Routine Day on the Rambling Road Trip

Thursday November 30th 2017

Weather wise today was a repeat of yesterday; sunny in the low 70s. Activity wise, I was a lot less active today. After spending yesterday walking all around the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, I spent most of today doing chores around the RV.

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Sunset this evening as I was leaving the RV park laundry.

My biggest challenge of the day was the laundry. The hamper fills up faster in the cooler weather. Not because I’m wearing more clothes, but fall clothes are heavier and bigger. It is only in the second half of November that I’ve had the need to switch to long pants and wear a sweatshirt now and then. Eight months of wearing “summer” clothes isn’t anything to complain about.

The laundry was a little less busy this time around. Not all of the machines were in use when I arrived. By the time I left the laundry facility all of the machines were empty. Since the RV park laundry is so far enough away from my site I drive to get there and wait around while the machines do their thing. The count down timer says the wash load takes 39 minutes, but that last minute can last a long time if the machine doesn’t think the spin cycle has squeezed enough water out of the load. Then the dryer count down timer calls for another 48 minutes of drying time. Overall it took about two and a half hours from the time I loaded the laundry bag and left my RV home until everything was folded or hunk back in my draws and closets. I don’t mind the task when the laundry is near by and I can walk over and load the machine then come back to my RV while the loads run. Having to drive to the RV park laundry is another thing.

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RV park laundry as I was waiting for the dryer to finish.

I didn’t take any pictures with my new camera today. The pictures in this blog entry were taken with my Canon Point and Shoot. I spent some time reading a “How to” book on my new camera and downloading some software that understands my camera. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to experiment with what I learned.

NASCAR Celebration Parade

Wednesday November 29th 2017

The day started out cloudy and cool, but once the sun broke through the temperature reached the upper sixties. The next few days are supposed to be a little warmer. Next week the wind returns and the forecast is for highs in the fifties.

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Looking North along the Las Vegas Strip from the pedestrian overpass at Flamingo Rd.

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Bellagio Hotel and Casino.

Late this morning I drove to the Las Vegas strip. I had two goals. The first was to catch some of the NASCAR Final Lap parade. This is part of the end of season celebration by the stock car raising association. My second goal was to take a bunch of pictures with my new camera to learn how it works.

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Flower display in the Crystals Mall.

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Christmas tree at the New York New York hotel and casino.

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The MGM Grand lion ready for Christmas in the lobby.

I took more than two hundred pictures of various things along the strip. There are so many modes on this camera that I’ve only scratched the surface. Most of today’s pictures were with the various automatic modes of the camera. As expected I got some good results and some real jerky turkeys. So far the biggest positive about the camera is the speed. It will focus quickly and capture the picture much faster than my point and shoot camera. My biggest difficulty was the size and weight of the camera. I need to try different straps and cases to find the right combination. The carrying strap will be even more important when I’m using the bigger zoom lens. Today I just used the small 16-50mm power zoom, not the bigger 45-210mm lens. All of tonight’s pictures were taken with the Sony Alpha 6000 camera.

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View of one of the decorated entrances to the Park area between the New York New York casino and the Monte Carlo casino. The dog is one of several on security patrol.

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Sculpture in front of the T-Mobile arena.

I parked at the Miracle Mile Mall parking garage. It is one of the last fee parking options on the strip. The NASCAR event was scheduled to start in front of the mall at two thirty. I had plenty of time to explore the strip casinos and shopping areas taking pictures with my new camera. I walked up to Flamingo to cross Las Vegas Blvd on the pedestrian overpass so I could take pictures in front of the Bellagio hotel and casino. From there I walked south along the strip stopping for picture taking in the Crystals mall to the Monte Carlo. The home base for the NASCAR celebration is in the park area between the Monte Carlo and the New York New York casinos. There were several cars and other NASCAR paraphernalia in front of the T-Mobil arena.

I paused for lunch at the Fulton Fish Market in the New York New York hotel and casino food court. The fish and chips were good. After lunch I continued through the New York New York and crossed the pedestrian bridge to the MGM Grand still taking pictures of anything and everything. MGM was packed with people attending a big Amazon Web Services (AWS) convention. They all had fancy picture badges.

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Tram arriving at the Monte Carlo Station.

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Mountains to the west of the Las Vegas valley from the Bellagio Tram Station.

At about one thirty I started back to the Miracle Mile mall for the start of the NASCAR event. I took the tram from the back of the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino to the Bellagio. Getting trough the Monte Carlo is a real challenge. They are in the middle of a massive renovation. When the upgrades are complete the hotel and casino will be re-branded as the MGM Park Las Vegas or something like that.

In the Bellagio hotel and casino I stopped to checkout the construction in the conservatory before going back to the strip to watch the NASCAR parade. This week they are converting the Fall Peacock display in the conservatory to the Christmas display. The tree is already up. The Christmas display opens Saturday.

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Flower arrangement in the Bellagio.

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Bellagio Conservatory being converted to a Christmas display.

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Bellagio conservatory will open Saturday December 2nd with the 2017 Christmas display.

I had plenty of time to wait. It didn’t get started at 2:30 as planned. A stage was setup in the bus stop in front of the Miracle Mile Mall for speeches or interviews. All sixteen of the playoff cars were lined up in finishing order in the road behind the stage. Around three thirty the cars started and proceeded north on the strip. I was happy with that much of the parade. The real show was at the intersection of the strip and Spring Mountain Road near the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel. The cars did burnouts and donuts in the intersection before returning south on the strip. Another set of burnouts with donuts were planned for the intersection of Harmon with the strip. I don’t know if that one happened before dark. I didn’t stay around. The burnouts at Spring Mountain were on the TV news.

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Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino

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Looking north along the strip from the Bellagio walkway.

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Mounted Policy for parade crowd control.

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NASCAR final 16 cars lined up along the strip.

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Lined up NASCAR cars and presentation stage.

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Martin Truex Jr. the season champion leads the parade north from the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino.

Wetland Walk

Tuesday November 28th 2017

It was a bright sunny day with the high temperature in the low to mid 60s, but it was still above normal. The TV weather report calls for a sixty degree normal high for this late November day. I took advantage of the weather with another walk at the nearby Wetlands Park. This is my third visit and I’m still exploring new areas.

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Solitary duck in one of the Wetland Park ponds.

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Mountains separating the Las Vegas Valley from Lake Mead.

Today I walked through an area that burned a little over three years ago. Unless you look closely at some of the burned tree trunks it isn’t noticeable. The wetlands that surround the burned areas are full of heavy grass and reed vegetation. There are some areas that have been cleared enough that you can see the ponds. Floating on each pond was a duck or two. As in my past visits I also so plenty of coyote scat. I didn’t see any coyotes but heard something big moving in the grass and reeds in one area. It probably wasn’t a coyote but it either didn’t know I was around or didn’t care. I hung around for a few minutes to see if anything came out of the reeds.

When I got back to the RV park after my outdoor activity for the day it was time for an early Christmas or a late Birthday. A packaged I’d ordered from Amazon arrived. As I’ve mentioned in this blog before, I haven’t been totally happy with my point and shoot camera. Last week I ordered a Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. I purchased a bundle with the camera body, two lenses, extra batteries, a quality memory card and some other stuff. The other stuff may or may not be useful, but if I bought everything separately it would be more expensive by the time I got everything I need.

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My new camera before the unboxing.

I’ve got some learning to do. I’ve used full function cameras before, but I haven’t owned one. This one has good automatic features and a whole host of adjustable features and manual modes as well. So far I’ve charged the batteries and taken a few shots inside my RV home. Over the next few days I’ll tryout more of the functions and take a few comparison pictures.

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Sony Alpha 600 with the 16-50mm lens mounted.  The  additional lens is a 55-210mm.

I don’t expect the new camera to replace my point and shoot completely. It will be another option for taking pictures and shooting video. This summer I was trading off between my cell phone camera and the Canon Point and Shoot. Going forward I expect I will be trading off between three cameras. In addition to learning to use the new camera I need to figure out which camera to use for the different situations.

Wind Storm

Monday November 27th 2017

Today’s weather was a wind storm. I’ve come to understand that weather transitions in the desert are not usually accompanied by precipitation, but always with wind. This morning started with strong winds from the south. The temperature got up into the mid seventies like it had been for the last few days. A little afternoon the wind started to strengthen and became more of a north wind. The sky darkened and the temperature started to drop. All the time the wind gusts got stronger and more frequent. Gusts between fifty and sixty miles per hour were reported in the Las Vegas valley. Anything that wasn’t anchored down was blowing around. I had to scramble to make sure my outdoor chairs didn’t get away. Fellow campers with outdoor rugs were really challenged to keep everything in place. The palm trees were even giving up some of their older weaker branches. By evening the wind was starting to calm down and the temperature was noticeably cooler.

In this blog entry I am including pictures of some of the Christmas Trees I’m seeing in my travels around the valley. Most of them are from shopping areas or casinos. I wonder if they’re all decorated by the same company. There are many similarities.

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r3t2017-11-17_21-342Around two this afternoon I got started on my daily activities outside the RV Park. It seems like two is my natural departure time. If I need or want to leave earlier, I have to make a very focused effort. Today was a shopping day for groceries and a few Christmas decorations. For a bit of a change and the concentration of stores I drove about five miles to the Sunset Road area of Henderson NV.

r3t2017-11-23_20-251I managed to get most of what I wanted at Walmart. I got all of my food shopping complete and also picked up a couple of sets of battery operated LED Christmas lights. I need to find a tiny Christmas tree or maybe a centerpiece of some sort to go with the lights. I’ll be looking over the next couple of days.

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The grocery side of the Walmart was packed with shoppers in the middle of a week day afternoon. The rest of the store wasn’t bad given the season. Getting down some of aisles was a slow process. I often had to make a U turn back the way I came. Other times I just had to wait out the shopping cart jams. The good thing was that all of the checkout lanes were open. I didn’t have to wait twenty minutes to get checked out like I have at other Walmarts.

When I sit down to write these blog entries, I don’t always no what I’m going to write. I remain committed to documenting each day of my Rambling Road Trip. I don’t want to get out of the habit of writing an entry every day. Sometimes I surprise myself and come up with an interesting blog entry. Then there are ones like this one that show just how ordinary some days turn out.

A Slow Day

Sunday November 26th 2017

Today was another above average day in Las Vegas. The temperature topped out just short of 80 degrees. It is only expected to be around 60 degrees this time of year. The wind is starting to pick up so the change to cooler temperatures is about to occur.

I didn’t do anything interesting today. Most of my attention was split between football games on the TV and reading various random articles on the internet. For exercise I walked around the RV park a few times. The Christmas decorations continue to appear. The most elaborate was a blow up snowman on top of a box trailer. It is six to eight feet tall above the ten to twelve roof of the box trailer. If it were much higher it would need a warning light for low flying aircraft.

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Frosty the snowman on top of a box trailer.

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Frosty illuminated at night.

It looks like the park and the residents will really decorate for Christmas. After the lack of decorations for Halloween I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought about going out and getting some decorations of my own, but I’ll do that tomorrow along with the grocery shopping.

 

Las Vegas International Auto Show

Saturday November 25th 2017

I got a late start again today and it was another beautiful day. The high temperature was right around eighty. That’s not bad for a day with a normal average temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

After a leisurely breakfast I decided to go to the Las Vegas International Auto Show. It is going on this weekend at the Convention Center. This show had displays from many of the major car companies, but some big players were missing. Mercedes, BMW, Kia and Nissan were among the brands that were not on display. Compared to the size of the Las Vegas population center, it was a small show.

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This Corvette can be yours for only 107 thousand plus dollars.

I may be in the market for a new vehicle. My Honda CR-V has around 100,000 miles on it. I am going to have to spend some money to keep it in reliable condition. It is a good vehicle, but it is also a little heavier than I’d like. If I had a car that was about one thousand pounds lighter, I’d be able to pull it behind the motorhome better. The issue is that the number of vehicles that can be towed four wheels down is decreasing rapidly. To achieve better fuel economy and smoother rides, car manufacturers are developing new transmissions that can’t be towed. Most manual shift cars can still be pulled behind a motorhome, but there aren’t as many of those as you’d think. People, me included, want automatic transmissions. Even the sports cars at the show were automatics.

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How about a Lamborghini?

I didn’t find anything new at the show, but I got to refine some of my thoughts. The traditional vehicles that can be towed are mostly even heavier than what I have now. The four wheel drive Jeeps have a neutral in the transfer case that allows them to be towed, but they are 800 pounds heavier than my CR-V. Honda CR-Vs or any Honda for that matter haven’t been towable since 2015. The Chevy Equinox that is only about 600 pounds heavier than my CR-V has fewer models that are towable this year.

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Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback.

Looking at the smaller vehicles isn’t much better. Manual transmission Fiats, Chevrolet, and Fords are all possible. The Ford Focus and Chevy Sonic are also available with automatics that can be towed. One of the questions I was trying to answer today was can I be comfortable in a car that small. The answer for the Chevrolet Sonic is probably yes. I’d need to drive it to be sure. The Ford Focus seems a little less comfortable. The seat doesn’t move as much.

I’ve reached no conclusions. I just had fun looking at the cars, sitting in them and kicking the tires.

Lazy Black Friday

Friday November 24th 2017

The beautiful weather continues. The days are warm in the upper 70s and the nights are in the low 50s. Great for being outdoors during the day and cool enough for sleeping at night. It helped me sleep late this morning.

When I finally got up I took my breakfast coffee and English muffins outside. I put out the awning and turned on the outside TV. I spent a few hours in front of the outside TV with my tablet reading. Eventually I had to move inside. The sun got around to an area that the awning wasn’t providing any shade. The inside was warm but I stubbornly refused to turn on the air conditioning. Instead, I opened a couple more windows and turned up the speed of the vent fan.

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Christmas lights on the clubhouse building at the RV park. The security lights don’t help the decorations. 

I didn’t have any place I wanted to be today. The idea of fighting the Black Friday traffic was very unattractive. The regular weekday traffic is bad enough. I’ll venture back out tomorrow after the first rush of Christmas shoppers have retreated to check their lists and bank accounts. To breakup the day and get some exercise I took a couple of laps around the RV park. I haven’t measured the distance around the park, but I’d guess it is a little over a half mile.

There were more empty sites today than yesterday. Once again my understanding of the coming and going  in this park was wrong. I thought the park had filled for the long weekend, but it appears it was only for the holiday itself. The motorhome in the site beside mine arrived Monday and left today. I never even got to meet them. That isn’t surprising, but the fact that I have only met the male member of the couple on the other side is surprising. They were here when I arrived, probably not for long as they were still setting up camp. They rarely come out of their RV. The man comes out to do a chore or two, but they never sit outside. Occasionally the man with get in the car and go away for awhile. I only know there is a woman in the couple because I saw her get in the car twice in five weeks. Many days go by with no one coming out of the RV. There is nothing wrong with that, it is their approach to living in an RV. I just find it unusual.

This evening I noticed that the RV park has turned on the Christmas lights at the clubhouse. They’ve been hung for about a week, but this is the first evening I’ve seen them turned on. In my opinion, they looked better turned off in the daylight. I hope they tweak the arrangement a little now that they can be viewed at night. For example, some things are blinking and some things aren’t. There is no symmetry between the blinking and non-blinking parts. The white lights also mask the more colorful lights. Other areas of the RV park are much more colorful. Residents have wrapped palm trees in lights, setup fully decorated Christmas trees in their yards and lined various parts of their rigs with lights. I guess it’s time I got some decorations.