Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Red Rocks and Bright Vegas Lights

October 31-November 5, 2013:

We waited for a mail delivery at the Pahrump post office which we picked up at 11 AM, then back to the campground to hook up the RV, fill the fresh water tank and drain the waste tanks.  This put us on the road rather late but since it was only a 40 mile drive not a big deal.  We took route 160 south over the Mountain Springs Pass, then down a hellacious long downgrade to route 159 and the BLM Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  I pulled into an area to the side marked for 5th wheels and Motor Homes where there were a number of marked spots, unfortunately all filled, but big empty spaces in between.  I backed into an open area, we then walked the entire campground looking for open marked campsites with no success.  We then decided to just stay put and see if we could find the camp host, who the sign said was off duty.  Twinkles went out for a walk latter and ran into the host, who came over and said we could stay there, much to our relief.  It is a real bargain here, it is dry camping, normally $15 per day, but since we have the "America the Beautiful Senior Pass" it costs us only $7.50, one of the few good things about getting old.  There is lots of hiking here, it's beautiful place and only 17 miles to the Las Vegas Strip.

View of our RV Campsite 

Friday morning and our first stop is the Red Rocks visitors Center.  The BLM has done an amazing job on the exhibits, they are the best I have ever seen at any park, anywhere, incredible.  We then went for a 2-3 mile hike along the Red Rock area that is the main attraction, especially for rock climbers.  We have not been hiking much for the past month, so we were really sucking wind.  Back at the campground, a number of campers had left, opening up a better spot for us, which we quickly moved into. 

Red Rocks Visitors Center

Red Rocks view

Brilliant yellow flowers

Red Rocks trail view

Huge bolder on trail

Indian Petroglyphs

Twinkles on the trail

The phone signal is weak here so I took a ride a few miles down the hill from the campground to see if it would improve and all of a sudden there is a gas station, strip mall, restaurants, several stores and even a Dunkin Donuts and I thought we were out in the boonies !  Excellent cell signal too !

Saturday was another hiking adventure, about 5 miles, but lots of elevation change. The trail was spectacular, like about everything here with all kinds of geological and botanical thrills.  We thought we were on the Willow Springs Trail when in fact we were on the White Rock Trail, the trails in the west do not have trail markers and the sign at the entrance to the trail was very confusing. Of course, we are easily confused these days, but it was all for the best as the White Rock Trail was really great.  After our wilderness adventure, we rode down the hill and got a Dunkin Donuts coffee, something we haven't had much of in the west. 


View from the White Rock trail

Agave leaves, very sharp

Sunday, I'm out on my own back for a 5 mile hike on the Pine Canyon Trail, I actually went beyond the trail into the canyon involving lots of rock scrambling so probably more like 6-7 miles.  Somewhere along the way I laid down my hiking stick, then forgot it, walked away and left it and didn't miss it until the end of the hike.  I went back looking for it but since I had wandered off the official trail several times it's was like searching for a needle in a haystack.  Anyhow, the canyon was great, lots of rock climbers were up on the canyon walls.  It was weird because sound travels so well amongst the rocks and I was hearing a few different languages.  This is considered to be world class rock climbing here, they come from all over for it. 

View from Pine Canyon trail

Pine Canyon trail
Pine Canyon Trail

Pine Canyon trail

Beautiful rocks

Monday, we went from the natural cathedrals of Red Rock Canyon to the faux glitz cathedrals of excess on the strip in Vegas.  In town we passed our wedding chapel, the "Little White Chapel Tunnel of Love", it hasn't changed much since 1999, but everything else on the strip has evolved.  We parked at Caesars Palace Casino and walked the strip to the Bellagio, the Venetian and couple of other Casinos along the way.  (From Roman empire to the canals of Venice in a few blocks)  There is such a crazy, excessive, uninhibited, unnatural, sinful atmosphere in Vegas with the gambling Casinos that are made to appear like golden shrines, the show girls, the street hawkers and hustlers.  It is a total escape from reality, no wonder it is so popular.  Sad to say, I also find it appealing, but don't have the reckless abandon to enjoy these kinds of places properly.

Caesar's Palace

Vegas view

Vegas view

Chef Ramsey is everywhere

The Venetian Casino

Interior of the Venetian

Another Venetian interior view

Ceiling view

Another ceiling view

Harrah's Casino entrance

Caesar's Palace view

A final hiking day for us at Red Rocks on Tuesday on the Calico Tanks Trail which was only 2 1/2 miles but lots of rock scrambling, stairs and route finding.  The end of the trail is at the Tank, a pristine alpine pond at the top of the mountain.  We walked back down then did another 2 miles on the First Creek Canyon Trail.

The Keystone Thrust formation

Cactus growing out of the rocks

Beautiful red bands of color

Interesting erosion

Twinkles negotiating a narrow ledge

The Calico Tank

Yucca Plants

We are heading out again tomorrow, continuing our Red Rock Tour, to the "Valley of Fire" State Park near Overton, Nevada.  We have been boondocking / dry camping for 13 straight days now and are hoping to get a full hookup site at the State Park.  

Stay tuned for more;

Twinkles & Slick

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