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Friday, June 7, 2019

Vegas to Denver--May 2019 Day One

Greeter at the Las Vegas airport
           Our son Chris, after a successful first flight of the Stratolaunch, had accepted another job as a test pilot for a company, BOOM, near Denver, CO.  He bought a house in Highlands Ranch and will be driving there, but will leave Christine and Max in California to let Max finish out the school year. Chris asked Sharon and I if we wanted to tag along as he drives to Colorado. So we decided to meet him in Las Vegas and drive from there.
           Sharon and I flew to Vegas and arrived late in the afternoon and picked up a rental car and drove to our hotel. We stayed at South Point Hotel south of the Vegas strip and away from all the crowds. Some of you might recognize the hotel because Carl Peretta would stay there when he led his Vegas trips for the Birding Club of Delaware County.

           We would be visiting National Parks and Monuments in Nevada, Utah, Arizona  and Colorado on our road trip. Since Chris will be picking us up around 12:30 in the afternoon we decided to rent a car and visit a few sights around Vegas before he arrived. Red Rocks Canyon NCA was our first stop. This was a nice area with an 8 mile loop where you drive thru a few different habitats. Along the rock cliffs were White-throated Swifts which were impossible for me to get a picture of with my little camera.

There were many different rock formations throughout the area.

Black-throated Sparrow

Lesser Goldfinch

Gambel's Quail

           After exploring this area we were going to go to Corn Creek Preserve in the desert but decided it was a little too far, so instead we choose to meander up to the top of Mt Charleston. The only time that I was here before was with Carl on the Birding Club of Delaware County trip. We didn't do much birding because of time constraints but we were able to get a snack of cheesecake at the restaurant on the summit.

Sharon viewing a Western Tanager

Western Tanager

Here's a bird I haven't seen in a few years--Clark's Nutcracker
While at the summit we came across this car. It was a new model car from one of the auto makers and they paint the car like this so no one knows the make of the car. There are also no markings on the car to give away the model. Then they drive it around and test the handling of the car on various road conditions. Pretty cool.

           Coming down from the mountain and heading back to the airport we arrived just in time to meet Chris. We had lunch at Smashburger and then started east on the road to Colorado. First stop was "The Valley of Fire State Park" about 40 minutes from Vegas.

Photo of sign and some people we didn't know

Whitetail Antelope Squirrel

Black-throated Sparrow

Unknown Lizard

Take a guess at this species

Chris and I climbing the arch rock staircase

Made It
          It was now getting to be late afternoon and we still had an hour's drive to get to St George, Utah where we were spending the night. When we arrived we had dinner and then did a little tour of the city. 
Mormon Temple in background

Same temple

Some statues in town

An absolutely fantastic park in town for the kids and adults alike to play in the water

          So we ended our first day of our road trip and spent the night at the St George Desert Inn. Tomorrow we head for Zion NP, Vermilion Cliffs NM, the Navaho Bridge, Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon Dam. BTW, the mystery bird was a Black-throated Sparrow again but it was a juvenile. It through me off for awhile. I thought it was a Sagebrush or Bell's Sparrow.            

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