Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Road Trip: Dash to Las Vegas, Nevada: Part 1: On the Way There

Before landing in Tucson, I never had the desire to visit Las Vegas (Nevada, not New Mexico.)  But shortly after I arrived here, I kinda got hit in the head with the gobsmacking news that Las Vegas is not a far drive away. It got suddenly put on my list of places called "It'd-be-a-shame-not-to-check-out-if-I'm-so-close."

Then not long ago, it got pushed to the list called "I will go next month."

This is because one of my students, who lives in Vietnam, was coming to the US for a business trip, and then visiting a friend outside of LA, who had promised my student a look-see over in Vegas, and I allowed as how Las Vegas wasn't all that far from Tucson, and we sealed the deal: He and his friend would come to Vegas from LA, and I'd come to Vegas from Tucson.

I'll call my student "Sinh," which really is a Vietnamese name, because it seems fitting for the Las Vegas milieu.

 On my way to Las Vegas, I saw some stuff.

Sacaton Rest Area, I-10, Arizona. December 2019.

Sacaton Rest Area on I-10, between Tucson and Phoenix

I am fond of trees with smooth, muscular trunks, so I felt immediately attracted to a particularly handsome palo verde tree standing along the entry path to the restrooms.

Sacaton Rest Area, I-10, Arizona. December 2019.

I am not alone in my admiration, as evidenced by this blogger's 2015 post on the trees at the rest area.

Arizona remodeled the Sacaton Rest Area in 2018 and proudly released this grand re-opening video re: same:

The refurbished restrooms are nice, but I feel disappointed when accessible stalls fall short of the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and perhaps even the letter of the law.

In the case of the Sacaton rest area, there seemed to be ample room within the stall for a person to enter and maneuver in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the door latch on the inside was difficult for me to turn to lock or unlock, so anyone with mobility issues in their hands, wrists, or arms might have a hell of a time getting out of the stall. This may appear trivial to those without a disability, but if you can't lock or unlock your own toilet stall, then you are denied independence that other users take for granted.

As I wonder when on tiptoes for restroom mirrors hung inexplicably high, why don't installers (or Arizona Department of Transportation, who paid for and had administrative oversight of the completed work) think to invite someone with a wheelchair (and those with arthritic hands) to test out these spaces?

But moving on!

Hassayampa Rest Area, on Highways 60/93, between Surprise and Wickenburg, Arizona

My bladder and I next stopped at Arizona's Hassayampa Rest Area.

Hassayampa Rest Area, Hwy 60/93, Arizona. December 2019.

Since my return home, I've learned that the rest area is a sweet spot for birders. From this article's author:
There are many riparian corridors in Arizona, and many roadside rest areas, but this is the only roadside rest area in a riparian corridor where I would stop and expect to see Vermilion Flycatchers in the parking lot. The Hassayampa River riparian corridor is a migration route for birds crossing the desert that can be a good place for a quick stop along the highway. Some 230 species of birds have been recorded in the area.

What enchanted me was the idea of an "upside down river," in which much of stream's water flow is under the sand. This blog offers a still-photo tour along much of the Hassayampa River's length.

The lush ground cover at one side of the rest area's parking lot reminded me of Louisiana's lushness.

Hassayampa Rest Area, Hwy 60/93, Arizona. December 2019.

All so quickly, I was off again for Las Vegas.

Along Highway 93, I saw this:

And this:

Driving through a moonscape, it was, above.

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