Las Vegas Traffic

Tuesday October 31st 2017

Today was a continuation of yesterday in many ways. The weather was about the same and my mission for the day was similar. I was visiting stores to look at stuff not to buy stuff. I guess you can call that shopping in the extreme sense of the word. Most people shop with a higher probability of buying than I currently have. I’m doing my research right now. Eventually, I’ll be in buying mode. When it happens in happens quickly.

Halloween was present at all the places I stopped. Most of the employees were in some kind of costume. Cat ears with painted whiskers was popular on the women and sports jerseys with eye black was common on the men. I also saw quite a few zombies along with some unidentifiable strange costumes.

The other thing apparent in the stores is the preparations for Christmas. Not only were the store decorated for the holidays they had tons of extra merchandise in the aisle. It is probably not unusual for this time of year, but in my head it’s still summer. The warm sunny days don’t equate to my personal history in the northeast. The weather forecasters indicate that cooler temperatures will be here next week.

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Waiting in traffic on Flamingo waiting to cross the strip.

The traffic in this valley is impossible. The traffic on the highways is manageable except during rush hour or an obstruction like an accident. It’s the surface streets that I have the most problems with. Even if you take the highway the long way around, you have to drive on the surface streets eventually. Traffic backs up at the traffic lights nearly to the next light. It seems to be impossible to find two successive green lights. It can easily take half an hour to go five miles.

I don’t know if it’s the strange mix of tourists and locals or just driver frustration, but I’ve seen many strange driving techniques. I’ve had drivers turn left from the right lane across two lanes of traffic including the one I was in twice today. In one case there was a hundred yards or so of open space between me and the crossing car. The other occasion was at a traffic light. Alert driving kept both incidents from being a problem, but it wouldn’t take much to create a big mess. An another incident of bizarre driving as a little more routine. A driver climbed the curb with the right side set of wheels to make it to the next intersection rather than waiting for the light to change.

I’ve had a lot of experience driving in city traffic over the years. Driving in Las Vegas is not a new experience either. I’ve driven in this city many times including last April. It has always had heavy traffic, but this time it is bothering me more. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time this summer in very rural areas without much traffic.

 

Shopping not Buying Day

Monday October 30th 2017

The weather was different today. There were clouds in the sky. Other than that the temperature was still very comfortable in the mid 80s. The forecasts indicate this may be the last day in the 80s for some time. The projected high temps trend downward toward the high 60s next week. I’m not complaining. It’s better than the weather elsewhere in the country.

I spent most the of the morning lingering over breakfast coffee and watching inane TV shows. When I finally got the day started I spent most of my time in traffic getting from place to place. One of the advantages to being in a large city is the proximity of a large variety of stores. Over the summer I have developed many “wants” and a few “needs” for various things. Finding stores to fill the “needs” and turn the “wants” into “needs” or “forget its” is hard when traveling. Online shopping is always a possibility but you need to be staying still long enough to receive the item. On top of that seeing and touching a product is the best way to turn a “want” into a “need”.

Today I was working on replacing my gas grill. The one I have is over ten years old. I’ve been making it work for over a year, but it’s really done for now. There are a number of good replacements that are just a little bit bigger than my current grill. I don’t want to reconfigure and throw out other stuff to make room for a bigger grill. I found a smaller grill online, but questioned its quality. Today I found one at the Camping World Store in Henderson NV. I wasn’t impressed with its quality. My guess is it might last a year or two, but not the 10 plus years of my current grill. Making room for a bigger grill may be the only way to go.

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Cactus at the Ethel M Candies Cactus Garden already decorated for Christmas.

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I also have a “want” for a new camera. I’m not real impressed with the picture quality from my Canon Point and Shoot camera. I think my cell phone takes better pictures. I’m considering using it in place of the point and shoot. For more versatility in a relatively small package I’m considering a mirror-less interchangeable lens camera. I’ve been reading reviews on the internet to learn more about the candidate cameras. Today I stopped at a Best Buy to start narrowing the list of possibilities. I’ll probably still buy the camera online if I turn my “want” into a “need”.

While I was out I stopped at the Ethel M Candies Cactus Gardens. I enjoy waking through the cactus from all over the southwest. At Christmas time they put lights on the cactus and have a real Christmas celebration complete with Santa Claus and fake snow. I was surprised to see that the cactus garden was already decorated for Christmas. There were strings of lights on all the cactus and other seasonal decorations were scattered around the grounds. I don’t think it is open at night yet, but it won’t be long.

The lights at the cactus garden got me thinking about Halloween. The last two years I’ve been in campgrounds that got into decorating for Halloween in a big way. I’m not in one this year. I have seen very few Halloween decorations at this park. I walked around the RV park tonight looking for decorated RVs. I found one RV with orange ground lights and a couple of units with attempts at ghost displays. I don’t know if it’s the park or the overall area. I’m fine with not decorating for Halloween, but I hope there will be decorations for Christmas.

Slow Football Watching Day

Sunday October 29th 2017

It was another mid 80s day with full sunshine. I tried to sleep in this morning, but with the windows open I still haven’t gotten used to the morning noises. It’s the conversations nearby that really wake me up. I hear people talking, but not clearly enough to understand the conversation. That’s the most annoying kind of noise. The windows will be closed overnight pretty soon so it won’t be a problem much longer.

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Flowers on one of the bushes adding color to the desert landscape of the RV Park.

I didn’t do anything exciting today. Consequently, this blog entry isn’t likely to be very exciting either. I spent the day around the RV doing chores and watching TV. The football pregame shows start at 9AM in the Pacific Time Zone and the games start at 10AM. The night game ends around 8:30 or 9:00PM. It’s the same elapsed time as on the east coast of course, but it takes up more of the usable part of the day here.

I didn’t get to watch the Patriots game. The Oakland Raiders vs. Buffalo Bills game was carried on local TV. I thought there was a chance they’d carry the Patriots games since they were playing the Chargers from nearby Southern California. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas once a stadium is built. The ground breaking for the stadium is in the next couple of weeks. Local media has already embraced the team. Raiders news leads the sports reports when there isn’t anything on the new NHL team the Golden Knights to report. The local TV stations are working hard to make this a big sports town.

For exercise I walked around the RV resort a few times. There has been a lot of turnover since I got here last week. I had assumed that most of the sites were occupied by long monthly residents. It turns out that the park keeps sites for shorter term stays intermixed with the longer term sites. It might be a coincidence, but this is also a sound approach to keeping the park looking full and prosperous.

Drive to Lake Mead

Saturday October 28th 2017

The temperature in Las Vegas is still running above normal. It was in the mid to upper 80s today. Next week is forecast to be closer to normal in the mid to upper 70s. By next weekend a change in the weather pattern is anticipated. I don’t know if that means colder or possible wetter. So time will tell.

r3t2017-10-28_18-531I took a drive out to Lake Mead today. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is about 15 miles from my campsite. I entered the park near the Lake Las Vegas area into the Las Vegas Wash area of the park. I departed the park in Boulder City near the Hoover Dam. In between I stopped at a couple of the overlooks and walk the trail along the side of the cliffs that used to be near the edge of the water. The lake level is a little higher this year than in the recent past, but it’s nothing like it was at its most recent high in 1998. It was around that year that I first saw the lake. In contrast to the water in Lake Mead the desert areas in the recreation area are very primitive. It is hard to believe that an area so desolate and dangerous is just over a small mountain range from the Las Vegas valley.

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While I was at the lake I reached for my cell phone to check the time. I long ago stopped wearing a watch in favor of my phone that is always with me; except today. I left my phone at home. It’s amazing how panicked I felt with the knowledge that my phone wasn’t with me. Should I go straight home and get it? What if something happens and I need to make a call? It’s a security blanket kind of thing. People have survived for years with out the ability to instantly make a call or look something up, but now it seems like a risky inconvenience not to be able to make a call. All of these thoughts went through my head in a flash. As I thought it through the obvious conclusion was to continue on with my day.

On the way back home I stopped for groceries. There sure were a lot of people shopping on a Saturday afternoon. Several aisles had traffic jams and the registers had long lines as well. The store had Halloween candy, Christmas candy and all the typical Thanksgiving food preparation stuff out to entice you to buy. I wish they’d let us finish one holiday before starting the next.

The rest of the day has been dedicated to college football and the world series. Tomorrow will probably be the NFL, NASCAR and the world series.

A Daytime Visit to the Fremont Street Experience

Friday October 27th 2017

The high point of the day was a trip to downtown Las Vegas. Specifically to the Fremont Street Experience and the surrounding casinos.

By mid afternoon I had completed today’s tasks around my RV home. I decided to check out the Halloween activities in downtown Las Vegas. Even in the middle of the afternoon, before rush hour, the traffic was heavy. There is no longer any free parking in the downtown area so I parked in one of the parking garages. It probably wasn’t the cheapest option, but it was easy to get to and near the action.

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Skeletons hung from the stage lighting and sound supports.

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How would you like to have your picture taken with these characters?

There were plenty of people around, but most of the street vendors, buskers and costumed personalities were not out yet. The only characters were the plastic kind. Zombies, ghouls and scarecrow statues were present. People were taking pictures with the statues. Later when the costumed characters and showgirls arrived on the scene they got the picture taking attention.

I made my way along Fremont street checking the changes at the casinos. There were a few changes in the casinos, but the biggest change was the destruction of the Vegas Club casino. They have been working on taking it down to build a new casino hotel. Instead of an implosion a big claw on an excavator grabs a chunk of building and rips it down. When I was here in the spring, they had just started. Now, I’d estimate they are two thirds done. Only the back hotel tower and a couple of walls from the structure along Main Street remain.

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The deconstruction of the Las Vegas Club casino and hotel.

I had planned to stay at the Fremont Street Experience until dark, but I got there earlier in the day than I should have. Once I lost the money I’d budgeted to gamble, I headed home. The best way to loose money is feeding a slot machine just to kill time. I’m sure I’ll go back downtown a few more times while I’m here.

Catching up on Chores

Thursday October 26th 2017

I stayed at home today to catch up on some of the chores of life – house work. Chief among those chores was the laundry. I last did the laundry two weeks ago. I have plenty of clean clothes for that time frame, but I didn’t wash the bed sheets in that load. Today everything got washed.

I’m far enough away from the laundry facility that I drove across the RV park to get there. That fact combined with the facility being busy caused me to stay in the laundry room while the machines did their thing. It was very entertaining watching some of the people doing their washing. One lady came in with three plastic shopping bags of clothes. She proceeded to commander all of the laundry carts for her bags of dirty laundry. Then she checked out each of the available dryers. Once she found one that met her standards, she took the lint filter to the sink and washed it. This dryer got one of the bags of clothes which contained wet, probably hand washed, clothes. Her next step was to check all of the available washing machines. Once she selected two, she got paper towels to “clean” the machines before loading them up. One of the machines I had just used so I know it wasn’t in bad shape. Once she’d loaded the machines she needed to go back to her car for detergent and other stuff. Each machine got a different brand of detergent. Both machines also got fabric softener and one machine got bleach. Not that unusual except she measured everything so exactly a chemist would be proud. Once everything was going she should have been able to relax, but instead she’d get up and check one machine or another every five or ten minutes. It was entertaining, but I was also glade when I got out of there. She was making me tired with her restlessness.

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Aquarium in the Forum Shops Mall with a VegasStrong sign in the tank. 

Las Vegas is still recovering from the terrible mass shooting on October 1st. Stories about the recovery of victims and others impacted are on every news broadcast. Signs memorializing the event are on the everything from Strip marquees to hand written messages on cardboard signs. The phrase and hash tag VegasStrong are being used by everyone. It pops up everywhere. The tourist shops have created tee shirts with the phrase along with the famous Las Vegas sign image. Not surprisingly I’ve seen it on vehicles like taxis and ambulances, but one place really surprised me. Signs with the catch phrase have been added to the aquarium in the Forum Shops mall. I doubt the fish swimming by have a clue about the significance of the sign.

Touring the Center of the Las Vegas Strip

Wednesday October 25th 2017

After five days in town I thought it was about time that I visited the Las Vegas Strip. Yesterday’s failed attempt to use the Sam’s Town Casino shuttle caused me to bite the bullet and drive up to the strip this morning. I parked at the Miricle Mile Mall parking garage behind the Planet Hollywood Casino. This is one of the last free parking locations on the strip.

I made a loop of the center strip casinos. Starting from Planet Hollywood I crossed the strip to Bellagio to see the fall display in the conservatory. This is one of the better displays I’ve seen in the conservatory on recent visits. It featured two big peacocks surrounded by fall colors. Seeing the display in the conservatory was one of the reasons I wanted to visit the strip today.

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Two large flower covered Peacocks dominate the Bellagio Conservatory.

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The sun through the glass roof illuminated the peacocks well.

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Flowers cover all of the peacocks surfaces.

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This was labeled as a talking tree. I didn’t hear it talking.

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This character really likes his green acorn.

From the Bellagio I continued north to Caesars Palace, the Mirage, and Treasure Island. I crossed back to the east side of the strip at the Fashion Show mall to visit the Wynn Casino. Then I worked my way back south through the Palazzo, Venetian, Harrahs, the Linq, Flamingo, Bally’s and Paris.

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Orchids at the Mirage.

I stopped for lunch at Gordon Ramsay’s Fish and Chips in the Linq promenade between the Linq Hotel and the Flamingo. The Linq is the current name for the old Imperial Palace. It was also called the Quad for a year or two. I haven’t had Fish and Chips all summer so I was looking forward to lunch. It was very good and not that expensive for Las Vegas. Three pieces of “Alaskan” Cod and fries with a soft drink was $14.99 before tax.

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Blackbird checking out the flamingo at the wildlife area of the Flamingo Casino.

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Duck at the Flamingo wildlife area.

Overall I spent about four hours on my loop of the center strip. I didn’t loose a lot of money in the slot machines although I certainly didn’t make any either. Another day I’ll tour the southern strip from the same starting point.