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