Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Search For Cool

I’m not talking about smooth-talking, Jager-drinking, John Travolta cool… I’m talking about mountains, greenery, and bunny rabbits cool. Sitting outside and drinking lemonade cool. Not feeling faint when you leave air conditioning cool. This time of year, everyone is searching for a break from the heat. My favorite escape is the beach, but the mountains are nice, too. Finding any cooler temps around Las Vegas requires a long drive, but about an hour will take you to Mt. Charleston. (Keep in mind that about half of Las Vegas’ 2 million residents get the idea to head to Mt. Charleston on most summer weekend mornings, so you might want to try a weekday instead.)

Last year about this time, my son and I hiked the Cathedral Rock Trail in Kyle Canyon. The trail cuts across an avalanche field as it climbs to the top of Cathedral Rock, and last year the trail bore fresh evidence of an avalanche. Splintered trees had been flung down the mountain like pick-up sticks. A creative chain-sawer carved a bench from a downed log (picture above).

Mt. Charleston offers camping and picnic areas in both Kyle and Lee Canyons. Trails can be found throughout both canyons, and more intrepid hikers will want to make an assault on the Mt. Charleston summit, which is just under 12,000 feet. I’ve been there, and I’ll tell you two things: the view is stunning, and the trail’s rating of “strenuous” is putting it mildly. For those who would rather wear their hiking boots as a fashion statement instead of a necessity, Kyle Canyon is also home to two lodges: The Hotel on Mt. Charleston and the Mt. Charleston Lodge . Both facilities come complete with bars and restaurants—no hiking required.

If you don’t mind a longer drive (three to four hours), you can explore plenty of high altitudes in Utah, Arizona, and California. Check out Cedar Breaks and Brian Head in Utah, Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead in California, and the city of Flagstaff, Arizona. A six-hour drive will take you to Sequoia National Park in California, where the trees are so large they defy description. ____________________
Photo information: My pictures of Cathedral Rock Trail, August 2007

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Long Road

In case you’ve been wondering what the heck happened to the Vegas Girl, I can explain it very simply: a death in the family.

On May 6, my mom, Barbara Hudson, passed away. For her, the road to the end was short – cancer diagnosis on Sunday, on her way to the next world on Tuesday. For me, her only child, the road has been long and bumpy.

She was a pioneer Las Vegan, an adventurer in spirit—an explorer in her DNA, I believe. I’ve read the family history she left me, compiled by many of my family members over the years, and it only makes sense that my spunky Texan mother liked the Las Vegas of the 1950s and 1960s so much. Wide open spaces. A party every weekend. What’s not to like?

I miss being able to ask her questions like, “What did Dad call the guy who showed up to torch your restaurant for the insurance money?”

Her two-word e-mail reply: “Suitcase Harry.”

I’ve no one to ask these types of questions now.

She was a fellow writer, a woman who contributed her fair share of stories to KNRP’s old radio show, “Making Nevada Home.” I turned on an old stereo the other day, and was shocked to hear her voice on the tape deck, telling radio listeners about playing practical jokes on friends back in those early days. Seems that the Goodsprings Bar saw its fair share of new customers, dressed to the nines, looking for the gourmet restaurant. As you might imagine, the only thing the Goodsprings Bar had was broken floorboards and a pool table. When Mom and Dad fell victim to this joke Mom kicked off her high heels and tried to learn to play pool. Like I said, she was spunky gal.

To say that I miss her would be far worse than a simple understatement, but adjectives don’t help much, either: dreadfully, deeply, lovingly—nothing conveys that measure.
Photo courtesy of Ben Earwicker, Garrison Photography,