As I arrived in Las Vegas it was clear heat was a major factor. The thermometer hovered stubbornly between 103 and 109 degrees every afternoon and refused to dip below 80 overnight. Accordingly, I rose early and got my sight seeing out of the way between 6 and 9 a.m. most days. After a few day trips, it became clear that my plan to ride to Death Valley to camp was best postponed to a spring or fall trip in the future.
David was visiting friends in San Diego and called to say he'd discovered vests motorcyclists can soak in water and wear under a mesh jacket to stay cooler as the water in the vest evaporates. I picked one up and tried it out. It wasn't perfect, but it was much cooler than riding with no vest. David called back and asked me to buy him one, too. He couldn't find one the right size in San Diego.
Meanwhile, Daniel and his wife were vacationing at South Point Casino. I met them there for dinner and for a look at a few acres of slot machines and gaming tables.
The day after I arrived in Vegas, I noticed what looked like brake fluid leaking from my left front brake. I was hoping the bleeder was loose and I could solve the problem just by tightening the screw, but it turned out that the seals had failed on the left fork tube and it was gushing fork oil. Carter Motorsports had the seals in stock and replaced them in about three hours, while I dozed in the customer lounge.
My first sight-seeing trip was out past Henderson to Boulder City to see Hoover Dam, the colossal engineering project that created Lake Mead, provided water and recreation for local citizens and generated the electricity that powered Las Vegas' neon and slot machines.
|At Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, a "bathtub ring" of |
calcium shows how far the lake is below high water.
|Lake Mead is a popular playground for Las Vegans seeking a little|
relief from the heat.
|Friday evening, I got together with my wife's cousin Holly, her husband|
Bob (front), Holly's son Billy for pizza, wine and conversation.
|When I stepped out of the house on Saturday morning, a hot-air balloon|
|Red Rock Canyon is a favorite of Las Vegas cyclists. The |
geology is unusual: Layers of older granite on top of younger
stripes of red sandstone.
|The desert has its own unusual animal hazards.|
|The Red Rock Canyon walls dwarf two automobiles and a |
bicyclist in a white shirt on the road below. (Click photo for a
|After cruising around the red Rock scenic by-way, I stopped at Bonnie |
Springs Ranch for a breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar.
|Warning signs announce that there is a fine of $500 for feeding wild|
burros and horses. This male, called a jack, who was wandering along
the road into Bonnie Springs Ranch with a harem of three jennies, didn't
seem a bit wild.
|Sunday morning, I was up at 5:30 and on the road before 6, heading |
north to Valley of Fire, which lies about 60 miles north of Las Vegas,
between I-15 and Lake Mead. In the hazy morning light, the state park's
craggy ridges lined up in rows.
|As at Red Rock Canyon, Valley of Fire's geology features layers of |
varying colors of rock, folded and smushed together, then eroded into
|At Echo Bay, I soaked my hydro-cooling vest in the rest room sink and |
wore it the rest of the way back to Las Vegas. The road through the Lake
Mead Rec Area was smooth, fast and curvy -- just the way we like 'em.
|Returning to the city, I got a good look at the Strip from the east side.|
One more day of preparations on Monday, then David joins us and we
strike off for the north early Tuesday.