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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Fire Wave - a favorite hike......

One of our favorite day trips when we are in Las Vegas is hiking in Valley of Fire State Park.     I found these two sunbathing.    

Valley of Fire derives its name from the red sandstone formations which were formed from the shifting sand dunes about 150 million years ago..   Many of the rocks appear to have lines etched into them.

I wonder how long it will be until this rock tumbles down.       Years?   Centuries?

My eyes see a very old car or sports couple in rock in the middle of this photo.

Prehistoric users of this area included the Basket Maker people and later the Anasazi Pueblo farmers from the nearby fertile Moapa Valley.    This would have been about 300 BC to 1150 AD.      They most likely didn't live here full time because of the scarcity of water  (about 4 inches per year) and the high summer temperatures.     Living here would have been a very tough life.

You will find several arches throughout the park.

Our next stop is my favorite in the park.     The Fire Wave.        The sign says it is a 6/10 mile hike to the Wave.      Let me assure you, that is how the crow flies!!!        

This "trail" is marked by steel fence posts that have been placed in the sand or have been drilled into the hard rock.    They then paint the top foot of it bright yellow.    When you are hiking you just aim for the next post.      Your trail is a bit of everything.     You start out in very deep super soft sand and down hill.     It's not so bad when you are starting, but it's a killer at the end of your return trip!     You then progress to large rocks interspersed with soft sand.     Your trail winds around boulders, etc.    Lots of ups and downs to give you some variety.    Now you are on solid rock with the final spurt being a steep decline.     I have to stop here and gather my wits (and balance) before proceeding.

There's not good perspective in this picture, but we are going down there........      RJ will later pose on top of the higher formation.

I love the color and swirls in these rock formations.      We usually take a break and sit by these two stacked rock formations when we first arrive.

RJ decided he need a bit more rock climbing so he scaled this formation and waved for the camera!

Standing in the same location, this formation is to my right and the rock slide is right in front of me.

I'm not even tempted to climb down this slide!!!     You do have to love the colors and patterns in the rock, though.

It's time to hike out of this area.     I hadn't noticed these two flowers on the way in but when I stopped to catch my breath after the climb up these rocks I found them.    Did you know that stopping  to take pictures of flowers gives you extra time to get the heart rate and breathing back under control?     This amateur photographer uses that ploy a lot!    

In another week or two most of the buds will be open and this will be gorgeous.

In the distance I saw this formation.    

Can you find the trail?       Me neither.......

If you have an extra day while visiting Vegas, I highly recommend this park.    

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Tonopah Mining Company

The silver rush in Tonopah started in the spring of 1900.      Prospector Jim Butler was camped here enroute to a strike in the Klondike.     During the night his mule wandered off and found shelter near a rock outcropping.    When Butler discovered the animal he picked up a rock to throw at him, but instead noticed the rock was unusually heavy.    He kept the rock and upon returning home asked a friend to have it assayed.    It was valued at more than $200 a ton.

Butler and his wife Belle returned to Tonopah and filed 8 claims and commenced mining.    They had no money to transport the ore to Salt Lake City for smelting, so they gave a one fourth share of the mines to Wilse Brougher in exchange for his transporting the ore.

That first shipment netted the three partners $500 which was used to buy equipment needed for further development.      The partners implemented the unusual concept of mine claim leasing.    These leases, sealed by a handshake only, gave the lessor 75% of all profits from his claim with 25% going to the original three partners.     These miners were hard working honest men and the agreements continued until the day the mines were sold, making all of them very rich.

We were able to walk into this mine a few feet - that was enough for me!

The stopes are where the ore bodies were mined out.    These show where the veins actually came to the surface.    The ore bodies averaged about 500' in depth and most of the stopes are that deep.    The first 100' or so were mined from the surface down on leases led by Jim Butler between 1900 and 1901.    The miners used windlass and whims (horse drawn hoists) to get the ore to the surface.    All drilling for blasting was done by hand using the "single jack" (one man) or "double jack" (two men) method.   (do you remember Pa Ingalls doing this in Little House on the Prairie)    Light was furnished by candles.       Timbers were put in by these early leasers to keep the walls from collapsing.

This is an old horse drawn whim

In January, 1902 Butler sold his mining rights to a group from Philadelphia who organized the Tonopah Mining Company.   They had the money to modernize the mining operations and brought in large numbers of workers.    In July 1904 a narrow gauge railroad line was completed which solved the problems with transporting the ore.    In the next couple years total production surpassed $10 million.    By 1921 total silver production topped $120 million.    Nevada had been in a great financial slump and this mine was responsible for reviving and saving the state.       Money from these mines also was a large factor in rebuilding San Francisco after the earthquake.

This entire area is part of the museum and you are free to walk around and see the entrances to the actual mines and pieces of equipment from the mines.   Several of the buildings are open and have even more equipment.   It is well worth the $3 admission fee.

This building was used for storage of dynamite and candles during the first few years of operation.

The first steel hoisting works in the USA were at these mines.     Mules were no longer needed to pull the ore out of the mines.

Another of the old mines in this area.    


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mizpah Hotel

The Mizpah Hotel originally opened November 17, 1908 in the fast growing mining town of Tonopah NV.     It offered luxury to weary travelers.    At the time, this was the tallest building in the State of Nevada  (remember, Las Vegas didn't become a town until 1905)

When mining left, so did most of the residents of this community, current population 2,500.     This hotel sat in disrepair for years.    Enter the Cline family from Sonoma, CA.     They lovingly restored this hotel and it was reopened in 2011.

The lounge area has various Victorian seating areas and the Wyatt Earp bar.  

According to legend, Wyatt Earp kept the saloon, Jack Dempsey was a bouncer and Howard Hughes married Jean Peters at the Mizpah.       But, Wyatt Earp left Tonopah before the Mizpah was built.    Hughes was married in Tonopah, but not at the Mizpah.    And, Dempsey asserted he was never a bouncer.     The hotel nevertheless features the Jack Dempsey Room and the Wyatt Earp Bar.

Nancy Cline's family was from this area, so she was drawn to the hotel.    Nancy and Fred Cline founded the Sonoma-based Cline Cellars winery and feature their wines in the lounge.    They have also opened a micro-brewery in town and are planning a small casino next door.

We had a room on the fourth floor.     This light fixture was in our room.    Sorry, there isn't a picture of relaxation in the claw foot tub.....

The hallways on our floor also had seating areas.

In the morning, RJ was able to get fresh coffee at this rustic table a few feet from our door.

This charming piece of history was our "home" for a night.      While not quite the St James (in Red Wing) it is a beautifully restored piece of history.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lacrosse - The Game

I had my first opportunity to see the game lacrosse being played.   You'd think living in the La Crosse area for so many years I would have had this experience many times.      RJ and I saw the teams playing in one of our favorite walking areas in Las Vegas.

Best of the West Lacrosse Spring Classic.      This tournament is held over 3 days on 11 fields and includes both men's and women's high school teams.     This park/sports area has 12 fields used primarily for soccer and is beautifully maintained.     There are also several tennis courts, playground areas and walking trails.  

I will try to explain what I found out about the game.     It is fast moving with very few stops for penalties or substitutions.     There are 4  12-minute quarters with basically no break at the end of each quarter.    

At the beginning of the game or after a score, the ref places the ball on the ground between two players.    Then it is kind of a free for all to get the ball to your team.      Hands cannot be used.     The refs always back up quickly, blow their whistle and the action resumes.

Lacrosse is  a contact team sport played between two teams using a small rubber ball and a long-handled stick called a crosse or lacrosse stick.    It has a mesh area at the end for scooping, carrying and throwing the ball.

It is often considered as a rough sport, although injuries are less frequent than in American football and other contact sports.

To score you must get the ball into that small guarded red net.    It's a fraction of the size of a soccer goal.      If you look carefully you can see the ball in the blue players mesh at the end of his lacrosse stick.

In this shot he has flung the ball hoping to score.

I'm not sure of the exact play here, but you can see the ball is a bit high and wide.

I moved over to another court to watch a different team play.    

You can follow the action here - lots of defensive action at the net.....

A strong effort by the goalie................

And they score!

Lacrosse was originally an old Indian game called baggataway.     The First Nations began playing the sport more than 500 years ago.     Today lacrosse not only remains an integral part of native culture, but is played by thousands of people acrosse Canada, and apparently in the Nevada/Utah/Arizone area.

If you ever get to La Crosse Wisconsin, there is a beautiful statue on Highway 35 just as you are entering the city from Onalaska.    It depicts several Native Americans playing this game.

I know, you never expected to have me blog about sports, but .................