Soon we were entering Lake Mead National Recreation Area and my Senior Pass came in handy again. We came to Northshore Road which took us beside Las Vegas Lake and then headed east skirting Lake Mead all the way. It was a scenic root all the way with several places where we stopped for pictures. We drove down to the Callville Marina on Lake Mead where we did a little birdwatching
. It was the first time we had ever been at lake level. Before we had only seen Lake Mead from a scenic pull off way above the lake and we had seen it from the airplane. The marina was almost deserted as it was really hot already this early in the morning. There were a lot of mobile homes near there but no one was around. We did see a boat-tailed grackle, mallards, eared grebes, and a female red-breasted merganser. We headed back down the road as it was a long way to the Valley of Fire State Park. But when we got to the top of a pass over the mountains we stopped for the view. We could see really far in both directions. It was so windy that the view looked hazy because of all the dust in the air. We noticed a short trail to the Northshore Summit. It was only 1/4 mile so we hiked up to the summit and got a 360* view. It was breathtaking. We could see all the way back to Las Vegas even with the haze.
We stayed in the car most of the rest of the way to the Valley of the Fire. We went in the back entrance and it was a self pay station. My Senior National Parks Pass wasn't accepted so we paid the ten dollars. Already at the Park Sign and at the self pay station we started seeing lots of red rocks. It was just amazing and made the Red Rocks Canyon look like nothing. This was 100 times better. Our first stop was at the Clark Memorial which honored an early traveler who had died of thirst beneath his wagon along the trail in 1915
. Then we stopped to see a petrified tree. We took a side trip to a picnic area where there were 3 cabins built by the CCC in 1935 of red sandstone rocks. We passed by the Seven Sisters Picnic Area where there were 7 huge red rocks with the picnic shelters built between them. Then we arrived at the Visitor Center and went and looked at the exhibits. They had bird feeders but all we saw were house sparrows and house finches. It was cool to watch them go to their nests in the blow holes in the rocks which are scoured out by the wind which we were experiencing ourselves today. We each bought a T-shirt at the gift shop. They are dirt shirts and colored about the same color as the rocks. Mine has kokopeli on it and says Dirt Dancing. By the end of the day I felt like I had been "dancing in the dirt" all day.
The scenic drive back into the rocks began at the Visitor Center. Our first stop was for some lunch at the Picnic area across from Mouse's Tank. We had our sandwiches and snacks and Gatorade while a friendly desert squirrel about the size of a chipmunk begged for his share. We didn't give him anything. Don't feed the wildlife! When we finished we went across and hiked to Mouse's Tank which is a bowl shaped depression that holds water for several months of the year. We saw a black-tailed gnatcatcher well enough today to claim it as a life bird. The Mouse's Tank was completely dry today
. But in it we saw a goat climbing on the rocks and we saw four other goats resting in a shady spot on the other side of the bowl. The hike was 1/2 mile, there and back. Not so far but it was midday and very warm. There wasn't much shade either. On the way back we found the prehistoric petroglyphs that were scratched in a bluish/black substance on the red rocks, so the petroglyphs were red on black. Next we stopped at Rainbow Vista which had many different colors of rocks showing the colors of rock that had once been on top of the red rocks. After Rainbow Vista we took a side road to Fire Canyon and the Silica Dome. Here we could see white (silica) rocks in front of the red rocks and with the green bushes it was very colorful. But the wind was fierce. I could feel the sand scouring my legs, arms, and face. The wind was worst at the end of the road where we could see the huge Silica Dome on one side and Fire Canyon on the other. Despite the wind we walked out to the viewpoint. I had to turn my back to the wind several times as I got sand in my eyes. We went back to the Scenic Drive and drove out to the White Domes. It was 99* by then and the heat was getting to both of us so we just went to the parking lot and looked at the large white rocks. We didn't feel like doing anymore hiking in the wind and heat. We had to back track to the Visitor Center and then headed west. There were still a few things to see on a loop road further on but we decided it was time to turn the air on in the car
. We stopped to see Atlatl Rock which had some really cool petroglyphs. To get up to the rock we had to climb metal stairs about three stories up. An Atlatl is a notched stick used to throw primitive spears and there was a glyph of one on the rock. Hence, the name. At Atlatl Rock we saw a Wilson's Warbler and a Violet Green Swallow. We had to hunt and hunt for a Wilson's warbler when we went up to Lake Erie for Spring Migration. To find one in the desert was a first for us. The last thing we saw at Valley of Fire was the Beehives. These are unusual sandstone formations weathered by the eroding forces of wind and water. We drove to the west entrance station and stopped for a break and to change out of our hiking boots. We headed west about 10 miles where we connected with Interstate 15 which we took all the way back to Tropicana Blvd. We got back to our hotel about 4:00. We couldn't wait to get showers. We could feel the grit on our skin from the wind and the sand.
We decided to walk over to New York New York for supper. We walked all over and decided to eat at Nine Fine Irishmen Pub. While we waited for a table we sat at the bar and I had a Manger's Cider and Larry had a Smithwick's beer. We got a nice quiet table upstairs and ordered Beer Cheese Dip with country breads for an appetizer. Larry had Bangers and Mash and I had Shepherd's Pie. It was all delicious
. But I couldn't finish mine. It came in a large pot that looked like a miniature kettle used to make batches for canning. After supper we walked to the Belaggio to see the water show. Larry said is was just a little way but it wasn't. We walked up and down elevated walkways and some of them had escalators. The Belaggio has a huge lake in front of it and is just across from Paris. So I took pictures of the Hot Air Balloon, the Arche de Triumphe, and the Eiffel Tower. We finally saw the piping coming up our of the water just at 8:00. It was really something and all choreographed to music. With the wind blowing we thought we would be out of harm's way but we got sprayed a few times. It felt good though. It was cooler but still warm. Next we went into the Bellagio to catch the City Center Tram back south. But we didn't just walk through, we explored. In the entrance foyer the whole ceiling was done in Chihuli Glass. Everything was marble. We went into the huge atrium with a glass roof and a garden. In the garden were lots of flowers, a glass bird house with lots of exotic birds, bird and snail sculptures, a lighthouse and more Chihuli glass. When we got to the tram we found out it only went as far as the Monte Carlo. Well that was better than walking all the way back. We got back to our room at 9:00.
We woke up early by Las Vegas standards. We were up at 6:30. We got dressed and had muffins in the room. Larry went to the car to get the cooler and stopped for OJ on his way back. We filled all our water bottles but there were only three we could fill. Our oldest Nalgene water bottle was cracked and we had to throw it away. We took our time getting ready and then headed down to buy sandwiches for lunch. We also took trail mix, chips and Gatorade. We took off from the parking lot about 8:00. We headed south on the strip and took 215 east which became Lake Mead Parkway. We went through Henderson and then past Las Vegas Lake.