Monday, December 22, 2014

Driving Nevada

Last month we drove from Vegas up to Sacramento, California. It was about a ten hour drive and rather pleasant. I like to drive, and the Nevada landscape is rather open and visible. We drove on a new road for us, I-95 north from Vegas to Reno, a rather empty road. Just thought I’d share a few traveling photos.

Last August we had some rain – yes, we count months when it rains as we usually get less than 3” (8 cm) a year total rainfall. August and December are our wet months, with most August rains coming in quick thunderstorms. Local plants have adapted, with a lot of flowers blooming right after rains. We planted a row of sage out front and they do look nice with their purple blooms.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A week at the Smith Center

A few weeks ago we visited the Smith Center several times. There were a few performances that we wanted to see, and they all fell in the same week which provided us with three nights out.

The first night we saw Diana Krall in the large hall. Diana is one of the women singers that my wife really likes, so we hit the big hall. There are small balconies along the side, and we were able to get seats in one of the ones up close to the stage, which Bobbie really seemed to like, so with enough advanced notice I was able to get two seats there. Pretty close, but you are looking right down on stage so it is a different perspective than out in the regular audience. She does have a nice voice

She’s married to Elvis Costello, another songwriter.

A few nights later we got to see one of my favorite groups, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. I first saw them in the early 70’s, back when most of the band members were in their 70’s and 80’s. We’ve seen them a few times since, most recently about fifteen years ago in San Diego. This time they were in the cabaret, which is a performance space that we like. This is a smaller room, filled with tables for four, with food and drink service. There is a balcony that runs around the room, and after having tried a floor table we have now started getting seats up there. These are small tables each with two high chairs right on the rail, and again when we get a seat up front we can look right down on the stage.

Most of the band members were newer, but there were still a few that might have been with the group for a very long time. They were pretty good as usual, more of the original New Orleans jazz.

This is about the group we saw, except for only having one tuba player (the one with less hair) – he danced around the whole time the band played, a lot of energy for a big guy wearing a big instrument. And they had a piano player.

It is a nice size room, with seating on the main level and upstairs.

We had a good view of the action from up above.

Finally on Saturday afternoon we got to see the Tempest, one of the latest versions of the Shakespeare play. I can’t write as good a review as Lisa does for the plays she sees, but we were very impressed. Teller, from the Penn and Teller magic duo was one of the producers, and helped create the magic for the show. It was performed in a tent set up in front of the Smith Center. The stage was three stories high, with the top level being used as the ship that initiates the story when it is caught up in a magician’s storm (the Tempest) and runs ashore. The middle level was where the band was – quite a diverse group with two women singers performing music written for the show by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Most impressive was the monster Caliban, since it’s a speaking part it was usually played by a large actor painted with spot and stripes to make him look like a monster, but here played by two actors as a two headed monster, they performed some pretty impressive configurations during their performance.

It was a big tent, with air conditioning. We went on a very windy day but even though we could see the roof moving in the wind there was no noise from it.

Inside were about 400 seats set on risers, we were down front on the floor level.

The stage was taller than it was wide, the actors coming and going up and down the stairs and entering through the audience as well.

These guys were very athletic (images taken from our newspaper the Sun)playing the monster Caliban. They spoke in sync, so the voice ended up sounding as strange as the vision.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Springtime - trip to Tucson

Getting to be more like Springtime around here – weather report shows highs in the mid 80’s all week (that’s around 31-32c for you metrically inclined). We were on our way out to Home Depot for some fertilizer and sprinkler parts when we stopped at our local Sonic for burgers.

The carhops still use skates, this one was on rollerblades but still got around pretty fast. The burgers aren’t great, but we get what we expect and it’s fast and easy just to drive up and push the button to order.

Last weekend we drove down to Tucson to visit relatives. It’s about a seven hour drive (700k – 415 miles) through the mountains and desert. I’ve driven to Phoenix quite often, but this was my first time from Phoenix to Tucson – it’s about 90 minutes, and the desert along this stretch is not very impressive. Just miles and miles of flat nothing with mountains off in the distance (probably 40 or so miles off)

The part from Kingman to Phoenix is nice, through the mountains and Joshua trees and into the big Saguaro cactus areas. Our first time to see these relatives in almost a dozen years, now that I know the ride isn’t bad we’ll probably be seeing them more often.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Warm winter

I was driving up the street to my house the other day and looked up at the hills and realized how nice they look. Las Vegas is a big city aligned along the bottom of a big valley. There are mountains all around us, our streets are wide, and there aren’t many big imposing trees to block the views. California and Nevada have some of the best wide vistas anywhere, with open blue sky and mountains in the distance.

We live about ten miles from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area . You can see the striped red hills from anywhere in the Vegas Valley, with the colors appearing to be quite bright at certain angles of the sun. The other morning the red strip down the road between the trees was just brilliant, but faded out for the photograph.

We’ve had a very warm winter; I think there was only one day when nighttime temps dropped below freezing. Living in the high desert we usually have twenty to thirty degree swings (Fahrenheit) between nightly lows and afternoon highs, even in the winter. So a freezing night still leads to a sixty degree afternoon. Well, most of this winter it’s been around 45 at night and 65 in the daytime (5 – 19c), with some days over 80 most of February and March. This has led to a lot of our flowering trees and bushes to get confused and bloom early. The big yellow ones around town are now all bright and full off bees, the ones in our yard give off a marvelous fragrance.

It just makes me wonder how hot a summer we will be having to compensate for this.