Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure, Journal #7

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

People don’t take trips – trips take people.

John Steinbeck

Saturday, January 18 through Sunday, January 26, 2014-Desert Eagle RV Park on Nellis AFB, Nevada:  Well, we are happily still in Las Vegas and currently plan on staying for another week or two.  Historically, our stays in the Las Vegas area run three to four weeks.  However since we left home earlier this trip, we have additional time to enjoy being on the road before heading back home to experience both weeks of summer, or as Mainers call it…..two weeks of pretty bad skiing!  So we decided to spend some of that bonus time here in Vegas since Jack and Tucker are growing very fast and we are having a blast hanging out with them.  And, at least for now, they appear to be having a blast hanging out with us!

As mentioned previously, we have a real nice campsite at Desert Eagle RV Park.  Full hook up’s with a strong Wi-Fi signal.

Desert Eagle Campsite

However, when the retirees settle down to stream videos before their 2000 bedtime, the Wi-Fi slows to a crawl.  No problem, we just fire up our Verizon Mi-Fi and all’s good in Cyberville.

In addition we have some great neighbors, most of whom spend the winters here at Desert Eagle.  Many are from Alaska or the northwestern states; however one couple we met resides in Florida…..not sure I understand that?  Our next door neighbors, Mike and Karen, are from Omaha, Nebraska.  And yes I did ask them, and no they do not know Warren Buffett!  However Mike, following a 22 year career as a USAF Navigator, worked for the state agricultural department and used to regularly visit the Buffett family farm which is being run by Warren’s son, Howard.

We were once again very fortunate to spend Saturday and Sunday with the grandkids and would usually embark on a weekly “Mystery Ride”.  On one of these special road trips we landed at the brand new Children’s Discovery Museum, an incredible facility full of fun and educational interactive exhibits.

CDM

Even though the Children’s Discovery Museum has been open less than a year, this marked our second visit.  The first coming on opening week during last year’s spring break and it was absolutely packed.  We vowed to return and more thoroughly explore this highly enjoyable 58,000 square foot facility.

A centerpiece (literally) of the museum is called “The Summit”, a 70 foot tall multi-level structure.  This skeletal tower penetrates the museums three exhibit floors and eventually pierces the building’s roof leading the intrepid visitor to a glass bubbled observation area where 360 degree views of the Las Vegas Valley are enjoyed.

CDM #

(Disclaimer…..my photo did not come out very well, so I grabbed the one above off the internet)

Each level of The Summit tower features interactive displays in such diverse topics as, mechanical leverage, aerodynamics, light refraction, sound propagation, magnetism, electrical generation and fluid dynamics.  Moving from level to level within the tower is accomplished by way of tubes…..

CDM, Jack #2

…..and slides…

CDM, Tuck #2

Very helpful and knowledgeable museum staff members are stationed on each level of the tower, most who appear to be college students.  A strict requirement placed on adults by these folks is that a parent or guardian be in sight of their children at all times.  This meant I moved from level to level within the tower by way of tubes and slides as well!  I did notice ladders for the more mature adults to use, but the tubes and slides were far more fun!

In addition to the tower, there are nine major theme areas within the Children’s Discovery Museum.  Jack and Tucker seemed to enjoy some more than others, including Water World,

CDM, Jack & Tuck #1

Yea, I know…..boys will be boys!

And Fantasy World,

CDM, Jack & Tuck

And transportation…..which featured a very realistic flight simulator.

CDM, Flight Training

Notice the determination on the pilot and co-pilot’s facers as they prepare for a landing at the Las Vegas airport.

Guma thought ahead and made a picnic lunch for us to enjoy.  Consequently, the fun and learning was not interrupted for very long by mundane stuff such as eating.  We spent over six hours at the museum and a great time was had by all!

The Children’s Discovery Museum is located in a newly developed area near downtown called Symphony Park.  It features a number of business and performing arts venues as well as the world renowned Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

LV Brain Center

The fellow that designed this building most likely ended up having his skull examined within its walls.  Kinda neat looking however…..like it melted and distorted in the hot desert sun.

Part of the extra time spent in Vegas was consumed by the minutia of daily living.  For example, we were able to place some Amazon Prime orders since the “Brown Santa” could easily find us and our mail-order medications could locate us as well.  In addition, we were able to give the camper a thorough cleaning, inside and out and take care of rotating the trailer tires, filling the propane tanks, sanitizing the fresh water system, and performing a complete flushing of the wastewater holding tanks.  Also, few items that had worn out or that had broken were either repaired or replaced.

Having extra free time, we set a daily routine of sitting outside and reading followed by walking for an hour or so which racked up some serious steps on the Fit Bit’s.

It was also an opportunity to get the truck tires rotated and the oil changed.  We used Ed Bozworth Chevrolet and while they performed the service work Kit and I enjoyed snacks and coffee in the very accommodating lounge while admiring the many brand new Corvette Stingrays they offered for sale.

Stingray

Well, I did…..Kit was more interested in a display of accessory running boards they offered for sale.  In about an hour, our old truck came back expertly serviced at a very reasonable price…..they even washed and dried the old girl at no additional charge (the truck, not Kit).

I was able to do some “toy” maintenance as well.  As on past trips, my bike tires took a beating on the trails of Catalina State Park.  Yep, double flatted…..again!  While at the local bike shop I was whining about all the pointy things prevalent in the desert that find their way into my tires.  The mechanic suggested tire strips and extra heavy duty tubes.  Even though this protection adds an additional pound to an otherwise very lightweight bike, I think it will be worth it…..time will tell.

On one beautiful southwestern winter day we decided to visit Mount Charleston with Jack and Tucker in tow.  At 11,918 feet Mount Charleston is Nevada’s third highest peak and is only 35 miles from Las Vegas.  Being part of the Spring Mountain chain, Mount Charleston is within the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest.  This local mountain is a year around getaway for folks both living in and visiting the Las Vegas Valley.  It provides both relief from summer heat and snow based recreation opportunities during the winter.

Starting at 2000 feet, the road to this beautiful area meanders through the low desert where typical arid vegetation is prominent.  All during the ride up the access road, Mount Charleston remains prominently framed in the trucks windshield.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #1

The two lane road is very well maintained and appears to rise more gradually than most mountain roads.  Passing 4,000 feet the road steadily climbs skyward and the landscape changes to more typical mountain terrain and vegetation.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #2

Soon we find ourselves at 6,940 feet and notice our first traces of snow.  We make a stop at the Spring Mountains Visitor Center to pick up a map and some travel information.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #3

The current temperature, a very pleasant 55 degrees, is cooler at this altitude than down in the valley.

At 9,515 feet we are nearing the summit and soon arrive at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #5

With only eleven runs serviced by three lifts it’s not a big mountain by any measure.  However the resort features a nice café and lounge with outdoor seating and a very personable and helpful staff.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #6

There are a very few ski areas where one can enjoy spring like skiing in January!  At this altitude there can be as much as 200 inches of snowfall a year……but as a precaution, there is an extensive snowmaking system at the ready.

While watching the skiers and riders ricochet down the mountain we enjoyed a great meal of cheeseburgers and fried chicken along with some of the best french fries around.  The tab for this excellent meal was very reasonable, unusual for a ski area.  Another difference from most other ski mountains is that beginner lessons are provided free…..all you have to pay for is a lift ticket and rental equipment.

With full bellies we climbed back in the truck and went searching for a nice sledding hill.  In just a few miles we came upon a number of vehicles parked alongside the road and noticed kids slipping and sliding down an adjacent hillside.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #11

Jack and Tucker were quick to suit up in appropriate clothing, grab their Mini-Luge’s and scramble up the hill.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #7

I stationed myself at the bottom of the hill with camera at the ready.  I remained vigilant at my rather vulnerable post and prepared to spring out of the way every time a careening grandchild tried to play human bowling with my 66 year old body.

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #8

Fortunately, in over 50 some odd runs down the hill, I was able to zig as they zagged.  Jack and Tucker enjoyed a great day of playing in the snow and I captured some fairly acceptable photos!

Mount Charleston Trip Pix #9

So, how fast can these relatively lightweight children travel on a simple plastic toy?  Well, take a look at the short video I captured of their antics.  Please click on:  http://youtu.be/ghVesIrNBoc

The devices the boys were “piloting” down the mountainside were called Freestyle Mini Luge Snow Sled’s.

Zipfy™ Mini Luge

And they are available through Amazon.  If you have kids or grandkids, order these snow rockets…..you will suddenly become their new superhero!

The drive back to the campground was serene and peaceful as there were two very tired and happy little boys strapped into the rear seats.  A fantastic day of enjoying another of the great entertainment opportunities one can experience if they just pry themselves away from the Las Vegas Strip.

Speaking of which, Kit and I make at least one pilgrimage a year to Las Vegas Boulevard to take in a show, have a nice meal and watch all the crazies mill about.

On these adventures we usually walk, however the distances up and down the strip can be deceiving.  It is about four miles from the Mandalay Bay to the Stratosphere, and not all in a straight line.  A lot of the sidewalks along Las Vegas Boulevard undulate toward the major casinos, depositing a tired, and thirsty, walker right in front of the main entrance.  So a great way to travel about in comfort is by way of the Las Vegas Monorail.

The Strip Trip Pix #2

Since our planned destinations were miles apart we decided to take advantage of this service.  An all-day ticket allows one to hop on and off at will and the trains arrive at any given station about every 6 minutes or so.  In addition you have a great view of the “backside” of the strip and can enjoy some unusual sights, such as the new High Roller Ferris Wheel that is currently under construction.

The Strip Trip Pix #3

At 550 feet tall and with a wheel diameter of 520 feet the High Roller will become the world’s tallest operational Ferris wheel when it goes online.  A $30.00 ticket will provide a half hour ride in one of 28 transparent spherical self-leveling passenger cabins.  Each cabin is 22 feet in diameter and capable of carrying up to 40 folks.

The Strip Trip Pix #4

The High Roller is scheduled to open next month…..too bad we will be long gone by them.  Oh well, there’s always next year!

Las Vegas is a great people watching venue as folks from all over the world blend in with the homeys….as evident by the photo below.

Freemont Street Experience Pix #3

Yea, I don’t know what’s going on here either…..maybe I should run a “Caption Contest” for this photo?

One of the items on Kit’s Bucket List is to see the Donny and Marie Show at the Flamingo.  Last year we had tickets but the show was cancelled just hours before the performance was scheduled to begin……Kit was some disappointed.  So the first stop on today’s Las Vegas Strip adventure was the Flamingo Box Office.  Yep they are definitely on for tonight and some very nice, albeit pricey, seats were still available so we snapped up two of them.

The Strip Trip Pix #5

Now, I’m not much of a Donny and Marie Osmond fan, in fact I was listening to the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones when The Osmond’s were popular.  However, I decided to grin and bear it for Kit’s sake.  Besides she has been a real trooper accompanying me on my bucket list adventures.  Turns out, I found the show to be thoroughly entertaining.  The high octane music and dance numbers were unbelievable and our third row seats were perfectly situated to view the performance.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching Donny and Marie sing and didn’t want them to leave the stage…..what fantastic voices!  There is definitely a reason this show recently won the Las Vegas Journal Readers Poll!  Kit and I highly recommend the Donny and Marie show to anyone visiting Las Vegas!!

Still on a high we poured out onto Las Vegas Boulevard and mingled with the visiting tourists and conventioneers.

The Strip Trip Pix #1

Walking down the strip, I noticed this truck moving slowly down the boulevard.

The Strip Trip Pix #10

It appears that box truck is loaded with girls that want to meet me, or so the sign sez.  Apparently they assume I am a swimming instructor as they appear to be wearing their swimwear…..boy, are they gonna be disappointed!

After milling about Las Vegas Boulevard for a few hours we rode The Monorail back to the MGM Grand and had a late (very late for us) meal and a few drinks at Wolfgang Pucks.

The Strip Trip Pix #9

I enjoyed a local craft beer and Kit had some wine chased by the glass of Vodka you see on the table.  We also shared one of Wolfgang’s Puck’s…..you may notice it half consumed on the elevated tray in the center of the table.

Way too long after midnight, we slithered into the truck and made our way through a mostly deserted North Las Vegas back to our little camper.  What a fantastic day!

There are always items of interest we stumble upon that don’t quite fit the journal’s narrative so I generally add them at the end…..following is this week’s crop.

First, a rather unique amphibious vehicle seen downtown.  It was manufactured by the Sealegs Corporation of Auckland, New Zealand as a promotion for Samoa bottled water.

Samoa

Living in Maine, this would be a neat toy to own, and with those tires I bet it handles the snow just fine.

Next is a weird sculpture I noticed in a Savers Thrift Store.  I’m guessing it was an ill-conceived souvenir at one point.

WTF

Gee, I wonder why it was donated rather than put on prominent display in someone’s home and you just gotta love the expression on the face of the lead cat.

Well, this closes the report on what happened with us this week…..and the next journal will sadly conclude our stay in Las Vegas for this year.

Kit’s Bits:  First of all, I’m not too fond of those advertising trucks cruising “The Strip”, however, in this town, it’s a fact of life.  We’ve enjoyed our time here and we’re sad to be leaving.  Having the grandkids stay with us every weekend for almost 6 weeks has been quite a treat!  They’ve come to know our routine and look forward to our Mystery Rides.  Pop always has something special for them up his sleeve, even if it’s just empty boxes to play with.  We’re glad to be able to spend this time with them.  We have thoroughly enjoyed our stay here this year.

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Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure, Journal #6

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

If you come to a fork in the road, take it!

Yogi Berra

Thursday, January 2, 2014:  Up to bright sunny skies (of course) and a temperature of 65 degrees which is quickly rising.  Today we reluctantly depart Oasis RV Park and once again hit the lonely road to wherever we may wander.

Since checkout time is 1200 and since the rates at this park average over two dollars an hour we lounge about to take advantage of every penny we have invested!

Hey, just noticed on weather.com that it is verrrry cold back home in Maine!

US Temps at 1220, 01-07-14

The above map shows the temperatures at mid-day.  Last night’s lows dropped to minus 17 degrees below zero…..yikes!  You know, I have a theory about what’s causing this Polar Vortex.  It’s all due to our congressional representatives being on their undeserved Christmas holiday break and therefore absent from Washington.  So my theory is that all the usual hot air emanating from DC has now been spread about the country so the temperatures in the northeast have dropped dramatically!

And speaking of Washington, I’ve recently read on The CNN that our political representatives have accomplished practically nothing this past year.  Now, I don’t know about you but I see that bit of news as a real positive!  Whenever our elected body does pass a bunch of bills, our collective lives get more difficult and it ends up costing the average citizen a lot more money…..so I’m thinking a do-nothing congress is a good thing!

One more thing while on my political soapbox…..why is it that over half our political leaders are millionaires?  And many of them have acquired their fortunes while in office!?!?  Looks as if the 1% has over 50% of the representation……just saying!

Enough of that!  So, we hit the road at 1145 hours and hopped on “The 15” heading easterly.  Later, after an arduous day of travel, we eventually pull into the Desert Oasis RV Park at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada at 1215.  OK, we only drove 17 miles…..I just had to make it all sound a bit more dramatic than it was.

Why did we go to all the trouble and move our rolling home such a short distance?  Well for one thing, the grandkids are heading back to school on Monday so their overnight stays with us will be limited to the weekends.  And for the other, Desert Eagle RV Park is less than half the cost of Oasis RV Park.  True that the 34 mile round trip to pick up the kids will eat up $7.00 of fuel, but we will still be ahead of the financial game and for we pensioners, that’s a real factor!

When we arrived at Desert Eagle we received a very pleasant surprise.  As you may remember we very rarely make advanced reservations at campgrounds, primarily because we very rarely know exactly where we are headed or when we might feel like stopping.  However, on an occasion such as this I called to make reservations a week ago and was told their full hookup sites were, well…..full!  Desert Eagle is a snowbird favorite and as such gets a lot of pressure from the fulltime RV’ing homesteader.  This is a person with no regular home but does have a very nice monster RV that they only move between two geographic locations depending on the season.  However, when we arrived at the office I discovered that they were able to find a full hookup site and it was located in the newer and much nicer area of the park!  Road magic at work once again!!

Desert Eagle RV Park is very well laid out facility and possesses the usual facilities which are quite modern and kept very clean.

Desert Eagle RV Park

Our home for the next few weeks is site #75 which is within walking distance of all the amenities such as a real nice resilient walking/jogging path which allows our Fit Bit’s to rack up some serious mileage.

Walking Track

And there is a kid’s play area that received a lot of attention from Jack and Tucker.

Monkey Bars

As well as a convenience store with ice cream and candy…..this also received a lot of attention from Jack and Tucker!  All in all, Desert Eagle RV Park is a great place to stay in the Las Vegas area.

For the most part, we basically hung around the campground.  However we did investigate various nearby areas that seemed in need of investigation……more on that later.

Generally, Guma (the General) was the cook and the designated responsible adult.  She made sure all were well fed and, for the most part, kept everyone out of trouble.

Guma's Pancakes

And I had the chore of keeping the boys on the go.  Must have done OK as at the end of the day we all slept very well!!

Jack and Tuck, Morning Routine

 

Friday, January 3, 2014 through Friday, January 17, 2014-Desesrt Eagle RV Park, Nellis AFB, Nevada:  While here, we spent some time getting reacquainted with area in addition to discovering new places.  On one of our trips away from the campground I spotted this rather exclusive “grocery hauler” sitting in a parking lot.

Lambo

That is an $180,000.00 Lamborghini Gallardo folks…..a really nice ride!

Las Vegas airport is one busy facility serving over thirty one million passengers a year.  And due to the relatively flat terrain and clear skies, the aircraft can be seen stacked up for miles while on final approach.  All this air traffic creates some unusual “sky art” due to the planes contrails.

Contrails

As you may have deduced, Las Vegas, as well as Tucson and San Diego, are the Maine (pun intended) anchorages for our winter trips.  All three give us the opportunity to visit with family, enjoy the warm weather and take care of any needed truck and trailer maintenance as well as other chores.

An additional advantage of dropping anchor for a few weeks is that it gives our mail an opportunity to catch up.  Also with Amazon Prime we can order those items that we forgot, or possibly need, or think we need, or maybe just want.

One order we placed and received in two days was a couple of very nice camp chairs.  Kit and I enjoyed sitting in them while watching Jack and Tucker enjoy re-purposing the box they came in!

Boyz in a Box

Kit wants a new RV……and that is no secret!  She has repeatedly said this is the last year she is snow birding in this camper!  Gosh I’m gonna miss her.  Actually, I have to agree…..after six years and close to 70,000 miles our trusty Arctic Fox trailer is getting a bit long in the tooth.  In addition, the available interior space seems to be shrinking.  So while in Vegas we spent some time visiting local RV dealers.  Since we have owned our current rig there have been some major improvements and enhancements in the RV world.  It seems that the Baby Boomer generation has discovered traveling by RV and is driving the market for lighter and higher quality units that contain far more amenities.

At one of the dealership in particular there was this rather unique RV.

Tanked RV

Yep, that’s a fully functioning aquarium you see in the front and side windows which contains live tropical fish.  The trailer was not for sale, but was created for the dealer by the reality TV show “Tanked” which is on the Animal Planet cable network.  Not very practical but pretty neat nonetheless.

While at the same RV dealership, Kit and I decided to pose for a goofy selfie because, well…..we’re just plain goofy.

RV Shopping

I think that’s Dick Cheney in the middle with the rifle slung over his shoulder…..hope he doesn’t shoot off his mouth as usual.  Come to think of it, we are probably safe as I hear he only hunts attorneys from Texas.

One morning as Kit was gathering the news on Facebook, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that some friends from Maine who winter in Florida were on vacation in Las Vegas.  Did you follow all that?  Anyway an online conversation ensued and plans were made to host them at our palatial estate.

Glenn and Yvette Photo #2

Glen and Yvette own a camp on Sebago Lake just down the road from ours.  We had a great time catching up with each other’s lives before taking a short drive to a very nice brewpub for a late lunch.

An area we have wanted to explore for a few years is Valley of Fire State Park, approximately 60 miles to the northeast.  So on a bright sunny morning off we went.

VOFSP Photo #11

Valley of Fire is the first official state park in Nevada…..however it wasn’t supposed to be.  Back in 1935 the state legislature proposed the adoption of four culturally significant areas within the state as worthy of preservation.  All four were concurrently approved and the official commissioning date was set.  However, being near Las Vegas with its need for flamboyance, the locals decided to preempt the legislature and officially dedicated their park a week early, much to the chagrin of the elected bureaucrats.

The drive through the park is magnificent, with many stretches being bordered by brilliant red sandstone formations.  As we were enjoying the drive we were also going fairly slowly.  Soon a white BMW convertible flew past, followed a few minutes later by another, then another.  Rounding a bend in the road we came to a police car blocking the way with its light flashing so we pulled off at the adjacent parking area.  It was then that we noticed a half dozen identical BMW’s queued up near the patrol car.  Curiosity getting the best of me I approached the nearest car and inquired as to what was going on.  With a thick German accent, the driver informed me that this was the release day for a new car, the BMW 435i and they were filming and videotaping an advertisement.  In addition, they were allowing various Automotive Journalist a first test drive on the picturesque and sinuous roads of Valley of Fire State Park which were being closed by the police during the high speed portions of the event.

BMW Auto Test

You may notice in the photo above that the blue BMW SUV has its rear hatch open and contains a film crew.

The BMW representative further stated that there were to be 30 identical white BMW 435i’s in and around the state park some driven by professional racers and others by journalist.  A fact we can testify as we noticed a number of them whiz by us all day…..man, what a nice gig!

At the visitors center we gathered up information about the park and a map to some of the more interesting features.  Kit humored me by climbing into a natural depression in the sandstone so I could snap the below photo.  It’s not often Kit allows me to pigeonhole her……what a sport!

VOFSP Photo #2

One of the parks prominent features are a series of Petroglyphs etched into the rock by the ancient peoples that came to this valley hundreds of years ago.

VOFSP Photo #1

It is easy to decipher these etchings if one starts from the upper left.  This particular story is about a young Indian brave who tries to explain to his squaw where he was last night and what that gross animal is doing in their teepee.  Notice the hand in the circle to the right with the extended middle finger…..pretty much tells how this all turned out as we see the poor brave dangling from a cliff in the bottom image.

On a side road we found a nice shady place to enjoy the picnic lunch we brought along.  After dining and as Kit relaxed I hiked a short loop trail that led into the desert.

VOFSP Photo #8

The path followed a naturally occurring wash and was very easy to follow.

VOFSP Photo #5

Soon I came to a small slot canyon called “The Narrows”.

VOFSP Photo #6

Being in the shade, the temperature dropped a good twenty degrees in this canyon and it got pretty dark as well.

I enjoyed a fantastic hike into and through some beautiful terrain.

VOFSP Photo #4

Within an hour I had returned to the truck and we made our way out of the park by way of Lake Mead National Park……an area we explored extensively on previous trips.

VOFSP Photo #9

As the sun sets on a fantastic day and a great couple of weeks in the Las Vegas area it is time to close this chapter of Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure.

LV Sunset

What’s next?  Stay tuned!

Kit’s Bit’s:  We are thoroughly enjoying our stay in Las Vegas this year.  The weather has been near perfect, warm days and cool nights.  With the boys back in school, we don’t see quite as much of them but we seem to fill our days with the mundane chores of regular home life, such as trailer and truck maintenance, laundry, grocery shopping, etc.  Weekends are more exciting!  We’ve been picking up Jack & Tucker late Friday afternoons and bringing them home Sunday afternoons.  They keep us hopping!  What a joy it is to be able to spend quality time with them now, since they are growing up so fast.  We’re constantly looking for things to keep them occupied, some simple, like playing in boxes, some not quite as simple, like going to museums, etc.  Thanks Suzie & Kevin for sharing the kids with us during this time!

Bill and Kit’s 2014 Excellent Adventure, Journal #5

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

Latitude: Wherever ••• Longitude: Who Cares

 What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, December 20, 2013 through Tuesday, December 31, 2013-Oasis RV Park, Las Vegas, Nevada:  It is our distinct pleasure to wish all our extended family and distended friends (hey, its holiday feasting time!) a very Merry Christmas.  Or if you’re one of the folks with a hyphenated name then, Happy Holidays.  And if you happen to be an atheist, well then we truly hope you had a great Wednesday!

We had a fantastic time at the Oasis RV Park in Las Vegas.  One of the highlights of the stay was the numerous times Jack and Tucker were able to camp out with us.

Kittle's in the Camper #1

The main reason we choose to spend part of our time in this park was the close proximity to the kid’s house and the great kid-friendly amenities this park has to offer…..more on that later.

In the days leading up to Christmas there was lots to get accomplished.  First our little camper needed decorating which the boys handled with artistic gusto.

Kittle's in the Camper #6

Then there was the last minute shopping for each other as well as their parents followed by the enthusiastic wrapping of gifts back in the camper.

Kittle's in the Camper #5

Tucker decided to wear his bike helmet as Guma can get a bit wild with the wrapping process.

Speaking of wrapping, back at home their father had wrapped the place in LED lights making for a very festive and welcoming effect.

Christmas 2013 Pix #3

Then for the first time in their young lives we were able to enjoy Christmas day with Jack and Tucker and participate in the joyous chaos that is the childhood Christmas.

Las Vegas Christmas-2013

They were happy to see us and show off what Santa had brought.  They also knew that Guma and Poppy were toting even more gifts for them to enjoy.

Christmas dinner in the Owens household is a bit unique.  Each family member is allowed to choose one item for the feast.  So we ended up with a pretty eclectic menu consisting of:  Barbeque Beef Sandwiches, Broccoli Salad, Buffalo Wings, Raw Vegetables With Ranch Dip, Pumpkin Pie, Tostitos, Egg Rolls, Chocolate Cake, Green Beans and Mashed Sweet Potatoes.

Owens Christmas Dinner

However the hit of the meal was Suzie’s homemade Popovers!

Suzie Popover

And this from a women that used to sport a bumper sticker on her Subaru that read, “My Only Domestic Quality is That I happen to Live in a House”.

Following a great meal, Tobias Fluffernutter the Third enjoyed a fine Cuban cigar.

Toby Stoogie

While the rest of the family gathered around the Christmas tree for round two of gift opening.

A tradition back home in Maine is for us to take the grandkids shopping for their parent’s gifts followed by a nice meal out.  We imported that tradition to Las Vegas and the kids were very excited to be on the giving end for a change…..all gifts were perfect and truly appreciated by their parents.

An additional old family tradition is for Poppy to descend into his home woodshop the months leading up to Christmas and build the grandkids a gift made of wood…..this year Jack and Tucker each received a Bosy Box.

Jack & Tucker, Poppy Christmas Toy's -2013

What’s a Bosy Box?  Well its part bank with an authentic antique Post Office Door and part treasure chest with a secret compartment featuring a drawer with a hidden lock.  The Bosy Box that Jack is holding is made of Red Oak and Tuckers is made of Sapelle, a sustainable wood species from tropical Africa.  The kids seemed to enjoy receiving their Bosy Box’s and the parents were just a bit jealous that they didn’t get one as well.  So why the name Bosy?  Well, when I designed this project many years ago for another grandchild, I called it a Busy Box due to the fact that it would take the owner considerable time to decipher the secret to opening the box and locating its hidden features.  However with my terrible handwriting the “U” looked more like an “O” so busy became bosy and has been known by that name ever since.

The grandkids must have been on the Nice List as they received quite a haul from Santa.  The bulk of Jacks gifts consisted of Lego Kits…..think there were 5 or 6 in all.

Jack 2

And Tucker received many gifts as well, including a camera, a glow-fish tank and this ball that he insisted on wearing as a hat.

Tucker 4

Toward evening, the boys and their father played with one of their gifts, a card game that produces hilarious outcomes and uncontrollable laughter.

Cards Against Humanity

A great time was had by all…..especially Kit and I.  Thanks guys for sharing your Christmas with us this year!

The following photo is a bit cruel, but just wanted to show folks back home that winter can be warmer in other parts of the country.

71.6 Degrees

Sorry!

So, about our home for these past eleven days…..Oasis RV Park.  Well, in addition to its convenient location this park is a full feature resort with two swimming pools (one surrounded by a sand “beach”), a mini golf course, a Jacuzzi Spa, horseshoe pits, Bocce Ball courts, a fully stocked store, a restaurant, a well-equipped exercise room, and a gaming area if your too lazy to take the free shuttle bus down to the strip to lose all your money.  All in all, a nice place…..but a bit pricey.

At 668 full hook-up sites, the place is huge and the spaces are a bit tightly packed into its 46 acre campus.

Oasis RV Park, Las Vegas

The main pool was heated and nicely landscaped with Date Palms.

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And saw daily use by Jack and Tucker, and sometimes Poppy.

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The Spa was nice and warm and served as a great place to warm up before the trek back to the camper in wet swimwear.

There were many diverse camping vehicles in the park, from small trailers like ours to huge million dollar motorhomes.  In addition there were a few dozen of these rigs, most parked in the same general vicinity.

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The photo does not reveal the true size of these unit…..they were ginormous!  Not sure who or what they were carrying but likely whey were commercial rigs associated with one of the many trade shows that Vegas will host throughout the year.

The park was very walkable…..however you did need to watch out for these speed demons.  See video at:   http://youtu.be/0ULxrLwfS1Q

Since it was Jack and Tucker’s Christmas vacation we were able to spend most of their days off with them.  Both are enrolled in a Science Charter School so consequently they had considerable homework to accomplish.  However, we did get to enjoy their company for a large part of their free time.

On the day after Christmas, we took them to Target and Toy’s-Backwards R-Us to spend some of their gift cards.  Outside Target we came across this interesting gentleman sporting a signboard with a peculiar request.

Paul Noor

Kit called him over as I was trying to sneak a picture.  As it turns out poor Paul is a Civil Engineer and was a self-made millionaire in the construction business.  I say was, because the double whammy of a bitter divorce coupled with the downturn in the economy left him penniless.  He is now a motivational speaker and author on ways to pull out of a mental and financial depression.  An interesting guy to talk to…..and yea, he would really like you to marry his wife so he could stop paying alimony.

Another strange sight we came across while ferrying the kids here and there was this Southwestern themed home whose owners apparently ran out of money during the landscaping phase of their new construction.  So I guess they decided fake Saguaro Cactus made of telephone poles painted green would blend right into the upscale landscape of the surrounding neighborhood.

Faux Saquaro's

Then a few blocks away was this home with the world’s craziest backyard jungle gym.

Vegas Circus House

I’m guessing the owner is a Cirque performer or works at the Circus-Circus Casino.

The kids really liked hanging out with us in our tiny camper.  The sleeping accommodations were a bit tight as the kids are really growing.  However we all made do and having their iPads help with pre-slumber quiet time, as it does most nights for Kit.

Kittle's in the Camper #4

Many of the days were spent outside running around, riding scooters, visiting the store, golfing or swimming.

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And breakfast was a reason for some silliness as they tried to eat their cereal with huge spoons.

Kittle's in the Camper #2

An annual tradition during our visits to Las Vegas is to take the grandkids to a movie of their choice…..this year we enjoyed the Walt Disney film “Frozen”.

Frozen-movie-poster

OK, this isn’t a dig at our frozen friends back in Maine but an animated musical based on Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale The Snow Queen.  The film is very well produced and contains many important life lessons embedded into its wonderful storyline.  If you have youngsters in your life, or if you’re just young at heart you must see this movie!

Out here in the west there are a chain of stores called Savers which offer gently used toys, household goods and clothing.  A portion of the profits go to various charities and it’s a great place for me to pick up Hawaiian Shirts, or as I like to refer to them “Regret Shirts”.  The kids like to come here as well and always find some interesting toys to purchase for pennies on the dollar.

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Jack and Tucker really like Asian food and the restaurant Pei Wei is one of their local favorites.  Following a delicious meal a few days ago, I opened my Fortune Cookie and found this rather prophetic message.

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Pretty cool, huh?

As mentioned, Oasis RV Park has a golf course and its rather unique being comprised of 18 interconnected putting greens.  We had a ball (pun intended) playing the course and had to make up some new golf rules…..like do-over, flub recover and roadblock.

Golf Boyz

Playing a threesome, we encountered a rather funny water hazard on the 3rd hole, a par 1.  Apparently the sprinklers are on timers that sequence about the course.  Just as we were putting for par, up popped the sprinkler heads and off ran the golfers.

Wet Golf

You’ll notice I leaned the pin on a nearby tree rather than risk further humiliation by resetting it.  This portion of the course was surrounded by camping sites and our yelling and laughter brought a lot of glances our way.  Soon everyone was laughing right along with us….or maybe at us, either way we had fun.  However the rest of the game carried the threat that dawdling on the course could dampen (pun intended) an otherwise beautiful day on the links.

After the round of golf, which by the way ended in a three way tie, we jumped into the pool to cool off.

Jumpin In

Which was followed by a relaxing soak in the Jacuzzi.

Spa Boyz

And, a nutritious lunch on the poolside patio.

Lunch

New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas can be pretty crazy…..or to be more precise, crazier than normal Las Vegas.  Most of the locals shy away from the strip and celebrate quietly at home, or by dining out.  We all decided to visit one of our favorite restaurants in town, Memphis Championship Barbeque.

Memphis BBQ-New Years Eve

The platter in the middle of the table is loaded with a selection of beef, pork and chicken entrees that has won this place many awards and trophies over the years.

Bar B Que

A grand and glorious time was had by all, and even though we tried our best we still carried a portion of the feast home.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Day and marks the end of our stay at Oasis RV Park.  Where to next?  Well you’ll just have to stay tuned!

Kit’s Corner:  Many thanks to Suzie and Kevin for sharing Jack and Tucker with us over the holidays this year!  Since neither of us ever had any quality time (barely knew) our grandparents, we have always strived to “make memories” with our Grand’s.  We don’t spend a ton of money on them; rather we do strange and silly things with them.  Ask the older Grand’s; they can relate a few quirky stories.  Hopefully, Jack and Tucker will remember a few strange stories of their time with us and have lots of giggles to share with their cousins someday.