Saturday, May 19, 2018

Seven Magic Mountains

If you hike, you probably have come across cairns, man-made piles of stones. Today, I discovered the ultimate in cairns near Jean, Nevada. Seven Magic Mountains is the work of Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and consists of seven towers of colorful, stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high...

Click on photos to enlarge



One article I read indicated the project took Rondinone five years and $3.5 million to build which seems like a long time and a lot of money to paint and stack some rocks. I guess that is what makes it "art".

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Las Vegas Fees

Las Vegas used to be a relatively inexpensive city to visit as casinos made their money via gambling and used cheap rooms/meals as a way to attract tourists. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, particularly, on the strip. Everything is substantially more expensive. Even free parking has pretty much gone the way of the mechanical slot machine.

As expensive as Vegas may be, you generally know how much something will cost beforehand. However, businesses are now including hidden fees in your bill:
  • Most hotels add a "Resort Fee" of ~$25-40/night when you checkout (in hotels off the strip where things are cheaper, the resort fee can be more than the room rate). The insidious part of this is you are usually not told about the resort fee when you make your reservation.
  • The latest trend is the "Concession & Franchise Fee" of 4.7% at some restaurants. What do you get for this fee? Nothing, it's just a way to pad the bill. Adding to the outrage is the fact it’s added to your bill before the sales tax is calculated so you’re paying tax on a tax.
In the long run, the free market will sort this out. In the interim, "caveat emptor".

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Railroad Canyon

Steve and I took the Jeeps over Railroad Canyon southwest of Las Vegas. On the 1-10 scale it is rated a 5. However, there are some spots where it is a "hard 5"...

Steve using advanced mathematics & psychic intuition to calculate the right line

Is this anyway to treat a practically new Jeep

It's a good thing I attended the Stormy Weather's School of Extreme Rock Crawling

Additional photos...

Tight squeeze

Joshua tree

More wide open spaces

Monday, April 30, 2018

Manual Sway Bar Release

My new lift kit came with a manual sway bar release. Just pull a pin, move the sway bar off the stud and fasten it out of the way with the included strap...


When I was shown this feature, I thought "I have a Rubicon with an electronic sway bar release so I will never use this". What I failed to realize is the Jeep is programmed to reconnect the sway bar when it reaches 18 mph. However, there are rough trails like what we ran today where you want to release the sway bar for a more comfortable ride but still travel faster than 18 mph. This option solves that problem.

Mormon Well Road
There is still a lot of wide open space in this country

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ultimate Jeep Accessory

Looking for the perfect gift for your significant other and their Jeep. How about a Rear License Plate Mounted Bottle Opener. At $9.95 it will not break the bank and could potentially save a life (think broke down in the middle of the desert with a case of ice cold long necks and no opener).

Another product I wish I had invented

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Logandale Trail System

That notorious thrill seeking couple, Steve & Jayne (www.JeepTheUSA.com), are in town which means that at the very least I am going to have a very dirty Jeep and I do not even want to contemplate what may happen after that. Just to be on the safe side, I have put Earl Scheib Paint and Body on speed dial...

If you own a Jeep and see this couple, run in the other direction

Today, we drove up to the Logandale Trail System where we ran the Overton Ridge and Wash. The ridge has some extremely steep ascents/descents but you are rewarded with great panoramic views of the surrounding rock formations...

Click on photos to enlarge

There was even a little rock crawling along the way...


But for the most part, it was all about enjoying the scenery...


Lastly, we did discover an extreme rock crawling area where even the "big boys" were having problems...

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Action Hero Night

It was "Action Hero Night" at the local Chick-Fil-A where kids dressed as their favorite action hero would receive a free Kid's Meal. I tried to convince them that I was still a kid-at-heart and that I was dressed as Marvel Comics' "Fat Man" whose superpower is the ability to eat huge quantities of dessert in a single sitting. For some inexplicable reason, they did not believe my story and I had to pay for dinner. 😢

Jeep Modifications

In preparation for towing a RV trailer, I had U-Haul install a 7 pin connector and brake controller on my Jeep. Although it came with a tow package, there was only a flat 4 pin connector which does not have the ability to brake the trailer.

Newly installed 4 pin & 7 pin connector

Much to my surprise, the tow package used a 3.73 gear ratio instead of 4.10. In an effort to improve the overall performance of the Jeep including towing, I purchased a Superchips Flashpaq.


This device comes with several preset performance tunes along with the ability to do a custom tune. It will even correct the speedometer if you go to bigger tires. Lastly, you can return the Jeep back to stock mode before taking it to a dealer.

Click on image to enlarge

I am currently running the 87 (octane) Performance Tune. I have not noticed any significant change in power but the automatic transmission appears to shift smoother. There is a Heavy Load Tow Tune which requires 91 octane gasoline that I will switch to when towing. I am also curious to see how the Crawling Tune performs on those really gnarly trails. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Liberal Hypocrisy

I recently read an article on Harry Reid, the retired Democratic leader of the senate, who lives here in the Las Vegas area in the exclusive Anthem Country Club community. What makes the Club so exclusive (other than the million dollar homes) is it is a gated community (think wall) with armed security (think guns) that requires a government-issued photo ID (think voter ID) for entry. All the things that Harry and his fellow progressives are against in public, he has embraced in his personal life. Definitely, a case of "do I say, not as I do".

My other favorite liberal hypocrite is Al Gore, the millionaire retired politician and global warming activist, whose home in Tennessee generates five figure monthly electric bills and who flies around the world in a private jet that spews tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I suspect the same can be said for the Clinton's, the Obama's and other liberal elites.

Perhaps, politicians should be limited to two terms: one term in office and one term in prison.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Fixer Upper RV

After dinner I met this fellow in the shopping center's parking lot, who was kind enough to pose with his RV...


He offered to sell it to me and as an added incentive was going to throw in the trailer...


He assured me it had never been in a wreck and had only 65,000 original miles on it...


When I asked how it was damaged, he said it was the weather in Mexico (I think we're talking hurricane or tornado). If I had not already put a deposit on a R-pod, I might have tried to negotiate a good deal.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Seenager

My friends, Steve & Jayne, sent me this image...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Panhandlers

Most of the major intersections in Las Vegas have panhandlers holding signs asking for help/money. As in any highly competitive market, there are those individuals on the cutting edge of their profession, who are always looking for new and innovative ways to differentiate themselves from their run-of-the-mill competitors. It appears the latest trend in panhandling is the "Why lie..." signs. In the last year, I have seen signs that read "Why lie, need beer". Now, in keeping with the recent legalization of marijuana, I see signs that read "Why lie, need reefer".


Ironically, it is against the law here to panhandle or give money to panhandlers (it is considered a traffic hazard) but due to the huge homeless population, it is rarely enforced.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Lift Kit

I had 4 The Truck in Henderson install a 3 inch BDS lift kit with Fox 2.0 shocks on my Jeep. Now, I can hit those speed bumps at the mall without fear of bottoming out. The next step in the evolution of my machine is to replace the stock tires with larger ones once I have put a few more miles on the current set. The downside to this setup is having to pole vault into the driver's seat (it's not easy being "inseam challenged").

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

UNC Alumni Association

It has been 50 years since I graduated from the University of North Carolina. In the interim, I have moved more times than I can count including a three year stay in Mexico. I never once sent them my new address. And yet, whenever they want a donation, I get an alumni letter asking for money. I believe the FBI, CIA, NSA, et. al. could learn a great deal about locating "person(s) of interest" from them. Unfortunately, now that they are politically just to the left of Lenin, I no longer donate.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours

I think most people would be surprised at the number of interesting places within an hour's drive of Las Vegas. Today, I visited Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours located in Eldorado Canyon at the historical Techatticup Mine (the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada). I photographed so many old and unique vehicles that I thought a slideshow would be the best way to display them...


If you would like to view a full screen version of the slideshow, click here

After the mine, I continued east to some remote areas of Lake Mead where I discovered a late model Ford F-150 trying unsuccessfully to learn how to swim...



This occurred within a national recreational area so I suspect the owner will be hit with some massive fines in addition to the cost of repairing or replacing the truck.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Vegas Heat

Although my RV came with two 15,000 BTU roof air conditioners, it is all they can do to keep the inside temperature under 85 degrees F when it is over 100 outside. In as much as I want to see if I can take the heat in Las Vegas this summer, I needed to look at other ways to cool the RV.

I spoke with some people in the office who live here year round and they recommended a portable air conditioner that vents to the outside. However, when I looked at those units, I discovered that they were not only more expensive than window conditioners but did not work as well.

After some careful window measurements and then shopping online, I found a 6,000 BTU LG air conditioner that appeared to be just what I needed. It arrived on Monday and much to my relief fit the window in the slide-out perfectly. I used some water hose insulation that I bought several years ago during a cold snap in NC to seal the ends of the unit so there are no drafts in or out of the RV.

Since then, we have had two days where the outside temperature was in the low 90s and I am pleased to report that it not only worked well but cut down on the time the big roof A/Cs were needed. Hopefully, I will stay cool this summer and lower my electric bill at the same time. 😊

Inside

Outside

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

13 Mile Loop

The 13 Mile Loop is part of the Logandale Trail system south of Logandale, Nevada. It is an insanely beautiful trail that easily makes my "favorite rides" list. Although not difficult, I would recommend a 4 wheel drive vehicle due to the soft sand (which may be impassible when wet). The southern portion of the trail goes through the Valley of Fire State Park which is known for its red rock formations.

Beginning of the trail

One of many spur roads

Bighorn sheep

Unique arches

Now that's a trailer
(note man sleeping under trailer behind truck)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Bitter Springs Trail

The Bitter Springs Trail is about an hour northeast of Las Vegas. I have mixed feelings about today's drive. Although the trail has some beautiful rock formations along the way, there were too many long, boring sections for me to get excited about doing it again anytime soon.

I chose to drive the trail from east to west in order to have the sun at my back. This was accomplished by going through the Lake Mead National Recreational Area which is worth a day's trip in itself. Click on photos to enlarge.

Redstone Hiking Trail in the Lake Mead recreational area

Colorful layers of rock

Cactus growing out of a rock

The road less traveled

Old dam 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Restaurant Heaven

One of the disadvantages of staying more than month in small towns is the limited selection of restaurants. I like to eat out (if you ever tasted my cooking, you would know why) so it does not take long for me to get bored eating at the same places.

As you would imagine, Vegas has an endless variety of culinary delights. The tough part is deciding what and where you want to eat. For lunch today I had the Gourmet Shrimp Tacos at Rubio's...

Delicioso

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Back In Sin City

I have moved from Lake Havasu City to Las Vegas (aka Sin City) but no worries as about the only thing I do anymore that could be considered "sinful" is have Death By Chocolate for dessert after a dozen hot wings and a couple of cold beers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#NoNetTax

Once again, Congress is trying to tax Internet sales. I find this ironic, not to mention harmful, as we are just beginning to see how much the recently enacted income tax reduction has greatly benefited the economy and business in general.

Politicians like to point out that not taxing Internet sales is unfair to "brick and mortar" stores (in my opinion, it's much more likely those politicians are more concerned about revenue than fairness). My position is that these businesses can currently create their own online stores and sell their goods/services to a worldwide market without the burden of a tax that varies greatly from state to state and makes them less competitive.

If you agree that Internet sales should not be taxed, eBay has made it very easy to contact your members of Congress and register your concerns. Just visit https://t.co/nCGgykJmZ4, fill out the forms and submit.

Government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem

Saturday, March 10, 2018

FutureMe

FutureMe is a website that allows you to send yourself a letter at some designated time in the future. I will turn 100 in 2046 so I am going to have a Happy Birthday message delivered to myself in 28 years. Considering I cannot remember what I had for breakfast, it should be a big surprise...

Monday, March 05, 2018

Wonderhussy

In anticipation of relocating to Las Vegas next week, I have been doing some Google and YouTube searches to find things to see and do while in the area. One of the more interesting finds is a site, www.wonderhussy.com, authored by a young woman who describes herself as "a foul-mouthed, flat-chested bon vivant and adventuress who likes to curse, drink, smoke and run around nude" (who says there are no real women left).

As an avid photographer and outback explorer, I could not help be attracted to a particular service she offers: "for $500, I will personally drive you in my busted-up old pickup truck to all the beautiful desert locations shown to the left, plus pose nude at each location, over the course of an 8-hour day". I was going to offer the same service but charge $500 for keeping my clothes on.


This might be a good time for me to open up one of those GoFundMe accounts to finance my next big adventure!

Friday, March 02, 2018

Rock Hounds

I had been looking for a good excuse to take the new Jeep off-road so when Jim, Bill and Nicole indicated they wanted to go rock hunting, I said count me in. Jim used a magnet to locate meteorites, Bill used a metal detector for gold and Nicole just wanted some pretty rocks. At the end of the day, Nicole was the only one who could claim success.

It's always a pleasure watching professionals at work

Thursday, March 01, 2018

COBRA 75 WX ST

Yesterday, I installed a compact Cobra 75 WX ST CB radio in my Jeep that is an ideal choice when space or mounting options are limited. I also included a remote speaker (so I can hear calls over the screams of passengers) and a microphone mount on the passenger grab bar...



I mounted the control box under the passenger seat and was able to conceal the wires under plastic panels for a nice, clean look.

If you are in the market for a CB radio or accessories, I highly recommend Right Chanel Radios. This was the second time I have done business with them and their products and service have been outstanding.