Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Viva Las Vegas.....Where's Elvis?

Joan's Uncle Jimmy arived 2 weeks ago and we've been very busy ever since. While he was here we tried to show him as much of the area as possible. We took him to Fremont Street in downtown Vegas where he promptly 'fell in luv' with the locals.

We took him out to Boulder Dam, down to Lake Mead, up to Valley of Fire all in the 1st week. He had thought about driving up to Skywalk in Arizona, but after a little research he decided his money would be better spent on a helicopter ride over and into the Grand Canyon. He had a blast, including 'falling in luv' with the pretty young passenger next to him in the helicopter who kept leaning over into his lap to look out the window and take pictures.

The 1st day of his 2nd week here Joan and I had to report for our 1st day of orientation at our Road Monitoring job in Lake Mead. We met our boss Dara; and Kelly who would be training us on the GPS and other gear we would be using. We spent the morning filling out paperwork and then hit the road with Kelly. We drove about 4-5 miles out into the mountains between Lake Mead and Henderson on some of the rockiest 'roads' we been on in quite some time (I think she was testing us to see how we'd react). We finished up the 1st day with the caveat that we would report back to work the next morning 10/1 "if the government didn't shut down". Well we all know how that went don't we! Needless to say at this point, but we're still waiting to report back to work! We're still living in the Volunteer campground inside the park, but everything else in the park has been closed. There are LEO's (park service Law Enforcement Officers) stationed at the 4 primary entrance gates to Lake Mead and no one is allowed to enter the parks. The marinas are closed as are all the other campgrounds. Even the campers already set up had to leave.

Hiway driving towards Cedar Breaks
In reading through the various camping discussion groups I've stumbled across several threads where folks are 'bragging' about moving barricades and closed signs in order to enter many of the closed national parks and monuments. And unfortunately IMO too many replies to those posts are in support of the park 'crashers'.

The Fall Color was everwhere

Many of the statements being made are portraying the park service and their employees as the bad guys in this situation. I understand that many folks' vacations are being sidetracked because of the shutdown, but it's not the Park Service.

I can't imagine how I'd feel if a vacation I'd planned and saved for was impacted like many of the folks we see everyday as they're turned away at the parks. But just a little time and research will show you a multitude of options: there are numerous state, county and public parks where these folks can go. And there are thousands of scenic drives and locations that can be accessed. The parks are just doing what they have to do because their budget has been shut off. 'Nuff said about that.

Since we had time on our hands, we packed an overnight bag and set out towards Utah. We discovered that the roads through Zion and Cedar Break parks were open for normal travel (not stopping or parking or hiking).

And with the leaves starting to show their fall colors we thought a nice drive might be in order with Uncle Jimmy. We spent 2 days driving through southwest Utah, exploring some new roads and revisiting some known ones. The aspens in Cedar Break were bright yellow and gold, and many of the back road sights and overlooks were breathtaking.

Brian, Theresa (bless them) & Uncle Jimmy
After 10 days of staying with us Uncle Jimmy was off with Joan's cousin Theresa for the rest of his vacation. He visited a couple more casinos and took an off road ride in Theresa and Brian's rock climbing jeep (the same one we rode in earlier this year). Joan and I have really enjoyed the visits from my parents and her Uncle Jimmy. And we're looking forward to the next time we have visitors. That being said it's been hectic with company for 23 of the last 24 days; especially in the motorhome. We'll have to plan better next time we invite company.

A quick shout out and Thank You to Jack Mayer. The cell reception in the Volunteer campground is spotty at best; have to step outside to be heard on some calls and you never know if you'll be able to access the internet or not. I've read Jack's posts on communications for some time now and earlier this year we purchased a WiFi Ranger to improve our WiFi reception while at Chalk Creek based on his recommendations. After reviewing his posts on cell reception and a couple of email exchanges we elected to purchase a Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G V cellular 'booster'. And Jack was spot on again. Our cellular signal went from 1X to 3 bars of 3G and even 1-2 bars of 4G at times. It's not the perfect solution as the phone must remain in the 'cradle' for the signal to be boosted. But until a 'wireless' 4G booster solution is available, this will do just fine. Thanks Jack.

Most of you know how much I enjoy playing softball. I had hoped to play this year at the Huntsman Senior World Games held each year in Utah. The Senior World Games host over 10,000 age 50 and up atheletes each year at this event. There are 27 different sports including track and field, golf, biking, shooting, basketball, softball and others. Check it may want to compete one year. Unfortunately my softball buddies back in Florida were unable to get a 60's team together to play this year. But some of my friends that play in the 65 age brackets are playing; so Joan and I drove up to St George, Utah to see them and catch a game. While we were there it was mentioned that many of the 350 softball teams need a player or two to fill open positions. That's all it took. I threw my name and info into the system to see if anyone could use my help. The 60's teams were already locked in at this point, but maybe a 55 team (they play next week) will need some help. Wish me luck.

That's it for now.

Stay Tuned. More to Come

PS...write your congressman. Tell them to figure it out!