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Emma Wood State Park, Ventura, CA

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Pahrump Balloon Festival Feb 25 & 26

This morning we were up early to view the launching of the balloons at the city park. We arrived at 6:15 am and watched them set up and launch for 7 am. What a process. The "pilots" received a 15 minute speil about wind and where they are allowed to land. Next up was the National Anthem so no one actually did anything until about 6:45 am. It was a balmy 34 F. out. I was bundled up like the "Michelan Tire Man"!

Ray took some video and some amazing pictures. It was magical seeing them rise into the air. There were over 30 balloons with their crew. The wind was only 1 mph with gusts of 2 mph the announcer said laughing. Not one balloon the same as the other. Most of the balloons remained overhead for the hour that we watched. Here are some pictures and a 3 1/2 minute video.

Three huge propane cylinders to fuel the balloon.

They have gas powered blower fans to inflate the balloons.


My U-Tube Video, so cool to watch the balloons.



The colours of the balloons are amazing.



Yup bundled up with my hat that a good friend knitted me years ago. Thanks Jean.









This guy landed in the parking lot and I helped hold him down as he changed up passengers.

See the ultra light flying in the upper left hand corner? This was one of two flying around. There was even a drone that was buzzing around the balloons too.


There is a sundog above the balloon., looks like Charlie Brown is grabbing for it!


After resting all day, Saturday night at 6 pm we went back as they have a "glow ceremony" where they flash up the balloons to music. Again, it took quite awhile to get the 11 participating balloons blown up and positioned for the show. They had the bright field lights on for the setup but turned them off for the show.







Next is Ray's video of the lighting of the balloons.  (under 2 min) He had a little trouble focusing with it being dark but it turned out not too bad. Me thinks a camcorder may be in his future ... maybe next year.



All in all it was an unexpected, wonderful event to be able to attend. Even though it was pretty cold outside it was fabulous. The video is nowhere near how good it actually was.

Sunday was spent doing a little shopping in preparation for our departure tomorrow morning. We will be out of constant cell coverage for the next 2 weeks so will have to catch up then.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Pahrump, Nevada- Feb 23rd and 24th

Yesterday we received news our reservation at the Del Valle Regional Park near San Francisco are cancelled as they closed the whole park for the month of March due to all of the rain and flooding in the area. Ray and I had planned to spend 9 days there and explore San Francisco. We also planned to go to the coast for a short ways and then onto Del Valle but with all of the storms hitting the coast we were hesitant to make the trip this year to see Ventura, Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Now what???? We messaged my cousin to let the rest of my family know that visiting them this year was not going to happen. Maybe next year.

After much contemplation we decided to stay in this area, a little west of Las Vegas for the next 3 weeks instead of going back down south to the Palm Springs area before making the run back to BC. Ray and I had planned to go to Pahrump a week ago but the car repair ate up that week so now we will head there for a few days.

With Pahrump only being about 1 1/2 hours away from us we are having a lazy morning before "jacks up". Fueled up in Las Vegas and then headed onto the 215 Beltway to miss the I-15 traffic.

Traffic along the NV160 had a lot of construction  on the a good part of the uphill stretch so it took us 2 hours to get to Wine Ridge Resort. The climb was from 2000 feet up to 5400 feet and then back down to 2700 feet. We'd heard about this place from Steve and Dianne. The RV Park used to accept Passport America but now only Good Sam, FMCA, AAA etc, for 10% off. What a gorgeous park with roomy sites compared to other RV Parks. The facilities, 2 pools and a hot tub sparkle as well as the bathrooms. The winery is located on site and has a wonderful restaurant called Symphony's. Ray and I had the motorhome all set up by 12:30, and we decided to go up to the restaurant for lunch as our "Valentine's Day Dinner" which we did not get a chance to do as we toured a bunch of Las Vegas Strip that day and Ray was way too sore to go anywhere after that.

What a meal !!!!! We had crabcakes and prawns for two as an appetizer, a cup of their lobster bisque to share and then Ray ordered Chicken Tuscany with a wonderful mushroom sauce (he jokingly asked for a gallon of sauce to go!) and I had Shrimp Scampi that was unbelievable, the best I have ever had. Both of us were very impressed. A glass of their wine from the winery was also imbibed. Delicious. To finish off I had Creme Brulee and Ray Tiramasu. We both waddled out of there. I ate almost all of it. Anyone who knows me, I usually have a few bites of everything and then Ray gets mega leftovers. Not this time. He will only get 1/4 of my scampi! Although for lunch the $$$ was rather rich, I do enjoy eating lunch more than dinners anyways and after all it was a special occasion. Happy Valentines Day!

Here are some picture of the Pahrump Valley Winery.






The Symphony's Restaurant.

Appetizer for two

Shrimp Scampi

Chicken Tuscany

Beautifully decorated restaurant. They also have wonderful outside seating if it had been warmer.

Dessert
Once we got back home I went into a food coma! No dinner for us.

The park also offers a free chili night tonight, free spagetti dinner on Saturday night and Friday night campfire and happy hour. A bonus we found out, is that Pahrump has a balloon festival this weekend so we will get to see that Saturday morning at 7 am lift off.

Friday morning we woke up to brilliant sunshine but a cold 30 F, burrrr. Thankfully the Big Buddy Heater kept us toasty all night. Today we were up and at it and out the door by 9 am and off to the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Preserve in the Armagosa Valley, just east of Death Valley National Park. Two years ago they spent millions of dollars with 3 boardwalks and a new Visitor Centre. Pretty impressive. Another month and all of the flowers would be blooming. Today however it was still beautiful with it's winter coat on. Freya enjoyed walking all of the boardwalks with us.

First up was Kings Pool and Point of Rocks Boardwalk.



Yes it was a bit cool today.
Next up was the famous Devil's Hole. This spring/crack in the rocks is quite famous for it's Devils Hole Pupfish. A small fish only about 1 1/2" long. Sometimes there are only 200 of them in the winter and in the spring after eggs hatch there could be as many as 400 to 600 little fish. 




"The hole is protected by fencing as this is the only place in the world that this particular pupfish is found. The most interesting thing about this spot is that the hole looks to be very small but goes down to a great depth that divers have not found the bottom. When there is an earthquake in the region the water in this hole can rise and cause waves."

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This is a video of what happened at Devil's Hole on March 20, 2012 after an earthquake in Mexico.


Next we went to the Visitor's Centre and the 1 mile Crystal Springs Boardwalk.



This pool is deceptively shallow. It also goes down probably 30 feet where the water bubbles up at 2800 Gallons per minute.




There was a sign in the Visitor's Centre that spoke to me. "There is enough water in the desert for the desert, as long as you do not build a city!" 

A 3 mile drive from the Visitor's Centre found us at the Longstreet cabin and spring. Mr. Longstreet used the spring to keep his cabin cool.

"Living amongst the Southern Paiute and Timbisha Shoshone peoples was one of the first pioneers to live in Ash Meadows, Jack Longstreet.  He built the cabin made of stone in 1896, near a spring that still bears his name.  This was a man of mystery who went by the name of Jack Longstreet but whose real identity remains a mystery to this day.  The only clues to his past were his southern drawl and ability to read and write reasonably well; unusual for most folks at that time.  The top of his ear was sliced off which was a sign of a horse thief.  
He made his living as a prospector, rancher, saloon keeper, trail-blazer and hired gun. The notches in his gun symbolized each man he had killed, including his brother-in-law.  It has been written that this powerful broad-shouldered man with the sparkling blue eyes was feared by many but found companionship and respect with the Native American tribes.  The Longstreet Spring and Cabin are one of the highlights of the refuge.   To learn more about the wild west and Jack Longstreet we suggest a book by Sally Zanjani called Jack Longstreet; Last of the Desert Frontiersmen."




If you look very carefully you can see the little fish near the reeds.


A little further up the road is Roger's Spring. You could see the water bubbling up from the bottom creating silt.



Lots of pupfish around the reeds here too.
Ray and I decided to do a circle tour so we could stop at this little saloon called Miss Kathy's Road Branch Saloon in the community of Crystal on the way back on NV160. The Saloon is next to Dennis Hof's Love Ranch Brothel, the brothel did not look very busy!  Trip Adviser said that the beer and the burgers were good at Miss Kathy's by several people which is why we went. We were the only ones there and they did make good burgers but only had bottled beer. But who complains about a freshly cooked hamburger with fixin's and a bottle of beer for $10. Quite an eclectic place.



It was a long day, we did not get back home until 2:30 so we went directly to the hot tub and relaxed for 1/2 an hour and then it was to bed for Ray with some pain medication so he will be in shape for tomorrow morning's adventure. We are going to the Pahrump Balloon Festival and need to be there for 6:15 for the balloon filling and take-off at 7 am or so. They have about 20 to 30 balloons at this event. We will need to bundle up as it probably will be 35 F. Burrrrr.

Our wonderful hot tub