Lake Vegas, NV: 9/21 – 9/25/20

We travelled south on “quiet” Hwy 93 in eastern Nevada where the landscape is mostly barren except for sporadic shrub land and the occasional grouping of windmills. We drove approximately 345 miles in just under 7 hours. We missed the entrance for The RV Park at Circus Circus and had to drive around the block. Check out the old sign.

Our own personal mini Palm Tree to designate our site.

Although we were parked in a parking lot, it was a full hookup. We also had access to the outdoor pool, which was just for the RV Park guests. It was perfect for doing laps, and most of the time we had the pool to ourselves. We also had access to the Casino, which we did walk through to get on the strip. We had no interest in gambling, but I did want to see the inside anyway. Once was enough because it was too dark and stunk of cigarette smoke. How can that possibly be legal?

I chose Las Vegas to celebrate my birthday. I wanted to enjoy some more summer-like weather, and I had never been to Las Vegas before. Well, I was in for a big surprise – triple digit weather numbers! This was not quite what I was hoping for. Yet, we made the most of it. We took a daytime drive down the strip to familiarize ourselves with the area. For you football fans out there, the Raiders moved from LA to Las Vegas, and their debut at their new home, Allegiate Stadium, was tonight’s Monday Night Football game. We saw a flyover of seven fighter jets just before game time.

The Death Star
This city is pretty serious!
I had no idea that we would feel like we were back home!
Notice the mask!

The following morning we took at drive to the Hoover Dam and learned that it was completely closed to all visitors until further notice. So, we took the Lake Mead Parkway (Hwy 564) entrance into Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

“Lake Mead is a man-made lake that lies on the Colorado River, about 24 mi from the Las Vegas Strip, southeast of the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, in the states of Nevada and Arizona. It is the largest reservoir in the United States in terms of water capacity.” (Wikipedia)

There are several campgrounds (with and without hook ups), picnic areas (some with drinking water, but almost all with restrooms), and some easy and moderate hikes to enjoy. We drove to the Marina and then to Boulder Beach, which is on the western end of the lake. This is where we will launch our kayaks on Thursday.

We drove back to the strip and had lunch in France at Mon Ami Gabi. It sits opposite of The Bellagio Hotel, which is famous for its magnificent fountains. We parked on the rooftop of the Bellagio, and had to walk through the casino to get to the street. Bellagio was much cleaner than Circus Circus. Below is a picture taken on the ground floor near the lobby.

Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant
Thanks for the recommendation, Joan! The Warm Chicken and Brie Sandwich was delicious!
This was our “free” dessert offered via their website. If you visit, be sure to check online for various deals at restaurants.
Standing outside the Bellagio. The fountains were not on.

In case I never get to Paris, France, this picture of me standing in front of the Eiffel Tower will have to do. The fountains were not running, and we learned that they don’t go on until 3 p.m. We plan to drive by the night of my birthday. I must see them!

The next day the temperature hit 104 degrees! Even though they have low humidity, it was way too hot. Both Scott and I were taking daily swims in the pool as the water was very cool and refreshing. I am not quite sure how they do that, but I’m am glad they did. Besides swimming, it was a day to stay inside enjoying the A/C. I am happy to say that it works very well in our fifth wheel.

Thursday, September 24: My birthday!! My special day began with a drive to Boulder Beach at Lake Mead, kayak and paddle board in tow.

Birthday gift from my sister, Terry. Thanks!

Scott parked at the water’s edge and set up a tarp to block out some sun.

The air temperature was already at three digits, but the water was delightfully refreshing. The views were great, too.

It took us just over two hours to get to the dam. We took turns alternating kayak and paddle board. Scott was on the board when we finally made it to the dam. You can see how low the water level is by looking at the white section on the surrounding rocks.

My calm, cool, and collective husband loving his paddle board.
Somehow, the waves kicked up a bit when I got on the paddle board.

I was able to get my wish to see the Hoover Dam. Hopefully, we can come back here again some day and take the tour. I hear it is pretty amazing. It took us another two-plus hours of rowing and paddling to get back to the truck. The air temperature was over 100. We took a swim, rested for a bit, and then headed to I AM THAI CUISINE for lunch. Before my birthday, I had reached out on FaceBook asking for restaurant recommendations. There were quite a few, so we had to do some choosing. Because we had a dinner reservation in a few hours, we ordered some appetizers on line to hold us over since we had skipped lunch. When we arrived at the restaurant, our order wasn’t quite ready. Therefore, I was forced to enjoy a cold glass of white wine while we waited. Later, we enjoyed the best spaghetti “Agio E Olio” and meatballs on the planet at Ferraro’s.

Pre-dinner cocktails with our friendly Italian bartender.
Perfectly elegant dinner!

After dinner, Scott drove down the strip again. It was already dark outside, but the lights of the city were everywhere. I took nine small video clips while narrating the sights. I couldn’t possibly bore any of you by posting them. Let’s just say that I was truly enjoying myself, singing “New York, New York” as we passed by. You can only imagine. Below are two nighttime photos of Circus Circus. Cute.

Next stop, Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada: 9/18 – 9/21/20

Great Basin National Park, “a vast region of sagebrush-covered valleys and narrow mountain ranges named for its lack of drainage”, is located in the central eastern section of the state. “It’s streams and rivers mostly find no outlet to the sea, and water collects in shallow salt lakes, marshes, and mud flats to evaporate in dry desert air.” When we arrived at the park, one campground was closed and the other two were full.

This is becoming the norm as of late. Just outside of the park is the very small town of Baker. We were able to find a “full hook up” site in the parking lot of the only gas station in town. Kerouac’s Restaurant owns the only motel in town, StarGazer Inn, as well as the parking lot which has six full hookup sites.

The next day, we left Baker at 5,318 elevation and drove into Great Basin National Park to the Bristlecone-Alpine Lake trailhead. The hike begins at 10,000’ elevation. A lot of this trail was rocky.

You can see Rock Glacier in the distance.

We turned around and took the loop for the Bristlecone trees that we passed on the way. It is said that many of these gnarled trees date to more than 3,000 years old, alive since before the days of the Roman Empire, Cleopatra, or Alexander the Great. Their branches look like bristles on a brush.

Scott asked me to pose in front of it.

The trail continued to Lake Teresa and then Lake Stella. In all, we hiked 6.96 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,367’.

Lake Teresa was pretty dried up.
Lake Stella was a bit more bountiful.

For those afraid of heights, you can drive on Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive for some great views of Wheeler Peak. As hikers, we chose to take the fun way up. We hiked 8.7 miles to the peak at 13,063’ in six hours and 40 minutes, with a total elevation gain of 2,821’. The majority of the trail is rocky.

View of Lake Stella
10:00 a.m. A half hour into hike. We are still in shorts and a light jacket.
10:48 a.m. At this point, I was going to quit. I was tired and the trail was getting steeper and the air colder. Scott put pants, gloves and a hat on.

11:05 a.m. The wind is howling. Time to put more clothes on. I don’t really want to continue.
We made it! There was a register to sign in, along with the sign I am holding.
I ran across the ridge to the other side. Scott is on the high point waving to me. Zoom in.

I am glad that I made it to the summit. There is something very rewarding when you make it through a grueling hike. And, I am really happy when hiking back down! Next stop, Las Vegas baby!

Lake Tahoe: 6/13 -6/17/19

We continued driving north in California.  We spent the next several hours on State Route 49, also known as the “Golden Chain Highway” and the “Gold-Rush Trail.”  SR 49 is a north-south highway that passes through many historic mining communities of the 1849 California gold rush.  Highway 49 is numbered after the “49ers”, the waves of immigrants who swept into the area looking for gold.  Some of the towns we passed through were quite small and many had closed-down businesses.  It was exciting, though, to think about how rich some people became as a result of finding gold in this area a long time ago.

Lake Tahoe wasn’t on our original list of places to see while in California.  We thought that if we had extra time, we would drive by and check it out.  Since we were not able to find a campground at Yosemite, we decided to head north towards Lake Tahoe, and we were happy that we did. Here is a map of the area.

18E464C7-E3B9-48B4-856E-B160224E5741We entered from the south from Route 50 to 89 N.  There are only a few RV Resorts on Lake Tahoe that can accommodate trailers longer than 15 feet.  We were able to get a site, #162, at Fallen Leaf Lake Campground, but just for one night.  Without a reservation, they can only provide walk-ins with a one night stay.   We set up camp for the night, and off to sleep we went.  We got up early the next morning and took our bikes down to the Fallen Leaf Lake to do a little exploring before we had to leave.  You can see more snow-capped mountains off in the distance.  It was quite beautiful.

36326A3A-F7D0-4FAE-9E90-798FAD47057F

DC12ACF5-9086-47B9-AF9C-724D2695A8E4

95D994A4-A548-4E7D-B191-900244E138B2Afterwards, we hooked up the trailer, got back in the truck, and took a ride around the western shores of Lake Tahoe in search of our next spot.   One of the first state parks that we passed was the famous “Emerald Bay” obviously named for the crystal clear blue-green water.  This picture taken from the car does NOT do it justice.

 

21E1EC8A-1B80-4222-97FF-8CF8A107BEA2We continued farther north and found Sugar Pine Point State Park, which could handle larger RV’s.  

12B33830-C259-4C02-9E3E-BD899A33E55BSome government parks only accept on-line reservations 48 hours in advance.  They do, however, save a few spots but you are only allowed to stay one night.  I guess the concept is that they don’t want to turn away desperate, tired drivers.  They had a group spot, #44,  available for one night only.  We were told to check back the following morning after 9:00 a.m. to see if we could have that site (or possibly another site) for a second night.  This process continued for each night we stayed.  Luckily, we never had to move from the first spot.

70B75220-1287-4943-8982-989282823D43We got settled and then took a drive north to get our water toys inspected.  The inspection is free and mostly for boats with engines that can easily collect species from other waters in their motors.  They looked at our watercraft, asked where we were last, and then gave us the okay.  We stopped for a cold drink at River Ranch Lodge in Tahoe City before heading home.  

The following morning, I had my second bear encounter.  It was very exciting!!  The first video shows an adolescent Black Bear wandering outside our trailer.  I was inside our trailer taking the video.  He was meandering his way over to us when a noise startled him and he ran off.  Watch the video to see what scared him.  

Soon after, the bear started back towards our site.  If you zoom in, you can get a better look at him.  He was so close to the trees that it was difficult to see him.

Scott was cooking pancakes and the smell must have been drifting outside of our window.  The bear was just outside our door, about ten feet away.  Scott suggested that I open the door to get a better video.  My heart was racing with excitement and a little fear.  I knew if he started at me, I could just jump back into the trailer and close the door.  The bear appeared to be docile and non aggressive.  I opened the door, and began filming my conversation with the bear.  It went something like this, “Go bear. What do you want?  Why are you here?  This is my breakfast, not yours.”  The bear was tilting its head from side to side as if to say, “What are you talking about?” After a very long 30 seconds, I shut the door with excitement not believing that I had just talked to a bear!  Only problem was that I did not have the recorder on.  I must have hit it twice.  No video of my never-again-to-be-had experience with a friendly, real bear.  Gosh, I wish I had that video to share.  I will NEVER forget that moment.

Later that morning, we drove south from our campground to Baldwin Beach.

2D5D637D-5791-43E5-9A19-77770052819DWe parked our car in the lot, which was about a two-minute walk to the water.

1720CC00-5EB4-42AB-A7B8-AB16E515EB72We had to walk over a wet pond area in order to get to the beach to launch our kayaks.

FEA89D70-8B17-4164-96D0-D150B978796BScott and I carried my kayak together first, and then I waited by the water’s edge while he went back to get his.  Some locals offered to take my picture since I was struggling with my selfie.

EFE0D4C8-F62C-4049-8296-AC5964A26103It was a perfect day but we don’t have any more pictures from the water to share.  Scott had the GoPro but our footage is not post material.  The water wasn’t very calm as we had to deal with wakes from passing motor boats and jet skiers.  Scott did well on the Stand Up Paddle board.  I did not fair as well.  Not only did I lose my balance, but when I fell, I landed on my bad knee, and then I fell into the water.   We kayaked as far as Emerald Bay, only to realize that it looks so much prettier from up above.  The water, however, is clean and clear.  It reminded me of Lake George.  Below is a picture of Emerald Bay from the road above.

D8D1A410-06D4-4B5C-ABC0-EF762936C2B0We would like to come back to Lake Tahoe.  Next time we will make a reservation in advance.  Our next stop is Olema Campground near Point Reyes National Seashore.