I guess I can be honest about it, I like the outskirts of Las Vegas better than the town itself. That doesn't mean that I don't get a kick out of the glitz, the over-the-top everything, the fine food and the great shows, but I'm a lousy gambler and casino smoke does me no good. So I look at Las Vegas more as a base camp than as a destination. I can stay in or around town and then blast off to lakes, canyons, rivers and snow-covered peaks on easy day trips. And speaking of snow, winter is a good time of year to visit southern Nevada. The summer heat is gone and nearby Mt. Charleston, almost 12,000 feet high, is frequently draped in ski-worthy snow. If you do show up in the summer, and want to shake the heat, the mountain is a natural air conditioner. Just drive uphill. Another longer but manageable day-trip from Las Vegas will take you north to Death Valley. We'll post our videos and notes on Death Valley in the months ahead. It's one of the most extraordinary of America's western parks. Again, the winter is a good time to visit the lowest and hottest spot in North America and to see snow-capped peaks surging 12,000 feet straight above you. Death Valley is much more diverse than most of us know, and if you follow nature’s cues, much less ominous than its name implies.