Thursday, January 31, 2013

Desert Views

Last weekend Joan and I had the chance to take the bikes out for a ride. It was a great day with temps in the low 50’s and nothing but blue sky overhead. We rode into Henderson, grabbed some lunch and picked up a few things to include in some birthday gifts.
Joan & Sean (33)

Joan's son Sean and my youngest son Chris both celebrate birthdays in January. Happy Birthday guys. 

Chris - the Big 30

Last week we officially started our new jobs as volunteers in Lake Mead NRA. The National Park Service has 2 small campgrounds located at Echo Bay; the lower campground is smaller with about 40 sites located about 400 yards from Lake Mead, while the upper campground where we’re set up are about a ¼ mile further up the hill has 4 loops with approximately 150 sites. We are considered maintenance, not camphosts. 

Our responsibilities include campsite and firepit cleaning, landscaping, trimming oleander and some of the other trees throughout the campground as well as trash pickup throughout the NPS areas in and around Echo Bay. There are several areas along a 20 mile stretch of road where we will work during our 2 month stay including Rogers Springs, Blue Point Springs, Redstone, Stewarts Point and St Thomas. 

Both campgrounds are landscaped with oleander bushes as ‘dividers’ between the individual campsites…..and they need lots of pruning. We have access to a vehicle called a MEGA; a combination electric golf cart and dumptruck. As you can see it comes in handy with the cleanup after the trimming is done.

Here is a picture of our boss Tim working. Unfortunately Joan and I are not allowed to work with this tractor

During our familiarization tour of the area we had occasion to see lots of wildlife…

3 Bald Eagles and 1 Golden Eagle (sorry, no pics as we weren't fast enough with the cameras), however we were able to get this pic of bighorn sheep.

There were 2 unfortunate sightings: the first was a slow moving homo sapien in an old Infinity driving anywhere from 15 to 35 mph for a stretch of 16 miles before he pulled over to answer natures’ call. He was fortunately apprehended by the local law enforcement officer a few minutes later before anyone or anything was caught in his grill; the second was one of the park’s wild donkeys who decided to take a midnight stroll along the highway where he encountered a small import. Neither he nor the import survived (the driver was medivac’d out).

A couple of days ago we had occasion to leave the park and when we returned we met one of the NPS employees working the entrance gate; Heather. We introduced ourselves and started asking questions about trails we could hike or take the jeep on. She discovered they were out of maps, but promised to pick some up next time she was in town at the office. A couple days later we were working in the campground and who should stop by…..Heather, with copies of maps for several of the areas around Lake Mead showing mile markers, trails and back country roads we could explore. Thanks Heather. This is a common theme we've discovered in talking with National Park Service employees; they are really interested in helping people explore, discover and enjoy their parks and they go out of their way to help.

We've taken the jeep out for a couple more off-road excursions. It’s been interesting seeing the desert away from the paved roads. Generally we’re driving through washes, with occasional climbs across barren rock and through rocky routes when we get into the higher elevations. One side effect…..the jeep is really dirty. We've also taken a couple of hikes; a short hike to investigate Rattlesnake Wash and a supposed pool where you can swim; and a 1.5 mile hike just inside Valley of Fire.

Sunday we drove into Vegas to Main Street Station. For those of you in Florida it's just like Church Street Station and I think it was built by the same person (Bob Snow). The reason we went was to meet Joan's cousin Theresa and her husband Brian, uncle Bobby and aunt Georgia. We had dinner, then Bobby took us on a short 'inside' tour of Freemont St and surrounding casinos.
Theresa, Bobby, Georgia & Joan

That's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come


  1. Sounds like you've chosen another interesting place to call home for a couple of months. (Until Colorado thaws out!)

  2. Wow -- four eagle sightings in one day! Not too shabby! Looking forward to hearing about your stay and exploration of the area.

  3. When do we get to see some action shots of the Jeep? Erin also request a miniature donkey for herself. Just bring one home on your next trip

  4. I love Freemont Street, actually ziplined through it the last time we were there. Enjoy Lake Mead.