Time to Admit it is Christmas Season

Saturday November 30th 2019

Today’s temperature was only a couple of degrees warmer than yesterday, but the wind wasn’t blowing. It was a comfortable day to be outside. The sun was out during the morning hours, but everything clouded in during the afternoon.

I was down in the southern part of the valley in Henderson during the afternoon. There didn’t seem to be too many weekend visitors in the area judging by the license plates, but there was plenty of traffic around the malls. I successfully avoided getting sucked into any of the shopping areas.

On my way back to my RV home I stopped at the Clark County Wetlands Park again for my daily exercise. The park is still showing signs of the rain storms earlier in the week. The gravel paths were a little muddy, so I stayed on the concrete paths. More junk has flowed down the Las Vegas wash to get caught in the brush and tall grass at and below the dam. It seems to be even higher above the normal water level than it was before the last rain. The task of cleaning it up is getting bigger.

There is snow in the mountains around the valley. The cooler temperature is keeping clouds above the mountain tops.

Today seemed be a day for family pictures. There were several families getting portraits taken at various spots around the park. Some were using professional photographers and others were just using cell phones. I assume it was families taking advantage of the gathering of distant family members for the Thanksgiving holiday. In a couple of the groups the kids were in fancy dress clothes. The parents were having lots of fun keeping them out of the mud.

White Christmas lights on the Club house.

Back at the RV park this evening, I walked around looking for new Christmas decorations. The park office has turned on the Christmas lights at the Club house. They have lots of white lights on the building. It looks festive, but I would prefer more colored lights. In the park one of the residents has put a big inflatable Snoopy on the roof of their box trailer. The same people decorated this way two years ago. They had to replace the inflatable twice that season because of the wind. Hopefully, this time year they will have better results. I’ll continue watching for more decorations on the nights to come. I may put my lights up tomorrow.

A bad picture of the inflatable Snoopy on top of the box trailer.

A Good Day to Hibernate

Friday November 29th 2019

The overnight rain gave way to a cloudy morning and a dry day. Unfortunately the temperature didn’t have a similar improvement. It never got out of the forties today. Adding to the outside misery factor was the wind. As steady wind from 15 to 20 mph blew all day. A few stronger gusts had the RV rattling hard, but it was more comfortable than the wind chill influenced outside conditions.

It was a confusing day. My first indicator was the strange mix of programming on the TV. Some channels had normal weekday programming, others had sports programming like a weekend day and other channels had non-standard programming because of preemptions later in the day. One of those oddly timed programs was a 10AM news broadcast that reminded me of the chaos of the Friday after Thanksgiving. I didn’t have any desire to get immersed in all the shoppers or get caught up in all of the extra tourists in town for the holiday weekend. A walk in the park was also a bad idea with the low temperature. I ended up staying home all day.

My day was spent watching college football games and formulaic Christmas movies. Both are good entertainment as long as I’m doing something else like reading internet articles. I made one attempt at a walk around the RV park around noon, but the wind drove me back inside quickly. Toward evening the wind let up and I got out for another walk as the sunset. It still wasn’t warm, but I was well bundled up.

Thanksgiving at the Buffet

Thursday November 28th 2019

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Today began cool and dry. It ended wet and cold. The weather went from partly cloudy to heavy clouds and rain by noon. The rain fell steadily most of the afternoon changing to occasional showers after dark.

I went out around 2PM in search of Thanksgiving dinner. My goal was the buffet at the Boulder Station Casino. I hoped the middle of the afternoon would be a slow time, but I don’t think such a time exists. It seems like everyone not dinning at home heads for one of the casino buffets. There were all kinds of people in line. Everyone from singles like me to huge family groups of ten or more. I waited one hour from the time I got in line until I sat down at a table. When I left the line was fifty feet or more longer.

Midway through the line for the buffet at Boulder Station Casino.

It is clear that many of the people don’t visit the casino on a regular basis. The price of the meal is discounted when you use a players card. People were getting players club cards while in line with the assistance of the slot attendants. The people in line in front of me had players club cards, but presented the card for the wrong casino to the cashier. It was kind of funny to watch their reaction when they were told they were in the wrong place by the cashier. Luckily, they had the correct card in their collection.

Inside the buffet there were more lines at the serving stations. The salad bar wasn’t bad, so I started with some soup. To get to the carving station, I had to get in line at the desert station then make my way past the Mexican food before reaching the carving station. With Mexican Corn, turkey, and a slice of beef on my plate, I had to continue in the line until I found gravy, dressing and a few other sides. All that consumed another fifteen minutes. It is a good thing I started with soup to put a curve on my hunger.

The food was good, but I over ate. I didn’t go back for seconds and I didn’t even have dessert. I could have used a good walk, but the rain made that a bad idea. I’ll have to put in some extra walking tomorrow.

Christmas Arrives at the Casino

Wednesday November 27th 2019

The bad weather in the forecast for several days finally arrived. The wind was howling when I got up this morning. The overnight temperatures were in the forties. When the wind chill was added in, the temperature felt below freezing. I stayed inside until the wind calmed down in the middle of the afternoon. There was about three hours of cool, cloudy day before the rain arrived shortly after nightfall. Tomorrow morning may be dry, but during the afternoon heavy rain is anticipated in the Las Vegas valley. The mountain tops around the valley will get snow.

I made my weekly pilgrimage to Sam’s Town Casino for the senior day potentials. Once again I didn’t get any reward for my efforts, but it was an interesting activity as always. The casino was very busy today. In addition to all of the people arriving in the valley for the Holiday weekend, there were two additional events in the casino. They were giving away pumpkin pies once you played around $100 through the machines. Hopefully you don’t loose it all or that would be a very expensive pie. Pumpkin pie isn’t one of my favorites, so I didn’t participate.

The other event drawing people in was the lighting of the Christmas displays in the Mystic Falls Indoor park. The decorations have been showing up all month, but the first official night was tonight. Families with little kids arrived to watch Santa Claus throw the switch. I think I heard that this was the thirtieth year for the celebration. One of the local TV stations was on hand to cover the event. Somehow I don’t understand having Santa Claus in a casino. Minors aren’t allowed in the gaming areas and have to be accompanied in other areas of the facility, but they can meet with Santa Claus in the indoor park area beside the casino on weekends between now and Christmas. Years ago you took the kids to a big department store to see Santa. As the department stores moved from downtown to the Malls, Santa Claus was in the center of the Mall. Now that many malls are closing, will casinos become the best place to find Santa Claus?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Yet Another Walk in the Wetlands Park

Tuesday November 26th 2019

A cold front came through Monday afternoon with strong winds and gusts. In addition to blowing things around outside that I had to pick up this morning, it brought much lower temperatures today. The high temperature today was about ten degrees cooler in the low fifties.

Dressed a little warmer than the past few days, I went back to the Clark County Wetlands Park for some more exercise hiking around the grounds. The school kids are on vacation this week so the park was full of people, but I still managed to visit with a few of the birds in the pictures below.

A Dreaded Planning Day

Monday November 25th 2019

Today started very early. I was up before five this morning to be on the computer at 8AM Eastern Standard Time. The reservation system for the state of Florida releases new sites in the state parks for reservations at 8AM eleven months ahead. My goal was to book a campsite in the Florida Keys for two weeks starting on October 25th 2020.

My research last week showed that six sites big enough to accommodate my RV would be available in one campground and a few more in another one. Promptly at the top of the hour I hit the enter key to book my first choice. Someone else beat me to it. The same applied to the next two attempts. On the fourth try I had success. I now have a site booked for two weeks in the Marathon Florida area. I’ll be able to range up and down the keys from there.

I have two weeks to figure out my next stop at the end of next year, but I really need to work on the six months between April and October. My problem is the volume of country to chose from and the much higher level of unknowns. The eastern side of the Rockies is my primary focus, but I really don’t want to get into the higher elevation until the end of May. The planning dilemmas start with finding a touring area for late April and May, and booking a place for the three big holidays; Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Many of the places in the snow belt don’t open reservations until after the new year. The other thing I need to guard against is a tendency to attempt to travel too much and try to do too much.

Right now I’m thinking I’ll stay in Utah most of April and May. At the end of May or beginning of June I’ll cross the Rockies into Wyoming. I’ll probably cross on Interstate 80 since it has more predictable grades. During the remainder of June and July I’ll tour in Wyoming and maybe the western side of the Dakotas. Right now, I think the Dakotas are a stretch. August will find me traveling south along the eastern side of the Rockies through Colorado. At the beginning of September I’ll turn east along the Interstate 40 corridor all the way to the east coast.

As I isolate particular places I want to visit and things I want to do, my current thoughts are likely to change. Given my understanding of Florida camping during the winter and general knowledge of the area, I expect I’ll have much of next winter booked before I have the summer figured out. Planning is necessary to get into the areas I want and to reduce the risk of not having a good place to stay. I still don’t like it. I would prefer to be much more spontaneous.

Twilight to the east.

A Little Bit of Christmas has Arrived

Sunday November 24th 2019

Today was another day that football coverage caught me. The pregame shows start at 9AM in this time zone. It is a real breakfast with football scenario. The early game was of particular interest to the Las Vegas area. The soon to be Las Vegas Raiders were playing the New York Jets. Much to the dismay of the local fans they lost rather decisively. The game I was interested in between the Patriots and the Cowboys was in the second time slot from 1:30 to 4:30.

To take advantage of the good weather, I pulled myself away from the first game once the outcome was clear. It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze and a high temperature in the mid sixties. Tomorrow is forecast to be very windy before the rain and snow in the mountains start on Tuesday. I made it back to my TV by the second half of the Patriots game. It was a bit of a nail bitter at the end, but the Patriots pulled out the win.

Walking around the RV park this evening it was clear that the Christmas season is getting closer. Even though the RV park hasn’t turned on the decorations at the club house, many of the RV in the park have started to decorate. Most only have a few simple lights, but a few have adorned their RVs with hundreds of lights. As the holiday gets closer I expect to see many more decorations. The pictures of the decorations I took tonight didn’t come out very clear. Only one was good enough to include in this blog entry and it has issues. As more decorations are put up my pictures should get better.

A Day for Random Tasks

Saturday November 23rd 2019

Today was a catch-up kind of day filled with random tasks that finally reached the top of the queue. It started with washing the sink full of dirty dishes. I don’t leave the hot water heater on all the time. I turn it on for showers and usually do the dishes next. The last few day’s I’ve done other things after showering, so today was catch-up time.

Blossoms of the day

The second task of the day was putting the throw blanket I bought earlier in the week on the couch as a sort of slip cover. The fake leather is showing the four years of wear and needs to be covered. The blanket I bought fits well, but isn’t the prettiest thing in the world. Now that I’m sure of the size and approach, I’ll look for something more appropriate.

Sofa with the throw blanket applied as a kind of slip cover.

Most of the other tasks were less noteworthy like emptying the hold tanks, but I also got into planning mode which consumed the rest of the day. Next summers planning is still incomplete after April and I need to get back to that. Today I started thinking further out. The eleven month reservation window for Florida State Parks is starting to arrive for next winter in Florida. I spent some time today figuring out where I wanted to stay and roughly when. I like to do a bunch of two week stays at various state parks. I’ve set entries in my online calendar for the days eleven months out to try for the competitive reservations. I’ll need to be up and online at 5AM Pacific time to try for a campsite. I’ve already missed my chance at a couple of parks in mid October. There is also the possibility that I’ll find a commercial park for a couple of month stay, but the cost in Florida is double what I’m paying here in Las Vegas. That creates a mental barrier to going that route even though the state park approach is also more expensive.

Clark County Wetlands Park after the Rain

Friday November 22nd 2019

After almost an inch of rain in the last forty eight hours, I was curious to see the Clark County Wetlands Park. Today was an ideal day to check it out. The sun was out over the valley with a few clouds clinging to the tops of the surrounding mountains. The temperature reached the low sixties.

Interesting shadows on the mountains caused by the puffy clouds.

Shortly after noon I drove the four miles to the park. There weren’t as many cars in the parking lot as I’ve seen recently, but there was no obvious impact of the rain from the parking area. As I walked out into the park along the concrete pathways, it soon became clear that I needed to stay on the concrete. The gravel side trails were at best soggy and many were muddy. However, the ponds and flowing streams looked to be at the normal level. The turtles had the same amount of real estate for sunbathing on the rocks.

Turtles taking the sun.

The real difference was over near the Las Vegas Wash. As the primary outlet for all the rain water that falls in the valley it showed many signs of the previous heavy rain. The water was flowing faster over the dam and was spread out across a wider area of the dam. If I hadn’t seen the flow prior to the rain I wouldn’t have recognized the difference, but there was one clear indicator of the previous rain. Debris that was carried along by the heavy runoff was all over the place. The lighter more buoyant rubble was high on the bank along the channel giving a clear indication of how high the water reached. I think it represented a high water level four of five feet above the current level. There was also a buildup of big and heavy elements against the dam in the main channel. How a big couch floated down the wash is an indicator of how strong the current can be.

Smaller junk caught in the tall grass.
Big sofa caught by the dam under the pedestrian bridge.
The fast moving water below the dam is back in its channel.

The county will need to get some moderately heavy equipment out to clear out and clean up the junk. I doubt it will be quickly given cost and staffing, but that’s OK more heavy rain is forecast for next week.

A Nothing Special Kind of Day

Thursday November 21st 2019

Steady rain returned overnight. It was a dreary morning with occasional showers. The rain stopped around noon, but it was very slow to clear up. The sun was almost set by the time it made an appearance in the western sky. The high temperature for the day was in the upper fifties after reaching eighty only two days ago. Winter has arrived in the Las Vegas valley.

Sunrise mountain to the east late in the day.

My tentative plan for the day was to explore the changes to the hotels in the center of the strip since my last visit. The morning rain changed that plan. The thought of long walks in the rain dodging puddles, people and traffic was not very appealing. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.

For breakfast this morning I had to cook some muffins to go with my coffee. I was out of anything to feed into the toaster and I was also out of milk to go with oatmeal. These were clear signs that I needed to go grocery shopping today. I had hoped to make it to the weekend before shopping. My goal was to avoid having to visit the grocery store in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving. It didn’t matter. The store was a zoo today and will probably be similarly busy every day for the next week. I should be able to avoid the grocery store until the beginning of December with a little creativity and a meal or two out.