Over The Hill With Sherry

Traveling – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller

One of the things I have been doing while I am here in Phoenix for is to explore as much as I can and take advantage of all the great things that Phoenix and the surrounding area has to offer. So on this day June 9, 2018, it happened to be a Saturday. I woke up not really having anything planned as the days here in Phoenix have just been getting pretty hot for me and it is really hard to be outside doing much of anything. As the morning wore on I was feeling like I really wanted to get out and do something, so I hopped on my computer and started checking out some ideas, but still not sure what I was going to do. I tossed around checking out a few roadside attractions around Phoenix because I  could hop in and out of my car and still stay cool with an air-conditioned car. I also thought I would check out the museum at the Capitol building because that would be indoors and again could stay cool. So I first ran across a roadside attraction about this wall of road signs on the corner of 7th and Grant in Phoenix AZ. This sounding interesting and intriguing to me so off I went.

Those who drive by the old warehouse in downtown Phoenix might think it’s a hasty repair job thrown onto the side of the structure because the entire surface is covered with highway signs. Signs like “Do Not Pass,” “Reduced Speed Ahead,” and “Keep Right Except to Pass.”  It’s art done by Michael Levine, a Phoenix real estate developer,  who had them attached to the building in honor of Arizona’s centennial celebration in 2012.  Integrated into the signs are the numbers 1912 and 2012, denoting Arizona’s 100 years of statehood. Levine bought the signs from an Arizona state surplus yard more than a decade ago and used them to promote his agency, which specializes in buying and restoring old abandoned warehouses. But in 2011, he decided to use them to pay tribute to Arizona State centennial. He used a computer to lay out the design. Then crews using scissor hoists and battery-powered screwdrivers worked for more than 10 days and used 3,000 screws to affix the signs to the warehouse.

Next I decided to drive over to the Arizona State Capitol and check out the museum, but instead, I saw this park “Wesley Bolin Memorial Park” across the street from the capitol that had all these memorials. This was intriguing to me so I pulled into the parking lot which was practically empty except for just a couple of cars……which of course was because it was so hot.  But me being new to this summer heat decided I was going to brave it and check it out. I don’t even know what the temperature was this particular day, but it was hot. I ended up being at the park for a while because I kept having to go back to my car, turn on the air conditioner to cool off and to cool off my phone……it was so hot and with taking pictures my phone kept overheating, but I was determined to check out all these memorials as I was finding them very interesting and fascinating and I wanted pictures too.

First was the memorial for the “Code Talkers”………I did not know about the code talkers in our history of world war II, so this was really interesting to me.

 

During World War II, the United States Marines deployed 400 native Navajo speakers in tactical battlefield communication roles from 1942-1945, using their “unknown” language. The unbreakable code allowed Allied troops to coordinate with messages that enemy Japanese defenders never successfully deciphered. The Navajo code talkers essential role in actions on islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa was only officially acknowledged decades later.

An Arizona landscape architecture company designed the 16-ft tall bronze of a crouching, helmeted soldier code-talking on his field radio. The statue was installed and dedicated in February 2008.

Arizona Peace Officers Memorial was dedicated in May 1988. The statue is an 11-foot peace office paying homage to all Arizona law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The base displays names of officers killed in the line of duty since 1863 when Arizona became a territory. Police lodges throughout the state are responsible for upkeep and adding names in a special ceremony each year.

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Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Memorial was dedicated in 1965 in honor of Arizona police dogs who gave their lives in the line of duty.

 

Vietnam Veterans Memorial “The Fallen Warrior” Sculpture…..portrays young soldiers as wars victims as much as its heroes.

So many great memorials and monuments honoring individuals, organizations, and events……Arizona WWII Memorial Guns to salute the fallen, USS AZ anchor – this anchor is one of the two used on the USS Arizona, USS Arizona Mast, Korean War Memorial, Veterans of WWI, Jewish War Veterans Memorial, American Merchant Seaman Memorial, Arizona Pioneer Women Monument, Bushmaster Memorial, Fire Fighters Memorial, Bill of Rights Monument, Arizona Workers Memorial and many more. If you are ever in Phoenix this should be on your too do list.

I next visited St Mary’s Basilicia Church also in Down Town Phoenix……I really love old churches…… their beauty, and architecture. This church is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Phoenix. The current church replaced an adobe church that was built in 1881, this one began to be built in 1902 and was completed in 1914. This church is also home to Arizona’s largest stained glass window collection and a 26 rank pipe organ.

After leaving the Boyce William Arboretum I headed for Ray Mine…..this proably would not have even been on my radar to do except that my co-worker Joe told me about it. He was born and lived in Ray as a young boy. It sounded interesting and I decided to check it out. Ray Mine is a very large copper mine currently owned by Asarco. Ray Mine represents one of the largest copper reserves in the United States and in the world. Located near Kearny along scenic highway 177, the Ray Mine has a history dating back 140 years. The town of Ray, Sonoran, and Barcelona are no longer there…….these towns were torn down as the open pit mine expanded. The small town of Ray was founded in 1870, by 1873 prospectors were mining silver and by 1880 high-grade copper ore was being mined in Ray. From the early days, there were three different communities that were established by mine workers: Sonora, Ray, and Barcelona. Sonora was founded around 1906 and was mostly Mexican workers and their families who had come from nearby Sonora, Mexico. Ray was founded in 1909 as a company town to provide housing mostly for the Anglo miners. In 1911 a third town was founded by Spanish miners and name “Barcelona” after the city in Spain. By this time in 1911 large scale, copper production had begun. By the late 1940’s the Kennecott Copper Corporation running the mine at this time decided to abandon underground mining operations to open-pit mining. By the 1950’s the company had given notice to all residents of Sonora, Ray, and Barcelona that they would be required to abandon their homes no later than 1965. To accommodate the soon to be displaced families, the company built a new town named “Kearney”, which was 11 miles away and completed in 1958. By 1965, the once bustling towns of Ray, Sonora, and Barcelona were completely abandoned and swallowed up by the expanding open-pit. On May 1, 1999, a historical marker was placed on a site overlooking where the former towns once stood. This is where I went to view the Ray open pit mine and where the Sonora historical marker was placed.

 

 

 

I headed out of Phoenix early to visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park on Highway 60 just 3 miles outside of Superior, AZ. From Phoneix, it is a 67-mile drive…. an easy hour drive. With temperatures already reaching 90-100 degrees during mid-day I wanted to get there early when it was going to be cooler. Two years ago when I was in and around Phoneix in February the cacti were not in bloom, so now that I am in Phoenix for awhile I wanted to be sure I got a chance to see them. I had heard and read about the arboretum and wanted to make a visit here and thought it would be a great opportunity to see and experience all kinds of different plant life and blooming cacti as well as a little trail hiking. Boyce Arboretum did not disappoint me.

Entrance fees are reasonable $12.50 for adults 13 or older, $5.00 for children 5-12 and children 4 and under are free. The arboretum hours October to April are 8 am – 5 pm with no entry after 4 pm. May to September hours are 6 am to 3 pm with no entry after 2 pm.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona. It was founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility and “living museum” by William Boyce Thompson, a mining engineer who made his fortune in the mining industry. Boyce was fascinated with the landscape around Superior, so he built a winter home overlooking Queen Creek and beneath the towering volcanic remnant……Picketpost Mountain located in the Sonoran Desert on 323 acres.

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Upon my arrival at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, you pay at the window just inside the doorway and given a map of the grounds. In this entrance area, you will find a gift store, the restrooms, as well as plants to buy. You are then free to wander the grounds how and where you want at your own leisure. I followed the 1.5-mile main loop which took me a couple of hours as I took some short side trails, checked out so many of the cactus and varies plants and vegetation, took pictures, stopped to rest, relax and just enjoy.

BTA Map

Here are some things I saw on my trail walk……Flowers

Cacti

 

 

Gila Monsters, Twisted trees, Ayer Lake, Eucalyptus Trees, Mountains and Trails

 

The Clevenger House…….a stone and mortar building was home for a family of 5 in the early 1900’s. Robert Clevenger and his family were homesteaders who made their living by truck farming along Queen Creek. They left this area in the early 1920’s. This building was purchased along with the surrounding land by William Boyce Thompson. It was remodeled as a playhouse for his grandchildren. Today it is used for drying and displaying herbs as well as a cool respite from the summer heat.

By the time I had finished up the loop, it was getting midday and the temperatures were really starting to warm up. It was a great day, really enjoyed this place. Now off to Ray Mine.

 

 

After being here at my new job about a month my co-workers Don and Caroline invited me to go off road riding on two different occasions to Crown King on February 4th and February 17, 2018. On both of these trips we were up bright and early with the car hauler hitched to Don’s truck and loaded with the Cam Am’s. The drive is about 60  miles outside of Phoenix on I-17, exit 248 to Bumble Bee/Crown King.

After exiting the highway we drove about 3 miles on a two-lane paved road to a staging spot where we parked and met 3 other couples/friends who were joining us for the day. After unloading the off-road vehicles, checking everything over and packing up with water and face coverings for the dust we were off and running. I rode with Caroline in her orange and black CamAm……The vehicle has a roll bar cage, I was all buckled and strapped in, had my bandanna wrapped around my face to help keep out the dust. I have done a lot of off-road riding in my dad’s Bronco growing up, with our quads and dirt bikes with my kids, but I had not been riding in these Cam-Am’s….what a thrill they are. These things are fast and we were barreling up the dirt road 50-60 miles an hour, going around corners and skidding the back end. Caroline is a good driver but I have to say I was holding on to the safety bar pretty tight… as the day went on I relaxed.

The ride to Crown King was to be about an hour and a half….our first stop for a break and cold drink was at an old mining/ghost town called “Cleator” population 8 is what the sign on the side of the building says. There is not much to Cleator except for a few ramshackle buildings. The highlight to the stop was the Cleator Bar and Yacht Club with cold beers and soda which is also an “old” building. This place was a crazy, fun twist to a bar in the desert. The staff is friendly, the walls are plastered with $1.00 bills, wooden floors, knick-knacks, pictures and memorabilia from the past. Outback, the bar is all decked out in a Nautical/Beach theme with a big pontoon boat, surfboards, buoys and jet skis along with a stage where live bands play on the weekends.

This community located in the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains began in the late 1800’s as Turkey Creek. It later became Cleator, after James Cleator bought the town and named it after himself. The town is still owned by the Cleator family.

We then continued on about 10 more miles to another mining/ghost town of Crown King. Crown Kings sits 6,000 feet high in the Bradshaw Mountains. The only way to get there is on a 27-mile dirt road with many switchbacks……Here at Crown King, you will find a general store which has been operating since 1904, several places to eat, a few travel trailers and many historic cabins. A population of only 133 people, it is also home to The Crown King Saloon, one of the oldest bars in the Western United States. The original owner, Tom Anderson, was a miner who worked at the Crown King Mine and mill. Shortly before the mine closed, he purchased a butcher shop and in 1906 he moved this butcher shop piece by piece from Ore Belle, just two miles up the road to Crown King, where it later became The Crown King Saloon & Café. The saloon is full of history and has been a very big part of the community in Crown King, Arizona.  It also survived Prohibition, numerous city fires, and time. The Crown King Saloon is a piece of living history that you can personally sit in, order a drink and a meal.

From Crown King, we headed up the road another few miles to a place called Horse Thief Lake, its a small lake with a dam and lots of cattails. We stopped here for a bit to stretch our legs, took a hike across the dam and around the lake.

Then it was time to turn around and head back with a stop at Cleator Bar for some cool refreshments to wind up the day. It was an absolutely awesome, great day!

 

Here we are January 2018, the start of another brand new year……I arrived here in Phoenix, AZ January 1, 2018, after spending 10 months living and working at the Grand Canyon. I had only been in town for a few days but I was ready to start exploring Phoenix. I was on my computer googling things to do and see when I ran across the Glitter and Gold Balloon Festival that was being held the evening of January 6th. As I read all about the festival and the fact it was free I was ready to go. I checked in with a few friends I have here in Phoenix to see if any of them wanted to go, but they all had other plans…but you all know me, I am good going solo and that’s a topic for another time. So I made my plans to go, it was a short 10-15 minute drive from where I am living and working to downtown, historic Glendale. I found a parking lot not far from where all the activities were taking place so it was just a short walk. The city had blocked off 16 blocks to traffic for the festivities. The Glitter and Gold Balloon Festival is an annual event and this year was its 23rd year. It was festive time with several glowing hot air balloons lined up and down the main streets, plus 1.6 million LED lights strung around in trees, bushes, etc in the park, 8 different local bands, food and even carnival rides and games for the kids. I really had a good time at this festival……I have seen hot air balloons over the years flying in the sky, but I had never gotten the chance to get up close and personal with them. It was amazing to watch as the balloon owners showed up in their trucks, or trucks and trailers that carried their balloons, then watch as a team for each balloon unfolded their balloon in the street on a tarp, stretched it out and then filled with gas to rise up into the night sky (none of the balloons flew). People were able to wander around, watch the balloons being set up, watch them periodically get a zap of gas flame to keep them standing, you could talk to the owners, ask questions, etc. There were a few special shaped balloons……the bumblebee and a mass glow where the balloon pilots fired up the balloons all at once to create an awesome illumination.

LED lights in the park

Balloon owners rolling out their balloons.

So many balloons

Up close and personal

I found this band that I really enjoyed playing classic rock, oldies, and some country

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And just some miscellaneous

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens is a gem in the city of Portland. If you want to get away to nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city this is the place to go. It’s located at 5801 SE 28th Street off Hwy 205 near Reed College. This place was recommended to me while I was dog sitting for my son for a week. This is a 9 1/2 acre botanical garden which contains a collection of Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Shrubs, Trees and other plants. It has a spring fed lake surround much of the garden, which attracts quite a bit of waterfowl (ducks, geese, etc) that nest and feed in this natural habitat. As a visitor, you will stroll past three small waterfalls, two bridges, fountains and wander along shaded paths to the lake. There are more than 2,500 Rhododendrons, Azaleas, and other plants, which have all been donated by volunteers, interested individuals or purchased with donated funds. There are also 94 different species and the oldest Rhododendron was planted in the 1800’s.  Admission is very cheap $4.00 for adults and children 12 and under are free. In the winter months (The day after Labor Day through February admission is free). On weekends, some areas may be off limits due to special events. You can call ahead to find out.

 

 

 

I made a stop at The Grotto off Hwy 205 in Portland Oregon. I had visited here last December around Christmas time and it was a really amazing place and very peaceful. Its a place where you can meditate, pray and find peace in a very hectic, stressful world. Because it was winter much of the vegetation was dormant other than a few of the beautiful trees and shrubs that were still in fall colors. At that time, I had told myself I needed to come back in the Spring when everything would be in bloom and so I did.

The Grotto is a National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother – A Roman Catholic outdoor shrine and sanctuary. The Grotto was constructed in 1924 – a cave carved out of the 110-foot basalt cliff with a statue of Mary holding Jesus’s crucified body.

The grounds cover 62 acres of pathways, forest, and upper-level botanical garden that sits above the cliff and has beautiful views.

The Valley of Fire State Park was such an amazing, beautiful place! It was one of those places where the scenery and landscape just kept changing and dazzling me at every turn and bend in the road.

Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert about 58 miles Northeast of Las Vegas. Valley of fire is the oldest Nevada state park and was dedicated in 1935 and covers about 35,000 acres. Named for its magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago. These formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. A 10.5-mile road connects the east and west entrances to the park.

Rainbow Vista is a viewpoint where the road reaches the top of a low ridge revealing a vast area of multicolored rocks stretching for miles. Rainbow Vista was also carved from sand deposits 150 million years ago.

Seven Sisters are a series of stone formations that were once part of nearby red rock formations. These rock towers are all that is left after the relentless forces of erosion stripped away the surrounding sandstone deposits. Numerous “blow holes” in the formations forecast the eventual destruction of the towers that will take place many thousands of years into the future.

A few other miscellaneous photos

Death Valley was an amazing place to visit. So much more beautiful than I ever thought. My friend, Becky, and I left Las Vegas early and drove two and a half hours on Hwy 95 to Beatty, which is the east entrance to Death Valley. Our first stop was the Rhyolite Ghost Town which was an interesting place. I did not know anything about this place when we arrived and there really is no information around at the site that tells you anything, so it wasn’t until later that I did some research on Google and found out more about Rhyolite that I will share with you. Two men, Shorty Harris and Ed Cross were prospecting in the area in 1904 when they found quartz all over a hill that was full of gold. In a very short time, thousands of people soon arrived and several camps were set up. A townsite was laid out and given the name Rhyolite for the silica-rich volcanic rock in the area. There were 2000 claims that covered an area of 30 miles. The most promising claim was the Montgomery Shoshone mine, which prompted everyone to move to Rhyolite. The town soon was booming with hotels, stores, a school, ice plant, electric plant, machine shops and a miner’s union hospital. A stock exchange and Board of Trade were even formed. The townspeople had baseball games, dances, church picnics, variety shows and pool tournaments at the opera house.  In 1906, Countess Morajeski opened the Alaska Glacier Ice Cream Parlor and a miner named Tom Kelly built a Bottle House out of 50,000 beer and liquor bottles. In April 1907, electricity came to Rhyolite, and by August, a mill had been constructed to handle 300 tons of ore a day at the mine. It consisted of a crusher, 3 giant rollers, over a dozen cyanide tanks and a reduction furnace. The Montgomery-Shoshone mine had become nationally known because Bob Montgomery once boasted he could take $10,000 a day in ore from the mine. It was later owned by Charles Schwab, who purchased it in 1906 for a reported 2 to 6 million dollars. The financial panic of 1907 took its toll on Rhyolite and was seen as the beginning of the end for the town. In the next few years, mines started closing and banks failed. Newspapers went out of business, and by 1910 the production at the mill had slowed and there were only 611 residents in the town. On March 14, 1911, the directors voted to close down the Montgomery Shoshone mine and mill and in 1916 the light and power were finally turned off in the town. Today you can find several remnants of Rhyolite’s still standing……Mercantile Store, School, 3 story Cook Bank, and Overbury Building. The Las Vegas & Tonopah Train Depot is one of the few complete buildings left in the town, as is the Bottle House. After the town was completely abandoned the Bottle House was restored by Paramount pictures in January 1925 for a film. The bottle house is the oldest and largest bottle house in the United States. Rhyolite is not within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.

 

Goldwell Open Air Museum

An outdoor sculpture park at the entrance of the ghost town Rhyolite.

The Museum began in 1984 with the creation and installation of a major sculpture by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski titled “The Last Supper”– a ghostly interpretation of Christ and his disciples set against the backdrop of the  Amargosa Valley.

To make the life-size ghost figures, Szukalski wrapped live models in fabric soaked wet plaster and posed them as in the painting “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci. When the plaster set, the model was slipped out, leaving the rigid shroud that surrounded him. With more refining, Szukalski then coated the figures with fiberglass making them impervious to weather.

Since then six additional pieces were added to the site by three other Belgian artists who, like Szukalski, were major figures in European art who chose to create in the Nevada desert near Death Valley in the early 1990s.

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Shortly after leaving Rhyolite Ghost Town we entered Death Valley National Park. Death Valley is the lowest, driest and hottest area in North America. It covers more than 3.3 million acres of beautiful desert scenery, desert wildlife, undisturbed wilderness and sites of historical interest. Nearly 550 square miles lies below sea level. Death Valley was named by gold seekers, some of whom died crossing the valley during the 1849 California Gold Rush.

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At Furnace Creek, there is a visitor center and headquarters of Death Valley National Park. Furnace Creek was once the center of Death Valley Mining and operations for the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the historic 20 mule teams hauling wagons of Borax across the Mojave Desert. There are a few remnants and ruins of the Harmony Borax Company as well as the 20 mule wagons. After the discovery of Borax deposits in 1881 business associates, William Coleman and Francis Smith obtained claims to the deposits which opened the way for the large-scale borax mining in Death Valley. The Harmony Borax Company became famous from 1883 to 1889 for the use of the 20 mule team-double wagons which hauled Borax along the Overland route to the closest railroad in Mojave, CA. During the summer, when it was so hot to crystallize borax in Death Valley, a smaller borax operation shifted to the Amargosa Borax plant which is near present-day Tecopa, CA. The Harmony Borax Company remained under Colemans operation until 1888, when his business collapsed. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 1974

Salt Creek Pup Fish

As Becky and I drove along the main road of Death Valley we saw a sign that said “Salt Creek” and we could see off in the distance other cars so we decided to get off the main road down this white, dusty road to see what Salt Creek was all about. Little did we know that it was home to the “Pup Fish”.  There is a one-mile boardwalk that loops along the creek through low thickets of pickleweed and saltgrass. The creek is a very shallow, slow running salinated creek. Looking at it you would wonder how anything could survive in it, but the Pup Fish are so very tiny and there are thousands of them and boy are they tough little fish who seem to survive in some pretty harsh conditions.

The Pup Fish cannot escape from this creek that fluctuations in temperature year round. The Pup Fish are among the most heat-tolerant of all fishes. They have been known to survive water temperatures at 112 degrees. The Pup Fish is so adapted to the warm water that they must burrow into the mud and become dormant when the shallow stream becomes cold in the winter. They also survive the high levels of salt in the creek. Pup Fish can survive in water 2-3 times saltier than seawater. Salt Creek evaporates in the summer and the dissolved salts become even more concentrated. Fish living in fresh water can absorb water through their body by osmosis, but the Pup Fish must drink to get their necessary water. Excess salts are then excreted through their kidneys and gills.

 

Viva Las Vegas!……..Wow! what a great week and a half I had here. So much fun!

I arrived in Las Vegas and hooked up for a late afternoon lunch with a childhood friend from my hometown of Truckee CA….I had not seen Vickie since she moved away during our Freshman year of high school. It was so great to see her and get caught up on each other’s lives and our families.20160318_184317-1

I then went to Sam’s Town KOA where I had reservations for my RV. This place was the best camping rate I have had on my whole trip so far. I basically ended up storing my RV here for a week since I was meeting up with my friend Becky from back home in WA who has a timeshare at the Polo Towers just one block off the strip. It made more sense to stay there for the week where we had two bedrooms, my own bathroom and small kitchenette, a living room, kitchen and dining room, a swimming pool and hot tub.

I arrived in Las Vegas first, Becky was flying in later that night. I found my way to the Las Vegas strip via a shuttle bus from Sam’s Town to Harrahs. I only had a few hours before it was going to get dark so I did not wander too far and I just wanted to get on the strip and just take it all in. It was just amazing with all the people, the grandiose size of the casinos and all the different shapes, sizes, colors, and sounds. I loved it! I made my way down to Treasure Island and tried my luck at gambling………No luck……. lost $40.00!

My friend Becky arrived later that evening, she picked me up in her rental car from Sam’s Town KOA and made our way to Polo Towers. We had so much catching up to do plus make our plans for the week that we were up till 4 A.M.

Here are random pictures of Las Vegas strip during the week:

Here are other weeks activities:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon is located about 17 miles west of Las Vegas. A very easy, nice drive to get to. We took the 13-mile one-way scenic drive loop which was just beautiful. Best time to get there is in the morning before it gets too crowded. The area has miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, bike riding, and picnic areas.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Spring Mountain Ranch is a small preserve within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I did not know anything about his place, but my friend, Becky wanted to check it out and I am glad we did. It has a really interesting history. The many springs in the mountains provided water for the Paiute Indians and later brought mountain men and early settlers to the area. In the mid-1830s, a campsite was established along the wash that runs through the ranch. The spring-fed creek and grassy meadows formed an oasis for travelers using the alternate route of the Spanish Trail through Cottonwood Valley. The use of the site by pack and wagon trains continued until their replacement by the railroad in 1905. This remote trail was also used extensively by outlaws involved in Indian slave trading, horse stealing and raids upon passing caravans. In 1840, a group of American mountain men and Ute Indians conducted a famous raid on the Mexican Ranchos in California. Mountain Man Bill Williams, a member of the raiding party, brought his band of horses through Red Rock Canyon where he rested the horses from the hard trip across the desert. Apparently, he revisited the area several times and for many years the site of Spring Mountain Ranch was known as the “Old Bill Williams Ranch”. In 1876, Spring Mountain Ranch was homesteaded as the “Sand Stone Ranch” by Jim Wilson, a former Army sergeant from Fort Mohave. In 1929, Willard George, a friend of the Wilson family, acquired the ranch by paying off the outstanding debt incurred by Jim Jr. and Tweed. George was largely an absentee owner, leaving the ranch operation to the Wilson’s. During 1941-43, the George family lived on the ranch. George was a prominent furrier in Hollywood, and during this time, he raised chinchillas in addition to the cattle operation.

In 1944, George leased (with the option to buy) to Chet Lauck, (Lum of the “Lum and Abner” radio show). Lauck exercised his option to buy the 520-acre oasis in 1948 and renamed the property the “Bar Nothing Ranch”. He kept the cattle operation going but built part of the ranch into a family vacation retreat with an expanded ranch house, a boy’s camp and a large reservoir that he named “Lake Harriet,” after his wife. He sold the property in 1955 to Vera Krupp, a famous German movie actress. She renamed the property the “Spring Mountain Ranch”. Krupp was the longest residing owner. She expanded the business of ranching by raising a large herd of a hybrid strain of white-faced Hereford and Brahma. She added a swimming pool and expanded the west wing of the main house. It was her principal residence until 1967. Sometime after that, Howard Hughes owned the place for a while. Three generations of Wilson men are buried in a small family plot on the ranch.

Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve is the birthplace of Las Vegas and is located about 3 miles west of downtown Las Vegas. Springs Preserve is 180 acres of culture and history that sits on the site of the former springs. There are exhibits, galleries, walking trails and botanical gardens that teach visitors about the city’s rich heritage.

The Origen Experience teaches visitors about the springs early inhabitants. The Natural Mojave Gallery has interactive exhibits that explore the geological history of the Mojave Desert and the formation of the valley and springs. Vistors can play with fossils, see how desert animals adapted and learn about erosion. There is also a flash flood re-creation to show the danger of flooding in the area. Vistors are also able to see a variety of live wildlife that live in the desert…..the Gila Monster, Lizards, Bats, Snakes, Desert Cottontail Rabbits, Tortoises and a Gray Fox.

The People Gallery focuses on the city’s cultural history and development. Vistors can see reconstructions of Native American dwellings, walk through a 1905 Las Vegas land auction and view actual footage from the construction of the Hoover dam, the arrival of the railroad which put Las Vegas on the map.

The Nevada State Museum is a 70,000 square foot state of the art building that is within the Springs Preserve. The permanent exhibit takes you through Nevada’s geology, fossil, and desert wildlife. Vistors learn about mining to early settlers—minerals that were mined, tools and technology of the mining profession. The railroad boom, the formation of Nevada’s government and construction of the Hoover Dam. The museum takes you through the Native American inhabitants of Nevada, the Nevada nuclear test-site, WWII history, Bugsy Siegel and the Flamingo Hotel. Displays of old slot machines, neon signs and a $25,000 poker chip from the Old Dunes Hotel. A 1911 Desert Love Bug that is considered one of the most popular cars to cruise Fremont Street….used mainly for promotional purposes, it made its first appearance in a parade in 1939 and its last in 1994. The museum has an amazing collection of vintage showgirl costumes…..lining a large pink sequined wall, the costumes and headpieces are encased behind glass windows. The Museum also has revolving temporary exhibits that change every few months.

Hoover Dam

The last time I made the trip to Hoover Dam I was 14 years old. My uncle and cousins at the time lived in Boulder City and we had made a trip to see them. At that time we were able to drive across the dam, we took the tour and also spent time on Lake Mead. I wanted to return and see Hoover Dam again but due to the changes of the new freeway, security and congestion I chose not to drive on the dam or take the dam tour. Becky and I found in our research a museum in Boulder City that was only $2.00. This museum is small but so worth the $2.00. It was full of great information….. a movie about the building of the dam that was great, the displays and exhibits were well laid out to describe the social and economic struggles from the 1929 stock mark crash and depression that drove thousands of unemployed citizens from their homes into the Nevada desert where the Hoover Dam project was one of the few places where men could get work. Photographs, artifacts, and oral histories tell the story and give you a sense of the complexity, and danger of the construction of the dam. The museum also had displays and exhibits that showed how they lived ordinary lives in an extraordinary time and place, how the women set up their households in the sandy Nevada desert along the Colorado River and the dangers that the men faced in building the dam….an engineering project unlike any attempted before.

The museum is located in the Boulder Dam Hotel……The hotel was built to accommodate official visitors and tourists during the building of the Hoover Dam. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style. The hotel was restored and still operates with 22 rooms.

Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

A new freeway opened across the Colorado River above Hoover Dam in October 2010 which rerouted US 93 from its previous route along the top of the Hoover Dam. The previous narrow, two-lane road could no longer handle the 14,000 cars that passed over the dam every day causing congestion. The road was dangerous with two hairpin turns, blind curves, and pedestrian traffic. There were also vehicle restrictions on the Hoover Dam, loaded trucks and buses could not pass over it. Since 9/11 trucks and other unauthorized vehicles have had to go through Laughlin, NV to cross over the Colorado River and other vehicles were subject to inspection due to increased security.

Since the building of the Hoover Dam was an engineering feat that had never been done before it seems fitting that the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was also a new engineering feat. Construction of the bridge approaches began in 2003, construction of the bridge began February 2005. The bridge was the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States and it incorporates the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. It sits 840 feet above the Colorado River and is the second highest bridge in the United States. The new bridge is 4 lanes wide and has a pedestrian sidewalk which provides spectacular views of the Hoover Dam. To reach the pedestrian sidewalk there is a parking lot and interpretive plaza on the old road to Hoover Dam. The bridge was named for Mike O’Callaghan a decorated Korean War Vet and Governor of Nevada from 1971-1979, and Pat Tillman, an American football player who left his career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the US Army and was later killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.

Fremont Experience-Old Downtown Las Vegas

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You can’t leave Las Vegas without visiting Fremont Street! What a fun place this was from people watching, free entertainment and street acts! A fun atmosphere!

Here are a few highlights from Fremont Street:

Light Show-The Viva Vision canopy is the worlds largest video screen, an awesome musical, light entertainment experience with a 550-watt speaker system!

Zipline-We did not go on the zip line but it sure looked like everyone who was doing it was having a lot of fun. The zip line runs the whole length of the canopy above everyone’s head. There is the lower “Zipline” which is 77 feet and the upper” Zoom line” which is 114 feet.

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Vegas Vic stands watch over the Pioneer Gift Shop

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“Glitter Gulch” – A nickname given to downtown Las Vegas because of all its dazzling lights.

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Golden Nugget Casino- is the home to the world’s largest nugget and the “Tank” which is home to sharks and other fish with a water slide running through it

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Heart Attack Grill-We saw this place but did not go in. It apparently is a one of a kind restaurant, there is a scale outside and anyone who weighs over 300 pounds eats free.

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Binions  Casino opened in 1951 and was the first casino in Las Vegas to have carpeting.

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4 Queens Casino has been around since 1966

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Fremont Hotel and Casino opened in 1956 and was the tallest building in Nevada when it opened.

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Free entertainment and Street Acts

Before leaving Las Vegas I got to see another old friend from high school and my hometown of Truckee, CA. It happened that Joann and her husband, Scott were having a small family reunion with Scott’s family in Las Vegas and were in town the same time I was. We were able to hook up on a Friday night at the place they were staying at to catch up and had awesome BBQ elk. It was another great time seeing an old friend I had not seen since high school…. 42 years!DSC00065

 

 


   
OUR NEWELL ADVENTURE

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