Monthly Archives: October 2014

Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has natives, almost natives, and the newly moved to Las Vegas.  Surely Gilcrease Orchard is considered a native.   From their website, it looks like it all started in the 1920’s.   Not long after I moved here 21 years ago, someone told me about this orchard where you could go pick your own vegetables and fruits.  I remember making my way out to the orchard and picking cherry tomatoes off the plants in the row.  At that time, the orchard was very lonesome out there, surrounded by very little.  Since that time of course, the developments have gone up around it.

Gilcrease Orchard

Gilcrease Orchard

Gilcrease has remained though and improved.  Now days I get cucumbers, green onions, squash and I had to try the chocolate peanut butter they had for sale. They just put in a parking lot across the road-so no more angle parking in the dirt along the side of the road.  They moved their entrance slightly.  They have a tractor pulling two covered wagons around the orchard if you don’t like to walk.  They have pumpkins in the fall.  They put in a huge covered picnic area for us to come early and wait in, while they are making their apple cider donuts.  And then of course, we can sit and eat them also. The apple cider donuts are only a fall thing when the apples are ready.  This year they started making them on Labor Day weekend.  Then I heard they wouldn’t have them until October. But my co-worker was on the phone texting me the very next weekend, that they had the donuts.  It gets even better! Now they are selling them on Sunday morning as well.  You can get the apple cider donuts alone or with frosting. Get them while they are hot though, Gilcrease Orchard closes down for the season the beginning of November.  If you want to know more, then visit  NEWS FLASH!!!  The Gilcrease Orchard website indicates that they will stay open through November 15th on Saturdays only from 7 until noon.  So those wanting  their fix of apple cider donuts-can get them for a few more weekends.



The Vegas Valley Book Festival

Every year since it was founded in 2002, there has been an ever expanding Vegas Valley Book Festival held down at the Historic Fifth Street School-which is no longer a school. This is the place to go see authors speaking on panels, storytelling, and selling their books for the youngest readers through the oldest readers.  The authors are a mix of local talent as well as those who travel in for a long weekend in Vegas.  Since they are in town, many of the authors go to local schools to do assemblies about the writing process, illustrating, finding ideas, or whatever.  I have been lucky enough to have Luke Anderson and his Hockey Penguin books, and  Mark Crilley and his character Akiko in connection with the Book Festival.  I have also had Brandon Mull with the Fablehaven books, Kevin Janison with the Deputy Dorkface books, and Mike Thaler with his Black Lagoon books out to my schools.  In addition, there is a stage for groups to perform, food trucks to keep the tummies happy, Scholastic Bookfairs has books for sale, and other groups related to books and reading.  It is a great family place to go for a couple of hours or almost the whole day-at least once a year. The Historic Fifth Street School is located on Las Vegas Boulevard and signs are always put out for parking.  I always run into several people I know including other CCSD librarians and students from my school.


I Need AC for 100+ Temperatures

When we first moved to Las Vegas, we took my vehicle down the street to the mechanic on the corner.  We got it back and all of a sudden, my power steering pump was really noisy.  My husband said that they had done it on purpose to make more business for themselves.  Now I am not dumb when it comes to cars, but I am always looking for the answer.  So I asked my husband what they would have done.  He told me and I was furious!  It made sense and now we had to put out for a new power steering pump. Needless to say, it did not go back to the same place.

One of my connections through the Girl Scouts told me that their next door neighbor was a semi-retired mechanic who worked on vehicles out of his house.  So that is where we went next.  We used Rick to work on our vehicles for at least 16 years.  There was even the time that I should have just taken my vehicle to Rick first and let him diagnose it.  But no, I thought I had it figured out, so instead I took it to the transmission guy.  Ended up tearing the whole transmission apart to find out there was nothing wrong with it.  I start looking on line for similar problems and find out it needs the plugs all replaced-and that one or more of them is missing.  I also see that there have been a lot of problems with one of the plugs in particular breaking off and falling potentially into the cylinder.  Oh great!  By this time though, we knew and trusted Rick totally.  The whole time we went to Rick, I never saw him panic or get upset.  This time though would be challenging.  I am out and about on a Saturday morning and get a call from Rick.  He tells me that I have to come over right away so he can show me what happened.  Remember those online searches I had done? I calmly told him that I knew exactly what had happened and proceeded to tell him what that was.  I asked him to check into the repair kit that people had been using to take care of the issue and keep me posted.  So after having my car tied up a few more days-everything was great.  We really did love having Rick work on our cars.

Now let’s jump forward to May of 2014.  I can tell that my air is not blowing as strong or as cold as it should and it is starting to warm up in Vegas, with the potential for the 110+ temps that we see here.  I go in search of Rick and surprise!  He no longer lives there and is nowhere to be found.  He finally retired and is probably up in Utah like he talked about.  So I start asking my co-workers for recommendations.  I land with one that shall remain unnamed in this post.  They try the quick fix first and I am pleased because it didn’t cost me an arm and a leg, and I got a different problem repaired.  But, as the temps kept warming up, I realized the problem hadn’t been fixed.  So my vehicle goes back at least 4 times, is tied up for over 3 weeks total and is being farmed out to other repair shops to try to fix the problem.  Ultimately, I had to find someone else.  The other place just didn’t have the equipment to diagnose what the true problem was and was just doing their best at replacing one part at a time.  You never know where you are going to pick up a good lead-and mine came from the chiropractor.  The new mechanic has plenty of experience, works out of his home and has several lifts in the back yard.  He doesn’t believe in price gouging, or packing time to do the job.  That is not to say it was cheap, but it was done right the first time and my air conditioning works like a champ.  Remember there are times I make that trip from Las Vegas to Reno-passing near Death Valley on the way.  The temps there in the summer often hit 116 degrees in the summer.  Air conditioning is a must! We knew my husband’s vehicle needed serious work also and took it to the same guy.  We highly recommend Jason of J & M Auto Diagnostics & Repair.  Jason can be reached at or 702-250-2837.

Fire on the Mountain

If you don’t live in the western United States, then you have no clue what our wildfires are like out here.   Wildfires in the west are caused by lightning, human carelessness, and other causes.  Having lived and traveled throughout the western US for more than 36 years, I can say I have definitely seen bits and pieces of many fires, and as of last summer, been extremely close.

I had already moved away from Wyoming when the unrelentless fire of 1988 hit Yellowstone.  The more than 250 fires started in mid June and continued throughout the summer, leaving the park closed to everyone except emergency personnel.  The fires burned more than 1.2 million acres.  It truly is amazing that a great majority of the structures in the park were saved.  I remember thinking that the park would never again look like it had, when I had visited it while living in Wyoming.  Not so, though!  Our family later went snowmobiling in the park during the winter.  The new growth trees from after the fire were already 8-10 feet tall.  Fires you see, are sometimes necessary to generate new growth in nature.

While living in California, the Oakland Hills fire occurred, as well as many others.  Spurred on by the Santa Anna winds, firefighters and home owners just hope for the winds to die down.  Observers just watch and count their blessings that their own homes aren’t where the wildfires are.  So many summers signal the start of wildfire season in the west. Firefighters have to respond when there are homes involved.  They have to respond when we have those huge park fires that are so large and uncontrolled that anything could happen.  They don’t always respond though.  Sometimes the fire is inaccessible and responding means monitoring to see if it will burn itself out.  I remember traveling through Utah on one trip and seeing a fire up on a mountain side as we were driving down the freeway.  It appeared to be unattended and was about halfway up the mountain. Since we had seen it on our way up, and we were now on our way back, all I can assume is that maybe they were waiting for it to burn itself out.

Over the years of my living in Las Vegas, we had several fires in California that affected our air quality in the Vegas valley.  We even had a couple of other fires up on Mount Charleston.  The smoke from these fires would blow over the mountain and sit in the valley until wind would move in and blow the smoke out.  During the summer of 2013, the unbelievable Carpenter 1 fire happened.  It started on July 1st and was finally fully contained on September 17th. To those of us living here, the Carpenter 1 fire landed us on the national news, provide photo ops for us like never before, looked almost like a volcano spewing ash at times, and scared the residents living up on the mountain.  Roads were shut down as the fired burned across them.  In the end, firefighters were able to save the homes up on Mount Charleston. Eventually things went back pretty much to normal.  Wildfires seem to occur in groups too.  I went up to Reno to visit my son during the Carpenter 1 fire.  When I got up there, California had a wildfire that was sending smoke into the Reno area.  There was also another wildfire southeast of Reno that I could see from the house.  You have to understand that I get excited about things in nature.

What we didn’t anticipate in the valley were the longer and farther reaching results of the fire.  When the rains came down and the only place for them to go was downhill, they washed out the road on the mountain, ate away at the roads coming down the mountain and tested our infrastructure in town when the waters settled in a low area close to where I live because there was no place for the water to drain.  The force of the waters popped a manhole cover down the street like a cork popping out of a popgun.  Roads in the flood area were blocked for days in spots, and passible-but a challenge to those of us in higher clearance vehicles who ventured toward intersections-only to turn around and try a different way.  The flooding infrastructure has for the most part been fixed, construction continues-but will be done relatively soon.  The burned and then flooded road has been repaired, more than once.  That area is even more barren than it was before, but it will recover too.  Wildfires will continue-just because they do.