Category Archives: Nevada

Las Vegas has Wineries?

Where do you go when you need your wine fix and the nearest wineries you know of are in Northern Nevada or over in Northern California?  Pahrump of course!  Las Vegas does not have any wineries-that would be correct.  However, if you drive over the hump (over the mountain) to Pahrump, there are actually two wineries over there.  The whole 20 plus years that I have lived in Las Vegas, I knew there was one winery.  I found out that indeed there are two.  This  trip is just over an hour each direction.  Apparently, the first winery that was there sold out to the second owner and then opened up another one-or at least that is what I was recently told.  

While I had my daughter in town, we went along with a friend each over to Pahrump to check them out.  The first one we went to is called Pahrump Valley Winery and Symphony’s Restaurant. Very classy set up! The entire patron operation is set up amid the vines. You walk in the entry and have the wine bar on the right side with a back bar of all of the wines and their other item store to the left.  As in New Mexico, the tastings in Nevada are no cost.   After our tasting, we decided to have lunch.  While we were pretty casual, one gets a sense that the evening meals they serve are quite a bit more formal.  The food was absolutely delightful.    Did I tell you that I prefer sweet wines?  Not a problem-not only do they have dessert wine, they also have sherry.  This was my first time trying sherry and now I am hooked.

On to the other winery, which is named Sanders Family Winery.  This seems to be the smaller of the two operations (perhaps newer?).  They too sell other items along with wines and I had to take some phone pics while I was there, because they have wreaths on the wall made of wine corks.  They too have sherry for sale as well as their other wines and they introduced us to something new.  When we were done with our tastings, we each got a wine spritzer-made with either port or sherry and some gingerale.  I am hooked.  Of course it makes my purchases last longer as well.  

I have talked this one up and have lots of friends that want to make that trip.  What a party we could have for those that want to go.  This is another one of those trips where I took pictures, but they got deleted.  I promise I will get out there to take pics again.

Not the Usual Wining Out With the Girls

After finishing my radiation, I was raring to go again-that is get out of Vegas and just be somewhere else.  One of my excursions was to Reno to visit my son.  That of course means meeting up with the girls for a wine trip.  Unfortunately, the day that we could all get together, was not the day our favorite winery was open.  What to do?  We found that we could hop on over to Truckee to visit a winery there and then head on down to Carson City for a winery in town there. The Truckee River Winery, as wineries go, is very unassuming.  The wine service was extremely friendly.  The tasting center is surrounded by the beauty that abounds in the Truckee area.  They also sell other wine paraphenalia, ice cream and snacks if you have the kiddos along, and can even make up some goodies to go along with wine tasting. The wine was fabulous, and they even had a desert wine for me.  One of the group said she would meet us in town and was going to hike the trail that runs along the river.

Truckee River Winery

Truckee River Winery

We found a place in Carson City called Tahoe Ridge Winery.  This winery originally was open to the public out in the farmlands of the Carson Valley and moved into Carson City.  We went around lunch and ate in their bistro as well.  They have everything there.  The food is a little eclectic-meant for those who are into wine.  It is the kind of food that you don’t find everywhere.  We all loved our food and then finished it off with wine tasting and purchases.  The indoor surroundings have a very warm feel.  Mission accomplished-we still found two wineries open to visit.  My apologies, I didn’t take any pictures and I am not smart enough to highjack the one that someone else in the group did take.

Mount Charleston-The Heat Escape

I apologize for not doing any entries for awhile.  I have been fighting cancer and have found myself kept extremely busy with that.  That has kept me stuck in Las Vegas, when I would rather be in cooler places (both temperature and activity wise).  Locals who cannot truly escape the heat in the valley, head for Mount Charleston.  I have done that twice in recent weeks just to be somewhere cooler.  We have now had 29 days in a row of 100+ temperatures, with the highest being 114 degrees.  I for one cannot stand the 114 dry days and would rather have 105 humid days.  Monsoons are here and we have just come off of a few days with rainstorms.  That means that one part of town may have torrential downpours, while another area doesn’t even get a drop.  There was a really cool pictures taken of a torrential downpour west of the airport, by someone in a plane.  I saw it on facebook.  Wish I could take credit for that one.  At any rate, a friend and I headed for the mountain one day when it was 113 in the valley.  We first stopped at the new and now open Spring Mountains Visitor Center.  Well done!  Unique to this visitor’s center is a mangled propeller from a plane that crashed in the area.  This is meant as a memorial, as are a couple of other items they have outside the visitor’s center.

We continued up to the top of Kyle Canyon where there are a lot of residences and Cathedral Rock which is part of the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.   Cathedral Rock is a picnic area, hiking area and possibly a camping area.Moving back down the hill partially, we took the connecting road over to Lee Canyon and headed to the top there.  Surprisingly, we found a lot of horses grazing on the grass in the ski area and the meadows.  I knew there were wild horses at the top of the mountain, but I had never thought of them coming down near the people that might be around.  We got to wait on the road for awhile, so that construction season could occur on the road.  But ultimately, we got what we came for.  The temperature outside under somewhat overcast skies was 78 degrees-much more enjoyable than 113.  As we coasted down the mountain, I noticed there were a lot of horse trailers parked in one of the parking areas.    I found out later that there are trails and parking specifically for the horses.  I also imagine that many horse owners take their horses up there where they won’t suffer heat stroke when they are exercised.

Today, I went to lunch with my mother-in-law and decided maybe it would be nice to go up the mountain again.  It was only headed for 100 degrees today in the valley-but it was a slightly humid 100 as we are on the tail end of those monsoons.   Well the skies were blue with really nice clouds today, so I got some pictures of that.  We only saw 3 horses total this time, but the weather was devine. The top of Lee Canyon has extensive camping areas and the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort.  During the summer, the ski area (for a charge) runs one of their chair lifts for those who want to get up to a higher elevation. At the top of Lee Canyon, it was windy and the temperature was 66 degrees.  Wow-and of course I had to drive back down to the 100 degrees in the valley.

 

Nevada Legislature

I admit that for the longest time, I never was truly active with the politics that drive a lot of what I do as a teacher.   That has changed in the last several years.  Our Nevada legislature  meets only ever other year.   This is the first year that I took one of the days of my vacation up north in Reno to head down to Carson City and visit with the legislators and the governor as a representative of Clark County Education Association.

We started by dropping all of those post cards to Senator Spearman and Assemblywoman Kirkpatrick.  We were lucky enough to catch a few minutes with Marilyn Kirkpatrick.  We had a good discussion (if not the most positive) and took a photo op.

With Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick at the Nevada Legislature

Lunch and checking out an Assembly session followed.  Then some time with Governor Sandoval.    Photo ops of course and while I didn’t take any selfies or pics myself, I did land in quite a few photos taken by CCEA since I was in the front row.  I really am excited that I did get to sit right next to the Governor in some of the pictures.

Teachers across the state-you MUST write your legislators and protect yourself.  Yes, we are pushing for the governors education funding bill.  There are so many bills that we need to keep from happening.   PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE write the legislators and let them know that you don’t want collective bargaining to go away and that you want PERS left alone.

Pahrump Balloon Festival

During my 21 years of living in Nevada, I have only been over to Pahrump twice before.  The first time was when we first moved here and my husband had to try out his four-wheel drive vehicle, so we went up over Wheeler Peak.  We saw some of the wild horses up at the top and dropped down through the state camping area on the other side then headed into town.  I don’t remember there being that much in Pahrump at that time, but there was enough to grab a bite before we headed back to Las Vegas.  My second trip was related to education and involved visiting one of the schools in Pahrump. I remember there was a Terrible Herbst in town on that trip.  So today, I went over to the Second Annual Pahrump Balloon Festival.  The town has really grown up.  It now has Albertsons, Walmart, Sonic, Denny’s and a whole bunch of other restaurants.

So apparently, balloon festivals are held in many places in Nevada that I wasn’t aware of.  Reno, Las Vegas, Mesquite and now Pahrump each have one.  There were only about 20 balloons today in Pahrump, but there was plenty of excitement.  People volunteered to help with holding the lines on the balloons while they were being inflated by highly powerful fans that amazingly blew them up much faster than I thought could happen.  There were lots of people out there with their cameras, like me snapping pictures.  People were available to form the chase teams to go pick up the balloons when they landed and I learned that the balloonists have a tradition of having Mimosas once the balloons are picked up.

Pahrump Balloon Festival

Pahrump Balloon Festival

There was other excitement too, in the form of a drone flying around and quite a few motorized gliders.  There were so many people in attendance, that Denny’s had quite the time keeping up with all of the customers who came in for breakfast,  but all of the employees were justly apologetic and as pleasant as could be.  One place that I still haven’t gone to out in Pahrump is the winery.  It has been there for years, and it has been recommended by several friends.  But after getting up at 4 am to be out there in time for the ascension, and knowing I had a 90 minute drive back, I wasn’t about to drink any wine this morning.  Depending where you are in Las Vegas, the drive to Pahrump is somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead

I am revisiting Lake Mead since my latest visits to the lake.  Once upon a time, I visited Hoover Dam around 1984.  At that time the lake level was so high that water flowed over the spillways.  That was a really awesome sight, but I didn’t realize I would never see it again.  Since then the levels have done nothing but drop, especially since we have had at least 10 years of drought and the snowpack on the Western Slope (particularly in Colorado) has been very much below average.  Most people say, but you have had some really good rainstorms in Las Vegas.  That helps, doesn’t it?   Yes, we have had some phenomenal rainstorms.  No, that doesn’t help the lake levels.  The other thing that contributes to the lower levels are the water contracts/rights of other states including Arizona, New Mexico, and California.  This includes water for irrigation in other places as well as water for large cities.

Hoover Dam Intake Tower 1984ish

Hoover Dam Intake Tower 1984ish

Hoover Dam Intake Towers 2015

Hoover Dam Intake Towers 2015

You will see above both a picture from around 1984 and a picture from 2015.  While these photos are taken from opposite sides of the dam, the intake tower in the upper picture is the intake tower on the right in the lower picture.  These most recent visits found me repeating myself often with the phrase “So sad, it’s just so sad!”   I really don’t know what else to say.  Echo Bay Marina is closed and what used to be a hotel and restaurant now are obviously being vandalized.  I believe one other marina was closed and the remaining marinas have been moved multiple times as the water levels dropped.  While I was out there taking pictures, I got into a discussion with some people from Arizona.  They asked me how low it was. I replied it had to be more than 100 feet because it had been about 100 feet two to three years ago.  One of them said that they had heard it was about 50 feet low.  The challenge was on.  I came home and started doing my research and found that it is about 150 feet low.  Now, with a husband that is an engineer and having heard it elsewhere-I searched to see how low they could let it drop before they would have to release water from Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.  This would be because there has to be a certain amount of water behind the dam to maintain the integrity of the dam due to the design of the dam.  Wouldn’t you know it?  I couldn’t find it.  I did find that Lake Mead is only 50 % full and Lake Powell is only 40% full.  It is predicted that Lake Mead will never ever fill up again.  Everyone seems in agreement with that.  I did find other enlightening information though.  There is more than one group proposing that Glen Canyon Dam should be decommissioned and the water released from Lake Powell.  The groups want Glen Canyon to start recovering to its pre-dam condition.  The government entities are involved as well.  The other piece of a solution though is that the contracts for water rights between all of the parties involved need to be rewritten, as the amount of water flowing through Lake Mead is NOT enough to satisfy the earlier contracts.  Once again-it is sooooo sad!  In this case, we will have to wait and see how it all plays out.

 

Red Rock National Conservation Area, Calico Basin, Red Spring Park, Valley of Fire State Park and Redstone Picnic Area

Long story short-a friend and I took advantage of the Fee Free National Park Day and visited Lake Mead National Recreation Area after we went through Valley of Fire State Park.  Lake Mead will be found in a different post.

I have lived here more than 20 years and visited both Red Rock and Valley of Fire way back when I first moved here.  Now that the photo bug has bitten, I decided to go back to both of those places.  Nothing is, as I remember it.  I learned that Calico Basin is part of Red Rock and that there is a Red Spring that is on the Calico Basin side also.  I learned that I don’t remember Valley of Fire at all like it is today.  Well, maybe tiny little bits. I remember the original campground and the petroglyphs.  In addition, as we headed back to town along Lake Mead (a trip that I have taken several times even in recent years), that there is place called Redstone on the road.  I swear I don’t remember those rock formations, even though they aren’t the sort of thing that would just spring up.  The park itself may be new enough, that I didn’t see it before.  Boy have my eyes been opened.  Of course, there are also much smaller spots where an occasional outgrowth of red rock that is geographically correct, but isn’t large enough to warrant a park designation.  So now, a little bit about each of the areas mentioned.

Red Rock Canyon from Overlook

Red Rock Canyon from Overlook

Calico Basin and Red Spring Park appear to be part of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, although they are on the other side of the hill and back up to privately developed land. To get to Red Rock Canyon, Calico Basin and Red Spring Park-head west on Charleston Boulevard, until it turns into both Red Rock Canyon Road and Blue Diamond Road.  This is the closest to Las Vegas and is just a couple of miles beyond the developed part of the city.   Ironically-whether you are in Calico Basin, Red Spring Park or Red Rock Canyon-you cannot hear the hub bub of the city at all.

Calico Basin

Calico Basin

Valley of Fire State Park is more of a drive and won’t be done without wheels.  It is 49 miles to get out to the park entrance by taking I-15 toward Utah and getting off at the Valley of Fire Hwy located at the Moapa Paiute Travel Plaza (also referred to as the Smokeshop).  Follow the Valley of Fire Hwy to the entrance to the park. Since we are now having wonderful spring temperatures in the 70s, it was quite busy while we were there on a long weekend.  Come summer, when the temperatures soar into the 110s, I suspect it is still very quiet out there.  I will share more about the Valley of Fire in another entry.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Redstone Picnic Area looks very new, at least the facilities.  It includes a half mile hiking trail, covered picnic tables and a necessity stop in the parking lot.  On the day we visited, an older couple was getting married amongst the red stones.  Not only is Las Vegas known for weddings in our chapels, but there are a lot of location weddings that take place in Red Rock, Redstone and Valley of Fire.  The backgrounds can’t be beat and can’t be faked.  If anybody is planning one of these little affairs, then contact me.  I want to get into that kind of photography also.  Enough rambling though!  Redstone Picnic Area is located at mile 27 on the Northshore Road along  Lake Mead.  Heading back into town from Redstone, turn onto Lake Mead Boulevard to return through North Las Vegas or continue to Lake Mead Parkway to return in through Henderson.  There are other options if you want to continue around Lake Mead toward Hoover Dam and the Hoover Dam Bypass Bridge.

Redstone Picnic Area

Redstone Picnic Area

 

National Park Service Fee Free Days Again!

All weekend long for President’s Day (February 14-16), there is free admission to any of the national parks across the nation.    For me, I think that will mean a trip out and around Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  Look for more information and a pic or two  very soon.  I know I want to get back out to Hoover Dam, as it is soooo low that it is really sad.  We were too late coming back from our last outing.  We could see how low it is with our eyes,  but the camera just couldn’t capture it.  Be back soon!

Brews, Sports and Comfort Food

Maybe you like brew pubs.  Maybe you like everything sports, especially the Packers.  Maybe you like cheese curds or comfort food.  Maybe you like all of these. If you like any or all of the above, then Big Dog’s Brewing Company aka The Draft House is the place to visit. I have visited the Draft House many times during the time I have lived in Las Vegas.  After a long week at work, there needs to be a meeting at the field office for some tasty adult beverages.  My friend absolutely prefers the Draft House, so I often tag along.  I love their menu, especially the cheese curds since I am a “cheesehead” home grown.  Cheese curds don’t necessarily love me back, so I have to choose from the menu carefully.  The last time we were there, I glanced over and bravely asked the man sitting at the next table what he was having.  It looked so good, and he raved about how tender the meat was.  So I ordered up Grandma’s Pot Roast.   I was not disappointed.  We landed there a few days later after work related meeting and I ordered it again.  So maybe that was a little overkill-NO!  The portions are ample enough for even a hearty eater to eat half and take the rest for another meal.  So I go for the food.  My brother-in-law goes for the brews. Some people go for the sports.  They even have live bands playing some nights now.  Whether you live here or are just visiting, check out all they have to offer.  They are located on N. Rancho near Craig.

 

Snowbirds, Powerball and Laughlin

 

So as the Powerball numbers get larger, people in Las Vegas find places to go buy tickets.  That leaves us with two places to temporarily migrate to-Primm on the California border or multiple places in Arizona.  Since I have that new expensive camera and wanted to find something to take pictures of, I chose to take a road trip to Laughlin, Nevada and Bullhead City, Arizona across the river.  I can honestly say that I have been to Laughlin/Bullhead City enough times that I can count them on one hand.  I even stayed in one of the casino/hotels there on one of those visits.  In my search for things to take pictures of, we actually found the other part of Laughlin that most who visit don’t see.  They have their main drag with all of the casino/hotels and if you stay on the main drag and continue driving far enough, you find the residential part of town that I had never seen before.

At Davis Dam

At Davis Dam

Because there are feet of snow and really nasty weather in other parts of the country, there are a lot of snowbirds-those people that live somewhere east and north of here during the summer and then escape their winters by coming down to the southwest for the winter season.  I had never been to Laughlin/Bullhead City during the winter, so I had no clue how many actually stay there, nor did I know how many RV parks there are.

Twin Planes Over Davis Dam

Twin Planes Over Davis Dam

Once we found the living part of Laughlin, we crossed over the Colorado River as it flows from Lake Mohave on down to Lake Havasu.    If you are from my generation, then you might know that London Bridge never fell down, but was taken apart and moved to Lake Havasu.  So what was the Colorado River like on February 7th?  We saw not only the Celebration riverboat running the river, but waterskiers being towed by a speedboat, as the temperatures pushed 80 degrees.  And some people still insist that there is no climate change.   We had other entertainment as well.  I am not sure what was happening, but there were twin planes flying around.  I caught those with the digital while we were over at Davis Dam, just above the towns.  The vistas dropping down into Laughlin from the Nevada side are phenomenal, although because they are so immense, the haze in the distance doesn’t always make for the best photography.  When we left the Bullhead City side headed back through the Arizona side, we were treated with some extremely interesting  rock formations as we climbed back out of the canyon.