Saturday, July 30, 2011

Green Valley Ranch

A few weeks ago we went to Green Valley Ranch to meet some friends for dinner and a show. Green Valley is part of the Station Casinos chain, with all of their places off Strip and aimed at locals more than tourists. We mainly went to see Lyle Lovett in concert, having seen him with his Large Band down in San Diego a while back. This time he just sat on stage with a friend and a guitar, told stories and played and sang by himself – quite different than having twenty musicians behind him.

Green Valley Casino seems to mirror other Station casinos, having an ‘old time’ feel with stained glass and wood.

The buffet is fairly cheap for locals, with dinner at $12.99, so the line is usually long.

The food is good if not exciting, but you can sit as long as you want and eat as much as you want, and the crowd seems to be mostly the over 60 group.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thanks for the reminder from Tricia:

Everyone knows Amy Winehouse died. Who are Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27....? All Marines that gave their lives this week for you. There is no media for them... not even a mention of their names. Honor THEM by posting this!

Tivoli Village - Sophie's fountain

Last weekend we drove over to the newly opened Tivoli shopping center. It’s similar in style to the Towne Center and the District at Green Valley; an open air shopping area with a mixture of standalone and attached buildings with shops and restaurants, living space above, and an atmosphere that is supposed to be like a small town rather than just a shopping center, with streets and parks and things. Since the weather in Las Vegas is rather pleasant most of the year a lot of shopping centers are not enclosed, as they are in colder climates.

At one end of the main street near the kid’s playground is an interactive fountain, the kind that is designed for kids to run through, with soft rubber underfoot and jets and sprays that alternate. There were a few small kids playing nearby when we walked up, and I stepped on the button to start the spray sequence and we sat to enjoy the cooling mist – it was 102f and we could use the cooling part. The kids saw the activity and came running over. One was named Sophie – her mom kept yelling “Sophie – don’t do that… Sophie, don’t …”. Evidently this was the first time Sophie had seen a fountain like this. Her grandmother kept urging her to go on the fountain, and it did take a while for her to brave the water.

My wife B said that once Sophie started running through the water her mom would have a hard time getting her out of there, and it seems she was right.

As we walked down the street we could hear Sophie laughing as she ran through the water and played with the fountain, and kept urging grandma to start it again when the sequence ended.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mandalay bride

A few weeks ago we went to Mandalay Bay with a friend to eat at the Burger Bar and show her the views from the Fire & Ice Bar on the top floor; she’s lived in town for ten years and had never been to either place. I like going to Mandalay Bay and the attached Luxor for several reasons, the main one being access: it is on the same side of the Strip as our house and thus is relatively easy to get to, the parking garages open onto the road behind (Frank Sinatra Drive), and the parking garage is large with big aisles, wide parking spaces, and escalators within the parking garage between levels, taking you right down to the back entrance. It’s also a rather pleasant place, with good restaurants and an atmosphere that I like.

Anyway, the back door from the parking garage brings you in between the restaurants in the south western corner of the property. As we walked past the statue of Lenin in front of the Red Square restaurant (voted the Best Bar in America by Playboy Magazine according to their web site) we walked past one of those sites that I love to see on the Strip; a bride in full wedding gown walking around. This one appeared to be by herself, no spouse or fiancé in evidence, and was heading towards the garage, walking very quickly.

Sorry I don’t have a good photo, the camera wasn’t in my hand and I have not fully developed my quick-draw technique, though there are times I wish I was faster. I will have to pull all of these bride photos together, the average seems to be one bride for every three trips we take down to the strip; time of day or day of week is immaterial, I’ve seen fancy bridal gowns in early morning on the way to work, seen weddings on a pirate ship at noon, crossing the street in late afternoon, on late night walks, and everything in between. This one was at around 5pm on a Thursday evening.

Back to the Burger Bar – this time I tried one of their named burgers, with buffalo meat and an assortment of stuff on it: it was really great. But when we tried to get upstairs we found the bar was closed for a private party, so our friend still hasn’t seen the view of the Strip from on high. Next time you are in Vegas go up to Mix and catch the sunset – no cover charge if you’re early, you can even get by without buying a drink, but take some time, have a coke or something stronger and enjoy the view. Be sure to hit the restrooms – at my house we don’t even have a window in the bathroom, there you have a floor to ceiling glass wall looking down the Strip to the south.

Wow, looking at the menu for Red Square, the first thing listed is Imperial Golden Osetra 000 caviar at $ 275. One reason we haven’t eaten there. Of the other restaurants, Strip Steak at least lists the ‘average bill per person $110. A 30 oz Porterhouse steak at $69 – you better be really hungry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bunnie gauge

The building I work in is rather far out in the middle of nothing. The nearest other building is about a mile away across open desert. Because of this we seem to get a lot of animals around the place. Sitting in the upstairs conference room I look out over the front parking lot to a big empty field. I usually see rabbits, chipmunks and quail. Once in a while a coyote wanders through, but they are usually night stalkers that sleep during the day. Some people have seen rattlesnakes near the doors as well.

A family of rabbits comes by to nibble the grass each morning, hanging around out there until about noon. They don’t seem too scared of the people walking by, but do run away if you stop or get too close. I’m trying to gauge what kind of day it will be based on the number of rabbits that are out there when I come in. Today was a one bunnie morning, some days have more than others.
Two bunnie morning

Three bunnie morning

Four bunnie morning

Haven’t seen more than that all gathered together, but others are hopping around.

Friday, July 22, 2011

E Friday, more random

Here we are again, and I am finally doing E Friday on a Friday. Wow, I am impressed with myself (if I really do get to post this.) Inspired by Clare I am posting three photos of my loverly granddaughter E. She now lives up in Portland, and my wife and I get to go up and visit periodically. She is due down in August for her yearly swimming in warm water vacation, which we are looking forward to. Here are three random photos with no relation to each other taken on past trips up there.

E is taking violin lessons, and at one of the group sessions the instructor has the students play as they walk. I don’t know what this has to do with violin playing, unless there is a marching orchestra someplace. (E’s the one in white and red)

Not far from her house is an old amusement park named Oaks Bottom that she likes going to. The place looks like it’s been around for a while, and it’s nothing at all like Disneyland, but being her size and experience level it’s still pretty good. As with most places you end up waiting in line to get on the rides. Being short you grow tired of staring at the butts in front of you.

Grammy picks E up from school, and on the walk home sometimes stops for an ice cream or other treat. These seem to be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Video Monday, TV themes

Last week I posted a few bits from the TV show Route 66. Watching television this week emphasized to me how much time was spent in the past on tying songs to television series, with people being able to recognize what’s coming on from the first few bars of the opening music. Here are a few others that I remember, some with just music

Some even had words, of course they were fairly easy to remember

OK, I could go on for quite a while, but that’s enough for now.

Friday, July 15, 2011

more Red Rock

Red Rock is the 'conservation area' just west of Vegas. We go there to hike and walk around, but it also has a long bike route that is very well used.

A while back several companies started renting scooters so that tourists could get around town easier. Realizing that people often fell off of these two wheeled vehicles they then came up with three wheeled motorcycles which don't require a fancy drivers license to operate, and are fairly easy to use while still keeping the rider out in the sun. Somebody thought of putting a fiberglass body on these to make them seem more like small cars, the result is these vehicles, seen on the Red Rock loop

In response, here is E riding her bike around the living room. I don't ask, she was 5.

Don't know if the training wheels have come off yet.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rt 66 revisited

Sorry, meant to put this up yesterday too. Not sure what came first, the song or the tv show. I think it was the song that inspired the show writers.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rt 66

A few weekends ago I drove down to 29 Palms with a friend. We went to a train show there, but mainly the trip was the purpose not the destination. It's a three hour drive mostly on two lane roads through some of the most (try to think of some descriptions that aren't too worn out), well, what I thought was ‘Why the heck do people live out here?’. It was all flat, barren landscape with low scrub and distant mountains. (oh, yea, kind of like Vegas) with no water and an hour drive to the nearest store. But there were little shacks scattered all over, most of them vacant now. Must have been even harder to live out there years ago when cars weren’t as reliable. There were not farms, gardens, flowers, or anything green beyond the native shrub.

Part of the drive was along old Route 66, a road that used to be the main way from Los Angeles to Chicago. It’s been bypassed by much larger freeways now, but some nostalgic people still travel the road. We passed an old motel that is still open, even had a big grand piano in the lobby visible from the street. Comprised of that interesting lobby building and individual buildings for the bedrooms.

I was raised back east, but remember Route 66 from the old 1960 television series starring Martin Milner and George Maharis. There are lots of episodes on YouTube, one has the theme song

The series followed the two stars as they drove along Route 66 in their classy Corvette running into different adventures along the way. This opening showed more of the western area

But my favorite (after watching a variety of clips for a while) is an episode staring Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr. and Boris Karloff. This episode takes place on the eastern end of the highway, at Chicago.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


We’ve had a relatively cool spring, and our summer isn’t warming up very quickly either. This week the predictions are for high temperatures to be under 37c (100f) all week. Last year we were up over 43c (110f) every day. I still love the hot weather, but it really is nice to sit out in the morning, have my coffee and listen to the birds without having to sweat.

We have been getting out on weekends and visiting different spots around town. Last Sunday we drove up to Mt. Charleston, before it was Red Rock. Perhaps another road trip south might be next. Last time B flew back from Portland she took this photo of Red Rock from the plane

Makes it look pretty, but stark. I would still rather do trees, but then it wouldn’t be the Vegas desert, would it?
Out in our front yard the olive trees are full of fruit. We don’t do anything with it except let the birds feast, but even then there are quite a lot of olives left over. Right now they are bright green and starting to weigh down the tree branches, eventually they will turn deep purple and start falling off. That’s when are yard will be filled with pigeons pecking the olives apart. They seem to be the only birds that do that, all the other birds just use the olive trees for nesting rather than eating. The pigeon population is still limited, and more olives just lay untouched. The ones from last year are now all dried and hard, but we’re too lazy to gather them up.

An older couple does come around in early fall and asks if they can pick the olives, evidently it is a time consuming process to make them edible, I find it much easier to just open a jar.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Go To Sleep

I've heard of this book but not gotten it yet. I love the way Samuel Jackson reads it. (something a lot of parents would be saying to their kids, at least in their heads)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Quiet weekend

We had a quiet holiday weekend. The weather wasn’t as warm as expected, and Sunday brought some interesting lightning and thunderstorms, but we were able to hit the pool

And made up some grilled salmon following a recipe in the recent Sunset magazine

Sitting on some fresh summer corn (yea sweet corn!) and tomatoes from our garden (yea fresh garden tomatoes!) served with margaritas, made one afternoon enjoyable.

Last week it finally started getting hot. I walked out to my car after work, started it up and looked down at the dashboard thermometer saying 113 (45c) and yes, felt pretty hot in there. It took a while for the air conditioner to cool the car down, but it was cold in there by the time I got home. Usually I just drive with the windows down, a throwback to my convertible days, but it’s a little too noisy on the freeways to do that at high speed. Mornings are really nice – it’s around 78 (26c) when the sun is coming out, we sit on the back patio watching the hummingbirds fight over the feeder and listening to all of the birds chirping in the bushes, drink our coffee and just enjoy the atmosphere.