Tag Archives: Friday Field Trip

Lions in Las Vegas


Today’s #FridayFieldTrip was a visit to the Lion Habitat in Henderson, NV.  It was wonderful to hear lions roar–once one big cat sounds off, others follow and the sound is amazing.

The facility is incredibly clean, although you do have to watch so you don’t get sprayed by the cats who back up to the edge of their cages and urinate.

The volunteers and staff and very knowledgeable and happy to answer any and all questions. They also seemed just as amazed and in awe of their charges as the visitors.

Many of these lions were part of the MGM’s habitat, which closed a few years ago. But, they’re not show cats. While hand fed, they aren’t trained to do tricks and they still have their teeth and claws.

It was very cool spending the afternoon with these majestic beasts. They’re way bigger than I imagined. I mean, I knew they’d be big. I’ve seen them on TV and in the movies. But, until you’re standing a few feet away, you just don’t get it. The massive paws and huge heads.

At one point, while being fed, for a brief moment, two of the youngest cats squabbled. The sound and energy of that moment brought a hint of fear to my soul. Not for them, but for me. Not that I was actually in any danger, but it triggered some deep seated instinct of fear when I heard those angry roars–like our house cats on massive steroids, or something. Silly, I know.

And, then there’s Ossie, the only giraffe in Nevada. He’s cool and interesting and, well, he paints. Their tongues are amazing, like a finger. The handler said their tongues grow an inch in length for every foot the animal grows in height. Ossie is only three years old. So, he’ll grow another 10 or so feet in height. Ossie’s paintings are actually pretty cool and available for purchase in the little gift shop.

It was a very nice day at the ranch. I’ve been seeing signs and wanting to visit for some time and my only regret is that I waited this long to go there. Locals get an entrance fee discount, which is always nice.

The habitat is only open from 11-3 a few days a week. Visit their website for more details.

St. Thomas

20161125_132737I’ve been wanting to visit St. Thomas for some time. I was close by while visiting Double Negative. I’d heard the road had been washed out in the spring, but I was close, so I drove over and the road was open.

For decades, St. Thomas, a Mormon settlement, was the largest city in southern Nevada. Located in a valley fed by the Muddy River and the Virgin River, there was an abundance of water, so a great place to farm and live in the desert. Native peoples had lived in the valley for centuries. Then, Hoover Dam was built and Lake Meade created. St. Thomas was underwater in no time at all. With the droughts and usage, Lake Meade has dropped and 20161125_134210St. Thomas has been re-exposed.

There’s a 2.5 mile loop trail that takes you from the old boat launch down to the town site and around some of the foundations. That’s all that’s there. Foundations and a few metal remnants.

It’s odd at times because you’ll be walking through sand and then through piles of little clam shells. Of course, there were colonies of mollusks when the place was under water.

20161125_140627The sign says the trails aren’t maintained, but most of the foundation sites have been cleared of plants and grasses, so there’s some maintenance going on there.

Anyway, it’s a nice hike, pretty easy, and there’s lots to think about, from the old town, to knowing there was about 100 feet of water over the top of the site (over your head), to the river and mountains around you.

Double Negative

20161125_122951For my #FridayFieldTrip I visited the land art piece, Double Negative, by Michael Heizer,  near Overton, Nevada. It was completed in 1970 and is owned by the Los Angeles Modern Art Museum. It’s two eroding caverns in an isolated section of desert on the Mormon Mesa (Also called the Virgin River Mesa).

I do wish there was a sign with a catalog description, as there would be with a piece in the museum. It would have been nice to get some information while standing there.

There are pictures on the web that show Double Negative in it’s original form, but over the past 46 years it has been weathered and beaten up a bit, so the sides aren’t plumb. And, I think that’s one of the cool aspects of land art. There’s the original vision, and then the ongoing effects of wind and rain and humans and animals and whatever else might come. 20161125_123209The holes are pretty deep and I guess I could have scrambled down, but it didn’t feel like the right thing to do; so, I took some pictures, contemplated life (it’s incredibly quiet there!), and then headed on my way.

The view from the top of the mesa down into the valley of the  Virgin River was simply amazing.