One More Visit to the Cactus Garden

Wednesday February 19th 2020

After Tuesday’s blip in the good weather, it was back on track today. The temperature peaked in the mid sixties under a bright blue sky with only a gentle breeze. Overall it was another great day.

I spent the first half of the day doing some early preparation tasks for next weeks resumption of traveling. As I moved things from the floor or counter into the cabinets I found a lot of dust build up. This resulted in a transition into cleaning mode. It is amazing how much dust and dirt has accumulated since my last dedicated cleaning activity sometime in December. I try to wipe things up and clean as I go, but the desert wind seems to allow a thin layer of dust to enter my RV home and accumulate on everything.

This afternoon while I was out doing a few errands I got caught up in a traffic stoppage. I don’t know if was an accident or one of the traffic nightmares caused by all of the presidential candidates running around the valley. Lucky for me I was near the Ethel M Cactus garden. I made a detour into the parking lot and spent a few minutes wandering through the garden while the traffic cleared.

They haven’t wasted much time getting the Valentines decorations removed from the garden. The big standalone decorations have been removed and the lights have been partially removed from the cactus. It’s a lot of progress for less than four days. Some of the desert plants are starting to show some signs of spring brightness, but the more traditional cactus don’t seem to be ready for spring yet. Even so, I took a few pictures of the better specimens.

Another Slow Day with a Casino Visit

Tuesday February 18th 2020

The wind returned last night, but nowhere near as hard as last week. This morning it was calm again, but a weather change remained. Today was a little cloudier and almost ten degrees cooler. The temperature peaked in the low sixties.

Life at the RV park was back to a normal weekday routine today. Yesterday many of the working resident were around because of the holiday. The normal Monday rubbish pick up from the dumpsters didn’t happen. This morning the regular Tuesday propane deliveries toke place, but the dumpsters pickup may have to wait until later in the week.

Blossoms of the day

I’m almost at the end of my four month stay here. I know when to expect all of the regular activities in the park. There is a certain level of comfort in the familiarity of routine. My activities have also fallen into a routine. Today was Young at Heart (i.e. senior) day at Sam’s Town Casino. Most every week since I arrived in Las Vegas I’ve participated in the drawing without winning. Today was my last visit for this stay in Las Vegas. It was no different, I didn’t win anything.

Fountain show at Mystic Falls Park in the Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino.

This Saturday is the Presidential primary caucus in Nevada. The democratic candidates have been all over the valley since they left New Hampshire last week. You need to be prepared to take a detour or otherwise change your destination to get out of their way all the time. I was thinking about going to the strip tomorrow, but they are having a debate at the Paris Casino Hotel tomorrow evening. The president and vice president are also going to be in town at the end of the week. Getting in some last minute touring is proving difficult.

Glued to the TV for the Daytona 500

Monday February 17th 2020

Today’s weather was another incremental improvement from the day before. The temperature broke through the seventy mark and the forecast late day wind never materialized. It was another very nice day.

I didn’t sleep well last night. It was probably caused by lack of activity yesterday and a warmer than usual night. For whatever reason, I didn’t fall asleep until after 4AM. I woke up after 10AM. It really got the day off to a slow start. It turned out to be a perfect day to watch the Daytona 500 on TV.

Yesterday’s rain delayed race restarted at 1PM Pacific Time. It ended shortly before 5PM. In between it was a pretty interesting race. It had a number of lead changes, a few accidents that slowed or stopped the race and then it had the big one. The big accident took half the field out of contention for the victory. The final dozen laps of the race took a very long time to complete. The race ended up having more laps than any other Daytona 500 as they attempted to finish the race under green flag racing conditions. The need to have a green flag finish came at a cost. On the final lap three drivers fighting for the victory mixed it up to the extent that Ryan Newman lost control of his car. It hit the outer safer barrier and went airborne over the track. As it came down upside down it was struck by another car. Newman was taken to the hospital in serious condition. Hopefully he will be alright. As I watched the accident, I didn’t think he could survive. In a way, you watch the race for the wrecks, but not for accidents that injure or kill people.

Tonight’s walk around the RV park showed a full house. I didn’t see any empty sites. As I’m trying to compose and post this blog entry I’m experiencing another indicator of the parks capacity. The internet access is very slow tonight. It only seems to slow down at busy times.

Florida Rain changes my plans in Las Vegas

Sunday February 16th 2020

The weather was a couple of degrees warmer than Saturday, but otherwise was very similar. There were high light clouds early that cleared toward the end of the day. The temperature peaked just below seventy. Tomorrow is forecast to reach seventy with a little more wind.

My day was structured around the Daytona 500. My plan was to watch the race before leaving the park for a few errands and a visit to the strip. It just wasn’t to be. First, the race was scheduled to start later than I thought. I expected it to start around 1PM eastern time which would be 10AM here. It was actually scheduled to start sometime after 3PM eastern time. The second wrinkle happened when mother nature got into the mix. The race start was delayed because of rain. Once it got started they only ran 20 laps before the rain stopped the race again. The broadcast team was optimistic for a quick restart for about the first hour of delay before they switched to a replay of last years race. I moved on to other TV programming checking back in every half hour or so. By the time I knew they had rescheduled the race for tomorrow, it was after 4PM. It turned into a day at home.

While the TV played in the background, I started to pick up a few around the rig in preparation of leaving here a week from Tuesday. One of the things I did was mount my print of the Great Blue Heron on a black mat frame. It still isn’t hung on the wall, but it is looking good.

My exercise today was restricted to walks around the RV park. I made another attempt at a picture of the sunset during my last walk of the day. The sun location still isn’t cooperating. The angle to the setting sun is not optimal.

Visiting the Birds

Saturday February 15th 2020

It was another great weather day even though there were more clouds in the sky than the last couple of days. A high thin layer of clouds kept the full sun from reaching the ground, but it was a few degrees warmer than yesterday.

After a couple of moderately active days, today was a slow day. I lingered over my breakfast coffee reading internet blither, real news, gossip news and miss leading headlined news all mixed together. Now that the football season is over, the TV programming is inconsistent. I can’t use the programming to keep track of time on weekend days. It was early afternoon before I came up for air from my reading.

For exercise I drove to the Clark County Wetlands Park for a mile or two hike. The park was very full today. Lots of families with young kids were using the trails. There were also several people walking dogs and riding bikes. Both of these activities are prohibited in large portions of the park, but no one seems to enforce the rules. My guess is most of the people have a different interpretation of the rules than I do. The long form list of rules says dogs on leach are allowed except where indicated. A similar rule applies to bike riding. On the opposite side of the path from the sign with the long form rules is a big graphic sign that says no dogs and no bike riding. It really is confusing. Most of the dogs aren’t a problem, but fast moving bicycles coming around the blind corners could easily take out a hiker or two.

The number of people in the park has an inverse relationship on the wildlife. Many of the animals stay in hiding with all the noisy people around. All I saw today were the more common water birds and a few skittish grouse.

A Visit to the Hoover Dam Overlook and the Lake Mead Recreation Area Visitors Center

Friday February 14th 2020

The nice weather of the last couple of days continued today. The temperature peaked a little above yesterday in the mid sixties. Tomorrow is forecast to be just a little bit better.

Today was a mixture of routine living and being a tourist. It started with an oil change for my Honda CR-V at the nearby Jiffy Lube. The online reviews for the Jiffy Lube were better than the ones for the Valvoline Instant Oil Change brand that I usually use. They both perform the same basic services at roughly the same price.

Lake Mead from an Overlook on Interstate 11.

This afternoon I drove out of the Las Vegas valley to the southeast. I was doing a little scouting of my escape route at the end of the month. A big section of highway US95 from Henderson through Boulder City has been replaced by a new high section of Interstate 11 since I was last in the area. The new route makes traveling to the Hoover Dam bridge much easier.

While I was out there I did some of the tourist things. I visited the Hoover Dam overview area on the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge and the Lake Mead Recreation Area visitors center. Security going to the dam seems to have increased since my last visit two years ago. Every vehicle has to open all their windows so the security people can look in and more vehicles seem to be getting additional inspection. I didn’t have any problems and reached the parking lot below the highway bridge without a problem.

Hoover Dam from the bridge.

A tour bus full of people were climbing the walkway up to the bridge when I arrived. It made it difficult to navigate out onto the bridge walkway. I’m not real comfortable with heights, but usually do OK. With all the pushing and bummping along the walkway today I found myself hugging the cement barrier on the road side away from the drop off until most of the bus load of people moved back toward their bus. The view was as impressive as always. The traffic on the actual dam was very heavy considering it’s a dead end road, so I didn’t continue my drive down to the dam.

Lake Mead marina from the overlook.
Tour boat getting ready to leave the marina.

My second stop was at the Lake Mead overlook for a view of the marina in the lake. It hasn’t had to move any further into the lake during the last two years, but it is still much further out in the lake than the first time I saw it twenty years ago. The lake level has gone down so much in that time. From the overlook I continued back toward the city and stopped at the Lake Mead Recreation Area Visitors center. I was hopping their desert garden would be in bloom, but it’s still a little early. The center hasn’t changed much since my last visit.

Desert flower blossom at the Lake Mead Recreation Area Visitors Center.

A Visit to the Fremont Street Experience

Thursday February 13th 2020

My day began earlier than expected this morning because of my phone. Around 7:30AM a targeted telemarketer called. Since my phone has an east coast area code, they don’t know how early they are calling. Also, it was from a company that I have done business with in the past, so they’re in the gray area of the Do Not Call List. At least it wasn’t real cold this morning. Weather wise today was a repeat of Wednesday.

Late this afternoon I drove to downtown Las Vegas. My goal was to see the new and improved Vista Vision LED light canopy at night. This is the third generation of the LED screen over Fremont Street that I’ve seen. Each version was bigger and brighter than the last one. It is now bright enough that it can even be used in full sunlight.

Fremont Street is always full of characters trying to get you to part with your money. They range from simple busking to characters in all forms of dress and undress offering to pose for a picture. At night everything is stepped up a level. There is DJ music and live music up and down the tourist packed street. A visit to the Fremont Experience at night is good every once in a while. It reminds you how weird some people and things can be.

I didn’t spend all my time checking out the characters on Fremont street. In addition to wandering through the various casinos, I had dinner at the Main Street Station buffet. It was good simple food as usual, but I over ate. Returning the length of the Fremont Street Experience to my bail my car out of the parking garage was a slow process. By the time I got there I had worked off some of my over stuffed feeling.

Canadian Geese at the Park

Wednesday February 12th 2020

The wind was gone and the sun remained today. The sky was blue all day allowing the temperature to peak just above the sixty degree mark. It was a very nice day.

Clear blue sky all day.

I spent the early afternoon grocery shopping. It took almost two hours from the time I left my RV until I returned with a full load of food supplies. The length of time surprised me since I’m less than a mile from the Walmart I shopped at. Nothing in the store seemed to take longer than normal, so I must be turning into a slow shopper.

A single pair of geese at the middle pond in the Wetland Parks.
After a swim it was time to stand guard while his mate had dinner a few feet away.

Later this afternoon I returned to the Clark County Wetlands park for another wildlife fix. The big change today was the arrival of a pair of Canadian Geese at one of the ponds. As they swim in the pond or stand alert on the bank they make their presence known. As I walked around on the boardwalk taking pictures of the male goose it tracked my every move. The pictures in this blog entry are all from today’s visit to the wetlands park.

The Wind has Returned

Tuesday February 11th 2020

The gusty wind returned Monday evening. It was a major presence until late this afternoon. Once again some of the gusts were shaking my RV home. The sun shined brightly, but the wind kept the temperature below sixty all day. The forecast calls for calmer and warmer weather going forward for a few days.

I was up before 5AM to make another set of reservations for next winter in Florida. After successfully booking two weeks at Hillsborough River State Park, I was back in bed my 5:15AM. Unfortunately, the less than half hour early morning disruption in my sleep pattern seemed to keep me chronology confused all day. I thought it was afternoon long before the meridian and once I got over that confusion a few hours had slipped away allowing late afternoon to sneak up on me.

I managed to get to Sam’s Town casino in time to submit my entry in the senior “Young at Heart” drawing with a few minutes to spare. Without having much time to play slots before submitting my entries, I had fewer entries than usual. It really doesn’t make much difference. I never have anyway near as many entries as people that play the machines heave from early in the morning. The more money you put in the slot machines the more entries you get. The result is many of the same “high rollers” win every week. If I don’t participate I can’t win, so it’s fun to try.

Waterfall in Sam’s Town Casino’s Mystic Falls Park.

The countdown to my 2020 travel year is well underway. Today it reached T minus 2 weeks and counting. If the plan holds I’ll be posting this blog from Arizona two weeks from tonight. I have all of my reservations made through July 21st except for the night I leave here. If the weather forecast has wind like today’s gusts on tap for my travel day, I’ll leave a day early. I know where I want to stop the first night, so I’ll book it as soon as the long range forecast covers my travel window.

Turtle Race ?

Monday February 10th 2020

Yesterday’s cloudy and windy day ended with rain overnight. It didn’t last long, but it is the first rain in the area in over a month. Today was bright and sunny while the wind continued. The high temperature for the day was around sixty degrees. If you were sheltered from the wind it was comfortable. This evening as I write this blog entry the wind direction has changed and gusts have picked up in strength.

The overnight rain was snow at the higher elevation north and west of the valley.

Since we got some rain overnight, I wanted to check the water level at the Clark County Wetlands Park. Just before noon I drove to the park for the visit I didn’t make yesterday. The water in the Las Vegas wash was a little higher than it has been. This makes sense as all of the rain water in the valley tends to flow out through the wash. The wetlands park area didn’t have any higher level of water. In fact it may have been lower.

Today was a particularly good day for seeing wildlife. I think most of the usual critters were staying out of the wind and out of site. I did spot one rock with four turtles enjoying the sun. They were lined up as if they were about to start a race. The bird sharing the rock with the turtles was probably the race starter. Across the pond another rock held the race spectator; one big solitary turtle.

Four turtles lined up on a rock ready to slip into the water on command. Will the bird give the command?
This turtle on the other side of the pond was waiting for the turtle race to start.

As I continued my walk around the park, I came across another work crew clearing out some of the tall reeds that have died or gone dormant over the winter. They’ve already cleared out several areas of the park. I don’t know how they determine what areas to clear. It almost seems random the areas they choose to clear and how much they clear out. They may be concerned with fire danger. Several areas of the park have burned in the past.

Gambel’s quail crossing the path. This is the third one to cross. I didn’t get a picture of the first two.
A pair of American coots in the fast moving waters of the Las Vegas Wash.

My evening walk at the RV park didn’t result in any new sunset pictures. The time of opportunity is now near 5:30, but more significantly the direction of the sunset has changed. With the advancing season the sun now crosses the horizon a little further north. The combination of the location it crosses the distant mountains and the interesting foreground objects don’t make for a very bright or interesting picture. Maybe I’ll get some more here, but certainly once I get to the desert north of Phoenix next month.