Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Photo Essay from Las Vegas, Part Two

In Part One of this post I told about the early part of our trip to Las Vegas and highlighted Red Rocks Canyon and some of the golf we played.  In Part Two I continue the photo essay in the Valley of Fire and some golf at the end of our trip.  Part One left off with us in Mouse's Tank Canyon (or Petroglyph Canyon, as it is known); Part Two takes up the story from the middle of that hike:

Anne hiking along the Mouse's Tank trail. It's toward the end of the trail and the canyon walls are getting tighter.

Rock formations on Mouse's Tank trail are interesting even without petroglyphs.

Petroglyphs range from animal and human figures to symbolic representation of Native American life.  Most of these petroglyphs are attributed to the Anasazi (Navajo for "ancient people") of 500-1350 AD.

This picture and the next show the diversity of rock formation found in the Mouse's Tank area.

After Mouse's Tank Trail we continued through the park on the scenic highway that travels through an area called Fire Canyon.

Anne as we head onto the trail at the White Domes. 

There is sparse vegetation throughout the Valley;  these Yucca (I think) were a notable exception.

The White domes are spectacular sandstone formations that rise above the trail.

The area around Fire Canyon and White Domes has been featured in several movies, including 1966's The Professionals. In fact, as we were driving toward White Domes we were stopped by Nevada state police who were restricting several miles of  the road to one-way traffic because of a movie or TV shoot--we couldn't recognize anybody famous as we drove by.

After White Domes we came back to the park visitor center--a small museum and gift shop.

Balance Rock is only a couple hundred yards from the park HQ.

This local didn't have much to say, but it was cute.

One of the most impressive areas of the park is Atlatl Rock, an area filled with petroglyphs. 

As I climbed the stairs up to the highest viewing platform a man was coming down visibly shaken. As he paused on a landing he said, "I just hate heights!"

The upper human figure is using an atlatl, a device used for launching a spear. The figure gives the rock its name.

The richness of the rock are its areas of petroglyphs, some of the best to be found in the region.

This series of glyphs prove that Native American invented basketball.

As I hiked around the rock, I got a good view of this nice example of Native newspaper.

All the way around Atlatl Rock there were examples of a nice variety of petroglyphs.

When I finished my tour around the rock, Anne was waiting for me in the picnic area.

Our last two golf rounds were at Wildhorse GC in Henderson and Boulder City GC in -- yes, Mr. Obvious.

Casinos restrict photography, but it was fairly easy to get this shot as we waited in the airport for our flight home.

Finally, our approach into Portland.

The trip to Las Vegas had been a fun (if not profitable) trip.  We played some nice golf courses, and they were dry. We didn't eat at any fancy places, but our dinners out were always good, and our dinners in were fairly good as well, the two of us together can cook up decent meals. Our excursions to the desert areas were exactly what we expected and the photos will show well. As we landed back in Portland we both agreed that a trip to Las Vegas is worth an annual place on our itinerary.

CRASS COMMERCIAL NOTE: My newest book of travel stories, Sixteen Years of Travel in Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales, is now available on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk. And my first two books of travel stories will soon no longer be available.

NEXT: Another visit to dry country--Phoenix and Tucson, for more desert photography, more petroglyphs, and a visit to the Kitt Peak Observatories (including a night class in astronomy).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Photo Essay from Las Vegas, Part 1

A blog post about Las Vegas should include lots of photos of the Strip, of lights and glitz, shows and show girls, booze and buffets.  This post will have none (or very little of that). We did spend time in several casinos--some we'll even tell you about--but for us the trip was filled with golf, hiking, Native American art, and a few other surprises.  I have too many photos for one post, so I'll let the photos tell the story of our Las Vegas holiday in two posts.

It was an icy, dicey drive to Portland airport to start our trip.

A good flight from Portland to Las Vegas on Southwest got us off to a good start.
Our digs for the week were at the Worldmark (timeshare) Las Vegas Blvd. about four miles south of the MGM Grand and the Strip.

We stayed in a one bedroom unit. It looks a little empty because they leave room for the murphy bed to drop down out of the wall.  We could sleep four in the unit.

Our first golf of the trip was at a course new to us, Desert Willow GC in Henderson. The executive (par 3s and par 4s)was in excellent condition and was both relatively easy and yet challenging.  It's a course we will plan to play again.
A friendly local watched us tee off at Desert Willow.

We were impressed with new housing development just off the course. In the future the course will offer a view of a stair-step hillside of multi-million dollar homes.  That may change our mind about playing it more.
The next day we visited Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area a few miles southwest of Las Vegas proper. Being so close to the city, it's a busy park with a plethora of hiking and climbing trails.  The weather was less than perfect with rain and low clouds all morning.
Even with little sun, this jumping cholla cactus was lovely--just don't get too close.

Anne leads the way on a short hike from the parking area at the Willow Springs Picnic Area to get the small group of petroglyphs.
This site is one of the smallest we saw during the week, but several of the petroglyphs (pictures carved into the rocks) were different than we saw elsewhere.

Anne at the information plaques near the Willow Springs petroglyphs.
Not all the rocks at Red Rocks Canyon are red.  The park has a nice variety of geological formations with easy access.

The wind at Red Rocks was really howling. I'd estimate we had gusts of 80 mph or more at times. At the High Point Overlook this lady was being held up by the wind as she leaned into it.  I had difficulty holding still enough to get a picture.
At the Lost Creek site I hiked out for a view of an unusual water feature--a waterfall spouting directly out of the rocks. The trail was easy for about half a mile and then quite overgrown for the next half mile. I found a good view without going the whole trail.
After Red Rocks Canyon we visited a nearby site that was supposed to have petroglyphs,  Red Springs. We hiked the mile boardwalk trail without seeing any petroglyphs.

One of the locals at Red Springs.
A highlight for me was a tour of the Pinball Hall of Fame on Tropicana. Pinball was an almost weekly activity at the Blue Moon Tavern in McMinnville when I was in college at Linfield. They had machines where you could actually win money (they paid off like slot machines) as long as the local copper wasn't around.

I didn't find my favorite old machine, but I plunked in a few quarters in this oldie. And where in the hell did my reflexes go, anyway?

Our second round of golf was at Las Vegas National GC in Las Vegas. This old course is lined with homes once owned by stars of stage, screen, and sports.  We passed a house owned at one time by Dean Martin and another owned by Sugar Ray Leonard, the boxer. Besides the interesting surroundings, the course is made up of classic good golf holes. 

We had an encounter with one of the current residents. Sorry the picture of the coyote is a little fuzzy; I was driving the golf cart down the hole, holding the camera in one hand, and Wiley was running by. As a grab shot I don't think it's too bad.
One day we drove about an hour out of town to the Valley of Fire, Nevada's first state park. Named for the red sandstone formations, the park has numerous types of geological features, many hiking trails, and several areas with fine Native American petroglyphs.

The lighting in the Valley of Fire was great this day.  I had fun with the play of sun and shadow on the rocks and vegetation.

An example of the red sandstone formation giving the park its name.

This formation is known as a bee hive.

The dead plants, live plants, and small rock caves create some interesting effects.

I was fascinated by the bush skeleton framed by the red sandstone.
Anne on the 3/4 mile round trip trail to Mouse's Tank (aka petroglyph canyon).

On the trail to Mouse's Tank, a natural basin where water collects, we encountered our first petroglyphs at Valley of Fire.

This rock, covered in what's called "desert varnish," is covered with petroglyphs.  Rocks with numerous carvings or glyphs are often called "Native Newspaper."

A closer look at one of the "newspapers" along Mouse's Tank trail.

Here's an example where most of the "Desert Varnish" and its carvings has worn away leaving only a little of what once was probably a large collection of petroglyphs.

About the photos: All photos taken with either a Lumix DMC-ZS100 (point and shoot) with 25-250mm zoom, or Lumix GX85 (interchangeable lens mirrorless) with 14-140mm or 7.5mm lens.

Next: More of the Valley of Fire and the end of the Las Vegas trip.