Thursday, February 28, 2013


I drive in to work rather early in the morning, having to get in by 6am. We live on the West side of the Strip, so most, well, all now that I think about it, of my jobs have been to the east of us. All of the roads in Vegas are laid out on a grid, with streets running nice and straight from north to south and east to west. This means that in the mornings I drive right into the sunrise and at night driving home I stare into the sunset. Sunrise is at 6:12, so it’s not in my eyes in the morning yet.

Looking at the local weather (in order to get that sunrise time), humidity is 9% (yes, it is dry in the desert), it was cold at my house this morning, only 28f but it is due to get up to the mid 60’s, and high 70’s predicted for this weekend. I’m ready for Spring, even without having had any snow.

Anyway, back to my drive. The sun is starting to come up (OK, I know, it’s not coming up the horizon is really rotating down) behind the Sunrise Mountains to the east. It’s black overhead with stars, changing to a lovely dark blue then a bright orange streak right at the horizon. In a week or so it will be the sun right there, straight ahead down the road, but for now it’s pretty. My camera doesn't capture the full range of colors.

Nice looking out at the mountains, coming down a little rise to the valley and seeing all of the lights of North Las Vegas spread out in front of me. And no trees to obstruct the views, no clouds to fill the sky.

Driving home the other day I had to stop and take a picture of what was going on in front of my house.

When we moved to Las Vegas my first instruction to the realtor when looking for houses was that I did not want a neighborhood that had a homeowners association. Most builders out west buy large tracts of land and put up several hundred houses, which are built in phases over several years. In order to keep the area looking nice they establish homeowners associations, with the builder keeping the voting rights to all of the unbuilt houses, which means that they set the rules. Rules that usually limit the colors you can paint your house, how clean and neat you must keep your front yard, and rules that prevent you from putting out anything in the front yard and sometimes not even letting you park your car in front of your house or in your driveway. Then a homeowners board gets elected, and it seems always to be filled with retired people with nothing better to do than to walk around and enforce the rules by handing out tickets to people they don’t like and places that don’t conform. We have a relative that keeps getting tickets for unraked leaves when he has no trees (the leaves blow in from his neighbors). No thanks, I’ll take the chance of my next door neighbor painting his house purple (we had one in San Diego that did that) rather than keeping to the southwest pallet of dull sand colors and perhaps filling their front yard with old Cadillacs (like one house a few blocks away from here).

The second request was for an older home with a large yard. Most new construction in Vegas is in the big developments, many of them gated and guarded. It seems that people don’t care about what is outside of their homes, most houses are built with ten per acre, meaning that houses are about six feet apart (or less) and only have a ten foot deep back yard. A lot of developments have even smaller front yards, with some not having driveways deep enough to park a car out in front of your garage. (all have attached garages – helpful with our hot summers and strong sunshine) Our area is zoned RR – Rural Residential. The lots are a half acre minimum, with some an acre or larger. Most people coming to Vegas want a brand new place, so our old home (built in the '60s which is old for Vegas) was bigger and less expensive than a small new one with no yard. I still think about when we were talking to our friend in Sweden about Paul Revere's house back east being a hundred years old when Paul lived in it. Our friend laughed at new America and said his college dorm was built several hundred years before that.

We can have animals, and many people do. There are a few homes left with stables and horses, our neighbor has chickens and turkeys. There are no sidewalks, curbs, or street lights, which does make it seem like we really aren’t in the middle of a big city. Fewer people do the animal thing now, I guess with all of the activity and things to do people would rather not have to care for animals, especially big ones like horses. So it’s rare when we see any going by.

I say we live in Las Vegas but that’s not really true. We live in the township of Spring Valley, which is a suburb just to the southwest of the City of Las Vegas. Like with most cities the city map is rather strange, with fingers reaching out to encompass new housing tracts all over the valley. But the city limits stop at Sahara, which is the very northern edge of our famous Strip with all of the big casinos and resorts. The tall Stratosphere tower is the last casino within the Vegas city limits, with the Sahara across the street being out in Paradise. That’s what started the Las Vegas Strip – businessmen wanting to get out of city imposed taxes and regulations by opening their new casinos just outside of town. So if you come to Vegas and spend time on the Strip you really are just in the township of Paradise, Nevada. I've said it before, and it still sounds funny to me; when we drive down to the Strip (we’re about two miles west) I pass that little green sign that says ‘Entering Paradise’ and look up at the bright colorful lights. Someone in the past had a good sense of humor.


angryparsnip said...

Wonderful post today and I am so happy I found time to read it.
I understand trying to take a sunrise or sunset photo and not getting all the colors. very frustrating sometimes.
The only sign I ever thought about was the old "Las Vegas" sign, is it still there? Never knew about the city sign "Entering Paradise" but it does made sense and so very funny !

cheers, parsnip

JoeinVegas said...

The Las Vegas sign is south on Las Vegas Boulevard (the Strip) at the end of the airport runway. Somehow the LV city limits include a little island that just covers the property limits of the airport, and extend out to the median in the middle of LV Boulevard, so the sign is really within the city limits, but as you drive past you leave the city and enter Paradise. Keep driving for another six miles and you reenter the LV city limits.
They've fixed up the area around the sign, a popular tourist spot for photos, and just read an article about spending another $800,000 to expand parking in the median and add signaled crosswalks to keep people from getting run over running across four lanes of traffic (in each direction).

angryparsnip said...

I would think running over tourist trying to take a photo would be bad for business !

cheers, parsnip

SOL's view said...

It sounds like you live in a lovely area. I too dislike intensely the idea of a developer dictating to me what I can and can't paint a house, build a fence, park in a driveway. It's bad enough when Councils do it. :)

Rob said...

Lovely neighbourhood Joe.

Your Paul Revere comment made me laugh. As you can imagine there's a lot of Edinburgh (or Glasgow for that matter) that has been around rather longer than the USA. And last week I went back to Stockport in England where I grew up, for a school reunion. While most of the school buildings in my day dated from 1916, the school itself was founded in 1487, when the fall of the Roman Empire was within living memory, and Richard III had recently been buried in his car park. (Well, it wasn't a car park then but you know what I mean.) And just a few years before that Columbus guy bumped into this big continent thingy.

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