Las Vegas, NV: Einstein and Sparkle

Las Vegas is really fun for kids!  There is a place called the “Strip” where you can see very fancy hotels, do lots of shopping, play virtual reality games, see fountain shows for free, check out some amazing artwork, eat ice cream, and order cupcakes from a ATM! You can even see acrobats and circus shows at one hotel.  Einstein07 won a stuffed owl there playing a game with a ball.  If you order a piece of pizza, the restaurants have mist stations outside where you can stand and cool off.  We came at almost the hottest time of year.  There were heat warnings, and the temperature reached 115 degrees.  A good bet is to shop and play INSIDE during the day, and walk around at night.  It is also lucky if you score and get a pool with movie night like we did.  This was the first time on our trip we had a pool with a movie screen, but we think it was the BEST spot because it was 110 degrees when we were watching the movie!  We’ll come back in the spring so Sparkle Kitten can shop and we can see a show and ride the rollercoaster.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada: Sparkle Kitten

This is a quick catch-up blog post, because we’re doing more than we’re writing lately.  These are pictures of Nevada’s only National Park “Great Basin National Park”.  It isn’t very busy, because it’s hard to get here.  This is a very beautiful and quiet place.  The reason it’s named the great basin, is because in the center it’s shaped like a big bowl.  This special shape in unique because no water drains from here, like rivers and streams that are tributaries.  All of the water that arrives here, remains here.  Because of this, there are special species of fish etc. that have been on their own for thousands of years.  Scientists say that is long enough to have been cutoff from other species, to be new and distinct.  This area is also unique because of the way the mountains trap rain and clouds.  On certain sides of the mountain, it’s lush and green with special Pine Trees called Bristle Cone trees.  On the other side of the mountain and in the basin it is very rocky and desert like.  There is almost no water there.  E07 and I went up the mountain to beautiful forests.  There was still snow up here.  If we went even higher, we would have had to hike through snow.  If you really want to enjoy this park, you need to camp here.  It is in a very dark area, with no towns or houses.  Stargazing is the best part of the park.

Highway 50, the Loneliest Road in America, Einstein07

This is the UPS sorting facility in Ely, NV.  Ely, Nevada is a very small town.  There is a railroad station here where you can take a train ride, and also the largest Copper Mine in Nevada is here.  Most people come here to visit the Great Basin National Park, like we did.  You have to stay at a very small hotel.  To get here from the West side of Nevada you have to travel on Highway 50.  It was the old Pony Express route.    Buffalo Bill Cody was a Pony Express Rider!  Pony Express Wanted Poster- Passing through the states of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California, the schedule allowed ten days for the trip across plains, deserts, and mountains.Image result for pony express stops in nevadaImage result for pony express stops in nevada

Highway 50 in Nevada is known as the “Loneliest Road in America”.  There is almost nothing in between Carson City, Nevada on the West side and Ely (pronounced ee-lee), Nevada on the East side.  These are some pictures of what it looks like along the road.  One interesting thing along the road is a number of old Pony Express stops. Pony Express photos - Google Search The Pony Express riders used almost this exact same route to get from Missouri, to California.  It must have been a little scary, because there is literally nothing here.  Image result for pony express stops in nevada“Frank E. Webner, pony express rider,” ca. 1861  From the series: Historical Photograph Files, 1896 - 1963. Records of the Bureau of Public Roads. The first ride of the Pony Express began on April 3, 1860. Conveying mail between Missouri and California, the service was the most direct east-west connection until its end in October 1861, with the advent of the transcontinental telegraph.

Virginia City and the Comstock Lode: Einstein07

Virginia City is the main reason Nevada is a State.  a huge amount of Gold and Silver was found here, near the Capital City of Carson City.  It is known as the “Comstock Lode”.  Virginia City was built around where this gold and silver was found.  It was very, very hard to get up here because of how high the hills are, and the fact there were no roads.Image result for virginia city mines  Many, many people settled here and there were lots of stores and other people selling items to the miners.  One of the pictures above shows a large school that was finally built for the children.  Mark Twain, who I wrote about earlier, came here when he had to suddenly leave where he was living (he got into some issues with a guy that had challenged him to a duel!).Image result for mark twain in virginia city  Samuel Clemens used his pen name, Mark Twain here in Virginia City for the first time.  He was a reporter, and wrote about articles about the city.  Image result for mark twain in virginia cityImage result for mark twain in virginia cityImage result for mark twain in virginia cityNow there are a lot of new shops here, and it has a lot of tourists.  Most of the buildings are the original ones. 

There are also many old mines here, but you have to be careful because they can cave in on you.  One important invention from Virginia City was a new way of holding up your mine.  Originally, people used wood beams in the shape of an upside down “U” to hold up the top of a mine.  In the Comstock Lode mines they had to go very deep in the mountains and the mines were caving in.  An engineer came up with a new idea of using pre-fabricated cubes to stack on top of each other and hold up the mine.  The miners then filled the empty cubes with rocks to add to them.  This invention wasn’t patented, so it was copied a lot and made things more safe in other mines.  This was called “Square set timbering”

Carson City is the Capital of Nevada: Sparkle Kitten

The Capitol Building of Nevada is very unique.  We haven’t seen another one like this.  The entire inside of the building was scooped out, and put back together exactly as the original was done except with modern conveniences like electricity and plumbing.  The marble sections were all numbered and replaced exactly like the original placement.  The frieze with all of the minerals found where, on the upper part of the wall, is made of fabric.  It had to be carefully removed and replaced.  The House and Senate no longer meet here.  They meet in a different, new building next door.  This building IS still the office of the Governor and other important officials.  Einstein07 is using the former Senate Chamber for a meeting!

Carson City was named after the Carson River which is nearby.  The Carson River got its name from Kit Carson who was a famous cowboy and frontiersman.  Image result for kit carsonKit Carson. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

When Nevada wanted to become a State it was during the Civil War and  Abraham Lincoln was in office.  He was coming up for re-election.  He thought it would help with his re-election, and Nevada was worried he might NOT get re-elected and they might not get to become a state.  They were rushing to get their State Constitution  over to be approved so they sent the paperwork BOTH by land (the Overland Mail) and by sea.  Neither copy made it by October 24th, 1864!  They then had to send the entire thing by TELEGRAPH! In Morse Code!  According to the National Archives  “There was no direct link from Carson City to Washington, DC, so a telegrapher James H. Guild worked seven hours to transmit the message to Salt Lake City.  It was then resent to Chicago, then Philadelphia, and finally to the War Department’s telegraph Office in Washington, DC, two days later, where a 175-page transcription was made. The final page shows the total word count (16,543) and cost ($4313.27—or $59,229 in today’s dollars) of the transmission.  “tn_carson2_2Image result for telegraphRelated image

Welcome to Nevada and Lake Tahoe! Einstein07

Our first stop in Nevada was to Lake Taho.  This is the second deepest lake in North America after Crater Lake.  The water here is very cold because it mostly comes from snow melting (and rain).  I jumped in and went for a swim.  The water table is very high in the sand near the lake, so SK and I dug holes and the water rose up in our canal.  We both got sunburns which was slightly painful later on.  There was a great hotel here, and a kid I met helped me with a game I’d been having trouble getting into.  You can also camp at Lake Taho, or stay in cabins.  People come here to ski, and also boat and fish.

The name Tahoe comes from a mispronunciation of the Washoe Native American name for Lake Tahoe, da ow a ga, which means, “edge of the lake.”

Lake Tahoe is on the Nevada and California border.  You can cross a street and be in another state!

Idaho in a Nutshell and Idaho is a Wrap!: Sparkle kitten

As you can see, we are behind on our blog posts.  The West is very big and the internet isn’t always available here.  We don’t have very strong wireless connections!!  I’m going to do a summary of Idaho (sorry Idaho!) to try and catch up!!

Part of the Snake River is in Idaho.  Lewis and Clark traveled on the Snake River.  Hell’s Canyon is along this river, which is the deepest canyon in North America. 

One of the main Native American tribes from here is called the Shoshone.  There is a very large waterfall along the Snake River called “Shoshone Falls”.  This tribe fished for salmon here for many years. 

Idaho was admitted as a state in 1890, and for many years was known as a part of the country called “Idaho Country”.  It was used by fur traders from both England and the United States.  Finally the United States claimed it.  For many years, no Europeans came here.  Finally Gold was discovered!  Map of Snake River

The Oregon Trail ran through Idaho.  The Snake River made it very difficult to cross over, so the Trail ran along side the Snake River for many miles.  The Snake River has very high bluffs.  There are markers showing where people built swinging bridges to avoid having to take a canoe across.  Some people started businesses where you could take their ferry across the river, near Twin Falls. Image result for snake river swinging bridge near twin falls

Boise is the Capital of Idaho.  The Capitol Building is very quiet and relaxed.  You don’t have to go through a metal detector to go in.  There are different kinds of granite and marble in the building; white and black from Alaska, Green from Italy, and Pink from Georgia!  There is also a statue of George Washington (painted gold) and riding a horse in the Capitol.  The statue was carved by a man over a four year period, by candle light, at night.  The man used a postage stamp as a picture to carve George Washington’s face! 

Some of the earliest evidence of native humans, in North America, is found in Idaho; dating back 14,500 years.  Chobani yogurt also built their second of two plants here, near Twin Falls!  There is also a large place called Crater of the Moon National Monument, where you can see the effects of lava flow.  (we didn’t get to go because of weather). 

Idaho is very pretty and green in some parts (like near Bosley, and Twin Falls, and Boise).  There are huge fields of crops, where it actually looks like waves of green when the wind blows.  Then, there are huge sections of rocks and desert where there is absolutely nothing.  The change between the two parts happens quickly, and there doesn’t seem to be anything in the middle.  The people are nice, and everything is relaxed in Idaho.  We didn’t see any fields of potatoes!!  (not that we know of). Image result for crops in idaho

We’ve left Wyoming and we’re heading to Idaho!

Wyoming is beautiful.  It is home to two amazing National Parks.  There are grizzly bear and bison here; bubbling hot water comes right out of the ground!  There are fossils from fish that swam here over 60 million years ago, and real live cowboys everywhere!  This state’s motto is equality and we like that!  The Indian Paintbrush is the state’s flower, and the Western Meadowlark is the state bird!  Image result for indian paintbrush flowerImage result for western meadowlark

The Oregon Trail went through Wyoming! Did you know they put shoes on oxen?: Sparkle Kitten

The Oregon trail from Missouri to Oregon went right through Wyoming.  At the time, Laramie (where the University of Wyoming now is) was a Fort and it passed through there.  One interesting thing we learned was that three main animals were used to pull covered wagons.  In last place were horses.  The horses were a poor choice because they were the most expensive and they had to be fed a special, better diet than could be found on the range.  In second were mules.  They were 2nd most expensive, and pretty hardy, and would eat a wider variety of food.  They were difficult to deal with though, and again more expensive.  The most popular animal to pull covered wagons were OXEN.  These were the cheapest to buy, and would eat almost anything.  They were slow but reliable.  One difficult part of using oxen was that they had to have “shoes” put on them like a horse.  The oxen hated this and laid down and refused to be shod.  In response to this, originally many men would get together and actually LIFT the oxen to have them shod.  Soon after a contraption was invented to lift the oxen and put shoes on them.  This machine is pictured below.
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State Capitol Building in Cheyenne, WY under construction!: Einstein07

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The State Capitol Building in Cheyenne, WY is getting renovated so you can’t go in right now.  We came to see it anyway.  It’s great here because you can park right in front of the building.  They have pictures of the people that built the building riding horses.  Wyoming is important because it was the first government (before it was even a state) in the world to recognize a woman’s right to vote.  Cheyenne is also home to the Frontier Days Rodeo.  Image result for frontier days rodeo