Our friend Steve suggested that we go to this museum and I am so glad he did. It is so well done and completely fascinating.
Las Vegas is famous for its bright lights and, of course, gambling, nightlife and overall accessibility of all things sinful. But, once upon a time, Vegas was also famous for the well-known secret of atomic testing that occurred 65 miles outside of town.
In the 1950s, visitors would travel to downtown Las Vegas to view the mushroom clouds that would rise from the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The site was the nation’s premier nuclear testing facility and operated from 1951 to 1992.
The NTS was established by the United States Department of Energy because military officials knew little about the effects of nuclear weapons. The site was home to atmospheric testing until 1962 when, fearing fall-out dangers, operations were moved underground. A total of 928 announced nuclear tests took place, with 828 of them being underground.
This important part of history is preserved at the Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas. The museum was established in order to preserve the legacy of the NTS and to promote public accessibility and general knowledge about the site. The Ground Zero Theatre is a definite must do for anyone who remembers the days of the "duck and cover" drills.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
More than 150 years ago, a spring-fed creek flowed through the Las Vegas valley, creating an oasis in the dessert.
During a session of General Conference on April 6, 1855 in Salt Lake City, President Brigham Young, leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appointed 30 men to establish a mission at Las Vegas Springs. He instructed them to build a fort where travelers along the wagon trail between Salt Lake City and a recently established mission in San Bernardino, CA, could find protection, water and rest. He also told them to make peace with the native Paiutes, to teach them to raise crops and to share the gospel with them.
The youngest was 19 year old Artemas Millet, Jr.; the oldest was 47 year old Woilliam Spencer Covert. Most of them left families behind as they began the 435 mile journey to Las Vegas Valley. The men had only 10 days to prepare and the trip took 35 days with te horse riders arriving mid-afternoon of June 14. The wagon train portion of the party arrived the next day.
The missionaries built their fort on the Las Vegas Creek four miles east of the springs. With help from the Indians, they soon erected a 150 foot square adobe fort with walls two feet thick and ranging in height from nine feet to fourteen feet.
After some of the Mormons discovered lead in the mountains southwest of the mission, Brigham Young sent Nathaniel V. Jones to organize the missionaries to help mine the ore and ship it back to Salt Lake City. President Young sent a letter to Brother Bringhurst, who was the leader of the group in Las Vegas, that Jones was to have the mission's full cooperation. Loyalties among the men were tested as the two leaders tried to exercise their authority. The contention came to a head in February 1857, and the mission was dissolved.
In 1865, Octavius D. Gass bought the site and developed a large ranch. In 1881, he defaulted on a loan and the ranch passed on to Archibald and Helen Stewart. Archibald was killed in a gunfight in 1884, but Helen continued to operate the ranch. In 1902, Helen sold the ranch and water rights to the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad. A new town, Las Vegas, sprang into existence in 1905 when the railroad reached the valley.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
New friends. We went to dinner with our friend Steve (in the blue shirt sitting besides me). He introduced us to a couple of other people who teach at the same school - Dale in the black shirt and Beth (between them is Beth's husband). We found out that Beth is from Polson, MT which is near where we lived in Lakeside. They spend their winters down here where she teaches and then spend the summers back in Montana. We had a wonderful time with lots of good food.
We took the girls with us to Red Rock Canyon and that means we have to stop and let them out on a regular basis. At one stop, I was waiting for the girls to be ready to go and happened to look down at the rocks laying around. And this is the one I found. This is exactly how it came out of the ground when I picked it up. I thought that was really neat.
About 600 million years ago, this area was located under a deep ocean basin. Sediments up to 9,000 feet thick were deposited, and eventually lithified (consolidated) which means that a sand dune becomes compacted and hardened. Once in this form, water passing through the rock can carry and deposit minerals, which can alter the color of the rock.
Around 250 million years ago, the earth's crust started to rise forcing the water out and leaving behind formations of salt and gypsum. This exposure of the former sea bed allowed some of the rocks to oxidize (literally rust) and formed the area's red and orange rock layers.
By 180 million years ago, the area became a desert featuring vast expanses of huge shifting sand dunes. As the wind shifted these dunes around, old dunes were leveled and new dunes settled on top of them creating the lines and layers that you can see in the rocks today. This formation is known as Aztec Sandstone.
The most significant geologic feature of Red Rock Canyon is the Keystone Thrust Fault. The Keystone Thrust is part of a large system of thrust faults that extends north into Canada and began to develop approximately 65 million years ago. A thrust fault is a fracture in the earth's crust that is the result of compressional forces that drive one crustal plate over the top of another. This results in the oldest rocks on the bottom of the upper plate resting directly above the youngest rocks of the lower plate. At Red Rock Canyon, the gray carbonate rocks of the ancient ocean have been thrust over the tan and red sandstone in one of the most dramatic and easily identified thrust faults to be found and formed the red line that can easily be seen today.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
We are in Laughlin, NV tonight at the Tropicana Casino.
We stopped to let the girls run for a few minutes at Nothing, AZ. Population 4.
It was only 32 degrees this morning in Wickenburg so we took our time about getting ready to pull out. I would definitely spend more time at that park. Really a nice place to sit and relax.
Saw this very unique windmill just outside Constellation Park. It is a working windmill that is used on a horse ranch.
The drive up through the desert to Kingman was beautiful. Lots of Joshua trees, saguaros and you could also see where the ancient volcanoes had done their thing with spitting out the rocks and throwing them all over.
We stopped to let the girls run for a few minutes at Nothing, AZ. Population 4.
The RV parking here at the casino is almost full but when we drove around this afternoon, most of the other casinos had lots of open spaces for rvs. However, this casino has a dump and potable water and I'm pretty sure the others don't. We checked in with security and since we're only staying one night they don't issue us a permit. Longer than one night and they want all your information and give you a permit to put in the window.
We're going to try out the buffet tonight. I'll report on that when we get back. What a disappointment. I think the buffet at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA really spoiled us. This buffet was like eating at Golden Corral. They had prime rib which was overcooked and offered ribs, chicken and pot roast. They had a small salad bar without very many options and a small taco bar. The dessert bar wasn't very exiting either. Would not spend the money on this one again.
Monday, February 22, 2010
It's been pouring rain all week-end and this morning was no exception. We needed to get our new microwave put in so we arrived at the RV dealership in the pouring rain. They said it would be about a half hour to an hour job so off we went for breakfast. Shortly after we got our breakfast the power went out and we finished eating in gloomy gray light.
Went back to pick up our home and found out that our generator wouldn't start. Seems a switch got busted while Jim was putting in the new batteries. No switch in stock. Drew (really great people) was trying to find one in town and not having any luck. Jim and I starting hitting all the auto parts stores we could find. Finally found what we needed at Camping World. Not exactly what we wanted but it will work for now. Got Drew to order the right part and we'll pick it up when we get back to Apache Junction.
We finally got out of town about 1:00. A little later than the 9:30 I had figured we'd be heading out. But we made it to Wickenburg and are camped at Constellation Park, a city park where you dry camp for $5 a night. It's a beautiful park that looks out over the valley and the town.
Time to summarize the last week or so. Jim has enjoyed his new boat so much and he even caught a fish. A nice size bass but he put it back so it can grow up and he can catch it again later.
I've done the usual things - laundry, read, try and get more Quartzsite sand out of the house, read, take the girls for walks.
We did get new batteries for the coach. But what a pain it was for Jim trying to get the old ones out and the new ones in. If you could pull them up through the step it would have been okay but the hole wasn't large enough. Several hours later, the job was finished and we are ready to boondock on our way to Pahrump.
We also had dinner with my sister and her hubby at our favorite Mexican Restaurant - Los Gringos Locos. The place is always packed with a waiting line but the food is excellent and worth the wait.
We're going to head towards Pahrump, NV with a stay in Las Vegas. I'm ready to head out for a few weeks.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
The Commemorative Air Force Museum put on a show today and we couldn't pass that up. My brother-in-law, Don, was in the Air Force and it was so fun to have somebody with us who could tell us all about the different planes and talk about his experiences. And the icing on the cake were the cars that showed up. I picked out two of them that I hoped the owners would just give me. Didn't happen but I sure can dream.
This young man was such a cutie. He was so proud of his police uniform and bomber jacket. This is my sister paying her ticket.
The most memorable part for me, though, was the B-17 "Sentimental Journey". It was built by Boeing in 1943 and 1944 and served in the Pacific. There were 12,731 B-17's built during WW II and there are only 7 left flyable in the world. This is one of them. The reason this is so personal to me is because my Mom helped to build these planes. She was a "Rosie the Riveter" and worked for Boeing in Seattle while Dad was over seas.
The term "Rosie the Riveter" was first popularized in 1942 by a song of the same name written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb. The song was recorded by numerous artists, including the popular big band leader Kay Kyser, and became a national hit. The song portrays "Rosie" as a tireless assembly line worker, doing her part to help the American war effort.
Whether rain or shine
She’s part of the assembly line.
She’s making history,
Working for victory
Rosie the Riveter