Monday, March 31, 2008

Seibt Desert Resort, Pahrump

We traveled a whopping 9 miles across town to the Seibt Desert Resort. They have recently become affiliated with KOA and, believe me, it is not like a KOA you have stayed at before! It was a great place with desert landscaping, large area rock, waterfalls and trees. The RV sites themselves were all asphalt and this, in itself, was a treat after being on crushed gravel or dirt. I will say that the way they laid out the sites for the park was quite tight if the park was full. Fortunately, it was not the peak season there so there was a lot of room. The views of the mountains from our site were great though.

The pool area, or should I say the multiple pool area, was beautiful. It was also landscaped to perfection. There were two levels of pools and a waterfall to bring them together. Plenty of patio area and nice tables was the perfect place for a gathering for lunch. And gather we did! We invited two couples over from Las Vegas for lunch. Gary and Patsy we have know for almost two years and they happened to be in Las Vegas near their friends Jim and Shirley, who became our friends, as well, at a recent Monaco Rally. We had a great time at lunch and conversing next to the pool.

After lunch we walked the grounds of this resort looking at the water features in the park and the fitness center with its sauna, hot tub and exercise equipment. Nicely done! A day earlier as Peg and I were walking, we saw a small park-like area and we figured out it was for your pets. It had two wash sinks and tables, a sitting area and one rather unique feature. For the owners of a male dog, it had a fire hydrant complete with a flush rinse system to clean the hydrant and concrete drain off after the dog wizzed. Now that's one for the books!! Enlarge the picture (double click it) to see it better!

It was nice to see Gary and Patsy and Jim and Shirley again and we had a good time looking around this nice RV resort.

We met our neighbors in the park, John and Carol, and they were creating their own RV park in Alaska. It should be operational this summer and they said if we do a story on the park with American RVer, they would trade us out a site there. I hope we can take them up on that!

Another couple we met was Bill and Lillie. They were in a 30' Newmar with a lift to get Lillie into and out of the motorhome. Lillie has Parkinson's disease and can no longer walk with out the help of a walker. It was very interesting to see how they adapted to the RV lifestyle. We actually shot a segment of the American RVer show with them that will be online as the May 2008 show. Check it out if you get a chance....

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Pahrump Winery & Symphony's Restaurant

Since the Pahrump Valley Winery is located right next door to the Charleston Peak RV Park, we thought it prudent to visit and sample their goods. One of the owners, Gretchen, hosts the winery tour each day, seven days a week. She took us to the small area where they are growing their own grapes. She mentioned that they are "training" the grapes to grow properly since the winery was left in rather poor shape when they first purchased it several years ago. They can get about 1000 bottles of wine from their own grapes but they put out over 100,000 bottles a year so they have to import grapes from California.

We just happen to time things right since they were bottling some wine as we were touring the
facilities. They only bottle at certain times and they actually bottle the wine manually, as you can see in these photos. Their wine list consists of 12 featured wines, from white to red. their most popular wine, Symphony, is also the name of their restaurant. They also have a gift shop.

Peg had lunch at Symphony with Judy, a friend she met upon our arrival at this park. She said the food was very good and the prices reasonable. We videotaped at the winery for our American RVer show, and it will be one of the segments of the May podcast. Gretchen and her husband, Bill, do a great job of running this winery, the oldest and one of only three in the state of Nevada!

In September of this year, by invitation only, the Pahrump Winery will uncork a 15 year old wine made from the original
grapes grown here at this location. All the proceeds will go to charity...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome To Sheri's Ranch (& Brothel)

Today was the day Rod and I had been waiting for for a week now. Today is the day he, I, Peg and Jean were to have lunch at the famous Sheri's Ranch. This is no ordinary ranch although there are cowboys (kind of) and cowgirls (sort of) and I hear they all do some ridin'!!

Several of our RVing friends that have been to Pahrump told us that Sheri's is a "must see". So, we decided to see...Lunch was good but the tables were in the smoky bar area so that detracted from our meal a bit. The "ladies" milling around waiting for business added a unique atmosphere as we ate lunch and, after lunch, the Madam asked if we wanted a tour of the ranch. Without hesitation, we said yes...Or was it just Rod and I that said yes...anyway, our tour guide was "Ashley" and she took us into the parlor where the girls would normally line up so you can pick your "escort". It looks like a living room, complete with a piano.

We were then taken down the hallway to the various rooms provided for your enjoyment! There's a Bachelor Party Suite, The 60's Bungalow, The Safari Bungalow, The Jacuzzi Suite, The Budweiser Jacuzzi Suite (Budweiser is their sponsor!), and there is even an S & M suite for those more daring! One room even has a fancy dining table with intimate surroundings so you can dine before you take your partner into the adjoining bedroom.

Ashley told us that the girls work 2-3 weeks, 24 hours a day and then they are
off for a while. There were 40 girls working at Sherri's Ranch at the time we were there. They are not allowed to go off premises or into town while they are working. The ranch also has a hotel, pool, tennis courts and nicely manicured grounds.

We thanked Ashley for the tour, slipped her a little pocket money, and we were off. Of course the burning question on my mind was, "Do you give out free samples?" Well, at least we can all say we've been there!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

We Venture Into Death Valley!

From Pahrump, Death Valley, which is in California, is about an hours drive away. Our RV friends Rod and Jean, who were staying at this RV Park, were nice enough to drive and we headed out to the valley. Rod is into geocaching and he has a small GPS to find the cache. The different caches are listed on a geocaching website. I asked Rod if he would find one near Death valley do we can search for one, which he did. It was actually on Rt. 190, the road to Death Valley. We did find the cache and here we are enjoying the spoils!

Moving on, we first stopped at Ash Meadows, a wildlife preserve. I am glad we stopped because we saw some very interesting things. We drove over to Kings Pool near the Point of Rocks area. It was a pool fed by springs that the water is 1000 years old and has been seeping through the Nevada Mountains all these years! And it was extremely clear. Several Pupfish were in this water, which was like bathwater. From this pool a small stream flowed out of it and meandered through the desert sand and rock.

We stopped at the Crystal Reservoir, a man made lake with very clear water in the middle of the desert! Near us was Devil's Hole, a breeding area for a very rare Pupfish that is in danger of extinction. At last count in the spring was 36 fish. That is 36 fish left in the entire world! They breed in the summer so the fall count is usually higher. Since there is no current at Devil's Hole, the fish have lost one of their fins since they do not need it to stabilize themselves against the water flow.

Finally, we checked out the Crystal Spring Boardwalk, which was built along a small creek that was fed from yet another series of springs. The wooden boardwalk travels about .6 miles, one way. At the end of the walk was a large, crystal clear, 20 foot deep pool. It was a blue color and really beautiful. Again, the water was very warm from the hot springs feeding the pool. We even saw a couple of ducks enjoying the beautiful day and the warm water. I had to get down and test the water to see if it was actually as warm as we were told it was!

We left Ash Meadows and, after lunch at the Longstreet Casino, we finally continued to Death Valley. We came in off Rt. 190, past Death
Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House. Our first stop in Death Valley was Zabriskie Point, a high bluff you can walk up and take some great pictures from. this is where the Twenty Mule Team hauled Borax out of this desolate place. There were many people taking photos and you could look down into the valley from here.

Next we went to the Furnace Creek Visitors Center. I would bet by the name that it gets rather "warm" at this location in the valley! Many of the ox drawn carts and other equipment was displayed here. In their gift shop, we saw a neat little bottle filled with gold flakes and had to have it as a memento of our visit to Death Valley. At one point Rod picked up the GPS unit and it showed us at -247 (that's 247 feet BELOW sea level!), and I believe the basin of the valley goes even lower than that!

We then drove down Artists Drive where the multicolored rocks called the Artist Palette are located.This was a beautiful area and the one way drive took us through the rocky hills and the spectacular views of the rock formations. On this road, vehicles longer than 25' are not allowed and we saw why! Peg and I walked into a small valley between the rocks to get a picture of a purple rock, up close. Peg decided to rest nearby as I took the shot.

By the time we got done at Artists Drive, it was getting late and we did not have the time to drive to Scotty's Castle and Museum so we went to the Golden Canyon Trail which we walked a shot way into. Apparently, there was a paved road through here and a heavy rain dropped so much water in Death Valley that the road became a river and the asphalt was washed away, except in a few places. We did get a photo of us in the canyon trail.

This is the largest national park in the US and we just barely saw a few of its wonders. The day was perfect and Peg and I and Rod and Jean really had a good time...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

We Arrive at Charleston Peak RV Park

We said goodbye to Las Vegas and headed over the mountain (about 60 miles) to Pahrump, NV. The motorhome was really pulling up the mountain pass to get here and I was concerned since it acted like it was underpowered and we had just got it back from Cummins with the new engine work done. I was told later that the road to Pahrump, Rt. 160, has a 6% grade for most of the way and an 8% grade for a while near the top. We dropped down to just under 45 mph at one point but we kept moving and did make it!! The "hill" did not look that steep, but I guess it was.

Charleston Peak RV park has fairly large sites
but we got stuck in between a large fifth wheel and another fifth wheel with a semi-truck attached to it, so we had almost no view on either side of us. The folks were nice on both sides and Wheeler, the man with the semi-truck, was an interesting guy to talk with.

As you can see by the picture, we are still surrounded by mountains. Charleston Peak, the snow covered peak you see, is about 12,000 feet high. We were lucky to get a 50 amp hook-up when we got here since they only had two available and since we were going to be her 11 days, we wanted the maximum power available. The RV park is build around a winery called, appropriately enough, The Pahrump Winery! We actually did a video shoot for American RVer while we were here, for the May show. More on that later...

The pool here is quite nice and they have a spa pool next to it. Both are heated and that makes it nice to take a quick dip. The temperatures here at this time of year were in the 80's. We did get one day of rain sprinkles and the temp was in the low 60's that day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Mighty Hoover Dam!

Today was the day we had an appointment at Monaco of Las Vegas to replace our four slide awnings under warranty. Since it was such a nice day and we were not thrilled about sitting in a waiting room all day waiting for the motorhome to be done, so we decided to head out to the Hoover Dam.

As we traveled to the dam, the first sight we saw was Lake Mead stretching 110 miles in length with 550 miles of shoreline and water capacity of 34.85 billion cubic meters! It was a beautiful blue color as we peaked the hill and headed down towards the dam. But, where was the dam? The two lane road was winding around steep cliffs going up then down and still we could see no dam! About a mile from the dam there was a security check point everyone had to go through. There was a line of cars several miles long at that point. We then realized it was Easter break week and that was the reason so many cars were heading to this way.

We got through the check point and finally went around a curve and descended onto the top of the dam. We actually drove across the dam looking for a place to park and just to say we did it! We turned around on the Arizona side and crossed back over the dam and parked on the Nevada side in a parking garage.This dam is really a marvel of technology considering it was build between 1931 and 1935. The poured concrete had tubes running through it for cold water cooling so the cement would harden faster, thus, speeding up the process. The project was completed two years ahead of schedule and under budget. The Hoover dam generates over four billion kilowatt-hours of power a year, enough to serve 1.3 million people in Nevada, California and Arizona!

We took a tour of the dam which took us 400 feet below the surface of Lake Mead. First we saw a movie on the creation of the dam. Our group then piled into an elevator which took us down under the dam. We saw the eight turbines generating power on the Nevada side and also one of the large diversion pipes underground. Our tour guide was very informative and Peg even participated by pointing out where the diversion tunnels were on a large visual of the dam.

Back to the surface we went to the top of the visitors center and the observation deck where you could look down the entire 726.4 feet of the Hoover Dam. You could also see the Colorado river as it flowed out from the turbines at the base of the dam. I don't like heights, but I did make it to the edge to take a few pictures. We could also see the new highway being constructed across the Colorado River which will take through traffic away from the dam. That is quite a project as well. We then went into the visitors center where they have a room shaped like a large cylinder with plaques and large viewing windows.

Next we went into the multimedia center and saw and heard a presentation on how the dam controls the flow of water for Nevada, Arizona, California and even Mexico. It used a model of the states and the river and it showed where other major dams were located as well.

We wanted to take various pictures from the top of the dam including the spillway towers that are used to divert the water to the turbines for power generation. There is also a monument of two winged angels on the Nevada side of the dam that was very interesting. We spent quite a bit of time at Hoover Dam and enjoyed knowing how many people in the 1930's diligently worked to make this a reality.

Back in Las Vegas, we picked up the motorhome after talking with Scott, the salesman that sold us our motorhome at Buddy Gregg's in Knoxville, Tennessee. He now works for Monaco of Las Vegas. He gave us a tour of their indoor showroom.

We knew that Dave and Marie O. were in town with their motorhome so we all met at the Cannery Casino and had a nice dinner with great conversation. It was really nice to visit with them again.

Peg and I said our goodbyes and headed to downtown Vegas to see the lights on Fremont Street. Talk about a lot of lights! We parked at the Binion's Casino and even did a little gambling there. Well, it was free parking but we lost $15 in the casino so I guess we DID pay for parking.....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Visiting the Red Rock Canyon

It is Sunday and we have heard so much about the Red Rock Canyon, which is just outside of town, we decided to take a drive there. It had been a cool night and it looked like there was more snow on the mountain tops. After a 20 minute drive we arrived at the canyon. You could see the red rock from the roadway and we first went into the visitors center for some information on the area. We bought our one year National Park Pass here for $80, allowing us entry into any national park across the country. We thought this would save us some money since we plan on seeing many national parks on our journey.

600 million years ago, this area was at the bottom of a large ocean basin. As the land changed, the sediment became gray limestone. 180 million years ago, sand dunes covered the limestone. The winds shifted the sand and angled it as the weight of it became more intense. The sand compressed into sandstone (Aztec Sandstone) and with the upheaval of the land 60 million years ago, the gray limestone was pushed through the sandstone and oxidation from exposure to the elements turned the sandstone and limestone to red, orange, tan and brown colors.

The canyon is a 13 mile drive with various stopping points along the way. The first stop and, in my opinion the best, was called Calico I. You could really see the red rock and the enormous force it must have taken to push this massive rock up. There was a hiking trail to go to the base of the rock structure and, every direction you looked, there was a photo opportunity. I even took a picture of Peg in the car with the red rocks behind her!

Calico II was next and it also showed us the vivid red rock that the canyon is known for. These are some of the rocks that could be seen from the road. The sandstone quarry was next. It was not a spectacular as the red rocks but it had its own type of character. Since it was a weekend, the roadway was crowded and sometimes we had difficulty finding a place to stop at the areas of interest we saw on our touring map.

The highest point in the canyon tour was the High Point Overlook. From this vantage point, you could see across the canyon, look at the red rocks, the sandstone rocks and see traces of snow on the ground from the snowfall of the night before. As we continued to drive, we came to the Ice Box Canyon and the rocky mountains here had even more snow on them. The rocks here are called the White Rock Formation and it is close to the end of the 13 mile excursion through Red Rock Canyon.

It was good to get out to this scenic, popular spot close to Las Vegas. It is a favorite place for many people in and out of the area!

Friday, March 14, 2008

On the Vegas Strip...

Since we have never been to Las Vegas, we decided it was only fitting that we hit the strip and see how much money we could win (or lose). Peg had also mapped out our adventure for the afternoon so we could see a lot of free things as well. We found parking at the MGM Grand Casino and from there, we started walking. I was not sure I was up for this, since I saw the itinerary Peg had put together!

In the MGM, we saw two lions with their trainers. They were in an enclosed plexiglass "cage" so people milling around could watch them. They spend 6 hours there and sleep most of the time. It was fun to watch them as they tried to get some sleep! The two that were out were named Chili and Pepper.

We walked a short distance down the crowded street and stopped into the M & M Store. It was unbelievable how many things that say "M & M" on them exist! The store was four stories high and, on the third floor, we saw a 3D movie staring, who else but the M & M's. It was called "I Lost My M In Las Vegas". the 3D effects were pretty cool. Another free thing to do in Vegas. They also had a city scape of Vegas you could stand in front of and have your picture taken, which we did.

Next we stuck our heads into the Planet Hollywood Casino. It was very large but smoky. The ventilation systems are not too good in these casinos. They also had the Miracle Mile Shops but we did not check them out...too much to see and do!

Down the street was the Paris Casino. They had a replica of the Eiffel Tower and also the Arch de Triumph. For a $10 charge, you can take an elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and see what Vegas looks like from above. I had my fill of heights so we decided to pass on that one. We did, however, try out the one arm bandits there. Peg won $12 and I broke even. Not to bad for our first attempt in Vegas!

We next checked out Bally's since their entrance was pretty cool with escalators and people movers to get you into their front doors. You could also pick up the aerial tram there. The sides of the walkway were waterfalls and beautiful flower gardens were planted along the walkway. We noted that this city did a nice job of keeping people out of the roadways. They build bridges over the road which are walkways to get you across the streets. There were escalators, stairs and elevators to get you up to the
bridge over the road, so even handicapped folks had no problem getting around.

Just past Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon (with $.99 Margaritas) we entered the Flamingo. It has a beautiful, free aviary in the back with, you guessed it, flamingos, wood ducks, a peacock and a large pond with well fed coy and waterfalls all around. We walked many of the paths and found the Flamingo Club with its beautiful pool. It was a nice area to relax for a few minutes.

Leaving the Flamingo, we crossed over Las Vegas Boulevard and entered Caesars Palace. This was one of the most interesting and opulent casinos we went into. Beside the huge sculptures and statues, it had a large open "courtyard" that was removed from the traffic noise of the boulevard. Very Nice! We traveled into the casino and then to the Forum Shops. This was like an underground mall with high ceilings that were painted like the sky. It looked so realistic I was waiting for a bird or two to fly by! At the end of the shops was a depiction of Atlantis with statues and a rock structure. Behind it was an aquarium that went around the back of Atlantis.We saw a diver feeding the fish in the narrow tank. He created quite an audience.

On the hour, a performance is put on depicting the fall of Atlantis. It is done by animated, mechanical Atlantians with smoke, fire, water and steam for a really cool effect. There are also huge TV monitors all around the walls surrounding the Atlantis stage. It was a pretty neat thing to see...For free!! Check out the video of a small portion of the show below...

We decided to walk up to the Bellagio to see the fountains and light show since it was getting near dusk. The fountains started and the music began and it lasted about 5 minutes. I was expecting a longer show. By this time all the lighting across the city was getting fired up and it was a spectacular look. The TV screens are the size of one side of a house and they constantly played videos of commercials, promotions and "life" in Vegas.

It was getting late and my feet were screaming at me so we headed back to the MGM and our
car. We went past New York, New York and their wild roller coaster and finally to the parking garage. We wanted to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, which was across town, but when we got there we were told there was an hour wait for service. I was too tired and hungry to wait, so we headed back to the Outdoor Resorts RV Park and found a Quiznos across the street that we ate at.

It was a long day and we only touched on a small part of Las Vegas. In the next few days, we have service appointments for our satellite dish replacement, engine recalls and awning replacements, all under warranty. We will be running around with the coach so we will have to schedule more "entertainment" at a later time.