows provide a panorama of the Calico Hills.

The visuals for the Air exhibit are perfect.

Overlapping shadows move with the sun.

From volcanoes to wild fires.

The designers did such a great job here.

Water is explained by walking you along a "wash" showing the impact to the desert.

Earth includes rocks, mammals and reptiles.

Geology is the big show here.

Having all the exhibits outside makes the park itself part of the visual story.

Tessa's highlight is meeting her first desert tortoise. She's not a close as this looks, but she was very interested!

Nine climbers take on a massive rock face.

Thursday we move to Las Vegas RV Resort across town. A rally is coming in to Oasis so we can't extend. This park is a great option, especially for $29/night for any site. Fortunately we don't have far to go and can travel on side streets because the wind is bad. At 35 mph with gusts over 45 we're happy to get settled and keep the large slide in until early evening when it calms. 

With temps rising we head for Mount Charleston one afternoon where we find much cooler weather. It's another pretty area I had no idea existed just outside Las Vegas. We make a loop of Kyle Canyon road and Lee Canyon Road, enjoying the pine forests and long vistas. There really is so much more to this area than The Strip!

The ski area is closed, but some snow remains.

Of course we didn't bring jackets.

The white rock looks like more snow - pretty!

Homes here range from small cabins to huge multi-level structures. I'm sure it's a popular place for getting out of the extreme summer heat below.

I've never seen an official water condition of "Concerned".

We were just in the desert!
I take advantage of having a Trader Joe's nearby, get the rig washed, grab coffee with a dear friend from work who moved here a couple years ago, and spend some chill time at home. 

John and Jodee - what a great visit!
One of our favorite places of all we've seen is Valley of Fire State Park north of the city. With the wind making staying home "noisy", and being outdoors unpleasant, we take a drive through this wonderful place. We recommend it to everyone who comes to the area.

We make another loop by entering the park off I-15 and coming out along Lake Meade. It's fun to revisit a place where we can just spend time at the "best" places.

Ribbon through rainbow

A majestic view in the Lake Meade National Recreation Area.
Brittlebush, Purple Sage and Desert Marigold make beautiful bouquets along the highway.
Ten days in Las Vegas and we never got near the casinos or chaos of The Strip - still had a great time!

Next we're off to Laughlin, Nevada, for our annual high school reunion, with our recently retired friends joining us at the park in their RVs!

Meanwhile Ezra ..........

Monday, April 16, 2018

Joshua Trees to Junipers and Pink Cholla to Pines

April 5-8, 2018
Pahrump, Nevada

After the wide open nothingness of Amargosa Valley, the small town of Pahrump, Nevada is mass civilization! 

We arrive at Saddle West Casino and RV Park on Thursday after our short 45 minute drive. Check-in is a challenge as there is zero signage, but we finally get set up in the all asphalt park. It's fine for $25/night and everything works well. In fact, the WiFi is really fast.

After refilling our empty coffers, I spend Saturday binge-watching some favorite TV shows with all the blinds closed and the AC on.

I saw that Hans and Lisa (Metamorphosis Road) found a nice drive up to Wheeler Pass when they were here, so Sunday we head out to see how close we can get to the snow. We find Lisa's pink cholla, but none of the pretty snakes they saw on their visit :-(  

The dirt road takes us through Joshua Trees, into thick pines, and along rock formations. With the clouds moving in and out, the temps drop into the low 60s. But we don't find the snow here.

Healthy Joshua Trees spread out in all directions.

As the road narrows we're surrounded by pinons and junipers.

The pines smell lovely.

Bill finds bat caves in the rock formations - no bats in sight.

On the way back down the hill. Pahrump is much bigger than we thought!
Instead of returning home, Bill finds a road through Wallace Canyon that looks like it might get us up to the snow. Let's go!

We travel through more Joshua Trees and shrubbery before dropping down into the canyon. It's a bumpy trail over lots of rock. In some areas the brush is as tall as the Jeep and tight on both sides. In others we are surrounded by tall rock canyons. Eventually the trail shrinks to a two-track, and I turn around just below the snow. It's a raw and rugged area with nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees.

I've never seen these pink cholla anywhere else. They look so delicate!
We don't see anyone else all day.
It's like being between

walls of brush on both sides.

The pink cholla was expected, but these pink trees are a big surprise!!

Close to the snow.

Layers of blue

We even get a few drops of rain - just these, nothing more.

These creepy moth cocoons are in many of the bushes along the trail. Eweeeeeee
The bottom of the canyon.
Back at home we have dinner and enjoy another beautiful sunset.

Just as we're ready to pull out Sunday morning a white car pulls up beside us and a man comes to our door. It's Rick Watkins! He and his wife Carlene graduated from our high school and have lived in Pahrump for over 30 years. Unfortunately we didn't know that before now :-(  He saw my posts on Facebook and thought he'd see if he could find us. Thanks Rick!

It's another short drive back to Las Vegas where we pull in to Oasis Las Vegas RV Resort. A huge park between Highway 160 and Interstate 15, we're here for four days unless we decide to stay longer.