Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Having Fun in Sin City, Las Vegas, NV…

We have enjoyed our time here in Las Vegas. The last time we were here we spent most of our time on the strip since we were camped only a few miles away from the Mandalay Bay Casino. This time we are staying near the Main Street Station Casino in the older downtown area which has offered a completely different vibe.

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20141017_215716The obvious draw to the older downtown area is a nighttime light show called the Fremont Experience. The hourly light show along with people watching always makes for a fun evening. There are many characters dressed up in everything from cupid, transformers, Disney icons and we even saw Mr. T. Of course since this is Vegas there are some more unsavory characters as well.This is one of the few remaining free shows in Las Vegas as the casinos have fallen on hard times with gambling now pretty much legal in most of the USA. The big news here in Las Vegas is that Caesers Entertainment may declare bankruptcy if it can’t work out a deal with its creditors as they are in deep debt.

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We also found a fun walk called The History of Downtown Vegas which is a walk in the older part of Las Vegas. We had fun finding such gems as the bar in Golden Gate Casino where Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. drank during the Rat Pack days and even a bathroom in the Main Street Station which has urinals mounted to an actual section of the Berlin Wall! We really recommend this free walking tour as a fun way to get a feel of the history of old downtown Las Vegas.

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We also spent one afternoon and evening on the strip since a friend of ours from our past let us know she and her husband were at the Mandalay Bay for a conference. We met them at Mandalay Bay over a few cold beverages and had a blast catching up with our friend Patty and finally getting to know her husband better. Hopefully we will be able to stop and visit them in Texas the next time we pass through the state.

I downloaded the free walking tour for the strip but since the strip is much newer and we have spent a considerable time on the strip before this, taking tour was of little interest to us. So we decided instead to revisit all the casinos that we enjoyed on our last visit such as New York-New York, Paris, Venetian, Mirage, Flamingo and the Excaliber. We did very little gambling and I think by the end of the day we had lost about $8.00. However, we were comp’ed several glasses of wine which more than made up for our losses in our opinion and it was nice sitting down at the bar to rest a bit since the walking the strip meant we walked several miles…

We extended one more day here since we still have some chores to do before moving on… Next up for us will be a short stay near Laughlin, Nevada near the California Nevada border…

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area…

We pulled into the Main Street Station Casino RV Park after driving around 140 miles, mostly on Interstate 15. I am not a fan of driving on Interstates and avoid them for the most part but sometimes it is the best way to get from point A to point B. We chose Main Street Station Casino RV Park because we wanted to spend more time in the older downtown part of Las Vegas and because we liked their rate of $19/night for full hookups. Yes, the sites are tight but doable.

The second day we visited Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Our last visit a couple of years ago we hiked near Red Rock Canyon but wanted to hike inside the park this time. After visiting the Visitor’s Center and hearing about good hikes we chose to hike on the Calico Hills Trail. We drove from the visitor’s center on the thirteen mile scenic loop to the first stop at Calico 1 Trailhead.

 

From there we started a small descent to the base of the Calico Hills where the trail then ran parallel to the Calico Hills as we hiked up and down some small hills and washes. There were some nice canyons and interestingly colored red sandstone boulders and purple striped ones as well. Walking among the brilliantly red Calico Hills made for a great hike. 

As we approached the Calico 2 parking area there were some short and steep scrambles through some rocky areas near the wash but nothing too daunting for either of us. There was a lot of beautiful rock formations along this hike and the colors of the rocks were enchanting. We did get off the trail some as we explored the nooks and crannies among the red and white sculpted sandstone formations. The coolest find of the day was a slab of sandstone with some desert varnish on it that had numerous petroglyphs carved into the rock face… pretty dang cool find!

The vegetation type there is typical of most deserts in this area with lots of different cacti and succulents. Occasional Joshua trees were interspersed with Mojave yuccas and creosote bushes. We spotted a lot of different cacti including Cholla, hedgehogs, barrel cacti and varied Opuntias. In the canyons where more water is present an occasional Pinon Pine stood tall among the Manzanita, the brome and grama grasses

We hiked from the Calico 1 Trailhead to just short of the entrance to the Sandstone Quarry. We had to take a side trail up and out of the canyon back over to the scenic loop road. There we simply hiked back downhill to where our CRV was parked. Our total hike was about 3.5 miles but surprisingly we had climbed nearly 1000 feet of elevation at our high point. Sharon uses Map my Walk on her cell phone for the stats of our hikes and once again we were surprised at the information it gathered….

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hiking in a Cool Slot Canyon near Kanarraville Utah…

Canyon SlitBefore we left Leeds, Utah I had found another hike that sounded real interesting. We had discussed wanting to hike the Narrows Trail in Zion National Park but the weather was never warm enough for me to want to hike a long time in cold water. Luckily, after researching on the web I found what was described as a mini Narrows Trail near Kanarraville, Utah.

 

We drove north about 30 minutes and pulled into the town of Kanarraville. The city charges $10.00 per car to park at the trailhead but allows free parking near the town hall on Main Street. We elected to park near the town hall and ride our bikes to the trailhead. Not only did we get a little more exercise we saved ten buck as well…

 

The Kanarra Creek Trail is just east of center of town in Kanarraville and the trail began on a old dirt road that was once used to get to the trailhead before the city erected the fee paid parking lot. The dirt road is on an uphill grade that .had us a bit winded. At the end of the dirt road we encountered our first creek crossing. Knowing that we going to have to cross the creek many times we elected to rock hop across the creek for as long as we could as we were in no hurry to get our feet wet in the very cold water of the creek.

 

We crossed many times and as we made our way further up the canyon  the trail began to narrow which meant we had to scramble over some rocks to try and keep our feet dry. We came prepared with water shoes to wear once we got to where we would be unable to avoid crossing the creek without getting wet and eventually we got to a spot where we decided it was time… Man that water was cold! Not much further down the trail we encountered the main feature of this trail… the slot canyon. The vertical walls constricted leaving only the creek as a trail. The walls weren’t further than 10 feet apart in places making for a very, very cool hike.

 

We hiked in the creek bed for a short time enjoying the slot canyon while looking skyward at the thin slit of blue sky above. We eventually came to the Lower Kanarraville Falls which was our goal for this day. Although we knew there was another Upper Waterfall to also hike to, we had no real plans of making it that far. We did however decide to take the ladder and rope element up and over the Lower Falls. Knowing this would be a challenge for Sharon because of her fear of heights I encouraged  her slowly all the way up the ladder. She made it over the top boulder and we continued to hike a bit further even though we were now out of the slot canyon…

walking in the canyon   conquering the slot canyon

Deciding we had gone far enough and not wanting to keep our feet cold we elected to turn back. As we came back to the Lower Falls I asked Sharon if she wanted to have me go first and then her follow or just her go it alone. After much consternation she decided to go it alone and when she reached the bottom she had a great sense of accomplishment of overcoming her fear and being able to manage the obstacle on her own.

We then walked in the creek through the magnificent slot canyon once again. We couldn’t feel our feet as they were very, very cold. After we emerged on the other side of the canyon we tried to stay out of the water so our feet would warm. It was a mile or so down the trail before they began to thaw but once the trail merged into the sun again we at least felt much warmer.

We hiked about 4.5 miles overall and met only a few groups of people along the way.  This was, we felt, our best hike of all ones we took while we were in this area. Next up for us after all this remote rural camping is some urban scenery as we are now in Las Vegas at the Main Street Station RV Park…

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Last Day of Hiking in Zion National Park, Utah…

Our time here in Leeds Utah is winding down but before we left we wanted to make one more run over to the main part of Zion National Park. We planned to do bits and pieces of several hikes so we parked once again at the Visitor’s Center (we had to circle the lot a bit to find a parking spot). The park didn’t seem to be as crowded as the last visit here so we caught the shuttle and got off for our first hike at the Big Bend stop. We planned to hike to Weeping Rock from here which meant we would hike along the Virgin river to the Weeping Rock stop and then take the hike.

The hike along the river is not on a set trail but we followed the creek and really enjoyed this one mile walk along the shore of the river. Wildflowers were still in bloom and the trees were starting to change colors. There were several arches that were visible we walked and we even spotted a couple of rock climbers high up on a cliff face. There were deer tracks and raccoon tracks everywhere and we even found a lone bobcat track in the mud along the river where the cat must have come for a drink of refreshing water.

We had planned to hike the Weeping Rock trail once we got tot the trailhead but when I saw the sign to the Hidden Canyon trailhead we took that hike instead.  Knowing that this hike had some parts that might deter Sharon from going further due to her fear of heights I still thought the trail might be doable for her. So off we went with a relentless uphill climb that eventually came to a small cliff with a mild drop off which required the use of a cable that was impaled in the cliff side. I crossed and Sharon was bit apprehensive but made the crossing just fine.

 

Not much further down the trail there was a much “scarier” section of trail that Sharon refused to do due to her acrophobia. I was a bit disappointed that she wouldn’t at least try and confront her fears but after her telling me there was no way she was going on the cliff side and hanging on the cable I relented and went further up the trail on my own as she gladly waited back on the trail. I didn’t have to go much further as the canyon was just around the corner so I paused to enjoy the views a bit and turned back to find Sharon.

 

We then hiked down to where the Hidden Canyon Trail meets the Observation Point trail and took that trail for about 3/4 of a mile to where we could see the beautiful canyon below. Then we returned to the shuttle stop and headed back to the visitor’s center. We hiked about 5 miles and with all the climbing we were a bit tired. We decided to go back to Leed’s the longer way and routed through the town of Hurricane which is a pretty decent sized town with lots of amenities. Then we got on Interstate 15 and I headed south to St. George. Before long we pulled into a parking lot where I had a surprise for Sharon as we stopped at an In-and –Out Burger for a no frills dinner… what a great burger it was.

Our last day of hiking was probably our best hike and it wasn’t even in Zion but I will tell about that in the next blog…