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Scout

Scout: Pinball Hall of Fame

2011

Long before the days of Wii, Nintendo, Atari and Sega, children and adults alike amused themselves with a much simpler game, Pinball. From the 1930’s until the 1980’s, these glass-encased boxes could be found across America in restaurants, drugstores, and taverns. Naturally with the onslaught of technology, video and arcade games became the standard and thus began the decline of the Pinball Age.

Although arcades still exist, many of the vintage games of our youth seem to be fewer and far between. Enter: The Pinball Hall of Fame. Located off of East Tropicana in Las Vegas, this non-profit gallery and retro-gamers heaven is housed in a non-descript building with even less impressive signage. Whatever the outside lacks in appeal, the dark and slightly seedy interior makes up for with its enormous collection of over 200 vintage pinball machines and classic arcade games.

Nostalgia runs deep! Even non gamers can appreciate the sense of history, fantastic art and design, plus the appeal of old-school entertainment. For an hour and a fistful of quarters, it’s definitely worth checking out!

Pinball Hall of Fame
1610 E. Tropicana
Las Vegas, NV 89119

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Scout: Corn Creek, Nevada

A mere 25 minutes northwest of Las Vegas lies a surprisingly beautiful oasis in the middle of the desert. Corn Creek, was created in 1936 as a protective habitat for the Big Horn sheep population of Southern Nevada. Over time, it became one of the best places to view hundreds of migratory bird species. Surrounded by multiple mountain ranges and a vast wilderness, Corn Creek is one of the entry points into the Desert National Wildlife Reserve, the largest refuge (1.6 million acres) in the United States outside of Alaska. 

Recently renovated (to the dismay of some), Corn Creek and it’s Visitor Center offers plenty to see. Beyond bird watching, be sure to look for other desert wildlife like jackrabbits, lizards, coyotes, tortoise, snakes, and squirrels. There are also beautiful old trees, springs and ponds surrounded by reeds and grasses, an orchard, historic buildings and cabins, wildflowers, cactus, and endless desert vistas. 

The children and I visited this past fall on a day where I felt like getting outside but wasn’t up for a full-on expedition. If you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure that requires little effort and/or time, this is definitely worth a visit! Pack a picnic and spend a couple of hours strolling around this calming sanctuary.
 
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Directions:

From Las Vegas, take US 95 Northbound towards Mt. Charleston. Shortly after the turn off for Kyle Canyon road, look for Mile Marker 101. There will be a sign on the righthand side that says Corn Creek. Turn right/E, then follow the gravel road 4 miles until you come to the Corn Creek Field Station and Visitors Center. For more adventure, take a vehicle that is equipped for off-roading and continue on into the Desert NWR. Be warned! It’s extremely bumpy. I tried to drive further into the park but my car simply wouldn’t have it. 

Hiking:

There are 5 easy trails that loop around the Corn Creek area. All are stroller, wheelchair, child, and elderly-friendly. This is a nice place to bring a picnic, walk around, look for wildlife and it’s also great for photo opportunities. Don’t expect a good workout here! If you are looking for more of a backcountry adventure, head further into the Desert National Wildlife Reserve for hiking, camping, and hunting. 

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Scout: Bronze Cafe

Every year, without fail, I’m asked by a handful of visitors, “Where should we eat while we’re in Las Vegas?” And as if by the powers of association, my mind starts spinning like a slot machine with all of the possibilities. “Strip or Off-Strip? How much money do you want to spend? What type of food do you want to eat? Casual or Fancy?” ACKKKK!!!!! There are literally so many places to choose from my brain inevitably shuts down and I can’t think of anything at all. It’s embarrassing! I’m determined to change this, but it is truly hard, so we’ll start with baby steps. Actually, we’ll start with the most obscure place of all… The Bronze Cafe

I discovered this little gem via my bestie Jessica who happened to move to DTLV (downtown) earlier this year. She kept mentioning this as a favorite and I was like, “What?! Where? I’ve never heard of it.” That’s the problem you see. There are constantly new restaurants popping up all across town, all of the time. After about the 3rd mention, I looked it up and quickly discovered it was a favorite of many people (rated #2 on Yelp) and that it had been there for a year and a half. (SIGH) The next day, I high-tailed it downtown to see what the fuss was all about. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

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The food is delicious, healthful, and all made from scratch with a focus on vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. But if you’re an omnivore like me, don’t let that put you off. They also have bacon! The cafe serves coffee, juice, pastries/baked goods, soup, salad, sandwiches and sides.

It’s located in the The Center (our local Gay + Lesbian Community Center) and run by Chef Peter Bastien (of Osteria Mozza fame) and his business partner David Mozes. Many of the items have playful names like, “The What What” and “The LGBTQ.”  I’m absolutely in love with the “Complicated Order” sandwich (bacon jam, FTW!). I’m also addicted to their kale salads, specifically “The Bizness” and “David’s Special.” The sides they put on top are the best – curried quinoa, spiced chickpeas, beet salad, house-made seitan, roasted chicken. The vegan “Tree of Life” pita is another favorite with it’s pickled onions, cashew crema, and brazil nut crumble. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it! I’ve also tried a few of their baked goods and all have been fantastic. Plus they’ve got a special, cold-brew iced coffee made from a Japanese-style drip tower. 

(Excuse the lousy photos. I took these quickly before scarfing everything down.)
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Honestly, the only downfall for me is that it feels too much like a Starbucks at an airport or a library. I wish it was a stand alone restaurant because the food deserves better presentation than take away boxes and the atmosphere feels far too casual for the quality of the food. Luckily, there’s some outdoor seating or you can always take the food to go.

But truth be told, the people that work there are so incredibly friendly and the food is simply so delicious, I’d probably eat it any way they handed it to me. 

BRONZE CAFE
401 S Maryland Pkwy
Las Vegas, NV 89101
(702) 202-3100
 
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Scout: Bud + Vine

First up on SCOUT is Bud + Vine. Located in the recently renovated John E. Carson Hotel, this store offers a wonderful selection of apothecary items, plants, paper goods, as well as a full floral shop. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for a store like this! Without a doubt, they had me at the Soñadora wall hangings (which I’ve been lusting after for months), but I was equally thrilled to see products from Herbivore Botanicals, Culinarium Concrete and Kinfolk.

I realize many cities have handfuls of carefully curated boutiques like this, but Las Vegas does not. On my last visit, I spoke briefly with co-owner, Christina Cicatello, to congratulate her on such a lovely and much needed addition to the community. She told me they also offer after-hours floral design workshops and classes, which I’m hoping to attend soon.

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Bud + Vine
124 S. 6th Ave. Suite 170
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 527-5151

Introducing: Scout

180360_ScoutSay what you will about Las Vegas, but no one reinvents themselves more than this city. Not even Madonna! The latest and most exciting changes have been taking place Downtown, specifically East Fremont.

For years, I’ve used this part of my city as an urban location for photo shoots. It was a fantastic wasteland of gritty buildings that magically changed their façade every few months. However, over the past two years, thanks to Oscar Goodman, Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project, a major revitalization has been underway. Once boarded up buildings are now hip restaurants, shops and bars. The transformation is truly shocking.

I’ve been a little slow to check everything out (see: post-third child) and having to make up for lost time, but honestly, I think it’s hard for anyone to keep up with all of the changes in Las Vegas. That’s why I’m starting this new series called SCOUT. Here, I will post about my favorite places (old + new) in this ever-changing city. Stay tuned…

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