The Strip, a Golf Tournament, and some Hiking around Las Vegas

Boulder City, NV

Each season, the Bellagio Hotel and Casino transforms a large area called the Conservatory into a showcase of the sights and colors of spring, summer, fall and winter along with a special display for Chinese New Year.  We knew the fall display, called Proud as a Peacock, was open until the third week of November, so one afternoon we drove to the Las Vegas Strip to check it out.  On the way up Las Vegas Boulevard we passed the famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, currently filled with mementos dedicated to the victims of the recent shooting.

After parking in a large lot near the Tropicana Resort we walked up Las Vegas Boulevard enjoying the sights on The Strip.  Once at the Bellagio we made our way through the casino to The Conservatory where we enjoyed the beautiful displays.

During our stay in the Las Vegas area, the PGA was holding their annual Shriner’s Hospital Open tournament at the TPC Summerlin Course.  We love golf and watch most PGA tournaments on TV but have never attended one before.  So we took advantage of our proximity to Summerlin, just northwest of the city, and attended the first round.  We enjoyed the experience, following a couple of our favorite golfers on the front nine, but decided that we would rather watch it on TV.

Wake Forest grad Webb Simpson (our son, Kevin, is a Wake grad)

Two time Masters winner Bubba Watson

Graeme McDowell, Jimmy Walker, and Bubba Watson

The best seat in the house

The tournament was shown live on The Golf Channel so we know most of you saw us on TV.  But for those of you who missed it, below is a photo from our appearance.  That’s John with the blue shirt and Pam next to him in pink.

A pair of stars are born!

On our way home from the tournament we stopped in Henderson to share a dinner with a couple from our home town, Dustin and Jennifer, who now live in Henderson.  Dustin was a student in Pam’s third grade class a few (OK, more than a few) years ago.  They have kept in touch ever since but have not seen each other since he was in high school.  So it was great to catch up with the two over dinner at Claim Jumpers in Henderson.

Dustin and Jennifer next to their pride and joy

Our last adventure for this visit to Boulder City was a hike in the River Mountains behind the Railroad Pass Casino.  The casino is located along US 93 between Las Vegas and Boulder City.  We parked in back of the casino and climbed up a bank to a paved bike path.

Looking back down at the casino

We walked the bike path for a short distance before crossing a set of railroad tracks and heading up the trail.  The bike path is a section of the River Mountain Loop trail, a 34 mile paved path that surrounds the River Mountains connecting Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam, Henderson, and Boulder City.  The hiking trail is part of a series of hiking and mountain biking trails in the Bootleg Canyon Park.

Heading up from the railroad tracks

We combined two trails, the Sh*t Trail (that’s how Google Maps spells it) and Ernie’s Trail, for a scenic five mile loop hike.  As we rounded a hill on the Sh*t Trail we could see what looked to be the entrance to an old mine on the hillside below us.  A look through binoculars revealed a bicycle sitting at the entrance along with a fairly new Weber grill.

As we watched we were surprised when a man and a woman came out of the entrance and put something on the grill.  We don’t know if they are living in the mine or looking for gold during the day.  Very strange . . .

We continued around the mountain, with a nice look at US 95 coming into view to our south.

The view to the south

We continued up the canyon along the Cascata Golf Course to our east.  Cascata is a very exclusive course that is open to the public, if you’re willing to pay $395 for a round plus $50/player and tip for a fore caddie assigned to each foursome.  A fore caddie doesn’t carry your bag, you have to take a cart.  The caddie walks with the group and rakes traps and tends the pin.

The driving range at Cascata

You can’t see the golf course from the highway but you can see what looks like a waterfall on the mountainside behind it.  The trail went up a hill right across from the waterfall so we were able to get a closer look at it.

The waterfall

The water is pumped up there through a pipe hidden in the mountain to create a stream that runs right through the clubhouse.

Where does the water come from?

The trail went up into a canyon, then turned and came back out going over the top of the waterfall.

The arrow marks the trail ahead of us

An arch sits above the trail

Hiking up past the golf course

As we hiked around the hill over the waterfall we could hear noise in the rocks above us.  We looked up and saw the fella in the photo below looking down at us.

He watched us for a couple of minutes before scampering up over the hill.

We rounded a bend to a point where we could again see the golf course driving range below us.  A look through the binoculars revealed a group enjoying a vegetarian lunch on the range.

Scree field along the trail

Junction of the Sh*t Trail and Ernie’s Trail

Las Vegas in the distance as we headed down Ernie’s Trail

That wraps up our stay in this area.  We really enjoy Boulder City and will definitely return in the future.  We have no plans to settle down in the near future, but when we do this  town is high on our list of potential locations.

Next up is a stay in Bullhead City, about 80 miles to the south on the Arizona side of the Colorado River.  More on that later . . .

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14 Responses to The Strip, a Golf Tournament, and some Hiking around Las Vegas

  1. Ingrid says:

    Interesting trail and always great sharing a hike with wildlife. The conservatory at the Bellagio is always amazing. When we lived in Vegas in the 90’s one of our neighbors was a garden designer at the Mirage. She loved her job (for the most part). Anyway it was interesting talking with her about the seasonal designs. The work never ends.

  2. Bighorn sheep on a golf course just looks wrong!
    We need to spend more time in that area one of these days.

  3. Laurel says:

    Haha, I’m going to ask for your autographs now that you’ve been on television!! From the Sh*t Trail to the bighorns on the golf course to the couple grilling outside of the mine….some truly interesting moments here. :-)) Always love the fantasy gardens at the Bellagio!

  4. Wish we had made it to the Bellagio, the display looks neat!

    I remember noticing that waterfall; seems like they’d lose a lot to evaporation just for the sake of aesthetics! Awesome bighorn sightings!

  5. I never thought of Boulder, NV as a potential living destination–the only time we’ve stayed there to participate in a shooting tournament, it was so incredibly hot! We had planned to boondock at the rifle range but with the heat we ended up staying in a RV park so we had air conditioning for our then pooch, Jazz. I can see Boulder’s attractions–views, lots of outdoor activities, close to an airport.

  6. geogypsy2u says:

    Thanks for taking us into the Bellagio because I never explore Vegas. With all the homeless in Vegas maybe people are taking to live in abandoned mines with natural AC. Hard for me to believe people will pay that much to chase a little ball around. Nice to see the sheep get something out of all that green.

  7. Sherry says:

    I’m with Gaelyn in thanking you for taking me to things I would otherwise never see like Las Vegas, and a golf tournament. I’m so glad I’m able to say I know some golf celebrities who were actually on TV. LOL at Sh*t Trail and really wondering about the cave and the weber grille. You two find some intriguing things that’s for sure. The big horn is the sight of the day for me.

  8. Wow, now I have friends who are TV stars. Bellagio always put on a great themed decor, they must have a huge budget for those things.
    I knew it, these Big Horn Sheep seemed to know when you are in an area and welcomes you in town.

  9. Gay says:

    Who would have ever thought Boulder City has so much to offer. The fall display at the Bellagio is amazing, sharing the trail with Bighorn sheep, and being on TV all make for interesting adventures and excitement.

  10. Jim and Barb says:

    At first glance I thought maybe your title said you went to a strip gold tournament! I have always wanted to go to a tournament, cool that you got on TV to boot!

  11. Jodee Gravel says:

    OMG!! Those displays are magical – I would love every minute. Hope you’ll still remember us little people now that you’re big stars 🙂 How wonderful that you’ve stayed in touch with a student ALL these years (sweet car!). The mine people are really strange! Glad the big horn sheep found you.

  12. pmbweaver says:

    Oh my gosh, the Proud as a Peacock is awesome. I love it.
    What a gorgeous photo of you two on TV…hehe. Now that you are movie stars, you probably have forgotten our names.

    Now that is one strange place to hold a cook out. You always see the best wildlife. Looks like another butt burner hike!

  13. Nancy says:

    Fun times for you!! And Bighorns too! The Belagio conservatory is always such a treat!

  14. LuAnn says:

    The Bellagio display is beautiful! We didn’t know that we have been in the presence of such stars. Hope to see you this winter in San Diego, if you can fit us into your busy schedule. 🙂

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