Saturday, December 20, 2014

Merry Christmas Las Vegas

Looking for some Yuletide activities in Las Vegas? 

Christmas Tree at Lake Las Vegas
Check out these lists to find things to do in Las Vegas over the holidays:

The Review Journal’s page includes places to drop off toys and other donations:

KLAS TV Las Vegas (Channel 8, CBS) also has a guide to all kinds of holiday things in Vegas:

Personally, I recommend Opportunity Village’s Magical Forest. 

Santa and me. I think this picture was taken at the Charleston Plaza Mall.
Happy Holidays, everyone! Are you ready for Christmas? I don’t even have my tree up yet.
All pictures by me, Terrisa Meeks

Friday, December 12, 2014

Vegas Girl Flashback Photo Friday - Christmas and Old Vegas

Christmas in Las Vegas isn't all about glitzy displays on the Strip.

In 2011, my family and I staycationed at Lake Las Vegas over Thanksgiving. The Saturday after the holiday, Christmas decorations were out everywhere, including all over this boat at the Lake Mead Boat Harbor, which is obviously depicting Santa stashing presents for delivery on December 25 (and taking a break from the cold).
Merry Christmas, and don't sit on the boat.

When I went looking for my radio piece on KNPR about Christmas lights in Las Vegas, I found something surprising--a kind of cosmic Christmas gift--a recording my mom, Barbara Hudson, made in 2002 for KNPR's "Making Nevada Home" about celebrities in Old Vegas and the Vegas of the 60s, including a story about when I met Phyllis Diller

Have you been out to look at any Christmas lights, or seen any celebrities lately? I read somewhere that Nick Cage sightings are a thing these days.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Chloride, Arizona - An Artistic and Ghostly Town

Chloride, Arizona, asserts that it’s the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in Arizona.  In the early 1900s, it once had 5,000 residents and was the county seat. Today, it has a population of about 350. 

Downtown Chloride
Chloride is primarily known for the Roy Purcell Murals, just outside of town, down a dirt road that was in pretty rough condition the day we drove it. My hubby and I saw sedans on the road, but I was glad we were in a high clearance vehicle.

Roy Purcell Murals
After we took in the murals, we drove through Chloride several times, amazed at the sight of the trailers, RVs, houses, shacks, historical sites, mysterious rock cairns, abandoned buildings, piles of junk, and public folk art, all mixed together. It’s a winning combination of artistic and eccentric.

Once the train depot in Chloride
Over a lunch of French fries and a beer at Digger Dave’s (located on the only corner in town with a stop sign), the bartender told us that recent flooding had made the road to the murals impassable, but Digger Dave himself had fixed the road so people could still get to the canyon.

While we were having lunch, a young woman came into the bar and ordered a veggie burger and a Corona. She smelled of patchouli and had a text book and a notepad with her. We talked about the murals. “It’s amazing energy out there, isn’t it?” she said. She told me she’d come out to help a friend with a homestead for a few weeks and had stayed a few months (and didn’t know when she’d be leaving).

It’s easy to see how you could wind up staying in Chloride far longer than you anticipated. It’s my kind of place, full of the unexplainable draw of the desert.

Have you seen the Purcell Murals  or visited Chloride?
All pictures by me, Terrisa Meeks

Friday, November 28, 2014

Vegas Girl Photo Friday – Desert Adventures

This week, I climbed the Kelso Sand Dunes, and explored Chloride, Arizona, home to the Roy Purcell murals.
Approaching the Top of the Kelso Sand Dunes, Mojave National Preserve, California

Roy Purcell Murals Outside Chloride, Arizona

How did you spend your Thanksgiving Week? Naturally, in addition to adventures, we had lots of food at my house. 
All pictures by me, Terrisa Meeks.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Cold, Windy Hike to the Top of the Hill

Last Friday, my hiking buddy (and son) informed me that he wanted to climb a hill.

The cairn on the way to the top of the hill
On Sunday morning I asked him if he still wanted to go. “It’s cold and windy,” I told him.

“I don’t care,” he said.

If you’re a hiker, you can probably relate.

I suited up with a hat, a thick hoodie, and ChapStick, and toughed out the cold, 20 m.p.h. wind. I don’t know how long it took us to climb the hill, which I’d guess is about 300 feet high. From the top we had a great view of Red Rock and the Strip. 

The view from the top of the hill is always worth it, don’t you think? 
All pictures by me, Terrisa Meeks

Friday, November 14, 2014

Vintage Vegas - What’s a Camera Girl?

In Old Las Vegas showrooms, going to a show was totally different than it is today and involved far more people.
A modern Las Vegas showroom - Barry Manilow performing

Recently I was telling a co-worker about getting in touch with an old friend of mine who once was a camera girl.

“A what?” my co-worker asked. “What’s a camera girl?”

I hadn’t thought about the fact that someone living in Las Vegas might not know what a camera girl is.

It was one of the many positions that formerly existed in Vegas showrooms before stadium style seating took over and transformed the way people see a show.

At the last show I went to, Vegas! the Show, everyone stopped at the camera station as we went in. Snap, Snap, Snap, and we were on our way. This is the standard photo moment at any number of events and attractions. After the show, we got to examine our pictures and decide whether or not we wanted to buy them (nope!). It’s all pretty impersonal.

Back in the day, when you went to a Las Vegas show, things were different.

First, there was no stadium seating. There were tables and booths, and the best seats were obtained by knowing the maĆ®tre d’ and the showroom captain, and tipping well. People dressed up. There was a cocktail waitress, and at the early show there was a meal. Somewhere in there, the camera girl came around to ask you if you’d like to have your picture taken.

In an Old Vegas showroom, a camera girl had to be charming, attractive, a good photographer, and a great salesperson. My old friend, Cyndy, was all of those things. Here she is with Steve Perry of Journey. She appears to be extremely composed despite having her picture taken with a rock star, but she met a lot of famous folks in those days.

You can still find camera girls in some restaurants, but it’s not the same as it was when the job title of camera girl brought an immediate image to mind of a pretty young woman in a short skirt with a camera.

For some reason, although I spent a lot of time in showrooms, we never got our picture taken. I suspect it was because Dad didn’t have a way to get it comped—he always complained that the pictures were too expensive. 

Do you remember camera girls in the showrooms?
Photo of Barry Mannilow courtesy of PCDude2143 at flickr

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Art at Life is Beautiful 2014

The art at Life is Beautiful 2014 was everywhere: on the buildings, constructed out of wire, and at Art-tales at the Western.

The musicians and the chefs may have had the big names, but the artists certainly brought the food for thought.

Did you go to Life is Beautiful this year? What did you think of the art?
All pictures by me, Terrisa Meeks. See more of my Life is Beautiful pictures at flickr.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vintage Vegas – Halloween and Nevada Day

When I was a kid, I thought all children got a day off of school for Halloween.

When I was growing up in Las Vegas, we celebrated Nevada Day on the day the state gained statehood in 1864, October 31, no matter what day of the week it fell on.

This led me to believe that Halloween was a full-fledged holiday that everyone had off.

Here I am in those early days, before I understood that (sadly) the entire world did not get the day off to dress up and trick-or-treat.
Since 2000, Nevada Day has been celebrated on the last Friday of the month, which this year falls on Halloween.

You can learn more about Nevada Day history at the Civil War Re-enactments this weekend at Spring Mountain Ranch.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Sunday Drive to Mount Charleston

If you want to feel crisp fall air, take a drive to Mount Charleston.

I didn't see a lot of fall color on my drive up to Mt. Charleston last weekend, but the temperature was cool and the views were beautiful.

Mt. Charleston Peak (the bald peak) is on the far left and part of Mummy Mountain is on the right.

Mt. Charleston Lodge is at the top of the road in Kyle Canyon.

Mummy Mountain

View from near the visitor center that's under construction (thankfully taking the place of a failed golf course).

Have you been up to Mt. Charleston recently? Any more color over in Lee Canyon?

If you're looking for fall color, Utah and Arizona have beautiful mountain drives this time of year.
Pictures by me, Terrisa Meeks

Friday, October 17, 2014

Las Vegas Day Trips – Eldorado Canyon and Nelson, Nevada

Eldorado Canyon, about an hour’s drive outside Las Vegas, is a rugged desert canyon bursting with history and a wildly picturesque ghost town/museum.

If you’re a photographer, be prepared to almost faint when you see the restored ghost town of Nelson in Eldorado Canyon. It’s a popular backdrop for photogs in the know, so much so that a Google search results in several pages of wedding and portrait photography websites before you get to any actual history about the place.

Eldorado Canyon’s heyday was in the mid-1800s, when the canyon held many mines, most notably the Techatticup Mine (no longer producing gold, but now open for tours).

At the mouth of the canyon, Nelson’s Landing was once a port for steamships that traveled up and down the navigable portions of the Colorado River to the Gulf of California, then onward to the Pacific.

Many years after the miners and steamboats were gone, Nelson’s Landing was the site of one of Nevada’s worst disasters. In 1974 a massive flash flood destroyed a settlement at the mouth of the canyon. A 40-foot wall of water obliterated everything in its path, killing at least nine people and washing away trailers, cars, a restaurant, boats, and part of a dock.

Today, the wash bears no evidence of its former life. It looks as wild as it can be, except for the prevalence of trash and broken glass. It’s a popular place for jumping off cliffs and launching kayak tours upriver toward Hoover Dam.

We did not jump off any cliffs or do any kayaking, although we got a flat tire (quickly fixed by David, my hubby) and I took a lot of pictures. Actually, more than a lot… way, way more than a lot.

I briefly thought I was going to have to jump in the murky, weedy, nasty-looking water at the Lake Mojave shoreline when Gigi was apparently struck with the thought that it might be a good idea to jump in the water. 

She loves to play in shallow water, and when she saw the lake, she ran to its edge. Then she stopped her dainty splashing, gazed out at the lake and wiggled in her middle as though she planned on leaping in. “Don’t you even think about it,” I told her (with my “I mean business” voice), and she dutifully came back.

In Nelson, I took over a hundred pictures, while Gigi dragged David into shaded areas. I read later that Nelson has a terrible rattlesnake problem, which explained the pictures of the huge (dead) rattlesnakes I saw in the museum.

I was just glad I didn’t disturb any living ones while I was in a kind of photographic delirium, what with the old cars and the teddy bear cactus and the scattered, eclectic collection of old tools and memorabilia.

At the end of our wonderful day, we walked up to our car just in time to catch the first of the professional photo shoot crews arriving. Their model, who was dressed in an orange and yellow snakeskin body suit and stripper heels, was checking her make-up in the reflection of my Jeep’s back windows.

It was the perfect ending to the day.

Nelson makes a perfect Sunday outing. Be sure to gas up and bring food; there’s no restaurant or store. (And make sure you have a spare.)

Other great ghost towns not far from Las Vegas include Grafton, Utah, outside of Zion & Rhyolite, outside of Death Valley.

Do you have a favorite ghost town?
All pictures by me,Terrisa Meeks. You can see more pictures of my day in Nelson at flickr.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Off the Red Rock Loop - Calico Basin

A place with a boardwalk over a delicate meadow, a big picnic area, and desert trails.

For our hike last Sunday, Gigi and I went to Calico Basin.

First, we tootled around the boardwalk, which was full of families, late-blooming plants (thank you, rain), bees, dragonflies, and birds.

Next, we took the desert trail to the top of the small hill overlooking the parking lot.

It was a beautiful morning with not a touch of fall, just the thought of cooler days to come. Can’t wait.

Been out to Red Rock lately?
All pictures by Terrisa Meeks

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The First Hike of Fall

Last weekend the temps dropped to the 80° range in Las Vegas, perfect weather for carpe-ing the diem and heading to Red Rock for a hike with my dog.

It was actually more a “nature walk” than a “hike” since I didn’t even have to put socks on, but I think it counts as a hike any time the possibility exists, even remotely, that you might fall off a cliff.

One thing you’ll notice that’s absent from my pictures: hordes of people. I love the Red Rock Loop and Calico Basin, but both are loaded with people on the weekends. My objective, when hiking/nature walking, is to get away from people, which is why I headed to the trail just outside of 13 Mile Campground.

The ground was covered in tiny flowers, and the clouds were low.

My hiking buddy, Gigi, impatiently tolerated me snapping pictures. I knew it was time to put away the camera when she started whining to tell me, “Stop taking pictures and come on!”

Naturally, she was right. The desert is so beautiful that I have a hard time not photographing it, but its true beauty can only be experienced, not captured.

This hiking season, I plan to do more trails outside The Loop. Anyone have any favorite off-the-Loop trails?
All pictures by Terrisa Meeks

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Out with Firefly, in with Nacho Daddy

A Tony Hsieh restaurant fave is opening a location on West Sahara, taking over the building that formerly housed Firefly.

11/20 Update: All the renovations are done and Nacho Daddy "Summerlin" at 9560 W. Sahara is set to open on Tuesday, November 25, 2014.

Sept. 25, 2014: The Firefly sign came off the building last week and the dumpster’s getting full at the new Nacho Daddy location near Summerlin (for all of you who think Sahara and Grand Canyon is Summerlin, it’s not—but it’s really close).  

One of Nacho Daddy’s signature items is a shot of tequila with a scorpion (the “world famous scorpion shot”), which tells me that I’ll be looking for a certain kind of lunch companion when I visit their establishment. (And by “certain kind,” I mean “easily talked into swallowing a scorpion.”)

Firefly’s location now is 3824 Paradise Road.

Are you a Nacho Daddy fan?

Photo by Terrisa Meeks

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vegas Pics – Mother Nature vs. I15

Last week, Mother Nature decided to take out  I15. After the water subsided, the trucks got to work.

On Monday, September 8, flash flooding demolished large parts of I15 north of Las Vegas. After the waters receded, crews from Las Vegas went to work rebuilding the roadway.

My hubby was among the many who worked long hours last week to repair the interstate. He managed to get this shot of the damaged road.

It reminded of something my dad used to say: “We have flood control. When it rains, the flood is in control.”

Monday’s  flooding was extensive in Southern Nevada, Arizona, and parts of Southern California. What kind of damage have you seen after last week’s floods?
Photo courtesy of David Meeks

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vintage Vegas - Lake Mead in Better Days

At one time, it was unfathomable that Lake Mead might ever fail to support Las Vegas. There was no “bathtub ring,” and there were no worries about water shortages.

Today, we face a much different reality.

When I was a kid, the fact that Lake Mead was the nation’s largest reservoir was a matter of local pride.

My dad told scary stories about the lake that left me wary of going very far from shore: stories about man-sized catfish living close to the dam, people pulled underwater and swept away by the currents, and other PG versions of his bartender tall tales.
Me & Dad at Lake Mead
In my childhood years, my family enjoyed the lake from the safety of the marina (usually Echo Bay or Lake Mead Marina). Each marina had a restaurant and the Lake Mead Marina had a shop where you could buy bags of popcorn or bread to feed the carp, who went into a feeding frenzy almost as soon as the first scrap of food hit the water. My dad once lost a pair of glasses to a carp that had its mouth wide open at just the right moment.

Today, both Lake Mead Marina and Echo Bay Marina are gone from their original locations.

Lake Mead Marina moved and is now a part of what’s called Las Vegas Boat Harbor. In 2007, before it had to move, I was able to take my son to the Lake Mead Marina; it's mostly dry land in this area now.
Lake Mead Marina, 2007, in its original location. See the "bathtub ring" on the hill?
In 2011, my family staycationed at Lake Las Vegas, and we spent our days exploring the lake. We went to Echo Bay, and I was stunned to see how low the water was. I remembered going there as a kid, when the Echo Bay's hotel, restaurant, and bar were busy enough that my dad considered taking a job there.
Echo Bay in 2011
Last year, the Echo Bay Marina closed.  Over the past few months, several news outlets have featured pictures of the structure’s remains left sitting atop the dried-up former lake bed.

Low water levels are changing the appearance of the lake in drastic ways, and for those of us who’ve known Lake Mead for many years, seeing the water levels drop elicits a mix of sadness, fear, and wonder.

Do you remember Lake Mead before the “bathtub ring”?
All pictures by Terrisa Meeks