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Three Square and Helping Hands

September 15, 2013

Nevada – Thursday, September 5

Since I was out walking really late last night, I was a bit slow to get going this morning. My plan was to stay in the Las Vegas area today, but away from all the hotels and casinos. I had 2 donations I wanted to do, and that would require a bit of driving since they were both on the far north end of town. My first donation was going to go to a food bank called Three Square, and their motto is “working together, we serve hope.” I had called to find out if there was anything in particular that they needed, and the lady said they could really use diapers, wipes and paper products like paper towels, toilet paper or kleenex. So I found a Walmart and shopped in the baby department for diapers and wipes, and also got the toilet paper and paper towels. Then it was a bit of a slow drive all across town to find the food bank. It was a huge colorful place – their statistics show that 1 in 6 families needs assistance, and over 50% of the school kids are eligible for assistance. I carried my stuff in and put it in the big donation box inside the door.

Then I made another drive to the Helping Hands of Vegas Valley on the west side of town. They’re an organization which helps the seniors in the area with food and transportation to various appointments. Many seniors move to the area for the warm, dry weather, but they often lose some of the support systems they had back home. So Helping Hands steps in to help. I met Cory when I arrived, and she told me they make 600-700 transportation runs a month for the seniors. They also have a food pantry, and that helps about 350 seniors a month. The other service they provide is vouchers for “respite care” – if a senior lives with a caregiver, and that caregiver needs a break, whether it’s for a vacation or other reason, Helping Hands will provide a certain amount of money for the senior to to go to a day care facility while the caregiver is away.

The day was slipping away, and so far we had only done a mile of walking. It was really hot out – 110 degrees – so I looked for a park to get Tula out in. I found one on the east side of town, and we walked all around the park and ball fields, and covered another mile. Then, since I was kind of in the area, I headed for the Wetlands Nature Preserve out in the desert southeast of Vegas. I was a little confused why there was a wetlands in the desert, and it still just looked like desert to me. Maybe something happens in the springtime or something. The sun wasn’t quite so hot, so Tula and I set off for a short walk on one of the trails in the preserve. We covered about a mile and I thought that was enough for her – the air was still really warm. I left her in the van with the AC on, and set off for a very surreal 3 1/2 mile walk in the desert. To begin with there was a rainstorm toward the east, and I could see the clouds and the rainfall. And then the sun was sinking down in the west, so that began to cast long shadows and make everything look sort of red. The end of a rainbow appeared on my right, and a warm wind was blowing. The trail led up and down the rolling ground, and aside from a few bicyclists, I was the only person around. It was really windy out, and it was a very warm wind, but it actually felt good and made me feel like I was part of the rocks and desert. As the sun sank down further, the shadows got longer, and with the hills on the trail, sometimes my own shadow appeared to be disconnected from me. And then the end of a rainbow appeared on my left. When I turned around, I could see the hotels of Vegas off in the distance in a small little clump, and it looked like a child’s playset. The setting rays of the sun beamed down on it, and it made me think of the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz – and with the rainbows I thought of the song Somewhere Over the Rainbow from the Wizard of Oz, and it almost began to make me wonder what was real and what wasn’t – I felt like the twilight lights and shadows and warm winds of the desert were all playing tricks on me, and I just wanted to keep on walking and walking – it was fascinating. But I eventually turned around and headed back – and the sprawling lights of the cities next to the desert started blinking on.

My day wasn’t quite done yet – I still had a mile and a half to walk. I headed back into Vegas where I had noticed an older hotel/casino just down the road from my motel that advertised 7.99 t-bone steak dinners. So I stopped in to have a meal, and I almost got lost finding the restaurant – they make you walk all through the casino and upstairs to get there! But it was a good deal, and then I headed down to the Fremont Street area to look at all the lights in “old” Las Vegas. I waited around for the light show that happens every 45 minutes or so, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. I thought it was going be some sort of light show involving little moving Christmas tree-like lights (don’t know why I thought that!) but it was more like a psychedelic movie up on the ceiling – mostly moving blobs of color. The people watching was good though – lots of impersonators hoping to get tips by being in photos. Tula and I finished our walking for the day, and then I was ready to head back – another late night. I passed the pawn shop that’s featured on the TV show Pawn Stars (which I actually like) so I stopped by to take a better look. Even though it’s open 24 hours, I couldn’t see anyone inside except someone sitting by the entrance, and I didn’t feel comfortable going in to look around. There were 2 sets of doors to get into the shop, and I looked through one of them, and saw the long counters that appear in the show. It almost looked like that area was separate from the rest of the shop, and maybe that is the case since they could do the TV filming in there.

And finally we were back – late and tired again!

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