Monday, October 29, 2012

Home Again!

We reached home yesterday evening, 6:15, a full day ahead of schedule.  In fact, everywhere we went on this holiday we arrived a day early.  Well, better that than a day late.  The foggy cold weather and bad road conditions today throughout Alberta made us pretty happy that we came home early!

I will try to catch up on my impressions of our holiday over the next few days.  But just for now here are a few pictures from the last week or so:

This is a waterfall feature beside the escalator in the Palazzo hotel, Las Vegas.

Our #2 son was there to speak at a convention put on by SAP, the multinational software company he works for.  He had invited us to join him for a few hours on Thursday, and since Las Vegas is just over 4 hours drive from Phoenix, we decided to include that on our trip.  We had such a good visit with him, even though it was for just one evening.

It was also interesting to see the lavish scale of this hotel.

Does this look like an Italian town square?  That's the idea but it is entirely contained within the hotel.  In fact, that hotel is joined to another one, with many floors, shops, restaurants, public places such as this, and even includes a "Venetian Canal" that meanders by this town square.  For a fee you can ride a gondola down the "canal" and back, and your gondolier will even serenade you as he poles you down the "canal."  It's really quite "Disneyish!"

We left the hotel around 9 a.m. Friday morning, and easily found our way out of Las Vegas, thanks to looking up and printing a map of the area from Google Maps.  

Our next stop was Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge, located between Las Vegas and Death Valley.  This is a stretch of the boardwalk that takes you through the area and at the same time preserves the fragile desert environment.

There are several springs here, producing many gallons of fresh water every minute.  

At one time this area was being developed for farming, and a sub-division with swimming pools and a golf course were planned, with a view to taking advantage of the supply of fresh water from the springs. 

Pretty soon the springs were running out of water, and the whole ecosystem was collapsing.  Fortunately the development was reversed, the springs protected and the Wildlife Refuge created.  Just three species had been lost: a small snail, and two others (I've forgotten which and have lost the pamphlet.)  The rest of the flora and fauna recuperated.  It's quite amazing to see the beautiful springs in the midst of the desert!

Right beside the Wildlife Refuge is a small part of Death Valley, not contiguous with the main valley.  This part is protection around a unique feature: a very small pool at the base of a rocky cliff.  In this picture you are looking down about 45 feet through the cleft in the rock to the pool.  Sorry there is no frame of reference to give you an idea of its size.  It is not big, and again I don't have the pamphlet anymore.  You can look it up online, I'm sure.  It's called "Devil's Hole." 

The interesting thing about this pool is that it seemingly has no bottom.  It has been explored to a depth of 500 feet and no bottom has been found.

The other interesting thing about Devil's Hole is that when there is an earthquake, even quite far away, but deep in the earth, this calm, small pool becomes terribly roiled.  Waves up to 2 feet high slosh back and forth for some time.

In the visitor centre there is a film of this phenomenon, caught
on film by someone who just happened by very rare chance, to be there where it was happening.

The whole place is extremely well fenced.  This is the walkway leading to the viewing area.  The reason for all the security is that in 1965 four young men from Las Vegas breached the fence and went scuba diving in the Hole.  Two of them were never found again.  So the Park Service is doing its best to prevent a tragedy like that from ever happening again.

O.K.  That's enough for tonight.  Tomorrow (or later this week) we will travel on to Death Valley.

1 comment:

  1. Love the photos and the updates on where you went while traveling!! Looks like you once again put on a lot of miles and saw lots!! I bet you enjoyed your visit with your sister and your son! Can't wait to read the next instalment!