Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rain in Las Vegas

Back in late June, on their way back to Santa Clarita from Las Vegas, Mom and Dad encountered a flash flood in Baker, the first time they had ever seen one. Jagged staffs of lightning flashed all over, sometimes close enough to them, and while waiting it out in the parking lot of the Grewal Travel Center, which is situated right at the edge of Baker before you enter the Mojave Desert, the rain from the sudden storm creeped up the tires of the PT Cruiser, halfway up. Mom told us that she was frightened, and I had no reason to believe otherwise. I would not want to be in such a situation with so much open desert in front of me and all that water gushing through. There is always the chance that when it rains, flash floods could very well happen in Las Vegas, and they have over the decades, most recently on September 11, with a few million dollars of damage, and dramatic images, such as one taken in a Kmart parking lot, where a woman was nearly swept away by the floodwaters, had it not been for a man grabbing onto her, and her holding onto a tree there. Not a big tree, but strong enough to keep her steady.

Today, we went to the nearby Southern Nevada Health District office for Meridith to get her health card so that she can finally begin working soon in a school cafeteria, as she's wanted. The day before yesterday, I submitted my application to begin the process of becoming a campus security monitor on a middle school campus. In Santa Clarita, the position was called "campus supervisor," but here, it's "campus security monitor," which works for me. Gives me a stronger title.

After Meridith got the card, we drove around for a while, into desert that we had no idea was filling up with houses, new developments, new ideas, really. There's a technical high school that offers many different disciplines, including culinary, and even has a cafe open, which looks like it's for students to test out their skills and have people come in to try out those skills. Then we got further and further out, looking at a direct view of the Strip that was nearly overwhelming to me. I've seen the Strip from so many locations, so many angles, and have even gone past the back end of it, which is how residents get around if they're in the area. But that view, like tall soldiers standing even taller in the desert, it gave me a great sense of civic pride. And yet, I couldn't bask in that entirely because approaching the Strip, and what we saw further out, were storm clouds. We could see it raining in the higher altitudes, and that's the first thing I noticed: You can see rain a lot more clearly in the desert. You know when it's coming, and you know what you have to do. You can't be sure of the exact time it's coming, but it's coming.

I fully understand now why Mom hated being caught in Baker like that. As I was walking Tigger and Kitty in our semi-gated rock-and-pebble-laden backyard (it's only gated on one side, and we want to get a gate for the other side so Kitty can finally sit in the sunshine if she wants), I saw in the distance, over a section of our wooden fence, lightning flashing near the Luxor. I don't think I've ever seen lightning like that before in my life, not even in Florida. The worst that happened to me when I was little was fireworks going off at EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World when we were getting our annual passes renewed, and Mom was holding my left hand, so with my right, I used my stuffed bunny blanket (the small blanket had a bunny head on top of it) to try to block out the noise by holding it against my right ear, and pressing my left ear against Mom. I hated that.

At this very moment, as I type this, thunder just rumbled and the rain is coming down harder than it did last night. Lightning just flashed and the thunder responded yet again. And then the sky opened up to rain that I never heard even in Southern California. Oh, it was hard enough, but it was never steady like this. A steady, hard rain. And of course, now it's settling down a bit only to likely roar back again either a little later or later today. With the storm clouds darkening early yesterday evening, we went back home after looking at those developments further out in the desert, and even reaching Nellis Air Force Base pretty quickly in North Las Vegas, because we didn't want to take any risks. We didn't want to be caught in any storm, especially not with the PT Cruiser, which has gone through enough as it is. Plus, this being our first Vegas storm, it was best to wait it out if it was going to happen that night, except it has happened now, and probably in the morning, which is predicted to have a 70% chance of showers and thunderstorms. I hope Dad drives more carefully in the morning than he usually does when we're out with him. It's not worth taking any chances. I hope the weather doesn't turn into flash floods like it was before we got here (we arrived a mere three days after those flash floods), but you've got to be cautious here no matter what.

I wouldn't mind rain if it didn't come with the thunder and lightning. But that lightning is unnerving. This is the first time I've seen such angry lightning. Las Vegas does things big here in the desert, including the lightning, which I know is no creation of the Strip, but it fits in with what's constantly available here.

Now it's quiet again, like the rain and thunder and lightning never happened. However, I have noticed that rain does last longer here, particularly because the desert does not know what to do with rain, hence those recent flash floods. The ground, the dirt, the sand, the rocks, the pebbles, all of it has been baked so hot by the sun this past summer and in other summers as well that it has become so tight, so as not to take in any water at all. It just sits on the surface. Little pockets of the desert can take it, like how, when we water the tree in our backyard, that water disappears quickly, but not overall. I can go to my room right now, turn the blinds, and look out at rain on the street (by the way, my room is right next to one of the speed bumps in the neighborhood, but the cars driving by in the early morning don't wake me), and see it slick, with a slight river of water snaking its way to the rocks and pebbles under my window. I don't think it'll be gone by morning, what with more rain expected, but being that this will be over by Friday morning, it should be gone by that afternoon, sucked up by those parts of the desert that know what to do with it. Maybe a little more greenery because of it.

Two weeks ago, we were talking about where else we could have moved to. Mom said that she had thought about Seattle, amidst many other possible cities, but all of that rain, nine months out of the year. We easily handled afternoon rain in Florida, but I don't think we could have endured all of that. I considered it too, before even knowing that Mom had thought about it, and it seems like a nice city, but after seeing this storm, hearing that rain coming down, battering our mobile home, I can't deal with that nine months out of the year. I'm not sure I would even be able to get used to it, because I also need sunshine. I was born in Florida, after all. It's what I'm used to. I like rain once in a while, but I prefer my desert dry. This was a little bit harrowing, and I hope that's what the weatherman on channel 13 meant by there being rain this morning, because this is technically the morning. But if there must be more, I hope it's less forceful than this.


  1. I loved living in Seattle, but housing prices skyrocketed after we moved. The house we bought for about 100k now sells for 350 - 400. Kinda makes me sick since we sold for about 105. Congratulations to Meridith on getting her health card, and I hope the two of you get jobs you love.


    1. As the weeks go on, I feel more and more comfortable in Las Vegas, able to call these streets my own, and ready for whatever comes each day, in books, in scenery, in favorite stores, favorite restaurants, in career, in whatever. It's been too long since I've felt like this and it's most welcome.

      We're just waiting for our applications to be pushed through the necessary channels and see where it goes from there. There are great possibilities ahead and that's all I can ask for, in contributing to my city the best way I know how, which is this. Later on, after I get settled in this job, and can be confident that I'll go years and years in it, I want to really study all of Las Vegas and eventually write for the publications geared toward tourists. Short magazines, sometimes just booklets, but there's still writing in them that I know I can do with enough study of what's going on on the Strip, with passion that will never waver.