To and From Las Vegas, Nevada
August 2016
Neil and Marsha Robin

Revised: February 14, 2017

Forensics Class, UNLV

We've probably made at least 10 trips to Las Vegas (LV) over the past 20 years.  Sometimes by air and more recently by auto.  Follows a consolidation into one summary.  It begins with the most recent trip with Road Scholar involving a forensics class at University Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).  Subjects over five days included discussions on modern police forensics and their use of modern tools such as Canines. Many crimes are now being solved by DNA analysis but its amazing what things like blood "splatter" can tell a detective. Several case histories by retired detectives were studied showing the gross details and how they were presented in court. Only cases can be discussed when theirs no chance of further challenge.   An entire morning was devoted to dental forensics taught by the UNLV dental school.

We were treated to a visit of the prison at Henderson, NV.  Its a dry city with no gambling..... Interesting for a Nevada community.  Its also the site of a massive explosion of Ammonium Perchlorate some years ago called the Pepcon Disaster.

We were housed in Harrah's Club on the Las Vegas strip which is right in the middle of the action.  We thought that would be an ideal location but you really can't walk to everything because hotels and Casinos are so big which makes them spread out.  Yes, you can take a trolley or taxi but at the end of the day, we just wanted to rest in our old age.  I found a "White Castles" next door and was happy.  We ate at Ruth Criss steakhouse one night and the bill was $135 with no liqueur.  It was good but not at that price.  Things are no longer cheap in LV.  People get good deals when they gamble by being offered "comps".  Needless to say we didn't gamble.  For breakfast, we ate at Harrah's buffet which had outstanding food and a wide selection for $28/person.  Our class covered it for us.  Overall, it was fun to see people come and go from all parts of the world.  The international flights check in and check out at certain dates and they informed us when things would be busy and not so busy so we could plan our activities around these periods.  Even with all the gambling outlets, Las Vegas still is as popular as ever.

Illegal immigration is still a big problem in the area.  About 1/3rd of the population of Henderson prison are illegals.

Las Vegas Police Department (LVPD) leading canine demo Canine demo, LVPD Malinois prefered if German Shepard's are not available

Showing attack of man in padded suit
Drug "sniffer" in action
Class Attendees

A side trip to the "medium stay" prison in Henderson, NV. was the highlight of our experience the last day.  This facility is used to hold prisoners for up to one year or when court proceedings are still under way.  We went inside and walked near the prisoners in all sections except the central bay in which they are not shackled and free to roam.  We were escorted through "booking", dinning room, kitchen, laundry and exercise areas.  Many reduce their time by working in these facilities to gain better treatment and benefits.  All processes were demonstrated along with how guards handle various events.  Many new residents come in drunk or under the influence of drugs and are "spaced out".  It was shown how they're handled including padded cells.  No riots have occurred at this prison but its common to have inmate vs inmate fights.

The women share the same facility but housed in separate living areas.  We had one being booked while there; she was very belligerent and drunk.

Sorry, no photos and cellphones were allowed while in the facility.

Dinner meeting, declared a crime scene

Solar power experiment, south of Las Vegas

Around Las Vegas

Within a days drive are many sight seeing opportunities.  The State park called the "Valley of Fire" is interesting as its made up of soft sandstone thats carved mostly by the wind.  Also a visit to Hoover Dam is nearby.  An important hydroelectric facility that is a very important power source for the SW United States.  If it were ever breached by a nuclear weapon, it could cause a serious crash to the US economy and lost of many lives in the Southern part of the U.S. not from the weapon but from anarchy that would result. Fortunately, it would not be easy to take it out, but an earthquake could!

Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire Valley of Fire

Sphinx, Valley of Fire Hoover dam
Inside power house

Terrain as it changes from desert to rock formations.  Many color changes.

Death Valley (DV)

Death Valley is always a fascinating place and has a prominent spot in our early western history.  Its well named by the early pioneers as a forbidding place which lives up to its name.  On many of the trips to Las Vegas we have passed through DV on our way home if its not summer time.  134 degrees has been reported at Furnace Creek one summer and because it sits as a valley between two high mountain ranges, its particularly stressful for automobiles as well.  Many vehicles would overheat on the long climb out and would get stranded.  Today, cars are made with better cooling systems so its not as frequent a problem any longer.

Rhyolite is an old ghost town once prominent in the early 20th century for gold discovery.  Bad Water, which is the lowest place in the western hemisphere is interesting because a few rare small fish live in the saline water.  They're not found anywhere else in the world.  No other fish could live in that water and its amazing how evolution has allowed for changes that allow them to stay alive.

The raw materials for Borax soap comes from Death Valley.  Some of you may remember the 20 mule team featured on the box of Borax.  It turns out the valley is rich in many minerals which are used in industry and contribute to the vivid colors in the landscape.  Many mines and old shafts are found in the mountains.

Old Rhyolite General Store, Eastern Death Valley
Old Rhyolite Bank

Lowest Point in Western Hemisphere Badwater

Neil at Badwater, Death Valley
Eastern basin, Death Valley
Artists Palette

P/O of old Borax run, Furnace Creek
Old mule train, Furnace Creek, Death Valley
Famous Opera House, SE of Death Valley