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Sat. Nov. 4 Las Vegas NV to Fri. Nov. 9 West Falls CA; Tonight Show; Farmers Market

Saturday-  I worked on the article in the morning, then we went to a Farmers Market in Somerlin NV, just west of Las Vegas, about a 20 minute drive. It was an upscale area. We wandered around, but did not buy anything.

From there we went to Ethel M’s chocolate factory. We wandered through the chocolate factory, watching the chocolate being made.

Ethel M Candy Factory Tour

Ethel M Candy Factory Tour

Ehtle M's candies

They also had an M & M store. We bought a little bag of chocolate, as it was very expensive. They also have the worlds largest botanical cactus garden.

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We wandered through and decided we will return some evening when they have the lights on. Evidently they have a very big Christmas display.

We returned to the motor home and took a nap. We ate dinner, then went to the strip. We parked at the Venetian Casino. This is the inside of the gondola area. 

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Above is the inside gondola ride.

We wandered through the building, then walked down to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. We walked back and took the outside gondola ride at the Venetian.

This is Orfino, our gondola guy. He sang us two songs on the ride.

Orfino

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Here is Bob tipping him.  Below is the ceiling at the entrance to the casino.

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We left and went home.

Sunday- We left the motor home at 8:30, and drove to Hoover Dam. I had been there before, but Bob had not. We purchased the full package, so we took the Dam tour and the Power Plant tour. It was extremely interesting.

The dam was built during the depression, starting in 1931 and completed in 1935. 95 men died during the building process. Bet they could not build it as well now as they did then! First they would  never get the bipartisan support in Congress to pay for it!

One of the diversion pipes.

This is one of the diversion pipes. Before they could build the dam, they had to divert the Colorado river. So they built 4 diversion pipes. Then they put in a dam above the site and a dam below the site. They diverted the water past the work area for the years that they were building the dam. 023-001

This is the basic diagram of the inside of the plant. The green lines are the four diversion pipes, in the center is the upper dam, the lines that go across, are the pipes for the water that goes to the turbines which turn to produce the electricity. The blue lines are where the water goes out, below the dam. The gray on the sides are the overflow. The overflow has only been used one time when flooding occurred in 1985 from the snow melt in the Rockies. Here are the turbines.

The turbines on the Nevada side.

The tour used to include going down to the turbines, but since 911, they keep everyone upstairs.

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Our guide, Amanda.  She used every corny ‘dam’ joke you can think of…  Our next stop on the tour was to walk down this tunnel to the opening on the wall of the dam.

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Here is Bob looking out from the dam.

This is a picture of the new bridge from the dam.

View from inside the dam.

This is a picture looking up the dam. 040-001

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These are the steps down to the bottom of the dam. The staff call the stairs “the stairway to heaven”. This view is looking up the other side. There are over 700 steps.

Striway to heaven inside dam

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This is the earthquake sensor. The thought of having an earthquake while in the dam was pretty scary. The dam was built without rebar so that it would not crack in case there is an earthquake. The dam is also not attached on either side or on the bottom. The weight of the concrete keeps the dam centered on the bottom and sides. The water in the back, on Lake Meade keeps it in place. It is able to move with an earthquake. The dam is built to withstand an 8.5 earthquake.

So far the worst that it has been through is 5.5 and it had no damage. From here, we took the elevator back up and went outside.

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A motor home driving across the top of the dam. Since the time change occurred this morning, we could walk across and change time zones in a few feet.  One side is Arizona and the other side is Nevada. Arizona does not changes time with daylight savings.

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Above is Lake Meade. It is 127 feet below normal. The white in the picture, around the lake edge, is the normal height of the lake. When the lake reaches a –200 feet, the turbines cannot be run and the plant goes down. Since the dam supplies most of the electricity in the area, this could be a disaster. Las Vegas does not obtain its electric from the Hoover Dam.

After walking across the dam, we went to a 10 minute presentation on the Colorado river basin which was interesting. We walked back to the parking garage, then drove across the dam.

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Our plan was to drive across the dam, then take the bridge back. We crossed and followed the road up,

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When we reached the top, we found that it was a dead end. You can no longer drive all the way across the dam and continue on….

We drove back and continued on to the Lake Meade recreation area.

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We continued on to Boulder City. We wanted to go to the Nevada welcome center, but it is only open M-F. So we went to old town Boulder City. It is a cute little town.

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We stopped at a little restaurant where Bob had a pizza and I had a chicken philly cheese steak. Both were good. We found this little statue of Peter Pan. No reason for it to be here, it is just a statue on the side of the street.

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We returned home, took a nap, ate dinner,watched TV and went to bed.

Monday-  Karlie  woke us up at 3 AM, she needed to go out. So Bob got up and took her. It took her a while for to get us to understand what she wanted, but we finally woke up enough to understand. 

So we woke up a little later than usual this morning. We are still trying to acclimate to the time change. We are now four hours ( with daylight savings time)behind what we were in Maryland. Even with doing this move in spurts, it is still hard on the body. The dogs are really confused, since they can tell time! They know exactly when they eat, walk, and sleep, so they are really upset with the changes.

I was able to get our RV park reservation straightened out. We are going to end up leaving on Wednesday to head for West Hills CA. We will be staying in Balboa RV Park, in Van Nuys, for the next two months. I have already contracted the mail forwarding service to send our mail on. Hopefully my glasses will be here tomorrow, or else they are going to have to chase us to California.

The weather in Las Vegas is wonderful. When we woke up this morning it was 56 degrees, but 10AM, it was 75. Not a cloud in the sky. It made my powerwalk a little warm, since I was up later this morning,  but still nice.

We went grocery shopping and took a nap. We went to  the hot tub this evening. This Thousand Trails is nice, although the sites are pretty close together.  Watched TV this evening.

Tuesday-  I finished the article, Bob proofed it and I sent it to my editor. I also told him I cannot due another article until January.

We made our reservations for the Alfa See Ya’s pre-rally and for the FMCA rally in Indio California the beginning of January.  I checked on my glasses and they were not in yet. So I have given them the address in California and asked that they overnight it to Balboa RV Park. Will see what happens!

We took a short nap and basically just hung out. and started getting ready to leave tomorrow morning.  We watched re-runs of Big Bang Theory and checked in on the election results during the evening.

Wednesday-  We were up early and on the road just before 8AM. We ran into Las Vegas rush hour traffic, so that slowed us down a bit. Once out of Las Vegas we sailed along  I-15 south. We rapidly crossed over the California border. We had pre-planned going through the agricultural inspection and have no fruit to declare. I was driving when we reached the inspection station and went through the truck lane. Basically we were a nuisance. He told me to keep moving as I was blocking traffic. Hmmp! They never checked the motor home!

We drove through the Mojave Desert.

Mojave Desert

At the higher elevations ( 4000 ft.) they have a lot of the Joshua trees.

Joshua Trees

They are native to the Mojave desert and are only found there. Unfortunately, the rest areas are all at a lower elevation, so I could not get a close up picture of them. There was also no Welcome Center. These budget cut backs do not make a lot of sense. You need tourism to keep the economy going! 

We continued on towards LA. We stopped about 90 miles out at a truck stop and disconnected the car so that I could drive behind Bob to run interference in the traffic. The closer we got to LA, the worse the air seemed!

I could not get pictures as I was driving, but the air was unbelievable. The smog was just hanging in the air. Once through the San Bernardino mountains, it became worse, and then even worse than that! Since I have mild asthma, I was a little worried about my breathing! From the freeway, the mountains were only about a mile away but you could not see them and the smog just hung in the valleys. Yes, I knew there was smog. In fact, I lived in California for almost six months in 1978, when I had a Fellowship to the Univ. of CA, Irvine. The smog was bad then but much much worse now!

The traffic was miserable, as expected! It seemed to take forever to get to our exit. Amazingly, the closer that we got to the RV park, the clearer the air became. By the time we arrived at the park we could see the sun again and the sky was blue.

Balboa RV Park, is actually an RV park, but more like a mobile home park. Only RV’s here, but most of the sites are long term.  On the good side, the staff are very nice and the people in the park are musicians, actors and other people who work at the studios, so we might meet some interesting folks! Also there are other travel nurses.We are right next door to Occidental Studio!

The staff are a bit unorganized. When we arrived they said that they were only charging us for the week as we were on a trial due to the dog. Huh? Didn’t they tell me that? Nope. Turns out there is a nurse from Texas who is coming in and she has a German Shepard, so they are doing a trial. Our dogs were okay, so we were charged the monthly rate, plus electric. So we need to watch our electric consumption.

Steve, the owner, guided Bob into the site. As soon as he had the motor home situation, I took off. The agency had called me to go have a PPD done. I had on in March, but evidently California wanted another one. A PPD is a tuberculosis test, which nurses have to have done yearly. So the agency had set me up at an urgent care to get the PPD done. I have to return there on Friday afternoon to have it read.

Heather at the desk at Balboa asked if we wanted to see any shows. We said yes, we wanted to see the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She got us tickets for tomorrow evening. She also said Jay Leno is very nice. She used to work for an event planning company and she did events for him at his home. Nice to know…

Our tickets arrived via email and we had to confirm after 8PM, which I did. We ate dinner in and watched TV until we both fell asleep on the couch!

Thursday- Balboa RV park is located very near the Van Nuys airport, so it was noisy last evening. Fortunately, the planes did not start taking off until after 6AM, so it should work out okay for us.  We also seem to be in the flight path for LAX, so there are also planes from there flying overhead.

We decided to do a trial run to the hospital. We will not be taking the freeway, as it takes longer. The hospital is 6 miles away and should take 20 minutes to get there. When we arrived, we saw that they had free parking, so we parked and I went in search of Human Resources, where I have to start on Monday morning.  They have three Case Management positions open so I expect to be busy! We quickly found HR and we know where Bob is going to drop me off and pick me up on Monday.

After that we went to Bed, Bath and Beyond. Did not find what we are looking for, so it was off to Target and Kohls, then Walmart. We took a really quick drive back to the park on the Ronald Regan Freeway ( Rt. 118).

Home for lunch, then off to the Leno Show. They tape in the afternoon and you have to be there at 2:15. No bags or cameras unfortunately.  We had a problem finding the studio, as the map that they included with the ticket was not helpful. We found parking, in the Tonight Show lot for $5. We arrived about 2 PM and were # 189 and 190. If we do this again, we will plan on arriving earlier.

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We stood in line until about 2:45, when the line started moving. We were finally taken in around 3:15. They have a guy who gives instructions and gets the crowd prepped for the show, with clapping and standing when appropriate. They have interns in the aisles, as well as security near the stage. You have to enter through a metal detector and have your purse searched.

Jay came out and did the monologue. During the commercials, the band plays and Jay meets with his staff. He does not use a teleprompter, they use cue cards that he reads. Before each section, the crew member reviews them with him.

Sally Field was the guest. She is a pro. You could tell, she was very personable and just did a great job. She was promoting the movie, Lincoln, as she played Mary Todd Lincoln. She had to gain 25 lbs.  for the movie and had a really hard time doing it. Somehow I can’t  feel sorry for her. It took her six months to gain the weight and a year, with a personal trainer 3X a week to lose it. She really did look great.

Chris Mathews was supposed to be the second guest, but he could not get out of New York due to the snow, so they brought in some comic. Can’s even remember his name, as he was awful. The crowd hardly laughed; the poor guy bombed! Finally there was a band, who we also had never heard of…. ,  We were on the side of the stage where the guest band plays, so we were able to see them very well. Then Jay, Sally and the comic came over and stood with the band, doing promo’s for the show. That was interesting, as Jay kept blowing his lines. That was fun to watch as they were all right in front of us.

Finally, they taped a skit for 11/20, so we were able to watch that. It took three takes, so again, it was fun. This time it was the audience who blew it.  The show was supposed to end at 5:15, but it was over before 5..

We had planned to go to dinner at an Italian restaurant, not far from the studio, but when we arrived, they did not open until 6. There was a Trader Joe’s there, so we went in, but did not find anything.  We punted and went to another restaurant, Tony’s Bella Vista Restaurant and Pizzeria. It was a little family restaurant, just the type we like. Bob had a dual meal, ravioli and spaghetti, and I had lasagna, we both had the minestrone soup.  The weather was cool and rainy, so the soup really tasted good!

The traffic had cleared out by the time we left to return home. We watched TV and went to bed.

Friday- We went to the Farmers Market in downtown LA.  The trip there was interesting. The GPS asked if we wanted to re-route to a shorter route. Sure. Then we were stuck in traffic for over 1/2 hour! We finally punted, when we were able to, and drove through some neighborhoods. We ended up taking the Laurel Canyon road. I thought I was in San Francisco, going down the road there! Very curvy, narrow, and steep.

The Farmer’s Market has been in downtown LA since 1934, when local farmers parked their trucks on an open field to sell fresh produce to area residents. 010-001

This is the outside, there is also an inside, which has produce, restaurants and some other small stores. We wandered through the inside, then went to walk up the outside.

There was a crowd of people standing around, so we went over to take a look. It was Mario Lopez, and his co-star, Maria Menundoze filming this evenings edition of Extra.

Mario Lopez filming episode of Extra

Mario Lopez

Maion Lopez

We continued on to Barnes and Noble where we bought a California map and a map of British Columbia.  We returned inside to eat lunch and buy some strawberries and oranges.

The La Brea Tar Pits are nearby, and we could not find parking. So we returned home and took a nap. At 3 PM we went to have my PPD read.

We returned home again, and opened our mail which had arrived. We watched TV and went to bed.

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