Up ahead I see a man lounging on the pavement in shorts — no shoes, no socks, no shirt. Leaning up against a utility box, he is a white man tanned browner than a band aid. His feet nearly reach the curb, so I step off my bike and wheel it gingerly past him. We exchange good mornings, and I hop back on and head toward Tropicana Avenue to hang a left.
It’s warm out for my first trip to Charlie Frias Park in Las Vegas. Riding on sidewalks is legal here, so I take advantage of it sometimes when the streets have no bicycle lanes.
Fun in the sun
It’s around 9:30 a.m. on this Sunday when I arrive at Charlie Frias Park, and the place is hopping. Hundreds of people swarm the athletic fields in colorful shirts. Shade canopies line the peripheries in yellows, blues, reds and whites, and the adults are relaxing in camping chairs while children scurry across the grass shouting and playing. A DJ is spinning rap songs.
I lean my bike against a fence, remove my helmet, eat a breakfast bar and sip some water. I admire the flowers blooming in the plots near the trees — bubble gum pinks and lemony yellows. The birds chirp and the sky is blue as pool water.
The park is one of the most unique I’ve seen in the Vegas area. Totaling 32 acres, it looks as if it was blasted out from rock near the Tropicana-Decatur Boulevard intersection. It offers pleasing views of the surrounding Spring Mountains and Red Rock Canyon, as well as Sunrise Mountain. The park has a canyon sort of feel. Clark County’s website states:
“The area’s natural bluffs and rolling hills have been incorporated into the design …”
The sun is getting hot and I still need to run a few errands, so I exit the park, feeling sad to leave. Soon I pass a mobile park and see a cardboard box propped up on a mangled fence, announcing a garage sale. I hear the celebratory sound of salsa music in the distance. It communicates resilience and joy and makes me long for my hometown, the Bronx.
— All pics by yours truly