A rough day for our little girl

We hate to have any of our pets go under anesthesia, but sometimes it's necessary and this is one of those times. Julienne's teeth have gotten to a pretty bad state, so today I took her in for a dental exam. The vet agreed that yes, her teeth did need to be cleaned, and they could take care of it today. So I left her there; when I got home, the house seemed so empty. Even with Missy and Shorty still there, there was a big, big gap. 

We picked her up this afternoon. Her teeth are clean, her nails are trimmed, and she is so sleepy she can hardly keep her eyes open.
She had 4 teeth removed and as a reward for going through that, she gets to eat canned dog food for a few days. 

Beating the Traffic

Last night I told Randy to let me know when he was ready to get on the road in the morning. He woke me up at 3 am and said "I'm ready". We were on the road by 3:30 and I have to say, the plan worked - we had very little traffic. There was an accident in one section which slowed us down, but otherwise it went OK. We stopped in Barstow for a quick breakfast at Hardee's. To our surprise, they weren't open yet. Turns out it was a few minutes before 6 am. By the time we took the dogs out, Hardee's opened and Randy got us a couple of sandwiches for the road. He always gets an extra one for the dogs to share and usually they scarf them down. For some reason, Shorty was having none of it today. He licked it, tasted it, and actually spit it out. He is getting to be such a food critic! Randy thought it was pretty funny; he doesn't like fast food, we only get it when we are on the road and don't want to lose time. Now he can say that even a dog won't eat fast food.

And now we are home, safe and sound, and very, very tired.

Work day at the AGSEM

Today is a work day, but not the kind we expected. We thought the auction was going to happen today, but it's scheduled for tomorrow. So today Randy helped unload truckloads of stuff as they came in, and arrange more stuff on the grounds for display.
Patty showed me how to enter guests (again - it's been awhile!) so I handled those. People were coming in one day early to get their bidding number, and we were happy to process as many people as possible today, because tomorrow should be very busy.

Jack was selling burgers and hot dogs, and the volunteers got a free lunch. Plus Ashely kept us supplied with chips, cookies, soda and water. They treat their people right!

At the end of the day we got the group together again and went to Harbor Fish and Chips in Oceanside. Apparently we haven't been here on a Saturday before; it was packed! But we waited until a table was available, then put in our orders. Fortunately the service was able to keep up with the crowd. The food here is good and the portions are generous. Randy and I split the 3-piece dinner, and he added a cup of chowder.

Then back to the 5th wheel to pack up what we can tonight and turn in early. Randy is hoping to avoid traffic and construction-backup by getting on the road early.

Back to the Antique Gas And Steam Engine Museum

We left Pahrump around 8:30 am, headed for Vista. The Antique Gas And Steam Engine Museum is hosting a big auction this weekend and we want to help out. It's 300 miles one-way to get there, and at least 100 miles are scooting around the Riverside area so there will be traffic. The GPS estimated 6 hours on the road and it was right, even with the awful traffic. They were doing work on Interstate 15 and 215 but the workers made sure there were plenty of open lanes. Didn't make any difference - traffic just stopped. We crawled along for at least a half hour before we got past the construction. 

We have only been gone from the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum for about 6 weeks but we instantly felt nostalgic as we drove into Vista. We had some really good times here, with some really good people. And apparently they were glad to see us - when Randy got out of the car to say "hi", Dan and Ken immediately handed him a beer! 

Before we settled in for the weekend Randy went out to fill the Jeep with gas, and while he was running around he was able to get some water filters he's been looking for. Pahrump has a Home Depot but it doesn't have as much stock as we are used to. It's pretty funny when Vista seems like the "big city"!

We visited for awhile, then went with Ken and Patty, and Ashley's family, for dinner at the Pepper Tree. I hadn't been there before; the Pepper Tree turned out to be a good place to get burgers, fries, shakes and malts place. 

We are staying in a friend's 5th Wheel, so we didn't have to bring our RV. Early to bed!

Dinner in a Brothel

Someone told us that the restaurant at Sheri's Ranch was good. Now I know the main business at Sheri's Ranch isn't food, it's sex; Sheri's Ranch is a brothel. Still, that doesn't mean they don't know how to cook. 

So we went there for dinner. The first problem is that it's not really a restaurant, it's a bar with a menu. Still, the menu looked good. 

Several of the ladies (prostitutes) were relaxing at the bar. There was no mistaking their role; they were dressed in micro-short or see-through clothes and sky-high heels. And most were smoking, which caused the whole room to be smoky. Still, . . . no, no, there's no excuse for smoking in a food establishment. 

The bartender took our drink order and then forgot about us, so I had to tell her we were ready to order. She got our order wrong and she never came back to refill our drinks. Worse yet, the food was mediocre and my french fries were awful. I can forgive a lot of things, but when they ruined my french fries, it was over. I might put up with prostitutes, smoke and poor service, but do not mess with my french fries. I will never go back.

Of course, as Randy pointed out, food isn't where they make their money, so they probably don't care what I think.

T & T Railway and the Amargosa Opera House

This weekend we took a drive to see what lies beyond Pahrump. And what lies beyond Pahrump is a fair amount of flat, dry desert.
We drove 20 miles north to where Highway 160 dead-ends into Highway 95. Here Highway 95 is the southern and western border of a vast military area called the Nellis Air Force Base Complex. It covers more than 13,000 square miles, including the Nevada Test Site and Area 51, and, not surprisingly, there are no public roads into Nellis. 

Seventeen miles west, where 373 intersects 95, is a wide spot in the road called Amargosa Valley. Amargosa Valley is home to the Rocket Diner, Alien Travel Center, and the Alien Cathouse brothel. We didn't stop here, so I'll have to try the Alien Travel Center later. It was getting pretty windy and we were only halfway through our route, so we pressed on. 

373 heads due south and into California for a few miles, where it intersects with State Line Road. And at this intersection we found an interesting little place.

First stop - the Railroad Museum, a model railway display where we learned about the Tonopah and Tidewater Railway, a little rail (about 200 miles) that ran through this area from 1907 through 1940. The purpose of the railway was to haul borax, mined in Death Valley. A small community grew up around the rail station, with a school (in an old railway car), offices, homes for families and tents for the single men working the line, all of which is faithfully recreated in the model.
But things change, and the railroad outlived its usefulness. In 1941 U.S. Department of War took up the rails and reused them elsewhere. They say that Scotty's Castle, at the north end of Death Valley, is still using the old railroad ties in it's fireplaces during winter.

At the other end of the building is the Amargosa Opera House. It started life as a community center and, like the rest of the place, got quite decrepit when the railway closed. In 1976 Marta Becket, a professional ballerina, got a flat tire while driving through and discovered the run-down hall. She had an eye for what it could be, not what it was, so she rented it, cleaned it, repaired it, and started giving regular performances. She didn't always have an audience so eventually she decided to paint one. She filled the walls with enthusiastic patrons
and, being confident, included royalty in the central gallery.
She even painted in other entertainers, waiting for their turn on the stage.
Marta performed as a ballerina here for more than 40 years and was still "on pointe" in her eighties. Eventually, though, she created for "The Sitting Down Show" which allowed her to continue performing until early in 2012. She is 91 now and finally retired, having turned the Opera House over to a ballet protege. The 2015-2016 schedule starts in October; we will be getting a schedule and plan to attend.

While we were learning all this fascinating stuff, outside the wind continued to pick up. By the time we were ready to leave, a brown-out was starting - the big dust storms of the west.
Randy waited a bit, but he decided to leave in case it started raining. Fortunately as we drove east on State Line Road, we left the storm behind.

Back in Pahrump we had lunch at Mom's Diner. It started sprinkling when we went in and continued during lunch. And just that little bit was enough to flood parts of the roads. Back in the Midwest it would take a downpour to create this.
This place, that needs water so badly, just can't handle it!

Settling In the area

There is a small gazebo on our RV site, with vines climbing up it. And right at the edge where the walls meet the roof, a mourning dove has made a nest. It's a small little nest, and it's holding a might big chick.
I see the parents around the gazebo a lot, too. Junior here doesn't mind us looking at him, but his parents aren't too happy about it.

Just for grins today, we checked out a local junk dealer. And what did we find tucked between the old TVs and mattresses? Caskets! That's something I've never seen at a garage/junk sale before.
Then, this evening after it got dark, one of the residents came by to show us how to hunt for scorpions. These are little Bark Scorpions, less than an inch long, and they glow bright fluorescent green under black light. What an unusual way to spend the evening!

Nevada Treasure RV Resort

So here we are, in Pahrump, parked in a beautiful resort. We have good wifi here so I was finally able to get caught up on my blog. From our first trip - the Valley of Fire on 6/25 - through Zion, the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Kodachrome, Willis Slot Canyons, Mossy Creek and Las Vegas - I got enough down so that I will be able to remember it. 

The Nevada Treasure RV Resort has a lot going for it besides good wifi. They have amazing pools, a cafe, a small bowling alley, a great fitness area, a health center with a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, and lovely, large sites.

Las Vegas to Pahrump - 7/10

This morning we had a nice breakfast in the RV park's cafe, then left Las Vegas and headed towards Pahrump. Along the way the road had to go up a bit to get over some mountains. Not much, and much less than we saw in Bryce, but our RV didn't like it. That is one of the things we will have to get looked at, when we settle in a location for awhile. 

But once we got past the up and down of that section, the road flattened out. Completely.
And soon we pulled into Pahrump, into a beautiful RV Resort called Nevada Treasure. I loved seeing and hiking the beautiful canyons, but right now I am so glad to be settled again for awhile. 

A night in Downtown Las Vegas

Spent a quiet day, grocery shopping mostly. Then I wanted to stay home in the air conditioning, while Randy made one more trip to the Imperial Spa. 

Las Vegas during the day isn't very exciting. Although some of the buildings are unusually shaped, it could really be almost any big city. Las Vegas needs the dark of night to come alive.
We decided to spend our last night in Las Vegas Downtown, on Freemont Street. At one end of the street is a big, tall structure called Slotzilla. I thought it was a giant slot machine.
But after dark it lit up and showed it's true purpose: it's the starting point of a zip-line that runs overhead, the length of Freemont. Very cool!
There have always been showgirls offering pictures for tips, but now the trend is for guys to strip down to the minimum. I was not impressed.
We went to the Paradise Buffet for dinner, which was pretty good. Not outstanding, but pretty good. By then it was dark outside, which is the best way to see Freemont Street. The covering over the street seems to create a shared space for the crowd, which is a livelier group than you find on the Strip. Or maybe it was just that the music from the clubs and DJs was livelier, making it feel more like a street party.
At the end of the Freemont Experience we continued walking past Slotzilla and onto what is billed as Freemont East. It's got some flashy lights, but it seems to be mostly bars and homeless people. 

7/8 Around Las Vegas

We went to Costco today to get a few things. We are used to big, well-stocked Costcos. This one looks a lot more like Sam's Club - a bare bones warehouse. But they had a few surprises for me. For one thing, they sell whole New Zealand lambs. 
Also they sell US sodas like Coke and Fanta that are imported from Mexico, where they are made with cane sugar. Not that I blame them - the Mexican versions taste better! And their cooler section, where the milk, butter, etc are stored, is so big that they have jackets available to borrow, so you can stand to be in the cooler long enough to walk through the whole area. 
Later in the day we went to the Venetian to meet our niece Erica and one of her friends, Angela. We decided to have dinner at Buddy's Restaurant, where we go the cannoli last night. I ordered something called "My Dad's Bucatini Carbonara" and Randy got the Chicken Parmesan, and they were both delicious. We added appetizers and sangrias, and everyone had a great meal.
We were all full after dinner, so we walked around the Venetian, Palazzo, and Wynn hotels. The Wynn has some beautiful flower sculptures, they look like they belong of parade floats. 

We stopped by the Louis Vuitton store to check out the new line of purses. Somehow I cannot see paying between $1,500 and $3,000 for a purse! Then it was almost 8 o'clock so we went looking for Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery. Since it closed before we got there last night, we made sure we arrived before 8 pm. But the closest location was a different one than the one we visited yesterday, and when we got there we learned that it closed at 7:30! Fortunately the second location was nearby, so we high-tailed it over there. I got a Pain aux Raisins and Randy got a sticky bun. I don't know how good his was, but mine was great - I ate it while we were walking to the next location! Then Erica and Angela took me to Sephora for some makeup. By that time we had walked enough, so we called it a night. Thanks to Erica and Angela for a lovely evening!

7/7 - back to Las Vegas

We had plans to continue visiting canyons, ending with a long visit to Yellowstone. But the RV is acting strangely - tires won't hold air, turbo gauge is not working - so we decided that we will appreciate the wonderful trip we have had so far, and get back to our home base for awhile.

So this morning Randy put some are in the back tire, then drove to the front of the RV park to top it off with more air. Next we went to the truck/RV station across from Ruby's Inn to check the tire before taking off. 

We took highway 12 west. It took us through Red Canyon, which lived up to the name. We didn't get off the road to go hiking, but even so, it was very pretty.
My GPS and Good Sam's Trip Planner didn't show any tunnels; I guess these weren't long enough to qualify as tunnels. 
Highway 12 led to highway 89, then to highway 20. After awhile Shorty got bored, while poor Missy huddled down and fought against car sickness. She lost. . .  again.
About halfway through highway 20 the road got really twisty. There were high-wind warnings (which were true) and lots of road construction. The road grade was steep going up, then just as steep going down. I call this "adventure driving" and it's not a lot of fun in a big RV.
We left Utah, crossed the corner of Arizona, and headed into Nevada. We parked in Las Vegas, where it is almost 100 degrees. Randy went to Imperial Spa again, while I stayed home and caught up on some Pintrest. Then we had pizza for dinner before driving downtown to the Palazzo, looking for Thomas Keller's pastry shop. We found it, but it had closed about 5 minutes before. Dang it. OK, next we looked for Carlos' Bakery, aka Cake Boss, hoping to get a cannoli. Found it, but there was a long line outside. In April of 2014 we visited the original Carlos' Bake Shop in Hoboken, and the line there was so long we didn't even try to get in. We felt the same way about this shop. Then Randy had an idea - right across from the Bake Shop is Buddy's Restaurant. Maybe they have cannolis? As a matter of fact, they do, and even better, theirs are made fresh, not frozen and shipped in like the Bake Shop. So we got a couple to go - they were quite good!

We looked through some of the "Grand Canal Shoppes", but I enjoyed the pretty ceilings as much as anything else.
It was dark by the time we went outside - that's the best way to see Las Vegas. 
Across the street the Mirage's volcano was going off. This has been an attraction as long as I can remember, but recently it has been renovated a bit. It's bigger and louder, and instead of the waterfall catching fire (which I liked), there are rows of smaller eruptions that occur to music. Still worth watching!

A last trip to Bryce Cannon - 7/6

Today we had planned to go hiking in Bryce Canyon again. We had selected the "Beneath the Rim" trail as our last hike here, but today it started drizzling. Not good hiking weather, plus I just wasn't into it. I have been distracted by the difficulty of getting County of Riverside to realize I am not a resident there and should not be called for jury duty. So instead we went on a little one mile hike on the property of Rudy's Inn. Rudy's Inn started as a small tourist stop and has expanded to become most of Bryce Cannon City. Their land includes a little strip that goes right to the rim of the cannon, so we walked there. The path took us through a gate and onto a small dirt trail. About halfway there we came across a small herd of cows and calves, taking shelter from the drizzle in the trees. I am a big fan of Shreve Stockton's blog "Honey Rock Dawn", in which she often writes about how cuddly and friendly her cows are. But these were big and wet and not sure who we were or what we were doing. They watched us go by, but fortunately that was all.
At the rim there is a little waterfall, but it's straight down and hard to see. The only way I could get a picture was by pointing the camera over the bridge.
The drizzle changed to a light rain, so we headed back to the car and came home. Some days are just better at home, and we need to get ready to move the RV tomorrow anyway.

Mossy creek and Return to Bryce Cannon - 7/5

This morning Randy checked the air pressure on the RV tires and 2 are low. Again. There is an RV repair shop near here so we will probably to there tomorrow.

But today we wanted to get out again so we went to see the Mossy Cave site, which is located between our RV park and Bryce Canyon. The entrance to it, right near the road, has some of those amazing Hoodoos. Love these things. 
The cave itself actually isn't very interesting. It's not a cave, it's a small overhang. The mossy part is true, though. Water seeps from the overhang ceiling onto the rocks below, so moss grows on both the ceiling and the floor. I think its best season may be winter, when those drips form ice sculptures.

But the other scene, just a short walk away, is a pretty little waterfall. This one I really liked.

 As we were walking around it, we looked up and saw a lovely "window" in the rock. I'm not sure actually what to call this structure. It's not a wall because it has separated from the rest of the wall. It's not a Hoodoo because it's got two supports. 
As usual, the trees around here fascinate me - the Midwest has nothing like these. I wish I could figure out a way to strap this onto the RV and take it with us!
Mossy Creek was a nice stop, but since we will be leaving here soon, I wanted to go back to Bryce Canyon again. So Randy drove us back to Bryce Point. Simply amazing.
For lunch we stopped again at Ruby's, where Randy had the lunch buffet and I has burger and fries. They make excellent burger and fries!

But just before that Randy drove to Inspiration Point again. Most amazing. Actually, "miraculous" works better. There really are no words for this, and pictures simply do not capture it. 

Willis Creek Canyon Slot Canyons and Kodachrome State Park - 7/4

Unfortunately when Randy checked our tires today, he discovered the two inside rear tire are low again. This will have to be addressed before we can leave. But we have to put it aside for now, and enjoy our time here. My sun-poisoning has subsided to a light case of sunburn, so we are ready for another adventure. After the sweeping grandeur of Zion and Bryce, today was a day for smaller spectacles. Our RV park is near the border of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and just a few miles inside that is the Willis Creek Canyon Slot Canyons.   

We stopped at the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) office to get some info about the likelihood of flash flooding today. All canyons are susceptible to this hazard; if it rains anywhere upstream, the canyon will flood. Slot canyons, however, carry an increased risk because anyone in the slot when water rushes through will have no way out. Swimming isn't an option because of all the brush and debris that the floodwaters pick up. So it's a good idea to know the weather forecast. Today was overcast with a 40% chance of rain in the afternoon. Since it was about 10:30 am, it seemed like a good time to go!

Three miles down the road we took a right turn onto a dirt road, filled with ruts and blind curves. 6 miles down that road brought us to the trailhead. We followed the trail a few yards and soon it was necessary to step down into the creek, but we expected that. The water was very cool and only a few inches deep over the rocky creekbed. 

The trail was easy to follow and easy to hike. Because the canyon floor was the creekbed, the non-water part switched from side to side, where the stream had banked along its path. The first canyons had a fairly wide creekbed and low but beautifully curved walls. 
There were several slots, and between each one the creekbed widened out, then narrowed for the next canyon. Each progressive canyon had a narrower path and higher, more fantastically carved walls. The striations on these walls are simply amazing.
 And some color variations added to the magic.
I ran out of words to describe how it made me feel, but it was pure joy to be here!
About this point Randy heard thunder, so we decided to hike back. Not only did we need to avoid flash floods, but I had assurances from several sources that the 6 miles of dirt roads were completely undrivable when wet. If we were not back before it rained, even a little bit, we would have to wait until the rain stopped and the roads dried out. So back we hiked, admiring the view from a different angle. How I love these canyon walls!
When we got back to the paved road, we decided to take a quick look at nearby Kodachrome State Park, where we drove out to see Chimney Rock. It's a huge, tall block of rock out in the middle of nowhere - not something we see everyday!
Next Randy drove us to the trailhead for the Shakespeare Arch trail. The trail is a smaller, rougher version of the dirt roads we took to Willis Creek; not clearly marked, not wide and not flat. But out here it was an easy hike, and I found I really enjoyed the lack of crowds. We met a few people on the trail, but this pretty little park is much less visited than Bryce or Zion. 
Shakespeare Arch, the only arch in the park, is way up the side of a cliff. It's a pretty arch, and probably will last longer for being out of reach.
Even better, though, was the view from the trail. Simply amazing.
You can see for miles across mountains and valleys. Way in the distance sits the edge of Bryce Canyon. Everywhere was beauty and more beauty.
The trees here are so perfect for this land, and I tried to get them in most of my pictures. I think these are Great Basin bristlecone pines. They grow in fantasical shapes, and like to twist themselves around. They are hardy and tough and their rough, unusual shapes add so much to the landscape. 
Even when they are dead, they are beautiful.
The other kind of tree that grows a lot here is called Limber Pine. It looks somewhat similar to the bristlecone, but it doesn't grow as twisted. It gets its name from the limberness of it's small branches - you can literally tie them in knots!
 And on the drive home, more beautiful vistas! How I love this land.