Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Around town

I haven’t posted many Vegas photos recently, and that was the main reason I started this column. I wanted to share interesting things I see around town and figured this was a place to put them. And if nobody else visited at least I would have a record of what was going on.

We moved here seven years ago, and the first thing that was very noticeable was the wide expanse of sky, with views of the mountains all around the Vegas valley. There is always a lot of bright blue sky and sunshine, and because of the cold dry air we could easily see the contrails left by jets flying high overhead. We are on one of the main airline pathways between LA and the rest of the country, so there are always planes zipping by. Planes flying from LA to New York and most of the east coast pass overhead and travel on just south of the Grand Canyon, planes flying LA to Chicago or Denver are traveling in a more north easterly direction and pass north of the Grand Canyon.

I got up the other morning and went out to get the paper, looked up, and saw two planes angling from LA to Chicago, one following the other and all alone in the blue morning air:

I have a short term contract with a company in Henderson, a smaller town located just east of Vegas, and drive home just at sunset. Coming around one corner I’m presented with the buildings down on the Strip with the north mountains behind them. It’s interesting to see the different angles of the sun, if I’m a few minutes late then the sun is not shining down on the Strip, already behind the mountains to the west, but the mountains north and east are still in sunshine. Can’t see it too well here, but I was early and caught everything in sun, with our typical no cloud sky.

Traveling a little further presents a nice view of the Strip, and I was able to catch a shot of one of our new features. If you look just to the right of the pyramid you can see a little dot in the sky about even with the top of gold Mandalay Bay. It’s a big helium balloon, called the Cloud 9 Experience. Hanging from the balloon is a big circular platform with low railing that holds up to thirty people. You float up and get to look north up the Strip at all the big buildings, more impressive at night when everything is lit up. Here is the Fox story. My suggestion would be to skip the balloon and go over to Mandalay Bay. If you get there early you can go up to the Mix bar on the 64th floor and get about the same view for free. Of course, it is inside with a view in one direction at a time from behind glass (unless you go out on the balcony) and a bit different than hanging exposed in the air with nothing below you.

Someone else is trying to bring a sky dining experience. This would not use a balloon but a 150 foot high crane to lift an open platform with a big square table for 20 up in the air, with chef and servers in the middle. You sit around the outside with nothing under you and dine on high. They are trying for a permit in the center of the Strip, but Steve Wynn, located right across the street, is objecting that it would not look very nice.

Shortly after moving here we converted our yard from grass to desert landscaping. Part of the conversion was planting a lot of desert and low water plants and trees. We put in about thirty sage bushes, all six feet high now which bloom in different shades of purple several times a year. We also put in two shoestring Acacia trees near the house, which grow tall but not wide, figuring they would give some shade to the roof during the hot season and help keep things a little cooler. These have gone from an inch diameter trunks five years ago to about six inch trunks and over thirty feet tall - fast growers. They are in bloom right now, all covered with little white puff balls that are about a quarter of an inch in diameter that glow in the sunset.

Unfortunately they also release lots of pollen, which our newly developed allergies are not so thankful

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