September 15, 2015

CANVAZ road trip day 7: Red Rock Canyon

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Instead of sleeping in on our scheduled day of rest, I dragged my ass out of bed again early this morning.  Ganba offered to drive me to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and I jumped at the chance to get some good pictures in.  We headed out shortly past 8am, which meant we got there past the "magic hour"...

As we turned into Red Rock Canyon Road, I could already see that I was gonna get a ton of good pictures.  We turned into the Scenic Drive and stopped by the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center, which has information displays explaining about the geology as well as the people, flora, and fauna of the area.  It also has several strategic vista points to get one started - especially since it's very close to Calico Hills.

We kept going and came to the Calico Hills 1 Overlook.  Here you get real close and you can actually go and climb up these beautiful red rocks.  The clouds were low this morning, and the light kept changing depending on whether the sun was hiding behind the clouds at any given moment.  But when the lighting was right, the rocks looked simply stunning.

We ran into a lady who told us that we had just missed a pretty rainbow - while I was missing looking through the viewfinder of my camera.  It had rained a little this morning, and I would have been pretty cool to have seen that rainbow over the Nevada desert and the rocks.  Oh well...

Driving along, we come across from stunning red rocks of the Calico Hills.

Next we stopped in the middle of the road to get a look at Turtlehead Peak.

Stop number 3 along the Scenic Drive was Sandstone Quarry, where I started to get a closer look at the three major peaks along the western rim of the canyon:

Mount Wilson

Rainbow Mountain

Bridge Mountain

You've also got White Rock Hills further north...

A little farther along, we come to High Point Overlook, where the vista was indeed better.  Here we run into a group of people who are driving along the Scenic Drive in these rented buggies.  This would normally be a great move, except that the wind was very, very strong today... and when I have trouble standing up straight against the gusting winds, it definitely wasn't a day to drive an open-top vehicle!

The 13-mile loop was well worth the time this morning, even though the clouds made lighting conditions a little tricky.  I was really happy to have made it here, and happy to have found something interesting to do while in Vegas...

After a home-cooked lunch by Ganma, we went over to visit one of mom's bridesmaids who recently bought a vacation home in Vegas.  Not surprisingly, we ended up having Chinese food for dinner in Chinatown...

Chef Ching's Kitchen (小胖川菜) is run by a Taiwanese chef from the Gangshan District of Kaoshiung.  They are known for their Sichuan cuisine, but since that doesn't work for either mom or myself - nor the nice wines I brought along - our host ordered mostly dishes that aren't spicy.

These spicy marinated bamboo shoots (辣扁尖筍) were actually pretty good.

Marinated cucumber (涼拌黃瓜) and marinated shredded tofu (涼拌干絲)

Pork intestine and noodle (大腸麵線) - we ordered two big bowls of this Taiwanese classic, but the flavors weren't classic at all.  In fact, they were relatively mild and bland compared to what we usually get in Taiwan.  But this proved to be the most popular item... and while I was busy rinsing my empty bowl to get some more, Ganba had quietly taken the last serving.

Fish fillets broiled in pickled leafy mustard (酸菜煮魚) - this was originally meant to be fish fillets broiled in spicy sauce (水煮魚), the famous Sichuan dish, but was changed due to the prohibition on spice.  The soup was nice and tangy, with a little bit of spice.  Besides the fish fillets and pickled leafy mustard, you've also got the flat rice noodles.  Very yum.

Shredded pork with dried bean curd (香干肉絲)

Braised hearty pork meatballs (紅燒獅子頭) - "hearty" would be the right word here, because these two meatballs were HUGE... even bigger than the ones mom makes.

The problem here, though, is that the meatballs were simply too tough.  The shells were really hard, and the insides were too tough and chewy.  FAIL.

Smoked duck with tea flavors (樟茶鴨) - not bad.

Stir-fried morning glory (炒空心菜)

Mom thought I should bring a couple of wines to share with our hosts, so I dutifully took out a couple of nice bottles... and was a little sad that the food or glasses didn't do the wines justice.

2012 Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc To Kalon Vineyard I Block - lots of green apple, nice and tropical, oaky.  Ripe on the palate with good, crisp acidity.  Yum!  So glad I went over to Robert Mondavi Winery to pick up two bottles of this very rare wine.

2005 Harlan Maiden - really sweet on the nose, with lots of fruit here.  Nice vanilla from the oak.  Not decanted, so the bottom half of the bottle showed a little more tannin thanks to the sediment.

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