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A P R I L 2 01 1

15 Great

Hikes (Practically) in your own backyard

Rock-climber dangles from cliffs but can’t find a date He’s not disabled, He’s A “hardcore sitter” I can eat for miles: The best foodie ’hoods Pow! Crack! The battle for the soul of mixed martial arts







Land Rover Las Vegas

5255 West Sahara Avenue



editor’s note

The desert just wants to be loved


Southern Nevada has been a

Next Month in Desert Companion

Rooooad trip! Pack up for our summer travel issue

desert for millennia, but it’s only recently been an outdoors — you know, appreciated for its actual beauty and inherent value: Our soaring, rust-red cliffs, improbable alpine mountains and pebbled plains awash in sun and solitude. Our desert’s historically been onceovered with decidedly less romantic impulses: with a pioneer’s eye toward passage and avoidance, with a miner’s eye toward brute extraction, with a government’s eye toward bland utility. Over the last 160 years, Nevada was the treacherous waste that stood in the way of that lush promised land to the left. It was a thorny shell that secreted silver and gold. It was America’s patriotic demolition yard for testing nukes. Uh, inferiority complex much? Fortunately, we live in more enlightened times. I was reflecting on this as I recently picked my way over a boulder-strewn creek on the way up to the mouth of Red Rock’s Ice Box Canyon, where ropes of snowmelt trickle down to feed two generous, limpid pools. Kind of funny to think that about 40 years ago, Howard Hughes wanted to build an aircraft- and missile-testing complex on the doorstep of this national treasure. Phew! Glad such mogul-scale insensitivity is a thing of the past! Not so fast: As recently as 2004, uber-lobbyist and developer Harvey Whittemore convinced the Bureau of Land Management to magically scoot 10,000 acres of

2 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

sensitive desert tortoise habitat out of the path of his golf-crazed Coyote Springs development. (Did somebody email the tortoises?) More recently, homebuilder Jim Rhodes received the county’s mumbled blessing to lay down a bed of luxe McMansions on a mine-scarred hill across state route 159, effectively turning Red Rock into a would-be postcard showpiece for the Lexus-and-puppy-salon set. Maybe we got a little too enlightened. Now that we’re all hyper-aware of the desert’s fragile beauty, it seems everyone wants to lop off a piece to create his own personal little snowglobe of tranquility. That’s hardly true in all cases — take a look at the triumphant underdogs Protectors of Tule Springs, who just might wrest an archeological treasure from a worse fate’s grip and create a national monument in North Las Vegas. But in some ways, we’ve still got our forefathers’ eyes: Public land is yet looked at with the covetousness of the privateer rather than the larger spirit of the public citizen. Lecture over! Moral: Avoid such bad mojo. Take-away: Do what I do when you’re enjoying the treasures and adventures in these pages: Stuff somebody’s errant trash in your pocket and pack it out. Nudge a rock back into place to reinforce the trail. That’s the kind of ownership we truly need.

* * * * *

Speaking of treasures: We’re losing one. Geoff Schumacher, director of community publications

for Stephens Media, is departing for Ames, Iowa, where he’ll be publisher of the Ames Tribune newspaper group. Journalistically, Geoff ’s departure represents a big stutter in the collective brainpower graph of Southern Nevada. I’ll miss his deeply informed perspective, measured views and crisp writing. Personally, I’ll miss a friend. A teacher. A patient guide who, as the founding editor of the Las Vegas Mercury in 2001, first mentored me in the art of nurturing ideas, inspiring writers and pruning prose. In short: I’m at the helm of Desert Companion in large part because of Geoff. Before I get all red-faced and chokey, I’ll say this: Check out the audio archives on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” for a fine, broad-ranging exit interview with Geoff, a paragon of public-mindedness we’ll all miss.


WONDER YEARS The Caesars Foundation believes life’s wonders grow over time. That’s why we donate generously to organizations that help seniors age in place and live their lives to the fullest. Please join us in supporting these efforts and organizations in our community.


desert companion magazine //



All Things to All People

Moms and babies on the yoga mat



Bold and beautiful desert plants By Norm Schilling




An outdoor girl in an indoor world By Stephanie Forte



Eating good in the ’hood By Brock Radke, Jarret Keene and Al Mancini

Leisurewear puts its foot down By Juan Martinez and Sara Nunn

From quick hikes to hidden gems, the great outdoors begins inside on page 38.

features 38

15 Great Hikes (Practically) in your own backyard Hikes close to home — and hidden treasures for the adventurous


Fight this feeling

Mixed martial arts fans and fighters address the sport’s aggressive ethos





From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture



How many hikers is too many hikers? By Branch Whitney


Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham turns his wheelchair into an extreme sports machine

4 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

on the cover Frenchman Mountain

Photography: Christopher Smith

R e d R o c k C a n yo n , Q u a d r i c o l o r A g av e a n d B u r g e r : C h r i s to p h e r S m i t h





publishe D B y nevada public radio

Mission statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley.

Editorial & Art Andrew Kiraly Editor CHRISTOPHER SMITH Art Director Advertising CHRISTINE KIELY Corporate Support Manager laura alcaraz National Account Manager Sharon Clifton Senior Account Executive allen grant Senior Account Executive Boran Pan Account Executive Marketing Catherine Kim Marketing Manager

SENIOR STAFF Florence M.E. Rogers President / General Manager Melanie Cannon Director of Development Cynthia M. Dobek Director of Business, Finance & Human Resources Phil Burger Director of Broadcast Operations Contributors Becky Bosshart, Cybele, Stephanie Forte, Jarret Keene, Amy Kingsley, Heidi Kyser, Al Mancini, Juan Martinez, David McKee, Sara Nunn, Brock Radke, Norm Schilling, Branch Whitney, Gregan Wingert, T.R. Witcher

Subscriptions Chris Bitonti Subscription Manager OnLine Danielle Branton Web Administrator

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To submit your organization’s event listings for the Desert Companion events guide, send complete information to Feedback and story ideas are always welcome, too. Office: (702) 258-9895 (outside Clark County 1-888-258-9895) Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 258-9895; Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; KNPR’s “State of Nevada” call-in line: (702) 258-3552 Pledge: (702) 258-0505 (toll free 1-866-895-5677) Websites:,,

Susan Brennan, vice chair NV Energy REED RADOSEVICH, Treasurer Northern Trust Bank Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio DIRECTORS shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp Cynthia Alexander, Esq. Snell & Wilmer Louis Castle, Director Emeritus Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus

David Cabral American Commonwealth Mortgage DENNIS COBB President, DCC Group Richard I. Dreitzer Bullivant Houser Bailey PC Al Gibes Stephens Media Interactive Carolyn G. Goodman Meadows School Marilyn Gubler The Las Vegas Archive Kurtis Wade Johnson Precision Tune Autocare Megan Jones Friends for Harry Reid edmÉe s. marcek College of Southern Nevada

sherri gilligan MGM Resorts International

Susan K. Moore Lieutenant Governor’s Office

jan L. jones Caesars Entertainment Corporation


John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects

Richard Plaster Signature Homes

Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus

Chris Roman Entravision

William mason Taylor International Corporation

Kim Russell Smith Center for the Performing Arts

Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation

CANDY SCHNEIDER Smith Center for the Performing Arts

Curtis L. Myles III Las Vegas Monorail

Stephanie Smith

Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil Peter O’Neill R&R Partners

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Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free of charge at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photographs, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the express written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio.

6 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

nevada public radio BOARD OF DIRECTORS Officers Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair City of Las Vegas

William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP

Steve Parker UNLV

Bob Stoldal Sunbelt Communications Co. kate turner whiteley Kirvin Doak Communications Brent Wright Wright Engineers bob gerst Boyd Gaming Corporation

Win the

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Southern Nevada’s Most Uninviting Hikes*

The $20 health care plan


Certain Falls


Acrophobe’s Worst Nightmare, Plus High Winds


More or Less a Canyon


Interpretive Sign-a-palooza


Acceptably Majestic Peak


The Minotaurfilled, Mazelike Caves Also Featuring Lava


Vorhees Trail



A pregnant pose

Short-term Goal Summit-ish


© i S to c k p h oto . c o m / s k y n e s h e r

Rock That Sort of Resembles Something at the Right Angle


Sudden GOOoorge! (thud) This is satire. For some truly thrilling hikes, see page 38



Hear More

Cindy Lydon directs her yoga class to lunge forward — front knee bent, back leg straight — and then act as if they’re pulling an arrow back from a bow. She calls this the Artemis warrior pose — and given that Artemis is the goddess of childbirth, it’s a fitting position for the group of eight pregnant women. “You can be strong and beautiful in your pregnancy,” Lydon says in a soft voice, the women moving together, baby bumps rising beneath their knit shirts. “A lot of women feel lonely and depressed about their bodies, and I want them to know that they can feel good and happy while pregnant,” explains Lydon, who teaches prenatal yoga and Mommy & Baby Yoga at the Henderson Center and at the Barbara Greenspun WomensCare Center of Excellence at St. Rose Dominican Hospital San Martin Campus. “The women are always happy they came and then they leave feeling so much better.” Lydon feels better, too. The former dancer for Siegfried & Roy miscarried her first child. She found peace in yoga, and earned her certification for prenatal yoga in 2003. She got pregnant soon afterward, and today has a 6-yearold son, Patrick. “I got into prenatal yoga because I wanted to reach out to other moms,” she says. “This is a place where moms can meet up and compare feelings and ask about doctors. It’s really a place of bonding.” And it represents a rising trend in prenatal fitness. Student Rachel Clarke, 30 weeks along in her first pregnancy, stopped doing yoga when she got pregnant. Lower back pain and sleeplessness led her to discover Lydon’s class, which costs $20 for 10 sessions. “It’s a great price, it doesn’t get better than that,” she says. “And I’ve learned what I can do without squashing the baby.” Info: 616-4900 — Becky Bosshart

Pop quiz. How much would a 10-day hospital stay cost for someone without health insurance? About $50,000. But for someone connected with Access to Healthcare Network, it could be as low as $3,000. The nonprofit program, launched in Reno in 2006, brings doctors, hospitals, labs and suppliers together to offer heavily discounted health services to northern Nevada’s working poor. Access is gearing up to accept clients in the Las Vegas Valley in June — now with some help from Washington, D.C. The innovative nonprofit is rolling out a five-year, $20 million program called the Nevada Health Access Project, funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to continued on pg. 10

Architecture students unleashed. Secret hikes. Pac-Man gone wild. Read it all at

Why does Nevada rank last in quality of child health care? Learn why on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at

illustration by christopher smith

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 9

N ews

continued from page 9

All the tiny horses: Sigma Derby at the MGM Grand C U L T U RE CRA W L

Games people (occasionally) play caption


10 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

A guide to the little-known (and neglected) oddball gambling games on the Strip. War, anyone? by david mckee

Cluttered with empty glasses, beer bottles, coin wrappers and ashtrays, the lone Sigma Derby game in Las Vegas bears silent witness to both its popularity and to management’s benign neglect of the venerable game. Near the MGM Grand sports book, under a plastic dome, five mechanical little horses canter around a faded felt oval. Players have 30 seconds to bet 10 different quinellas, 25 cents a wager. A sound effect like a thumping heartbeat emphasizes the urgency of getting your bet down as the seconds tick away. The old Sigma oval is “tremendously popular,” says MGM Resorts International spokeswoman Yvette Monet, who’s “pretty sure” the machine has been kicking around since 1988. “It will be in the MGM Grand … until it’s no longer operational.” In other words, play it before it breaks for good — like these other oddball games hidden on the Strip: • Further back in MGM, between the high-end slot area and Tabu is Lion’s Share. It’s the last of a pride of machines commissioned in 1995 from Mikohn Gaming, to commemorate the Grand’s grand opening. A $1, 3-reel slot, it owes its continued existence to an unpaid progressive jackpot which currently stands in excess of $2,215,395. Payday could be distant: On our visit, Lion’s Share was out of order. • Before you start hitting the grind joints, stop by The Mirage’s table games pit. Opposite Revolution Lounge, you’ll find a lone table offering Casino War. It’s played like traditional War but, in the event of ties, the player can “surrender” and get half his original bet back — or he can match his original bet. In that event, he gets a card, followed by three discards; the same goes for the dealer. If you win that rematch, you get all of your original bet refunded as a “bonus.” • Head north to Circus Circus and, just to the right of the sports book, follow the sound of clinking coins to a bank of Magnificent 7s, 28 strong and boasting a 97.4 percent payout. They’re augmented by a pair of change machines that look like they’ve not moved since Jay Sarno opened the coulrophobiainducing casino in 1968. • The El Cortez hosts one of the harder-to-find bonus-round machines: a Munsters video-reel slot, two banks to the right of the table-game pit. The nickel slot is pretty loose, frequently queuing the bonus, which takes the form of brief Munsters clips. Subsequent iterations of Munsters slots can easily be found on the Strip, but the video-bonus version is considered especially rare. • Is your classic-slot jones is still not sated? At the Eastside Cannery, General Manager Marty Gross has taken a page from the Pinball Hall of Fame and set up the 50-machine Classic Slot Room — nirvana for the player who never gets tired of the sound of coins tumbling from the hopper. Some of the slots were even salvaged from notorious old Nevada Palace, from whose remnants Eastside Cannery arose, lending an archeological frisHow does the classic arcade industry survive the home gaming revolution? With son to one’s battle with the oneballs — skee balls. Read our story at armed bandits.


S i g m a D e r b y C o u r t e s y o f MGM R e s o r t s I n t e r n at i o n a l

provide health care services for middle-aged Nevadans. Here’s how it works: Applicants must be between 55-64 years old, uninsured and be legal residents of Nevada (which means they don’t have to be American citizens). They must also meet strict income guidelines. Single-income households can earn no more than $21,660 a year; two-income households, no more than $29,140 a year. If applicants are accepted by both Access and Anthem Blue Cross, the Access grant covers premiums and deductibles. If Anthem denies applicants coverage — perhaps because of a pre-existing condition — clients then can sign on with Access’s own extensive network of health care providers. Access pays each member $4,000 a year to pay for discounted medical services. The only cost to clients is $20 a month. “We don’t make money off this,” says Access founder Sherri Rice. “That goes into a pool that allows us to serve more people. Either way, they’re going to get health care. This is a great deal.” All recipients of the Nevada Health Access Project need to do is establish a primary care physician if they don’t have one, and get current on diagnostic tests such as mammograms, colonoscopies and prostate screening. The project began six months ago and has so far filled 135 slots in Southern Nevada, but there’s still room for 135 more. Rice lowered the original age limit of the program from 60 to 55 to capture a larger population of middle-aged Nevadans who may be uninsured because they lost their jobs or because they retired early. Twenty percent of AHN’s members are 55 and over. “What we’re starting to see is a huge population (that is) just totally uninsured,” says Rice. “They’re the most uninsurable. This is our way of helping them until they can get into Medicare.” — T.R. Witcher

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‘What’s actually happening is indescribable’

Susan Malcher refused to let a stroke stand in the way of her passion for the outdoors.

12 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Four years ago, she was standing on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Today, Susan Malcher has trouble staying upright in her Rollerblades. What happened? Last July, something came between the 50-year-old outdoor enthusiast and the latest peak she was attacking: A stroke. As she and her party approached Wheeler Peak, which she’d summited several times before, Malcher started getting clumsy and confused. The others went on. She sat on a rock to wait for them. What happened next is still fuzzy in her memory. “I had my hiking pole between my legs. All of a sudden it started to go to the right and push against my leg. I tried to move my left leg and couldn’t. I slid off the rock and fell on the ground.” A physical therapist happened on Malcher lying on the ground, and helped her back to base camp. “It’s hard to explain to people what your mental processes are at that point. I can say a lot in retrospect, but at the time what’s actually happening is indescribable,” Malcher says. Tests revealed the culprit: a small hole in her heart. Called a shunt or PFO, this common congenital disorder had caused the stroke. Daunting diagnosis aside, Malcher prescribed herself heavy doses of physical activity. It was so hard to sit still during her week in the hospital, Malcher was cordoned off by “Fall Risk” signs. She started physical therapy right away, and as soon as possible was walking her dog in the park, then running 5Ks. By December? She’d climbed Bonanza Peak. Sure, it’s 10,000 feet, but that’s a walk in the park for her former self. Although concurrent menopause (and resulting weight gain) has thrown a wrench in her recovery, Malcher says she’s determined to get back to where she was before her stroke, when she ran her own hiking group. For now, she’s focusing on retraining herself mentally for her career as a paralegal. In the meantime, she frequently self-medicates: Outdoor recreation is her antidepressant. “One of the drawbacks of the mental disability is you get really depressed,” she says. “Running and hiking have always been my drug of choice.” — Heidi Kyser



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Ask An Expert


A scene from last year’s Flair for Care



Compassion is always in style Give back while looking great at the Flair For Care fashion show on April 8. Taking place at the Wynn Las Vegas in the Lafite Ballroom, this charity event features a Neiman Marcus fashion show with looks from American designer and “Project Runway” judge Michael Kors, as well as a drawing to win high-end items including designer jewelry,


Mrs. Roboto

handbags and trips. All funds raised will go toward supporting the Uncompensated Care Program at the Nathan Adelson Hospice, a nonprofit that offers compassionate care for patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses and a limited life expectancy. Tickets start at $250. To attend, contact Stephanie Forbes at 938-3910 or — Sara Nunn

You’ll have to wait until at least August to get your hands on most of the new looks that appeared at the Fall/Winter 2011 shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris. If the anticipation is killing you, you can

14 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

get into the spirit of the far-off season by snagging some makeup looks from the top shows. Our favorites were the faces that seemed to take a cue from Maria in Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.” Our eyes were

Garrett Bauman is owner of Annie Creamcheese, the popular, high-end vintage boutique at the Shoppes at the Palazzo. This outpost is Bauman’s second after the original Annie Creamcheese in Washington, D.C., and reflects his commitment to providing the best vintage clothes and accessories available, including past seasons’ most coveted designer pieces, vintage haute couture — and the Las Vegas shop’s sizable collection of Chanel jewelry. What should shoppers look for in a vintage piece? “Look for a vintage style that is currently being copied for a trend. Prints are a good bet, since they will be unique as opposed to a mass-produced print you might see on someone else. Look for quality construction, which can easily be found since many garments are handmade, so the garment will lay and fit better than a present day counterpart. Consider trying larger size items as well, as they can be custom altered to fit your body perfectly.” What items and eras are selling well right now? “The 1970s, as we all know, are on fire right now! And ’60s miniskirts always do well here (think AnnMargret).” How can someone add vintage pieces to their wardrobe while still keeping their look modern? “I always recommend pairing a vintage dress with contemporary shoes or boots and a new designer purse. Never wear head-to-toe vintage.” — S.N.

drawn to the robotic beauty at Altuzarra, featuring smoke- and silver-rimmed eyes and sheer, brick-red lips. Derek Lam gave the look an angelic angle with wings of chrome shadow and neutral lips. — S.N.

Flair for care courtesy of Neiman Marcus

Oldies = goodies

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D Bold in your backyard Drama! Sizzle! Excitement! Desert plants? Yes, yes, yes! by norm schilling

Desert plants rock. Why? You

Quadricolor agave: You’ll be stunned by its range of colors, forms and general succulent awesomeness.

should know by now: They require less care, bloom longer and brighter, use less water, look healthier and are less likely to die than plants not suited for our drier climes. But here’s what you may not know: They also have a fabulous array of different forms, textures and foliage colors. Think silver and blue and purple. Think architectural beauties that are dramatic and eye-catching. I like to think of them as the bold and the beautiful. Here are some of my tried and true favorites to bring some flair to your home.

Quadricolor Agave: Tequila rainbow Agaves are a very large group of plants that



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continue to stun me with their incredible range of colors and forms. Quadricolor agave is perhaps the most striking. Growing to just 2 feet wide and 1 foot tall, this beauty Get expert tips from Norm Schilling on Nevada Public Radio’s “Desert Bloom” at

16 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

PHOTOGRAPHY By Christopher SMith






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has the typical agave array of leaves growing outward like a miniature explosion from a central low base. What makes Quadricolor so special, however, is the range of colors within each leaf. Each contains a chartreuse central stripe surrounded on both sides by a rich, dark green, and then a thick yellow margin on the edge. The leaf edge has spines that are red when young and black when mature. Under cold or stressed conditions, a rosy hue imbues the yellow margins. The effect is incredible, and is captivating regardless of where it’s grown. But beware. All agaves can get a weevil that eats the roots away before you even know what’s happening, so prevent it with a systemic insecticide (like Bayer Tree & Shrub Insecticide) in early March and early September.

Cacti: Prick out the jams Trichocerus hybrids are columnar cacti that grow up to about 2 feet high. When the columns reach that height, they tend to plop over or break due to their own weight. Broken pieces usually remain partially attached and will continue to grow, turning and growing back upright again. Over time, this cactus becomes a sprawling, multi-headed being that looks like an obese and twisted octopus with developmental challenges. But it’s their flowers that have captured my eye and my heart like no other. As much as 8 or 9 inches across, these are the most beautiful flowers to have ever graced my garden. Depending on variety, they can be white, yellow, pink or red to purple hues,

Well after all, she told herself, people take this simple step all the time.

With that, she stepped through the door and never looked back...

all with subtle color shifts. The petals are translucent and seem to capture the sunlight and glow from within, with warm, rich hue. It’s almost as if the petals were made of jewels flattened and softened to fabric, and then lit from within by microscopic embers. The floral cup is filled with long, creamy white stamens that fall together to create a fuzzy carpet and has one long, surreal pistil held aloft in the center. Sometimes multiple blooms will open simultaneously, to the point where the plant itself is obscured beneath the floral mass. But alas, these blooms are short-lived, typically opening at sunset and wilting in the heat of the following day. Be sure to give this beauty a little shade, especially in the afternoon, or it can turn an unsightly yellow.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 19


Blue Yucca: Color me stunned This slow-growing, long-lived native of Northern Mexico starts out as a rosette of foliage close to the ground, but eventually develops a trunk. Over time, blue yucca develops multiple branches, each terminating in a head of long, stiff blue leaves radiating out like an explosion. While its form is bold, the coloration of its leaves make it truly stunning. They’re very blue with a silvery sheen that contrasts beautifully with surrounding foliage. Each leaf has a very narrow yellow margin along the entire edge; when the sun catches it, those margins light up as though micro-neon has been intricately woven throughout. The effect is spectacular. If that weren’t enough, when the plant matures, it blooms with upright stalks bearing hundreds of creamy-white, cuplike flowers hanging down. Give this plant room to grow, and keep it well away from walkways; the leaves are stiff and very pointed, plus it’ll look better if it doesn’t appear crowded. Figure on 8 to 10 feet for the mature plant when it rises on its trunk.

Ocotillo: Wild and wicked Ocotillos are one of the most symbol-

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ic plants of the desert west. They form long, craggy canes that reach skyward from a narrow base. Prominent single thorns adorn the length of each cane, adding to its wicked effect. Leaves are ephemeral, and occur and disappear sometimes in response to rain, sometimes without much apparent cause. Bright orange blossoms that hummingbirds love emerge at the growing tip of canes in the spring, like candle flames blown in different directions. Its form and texture add a wildness and architectural statement to any desert landscape. For best results, plant in the fall and lightly mist the canes several times a week in hot (90-degree-plus) weather for the first year or two.

Clockwise from top left: the blue yucca; the giant sword-flower; the wild and wicked ocotillo

Giant sword-flower: Tough beauty to the hilt This desert beauty has foliage that grows from a central base to around 6 feet tall and wide. The plant consists of long spears of leaves whose margins produce filaments that partially separate and curl, giving a soft edge

to its bold form. There’s both a wildness and uniformity to the distribution of the leaves that really appeals to the eye. The summer bloom is how this plant gets its name. The slender, tapered flower stock shoots straight up 12 to 15 feet and produces delicate, arching branches that become laden with creamy white flowers. After the flowers are spent, occasional walnut-like seed pods hang from the floral branches to further adorn the flower spike. It’s a favorite of hummingbirds both to eat and to perch long after they’ve enjoyed the nectar. After blooming, the flower stalk can be removed, but I leave mine on until the following year’s blooms, for there’s a wonderful architectural quality created by the combination of its great height and delicate construction. This beautiful plant is as tough as a sword, too. It has no pests or diseases I’ve ever seen, requires no maintenance other than to remove the spent flowers and an occasional dead leaf, and will endure everything from little sun to the hottest, harshest conditions. Norm Schilling is owner of Schilling Horticulture Group in Las Vegas. A certified arborist, he teaches a variety of horticulture and tree care techniques.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 21


Into the wild What happens when an outdoor girl dates in the indoor world? A whole new kind of adventure

T by stephanie forte

The conversation died. My date made a brave attempt to fill the silence. “I don’t even know what to ask you about rock climbing,” he said. Most of our dinner had been spent recounting his life: a struggling musician who gets a dream job on Broadway, starves in L.A., lives the high life in Japan and now performs in Las Vegas. He knew little about me other than the fact that I rock climb — and that I’m the type of woman who would boldly accept a friend’s challenge to walk on stage after a show, hand a musician my business card and tell him to call me. Drummer Boy was one of the more interesting men I’d met in Las Vegas. But I was most fascinated by the texture of his skin — unnaturally smooth, devoid of the lines left behind by one too many powder days or desert climbing trips spent baking alongside the cholla and Joshua trees. I compared our hands: mine scarred and scabbed, his nearly perfect. I ordered another drink. I’d whipped 20 feet off the side of a cliff more than once, but it took living in Las Vegas for seven years to brave dating outside the climbing circle. For me, going out on the Strip was like observing the mating rituals of alien life forms — females with thin, elegant arms 22 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

and males more skilled with hair product than I ever was. The Las Vegas I live in isn’t glamorous or en vogue with Hollywood’s A-list. My Las Vegas is sandstone walls, desolate trails and hiking out of the canyons by moonlight. It’s about the feel of warm rock under bare feet and the solitude of Red Rock at sunrise. I can recall the texture of each minuscule handhold on my favorite route on Mt. Charleston’s limestone. But for the life of me, I cannot remember which nightclub is in which hotel.

Since strapping on my first climbing harness nearly two decades ago while living in Aspen, Colo., first dates have been burritos and a Fat Tire on the tailgate of a pick-up after climbing. I decided to make a serious effort to date outside my circle after a non-climbing friend at a local climber party made a frightening observation: “You guys are like a tribe … I’m not even sure you can mate with people on the outside.” I’ve dated my share of climbers — almost married one — but it never worked. It

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24 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

seems when two people with an identical passion come together they don’t just connect — they collide. In a sport that’s mentally and physically intense, a couple arguing while climbing isn’t uncommon. An ex who couldn’t comprehend my fear of falling thought it would help to yell, “Dude, that’s so lame!” while I was run-out above my last piece of gear and visibly in a state of panic. My reaction was definitely not to blow my sweetie a kiss. On the other hand, the odds of a successful relationship with a guy on the outside weren’t good. I could list dozens of male climbers whose mates weren’t into the outdoors, but not one climbing woman who dated a nonoutdoor guy. With the odds skewing in a girl’s favor, most single climbing women are off the market before mastering how to tie a figureeight knot. Plus, leaving an indoor-guy behind to get dirty with the guys every weekend could result in severe damage to the male ego and the relationship. Still, I believed it could work with a writer, artist or musician. They would surely understand my climbing partnerships and about starving and sacrificing to do what you love. Plus, they probably wouldn’t call me dude and, if it didn’t work out, there’d be no custody battle over the rope. When Drummer Boy picked me up a week later for our first date, I let out a sigh of relief: Whew, at least he has a four-wheel drive. Though something wasn’t right: The car was immaculate. I tried to find any vestige of dirt, but nothing. My date didn’t wear fleece, Windstopper or anything labeled Patagonia. In fact, he’d never heard of Marmot and didn’t shop at REI. Clearly, I was out of my element. Apart from passion — his for music, mine for climbing — our greatest common denominator turned out to be our zip code. His night got going when I’d wake up. He’d never explored the snowcapped peak north of the city, Mt. Charleston, and I’d never ventured into the dark, smoky University District landmark, the Double Down. After a few dates, his phone calls became erratic and then stopped. Like a failed attempt on a route, I evaluated my dating performance. From Date 2: Lunch at the Mt. Charleston Lodge. I drive. Drummer Boy: This is a nice car. Is it new? Me: Yeah, I thought about getting the hybrid but I decided on the Matrix. DB: Why the Matrix? Me: Because I can sleep in it.

DB: Um, why would you sleep in your car? Me: Because I am so over sleeping on the ground. In the rock climbing world, we take the phrase “car camping” very literally. You need a vehicle in which you can sleep, eat, read, cook and hang out for days, weeks, months, even years. To us, this is normal. We appreciate comfort, but hotels cost money, and money means working and not climbing. From Date 3: Beers after a movie … his light, mine dark Drummer Boy: You must climb with men all the time … big, burly men, with no shirts. Me: There’s definitely no shortage of those in my life. But after you’ve lived with about 20 of them, you get over it. I neglected to add that apart from my former fiancé, the other men were roommates or couch-surfing houseguests (also common in the rock-climbing culture). I could have mentioned that in a ski town where rents are sky high, it’s standard practice to sardine-can into

“You must climb with men all the time … big, burly men, with no shirts.” one house. But, it didn’t occur to me. It just seemed so obvious. My male climbing partners laughed as I recounted my dating blunders over a few pints. One asked if Drummer Boy ever called me again. “Nope,” I said. Over the years, these men have caught hundreds of my falls, and that night they didn’t miss a beat. “Dude, that guy’s so lame.” While I’ve had my share of accomplishments in a sport that’s a metaphor for successful partnerships, I’ve yet to experience that natural connection in my personal life. It’s been climbing that’s romanced me in tiny European villages and on exotic beaches in Thailand and Greece. It’s adventurous, bringing with it intelligent conversation and mean-

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ingful friendships. On more than one occasion, climbing has soothed my aching heart. On a cold afternoon this December, I carefully applied Super Glue to the athletic tape protecting my raw fingertips. I was trying to “redpoint” — that is, climb without falling or resting on gear — one of the hardest routes of my climbing career: Don’t Call Me Coach, which has a grade of 5.13d. My climbing partner prepared the rope for my attempt, intermittently jumping up and down to stay warm. He didn’t complain about the icy wind that whipped through the Virgin River Gorge — he gets it. I didn’t make it that day. I sailed off the rock, falling close to the route’s anchors. By the time I was on the ground my frustration had faded. In climbing, there’s always another chance. And I’m always willing to take it. After 20 years, I’m still completely captivated by climbing, proving this isn’t merely lust or attraction, but real love. Stephanie Forte is a writer and rock climber. Rock & Ice Magazine once named her one of the top 10 women in American rock climbing — an honor that got her exactly zero dates in Las Vegas.

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dining I can eat for miles and miles Eat big — stay close. Three hyperlocal noshers claim their ’hoods have the best culinary clusters Summerlin: Upscale meals within minutes

By the time you read this, there’ll probably be a Smashburger open in your neighborhood, too.


I live in the Pueblo, a pretty ordinary micro-neighborhood in the old, northernmost tip of Summerlin (think Lake Mead Boulevard at Buffalo Drive). It’s a nice place to live, but only in the last few years has it made the jump and become a nice place to eat. I don’t know if Vegas has food neighborhoods. We’ve got the Strip, we’ve got a sprawling Chinatown, and then we’ve got a million mini-malls and shopping plazas sprinkled all over the valley. If you’re lucky, you find a house next to one that has a decent sushi bar and pizzeria. Clumps of fast food outlets, evil Applebee’s and the like don’t count. That’s why I know I’m

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 27

Lake Mead Blvd., 228-9463) is another reliable wine and nosh spot. What about prototypical homey ethnic joints? Mine have the great food without the funk. Parma Pastavino & Deli (7591 W. Washington Ave., 233-6272) doubles as a classic Italian deli by day and a chalkboardspecial restaurant by night, complete with homemade pasta, ridiculous meatballs and a chef with plenty of personality (Marc Sgrizzi). And don’t even try to out-Thai me, unless you wanna get smacked with the onetwo power-punch of Pin Kaow (1974 N. Rainbow Blvd., 638-2746) and Nittaya’s (2110 N. Rampart Blvd. #110, 360-8885). The former is the longtime neighborhood favorite with a menu full of authentic spicy-sweet treasures, and the latter just might be the next great off-Strip restaurant, blending the small plate trend into Chef Nittaya Parawong’s innovative cooking style. I know, now you wanna move to the Pueblo. You can visit any time. — Brock Radke

The University District: Academic eats (and a few drinks) with a discount As an editor of short-story anthologies Above: Tacos from Yayo Taco; Left: Marche Bacchus’ grilled salmon

lucky in the Pueblo; there are at least five very good actual restaurants within a couple of minutes from home. Let’s start with the basics. Just on the other side of Summerlin Parkway, the Bagel Cafe (301 N. Buffalo Drive, 255-3444) is simply the best deli and bagelmaker in Las Vegas. It’s packed for weekend breakfasts, it’s bustling at lunch — when I power through the desert winter with a soulful bowl of matzoh ball soup and a half corned beef on rye — and there’s always at least a short line at the deli counter ordering homemade pastries or a dozen gigantic fresh bagels on which to spread some smoked whitefish salad. It gets no better than that. Moving north on Buffalo, we’ve got a solid burger joint, decent coffee shop cuisine and a little nostalgia at Shari’s Diner (1900 N. Buffalo Drive, 870-6424). Make a quick right, and next to Starbucks is our way-above-average fast food, the messydelicious Smashburger (7541 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 982-0009), and the buttery-crusted Detroit-style pizza of Northside Nathan’s (7531 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 255-8822). Your neighborhood might have grub like that. Maybe. But you’re missing out on the best French restaurant off the Strip, Marche Bacchus (2620 Regatta Drive #106, 804-8008).

28 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Chef Jean Paul Labadie does classic bistro fare and modern updates, the wine selection and prices are legendary, and the only other spot in town to find such serene lakeside dining is next door at Garfield’s (2620 Regatta Drive #118, 925-8333). The nautical theme here gets more charming every time my wife demands we go for eggs Florentine or split a flamekuche (French pizza). Grape Street Café (7501 W.

for small literary presses, I do my mightiest drinking and schmoozing — er, I mean sober negotiations — over lunch. Top Vegas writers inevitably teach class, research and commiserate at UNLV, so grabbing a nearby bite is requisite. Luckily, the University District is rife with killer ethnic dining holes-in-walls. Origin India (4480 Paradise Road #1200, 734-6342) is hardly a hole. Sure, there’s the obligatory lunch buffet steam table ($14.95), but explore the menu proper and you’ll see that this is Indian cuisine done with creativity, and for campus-crawlers who crave tasty yet affordable food. (Though prices went up slightly last year and the lunch wraps were 86-ed.) The Tandoor-roasted organic whole chicken leg ($7) is mouthwateringly marinated and served with coriander chutney and mixed leaf salad. Try the skewercooked seekh kebab ($9), or minced lamb coated with red onion and peppers. For the vegetarian in your study group, there’s vegetable samosa ($7), flaky pastry stuffed with potatoes and peas and served with tamarind and mint sauce. Elegant décor and a romantic atmosphere. Oops, almost forgot: There’s a UNLV discount! On the grittier side, Yayo Taco (4632 Maryland Parkway #18, 262-0201) resembles a Baja surf cantina, but with a vast beer selection (Abita to Zafarrancho Reposado) that’ll make the hard-drinking prof in you hear waves lapping on the beach. For my

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money, nothing beats the tasty little twobuck tacos. My favorites: the Bombay, which offers roast chicken sautéed in green coconut curry and a tamarind chutney, and the succulent Shanghai, which boasts wasabiseared steak in black bean salsa with crisp cabbage slaw and a dash of wasabi cream. Go with the $7.25 combo special and you can sample four different tacos, two sides (for instance, veggie black beans or sweet potato fries) and a can of your favorite soft drink. Intriguingly, Yayo transforms into an allages music venue at night, hosting the nation’s top, um, corpsepainted, fog machineunhappy black metal bands with names like The Funeral Pyre. God bless the kids! UNLV discount? Check. A hop, skip and still-famished jump from Yayo is the Greek delight of Stephano’s (4632 S. Maryland Parkway #14, 795-8444), where $5.55 gyro sandwiches — beef and lamb, chicken (shawerma), falafel pita — are cheap, plentiful and never chintzy on flavor. There’s a fantastic low-carb menu, in which you get double meat portions with a side of Israeli couscous salad, lettuce, tomato and onions; for example, a $12.95 kofta kebab, comprising ground beef patties cooked on a fiery grill, and the $14.95 rib eye steak kebab, which gives you four hearty skewers of perfectly seasoned steak. This is another terrific joint in which to sample imported beers — Spanish lagers (Alhambra Negra), Bulgarian pilsners (Zagorka), Polish malts (Zywiec). Nothing beats sipping a Mythos (Greek beer) while surfing the free Wi-Fi. No discount, but you can join Stephano’s lunch club for added value. Thai-wise, your best bet is King & I (1107 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8819), where authentic handcrafted artwork from Thailand hangs on the walls, giving this adorable eatery a cozy, far-away-from-Vegas feel. The $5.95 lunch curries (chicken, beef, pork, tofu, or $6.95 for shrimp) are superb, or you can indulge in seafood with items such as the crazy-good $6.95 crab rangoon, which gives you eight pieces of crab meat and cream cheese wrapped in wonton skin, deep-fried and served with sweet and sour sauce. Not to press the act of inebriation, but the Thai beef jerky ($8.95) goes divinely with a cold bottle of Singha. No discounts. Finally, the best bánh mì (Vietnamese hoagie) shop in town: Thanh Huong (1131 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite D, 739-8703). Salivating as I write this, I must inform you that the sandwiches are made with a tongue-slapping-your-brains-out-good French baguette. My two $2.75 favorites are the pork sandwich and the meatball sandwich, each exquisitely

fashioned with a light spread of mayo, white radish, carrot, cilantro, onions and green peppers. They don’t serve alcohol, so order a couple items to go, grab some Tsingtao and a Redbox flick at Vons next door, and suddenly you have a fun, appetizing afternoon ahead of you. — Jarret Keene

SouthWest: Diverse flavors, corner pocket The neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Durango Drive and Warm Springs Road offers eclectic dining for every budget. For an inexpensive, family-friendly place, check out Mac Shack (8680 West Warm Springs, 463-2433). Created by Marcello Mauro, whose family owns Nora’s Cuisine and Nora’s Wine Bar, the place specializes in a diverse line of affordable pastas. You can order 11 different noodles with any of nine different sauces for just $7. Or you can spice them up with six different meats or 21 other ingredients that range from 50 cents to $1.75 apiece. With counter service, it’s a lot more casual than Mauro’s other restaurant. Think of it as a much healthier and tastier alternative to fast food. If you head east on Warm Springs, past Durango, you’ll hit two more excellent places within the first block. At 8530 West Warm Springs Road, you’ll find Mantra Masala (598-3663), one of the town’s best Indian restaurants. It’s run by Tapan Bose, who opened Gaylord in The Rio, and put in time as a restaurant manager at Bellagio before bringing his cooking to the ’burbs. Bose prides his himself on his dedication to Ayurvedic cooking, which has roots in the traditional Indian medicine popularized by Deepak Chopra. He uses no oils, preservatives or processed foods, and he makes all the yogurt and cheese in-house. Another half a block down Warm Springs on the corner of Cimarron Road, you’ll find Born And Raised (7260 S. Cimarron Road, 6850258), which locals refer to simply as B.A.R. While it’s primarily a video poker bar with a funky, modern lounge, the food is outstanding, thanks to Chef John Courtney. Having put in time at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, Courtney has a knack for putting gourmet twists on otherwise predictable bar food. They include lobster corn dogs, chorizo on the chili cheese fries and 15 gourmet sliders. Leave room for dessert. Because the Vons strip mall on the southwest corner of Durango and Warm Springs is also home to a Cold Stone Creamery (7435 South Durango Drive, 228-2300). Yeah, it’s a chain. But it’s a chain that dishes out some of the most decadent ice cream concoctions around — and after this epic food crawl, you’ve certainly earned it, haven’t you? — Al Mancini

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style If the shoe fits

The Nike Zoom Stefan Janoski SB may be the nicest pair of Nikes in a long time, and they can come in colors that range from low-key to loud. They remind me of my favorite Adidas Sambas, which came in a limited-edition, royal-blue suede. ($75, Suite 160) — Juan Martinez

Straddling function and fashion, leisurewear finally puts its foot down by sara nunn and juan martinez

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 35

style You may confuse the Nike Woodside with the classic L.L. Bean duck boot. Both boast a rubber sole, a synthetic midsole, and a leather upper. The Bean boot is hand-made in Maine, and it is waterproof and functional. The Woodsides are none of these things, but you should consider Nike’s Frankenstein farm-meets-downtown anyway, since they are slick and go well with jeans. ($110, Undefeated) — J.M. One of my uncles is an avid tennis player and refused to play in anything but the Adidas Stan Smiths. We used to have to hunt them down for him anytime we visited the States, a proposition that became progressively more difficult when the shoe faded from the market. The Stan Smiths are back, and they’re just as wonderful as ever: elegant, low-key and comfortable. Wear the hell out of them. Call my uncle and see if he’s up for tennis — he probably is. ($64, Undefeated) — J.M.

Chuck Taylors have had more high-end design collaborators than you’d think necessary for what is, in essence, an obsolete canvas-and-rubber basketball shoe. No redesign is really necessary. The shoes are pretty wonderful on their own. That said, why not go for these Comme Des Garcons? They got little hearts with eyes on them! I’m pretty sure they’re for girls! Who cares? ($100, Undefeated) — J.M.

Should you want to stick with classics, you’re better off considering the Prada suede chukka boot — perfect with khakis or jeans or even shorts in any outdoorsy activity, including picnics, Desert Springs outings, and (I’m guessing) light-to-moderate warfare. ($495, Neiman Marcus) — J.M.

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style This shade of red paired with this UNDFTD x Vans Hernan Era LX Preschool sneaker brings to mind only this: that it’ll look exceedingly fine as the last thing someone sees before getting kicked right in the face. Not that we advocate violence, but if we did we only hope it would be so stylishly delivered. ($40, Undefeated) — S.N.

It’s time to face it: TOMS are cool. If you overlook the rather awkward construction, you can’t resist the we’re-all-in-this together, feeling-good about-the-charity aspect of the whole business. Let’s be self-congratulatory in silver glitter! ($54, Suite 160) — S.N.

Tied up with ribbons and chicer than chic: This is how the Parisians of our imaginations wear sneakers when they’re not click-clacking in stilettos down the Champs-Elysees. The Lanvin Snakeskin Print Sneaker even provides the slither for you. ($495, Neiman Marcus) — S.N.

Fact one: Flats can be an awfully lazy choice. Fact two: A touch of velvet makes almost anything look dressed up. Turn to these Prada Bordeaux Velvet Sneakers to rescue a basic jeans and T-shirt combo and keep the Fashion Police off your case. ($295, Neiman Marcus) — Sara Nunn

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 37


Hikes 38 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

B y H e i d i K y s e r a n d a n d r e w k i r a ly P h o t o g r a p h y B y C h r i s t o p h e r S m i t h

Just imagine. An hour from your couch, you can be on

a lake, rock face or ski slope — not a claim most other cities can make. Consider tackling these trails demonstrating just that: From just about any neighborhood in Southern Nevada, you can squeeze in a hike on your lunch hour. Got time to venture farther afield? Check out our Hidden Treasures for the truly intrepid.

Fire Canyon Valley of Fire State Park

Look down: It’s geological wonder under your feet! Getting there: On north Interstate 15, approximately 32 miles from North Las Vegas, take exit 75. Go south on Route 169. The park is 15 miles ahead. Tip: On this 3-mile round trip, you’ll be treading on or near 150 million-year-old sandstone and sand dunes. Everything in the Valley of Fire is gorgeous, so it’s something to say this is (reputedly) the prettiest hike there. Start at the Rainbow Vista Trailhead and make your way to the vantage point of Silica Dome, and take in the deep red sandstone of Fire Canyon. Visit to find times for interpretive tours.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 39

Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail Boulder City

Man versus nature on the Colorado River. It’s a tie! Getting there: Take Highway 93 to Boulder City and follow it toward Hoover Dam. Look to your left for the turnoff at Lakeshore Road to the Allan Bible Center (Lake Mead Visitor Center). Parking and the trailhead are here. Tip: Great views plus interesting local lore make this flat 8-mile roundtrip excursion a good one for visiting friends or relatives. The best part of this trail isn’t the fact that you can walk or ride your bike along the flat, elevated railroad bed — it’s the history. Parts of it are believed to be pioneer trails, used during the construction of Hoover Dam. The hike takes you through five different railroad tunnels, filled with remnants of the past, and some ruins from arson fires.

Wetlands Park Nature Preserve (Las Vegas Wash) Henderson

Enter a Twittersphere of the avian kind Getting there: Go all the way to the east end of Tropicana Avenue, and continue east on Wetlands Park Lane. The entrance to the park is on your left at Hollywood Drive. Tip: The complex of easy trails, mostly one-half mile to one mile each, is more about environmental conservation than recreation. Still relatively unknown to most Las Vegans, this area is undergoing big renovations to improve trails and add an information center. Although the flat or only slightly sloping paths don’t offer much of a workout (unless you run them), it’s a good place for bird-watching, picnicking or just enjoying the soft sounds of nature. If you close your eyes, you may even forget you’re right on the edge of a major urban center.

40 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Red and Black Mountain Boulder City

Enjoy the bloom beyond the River Mountain Trail Getting there: In Boulder City, take Highway 93 toward Hoover Dam. Go less than a mile, then turn left onto a short access road at the “River Mountain Trail Parking” sign. Follow this road to the parking lot and trailhead. Tip: It’s a moderate, one- to six-mile round trip, depending on which diversions you take. In spring, the trail is dotted with wildflowers. Choices, choices: Near the beginning of the hike, it splits into the Red Mountain Trail on one hand, and the Black Mountain Trail on the other. A little farther on, there there’s an optional path for mountain biking. If you follow the signs to the Black Mountain Overlook, you’ll get a great view of the canyon below, as well as Boulder City.

s n i a t n u o M r e v i 5. R loop trail Henderson

R i v e r M o u n ta i n s L o o p Tr a i l : J o h n H o lm a n

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d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 41

6. BIG FALLS Mt. Charleston

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Las Vegas Overlook (aka Muffin Ridge) Blue Diamond

It’s like Red Rock for insiders Getting there: Eight miles west of Red Rock Casino on Charleston Boulevard, look for the entrance to Cowboy Trail Rides. The trailhead is there.

Besides its length and low difficulty level, what makes this hike accessible is that it’s in Red Rock, but it’s outside the scenic loop, which in nice weather gets jammed with tourists and weekend warriors. The trail leads up and around Blue Diamond Hill. From the top of the hill, to the east, you can see Las Vegas sprawling across the valley.

42 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

B I G FA L L S : B r a n c h W h i t n e y

Tip: This relatively easy, fourmile hike includes one of those “Look! I’m holding the Stratosphere in the palm of my hand!” photo ops.

ICE BOX CANYON Red Rock Canyon National Conservation AREA

A short but arduous trek to pools of refreshment (ahh!) Getting there: Take Charleston Boulevard west until it turns into State Route 159. Take a right at the sign for the Red Rock visitors center and pay the nice people. The trailhead for Ice Box Canyon is about halfway through the scenic loop. Tip: If you don’t have crazy prehensile monkey feet, wear shoes with traction — the rocks are slippery. Duck! Now leap! And DUUUCK! After switchbacking through scrubby desert, you’ll leapfrog up a chattering creek and squeeze through shrubby jungle gyms for this strenuous hike’s big payoff (a payoff besides your wobbly, jellied knees): A trickledown waterfall that feeds two rippling pools, the second accessible only to those with a love of rock-scrambling and the fortitude to OH MY GOD NOT LOOK DOWN. Bring a jacket — the sun just grazes this narrow canyon even at high noon, but the chills are worth the thrills.

more hikes both near and far — and incredible Bonus For photos — check out

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 43

9. Clear Light Cave/ Porcelain Wall Mt. Potosi

A challenging climb amid stony solitude Getting there: Take Route 160 west of

Las Vegas, toward Pahrump. As you ascend the mountain pass, watch for a dirt road on the left (south) with a sign indicating the Boy Scout Camp. Take that road for a couple miles, past the camp to a small parking area on the right.

“The area is secluded with beautiful rock and cactus gardens. It offers gorgeous views of neighboring limestone cliffs. … It’s really breathtaking, and I feel a million miles away from the city when I’m there.” — Stephanie Forte, rock-climbing

rock star. Since her first encounter with a rock climbing wall at the Aspen, Colo., gym where she worked 20 years ago, Forte has not stopped climbing. She moved to Las Vegas for its world-renowned climbing. In 1999, Forte became one of fewer than 10 women in the world at that time to have climbed a route graded 5.14a (translation: terrifyingly vertical rock) at Mt. Charleston.

44 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Frenchman Mountain East Las Vegas

Think of it as Mother Nature’s Stairmaster Getting there: Drive east on Lake Mead Boulevard nearly two miles past North Hollywood Boulevard. As you enter the canyon between Sunrise and Frenchman Mountains, look to your right for a dirt road leading up the side of Frenchman Mountain. This is the trailhead. Tip: You’ll burn more calories than you think on this steep, eight-mile round-trip hike. Pack a snack to enjoy at a rest point on the first saddle. Warming up is for pansies. This hike starts with a bang, taking you up a steep gravel road with hardly so much as a stray stick for scenery. By the time you get to the first saddle, you’re ready to quit. But wait! There’s more. You’re not officially at the summit of Frenchman Mountain until you reach the radio towers. Fortunately, the surroundings get prettier with each step, culminating in a spectacular view of the city.

Cl e a r L i g h t C av e / P o r c e l a i n Wa ll : Pat r i c k Ol s o n

Tip: You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle and the guidebook “Islands in the Sky” by Dan McQuade to find routes, which are best October through May. Most climbing here is the sport variety and for intermediate-level climbers. You’ll need quickdraws (makes handling your rope easier) and plenty of energy for the hike.

Sloan Canyon Henderson

An archaeological treasure on the edge of Anthem Getting there: From Interstate 15, take exit 25 and turn east on Sloan Road. Go north (left) on Las Vegas Boulevard for about one-tenth of a mile, then turn right on a dirt road (four-wheel drive needed). Follow this road for four miles to a road signed “Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area” and turn right. After one mile, the road will fork; stay to the right. The road ends at the entrance to Petroglyph Canyon. Tip: There are some moderate dips and climbs in this five-and-a-half mile loop, but the most important thing to remember is your camera. Saddles, scrambles, volcanic cliffs, winding washes filled with interesting plant life — maybe even a glimpse of bighorn sheep. This hike promises almost everything you could want from a jaunt in our area, but the best part is the petroglyph gallery in Sloan Canyon proper. In the straight section of the canyon, you can see abundant examples of the ancient art on nearly every boulder to the left and right of the trail.


y n a C o d a r o d l 12. E Nelson, Nevada

further in then kayak — le yc ic b Arrive by ht. Watch for toward Searchlig

h to s about 12 miles toward Nelson. It’ 5 16 t y ou wa ab igh st H ju f on n take the signed turnof ke Mojave. You ca her six miles to La nce by varying sta di e th st Nelson and anot ju ad n. port. Cyclists can any mode of trans picked up in Nelso or arranging to be d/ an starting points mine, Techatticup gold es the abandoned sid Be at th ts. os od gh flo be sh fla Tip: There may Nelson’s Landing ople. e site of the 1974 ve, killing nine pe oja M ke Nelson was also th La of e or sh e th on a in ar washed away a m smooth ut e: Take the 95 so

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ad, nice and tle two-lane ro son is a quiet lit el N to a real nice area ad e’s ro er “The tside town, th ou st Ju … mine, a b. m ere’s the gold with a gentle cli tivities. Then th ac r he ot and have t d ou an ke with kayaking . Ride your bi scenic as heck — ok at lo nt d ra an au st nd re , ou museum can wander ar ou e. Y s the er th u t yo 1 cyclist who hold your family mee former Category a in s, s ku ile Da m t ot 28 (5 Sc h — north-to-sout relics all day.” ghter, ing both Nevada

travers urs). A firefi time records for 35 miles in 20 ho rs ah east-to-west (3 the 343 firefighte Ut d of r an no s) ho ur in ho 34 e every Sept. 11 rid ile m 334 a Dakus does of 9/11. terrorist attacks who died in the

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 45

13. Keyhole Canyon

Between Boulder City and Searchlight

A mountain ride to a hidden oasis Getting there: Take the 95 south toward Searchlight. Almost 16 miles past the 93-95 junction, go left (east) on a dirt road. Follow that for a couple miles, then go right (south) on the second power line road. Another two miles and you’re at the Keyhole cutoff, where you go left (east). The canyon is about a mile ahead.

“It doesn’t stand out among canyons, but it’s near Vegas, it’s away from people, and once you’re in there you think, ‘Wow… This is out here?’ In the canyon, you find slick rock walls with fluted waterfalls, whereas everything leading up to it is big open mountains. The contrast is nice.” — Luke Gallyan,

author of A lifelong hiker, backpacker and camper, Gallyan found his calling when he discovered canyoneering three and a half years ago. His accomplishments include descending Inlay and Heath Canyons in Utah’s Zion National Park, and discovering (naming) Strike Two in Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park.

46 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

K e y h o l e c a n yo n : L u k e G a llya n

Tip: A high-clearance vehicle is helpful. It takes about two and a half hours and six beginner- to intermediate-level rappels to go all the way into the canyon. More terrestrial types have plenty of hiking options and can admire the abundant petroglyphs at the mouth of the cave.

Floyd Lamb Park at Tule Springs Centennial Hills

An oasis of desert plants and animals. And hey — fish! Getting there: Take Highway 95 north and exit east on Durango Drive. Follow it as it curves north, and takes you directly to the western edge of the park. Take a right on Brent Lane and enter the park. Tip: Date attire acceptable. You won’t even break a sweat on these easy walking trails, no more than one mile each.

Like the Wetlands, Floyd Lamb Park is more for relaxing than breaking a sweat. After surveying the grounds of Tule Springs Ranch, your first reaction will be, “Wow, grass … and water!” Prehistoric animals had the same reaction, judging from

the high number of fossils that have been found in the area. Mammoth, giant sloth and other animals loved to lounge here — a tradition that humans continue today, thanks to facilities for barbecuing, fishing, picnicking, and playing horseshoe and volleyball.

Summerlin Peak Summerlin

Care for some workout with your workout? Getting there: From the north 215 Beltway, take the Cheyenne Avenue exit and go east on Cheyenne. It quickly turns into Cliff Shadows Parkway. Go about one-quarter mile and turn left on an unnamed paved street. Park and begin the hike. Tip: Advanced hike. I repeat: ADVANCED HIKE. It’s a steep five miles round trip that includes scrambling up a hillside in zero shade. I repeat: ZERO SHADE. Summerlin Peak has the accessible location and steepness of Lone Mountain, but with a little extra distance to boost its fitness cred. As if that weren’t enough, there’s no actual trail here. You follow a wash to the base of the peak, then scramble the rest of the way up, gaining 1,600 feet in less than a mile. Not for the faint of heart, this hike calls for food, water, a partner — and a good bit of resolve.


Read these related stories at May/June 2010: “You run this town.” Introduce your feet to these fun urban runs January 2011: “Heal (and pamper) thyself.” After your trek, unwind at one of the valley’s more exotic spas

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 47

to rone p s r me hte ts fig nswer, so an up r a l m rtia ea d ma tever th ’s time toive ethos e x i a t Are mnce? Wh ns say i aggress a s f e viol ers and e sport’ h fight d tame t — an ley ngs

Fighting words Are mixed martial arts fighters

y Ki

m By A

prone to violence? Whatever the answer, some fighters and fans say it’s time to man up — and tame the sport’s aggressive ethos By Amy Kingsley

48 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Police mugshot of Jason Sindelar, a mixed martial arts fighter whose friend died after a June 19 brawl. Manslaughter charges against Sindelar were dismissed earlier this year.

The party started smoothly enough. Iman Aubrey had booked suite 13335 at the Luxor hotel-casino the night of June 18 for a paid swingers mixer hosted by her company, Purrfect LV. There were drinks, light hors d’oeuvres and a lot of suggestive mingling. ¶ Then, just as the party was winding down, Jason Sindelar showed up. He arrived with a group that included his girlfriend, Charmaine Kemp, and two other women. According to witnesses, they were already drunk. So was Demario Reynolds, Aubrey’s fiancé and a former UNLV football player, who had also been using cocaine and ecstasy. Reynolds was also one of Sindelar’s best friends, which makes what happened next ironic — and tragic. A violent brawl would break out between the two men. A brawl that by some accounts lasted nearly a half-hour — longer than a regulated mixed martial arts bout. A brawl that raged through the entire suite — from the living room to the bathroom to the bedroom. Reynolds and Sindelar began the night best friends, but by the early hours of the next morning, their relationship filled just two blanks on a police report: Victim and suspect. For Reynolds, the night that started at the Luxor ended with his death. Sindelar, a trained and experienced mixed martial arts fighter, wound up at the Clark County Detention Center — facing the prospect of a murder charge. What happened? Drugs. Alcohol. Pride. Anger. Rochelle Galloway, who arrived at the party with Sindelar, says he’d already been drinking and using drugs when he got to the suite. According to her, an argument broke out between Sindelar and his girlfriend at about 2 a.m., right after they arrived at the party. He became angry at her for breaking his phone, and the fight began to get physical. That’s when Reynolds got involved.


“(Reynolds) told him to calm down because he was interrupting the party and making his fiancée look bad,” Galloway says. “(Reynolds) said, ‘If you want to hit someone, don’t hit her, hit me.’” He had no idea what his words would unleash. What really happened that night? Drugs. Alcohol. Pride. Anger — and maybe something else. Was that explosive cocktail set aflame by mixed martial arts’ ethos of glorified aggression?

Combat sports on trial A judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against Sindelar in January, noting that the coroner’s report couldn’t definitively say that the fight killed Reynolds. In the maelstrom that night, there were other factors at work, most notably the cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol in Reynolds’ system that helped kick his heart into overdrive. Even though the coroner’s office ruled his manner of death a homicide, it also said Reynolds died of a drug overdose aggravated by the brawl — that is, “other significant conditions including a collapse following a physical altercation.” “I don’t think mixed martial arts or Jason’s exposure to professional fighting had anything

to do with the criminal case,” says Andrea Luem, the public defender who represented Sindelar. “The district attorney may have said, ‘Hey, look, here’s a guy who can hit harder, so we need to go after him a little bit harder.’ Reynolds died from a drug overdose. This isn’t about mixed martial arts.” It’s a vindication for Sindelar in more than one sense. “I think the common perception (that mixed martial arts fighters are more prone to violent acts) is merely that, a perception,” Sindelar writes in an email to Desert Companion. (Sindelar agreed to be interviewed only by email. Public defender Luem vetted his responses.) “I don’t believe that MMA fighters are more prone to violent acts. I believe that when an MMA fighter is involved in a violent act or criminal case, there is simply more media attention placed upon them. The media seems to exploit the connection because it would make a more salacious story.” Does he think his mixed martial arts background made him more likely to commit violence? “Absolutely not,” he writes.

Chorus of concern Tell that to the public. Comments on news stories that appeared on the web show that many also hold the culture of professional fighting at least partially responsible for the death of Demario Reynolds. Galloway, who was friends with both Reynolds and Sindelar, doesn’t mince words about what she witnessed that night. “People need to know that mixed martial arts and martial arts are a weapon,” she says. “If you don’t use your craft the right way, something like this can happen to someone else.” Sindelar’s case isn’t isolated. In March 2010, a mixed martial artist in California allegedly killed his friend and sparring partner after ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms. The accused killer, Jarrod Wyatt, allegedly removed the victim’s heart and half of his face. A woman accused professional fighter Michael Whitehead in April 2010 of sexual assault at his home in Las Vegas. And these are just recent headlines.

By the next morning, two former best friends would fill two blanks on a police report: victim and suspect.


d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 49

Supporters balk at the supposed connection between mixed martial arts and criminal violence. What about violent crimes committed by basketball players, football players, other athletes? (And what about MMA heroes such as pro fighter Jon Jones, credited with using his techniques to subdue a robber March 19 in northern New Jersey?) There is no breakdown of criminal violations by sport, which makes it impossible to find out whether combat athletes are more prone to violent crime. Still, an increasing number of people are beginning to ask questions about violence and mixed martial arts. And not just Sen. John McCain and New York State Assemblyman Bob Reilly, two of the sport’s biggest foes. Fans, fighters and officials are also speaking out. “Right now, the entire football community is in a constructive discussion about how to handle sporting violence,” says David Mayeda. Mayeda is a sociology professor at Hawaii Pacific University, an MMA fan and occasional MMA fighter. He’s also co-author of “Fighting for Acceptance: Mixed Martial Artists and Violence in American Society.” “That has to happen in mixed martial arts. Criticism of it must be handled in a constructive way.”

Bad brains, packaged violence Dr. Margaret Goodman is a neurologist who worked as a ringside physician for almost 12 years for both boxing and mixed martial arts bouts. She spent part of that time as the medical advisory board chair for the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Goodman says fighting can change athletes in ways that cause violent behavior. “Simple exposure to concussion can lead to brain trauma that can be picked up on a scan,” Goodman says. “Behavioral changes have been noted, including higher incidence of depression, violent outbursts and psychiatric disorders.” Mayeda, who studies sports and violence, concedes that football, boxing, hockey and lacrosse all have higher rates of concussion than mixed martial arts. Fighters have the same risk of brain injury as a soccer player. But the most troubling violence doesn’t happen in the ring, Mayeda says. It’s in the marketing — both official and viral. Despite reforms that have made fights safer, the sport hasn’t exactly disowned its violent reputation. The professional league, Ultimate Fighting Championship, never would have grown into a multi-billion dollar venture by marketing itself as a kinder, gentler kind of brawl. Despite adopting weight classes and safety rules, it never quite ditched its bad-boy image. Matches still go down in octagonal rings in chain-link enclosures meant to evoke back alleys. Many big-name

50 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Professional mixed martial arts fighter Rich Franklin, right, launched the Keep It in the Ring Foundation in 2007 to steer kids away from violent lifestyles.

fighters, such as heavyweight Kimbo Slice, built their reps through viral YouTube clips of raw street fights. That reputation translated into high ratings when Slice appeared on season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” a dishy reality show on Spike TV — co-produced by UFC. (A UFC spokesperson did not respond to interview requests by press time.)

Beat down But what happens when an MMAstyle beating is inflicted outside the ring? For Demario Reynolds, it may have resulted in death. Galloway said the fight between Sindelar and Reynolds went for 25 minutes. It started in the bathroom, where the two men collapsed in the tub, and continued in the bedroom and the living room. In the end, Sindelar peppered his friend with heavy blows, Galloway says, despite others begging him to back off. “Most of the men were yelling at the women to get out of the way,” Galloway says. “None of us as witnesses could have done anything to stop it,” she adds. “During the fight, (Sindelar) kept saying, ‘I’m not a loser, I’m a winner. I’m gonna win. I’m gonna win.’” In fact, witnesses told police that, after a break in the melee, Sindelar returned to hit Reynolds

even after he stopped fighting back. Mayeda says the sport should actively distance itself from just this kind of violence. Some fighters have already begun to do that. UFC’s Rich Franklin started the Keep It in the Ring Foundation in 2007 to steer kids away from violent lifestyles. The Hawaii State Domestic Violence Coalition tapped popular fighter Kala Hose as the face of its awareness campaign, which featured his daughter and urged men to treat their wives with respect. Mayeda said UFC broadcasts should feature explicit anti-violence messages encouraging fighters to restrict their fighting to responsible gyms with strict supervision. And he’d like to see more emphasis on the philosophical, nonviolent aspects of martial arts training. “There are fighters like George St-Pierre who embody all those traditional martial arts values,” Mayeda says. “We need more of those types of messages distributed to fans.” Perhaps ironically, Sindelar agrees. “To look at MMA from a different angle would help  change people’s perception of it being such a violent sport and see that like any other sport, it is about talent, dedication and discipline.”



“Your average MMA fighter is a pretty normal guy,” says instructor Simpson Go. “It’s not always someone with a rough past.”

Keep it in the ring That awareness seems to be taking hold — if slowly — in Las Vegas. At the Tapout Training Center near Tropicana Avenue and Valley View Boulevard, instructor Ivan Rangelov puts his charges through their paces, drilling them on grappling positions and arm locks. The training center is brightly lit, clean and populated by fit specimens in tank tops and athletic shorts. Rangelov’s students start on the heavy bags before moving to the mats. There, they start on the ground, like high-school wrestlers, and run slowly through a series of drills. The members of his class range from young teenagers to people in their 30s and 40s. Rangelov started studying muy thai kickboxing in 1986, and even moved to Thailand to fight professionally. After placing third at a world championship in Atlanta in 2006, he moved to Las Vegas to teach. His exposure to the modern combat pastiche of mixed martial arts has inspired him to explore ancient disciplines closer to his Bulgarian homeland, such as Mongolian wrestling and Russian karate. Rangelov and the other instructors keep an eye out for rage-prone meatheads attracted to the gym because they like to brawl. These characters usually share a similar trait — impatience. It takes years to master the finer points of fighting, Rangelov says, but some students want to compete and win right away. Still, Rangelov doesn’t think mixed martial arts caused Sindelar to attack his friend. Criminals are criminals. “Would you ask the same question if it were a basketball player or a football star?” he says. Rangelov always demonstrates new techniques in slow motion, and then explains exactly what can happen if full force is applied. He’s noticed something about his fighters: The students with the most control generally have the most promise as fighters. “When I see that a student can control himself, I give more information,” he says. “But not before that.” Occasionally, the gym attracts fighters who are too aggressive for its disciplined styles. Rangelov said they get one or two warnings before they’re told not to return. The number of jiujitsu gyms in Las Vegas multiplied from about two to more than a

dozen as the sport has caught on, says Simpson Go, an instructor at Cobra Kai Jiujitsu on Industrial Road. Cobra Kai teaches jiujitsu and mixed martial arts, but unlike some of the other facilities, still conducts some of its classes in the traditional gi. Go is small and soft-spoken. He’s not exactly the kind of bruiser associated with a sport once derided as human cockfighting. “Your average MMA fighter is a pretty normal guy,” Go says. “It’s not always someone with a rough past or someone who gets in a lot of street fights. Often, it’s someone who wrestled in college who doesn’t have an outlet for competition anymore.” Both Go and Rangelov say they counsel their students against taking mixed martial arts outside the ring. For example, when he demonstrates a new technique, Rangelov describes the damage it can do against an untrained opponent. At Cobra Kai, Go encourages his students to attend more traditional jiujitsu classes with nonviolent messages.

Less guts, more glory

Fight fan and prominent MMA blogger S.C. Michaelson has taken some of the criticism to heart. In order to evolve into a mainstream sport, mixed martial arts must shed its ultraviolent image, he says. He’d like to see more marketing that focuses on athletics, less on the knockouts and bloody noses. “Football has violence, but their marketing is about stories and athletic ability,” Michaelson says. “If you want to just see the hits, you have to seek that out.” Mayeda agrees. The National Football League participates in a lot of community service projects to raise awareness for breast cancer and fight childhood obesity. And unlike mixed martial arts, the league hasn’t avoided criticism that it’s too violent. When recent news reports raised questions about the longterm effects of concussions on players, the NFL began to evaluate its policies. Sindelar was not a professional fighter, but before he moved to Vegas, he participated on a more serious level than most. He won four amateur fights and lost his professional debut in September 2008 at a rec center in Dickinson, N.D. Professional mixed martial arts has evolved considerably in the 17 years since UFC

debuted, and many of the changes have made the sport safer for fighters inside the ring. Until 2007, the league could claim a perfect record of zero fight-related deaths at professional MMA events. Since then, there have been two. Neurologist and former ringside physician Goodman says boxing and mixed martial arts fights have, perhaps paradoxically, become more dangerous in recent years, after reforms that initially made it safer. As the business of fighting gets more lucrative, officials face more pressure to keep fights going, putting fighters at risk. Mandatory suspensions after knockouts — intended to give the brain time to heal — have gotten shorter, allowing fighters to make more money even as they imperil their long-term health. Mixed martial arts has become more like boxing. Fans prefer the action of a standing fight, where fighters exchange blows, to long periods of grappling. Referees often pull fighters up to their feet instead of allowing them to duke it out on the relative safety of the mat. Of course, there wasn’t a referee at the Luxor Hotel on the night Reynolds died. Perhaps it’s telling that the judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against Sindelar without prejudice, meaning the door is open for criminal charges to be filed again. In the meantime, Sindelar says he’s been getting his life back together, and plans to continue his involvement in mixed martial arts, whether through training other fighters or competing. In retrospect, he sees miscommunication, drugs and alcohol as the culprits in the June 19 fight, not his mixed martial arts background. “I lost my best friend, someone who I talked to daily, saw nearly just as much and related to in ways no one but God can understand,” he writes. “Demario was someone  who I never even had a disagreement with since the time we met. It is difficult to try to unravel what the media has done, and how they have spun what actually happened that night.” That night, a lot of Sindelar’s friends saw what happens when a person trips over the line between love and hate. After it was over, some of them found out what it feels like too. “All of us loved (Sindelar),” Galloway says. “And I’ve never been a person who hated people. But with him, I went from loving that guy to loathing him in a matter of hours.”

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 51

Don’t call Fotheringham “wheelchair-bound.” He prefers the term “hardcore sitter.”

52 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

r into i a h c heel toughest w e h e t ningling off th r u t m is By pul a h g erin e. How? h t e o et Keen ” F achin z l By Ja r r e h it m e m S r phe Wh sports “ C h r isto y n B y h o p ra Aar xtreme biz P h oto g e e an in th a cold Feb trick ruary e


venin to stay w arm at a g, and I’m trying—a nd failing— live music P a rk w ay across fr Associatio event o om n along after is wowing the packe UNLV. Punk-rock n Maryland ba d a — and then nother. A mosh pit e audience with one sa nd Guilty By rupts, quic vage screa a guy in re inspired m m d flannel c k omes whe ly reaches critical m elee. eling right a Wheeling into the m ss — usicThis whee literally. On two rad wheels. a stray elbo lchair-bound whipp ers w his chair a . He just smiles and napper gets clocked nd the oth joins in, usi in the face er n He eventu ally pushes to stiff-arm his way g one hand to mane by uver into the ey his chair th careening b e ro o begins mov dies until he’s up fron ugh the frenzy, disa of the storm. pp t, in Another kid g to the music like y practically in the guit earing amid o arist’s face. u o r n average the edg H him. The c hairpunk re e of the pit trips and adolescent hardcore e fan. falls to the aches dow Strong dud n to easily e. I wonder yank him to ground next to if ... naw. his feet.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 53

Days pass. It’s a sunny, crisp, blue-sky morning at Doc Romeo Park in the Centennial Hills neighborhood of northwest Las Vegas. Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham — the guy responsible for both the world’s first backflip and double backflip in a wheelchair — pulls up in his silver pickup truck, which sports a Guilty By Association sticker. Yep, same kid. He opens the door and in seconds, relying on his massive and muscular arms, gets out of the vehicle and hops over to retrieve his chair from the back. The guy’s a living, breathing Superman. Except that he can’t walk. But he can most definitely fly. Indeed, Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, 19, is a grown-up superhero and a serious role model to those who endure disabilities yet refuse to be limited by them — and an inspiration to the rest of us who think we have challenges to overcome. A self-described “hardcore sitter,” Fotheringham was born with spina bifida, a condition that inhibits spinal-cord growth. When he was 3, doctors urged his parents to get him a wheelchair, even if he didn’t want it, and to just keep it around. Initially, this idea troubled his parents. They wanted him upright. They wanted him standing. They wanted him using crutches. But the boy’s destiny would not be denied. He was born to ride.

The wheelcore way For the first eight years of his life, Fotheringham used braces and crutches to get around, but like any kid he was a bit of a daredevil. Maybe more so. He’d don a superhero cape and jump off his bunk bed. Once he got into a wheelchair, though, a whole new world of possibilities opened up. He never, ever considered the chair to be anything other than a toy. It was something for him to play and experiment with, to modify and change on a whim. It was not a prison, but a means of propulsion. Fotheringham grew up in Vegas and spent time at local skate parks, especially the Doc Romeo facility near his parents’ house, watching his older brother Brian ride BMX bikes on the concrete ramps. In front of Aaron’s friends, Brian encouraged — OK, maybe dared — his sibling to ride his wheelchair in the park. Peer pressure did its necessary work, and Fotheringham dropped in, crashing his chair hard, but otherwise remaining unscathed. He’s been hooked ever since. “Yes, it was a crucial moment in my development as an athlete. But I was always really active as a kid, even before that,” he explains, pulling his skater cap down over his eyes to shield them from the bright sun. “I used to go up and down and over curbs and driveways on my wheelchair. I had a handcycle bike that I

54 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

For the first eight years of his life, Fotheringham used braces and crutches. The wheelchair liberated him.

would go absolutely nuts on, jumping off wooden ramps and things like that. So I always had it in me. It was just matter of time, I think, before I would’ve dropped into that quarter pipe.” The psychological knack for thinking of the wheelchair as extreme sports equipment was instantaneous. He began practicing every day, mastering tricks — carving, grinding, power-sliding, spinning, aircatching jumps — everything and anything else a freestyle biker and skater can do. He equipped his wheelchair with shocks and four-wheel suspension to absorb impacts. He honed his skills to win the 2005 City of Las Vegas AmJam BMX Finals. “Aaron has what I like to call ‘the skater’s eye,’” says Hektor Esparza, Skateboarding Program Leader at Winchester Cultural Center, who witnessed Fotheringham win his AmJam title. “He sees himself and the objects around him differently than other people. Where you and I might see nothing, he sees a way to creatively express himself. He has a natural sense of physics, not an academic one.” “I was a little hesitant about competing, because I didn’t want to be evaluated or looked at differently than the other riders,” Fotheringham says. “I don’t want or need sympathy. I don’t need special treatment. But the judges assured me that they’d judge my

riding accordingly, and so that made me feel better, you know?”

Flipped off With the AmJam title secured, his confidence grew. And so did his fellow athletes’ confidence in him. He quickly figured out how to nail a mid-air 180-degree turn. But

through the air, easy-peasying the landing, and refusing to let something as minor as being strapped to a metal chair bring him down. Meanwhile, people like me whine about and struggle to get up to jog a mere mile once a week. No wonder Nitro Circus Live hired him. Fotheringham has already done overseas tours with the notorious crew of adrenalineseekers (which includes motorsports

And when he leaves the park? He takes the stairs.

After he won a major contest, Fotheringham became obsessed with a new goal: pulling off a backflip.

fellow skaters and riders kept suggesting a crazier idea: Do a backflip with the chair. “I started hearing it so much and thinking about it so often that I had it all worked out in my mind, what it would look like, how I could technically accomplish it,” he says. “I mean, it’s as simple as pulling on the frame, sure. But I had to practice it.” During a week-long extreme sports camp in the summer of 2006, he had just one goal in mind: to execute the perfect wheelchair backflip. It took him two sweaty, head-and face-landing days to pull off his first flip in the gymnastic foam pits. “I’m claustrophobic, so when I get stuck on my head in the foam, my chair on top of me, I’m not comfortable at all.” Although he videotaped his backflips that summer, posting successful landings (and plenty of missed landings) on YouTube, it wasn’t until fall of 2008 that Guinness World

Records observed his feat in front of an audience of 400 at Doc Romeo Park. By that time, his arsenal of tricks had exploded: soaring hand-plants, insane wheelers, rollouts galore. Sponsors called, both wheelchair and athletic companies. His life exploded too — in a good way — and with scheduling help from his mom, he began to travel the U.S. and the world, attending camps for disabled kids, working as a coach and mentor, and being featured in every media, from short documentaries to Nike commercials to an appearance on reality TV show “Secret Millionaire.” (He’s not the millionaire in question — yet.) Emails flood his inbox, thanking him for the example he sets, for the inspiration he gives to the disabled and abled alike. Watching him execute his signature backflip at Doc Romeo Park, I’m simultaneously awestruck and embarrassed. Here’s a guy catapulting

sensation Travis Pasaran, among others), most recently in February with a two-week stint in New Zealand. (Dropping down the 50-foot “Giganta-Ramp” is just another day at work for Fotheringham.) Occasionally he lands wrong and gets a concussion, despite his helmet. (He’s only broken his arm once.) Most of the time? He nails it. Last year, he mastered the double backflip. That’s probably because he spends at least 40 hours a week at Doc Romeo, practicing technique, honing tricks on what’s become his training ground. “I’d never leave Vegas because we have a buttload of awesome parks,” he says. “They were so important to me growing up. Less than three miles from my house, in every direction, I can find a killer skate park. Where else can you get that?” When he’s not touring, teaching workshops or instructing at a camp, Fotheringham stays busy editing videos of his tricks and toiling in his new metal fabrication studio. He’s working on getting certified as a welder so he can start creating his own line of extreme wheelchairs. So far he has fashioned a bed cage and bumper for his truck. “I love video editing and photography and welding, but I like to keep moving, too,” he admits. “I get bored staying still for too long.” Which is why you’re as likely to spot Fotheringham in a mosh pit as you are at Doc Romeo Park, where people gather to watch the superstar in action. After a sweaty wheelcore session, he’s ready to go home to work in his metal shop. On the way back to his truck, he takes the stairs — rolling, tumbling and rocking right over them. For more info about Aaron Fotheringhman, visit

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 55

may 7 & 8

Saturday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.


A Celebration of International Artisans & Award-Winning Jazz Musicians Piazza Colori Chalk Masterpieces, Palette of Culinary Delights & Interactive Imagination Station

Henderson Events Plaza 200 S. Water Street | 267.2171

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a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

T h e at e r Dance FA M I LY



The only way Brandon Flowers could make his native Southern Nevada any more proud is if he were to stand on the doorstep of the Governor’s Mansion and screech-sing the chorus to “Mr. Brightside” backwards until Gov. Sandoval stopped his campaign of launching nuclear missiles into the faces of our schoolchildren. In the meantime, Flowers’ music makes us plenty proud. He performs with special guest Nervous Wreckords 8 p.m. April 16 at the House of Blues in Mandalay Bay. Info: 632-7600


Brandon Flowers



Bicycles. To some of us, they’re unicycles with delusions of grandeur. To others, they’re really skinny cars. However you think of them, they’re a great fundraising vehicle. That’s the idea behind the Tour de Cure, the annual fundraiser benefiting the American Diabetes Association. Pedal for pancreases 7:30 a.m. April 9 at the Henderson Events Plaza. Info: www.

The great thing about Johann Sebastian Bach: His sacred music could make even the most cynical agnostic tremble, such was the pure emotional and spiritual power of his compositions. Okay, the HOLY MOTHER THAT’S A HUGE ORGAN definitely helped. The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society performs the Bach’s St. Matthew Passion — with some hefty backup, including soloist Amy Cofield Williamson, the San Fernando Master Chorale and the Greenspun Junior High Chorus — 3 p.m. April 10 at UNLV’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall. Tickets: $5$15. Info: 895-2787

What do wine and reggae have in common? In proper doses, both totally mess your hair up. Now you can mix the two (bring a comb!) at Rock ‘N Roll Wine’s annual Reggae Pool Party. At this poolside bash, there’ll be 100 wines for sampling — ideally in rapid, glugging succession — and reggae artists Michael Black and Jah Guide band, The Makepeace Brothers, Mishka and Shawn Garnett of One Pin Short fame. It happens 7 p.m. April 30 at The Backyard in Green Valley Ranch. Tickets $40-$45. Info: 240-3066

Michael Black

Live. Love. Dance!


How do the dancers of “The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay cut loose after a day at the office? If you said, “They let their lithe, sculpted bodies uncoil in fierce and fervent expressions of electrifying beauty,” you’d be right. For “Live. Love Dance!,” these accomplished dancers showcase their original choreography in a veritable encyclo-dance-ia of styles, from jazz to hip-hop to ballet and burlesque. If these guys had any more kinetic energy, it’d be bottled and sold as an energy drink with a name like “Roar” or “I Eat Gazelles” or, I dunno, “Tigerblood.” “Live. Love. Dance!” takes place 7 p.m. April 22 at the Nicholas J. Horn Theatre on CSN’s Cheyenne Campus. Tickets $10-$15. Info: 651-5483

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 57

ART First Friday April 1, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. The Arts District’s monthly cultural event features artists, music and more in a street festival atmosphere. $2 suggested donation. 384-0092,

Aaron Sheppard Through April 10. Sheppard’s work incorporates layers of material, neon, wood, concrete and hand drawings to generate an ongoing allegorical narrative and discuss cultural norms. CENTERpiece Gallery at CityCenter

County Museum, 1830 S. Boulder Highway, 455-7955

Kreloff: Made in Las Vegas April 5-June 3. Artist reception April 8, 5:30 p.m. Pop artist Marty Kreloff’s samurai, celebrities and portraits are showcased in this exhibit. Free, Winchester Cultural Center

Judy Blankenship April 25-May 27. A display of her art reflecting the love of animals, nature and the world. Free. The Gallery at the Henderson Multigenerational Center, 250 S. Green Valley Parkway

Year of the Rabbit Through April 15. Numerous artists from a variety of different cultural backgrounds present their versions of Chinese New Year in celebration of the year of the rabbit. Bridge Gallery, City Hall

Pueblo Indian Art: Ongoing Traditions Through June 3. Experience 150 years of Pueblo Indian culture. $2. Clark

58 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n A P R I L 2 0 1 1

annual event features artwork, crafts, children’s activities and live entertainment. Free, Trails Village Center across from the Summerlin Library, 1970 Village Center Circle

Poem Cycle Through May 14. New work by artist and art professor Dan Scott explores the traditional still-life genre. Charleston Heights Art Center

Those We Call Century Through May 20. Chad Brown applies his skills as a painter to more kinetic work. Clark County Government Center Rotunda

Cubism Juxtaposed Through April 30. Nigerian native Day Adelaja has won numerous awards for his Summerlin floats, oil paintings and his continued exploration of cubism. West Las Vegas Arts Center Community Gallery

ArtWalk Spring 2011 April 30, May 1, 10 a.m.-5p.m  The 13th

“Rhythm Repetition Movement” Through May 22, by appointment. The artists in this exhibit include Dayo Adelaja, Greg Allred, Randa Bishop, Harold Bradford, Susanne Forestieri, Stewart Freshwater, Adolfo Gonzalez, Laraine Kaizer and Helen Murphy. The artwork celebrates the spirit of dance and music. Historic

Fifth Street School Gallery,

Kaleidoscope: Visual Inspirations


Through June 12. Mary Warner has taught at UNLV’s College of Fine Arts for many years. This exhibit showcases her work along with that of some of her former students. Springs Preserve Big Springs Gallery

Asian Contemporary Art April 14-June 19. This exhibit features painting, photography and works on paper from a selection of leading artists from China, Japan, and Korea. CENTERpiece Gallery in CityCenter

MUSIC Jake Shimabukuro April 1, 8 p.m. Pre-Show at 5 p.m. Ukulele virtuoso combines jazz, rock and pop music to produce a contemporary sound. Free, Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water Street in the Water Street District

Seven days of science fun for the whole family.

R. Carlos Nakai April 2, 7 p.m. The world’s premier performer on the Native American flute performs his award-winning songs on a traditional cedar wood. $10-$12. Winchester Cultural Center

Chamber Music Concert April 3, 2 p.m. A variety of small ensembles, duos and quartets perform an intimate Chamber Music Concert in support of the CSN String Studies program. $5, CSN’s Recital Hall on the Cheyenne Campus

There’s more science in Las Vegas than you may realize. Join in the fun (yes, science is FUN!)

and experience what’s happening in Southern Nevada.

May 1 :

A ‘Gleeful’ Musical Revue

Science is Everywhere Day

Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the incredible work of scientists and engineers right here in the Valley!

April 8, 9, 15, 16 at 7:30 p.m.; April 10, 17 at 2 p.m. This musical revue was written by Jessenia Paz and J. Max Baker, and directed by Douglas H. Baker. $10-$12. CSN’s BackStage Theatre, 651-5483

May 2-6 : Science in the Community

Craig Campbell

May 7 :

April 8, 8 p.m. Country artist portrays the American heartland with downto-earth lyrics. Free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water Street in the Water Street District

Participate in dozens of fascinating programs including “Great Debates” on hot science topics.

Science Expo

See hundreds of exciting hands-on demonstrations and entertainment at Cashman Center.

St. Matthew Passion April 10, 3 p.m. The Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society perform Bach’s

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d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 59

celebrated work with guest choirs, soloists and a double orchestra. $5-$15, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall

The Las Vegas Philharmonic Cabaret Event April 13, 6:30 p.m. The performance features David Itkin on piano accompanied by Broadway vocalist Ted Keegan. $125, Turnberry Place. 2585438 ext. 221

Gabriel Ayala April 15, 12 p.m. Gabriel Ayala is part of a new generation of Native Americans performing classical music. Free. Lloyd D. George U. S. Federal Courthouse Jury Assembly Room, 333 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 229-3515, www.

Peter Tork & Shoe Suede Blues April 15, 8 p.m. Fronted by an original member of The Monkees, the band delivers a soulful mixture of popular blues music. Free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water Street

Brandon Flowers April 16, 6 p.m. The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers performs in concert with special guest Nervous Wreckords. $30- $35. House of Blues

Las Vegas Philharmonic Masterworks: Zuill Bailey April 16, 8 p.m. Concert features guest cellist Zuill Bailey performing Dvorak’s Cello Concerto. A pre-concert conversation with David Itkin is at 7:15 p.m. $31.50-$75. UNLV’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall

Might Be You.” Free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water Street in the Water Street District

Nevada Pops III: Fiesta! April 23, 7:30 p.m. Nevada Pops salutes the best of Latin music from Brazil to Cuba, with an extended stay in Mexico. Music includes jazzy arrangements of South of the Border and Maleguena, a salute to bossa nova king Antonio Carlos Jobim and Mariachi. With special guests Mariachi Sol de Mexico. $14-$18, UNLV’s Artemus W. Ham Concert Hall

UNLV Choral Ensembles April 17, 7:30 p.m. Green Valley Presbyterian Church Concert Series takes place under the direction of David Weiller. Green Valley Presbyterian Church, 1798 Wigwam Parkway, 454-8484

Stephen Bishop April 22, 8 p.m. Grammy and Oscar nominee performs hits such as “On And On,” “Separate Lives” and “It

Las Vegas Camerata Orchestra April 23, 2 p.m. The orchestra celebrates its 25th anniversary with a performance of Jose Bragato’s “Malambo,” “Adagio for Viola and Violin” by Estaban Benzecry and Bach’s Piano Concerto in D minor. $7-$10, Winchester Cultural Center

The Bishr Hijazi Arab Ensemble April 24, 7 p.m. This ensemble features

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oud master Bishr Hijazi, violinist Laraine Kaiser-Viazovtsev and percussionists Charbel Azzi and Charl Azzi. The concert features contemporary Arab composers in the classic tradition from all parts of the Arab world. $10-$12, Winchester Cultural Center

Sugar Ray April 29, 8 p.m. Known for hits such as “Fly,” “Someday,” “Every Morning” and “When It’s Over” Sugar Ray performs at the Henderson Pavilion. $10, Henderson Pavilion 200 S. Green Valley Parkway

Yaquis, Nayaritas, Huapangueros, Jarochos and Jaliscienses. $5-$8, Winchester Cultural Center

produced with CSN. $15-$20. Insurgo Theater’s Bastard Theater


THEATER/PERFORMANCE Machinal Through April 9. Inspired by the real‐life life execution of murderess Ruth Snyder, Machinal is an incisive examination of the female in society. Co‐

April 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 8 p.m.; April 3, 9, 10, 17, 2 p.m. An Oscar Wilde-style comedy about a frustrated man who swears celibacy — and then meets the man of his dreams, who just happens to be HIV-positive. $12-$24, Las Vegas Little Theatre

Rock ‘N Roll Wine 6th Annual Reggae Pool Party April 30, 7 p.m. Sample more than 100 wines from the region and listen to reggae artists including The Makepeace Brothers, Mishka and Shawn Garnett of One Pin Short. $40-$45, The Backyard at Green Valley Ranch hotel-casino. 240-3066

Las Vegas Youth Orchestras Spring Concert April 30, 4 p.m. The Las Vegas Youth Orchestras perform a range of work both classical and contemporary. $7.75-$14.75, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall

DANCE Informal Dance Concert April 12, 1 p.m. Experience a demonstration of the wide array of CSN dance classes. Ballet, modern dance, jazz, tap, ballroom, yoga, Middle-Eastern dance and special presentations from the Dance Club and choreography class will be included. Free. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, 651-4201

Live. Love. Dance! April 22, 7 p.m. Dancers from Disney’s “The Lion King” at Mandalay Bay will present original choreography in styles such as jazz, hip-hop fusion, ballet, burlesque and contemporary modern. $10-$15. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre

Ballet La Grana April 29, 7 p.m., April 30, 2 p.m. Direct from Autlan, Jalisco, Mexico, Ballet La Grana “Beatriz Ramirez” presents folk dances of Concheros, Colimenses and its maize festival,

From left: Acclaimed chefs Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace), Jean Joho (Paris Las Vegas), Joel Robuchon (MGM Grand), Pierre Gagnaire (Mandarin Oriental) and Alain Ducasse (Mandalay Bay) appear at Vegas Uncork’d May 5-8. Information:

VENUE GUIDE Bridge Gallery On the second floor of City Hall and along the breezeway connecting City Hall to the Stewart Avenue parking garage. 400 E. Stewart Ave.

Historic Fifth Street School 401 S. Fourth St., 229-6469

CENTERpiece Gallery In CityCenter 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 736-8790,

Insurgo’s Bastard Theater 900 E. Karen Ave. D114,

Charleston Heights Arts Center 800 S. Brush St., 229-6383

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Centennial Hills, Clark County, Enterprise, Rainbow, Sahara West, Summerlin, Sunrise, West Charleston and Whitney libraries, 734READ,

Clark County Government Center 500 Grand Central Parkway, 455-8239 College of Southern Nevada BackStage Theater, Nicholas J. Horn Theater, Recital Hall, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, 6515483,

House of Blues Inside Mandalay Bay 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,

MGM Grand Garden Arena In the MGM Grand 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.,

The Orleans Showroom Inside The Orleans 4500 W. Tropicana Ave., Reed Whipple Cultural Center 821 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 229-1012 The Springs Preserve 333 S. Valley View Blvd., 822-7700, UNLV Artemus Ham Hall, Judy Bayley Theater, Beam Music Center Recital Hall, Barrick Museum Auditorium, Black Box Theater, Greenspun Hall Auditorium, Paul Harris Theater, Student Union Theatre. 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 895-2787, Winchester Cultural Center 3130 S. McLeod Dr. 455-7340

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Metamorphoses April 1, 2 and 7-9, 7 p.m. and April 3, 9 and 10, 2 p.m. Rainbow Company Youth Theatre retells some wellknown Greek myths. $3-$7, Reed Whipple Cultural Center

Trojan Women April 1-2, 6-9, 8 p.m.; April 3, 10, 2 p.m. A bleak portrait of war’s brutality, this masterpiece of pathos thrusts audiences into the pain suffered by innocent victims. $13.50-$15, UNLV’s Nevada Conservatory Theatre Black Box Theatre

serve’s second annual Día del Niño (Children’s Day) features carnival games, crafts, food and more. $3-$6, Springs Preserve

Clark County Wetlands Park Family Nature Walk April 9 and April 23, 9:15 a.m.-12 p.m.  A day of guided nature walks designed for parents to attend with their elementary and middle school children. Free, but registration required. 7050 Wetlands Park Lane, 455-7522

Children’s Festival Madama Butterfly April 1-2, 7:30 p.m. Puccini’s classic opera about love, loyalty and betrayal is presented by UNLV Opera Theatre. $15-$25, UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre

Tony Award-Winning Hits from Broadway’s Greatest Musicals April 2, 8 p.m. Three of Broadway’s brightest stars perform an evening of Broadway’s greatest songs from Tony Award-winning musicals like “West Side Story,” “Gypsy,” “Grease” and “Wicked.” $40- $85, UNLV’s Artemus Ham Concert Hall

Dennis Miller April 8-10, 8 p.m. Five-time Emmy Award winner Dennis Miller brings his stand-up routine back. $49.95, The Orleans Showroom

Ubu Roi April 22-May 7 UBU ROI is a satire of power, greed and the abuse of the authority engendered by success. Adapted and directed by Ernie Curcio. Insurgo Theater’s Bastard Theatre

Noises Off! April 29-30, May 5-7, 8 p.m.; May 1, 8, 2 p.m. Nevada Conservatory Theatre presents Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off,” a farce about backstage chaos during the play “Nothing On.” $17-$30, UNLV’s Judy Bayley Theatre

FESTIVALS AND FAMILY EVENTS Día Del Niño April 9, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Springs Pre-

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April 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Clark County’s 19th annual festival features dance, music, arts, crafts and workshops. Free. Winchester Cultural Center

Henderson Heritage Parade & Festival April 16, 8 a.m.-7p.m. Commemorating the City of Henderson’s 58 years of history and tradition is the annual Heritage Parade and Festival in the Water Street District. Free.

Rainbow Company Youth Theatre Spring Break Drama Workshop

Las Vegas Helldorado Days April 9-May 15. A host of events at various locations and venues to celebrate Helldorado. Includes trail rides at Bonnie Springs, a charity golf tournament at Siena Gold Course and the PRCA Pro Rodeo downtown. Prices vary. Information: 870-1221

Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit May 5-8. The fifth annual event is a foodie’s paradise, featuring exclusive masters’ series dinners with acclaimed chefs, after-hours parties, wine tastings, food samplings and other special events. Held at various restaurants and hotel-casinos. Ticket prices vary. Info:

LECTURES, READINGS AND PANELS “End of Story”: A novel reading April 7, 7:30 p.m. Professor John M. Bowers, Department of English, UNLV reads from his novel “End of Story,” an imagined sequel to E. M. Forster’s landmark gay novel “Maurice.” Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

Babies and Borders: Gender, Immigration and Nation-Building

April 18-22, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Performance April 23, 10 a.m.- 11 a.m. Youth, ages 8 to 12, enjoy five full days of drama with a final staged presentation on the Charleston Heights Arts Center stage. $135 per student, to register 229-6383 or

April 12, 7:30 p.m. Professor Eithne Luibhéid of the University of Arizona speaks on recent controversies over undocumented women who give birth to U.S. citizens. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

In the Dark

April 14, 7 p.m. Authors Uwem Akpan, Daniel Brook and Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, three BMI writers-in-residence. UNLV’s Greenspun Hall Auditorium

Through May 15. Explore caves, the depths of the sea, a night-time swamp and other mysteries in this new interactive exhibit that includes walk-through dioramas and specimens. The Origen Experience at Springs Preserve

It’s A Gas! The Bright Side of Science Through May 15. Learn about neon, argon, hydrogen and other gases on the periodic table with interactive displays and multimedia presentations. $4-$6, free for children under 5. Galleria at Sunset 1400 W. Sunset Road, 267-2171

BMI Bennett Fellows in Conversation

Representation and Perspective in Science April 14, 7:30 p.m. Professor Bas C. van Fraassen of San Francisco State University Science represents the empirical phenomena of nature via models. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

“Booms and Busts: Russia and Its Oil, 1970 to 2011 and Beyond” April 19, 5:30 p.m., Cliff Gaddy of the Brookings Institution discusses the role

of Russia’s energy wealth in broader geopolitics. Free. UNLV’s Greenspun Hall Auditorium

A Reading by Poet C.D. Wright April 20, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Award-winning poet C.D. Wright, UNLV’s 2011 Ghanem Chair in Creative Writing, reads from her new and selected work. Free. UNLV’s Student Union Theatre

Nobody does it like us!

Eleanor Roosevelt and the Future of Human Rights April 28, 7:30 p.m. Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook of the City University of New York discusses the human rights work of Eleanor Roosevelt, and human rights work that remains to be done. Free. UNLV’s Barrick Museum Auditorium

FUNDRAISERS UNLVino April 1-2, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. “Take a Sip for Scholarship” at this 37th annual event that offers wine enthusiasts and winemakers a chance to enjoy wine in support of scholarship. $50-$100, various locations, www.

A Flair for Care Fashion Show

Tour de Cure April 9, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Annual bicycling fundraiser, benefiting the American Diabetes Association. Free. Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water Street in the Water Street District

Philharmonic Guild: It’s In The Bag At Bali Hai Golf Club May 1, 12 p.m. The Las Vegas Philharmonic Guild is hosting a spring luncheon and silent auction. $65, Cili Restaurant in the Bali Hai Golf Club, 5160 Las Vegas Blvd. South.

Schilling Horticulture approaches the design, installation and maintenance of landscape as a combination of art, science and craftsmanship. We create outdoor living space that fulfills YOUR desires, while simultaneously achieving sustainability and incredible beauty throughout the year. We do the best landscape work in Southern Nevada! “The thing is, desert landscapes can be incredibly beautiful AND low maintenance, when they’re done well. And you get to feel good about it!” — Norm Schilling, of KNPR’s Desert Bloom

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“beautiful sustainable landscapes” Design | Installation | Renovation | Consultation | Maintenance | Tree Care Hardscapes | Small Jobs | Irrigation | Lighting

(702) 452-5272

3433 Losee Road, Suite 4 North Las Vegas, NV 89030 d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 63

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April 8, 10:30 a.m. This charity event features a Neiman Marcus fashion show, as well as a drawing to win designer jewelry, handbags and trips. All funds raised will go toward supporting the Uncompensated Care Program at the Nathan Adelson Hospice. $250, Lafite Ballroom in the Wynn Las Vegas. Info: Stephanie Forbes at 938-3910 or


Twenty-one is a crowd


The key to saving Red Rock from ourselves: ourselves by branch whitney

From towering peaks and deep canyons to seasonal waterfalls and wild burros, Red Rock National Conservation Area is a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers have found some of the best rock scrambling hikes in the country here. Families enjoy picnics and easy hikes while admiring the spectacular scenery. Rock climbers come from all over the world to climb the 1,000-foot plus vertical walls. It sounds perfect — maybe too perfect. The Bureau of Land Management must limit the number of people hiking in a group at Red Rock. Setting a limit isn’t new to many BLM-managed lands. But why Red Rock, and why now? Because a certain hiking group occasionally brought more than 80 hikers on a single hike. Although I — and others — warned them this was a bad idea, the head of this group did not listen. To make matters worse, they encouraged drinking beer on certain hikes, which only drew attention to them. The BLM had to react. On February 23, the BLM had an open house to get public input on how many people should be able to hike together as a group before they need to apply for a special recreational permit. Applying for the permit is no walk in the park. While the BLM says it’s trying to streamline the process, it currently takes about 180 days for BLM officials to do the permit paperwork — and hikers can be hit with a recovery cost for the work. The BLM will give out only 10 of these permits a year. This will have serious consequences on groups hiking in Red Rock. Groups rejected for a special recreation permit will have to split into smaller groups. Groups must be at least 20 minutes apart from each other on the trail. It’s a poorly thought-out solution, and it might be impossible to accomplish. So what’s the magic number? Five? Ten? Forty? The magic number is 21. A group of 20 hikers or fewer shouldn’t need a permit to hike at Red Rock. Small group hikes in this range promote safety, raise environmental awareness and help protect Red Rock’s natural resources.

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It sounds counterintuitive, but group hikes are good for Red Rock.

First, safety: People shouldn’t hike alone. The rule is at least four people should hike together, although more is better. The chance that there’s a doctor, nurse, or someone with special skills in the group increases with its size. If one person is hurt, two hikers can go for help, while others stay with the injured person. Groups of this size also contribute to raising awareness. Experienced hikers can teach beginning hikers “leave no trace” principles and how to navigate trails and routes, many of which are poorly signed. This number would also allow most church groups, families, and the Boy and Girl Scouts to hike as a group in Red Rock. Finally, encouraging groups in this range is good for Red Rock — and the rest of us. For

example, 20 individual hikers will take up 20 parking spots at a trailhead. Anyone who visits Red Rock knows there’s a lack of parking at most trailheads. If those 20 hikers were together, they’d most likely carpool and only take up four or five parking spots. That’s less roadside parking and less air pollution. The BLM is supposed to announce the final number soon — but we, the public, can approve or reject that number. The BLM manages the land, but the land belongs to the public, and ultimately the BLM must answer to us. Branch Whitney is a 27-year resident of Las Vegas, author of several hiking guides and operator of the website

Photograph BY christopher smith

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Serving the community through the Health Center and the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities

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leading the way in addressing the state’s critical health care provider and education needs


Teaching Nevada’s future health care and education professionals For more information about supporting Touro University Nevada or if you are interested in a campus tour, please call: 702.777.4795 or visit our web site at

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Desert Companion - April 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada.

Desert Companion - April 2011  

Your guide to living in Southern Nevada.