Monday, January 31, 2011


Its been cold at night here in Yuma, and we keep having to remind ourselves its JANUARY, the MIDDLE OF WINTER. Yesterday was a short sleeve day even at that. We are husbanding our megabytes; we can't load a gob of pictures until our signal recycles;  Instead, I read a lovely book by Anne Rivers Siddons, entitled Up Island. It was a fun read for me since Jim and I visited Martha's Vineyard last summer where this book was set. Loved it. And, loved the relaxation of spending a whole day curled up with a good book. We did take two walks around the neighborhood. Had to get to Auto Zone for some fuses. And,  I snapped this desert themed mail/paper box previously.

Also saw an unusual garbage can. Truly the largest garbage can I've ever seen. A curiosity.Maybe they empty once a month? Saves money.
And, where water is scarce, you dig a well in your yard.
Americans are innovative, aye?

Sunday, January 30, 2011


 Lake Havasu was named for local Indians. The lake itself was formed by damming the Colorado River. Beautiful canyon country plus water, drew people to the area. Then when an entrepreneur developer bought the London Bridge and rebuilt part of it in Arizona, its charm and quaintness brought the real population rush.
Many communities established themselves around this beautiful lake. Like other parts of Arizona, the weather attracts Westerners who spend retirement winters here and live in a more northern clime. The attraction for snow birds and RVers is obvious. Like us, people enjoy the beauty and quiet serenity.

We left the area yesterday and spent the night in Yuma. We'll be here for several days. We are still experiencing a low signal. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011


An Area of Environmental Concern sign is posted along the road between Searchlight and Lake Havasu. We passed through miles and miles of desert. "Nothing" is what people still euphemistically call desert. We know better now.  Yet, Arizona cities sprawl all over the desert, seemingly without  regard to plowing up giant saguaros, Joshua trees and other rarified plants found here.  Sprawl. We noticed the same thing in Apache Junction when we were there. Planning doesn't seem to exist, like Los Angeles in the 1950's.
Thus it was cheering to see this giant solar electric plant sitting out toward the foothills, in the middle of  desert, quite distant from the highway.  From afar, it looked like a huge lake of blue. As we got closer, you could see the panels sitting out in the sun.

Another huge installation at Blythe, California is being built that will incorporate hydro, wind and solar to benefit Arizona, California and Nevada. Blythe is barely across the border from Arizona. Arizona wind and solar could support all of Arizona's electrical needs plus some of California and Nevada, power needs. It could be known as the power state.

We  parked last night at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Both of us have previously seen the London Bridge and were unimpressed. So, we'll spend no time here until on the way back when Jim will catch up with friends that will be moving through, Ted and Judy Price. Today, we are headed on to Yuma.

Friday, January 28, 2011


 Yesterday was our last day in Vegas and I visited a  local Community Center that has multiple programs for the community. One such program is providing a gallery for up-and-coming artists. The  tile sign outside of the building kind of spells it out for you. Beautiful sign.

 The exhibit was a paper exhibit and since that is my medium I wanted to see it. Andreana Donahue hand cut this huge paper piece that covers a large wall plus turns the corner onto another wall.
It seems impossibly huge to be hand cut. Its beautiful and snow white with a black paper contrast. Since our signal is low, I can't upload the flowers and iceberg she cut. But, watch for this artist to be big some day and I'll try and post the rest later.

Our plan was to head into Death Valley, but a cold front has changed our plans and we will be going to Yuma instead. Death Valley is still on the menu, however.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Last night, we went to the Rio to see Penn & Teller, an offbeat magic, comedy act with a whole lot of audience participation. In person, they resemble Mutt & Jeff. Teller is short and Penn is six foot seven. Teller is mute on stage so Penn talked the audience through some pretty amazing stunts, all the while explaining that slight of hand, magic, psychics, mind readers, are all fakes. Penn tells you how dishonest and untrustworthy magic can be because people are vulnerable and can be scammed by them. Then they demonstrate their magic art, mind reading and psychic talents. They also reveal how much of it is done. That is, he takes the old stand-by acts, like sawing a lady in half, and showing you how its done. Then, he gives it a bit of a twist unlike any sawing a lady in half done before. It was a fun show.
No pictures are allowed during the show, but people were invited to come on stage and examine a typical box before the show and sign their names on an envelope.  Probably a hundred people, including myself checked it out. Some guys got inside of the box, tapped and probed, opened and closed and tried to figure out what was different about this box. It stays on stage within view of the audience at all times. When the show opens, Teller pops out of the box.
Pictures are allowed in the lobby and before and after the show. They've been playing Vegas at the Rio for ten years. They make political statements and do unusual things that keep it interesting. My favorite skit was the cellphone taken from a sucker in the audience onstage that ends up inside of a fish in the audience.
This is Teller.
This is Penn. They greet the audience as everyone leaves the theater and autograph your tickets or program if you wish. They bought their own airport security metal detector. Penn can get you through security with a machine gun. Check it out!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Yesterday, we took a day off. We did the laundry, grocery shopping-getting ready to move to Death Valley in a couple days where we probably won't have a signal much of the time. I'm really amazed at how many things there are to do in this city, many of them free. I could easily stay here for 6 months and try and see it all.
This week, for instance, is a party at the Piranha called Ties And Suspenders. Show off your cocktail dress, guys can come in un-tucked button downs, and dance the night away.  Smoke free.

Another nearby venue is Black Book Night at the Vanity. The guy who can talk the most girls into coming to the club can win $5,000. $20 for girls, $40 for men. Hmmm. A different form of gambling. There are over 100 shows like these, many free and constantly changing. Plus sports events and special one time events and lectures for those more serious minded.
Vegas has a destination beer bar, Aces and Ales. They regularly carry 35 selections of craft beers. They just had their winter beer festival with such offerings as Stones Dogfish, Bourbon Barrel IRS, Smoked Chipotle Porter, Double Bastard Strong Ale, with a line-up of the best brewers from Deschutes and Sierra Nevada to name two of my favorites. We had our own beer tasting that night at a birthday, beer tasting party for my son who brews his own beer. In fact, he received the biggest birthday card I've ever seen.
And the food in Vegas. Flashing billboards beckon everywhere for cheap eats, great steaks, shrimp, and  lobster combos. Burgers and frys;  magnificent buffets and deserts. All that stuff but, Jim's on a diet so we are resisting the call.
On the other hand, Vegas has those over indulgent places that kind of fascinate, but make you say, Eeew.  A burger for $5,000 for instance. Fleur, at Mandalay Bay, offers the FluerBurger50000-Kobe beef, foie gras and black truffles. Oh, and a bottle of Petrus which makes up a goodly part of the sum. And, Serendipity's $1,000 Golden Opulence Sundae. But, still, a step down from the $6,000 "combo meal" offered at Carl's Jr. at the Palms in 2006. Which was a six-dollar burger served with a bottle of Bordeaux. Such excess, is decadent and makes you a little sick when you  think what that money can do for good causes.

The shows here, the big production numbers such as Cher, Garth Brooks and some lesser knowns, number 69 for this month.

For those who love Magicians and Hypnotists such as Criss Angel and David Copperfield, there are  29 different acts this month.

Galleries number 27. Most are permanent installations with Photography, Arts, Fine Art, Life and Times, Historic Film, Funk, Graffiti. Something for everyone.

And, there are 7 museums. Whatta place.  For us, to stay at A Thousand Trails in a motor home, (our membership costs us $500 a year) we can spend two weeks here on our membership with no fees, take our time and see the things we want to. To spend this much time in a cheapie hotel would be a minimum of $600. Such a deal. We will return in February for another free two weeks.

They have great bus transportation here. Sleek, new buses. We see city trucks using biofuels. Everybody can enjoy this great place economically.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Its fun taking time to explore a Las Vegas that many people don't see. But, the Fremont St. light show is seen by millions of people a year. If you want some bling in your life, this is the place to be. Earlier, we visited Fremont St. during the day and checked out the neon signs. Last night we did the same at night. And, we enjoyed the biggest projection screen in the world flashing five million LED bulbs per block for a six minute light show. They are shown on the hour from six p.m. to midnight. Each show is different. Have a look. (Hoping this video link works. If not the youtube link below it will.)

And at night, not only the flash and dazzle of the lights, but the dancing girls are out.
On top of a bar.
And on a stage.

Here are a couple of images from the light show.

Monday, January 24, 2011


An erotic museum suggested a number of things to us. First, that no pictures would be allowed. Wrong!
"Take all the pictures you want,"  we were told.
We were very surprised. In fact, I was blown away by this place. It has much that is explicit material and much that is beautiful and sensual. The museum is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization that seeks to bridge the gap between what is commercial, and often misidentified as pornographic, with that which is esthetic, folk, pop and fine art through a common visual language. Except, here the subject is sex. Does that make it not art seems to be the question? The founders of this museum are dedicated to the idea that sexual pleasure and activity are natural aspects of the human experience, available to all, no matter what body they were born into. And thus sexual activity is a natural (and acceptable) subject for art.

The two photographs above are very erotic without any private body part in evidence.
These girls obviously don't work in a grocery store.
And this abstract isn't a Picasso, although Picasso did a whole collection of erotic pieces that are occasionally displayed for the public at special exhibits. Many other famous artists have erotic and nude pieces of art in public galleries as well.
A tastefully done painting that makes us envious of her freedom to enjoy nudity on a beautiful sunny day outdoors with a gentleman friend.
This photo of a woman almost completely covered by the membranes of an octopus. Will someone be offended by this picture?

Or how about this Las Vegas Street sign just outside of the museum on Industrial Drive. People drive by such advertising everyday in Vegas.
Chinese display their erotic art work freely without shame. In America such erotic art is hidden in our museums as though it didn't exist.
The Erotic Heritage Museum was voted the Best Museum by the Las Vegas Review Journal.
It contains the history of old time posters and comic books and their modern counter parts.

The early day styles of "peek boxes" where "gentlemen sat and looked through a window at a woman performing or undressing for him. Peek boxes where you inserted a quarter and a short set of stills flashed for you to see, men only, of course.  There are samples of early day sexual toys, leather goods, photographs and modern day items of similar style. A history of trans gender, transvestites, people who were born as "she-males" and other oddities. It covers the struggle for trans gender surgeries to be accepted. It takes the visitor through the 1960's sexual revolution; pornographic movies, games and magazines. The Aids epidemic and pictures of the AIDs quilt are here. Ads for condoms use and safe sex. Planned parenthood and how to encode a video to circumvent viewing by children.
You can watch a film of Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler, interviewed on Larry King Live. Flynt said Jerry Falwell preached against him for 15 years. After Falwell was caught with a prostitute in a motel room with a copy of Hustler Magazine, he couldn't help see Falwell as human. They became friends in later years though they each knew what the other was selling. 
Some of the llth and 12th century carvings and artifacts may be too risque for a public newspaper blog but I found the place to be very interesting, though I had a few quavers when I walked through the door. There is much more to this place. Nude Yoga classes for men, couples and women. (Not together, nor in public view.)  Plays and educational events related to sexual practices and procreation. Quite an unusual place. I'd give it a strong recommendation for those not squeamish about sex.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Believe it or not, there was once an oasis in Las Vegas, which is how Las Vegas got its name from the Spaniards, meaning, The Meadows. Paiutes lived here for thousands of years before the Spanish came through, moving their goods and cattle from Santa Fe to Los Angeles without having to go all the way back through Mexico to get there.  They formed the Old Spanish Trail. The water here was critical to getting across a barren section of formidable desert.
 A permanent settlement was started by the Mormons  in 1855. They wanted a way station between Utah and Los Angeles. They built a fort here but abandoned it by 1857. They had leadership difficulties, couldn't grow enough food and gave up. But, they had established a Post Office and others soon took up residence here and began ranching. The flag with 19 stars was the first flag that flew over Las Vegas. And the fort pictured above is just a replica from descriptions and pictures of what it looked like. Only a small portion of the original fort remains. 
Helen and Archibald Stewart took up ranching on this spot in 1882. He was killed in a gunfight at the Kiel Ranch two years later. Helen received this message from her husband's killer. Bring horses and a wagon. Come and get your husband. He is dead. She had few choices but to carry on with her three children. She built up the ranch, increased the herds and was honored by the State for being the First Lady of Las Vegas. The town that formed around her ranch of 2000 acres and was officially named Las Vegas in 1893. The Old Las Vegas Mormon State Historic Park is small and easy to do. They only charge $1 to visit. And, on some Saturdays they have Civil War Re-enactments on the grounds.
For us, in a gesture of friendship, these Confederate and Union soldiers shook hands.
Jim and I joined the re-enactors and had pictures taken in our costumes.
Avie Ward participates by making the dress that I wore, and presenting the female side of the Civil War Period. She told me that 450 known women soldiers fought in the Civil War. Most likely more than 450, but those that were wounded or killed were discovered to be women. They cut their hair to resemble boys, and because they were smooth skinned, sometimes became spies at the request of their commanders.  To dress up as women was easy for them, of course.
Avie educated me to the intricacies of womens dress and embellishments. The heart around her neck contains a piece of fabric saturated with perfume so a woman could stomach the stink of standing next to an unwashed man with unwashed clothing. She could hold the piece up to her nose and sniff perfume while talking to them.
A flattened and bent spoon was slipped into her waist cincher (I've already forgotten the name for that waist piece) to hold her "reticule" (purse) which carried all of her essentials. A fan, money clip, perfume, and so on. The reticule is hand tatted by Avie, a skill that is almost extinct. I so admire someone who can tat because I tried it a long time ago and failed at tatting. Its beautiful work.
On her opposing side, hangs her "chatelaine". A piece of jewelry in effect, with scissors, thread, needles and other necessaries.
And, a bold woman might carry a derringer in her garter for protection. (Avie's is a small replica). This was such a fun place to visit. Oh, and I almost forgot. I've always heard slot machines called the one armed bandits. In this museum was a cardboard replica of one.