pet lodging

Need lodging for your pets while you visit a National Park. Then this is the place for you _ Royal Hopper

The Road to Zion

by Royal Hopper

Nothing will make you realize how normal the weird city you live in is like going someplace that is logically the complete opposite. That is supposed to be quiet and sane and have lots of free parking. (Please see the poem beneath)
I mean what could be more opposite Las Vegas than a Canyon of pristine beauty known for its awe inspiring vistas and and endless endless wild perfection and named Zion. IMG_0734.JPG
We left the City of Sin _ our city driving past a couple of hookers, two sign holders asking for money a stray cat stealing food, a traffic jam and signs advertising 2 for 1 drinks, food and gambling and $35 rooms for the asking and drove out into the desert. Well actually we stopped at Mesquite Nevada and stayed there for a day. My wife won $400 playing video keno and I had the best fried chicken I have eaten since leaving the south. We love this City but needed a break we needed a break…
My family has been going to Zion National Park for the better part of 20 years.. At one time the call of the natural beauty was so powerful we thought of moving to the area just to be near it but couldn’t swing a decent enough job to do it. people on waterfall trail.JPG
Our hopes rose as we approached the green and brown mosaic of mountains that surrounds the confines of Zion National Park . This was one of our favorite places and we felt sure it would be an uplifting experience as it always had been.
Then the reality of traffic jams and paid parking hit us like a ton of city dwelling bricks. Outside our favorite location of natural beauty it was crowded with cars and people. The small town we drove through to get through to it was dotted with themed restaurants and trendy shops….There were authority figures everywhere you turned and people were annoyed..Still it was beautiful and it was worth it…. Time, tourism and the lure of money had done what it always does stolen some of the innocence and freedom of our favorite things. IMG_0637.JPG
Then there were no parking spaces and we ended up paying 20 Bucks to park our dowdy square and gray but perky and capable SUV… We could no longer drive to the scenic overviews we had to park. There lines for food for overpriced souvenirs and you paid $80 for three t shirts and it was crowded with tourists from all over the world.
Zion National Park is nothing like Las Vegas except for the millions of tourist and paid parking and traffic jams and rules designed the make you buy their stuff ….and the people angry because they couldn’t find a parking spot …..people at waterfall 2.jpg
Is Zion National Park like the City of Sin now.. No of course not don’t be silly. It is still beautiful but it has lost some of its innocence…..

Over the Interstate and thru the desert to Zion we go

By Royal Hopper

We get in the car to go to the woods and see our favorite place
The mountains, the deer , fresh air and space and space and space
On the way we see a spolied dove standing on the road side
Two scruffs fighting for the best place to beg and the best way to hide
A man with a sign dressed a woman, a woman with a smile dressed like a Bunny
The sign said family attacked by ninjas please give me some money
No place to park everyone is pissed, drinking and drank and guzzling and drunk
People happy when they shouldnt be and some rich, poor amd other in a deep deep funk
We say goodbye to our city and as we drove out we spied a sign that said 2 for 1
then saw some grafitti that said call this number for fun and fun and fun
The city is exiting and loud but will drive you mad and sometimes you have to get away
you have to get away for a week, a week end ,,to drive away for at least a day
We finally get there to our favorite isolated spot in nature as our butts are starting to bark
and to our surprise the little town that bordered our spot was crowded with no place to park
Inside the gate the there was no place to stop where we had previously stayed
not only was parking sparse some of it was paid
After wearing ourselves out for a walk around the falls we headed home to our city
nearing to edge of the borders again we saw another sign that said please take pity
We saw another girl standing on the corner like she was for rent an
man lying on the road who looked totally spent
No place to park and and everyone angry driving like hacks
Its the City of Sin and now we are back
Its not a fairy tale or a burp in the wind
Its a day in the wilderness and life in the City of Sin
Love you Sinners

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Downtown Las Vegas – Royal Hopper 

Regret is like a cat crossing the street

by Royal Hopper


You see a fat fluffy house cat standing by the side of a road. Three times it sniffs the air sticks a foot onto the dirty asphalt and three times just a quickly withdraws it. He trots a few feet onto the road then turns around and goes back to the safety of his sidewalk. A few minutes later he trots halfway onto the dirty wind blown desert road before mewling loudly in surprise and turning around to run back where he came from narrowly missed by a commuter in an early model Detroit built beast _ its driver undoubtedly late for work. You can sometimes discover very important things from the simplest observations.


A corner confrontation _ Royal Hopper

Finally its strides nearly all the way across the street nearly touching the other side before a sudden noise frightens it into running back across the street to the spot he began his adventure in crossing the road. The cat frustrated by his own regrets and caution turns around and leaves the pile of discarded nachos that were like the object of his adventure lying on the opposite sidewalk to be feasted on by the gathering flock of starlings and crows.


You can also see the opposite occur. I remember seeing a group of young men walking down the street asking people if they had seen their wallets. I had the windows down that day and it was just luck that I overheard this conversation. Apparently they had all been rufied and robbed and only remembered because they had been told. Later that same week I happened to see the same men dressed in the same clothes coming out of the same bar with the same rejected look. I remember a man with a no regrets attitude and tattoo lying unconscious waiting for paramedics to revive him. He was a bull of a man whose demeanor implied he lived his life without regrets. I don’t know if he made it.

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It is a duck at the Casablanca in Mesquite. I like ducks sue me _ Photo by Royal Hopper

The same cat or person who will allow themselves to be overwhelmed by regret will also sometimes run across the road a dozen times for want of patience or nearby crosswalk dodging cars and the grim reaper by a few feet as they make there way across the intersection.

Now and then you will hear on the news about one being hit by a car or a bus and wonder if they had had some regrets about nearly being killed to save five minutes on an afternoon walk ..maybe they would have walked to the cross walk and crossed with the light. Maybe those young men would have tried a different bar or different clothes or both or maybe the man waiting for his life to be saved by others would have laid off the narcs.IMG_0609.JPG

A life without regret is a sad Fn thing… It means you are either too clueless to understand you made a mistake and lean from it or never had the heart to try something risky something you were not sure of…

The trick is not to purge your regrets or simply not to have any but to learn from them. As long as you grow as a person and don’t struggle be the same idiot that caused those regrets in the first place out of habit or fear. _ and to not let them hold you back when you are in sight of the prize on the other side of the road.

I am a cautious person by nature ..sometimes to my own detriment or to the point of annoying people but there are times I can proudly say I have leaped into uncertainty because it was necessary to change my life ……I have regrets to be sure but I also have stories tell and lessons that have been learned.IMG_0683.JPG

That is what life in the City of Sin teaches you..take stock of your regrets don’t ignore them them _ acknowledge them learn from them and move on.
Love You Sinner


Just There until they are not

by Royal Hopper

There is a guy who stands alone on the side of an isolated Vegas road where factory workers driving pick ups with shotguns racks in the cab enter their work place and asks for money.
The man stands unmoving at times as those who know him pass by without missing a beat. He has become almost part of the landscape _ some thing people expect to see.
The man wears a beard that looks almost fake it is so caked with sweat, dust, and oil. A pair of straight cut jeans hangs on his skinny legs almost painfully as if the pants themselves would jump off and run away if they could. kuma.JPG
A straight cut brown jacket that reaches past his waist and looks like it came right out of a JC Pennies catalog in 1975 . He looks out of time like he has literally been standing there for 40 plus years and somehow forgot to leave his isolated little street corner.
Another man one with some money sits quietly in a corner lost in some memory until you talk to him. It turns out he has come to the City of Sin for more than 40-years. Everyone he know is gone so he just does his thing has lunch, plays his slots and mostly sits in a spot where no one notice shim and watches a world he no longer understands.
Another time I caught a woman a stranger staring at me. I asked her politle with my bet customer service smile if I could help her. She said politely no. Go ahead and do what you were doing and then she proceded to tell me everything I had done at work for six hours. I instantly felt like a dweeb because I hadnt noticed her watching me not even once..She was not loud or dangerous or needy enough I guess.IMG_0495.JPG
That is the thing in this city in most cities of any size. The whole city is large and bright _impossible to ignore. The images jump out of background and into your eye sight unbidden and unequaled. Huge neon signs 40 feet tall, video dancing girls doing burlesque on Main Street at lunch time from three blocks away and fake volcanoes blowing their tops for all to see. Out front there are pretend Elvi, Power Rangers, superheroes and fake pop stars dressed in bright yellows, reds and golds and silvers.
Then there are the people who are there but not there like Mr. Beard. They become part of the landscape until they ask you for money or you just in a giving mood give them some. They like the rocks and the neon and the hot dry dead desert air are just there _ until they aren’t any more…..IMG_0361.JPG
When I worked at the poor doomed Riviera there was this homeless guy who looked like he had just walked out of some science fiction death camp on the moon. He looked like a freaking zombie _ man for real. He was there every day in the background having learned to avoid the security guards like me . You barely noticed him unless he was causing trouble which was seldom because he was just to weak and sickly. The one day he wasn’t there. I still wonder what happened to the dude…..desert flower.JPG
Did he get help? Was it finally his time one day? After abusing his body for so many years did it finally give up or did he just fade away like most parts of the landscape whose time had come much like the poor old Riv herself….
Its not fairly tale or a disaster movie..Its life in he City of Sin….

Love you Sinners


Logic For Sale ..This sign always cracks me up _ Royal Hopper


Our backyard – Royal Hopper


Another cool desert Flower _ Royal Hopper


A Drive in the desert – Royal Hopper


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The Triple Threat

by Royal Hopper
I was driving to work one fine southern Nevada day when something potentially tragic caught my eye. An older white haired man in a wheelchair with a puppy in his lap sat in the median in the middle of a well traveled intersection in suburban Sin City by way appearing unable to move.

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This skateboarder examines Logic for Sale – Photo by Royal Hopper

My jaded 50 something mind temporarily suspended the innate cynicism bred by 17 years off and on in this city and panicked enough to turn off the radio in case I had to fish my cell phone out of my pocket and call for help.
“Somebody help him,” was my first thought maybe he passed out or is sick and cant make it across the median. “Oh good,” was the second thought as a pedestrian walked up behind him stopping right beside him.

scooter on the sidewalk

Scooter on the sidewalk _ Royal Hopper

“What the…” was my third thought as the wheelchair bound man turned his head up toward the pedestrian and posed a question. The other man patted his pocket as if the say he was broke too and when the pedestrian cross walk sign changed he walked on while the white haired wheelchair bound man with the puppy in his lap stayed put and slowly raised a sign to his chest and pointed it. sign holder 4.JPG
As the light changed and I was forced to continue my journey to my mortgage payment, I mean work. The fourth thought that entered my head was …”oh that is what a triple threat looks like.”

It terms of Sin City sign holders a triple threat is someone who exhibits all the Sympathy Signs….all those things designed things to illicit sympathy from potential donors.
A good sign is the most basic sympathy sign. From the serious type ” Hungry anything helps, to the humorous version like “ninjas kidnapped my family and I need money for karate lessons to get them back” the hand held sign is the first.

Second in this case is the prop. Puppies are great props. Anybody who doesn’t like dogs is a mutant and certainly on my “to avoid list”. Because people consider dogs to be sympathetic, cute and incapable of making choices they are perfect props for sign holders trying to get donations.

Even if you don’t like the sign holders you have to love dogs… (Of course you could do what my Dad who was in his late 70’s at the time and but two hot dogs and give to the dog and eat the other in front of the sign holder)

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The third is the person themselves…. Old people with white hair are vulnerable, women are generally more appealing victims than men and white haired old men in a wheelchair with a puppy in their lap holding a clever well written sign is what is called triple threat.
Kids dont generally work as a prop because people tend to call child services when they see a child standing with their parent in the middle of the road.
Panhandling is a Vegas tradition almost as old as burying people in the desert and tipping the cocktail waitress who brings you your drinks, spending your kids college fund and getting rolled by girl named Bambi….seriously.

The entire purpose of the City is to entertain you and get you to fork over your money for things you dont need and that seldom benefit you except that you feel tough for having played in Vegas.
Maybe you feel that way when you give to the triple threat sign holders and all their panhandling kin. Maybe you give to the signholders often maybe you never give to them. Thats something you will have to debate in your own conscious.

It is important to understand that whatever you decide… ..whether you give in and give to the people who are asking. Nothing will really change. The next day there will still be people holding signs asking for money. There will still be people spiking drinks and picking pockets. there will still be slot machines and craps tables and girls named Bambi. It is the way of things and it aint going to change soon.
It is life in the City of Sin
Love You Sinners

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A Walk Through the Valley of Fire

by Royal Hopper


People say that living in this City warps your sensibilities. Even the great outdoors start looking like the inside of a Vegas casino. That’s not really true is it….?
I took a weekend off from the Sin City shuffle. I took the family including my mother and my brother who came into the town for the weekend from Texas to the Valley of Fire an hour’s drive from the City of Sin the other side of Lake Meade in State Park that was once haven for Geronimo and other not so heroic outlaws. Ram on topof ridge.JPG
Not unlike the City itself now that I think about. Vegas was founded by gangsters, cowboys and tourists of all kinds. The City of Sin is visited by millions of tourists visiting the city from all over the world.
Of course the tour group of French speaking tourist hiking through the Valley of Fire that day were from a long way away as were the Japanese hiking group that was behind them and the German speaking group and the Australian group and so on.
Vegas is full of all sorts of unsavory characters who will steal your stuff. The Valley of fire is full of rattlesnakes, coyotes, thieving little birds who steal the last piece of your protein bar from the table in front of you. lizard up close.JPG
There are all sorts of weird people in Las Vegas who pose for pictures dressed as all kinds of creatures, big bird power rangers and the sort. Of course there were those Big Horn sheep on top of that Rock who posed for pictures from the tourists below speaking six different languages and snapping pics of the Ram was he seriously seemed to be posing for the cameras. I was surprised someone didn’t break out a tape deck and play Modonna’s Vogue for the camera loving hooved Prima Donna.
In Vegas, the City of Sin, you see miles of intriguing neon signs and exotic ads for exotic places. You see intricate graffiti some of it almost like writing or art. In the Valley of Fire there are 3,000 year old Petroglyphs scraped into the Fiery red rock by Native Americans who were likely still recovering form the last Ice Age. Some of the Petroglyphs found in the Nevada desert are estimated to be more than 14,000 years old. Mostly they are images of animals and people ie prehistoric graffiti and pop art. petroglyphs family 2.JPG
There were rumors Geronimo hid away in the Nevada desert before scurrying off to Mexico in the Old West. More conventional outlaws also are reputed to have hidden out in the bleak landscape of the southern Nevada desert when o the run from old west posses.
So we have drama queens, bad guys, famous signs and a colorful history of hosting mysterious bad guys and hordes of foreign tourists in the City of Sin.deear petroglyphs 2.jpg
We have drama queen animals, hordes of foreign tourists, famous signs and a history of supporting famous bad guys in the valley of Fire and the surrounding Las Vegas desert.
There are days you just have top get away from the City of out to the country.
That’s life in the City of Sin and in the Valley of Fire ……

Love you Sinners