Ten months ago I moved to Las Vegas. I previously lived in my own house for fifteen years in West Sacramento, California. I’m now in a two bedroom apartment in Sin City. I’ve enjoyed the change. A few notes.
The Big Picture. Las Vegas is in a valley with other cities and communities. To the north is the incorporated city of North Las Vegas. Downtown Las Vegas and The Strip are east, suburban Henderson is due south, and communities like Spring Valley and Summerlin are to the west. I live on the border of Spring Valley and Summerlin, the latter a enormous community of single family residences and golf courses and shopping originally developed by Howard Hughes. Despite being in a valley, there have been only a few really hazy days this year. Nothing like the smog which collects in the Sacramento Valley. At times smoke blows in from southern California wildfires but things clear up quickly. Las Vegas is in a bowl but it is a shallow bowl.
This morning I put on a light jacket for the first time in several months. The heat has been bearable this year except for one stretch of ten days over 110 degrees. That was tiresome. When it is one hundred degrees you can find shade and get relief. When it is 110 you are merely in a hot shadow. Humidity is usually under 7%. I’ve seen it dip to 2%. On one day the dew point was a negative number. I do not really understand what the dew point is but I do understand what dry is. That day was dry.
Despite low humidity, which air conditioning must make even lower, my two houseplants are thriving. They are both Pothos. One stretches over five feet and hangs like a tapestry over a second story interior balcony. I can only attribute their success to my green thumb which must have travelled with me to Las Vegas. I am still not working with plants or volunteering with them but I am slowly learning desert species. The other weekend I visited the Nevada State Tree Nursery in North Las Vegas and had a wonderful time looking at Rubber Rabbitbrush and Mondell Pine. The nursery has natives and exotics for revegetation and habitat restoration. Ever seen a Shoestring Acacia?
Agriculture is fascinating here. Nevada is the driest state in the nation but in some areas the desert produces fruits and vegetables and alfalfa and grains. Powerful springs in certain places give rise to desert rivers. It is amazing to see water flowing in the desert. Right now I am developing an agriculture book proposal. I will get carried away if I start discussing it.
My apartment complex has over 400 units. And 400 porch lights. Yet at night you will never see a single insect buzzing the lamps. All is quiet. We really don’t have a spider web problem, either. Our doors and roof eaves do not collect massive quantities of webs. I am sure there are spiders here but apparently they don’t work on covering houses.
I put out a hummingbird feeder a few months ago and it was discovered fifteen minutes after hanging. It has been frequented ever since. My first feeder was also popular with finches, large numbers of them, for reasons I haven’t discerned. I did not know they liked sugar water. Anyway, there were so many finches that the hummingbirds were chased away. I later switched to another feeder with smaller openings and that has ended the finch threat. My apartment also had a large pigeon population but an exterminator has been putting out some sort of feed laced with chemicals and I see pigeons less than before. Also, no dead pigeons lying about, so I am not sure what chemical was used.
Water conservation is not a priority in this valley. The local water district has a three day a week outdoor watering restriction and they seem quite proud of this. Three days a week? Try two. Please. Parks with lawns are lush, as are the many neighborhoods with conventional landscaping. Not sure what will prompt Las Vegas to do better. In a state that averages only nine inches of precipitation, sprinklers continue to sprinkle. There seems to be more concern with dust. Every commercial building project needs a dust permit. And construction goes on year round here because of the lack of rain.
I gamble but usually on sports on my phone. That’s legal in Nevada to residents betting within the state. No going to a casino. Lose in the privacy of your own home. In the last ten months I have made $32 dollars. In a hundred years I will have enough to retire. I always seem to lose if I bet in a casino so I rarely gamble there. Speaking of which, many off-strip casinos feature more than just gambling. The nearest casino to me, Red Rock, offers everything gambling along with a sixty-four lane bowling alley and a twelve screen movie theatre. Rampart Casino, in the other direction, has a similar setup. And they both have food courts and multiple restaurants so you can enjoy a casino atmosphere without having to gamble.
State politicians aren’t as active in Nevada as they are in California. The State legislature meets in Carson City for only four months. Every OTHER year. No full time legislators. Speaking of politicians, Nevada is a swing state, so we get a huge amount of ads for the presidential race and for the U.S. senate race. In California, with the presidential race always ceded to the Democrats, political ads are much more regional.
My goal in the coming months is to get outside more to enjoy the better temperatures. Mount Charleston and the Spring Mountains are only forty miles away. They have some poplars for fall color and an extensive Bristlecone Pine forest. Good views of the Valley along with views of the tiny site of Mercury. It’s where they used to test atomic bombs. People from Vegas in the 1950’s would go into the Spring Mountains to watch the detonations. The good ‘ol days.
Las Vegas is a true 24 hour city. Most bars never close. Drink when you like. There is no deposit on aluminum cans or plastic bottles. Smoking is allowed in nearly all casinos and bars but not in restaurants. You’ll still find coin operated cigarette machines. There is a large homeless population downtown, fascinating because it can’t be easy to be homeless when it is 108 degrees. Housing is probably 20% cheaper than in West Sacramento. Utility costs are higher due to the heat, but they are only high for a few months in summer.
My apartment provides a quiet place to work without the worry and bother of home maintenance. I’m looking forward to a productive writing life now that I have settled in. I hope you all are enjoying wherever you live.