Hello fellow walkers! Walking is about the ONLY exercise I have engaged in since California’s Stay-At-Home order on Friday, March 20. Believe me, I am happy and grateful to walk outside in my neighborhood, and my dogs never complain, but why does it feel like it’s been longer than 9 days?
Thankfully, we can ride our bikes on the nearby bike trail, which I did last Sunday. Lots of people were enjoying the glorious sunny day, walking, bicycling or running. It is easy to maintain 6 feet of social distancing here.
As part of our three-week road trip in December and early January, we spent the last leg of the trip in Las Vegas. My brother lives there now so we spent time with him and his partner. They had not yet visited the Valley of Fire State Park, and we were happy to re-visit and show them the sights.
Our first stop was to the Visitor’s Center at the west entrance to the park (only $10 per car) to grab a brochure and map of the area. It can take up to two days to see everything. Just driving through all the red rocks is quite stunning.
The first area to visit, because it gets busy, is the White Domes area that is also home to the slot canyon.
I played around with some photo-editing of the image of me walking into the entrance of the slot canyon, camera at-the-ready.
I feel like this image really defines me! Thanks, Ingrid, for the inspiration!
Once inside, the light is incredible.
After much “oohing and aahing” from my brother and his partner, we stopped for a picnic lunch then drove on to other areas of the park. The park covers over 40,000 acres, so driving is a must, but you can park and hike to suggested points-of-interest. In the shot below, my brother is blazing a trail with me on his heels to the area where the petroglyphs can be seen up close.
Yes, the sand is also this red!
One more point of interest after spending nearly 8 hours in the Valley of Fire, was to stop and gawk at the Elephant Rock, at the east entrance of the park.
If you didn’t get your 10,000 steps with me on this outing to the Valley of Fire, you can click here to take a cold walk with me on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
If you can get outdoors to walk, I encourage you to do so! Intermittent rainy weather kept me indoors this week and I found a good yoga practice on Youtube. I also own some fitness bands and do a series of calisthenics with those. Any kind of exercise is good for our bodies and spirits now!
Welcome back to Sunday Stills! Thank you for following along with Carol and Hugh while I was on my (sort-of) break!
Let’s kick off February with this week’s theme: fire!
Full of inspiration with stories to tell during January, you may have already read about my winter road trip to Northern Arizona and Nevada.
As you may know, my original plans drastically changed due to snow in unexpected places. We expected cold conditions in the desert, but certainly not snow.
Las Vegas, Nevada turned out to be a great alternative to the originally planned sights. The Silver State has a lot to offer, including Nevada’s State Park, Valley of Fire.
My original plan was to hike through and photograph Antelope Canyon, near Lake Powell at the Arizona/Utah border within the Navajo Reservation. There are several slot canyons in the area and are a photographer’s dream. Here are two photos from Unsplash (these ARE NOT mine).
Incredible, right? You can see why I was in tears when we decided to cancel this leg of the trip!
The Valley of Fire has a slot canyon located in the White Domes area. I posted some images previously but wanted to save my favorite images of what I consider to be the state park’s iconic image!
How do these compare to the Antelope Valley images? Somewhat similar I would say. But you know what? Even if you disagree, it sparked joy within me!
After we hiked this area, we stopped on the route to explore and take more photos.
Later, we drove back through another area where the rocks looked like they were on fire!
My husband thought this formation looked like Gandalf the Wizard from Lord of the Rings.
This stretch along the road was awe-inspiring! The colors were vivid and bathed visitors in an orange glow.
“What matters most is how well you walk through fire.” Charles Bukowski
I was so fortunate to discover this hidden gem located within a 90-minute drive from Las Vegas.
Some new folks joined Sunday Stills in January so please welcome them to our growing group and perhaps visit their blogs to see what they are up to!
This is the final installment of our Winter Road Trip to Arizona and Nevada. To read how it began, click Part One and Part Two .
Once I cancelled the rest of our reservations on New Year’s Day while still in Sedona, and we agreed on the decision to end our road trip with a few days’ stay in Las Vegas, I caught myself humming that Elvis Presley tune “Viva Las Vegas.” I felt a load off my mind as we waited for the sun to melt the snow so we could leave Rancho Sedona RV park. There was still significant snow through which to drive.
Afternoon Arrival to Sam’s Town RV Park
After a six-hour drive from Sedona to Las Vegas, we pulled into Sam’s Town RV Park at about 3pm. Check in was swift and we received a free night’s stay for booking 5 nights. We also got casino discounts for Sam’s Town Casino a few steps away from the RV park. Although we missed happy hour due to unhooking and setting up, we ate dinner at the food court using some of the discounts. Of course, we played a little at the casino and I managed to break even.
The next day, Thursday, we mostly did nothing but acquaint ourselves with the park amenities, which included two dog runs, three restrooms with free showers, clubhouse, pool and a hot tub. We then shopped for a variety of items, visiting Wal-Mart (ugh), Costco and Sportsman’s Warehouse.
Note to self: Don’t shop at Wal-mart during the holidays, especially in the afternoon. Need I say more?? The place was so crowded I actually got hit by another shopper’s cart! We attempted to buy tire chains, but the genius cashier informed us they only had one box left which contained one chain. “Don’t you buy them that way?” she asked, then her snarky comment after, “we don’t need chains in the desert.” Had I cared at that point I would have showed her a photo of snowy Sedona, but I believe she wouldn’t have known where Sedona was anyway.
What to Do in Las Vegas
Other than gambling, what else is there to do in Las Vegas?
On my list was a trip to the Hoover Dam and maybe nearby Lake Mead. I also wanted to shop for some turquoise jewelry. I still wanted to try to drive back to the Grand Canyon, but the roads were still iffy and the holiday crowds were still around. I also had wanted to visit Red Rock National Monument just west of Vegas.
A funny thing happened when I looked on Google. I found Valley of Fire State Park just 60 miles north-east! It looked very similar to Antelope Canyon with its twisted and striated red sandstone rock formations! And a slot canyon to boot!
The Valley of Fire
Friday was the day we planned to drive to Valley of Fire State Park. What a relief to drive on dry roads!
When we arrived, we stopped at the Visitor Center and then drove along the suggested route. The red sandstone formations are incredible in both size, variety and colors.
Nevada State Parks have few restrictions on bringing dogs on the hikes with us (unlike many trails in the National Parks). Someone along the sandy, winding trail described Aero as agile!
Since I didn’t get to tour Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona, we headed for the White Domes area which boasts its own slot canyon! It did not disappoint. In the photo below, you get the idea of the sheer size by looking at the tiny hikers in the lower right corner.
The holidays crowds were soon out and about, and we ended our sightseeing in the early afternoon. There was still so much to see! Check out the website here.
It was a bright sunny day and the temperature rose to 66 degrees! What a difference from just two days before in Sedona! Isn’t that how winter weather in the Southwest desert is supposed to be?
We got back in time to enjoy the Friday night steak and seafood buffet. We raced over thinking the lines would be ridiculous, but no one was in line! The weekend after a major holiday like Christmas and New Year’s sees more people staying home. Lucky for us!
The food was great. I noticed our waitress wearing turquoise rings and she told me she bought them in Boulder City, near Hoover Dam. I added that spot to my list!
Another Blogger Meet-Up
We met Maria and her cute daughter for lunch on Saturday and had a great time chatting about how she liked living in Las Vegas. Maria had recently moved there from Northern California, a couple of hours north of Sacramento. In case you’re wondering, Maria is Ms Zen from Sagittarius Viking! Check out her recent visit to Valley of Fire State Park.
After lunch and still on my quest to find turquoise jewelry, we attempted to drive to a couple of pawn shops and GPS sent us right through the Vegas strip! Just as crowded as I remembered!
Of course, sticking to our theme of winter weather, it rained Saturday afternoon and evening. It even snowed on Mt Charleston!
The Dam People in Boulder City
Sunday, our last full day, was spent driving about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas to a town called Boulder City. This town was originally built in the 1920s to house the workers and their families who built the Hoover Dam. Boulder City is one of two Nevada Cities that does not allow gambling!
Hans loves antique shopping and found a bonanza of goodies in the local antique shops. I found some beautiful sterling silver turquoise rings at an antique store and at a jewelry specialty store. The store owners were so helpful, honest and friendly!
It was a cold sunny day with a bit of wind. We thought we might drive over to Hoover Dam, but we simply ran out of time.
Once we got back, I started packing the non-essentials while we still had daylight to get ready for Monday’s long drive back to Sacramento.
Our last evening was spent warming up leftovers for dinner in the microwave and utilizing the hot tub at the clubhouse. A fun and fitting end to our 12-day Arizona/Nevada road trip.
Our drive home took 11 hours. We drove home the same way we came, through I-15, back up through Kramer Junction and Tehachapi Pass with no incidents. This was our view of the Sierra Nevadas at a rest stop on Hwy 99 in California’s Central Valley, a few hours from home.
As I reflected on this road trip, I was extremely disappointed that I missed out on seeing Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as camping at Lake Powell, which was the gateway for visiting Monument Valley, Navajo Nation and Antelope Canyon.
We learned to be flexible and to go with the flow. Arizona is not very far from where we live in Northern California, and we intend to go back and try again, whether we pull the trailer, or drive and stay in hotels.
The Positives of Our Road Trip?
Enjoying the Arizona desert area and appreciating its beauty
Spending time with two bloggers and their families
Getting and taking advice from folks who have traveled there
Learning about the trailer and its features
Becoming a better traveler by paying attention to surroundings and using technology for fuel stops
Feeling a sense of peace as hard decisions had to be made to change the itinerary
Discovering more about the Las Vegas area with its surrounding desert beauty and points of interest
Learning to expect the unexpected!
The Sunday Stills Photo Challenge is hosted by Hugh this week. Sunday Stills will be back in my hands beginning Feb 3. More Valley of Fire photos!