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restaurants with a green ethic — think solar power, chalk-drawn bike lanes and eco-friendly paint. “I call it bootleg urban planning,” says Brandon Wiegand, founding member of Build a Greener Block. A commercial real estate agent by day, he’d cringe when he saw that dying block of Main Street. “But like a lot of people, I was guilty of waiting for someone else to come along and do something about it.” Build a Greener Block was born. The group’s green team leader Ciara Byrne adds, “We want to show the community how people can improve their neighborhoods — and do it in the most sustainable way possible.” Their goal is to organize their pop-up events quarterly, targeting a different Vegas ’hood. They’re working on an instruction manual, too, in the form of a film that other would-be community rehabbers can use in their own backyards. Info: greenerblocks. com. — Andrew Kiraly


ON THE TOWN One-hundred-year-old Girl Scouts? Sort of. The venerable cookiepushing leadership org celebrates its 100th anniversary at a special Las Vegas 51s game 7 p.m. May 18 at Cashman Field. Info:

12 | Desert

Companion | MAY 2012


Q: What should I pack for summer road trips? A: While the dewdrops of spring still glisten across much of the country, Southern Nevada heads directly into summer. Triple-digit temperatures can be daunting, but a little preparation is all it takes to enjoy hot-weather road trips. Of course, your vehicle should be in A-1 condition from headlights to tailpipe and roof rack to tire tread. Next, consider your cargo space and these three categories: comfort, emergency and survival. Comfort is easy, and you’ve probably already got it covered. Choose your tunes, pack your cooler with your favorite noshes, and dress for the conditions. Now for some ICE. A good thing for any desert road trip, but in this case I’m talking “In Case of Emergency.” Obviously, you’ll pack your cell phone and charger, and you probably already have a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and tire-changing equipment. In addition, throw in a flashlight and extra batteries, extra beach towels and a tarp. (If you ever have to get up close and personal with road surface on a blistering day, you’ll immediately understand how effective a tarp can be against asphalt capable of inflicting second-degree burns.) Worrying about survival may seem paranoid, but in the chiaroscuro extremes of a summer desert, denial is a poor defense. Enough canned food or Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) to feed two people for four days require remarkably little space. Use the extra room for water — as much as you can fit in. I carry a minimum of three gallons in addition to whatever I expect to consume. “So last-century,” I’ll hear you cry when you think about these next items, but that’s exactly the reason they’re valuable. Paper maps of the areas where you will travel will never suffer a power outage, and a

CB radio works without Wi-Fi. A whistle, a signal mirror, a knife and a magnesium (waterproof ) firestarter are all cheap, reliable tools that can make a game-changing difference in an emergency. While assembling these antiques, why not toss in a deck of cards and a few paperbacks? Breakdowns

can be dangerous, but they can also be plain boring. This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you might want to pack for a summer desert foray. My own vehicle is stocked with dozens of items I’ve found useful over my years of exploration in the arid expanses of the American West. From dog leash and bungee cords to coveralls and teddy bears, I like to think I’m equipped to handle everything from lost Rover to traumatized child. It’s hubris, though. That’s a mighty desert out there. Enjoy it with respect. — Mark Sedenquist

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Illustration By Troy cummings

Desert Companion - May 2012  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada

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