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.

Mount Charleston-A Real Visit

Another friend and I are both trying to do more with photography.  One of the things I love to take pictures of is snowy weather and after the snow falls.  Mount Charleston is only a 30 minute drive to the top.  We can definitely see the snow on the mountain when it does snow.  Getting up there to take pictures right after the snow is often challenging, since I can only do it on weekends and she can only do it on certain varied days.  One day we both could go and decided to do just that.  It was supposed to be snowing on the mountain on a Sunday morning, so off we went hoping for the best, armed with our cameras, snow chains, water and blankets just in case.

We stopped everywhere we saw a potential picture, including our high desert plants.  Now mind you, everytime it does snow, the snow disappears over the next several days-at least in the accessible places.  The very top of the mountain where we can’t get to stays white and can be seen down in the valley.  Well, it was snowing and it was cold.

What is this anyway?

What is this anyway?

So after taking some pictures and checking out Cathedral Rock Group Picnic Area, we headed in for some hot chocolate at the Mount Charleston Lodge.  Mount Charleston Lodge has a limited number of cabins for use year round.  Sitting near the fire and looking across the way with the snowflakes coming down was quite calming, as we planned the next shots we would take. Out the door we went to take more shots at that location, then headed partway down the hill-taking some more pics as we went down.

Connected Trees

Connected Trees

Halfway down the mountain, you can find The Resort on Mount Charleston which is larger and is a nice stopping point in either direction.  The Resort on Mount Charleston has more rooms available in a lodge type hotel.  Both on on Kyle Canyon Road.  What is brand new up the mountain is a US Forest Service Visitor Center. It is so new, it isn’t even open yet. But checking it out, we saw that there is plenty of parking and even “bus” parking.  What on earth do they have in mind for this visitor center.  I can’t wait to see what they do with this.

New Visitor Center

New Visitor Center

The other thing that is new to both Kyle and Lee Canyons is a round about on both of them.  A round about?  Really?  Drivers in Las Vegas are not known for handling round abouts very well.  We do have our share, particularly up in Summerlin.  This could be downright entertaining.  Oh well.  We headed across the connecting road to Lee Canyon and tried to check out the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort.  We couldn’t get up there where more snow was located.  Turns out there is paid parking.  So we turned around and headed on toward Floyd Lamb Park for our next session of snapping photos.  Did we see the snow that we really wanted to see?  No-it was there on Monday when we were both stuck at our jobs.  Did we have some fun?  Yes-definitely!

 

 

 

 

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

 

Cruising the Caribbean This Summer

Do you crave a cruise?    Do you like the Caribbean with all of the sun, water activities-but don’t want to cook, clean, make beds,etc.  Do you enjoy being pampered?  Well the group that went to Alaska last summer is doing the Caribbean this summer and some of us are booked already and waiting with anticipation.  If you are interested, get out those passports and check out the details below:

Carnival Glory
August 1-8
Sailing from Miami, FL with stops at Cozumel, Mexico; Belize; Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan; and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.

Carnival Glory

Carnival Glory

Our agent who we are working with is:
Jeff Anderson        Eastern Standard Time
Work hours are weekdays from 10am-3pm EST and 9pm-midnight EST.
1-800-764-7315    ext:  44424

There are 9 of us booked so far with 3-6 more planning on booking.  If you are a single and having trouble finding a cabinmate-let me know.    We would love to have you join us and
our philosophy is “The more, the merrier”!

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.

 

National Park Fee Free Days

Every year, our National Park Service designates fee free days. These are days when you can get into the parks with just a smile and save your green for other things.  A friend and I plan on going back out to Red Rock Canyon on January 19th for one of the fee free days.  In the greater Las Vegas area, fee free days give you access to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.  In order to find out when the fee free days are, visit  http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm