Posted in Business, Campgrounds, Dogs, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels, Weather, Wildlife

Pack Expo, Las Vegas 2017

After seeing Drew in South Lake Tahoe, our other main purpose of this trip is to attend PackExpo in Las Vegas. Pack Expo is a huge trade show covering every aspect of packaging products before shipping to retail and wholesale buyers. Pack Expo International occurs every other year, in Chicago, at McCormick Place, and alternates with Pack Expo Las Vegas the opposite years. It is always held in big convention centers with lots of space to display all types of machinery. This is one of the big venues for us to get sales leads and reach potential customers; it’s worth the time and sore feet!

We made early reservations outside “The Strip” in Las Vegas at Clark County Shooting Complex. I have read many reviews and blogs about the safety (or lack of) of the hotel RV parks on The Strip. Many had reported burglaries while staying there, both in and outside RV’s; I was not willing to worry about that while parked in the heart of the lights and noise of Las Vegas. The Shooting Complex sits on the north side of Las Vegas, at the foot of the Las Vegas Mountain Range, and outside the hustle and bustle of town. Reviews had mentioned the noise at this campground when shooting occurred; our reservations were from Sunday to Wednesday and we lucked out! The range is closed to the public on Mondays and Tuesdays but open to the local military for practice; this week the range was preparing for a big public shooting event the next weekend and was closed to all! It was so nice and quiet, especially at night, to sit outside and look down on the lights of Las Vegas.

Ha! Aliens greeted us at the entrance to the campground and shooting complex!

The campground has 80 paved, FHU spots all lined up in a single row, in between the trap and skeet area and the archery range, the outdoor rifle & pistol areas were further north of the campground. There is absolutely zero grass, trees or anything that even resembles green growth anywhere here….it is truly desert….the corgis had a hard time deciding where to go to the bathroom! Cactus grew everywhere around here, big fat round ones, Saguaros, prickly pear, more than I could count as well as Joshua Trees. We also saw so very many Road Runner birds and Jack Rabbits with their long ears! This time of year the weather was amazing, highs in the 80’s and low in the 50’s…..probably the best time of year to visit if you want to enjoy your trip! We would certainly stay here again.

Cactus & Sagebrush with Las Vegas in the distance

Back to Pack Expo Las Vegas: Barry went the first 2 days alone to work at different booths, I dropped him off and stayed at the coach. I was able to do laundry and clean the coach; being in the West makes everything so dusty. By Tuesday, I was ready to go to the show and see friends and contacts and so very many machines! Every year they build new tasks for robots to complete and this year was an ice cream serving robot. All you had to do was place a cake cone in a holder and select your flavor (vanilla, chocolate, or swirl). The robot arm picked up the cone, rotated around to the ice cream maker and placed it under the correct flavor spout. Another robot arm pushed the button for the correct flavor and the ice cream filled the cone. As it completed filling, the first arm moved the cone in a small circular motion to make a swirl of ice cream on top! It then returned the cone to the original holder for you to pick it up and eat! Such fun!

It just dropped this filled cone for a customer to pick up!

Another highlight of this Expo was the FedEx Drone display. They are in the testing phase of using drones to deliver packages to a designated spot in your yard. A drone-enabled truck “picks” the correct box out of the truck cargo (of a small dimension) and places it in a loading arm. That arm raises to the roof of the truck and loads it onto the waiting drone. While the truck driver is making a nearby delivery, the drone takes the package directly to your yard and leaves it for you to retrieve. They hope this will help with more rural deliveries to prevent the truck from having to back in or out of tricky driveways, allowing the best use of the truck and driver. There were also tons of machines that form bags and boxes, fill bottles, and inspect all the above to guarantee the consumer only gets what they have purchased…..no metal shavings, etc..

After about 5 hours walking the show, I was beat and ready to head back to the coach. Barry was having dinner with some of our principals and I was on my own. As I left though, I realized that I could not leave without visiting the Strip a bit. I caught the Monorail and headed over to the Flamingo / Caesars stop, wandered through the Flamingo and out onto the Strip.

You can see the Paris Hotel & Casino all around Las Vegas!

I crossed the street and waited to watch the water show at the Bellagio — always wonderful!

Music and dancing fountains of water are always a crowd pleaser at the Bellagio!

My next stop was the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace to enjoy the luxury shopping in a beautiful setting. I watched the “Fall of Atlantis” animatronic show with loud sound effects including water and fire. I love beautiful shoes and stopped at every one of them in the indoor mall before I came to Christian Louboutin and attempted to enter. The doors were closed a few people were milling around, maybe waiting for them to open? Someone said, “They have closed the doors to allow Nicholas Cage to shop in private!” Sure enough, Nicolas Cage was inside looking at shoes! As he completed his shopping, he allowed fans to take a photo with him; my youngest son later questioned why I did not take a photo with him? I replied, “He just looked too scruffy to me!” A previous shopping experience in the Forum Shops put me in a store with Michael Jackson! I Love Caesars Palace!!

Doesn’t he look like it’s still 1990?
Beautiful shoes with layers of silver fringe on the heels! If only I had $1,495!

If only we were rich, I would probably have several pair of incredible shoes in the RV, or maybe even pull a trailer with lots and lots of shoes? No, I would not, but it would be nice to just wear a pair of lovely shoes every now and then!! My feet were completely worn out by now and I returned to the coach, so tired and incredibly happy!

Las Vegas = Money & Fast Cars

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Posted in Campgrounds, LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels, Wildlife

Beatty, Nevada

Today we said goodbye to the incomparable beauty of Yosemite NP and headed south and east toward Las Vegas.  Snowy mountain tops along the Sierra Nevada said goodbye to summer and hello to fall (whaaat?) and we kept them in our view throughout most of today.

Not sad to leave the gas prices in Beatty!

The drive routed us east along a pass between the White Mountains and the Inyo Mountains and through miles and miles of dry, desert lands.  Beatty, Nevada, near the Sheep Mountain Range, was just far enough to give us a nice warmer overnight stop before heading further south to Las Vegas.   As we drove along, the landscape changed from pine forests to sage brush, then, after we left California and got further into Nevada, the Joshua Tree (a type of Yucca)  appeared.  They only grow in the Mohave and Sonoran Deserts in this part of the world!!!  That is awesome!

As we got closer to Beatty, we began to see burros along the highway.  They have wild burros in Nevada and Arizona!!!

This momma & her colt were just walking along the road!

We arrived in Beatty, turned at the only stoplight in town(!), and pulled into Death Valley Inn & RV Park.  It is about the only nice hotel here and looks decent from the front, with a pool and nice tree plantings.  The RV park is next door, all gravel with very small lacy trees planted along each site — and a view of the discarded old mattresses and furniture behind the hotel.  It is small, but has 50 amp FHU’s, decent shower house, and very clean laundry house; for only $35 a night, it was a nice stopover in the desert!

After freshly made lasagna and roll and cake (!) at the local diner, KC’s Outpost, we drove out to Death Valley NP.  I visited here many years ago with my family for a spring desert bloom, but Barry had never been here.  The eastern boundary was only 8 miles outside Beatty, past the ghost town of Rhyolite, along a long straight highway.

Long thin ribbon of highway between Death Valley and Beatty, NV
View from the eastern Kiosk entrance stop towards the lowest point in the USA – 282′ below sea level

This abandoned mine was just next to the road – and No! I did not go into it!

Tomorrow we drive a couple of hours to Las Vegas!  Our first “big” city in 2 months!!

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Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, Travels, Weather

Yosemite

We hugged Drew enough to hold us all until we could be together again and drove south and east from Lake Tahoe, back over Carson Pass and toward Gardnerville. It had snowed overnight in the upper elevations and left Carson Pass looking like the beginning of a great snow-boarding season!

Leaving snowy Tahoe!

We hoped to drive a few hours east and then due south to Lee Vining, California for a 2 night stay. Lee Vining is a tiny little town between the shores of Mono Lake and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, a “jump off” spot to Yosemite.  Mono Lake is an ancient saline lake that has no fish; instead it is home to trillions of Mono Lake Brine Shrimp and Mono Lake Alkali Flies. Freshwater streams feed Mono Lake, with forests of cottonwood and willow along their banks.

Mono Lake

We found Mono Lake RV Park and backed into our site. This is a small private park with less than 40 sites, but full hookups and 50 amps! Most of the other sites had coaches, 5th wheel’s and campers with vacationers, hunters and fishermen staying here. The town is small but had good places to eat and tourist-y shops with Native American goods. I think it would be hard to get a place to stay here in the summer as this town sits at the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park.

Snow is coming to Mono Lake RV Park!!

After some wonderful star-gazing (the Milky Way was just perfect!) and a good night’s sleep, we awoke to freezing cold temperatures and snow above us in the mountains. We had hoped to spend the day in Yosemite, but the entrance was closed due to heavy snow in the mountains. The alternative would have been to drive back to Lake Tahoe, then drive south from there to the western Yosemite entrances, a journey of 8 hours…..so we waited. We had a good breakfast and drove about 2 miles toward the entrance to scope it out and found people parked along the roadside, waiting for word from the park rangers about opening the road.

Waiting to see if they open the Eastern Entrance to Yosemite!

I hiked a bit up a campground road there, found a running mountain stream and a grove of aspen, and returned to the road to wait also. About noon, a park ranger drove down from Yosemite and opened the gates!! We could go in, but had to watch the time and the weather, if it started to snow again, they would close this entrance and we would have no choice but to take the 8 hour journey back around to the RV.

Heavy snow at the upper elevations!
Fantastic rock face

Neither of us had ever been to Yosemite and had really no idea what to expect. We have seen the photos of El Capitan and Half Dome and Yosemite Falls, but this does not really prepare you for actually seeing it in person. We drove up over the mountains, following switchbacks that were just clinging to the side of mountains before the terrain changed completely. Tall pine trees with snowy branches filled the sky and then the ground became huge flat and rounded stone surfaces. It looked like a commercial for Jeep where they drive them out and off-road. After about 45 minutes, we dropped down and into Yosemite Valley. Seriously, I am not going to have enough adjectives to describe the valley, a canyon cut between mountains with a running river at the bottom and the road hugging the mountain all the way down.

Around a turn, Yosemite Falls came into view. It is tall and majestic and awe-inspiring, even at the end of summer when it was at its driest. There were lots of places to park and we stopped to admire that cascade of water from the mountain snows. This time of year the tourist season was not at its height and we were able to navigate the entire valley easily.

Lower Yosemite Falls
El Capitan
Two people are camping on a platform and then climbing during the day on El Capitan

A little further on we spotted El Capitan across the valley from Yosemite Falls. With my camera and long lens, I was able to photograph two people climbing from a sleeping platform about 1/3 of the way up. I personally could not climb a sheer mountain face or sleep on a board attached to it!! (Sadly, 2 days later, a 13 story size slab fell off the mountain face and several climbers were killed. I pray that the 2 we saw were not killed.). We wandered around Yosemite Village for a bit, bought a few souvenirs, grabbed a very expensive deli sandwich and headed back out of the Valley and toward Lee Vining.

Half Dome, in all it’s beauty, is on the right in this photo.

We stopped at the lookout for Half Dome on the way back and marveled at the beauty of this entire area. If you love history as we do, take some time to read about Yosemite and John Muir and his campaign to “save” Yosemite from development for the enjoyment of future generations. The National Park Service owes a huge debt to John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt for the formation of that organization and the designation of Yosemite as one of America’s first National Parks.

As we exited the park gates and headed back to Lee Vining, we both agreed that Yosemite is definitely worth a 2 week stay on our next western trip! We said goodnight to the Milky Way and fell sound asleep dreaming about the wonders of Yosemite and planning our next visit!

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Posted in Dogs, RV Living, Travels, Weather

Blue Lakes

Before we left this beautiful area, I wanted to take the dogs out, alone, back into the mountains to breathe the mountain air and fill my soul.  Drew recommended I drive out to the Blue Lakes off Highway 88 (Carson Pass Highway), along Hope Valley Road.

This road follows the West Fork of the Carson River through a wonderful valley and past a few mountain homes finally giving away to complete wilderness.  It’s a 2 lane highway past running water, lots of trees, and along a cut between Markleeville Peak, The Nipple, and Jeff Davis Peak.

We reached the end of the road at the Blue Lakes and drove along Lower Blue Lake.  The land here is made up gigantic smooth rocks with trees growing up through the cracks, it’s a great place for Corgis to run around!

Yep, that is the mountain called The Nipple
Amazing!!!

The wind has twisted most of the trees out here over the years.


So, I let the Corgis out to run around while I walked a little.  Without my hiking boots and cell service, I didn’t want to venture too far out on my own.  There were several campers out here….but it’s too twisty and without full hookups for us to bring the coach out here.  Too sad, I would love to park out away from everything like this to cleanse my lungs and soul daily!
Water running between the Upper and Lower Blue Lakes

Back to those Corgis….. they loved running around on the large flat mountain rocks, chasing each other and barking as much as they wanted!  In the photo just above, you can see a tree and a bunch of bushes growing at the water’s edge and Zeplyn running along the top of the rock.  Well, the Corgis are not accustomed to big smooth rocks that drop of suddenly — sure enough, first Ratchet fell down into those bushes, then, while I was trying to figure out how to get him back up and out, Zeplyn slid down there too!  Now I had 2 dogs scrambling around on the branches just above that water and about 4’ below me trying to figure out how to get back out.  Zeplyn is still young enough (he’s only 8 years old) and was able to claw his way back up the rock and onto the top.  Ratchet is 11 and a bit heavier; no way was he going to scramble up that rock!  I finally figured out how to approach it from the tree side, coax Ratchet over to me by climbing over the branches, and carry him back to the upper side of the rocks!   Whew!!!!

We returned to the car and headed back to Tahoe, snow was coming! We are leaving tomorrow and I’ve got some packing to do!

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Posted in LIfestyle, RV Living, Travels

In the Mountains near Tahoe

We hiked several days into the Sierra Nevada Mountains around Lake Tahoe.  One day, Barry & I drove out to Kirkwood Ski Resort and had lunch and took a long different way back to the coach.

Blue Lake off Hwy. 88
Caples Lake
Too cold for us to swim!!
Last year’s snow!!
These enormous rocks just sit around; looks like a little push could roll them over!!
How did that round rock get left here?

Couple of horse riders in the Kirkwood Resort parking lot.

Another day, Drew & I left to hike out with my backpack loaded to get  used to carrying it packed.  We parked off Highway 88 at Carson Pass, loaded up and set off toward Winnemucca Lake.

Such very big trees!
The wind blowing Drew’s beard at Frog Lake
We hiked the Pacific Crest Trail on the way!

In the background of the above photo is a mountain called, “Elephant’s Back”….it does look like the skin you might see on an elephant!

The Winnemucca water is so very clear!
Last year’s snow is so close here…..but really it is a mile or so up!
Too much snow last year bent this young tree!

Today we hiked about 10 miles round trip, climbed about 2,000’ in elevation, and needed about 4.5 hours with all my stops to rest.  Drew was so very patient with me especially on the return trip out when this happened:

Yep, I hiked the soles off my hiking boots!

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Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, RV Living, Wildlife

Second Look: Around Tahoe

While in South Lake Tahoe, we both had different days to explore the area. One day, Barry and Drew left to go trout fishing. They went south of Carson Pass to fish in mountain streams still open — the rivers in Tahoe were already closed for the season.  The cooler mountain air and cold water were great for Barry and he enjoyed the chance to have some Dad/son time and practice his fly casting.

First Mountain Rainbow Trout ever!!!!!

While the guys were fishing, I took the Corgis to the Upper Truckee River nearby to hike a bit……these Corgis love the water and after that initial cold shock, I had a hard time keeping them Out of the water!

Hiking Corgis!!!
River Corgis!

Another day we drove all around the lake to show Barry the sites along the way.  Our first stop was in Tahoma to explore the Hellman-Ehrmann Mansion.  I.W. Hellman bought about 2,000 acres on the lake for his vacation home and built the mansion in 1903, using mainly local materials.   Isaiah W. Hellman founded the Farmers and Merchants Bank of California as well as the University of Southern California!  He named the property Pine Lodge and boated most of the visitors to the property.

Giant trees abound here: Sugar Pine, Jeffrey Pine, Ponderosa Pine, and White Fir
A view of the mansion from the lakeside dock.
The north Stone Room was used for casual dining. The south Stone Room was the billiards and game room.
The dining room paneling is hand-woven strips of redwood and the upper paneling is of hand-woven grass.
Beautiful Craftsmanship is evident throughout the house.
Warning! Extremely Cold Water!!!! And yes, there was a family from Eastern Europe swimming!!!!

We drove all the way around the lake, visited Tahoe City for lunch, and returned back through Cave Rock (remember the tunnel that our Garmin routed us around?).

Later that night, as we returned to the coach, there was a visitor at the campground.  Seems like the management here would go to greater lengths to prevent bears from dumpster diving; as the month passed and the campground cleared out, the easy access dumpsters were re-located away from all the parking sites.

That’s a Big Bear and he is reading the sign to close the lid!!!!!!

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Posted in Campgrounds, Parks, RV Living, Travels, Weather, Wildlife

First Look: South Lake Tahoe, California

This entire trip from Missouri west has had 2 main purposes:  Pack Expo in Las Vegas and to visit our son, Drew, in South Lake Tahoe.  Today we realized the visit with Drew!!!!  We headed southwest on U.S. 50 from Fallon early in the morning; it is labelled one of the “Loneliest Highways in America” and we could see why.  There is very little traffic on this road and not much to see…….until we got closer to Carson City and headed south toward Gardnerville.  This long lush valley is full of huge cattle ranches with green grass and herds of cattle along the eastern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  It was refreshing to be in so much green-ness for a change!

Along this trip, Barry & I have worried and planned the route carefully, to the point that we bought a Garmin RV 660 at Cabela’s and down-loaded the www.lowclearances.com product.  (Here is the link if you want to get it: http://www.lowclearances.com/amember/go.php?r=4611&i=l0 )  We have been specifically worried about a tunnel at Cave Rock just before South Lake Tahoe that may be less than 13’9″ (our RV is 12’9″ but we want to give ourselves as much room as possible).    So, our Garmin with the uploaded clearance info routed us south on U.S. 395 to Hwy. 88 in Gardnerville toward Carson Pass, then east on Hwy. 89 over Luther Pass to Myers and north on U.S. 50 (again) to our campground in Tahoe!  Whew!!!  Altogether it was not bad driving, but Barry is Super Nervous about mountain passes, both up and down, and his anxiety is obvious as I drive.  The RV handles both up and down hills just fine!

We arrived safely in Tahoe at Tahoe Valley RV Resort & Campground and found our site #109; it was a 30 amp site about 15′ from each neighbor with storage campers behind us.  That would not do.  I went back to the office and complained that I had paid for a Premium Site and expected such and we were moved to site #431 which was Not a Premium site, but had 50 amp FHU’s with lots of space.  I’m not sure about the “Resort” label here; they do have a pool, but closed it after Labor Day, tennis and basketball courts, a playground, and big shelters for group meetings, but everything looks tired and worn out.  The roads throughout are terrible, rough and poorly marked; the edges of the road were not well defined and, with the heavy  pine needles everywhere, everyone drove off the roads frequently.  The staff were worthless.  Sadly, it is one of the few FHU campgrounds in South Lake…..sigh….

Everything was unpacked and we jumped out to explore!  This is Barry’s first visit to Lake Tahoe and the route in did not bring us by the Lake; we headed toward the famous views of Emerald Bay.

Barry’s first look at Lake Tahoe

We met Drew for dinner with lots of hugs and kisses all around and made plans for our 2 week stay!  Fishing, hiking, sight-seeing, just hanging out together!!!  It is So Very Good to see our middle son; it’s been at least 2 years since we were together!

Lake Tahoe view from Stateline Road, the smokey haze persists…

We dropped Drew off for work and headed back to the coach to get some work done before dinner……..3 hours later, this happened:

HAIL!!!!!

It slowed and stopped, then began again……

YIKES!!!

It started up 3 times, with progressively larger sizes of hail each time…..pea-sized, dime-sized, then quarter-sized!  Our A/C shrouds on the roof were original to the coach and very brittle; the hail beat them up very badly.  RV Parts:  2 new shrouds = $400……

Hail came in 3 different bursts, this was the largest.

Tomorrow we are going to drive around the Lake and sight-see all along the way!  Hopefully the weather won’t repeat the hail!

 

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