Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Boulder Beach Fun

We were at Boulder Beach for 8 days, plenty of time to have lots of fun. One morning the swimming portion of the Pumpkin Man Triathlon took place right next to our campground. It was actually 3 different lengths of triathlons, going on at the same time -- Half Iron Man, Olympic, and Sprint. The swimmers took off in waves, organized by age and the length they were doing.

Once in the water, they looked like schools of fish thrashing around.

After the swim, they raced out of the water and up the ramp --

To try to find their bicycle among the thousands there.

One odd thing about the area is that Boulder City is home to a flock of wild big horn sheep. They congregate in the city park, right next to an active baseball diamond, seemingly oblivious to the people noise.

Right near our campground was the Historic Railroad Trail, which followed an old railroad bed, built in the 1930s to carry materials and equipment used in the construction of Hoover Dam.

There are 5 tunnels leading to the dam. The last train trip was in 1961, and the tracks were dismantled shortly thereafter.

There were lots of great views of Lake Mead along the way.

Hoover Dam was completed in 1935, providing flood control, irrigation, drinking water, and power to communities in the desert Southwest.

I love the Art Deco look to it, especially these intake towers.

A major highway crosses the Colorado River right across the dam, necessitating vehicle inspections and limitations on who can cross. In order to eliminate this major bottleneck, a new bridge/bypass is being constructed. They are starting construction from each side and hope to meet in the middle.

Here you can see the beginnings of a huge arch.

When finished, the bridge will look like this.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Murder and Mayhem

While the WINs were at Boulder Beach, 20 of us put on a Murder Mystery called "Margaritaland," a night of chaos and crime in the Caribbean. I was lucky enough just to enjoy it from the audience. But before the big show could go off, lots of thrift store shopping for costumes had to happen. Hmmmmm... Who is this attractive lady in blue?

It's Brad! Otherwise known as Coconut Jane, wife of the owner of Margaritaland. Another of the male participants had a female role, and two of the female participants had male roles. Can you spot them?

The murder mystery kit came with character descriptions and objectives, but no actual script. It was up to each character to get their points across. We soon found out that it worked better if only one person talked at a time!

Some of the cast -- BJ Baggage the bellhop, Lifesavin' Sam, the lifeguard, Thurston Howard III, the millionaire, Tatum Tatt, the tattoo artist, Jack Daniels, the bartender, and Starr Bright, the movie star.

My favorite costume and performer was Candy Cotton, the millionaire's girlfriend.

Here Jack Daniels and the bar manager, Bindy Barkeep, share a "private" moment. Jack's philandering ways get him in a lot of trouble. --

And ultimately contribute to his demise.

There are no shortage of motives, and it's up to Sgt. Lord to go through the evidence and nail the murderer. I'm not going to give that away, but, if you really want to know, Judy did in her blog, plus she has pictures of all 20 actors.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas is supposed to be the way Vegas used to be -- Good deals and looser slots. But its main attraction is the biggest big screen on the planet, 1500 feet long and 90 feet high.

Held up by 16 columns, the canopy sports 12.5 million LED lights, and 220 speakers putting out 550,000 watts.

While waiting for the shows to start, we enjoyed one of the best buffets I've ever had at the Fremont Hotel & Casino, for the low price of $5 each after our 2-for-1 coupon. I forgot to take pictures until dessert time.

Each evening, from dusk to midnight, different shows run each hour.

I saw four shows. This one was about Area 51, and featured aliens walking across the top of the screen, along with a big outer space battle. To see more of the show, click here.

My favorite was Don McLean's "American Pie." I wrote about this song earlier here when I was in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Buddy Holly was killed in a small plane crash.

More of the American Pie show. There has been a lot written about what this song means, and much of that interpretation has been included in the show. To see the whole thing, click here.

The closest I'll ever come to a million dollars. It would have been even better if I'd been able to take it home with me!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Skirting Vegas

After Zion, I moved on to the Henderson, NV Elks lodge, where there were several WINs parked. Having friends wherever you go sure is great.

I had a great view of Vegas, although it was 20 miles away. There was even fresh show on the mountains.

We had daily Happy Hours --

And Tom made us a "Depression Dinner," in honor of the economy. Beans, rice, and sausage.

From there I moved to the WIN gathering at Boulder Beach, one of the Lake Mead Recreation Areas. The campground is beautiful, with lots of palm trees, eucalyptus trees, and flowering oleander. You can barely see the lake in the picture through the awning.

Since it was full moon, some of the group did a moonlight paddle.

Wow, that moon was really bright!

It made the carp go a little crazy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Secrets of Zion

Here's one secret -- if you are alone, park in Springdale and walk or take the free shuttle bus to the park entrance. Admission to the park is then $12 instead of $25. You can no longer drive up the canyon -- you have to take the free bus anyway. Court of the Patriarchs is one of the stops. Here's Abraham and Isaac. Jacob is MIA.

I saw some climbers out the roof vent of the bus. They now use things called chocks, which don't leave a permanent mark on the rocks.

Another stop for the bus is Weeping Rock. Alcove springs such as this occur when water-saturated Navajo sandstone, the predominant geologic feature in Zion, meet with older less permeable Kayenta clay-based mudstone.

The last stop up the canyon is the Riverside Walk, a 1-mile stroll up to the Narrows. From there on, you have to wade.

Once you pay your $12 walk-in fee, you can actually get into the park with your car, as long as you don't pick up a hitchhiker. I drove to Canyon Junction, where I took this shot of the Watchman.

Then drove through the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway tunnel to the East side of the park. This is the view through one of the windows in the tunnel.

The rock formations up there are spectacular!

Now for the last secret -- I stayed at a free spot, right along the Virgin River, just west of MM24 on Highway 9, between Rockville and Virgin. Big rigs may find it a little difficult, but it's great for everyone else.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Angels Landing

Another of my all-time favorite hikes, this one involves climbing 1500 feet to the top of this peak in Zion National Park. It's a little intimidating! I've done it before, but I'm a little older now. (Apparently, not any wiser...)

Two mule deer cheered me on.

On the first part of the hike, you go along the river, and then up a bunch of switchbacks.

Then go back through "Refrigerator Canyon," on the left side of the first picture.

Where you find "Walter's Wiggles," a set of 21 switchbacks --

More easily seen from above.

So far, the trail's been paved, but that changes rapidly. Chains help you climb over a hill.

Then you come to this. Wow! I have to climb that?

Once more, chains help you over the really bad spots, such as this very narrow rock with 1000' dropoffs on either side.

Don't look down!!!

After a half mile of rock scrambling, during which time I was too scared to take pictures, I made it to the top.

I made my way to the point, where I found -- Yoga Guy!

When he was done, he took my picture.

And I got a great view both down-canyon --

And up-canyon.

Going down was just as hard as going up, but I made it, and all in one piece.