Thursday, February 14, 2019

To Vegas and Beyond

Travel Isn’t Always as Easy as It Should Be!
4:45 AM heading to the airport for a 7:00 flight to Las Vegas. Notice the prominent bag with two sets of clubs in it.

Leaving Portland and...

Arriving in Las Vegas.

We plan and plan and prepare and over prepare, but there are times when things just don’t go the way we plan or prepare for. The latest trip to Las Vegas proves the point. We usually take a Vegas trip in early February to get out of the cold and wet of Oregon’s winter, to play some golf, see some sights, and, yes, play the machines. We know we might face a little inclement weather at that time of year, but overall it’s a good time to visit the area. This year we planned a nine day trip with three days in St George, Utah, and Zion National Park. That plan, though, was only one of the things that went wrong.
One of the two courses we played was the Revere Concord Course. Sunny day, but at 41º with 18 mile an hour wind the wind chill was 21º--that's COLD golf.

To start, we discovered soon that we had forgotten important items, and considering how organized Anne is, this was really unusual. First, I forgot my heart rate monitor. I knew that I could always buy another one at any pharmacy for under $50, but it would still be an inconvenience. Luckily, I never needed to buy one. Anne discovered she forgot her Tide Stick (spot remover) the first time I splattered spaghetti sauce on my shirt. We found shortly that we had also left a folder of maps on the table at home and our travel binoculars in the drawer.  All these items are normal for our travel equipment and it was disconcerting to not have them. 
Next, I lost my new Tilley hat, the one Anne got me for Christmas in Canada. 
Me at Badwater wearing the hat that was lost and found.

One morning in our timeshare unit I went to put the hat on and it wasn’t there. It wasn’t in the car either. We backtracked where I might have left it the day before and came up with two possibilities. The first, Starbucks, where we’d stop to write after golf, didn’t have the hat. The Oyster Bar in Orleans Casino, where we’d had dinner that night, did. Bad to lose it; good to find it. It was interesting that the hat had my name and cell phone number printed clearly in the top, but they had never called—I personally believe someone at the restaurant was hoping nobody would ever ask for it, but then I’m very partial to the hat.
The next major consternation was the changeable weather. We were worried about our new travel trailer left at home to face weather for which it hadn’t been prepared. We were having a mild winter in Oregon and so thought the trailer would be fine, but as soon as we got to Vegas we started hearing stories about snow and low temperatures in the Portland area. 
Zabriskie Point

Two images of Salt Creek. It was an easy walk to here.

The forecasts kept changing—better to worst to better to really terrible. Along with that pressure came the realization that our plans to spend three days in St George and Zion needed to be reconsidered. We were going to St George for golf, but it was raining/snowing and Zion was out of the question with temperatures of 9º at night and 25º during the day—we weren’t prepared for those kind of conditions. Again we had some good luck.
Mom's Diner in Pahrump is a great place for breakfast or lunch about half way to Death Valley from Vegas.

Anne at our room in Stovepipe Wells.

I was able to book one of the last two rooms available for two nights at the Stovepipe Wells Hotel in Death Valley where the temperature would be in the 60s during the day and only near freezing at night. It cost us to lose our lodging in St George, but at least we’d have plenty to do in Death Valley including golf.
Our last major problem one we always try to avoid, but accidents do happen. In Death Valley Junction I was photographing around the Amargosa Opera House when I stepped off a sidewalk and slipped on a spot of clay mud. After two stumbling steps trying to catch myself I crashed to the ground trying to protect my camera and my face from the gravel. 
Amargosa Opera House in Deatrh Valley Junction. It's here where the accident happened.

I tried to get up but my right leg gave way under me and crashed down again. Not having learned my lesson, I tried to get up again with the same crashing results. Anne was blissfully across the road a hundred yards away and looking the wrong way. To my rescue came two guys—one a local and the other a passing motor coach driver—who had seen my plight. Heroes that they were they helped me to my feet, helped scrape mud off me, made sure I was lucid and not dizzy, and got my assurances that I ways able to get around. They really, really were there when I needed them. Thank you so much! Anne walked me to the car where I could assess the damages and clean my camera and glasses. At that point, except for a sore knee and elbow, a few scrapes and scratches, and a bruised ego, everything seemed fine (or at least okay). 

The view on Northshore Drive on Lake Mead. We're on our way to Valley of Fire State Park.

In Valley of Fire one of our stops was the CCC cabins. A panel of petroglyphs is above the cabins.
The rest of the day we limited hikes to very short ones and moved rather slowly. It was really the next day that I realized I was done with golf for this trip, and though I could drive, getting out of the car and moving about was going to be in super slow motion for a while. 
A week on from the fall I still move carefully and my elbow is completely black and blue, but it seems that I did no permanent damage (except to that damned ego which is getting used being slapped around).
One day we spent a fall morning driving and hiking (at a slow walk with a walking stick) around Red Rocks Canyon National conservation Area---at least until it started snowing, then we headed to the casino.

This was the first time we've seen wild burros in the park.

Even though we hoped (like always) the Vegas trip would be easy, trouble free, and fun, it wasn’t. It was, though, manageable, interesting, and fun—and I hope the photos that I’ve includes will show that it was a beautiful trip, as well.

Trailer Update

Why would I expect that getting into the travel trailer lifestyle would be easy. Is it because I never learn? The first thing I learned is that tongue weight is important and that a Subaru Outback with a tow package still won’t safely pull the Mini Max we bought—even though the trailer dealer (R Young RVs in Milwaukie) said it would with no problem. Tongue weight capacity for the Subaru is 200 lbs. and the tongue weight of the trailer is 280 lbs. So, where to next? Sell the trailer and give it up, sell the Subaru (which we really love) or…Yes, we bought a truck capable of pulling the Mini Max—my super special Lamborghini orange 2007 VW Fahrenheit GTI with only 47,000 miles on it is on the market. 
My lovingly cared for GTI will be starting a new adventure as soon as we find a buyer.

We got a good deal on a 2017 Ford F150 with less than 4000 miles on it—owner bought it, died, and it took time to go through probate. 
Our new tow vehicle. It's been a long time since we've had a pickup--last one was an early 1990s Ford Ranger.

We’ve already put mats in it, a Line-X bed liner, and a new canopy is on order. The trailer dealer did help us switch the electric braking system from the Subaru to the F150 without charge. With our other travels, the weather, and getting everything set up, we still haven’t used it. That means there’re more stories to come.