Vocational Day contined.....

Trip Start Mar 14, 2008
Trip End Apr 28, 2008

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Where I stayed
Las Vegas

Flag of United States  , Nevada
Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Anyway.....Monday morning, awoke at about 6.20am for a cereal brekky and OJ. In the car and on our way. Very excited about the day ahead.......arrived at Las Vegas Springs Preserve to be picked up by Rachel in a golf buggy. Rachel is a zoologist from Detroit, who moved here in the past year to work at the Preserve, a 180 acre non-gaming cultural and historical attraction designed to commemorate the historyof Las Vegas. Originally a site of springs (which have now run out), and known as the birthplace of Las Vegas, it is like an oasis in the middle of this huge desert city! Only 3 miles west of downtown Las Vegas, the site has been rehabilitated and many buildings with interpretive and informative displays presented to the visitor.

Rachel and I toured around "backstage" of the reserve in the buggy, noting the vast spaces of indigenous vegetation reintroduced to the area, wetlands, tracks, and noting the presence of many bird species. Apparently there are 150 migratory birds in the wetland area, and a thrill of this tour was to see a REAL roadrunner!!! Although he wasnt running, he was sitting on a roof, but it was still fabulous! There are archaeological and other historical sites here, it was fascinating. In to the buildings we went, where you could seriously spend a whole day having a go on the interpretive activities, learning new things and watching the fantastic displays (including an example of a flash flood!!) Rachel looks after "living exhibits", which are all species of animals native to the area - everything from tarantula to scorpions, ants, rabbits (!!!), foxes and other creatures I cant remember the names of!
Ken, a local Rotarian, met me at the front gate when time was up, and it was with a little sadness that I said goodbye to my new friend Rachel, hello to Ken, and off to the Clark County Wetlands Park.

This is a 2900 acre, seven mile long and one mile wide strip of land on the eastern edge of the Las Vegas Valley. Only being "reclaimed" for the past 5 or so years (give or take a couple), the area is fascinating, and the plans for the future are excellent. THis includes several trails, for use by horses, bikes and walkers. The park is home to rabbits (!!! again), coyote, beavers, 16 species of bats among other things! Christy was a wonderful host and guide around the park, who really knows her stuff! She reeled off the names of plants when I asked her - both common and latin names! Was amused to find Heliotrope growing freely and truly encouraged along the banks of the streams, plus willow (another !!!!), cottonwood, tall saltbush (that's a goodie), fescue and others exotic to our homeland Australia! The park has no entry fee, and is open dawn to dusk for people to walk in. The park borders both sides of Las Vegas Wash (more info on that when I get home), and I'm sure there are many opportunities for recreation and education of the local folk in this park in to the future.

My tummy was rumbling and it was time to head toward Lake Mead, where we met Mindy, Matt and Monica on the way, and had a scrumptious picnic overlooking this picturesque part of the world. Blue water, not much of it, but still wonderful to be there! Lunch was like no other - with my favourites of prawns and mango included!!! They must've read my mind or just have good taste!

We headed to the Three Kids Mine following lunch, where we looked at environmental remediation of a major national source of manganese ore. The mine operated from 1917 until 1961, and this site was just amazing! The views to the strip were what people will one day pay for, when this site is cleaned up and reclaimed for housing!
With the mine ceasing operation, there are massive volumes of tailings, massive sheer cliffs into large pits and high levels of arsenic and lead in the soil! Remediation is to take place over the next few years, and redevelopment of what will be a safe and clean place to live!!? I would love to come back and see this site in a few years' time!

My last stop of the day was with Scott, who is an environmental consultant (among other jobs), who transported me out to Nevada Solar One. This is the 3rd largest solar power plant in the world - I've never seen anything like it! Surrounded by nothing but desert, the site is almost 400 acres, with solar panels spread across the area......I was gobsmacked!! Such a great thing to see - and at 3.45pm, the output from the panels was at it's peak for the day!!

I have so many facts and figures from today, and think I have them all down. It was such a wonderful, learning day and I couldnt have wished for a better vocational day to start my GSE!! I hope that the others had as fantastic a day as I did...and share it on the blog!

More soon I'm sure.....when I figure out how to put photos on this thing!!
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