Sunday, October 30, 2011

I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost!

We dashed across California, Nevada, and Arizona to be back at the house in Mesa in time for the community Halloween party. Okay, that's not really true, but we are back at our winter home and the party was a lot of fun. How old are we anyway?

Ron and I went as a ghostbuster with his captive ghost. I admit I wasn't very original, but when I said I was going as a ghost, Ron came up with the ghostbuster costume using the leaf vacuum. Pretty good, huh?

Steve and Linda were the prize winners with their doctor and patient costumes.

Happy Halloween and don't eat too much candy!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Big Dam and Bridge

The Hoover Dam was built in the early 30s during the Great Depression and destroyed and rebuilt in Superman: The Movie. But enough history.

Pictures of the dam are usually from the lower side, but these are the giant intakes on the Lake Mead side.

After years of unlimited traffic driving over the dam with massive security backups since 9/11, the bypass bridge was completed in 2010. Phil, Ron, and Donna posed for me in front of the new bridge.

The wind caught Ron's hat and blew it over the edge. We couldn't believe he went after it. Yikes!

The view of the Black Canyon below the dam is impressive.

Although the sides of the bridge are too high to see anything while driving across, there is a walkway for pedestrians. Cool!

The seal in the walkway marks the state line between Nevada and Arizona.

After our excursion, we indulged in a late breakfast, or, in Diana's case, dessert.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Only in Vegas

Ron and I caught up with some WIN friends (and a relative) at Boulder campground - a great spot right outside of Boulder City, NV, and right on Lake Mead. Since my sister Diana already posted our trip to Hoover Dam, I'll save that and post our trip to downtown Las Vegas and the Fremont Street Experience.

In 1994, five blocks of Fremont St. were closed to traffic and a canopy, 90 ft. high and 1500 ft. long, was built over the road. Light and sound shows using 12 million LED lights and 220 speakers are presented hourly. It's a spectacle unlike any other.

Between shows the zip lines were busy.

Ron and I took advantage of the photo op with a pile of money.

And I saw a renegade from Kiss. (I don't know who the cowboy is.)

While Ron fought off a casino monster.

But then it was time for the 8 o'clock show which was a tribute to Don McLean's classic American Pie.

We all sang along during the chorus. (I'm showing my age again.)

Although it was getting late, we did a drive by of the 'Strip.' These are my 'action' shots.

And we even saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage.
(If you want good pictures, you'll have to wait for Diana to post hers.)

Another day we biked a 'rails to trails' from near the campground towards the Hoover Dam.

The railroad was used to transport materials and equipment during the construction of the dam, but now it's a scenic trail.

It has great views of Lake Mead along the way.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nevada Sightings

After leaving Reno, we headed across Nevada - the state of the sprightly cow.

And onto the Extraterrestrial Highway. Lest you think I'm making this up, even the GPS knows it's true.

The ET highway runs across the north side of Nellis Air Force Base including the Nevada Test Site, which was the primary testing location of American nuclear devices. Area 51 is a top secret military installation bordering the Nevada Test Site. Although there are many rumors, myths, and legends surrounding Area 51, the most popular theory is that it is used to test and reverse engineer recovered alien space craft.

The restaurant in Rachel has managed to take advantage of their location along the ET highway.

Selling everything with an alien theme.

They also posted this sign in the restaurant.


We parked overnight in a nice pullout and Ron watched for unusual activity. Between the time the sun set and the moon rose, he saw moving flashing lights. However he decided it was space junk tumbling around in orbit. Scary what you can see when it's really dark.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Virginia City

While in Sparks, we took a day trip up to Virginia City, NV. This is not your ordinary old mining town. During the latter half of the 19th century, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold and silver were taken out of the hills above and from deep under the town itself. This included the famous Comstock Lode, the largest strike of silver ever found in the United States.

The instant millionaires built mansions and imported furniture and fashions from Europe and the Orient.

Much of this silver was coined into silver dollars at the Carson City mint. The Silver Queen was created using 3,261 of those dollars. She's 16 feet tall and contains 210 lbs. of silver and resides in the bar of the same name.

I love how they painted the side of this building.

This duo looks like they stepped out of a time machine.

I loved the old fashioned candy store.

And we even found a 'surrey with the fringe on top'. (If you're not a fan of musicals, that's a song from Oklahoma.)

We caught the Virgina and Truckee RR as it left on its excursion. I would have preferred to see the steam engine, but I guess they use a diesel during the week.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Heading Inland

We said goodbye to the West Coast but not before I visited Glass Beach. Years ago when I was in the area and looking for things to do, I read that there was a beach in Fort Bragg, CA, that was famous for sea glass. How cool! I went and was amazed by all the pretty glass and I was not alone. There were people there gathering it up in buckets! Later I learned that the glass was actually from an offshore dump that was in use from 1949 to 1967. Wow! What a gimmick! Get the tourists to clean up the beach! Although I have to wonder what happened to the rest of the trash? All you see on the beach is glass. Where is all the metal and plastic from the dump? Is there a Metal Beach or a Plastic Beach?

Here's my sunset shot of the coast at Glass Beach.

And here's a closeup of the beach. Understandably, it doesn't have nearly as much glass as when I was there about 8 years ago, but if you come at low tide, you can still find it.

In fact, they have turned part of the beach into a state park and don't allow scavenging, but I went outside the park and got a handful.

So here's my other thought. Since it's obviously a tourist attraction, why doesn't the Fort Bragg Chamber of Commerce start throwing their city's glass recyclables out in the ocean? (I bet you're wondering if I'm kidding.)

We also spent a lovely evening with friends of Ron's who he knew from high school. The wonderful thing to me is that Mary and Bob met in the first grade and were high school sweethearts. They are a special couple and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting them.

We zipped across California (so unlike us) and landed at a casino in Sparks, Nevada, for a few days. Close by was a wonderful bike path along the Truckee River.

We took it from Sparks to Reno (not as far as it sounds) where we admired the pretty downtown.

We're back to the desert with its colorful sunsets.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Avenue of the Giants

Just off US101 in northern California is an alternate route called the Avenue of the Giants. The road twists and turns past a wonderful showcase of the giant coast redwoods in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Nancy managed to snap this picture of us while following in her motorhome - not the easiest thing to do.

Ron and I did some tree hugging in Founders Grove. This is the Founders Tree - not the largest in the forest, but pretty big at 346 feet tall, 12.7 feet in diameter, and 40 feet in circumference.

For me, the walk through Founders Grove is the highlight of a trip to the redwoods.

And everything is so green!

This is the Dyerville Giant that fell in 1991. When last measured it was 364 feet tall, 17 feet in diameter, and 52 feet in circumference.

The visitors center had this RV made from a redwood log with a very unusual driver.

It must weigh a heck of a lot - just look at how thick the walls and doors are.

I have to confess that I tend to be a snob about sightseeing. If it seems too touristy, I don't even stop. But this time I checked out a couple of the tourist traps with mixed results.

First we stopped at the Eternal Tree House (Cafe & Gift Shop). It was a redwood stump that had been hollowed out with a door and window added. It left us underwhelmed.

But nearby there were some cool chainsaw sculptures. Here's Nancy with a new friend.

Then we checked out the One Log House (Cafe & Gift Shop). Inside this redwood log is a living area 32 feet long and 7 feet high. We thought it was worth the $1 entrance fee.

The layout could have been better. The bedroom was in the center.

The living area was at one end.

And the kitchen at the other.

Very cute and livable.

Of course, it's the same size as our RV, but I wouldn't want to drive it.