Travels in the American Southwest

Counting my chickens as the sun rises

Awoke a couple of hours later and decided to give the dice another try. Found a space at a table and placed my bets. Made a little when I noticed an oriental fellow at the other end of the table. What caught my eye was the green and black chip wagers he was placing on the hardways. I then noticed that when someone hit a hardway, he would toke the shooter big time in black chips. Even if the shooter didn't hit any hardways, he would toss the shooter a black chip. I started to get excited! I'm due to get the dice next. With visions of, if not riches, a black chip or two racing through my head, I greedily waited for the stickman to "move the dice". I hear the dealer on the other end of the table announce "color comin' in". The dice remain in front of the boxman. I cringed and looked up. Yep, the generous oriental gentleman was coloring up and leaving. "Wait! No, not yet! Please stay!", my mind screamed...But he was done making bets. The young couple to my right, who were recipients of his generosity, sympathized with me as he left the table with literally thousands in chips. "Watch what happens now", I said to them choosing my dice. Bang. Hard eight. A couple of fives and nines. A hard ten followed by a hard four. A couple of yolevens and a snake-eyes followed by the hard six. Oh the fates have an ironic sense of humor! I then remembered the proverb about counting one's chickens before they're hatched. Sevened out and left the table a little wiser and a bit poorer!

I decided that right then would be a very good time to go camping-supply shopping. Needed some rebar for my camping in the wilds of Nevada. Ended up going to Steel Engineers Inc. near Bonanza. This company offers a variety of steel construction products from puny 5' lengths of rebar to pieces of fabricated steel weighing tons. I had brought some newspaper to line the car's trunk but the worker who loaded the car insisted I use burlap he provided for greater protection than newspaper would provide.

Since it was barely noon and I had no desire to contribute further to the downtown casinos' bottom line, I grabbed my camera and headed up I-15 to the Valley of Fire. This oldest Nevada State Park is a photographer's dream. Even in the mid-day sun, the breath-taking red stone contrasts beautifully with the cloudless blue sky. Stopped by a couple of sights I hadn't visited in years. The CCC cabins, built during the depression as a "get America back to work" project have had their roofs replaced which will protect the small 12' x 12' cabins from the elements. The small fireplace and chimney in each cabin have been restored to their original, primitive condition. I also photographed "The Elephant" which overlooks SR169. This natural rock formation has been recognized as an "elephant" by travelers since at least the early 1900's and quite probably for decades prior.

Heading back to Las Vegas, I wanted to check out Craig Road to scout out grocery and large discount stores. The car radio was blaring out a favorite song and I was singing off-key along with the music when I saw what I thought was the Craig Road exit. Off I-15 I go, only to discover that I was one exit early and actually on Lamb Road. Since there's no entrance back to I-15 south, I headed east through the industrial zoned area. Glancing to my left, I hit the brakes. A long abandoned parking lot appeared to be sprouting wooden shipping pallets. Tossed about were scores of them, some whole, some in splinters. In hindsight, I realized that I'd stumbled onto one of the many illegal short-dump sites that plague industrial areas everywhere. I noted the location, knowing that I'd return the next day to harvest firewood for my excursion into rural Nevada.

Stopped at Deseret Industries thrift shop north of Fremont Street on Main Street. Like last year, I was looking for a bicycle to do some desert riding. Did I hit paydirt! A 12 speed Magna NightVision mountain bike with knobby tires. A price tag of $50 had me running to the cashier with it! "What a nice girl's bike," commented the sales clerk. I froze. Deciding that I was secure enough in my masculinity to ride a girl's MOUNTAIN bike, I plunked my money down.

When I pulled into the Nugget's valet parking, I took the bicycle out of the trunk. "Doing some biking?", asked the valet. "Hope to," I smiled. Then I asked if there was a service entrance I could bring the bike through (not wanting to bring it through the front door). "Use the front door, they do it all the time," I was assured. Brought the bike in and didn't receive one stare or side-long glance...Until I approached the elevators. The security guard stationed there gave ne a "Whoa now. You can't be bringing that upstairs." "Why not?", I asked. "It's not allowed," he said thinking quickly. "No wheeled devices upstairs." As fate would have it, a wheelchair bound woman rolled by onto an elevator. I bit my lower lip and cursed myself for the unbidden thought rising in my mind. Instead I asked, "Are you afraid that I'll be popping wheelies in my s-u-i-t-e?", trying to lighten the mood. It didn't work. "I've got to call my supervisor." "You can never go wrong calling your supervisor," I replied and assured him that I didn't hold any of this against him. After hearing this, he became down-right friendly. We talked about life in Las Vegas and the current drought affecting the area. We spoke of great places to ride a bike and things to see while doing so.

The elevator doors open and out comes the supervisor in a dark jacket. After introductions, he asked, "Where was your bike before?" "In the car's trunk." "No bike rack?" "No, I just bought the bike and it's a rental car." Re-tried my "popping wheelies" quip. Much better received this time. My stance was simple - The car's trunk was not secure, my bike lock hadn't arrive via UPS and I refuse to leave the bike unsecured. "What's the difficulty with bringing the bike to the room?" I asked. He excuses himself and walks a few steps away and speaks into his radio. He returns. "You know we're in the middle of a $65 million renovation?" "Yes, I'm very impressed with the renovations," I replied. "Well, the carpet is brand new and we're concerned..." Click. So it's a financial/damage concern. Now that's something I can relate to. If the reason was "It's a rule", I'd have a problem with that but getting down to financial nuts and bolts, now we're talking a mutually understandable language! I conceded the financial/damage argument but play the security of the bicycle card. He counters with, "Would you object to storing your bicycle with the Bell Captain? It would be available to you whenever you wanted it." I congratulated him on a win-win situation as we walked the bike over to the Bell Desk. Shook hands with the supervisor and I headed off for a prime rib dinner. After a fine meal, I took the bicycle out for a shake-down ride around the downtown area. Tighten some loose nuts, lubriated the chain and made sure the reflectors were clean and aligned before returning the bike to its temporary lodging at the Bell Desk. Headed upstairs as I knew that tomorrow would begin the outside Las Vegas portion of my trip. Anticipating the sights I'd be seeing like Toquima Cave, Devil's Punchbowl, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and more, I drifted off, exhausted.

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