Monday, January 31, 2011

Pawn Stars

IMG_1226 Every week we record a new episode of “Pawn Stars” on our DVR.  It is a television reality show based on a pawn shop located in the less traveled part of the Las Vegas Strip.  The owners and employees are interesting characters and the people selling stuff to the shop are often entertaining, too.
We decided the store would not be busy early in the day on a Monday; and we could catch a glimpse of Rick, the Old Man, Corey and Chumlee.  We were wrong.  At 9 a.m. the store had a line out the door waiting to get in.  Like all the other tourists, we parked the truck and stood in line.

After 15 minutes, we looked at each other meaningfully…

“Are we seriously standing in line to get into a pawn shop?", Mike asks.

Without saying a word, we just start walking to the truck.  We get in the truck and start laughing. 

What a couple of goofballs.  The magic of television can put stars in your eyes sometimes.  Pawn Stars.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Milestone for Mike

IMG_1215 Birthdays come and go, and we really do not consider them a big event.  But, they are a wonderful excuse to indulge in dinner out and a little entertainment.  Yesterday, was Mike’s big day.  He picked out the Mandalay Bay buffet for dinner (unlimited prawns) and the Shark Reef Aquarium. 

The buffet, as usual, was delicious—lots of seafood either deep fried, sauteed, or cooked with a calorie-laden sauce.  Our favorite was the calamari/mussel/scallop dish with a white sauce.

IMG_1224 Mandalay Bay Casino/Hotel has done a very nice job carrying out their jungle theme throughout the casino, hotel, and the aquarium.   The aquarium contains all the predators of the sea and a very large Komodo Dragon.  What we liked about this aquarium was the portion down the stairs and through the tunnel—a tunnel through the aquarium with big sharks swimming above, below and around.  At the end of the tunnel, the large room was designed like a sunken wreck, with you placed in the wreck looking around at the ocean life. 

IMG_1205Today, we spent deep cleaning our home (defrost the refrigerator, declutter the closet) and making reservations for the next four months.  Glad we did.  The popular spots in the Grand Canyon, Moab, and Bryce Canyon were darn near taken.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Walkin’ the Strip

IMG_1201 When you visit Las Vegas, you must walk the Strip.  It can be painful with the number of casinos to walk through, the street vendors attacking you with tickets to “Girls, Girls, Girls”, and the crush of tourists.  Vegas always has such an interesting mix of visitors from the Paris Hilton wanna-be’s to the retirees losing their life savings.  Occasionally, you must stop at a bar that allows you to people-watch, rest your tired feet and indulge in a mind-numbing rum-and-coke which we did at a piano bar in the Bellagio.

IMG_1203 We enjoyed a tasty breakfast buffet at the Mandalay Bay Casino (always excellent—ate here 10 years ago).  Mandalay Bay has a large outdoor parking lot for their Convention Center Building and it worked out very well for our oversized truck.  The picture of the hotel was taken from our parking spot. 

Lots of interesting things to see including a giant round eraser!  What possessed someone to sculpt an eraser for the Vegas Strip?  Seems a little out of place, but it was cool.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegas, Baby

home_slide_4bWe arrived at the Oasis RV Resort yesterday located just 6 miles from the Vegas Strip.  Lots to do in Las Vegas, not only on the Strip; but also the surrounding area.  Hoover Dam.  Boulder City historic district.  Death Valley.  Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  Visit niece, Amanda, and her family.  And, of course, a few Vegas shows and a little bit of gambling.

Looking forward to a fun stay.  We are here until it starts to warm up at our next stop—Zion National Park.

Monday, January 17, 2011

John’s Desert

IMG_1165The desert around Wickenburg, Arizona appears to be miles and miles of cacti, rocks and sand.  But, Mike’s brother, John, knows a few secret spots near Wickenburg that you wouldn’t expect to find.  John was our tour guide today and he took us to those tucked away places that few people know about.

Back in 1969, a fellow writing his doctoral thesis on Indian culture actually re-created a shaman circle in the desert.  The circle remains today.  Not sure what the rock configuration means, maybe someday we can learn more about it.  Neat to photograph, though.

IMG_1169 Following the riverbed, John took us through a box canyon with high rock walls worn smooth by rushing water that occurs during flash floods.  The shaded canyon keeps the sun at bay and the temperatures cool.

John spends his days in the desert around Wickenburg either working on cleaning up the desert (car bodies, trash, old pipe, etc.) with his friends or camping under the stars.  He moved here about 25 years ago and it seems he certainly found his paradise.

Yarnell, Arizona + Scorpions

IMG_1160 Yarnell, Arizona is a quirky, artsy community with good restaurants and antique stores.  Mike’s brother, John, and his wife, Debi, took us to eat at the Ranch House restaurant (lots of bikers and locals eat here) and we made a few antique store stops.  John and Debi’s home is decorated with interesting finds from the desert and antique furnishings—it has a great western feel.  That’s Debi with another purchase for their home at the Emporium Antique Store.

Yarnell is settled among those huge boulders famous in these parts.  The terrain makes for some beautiful landscaping, but it has a downside.  Scorpions.

Did I ever tell you about the time I was stung by a scorpion?
President John F. Kennedy visited the Hanford Nuclear to dedicate the groundbreaking of the steam generator for the N-reactorI grew up in the town of Richland, Washington.  Home to the World War II Manhattan Project at the Hanford Site, Cold War plutonium processing and, today, a massive nuclear clean-up site. In 1959, construction began on the ninth Hanford reactor, called the N Reactor.  N was a dual purpose reactor producing plutonium for atomic weapons and steam for generating electricity.  It was the only dual purpose reactor in the United States and was so advanced that President John F. Kennedy came to Hanford in September of 1963 to dedicate the reactor. 

I was eight years old and my father took me to witness the event.  I was a little bored with the whole thing.  So, I played in the desert and dug in the sand disturbing an angry scorpion.  When I was stung, of course, I screamed like a banshee causing a scene.  The military police on site scooped me up and took me to a makeshift hospital tent.  I was fine—the scorpions in south-central Washington are not poisonous, but at eight years old I was quite the drama queen, so I certainly basked in the attention.

Just one of those memories that sticks with you.  My husband likes to embellish the story by saying President Kennedy came to see how I was doing….but that part did not happen.  He WAS going to visit me, but he had previous plans with another blond.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ghostly Encounters

IMG_1125 A real live ghost town…that does not make sense….A real dead ghost town.  Near Wickenburg, Arizona is Vulture City once one of the richest gold mines in the west.  To say many buildings remain intact is a bit of a stretch; more like still standing.  Some people may not enjoy the rustic preservation to the tourist attraction, as no attempt was made to sanitize the site by cleaning the rusting equipment or rebuilding the structures.  But, the approach adds to the authenticity of place—just be sure to watch for rusty nails and rotting floors.  Understandable, considering it became a self-contained town by 1880 over 100 years ago.

IMG_1147 Henry Wickenburg's cabin at the mine site still remains as is the nearby ironwood hanging tree where 18 men were hung on charges for stealing from the mine.  Guessing the tree has deteriorated over the years because to hang anyone there now would mean the men need to be really, really short (or bend their knees at the right moment to help the executioners out).

IMG_1128 We are finding Wickenburg and the surrounding area fun to explore with tons of colorful history, but the best reason to be here is Mike’s brother and his wife.  So wonderful to see them and have them show us their town.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

PRES-skit, Arizona

From Congress, Arizona to Prescott, Arizona, you take Highway 89 and if you are feeling really sporty you take the White Spar portion of the highway.  “The Twisties”  Of course, we did not realize there was an alternate smooth and straight approach to Prescott.  We drove ten miles of some of the most winding, steep roads we have ever seen.  Very picturesque, but scary.  This would be a very cool road for our Harley, but not our 1-ton truck.  (Note:  RV's are forbidden on this segment of the highway.  For good reason.)

After months of desert, we are back in pine trees and snow.  Snow!  The sun was shining, but it was cold.  The climb from the Arizona valley from Congress to Prescott takes you to a much higher elevation.  In one short hour, the temperature drops by 20 – 30 degrees.

The Palace The road lead us right into downtown Prescott and Whiskey Row.  Whiskey Row includes the rustic Old West buildings often seen on the television show, Maverick  (Just kidding, but they reminded me of the old saloons and hotels in the show.  Remember James Garner saying, “As my Pappy always said…”).   We checked out The Palace, Arizona's oldest restaurant and bar, with its swinging doors and original safe.  Many other buildings have been converted to boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, and restaurants.

We are definitely in cowboy country, now.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Good-Bye Borrego Springs, California

SCAN1795Borrego Springs is a world away from the people-packed Southern California coastline.  Tucked away in a valley between mountain ranges, the little town of 2,000 is a relaxing location for those seeking warmth, desert beauty and a laid back attitude.  This place is definitely on the list for a winter location in the future.  [Painting by local artist, Nita Wipper]


IMG_1110 Our little travel gnome has been forgotten in the closet too long.  He is out of the closet and gaily saying good-bye to Borrego Springs and California.  Tomorrow, we head past Joshua Tree National Park and on to Wickenburg, Arizona.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Desert Lavender – Follow Your Nose

Desert Lavender  IMG_1093Ever since we arrived in Borrego Springs there has been a pleasantly sweet, spicy scent in the air.  I could not figure out what it was until we went on the hike yesterday and read a plant marker.  Desert Lavender.  A floral scent with attitude.  It smells like “regular” lavender, but with a spicy undertone.   If you gently rub the leaves, it releases even more fragrance.  The flower blooms from October through May and attracts hundreds of bees.  We even figured out where the bees make their hives in the desert.  If you look closely at the picture on the right, you can see the yellow hive in the rocks.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Palm Canyon Trail

IMG_1099 IMG_1102 What we thought would be an easy three-mile hike today turned out to be a challenging, exciting rocky climb to an oasis in the desert.  The oasis was a large stand of California palms and it provided a cool and green reprieve from the rocky desert and the warm day.

But it was not the only point of interest on our hike.

IMG_1089  Peninsular bighorn sheep.  All the literature and the Anza-Borrego State Park Visitor Center described their endangered status and how camouflaged they are in the desert.  Few hikers are able to see them.  Lucky us!  Two large sheep came prancing down the trail as if to greet us to the oasis—one strolled right on by and the other sprinted up a sheer rock to walk around us.  We both eyed the rock more closely after he left still not believing he could climb anything so steep.IMG_1086

IMG_1080 The springs providing the water for the palm trees appears suddenly from the ground as a gushing waterfall at the oasis and continues down the canyon for a ways and then disappears into the ground.  In fact, the water we saw on the way up (see picture) was gone by the time we passed it on our way back to the trail head.  During a rain storm this trail is not where you want to be.  A cloudburst on the mountain brings a torrent of water through the stream bed.

IMG_1104IMG_1107The picture to the right shows part of the trail going under some big boulders.  Another place you do not want to be during one of the earthquakes they have in the area on an almost daily basis.

A great hike.  A great day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

High Chaparral & Lemonade

We are located in the middle of the Anza-Borrego State Park and the variety of plant life and rock in the area really  is beautiful.   The appreciation level would probably go down significantly if we were here in the summer when it reaches 120 degrees.  But, our short hike was a comfortable 60 degrees and all the recent rain has the grass green in between the rocks.  The rocks are Flintstone huge with burnt red and gold fleck color.  Something interesting at every turn. 

Our campground has lots of lemon trees and they are heavy with fruit.  Free for the picking.  I made two pitchers of fresh lemonade (so far) from scratch with all the lemons we picked.  What were we thinking drinking that crappy Crystal Lite?  Cook a cup of water and a cup of sugar to simmer on the stove to make sugar syrup.  Let it cool.  Squeeze juice from eight lemons to get a cup of lemon juice.  Mix together with another three cups of water.  Chill.  And you have 4 – 5 glasses of fresh lemonade!  Easy-peasy and so good!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Full-Time RV Living - Anniversary

IMG_0056 DSC_0025 (5) Today marks one year for living in our fifth-wheel.  Love it.  Everything has a place and it only takes twenty minutes to vacuum, dust and clean the bathroom.  And all the comforts of home.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...