Charleston Peak, Nevada

Trip Start Apr 12, 1992
Trip End Jun 15, 1992

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Flag of United States  , Nevada
Tuesday, April 28, 1992

May you enter Heaven late.
Charleston Peak, Nevada
Warm, clear

In order to get from Kingman, Arizona to Death Valley it is necessary to cross Hoover dam on the Colorado Rover near Boulder City, or else swing south through Needles, California, which is miles out of the way. The problem with the Hoover Dam route is that it forced me into Las Vegas, where I didn't really care to go...but I did.

The desert north of Kingman stretches flat to Mount Tiptom, way off in the distance. Riding along, it is easy to become preoccupied with the distsnt mountain scenery, failing to notice the vegetation covering the intervening ground. One has only to walk out into the growth a few yards to see the mostincredible display of wild flowers imaginable, flowers of all colors, types, sizes, some dull with only vague hints of color, some so bright they seem to say "look at me."

When I came to the sign pointing off the highway to Chloride the name hookeg me, so I dropped in for a visit. It is a unique little town. A silver mine was opened jere in 1860. Two small mines still operate. They provide income for much of the working population. Other workers run the few small businesses in town or commute to Kingman, about 35 miles south. Another segment of the population, a large one, consists of retired old people. Among this group the women vastly outnumber the men.

According to one of the ladies the retired segment are "mostly in their fifties, like me."
I think she's a tad more than in her fifties. Nevertheless, as I walked around, everyone was eager to begin a conversation and tell me all about the town's social activities, which include three-wheeled motorcycle races, productions at the local playhouse every saturday (local talent) andweekend dances featuring live music at several saloons in town.

I received numerous invitations to move to Chloride, "The best place in the world to live." The main street is called Tennessee Avenue and the favored mode of personal transport around the dusty streets is motorized three-wheelers. Little old ladies (and some not so little) slide around corners,kicking up huge swirls of dust. Evel Kneviel would be proud of them. These people have character. No way could you make them live in "Twilight Hills" or some such retirement colony.

About noon I stopped near Hoover Dam for gas. The temperature forecast for the high today was 99 dry degrees in the Hoover Dam/ Lake Mead area; quite a change from the blizzard in New Mexico only nine days before.

The highway to Las Vegas crosses Hoover Dam, which was undergoing construction work. Only one lane served traffic from both directions. Vehicles were backed-up, bumper to bumper, for miles in both directions. Signs warned that traffic could be delayed up to four hours. Fortunately there was not that long a wait this morning.

Hoover Dam is a monumental structure. For this reason i wanted to take pictures, especially on the down-river side. This was not to be. The construction barriers would not allow me to get into position for the most advantageous viewing spots.

The dam is tremendous. Lake Mead, created by the dam, became a popular recreation area in the desert. Its deep blue waters were undisturbed except for occasional pleasure craft laying long wakes across the mirror surface. Water stains on the brightly colored rock shorelines clearly mark various prior water levels.

The dam spans the Colorado River, the border between Arizona and Nevada, and a time zone boundary. Nevada uses Pacific time. two hours earlier than Alabama.

North from Hoover Dam and Boulder City there is a rapid drop in elevation. The descent down steep mountain slopes is accompanied by an equally rapid rise in temperature. By the time I arrived in Las Vegas (2000') the heat was almost unbearable. A local radio station announced an unexpected high of 105 degrees.

For me, Las Vegas, even without the heat, is a terrible place to be. Imagine a 20 mile strip shopping center running in all directioms, 6 and 8 lane streets, verylimited parking, bumper to bumper traffic, sidewalks packed with tourists, the whole place garish, gaudy and artificial. That is Las Vegas. One establishment displayed a sign advertising a bar, hot tub, slot machines, a tattoo parlor, and a wedding chapel under one roof. That should cover all needs.

I drove down Las Vegas Boulevard where most of the big hotels and casinos are located. I stopped only long enough to get some prescriptions refilled at the local AARP pharmacy. Then I followed US-95 north across a fantastically colorful desert.

About 30 miles out from town a turnoff goes west into Toiyabe National Forest and Charleston Peak (11918'). Its snow cap was too inviting to resist. High up near the snow line the temperature was refreshingly cool. The clean air lay still amid groves of evergreens, the scent of the trees filled my vanwith a sharp pleasant odor. It seemed a good place to take a hike. I walked under the white trees through scattered patches of snow until darkness crept up the slope.
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