Sunday Stills: Favorite #Vacation Spot

Sunday Still banner vacation

To wrap up the month of May at Sunday Stills, let’s share our favorite vacation spots. As more of the world gets vaccinated against Covid-19, masks are coming off and the world is opening up! Hallelujah!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

John Muir

This week, I am sharing my favorite vacation images from my archives. Now, some of you world travelers, like Sarah, will have to choose your favorites, (aren’t they all though?).

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”

Seneca

While you think of your favorite vacation spots, remember why we take vacations. In my retired world, every day seems like Saturday and I’ve been on a perpetual vacation for a few months. But think of a vacation in broader terms, like leisure and travel, and how they are all connected. My point (finally) is this: How do the concepts of leisure, vacation, and travel make you feel? Would you say that these words invoke healing when you experience their manifestation?

According to Marsha at Always Write, her newest WQWWW (Writer’s Quote Wednesday) is “healing” and I suggest this is what time off does for us in the form of a vacation, leisure time in a hobby or physical activity, or travel! This quote speaks volumes:

“In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Join me as I share my galleries of trips down memory lane and hum along to the song titles. I apologize in advance for any earworms created. You will notice how many of my favorite vacation spots feature the colors blue and green, which ties in nicely to Tina’s Lens-Artists challenge this week!

I Left My Heart in … a US National Park

“Within National Parks is room–glorious room–room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve.”

Enos Mills

My family spent a LOT of time visiting national parks, notably Yosemite and Sequoia, since they were in California. Last July, I spent a couple of hours in Sequoia with Marsha, when she lived 30 minutes away in Central California.

Down In Mexico

“Never underestimate the healing power of these three things – music, the ocean and the stars.”

Unknown

My windsurfing husband dragged me to Baja, Mexico three times to the La Paz area. In nearby La Ventana is incredible windsurfing and kite boarding. I took my turns windsurfing in the Sea of Cortez as well as some stand-up paddling. A great vacation spot!

California Dreamin’

“Nature itself is the best physician.”

Hippocrates

Because I lived in California most of my life, I spent the first 20 years in San Diego and the rest in Sacramento (Northern California). On two San Diego vacations, I met fellow blogger, Janis, for lunch twice, and one lunch there with Liesbet, who I met in Sacramento! Since 2009, my vacations consisted of summer weekends at the Sacramento River Delta, with occasional visits to Yosemite. It has been my goal to stand-up paddle on every significant body of water on vacations!

By the Time I Get to Phoenix

“Walk in nature and feel the healing power of the trees.“

Anthony William

Arizona was and still is a winter vacation choice. Not only did we meet fellow blogger, Ingrid and her husband in North Phoenix two years in a row, my brother and recently my stepdaughter now live in the Phoenix area. Winter roadtrip 2022 is in the works!

Blue Hawaii

“Leisure, some degree of it, is necessary to the health of every man’s spirit.”

Harriet Martineau

I’ve been lucky to travel to the Big Island of Hawaii in 2018 and 2019 with the goal to fix up and sell my husband’s house on the Hilo side. The house is dilapidated and needs work that we just cannot do at this time in our lives. This year we will make final arrangements for its sale. During these weeks, we did manage to do a bit of relaxing and exploring after taking care of the home. Hilo is not the tourist mecca like Kona is, but it serves as the county seat where most of the government infrastructure is housed. Hilo is also the wettest city in the US. In 2018 we visited Volcanoes National Park before the last eruption took place. In 2019, I got to visit the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Gardens with fellow blogger, Graham. We had a blast taking tons of photos!

Viva Las Vegas

“Life’s short. Eat dessert first, work less and vacation MORE!!”

Lia Mishell

Las Vegas, Nevada is known for its casinos and nightlife. It’s also a great place for winter RV camping. In 2018, our winter roadtrip to the Southwest was cut short by unseasonable cold and snow, so we high-tailed it to Las Vegas as our last stop and enjoyed a pleasant week. Unable to visit Antelope Canyon that borders southern Utah and northern Arizona, we stumbled on the Valley of Fire State Park just an hour northeast of Las Vegas. I still got my slot canyon fix and plenty of hiking! In 2018, we met up with fellow blogger Maria, formerly of Sagittarius Viking, still on Instagram.

I sum up my vacation experience thus far with this meme I created when I was teaching leisure education and management at Sacramento State University. These surfboards were situated at a windsurf resort. I took the picture and added this thought to help make the point about taking time off of work or other obligations and enjoying leisure time!

Sorry, couldn’t make it…had a mandatory board meeting.

You Are My Home

“Come to the woods for here is rest.“

John Muir

One year ago almost to the day (May 2020), my husband and I stood together on our property for the first time.

Happy on our half acre

We’ve come a long way in one year, figuratively and literally! We are moved in and enjoying everything that goes along with building! All during a pandemic, no less.

New mfg home

Our vacation of choice in 2021 will be a “staycation” since we are new to our home and hoping people visit us as we continually move in. Will the unpacking and getting everything just right never end?

If camping in an RV counts as a vacation, then our 2-month stay in North Spokane RV Park was quite lovely despite winter/early spring-living while we waited for our home to be ready.

Like this Canada Goose family enjoying their home near a local lake, we expect to enjoy all the area has to offer. Submitted for Lisa’s Bird Weekly.

Canada Geese Family

We plan to take some local overnight and weekend trips to the German/Bavarian town of Leavenworth; the Columbia River Gorge near Mt Hood, Oregon—motivated by windsports; and Sandpoint, Idaho; and beyond.

I know several bloggers who live near these areas, so lets meet up when the time is right!

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

June Themes are on my Sunday Stills Photography Page

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I share the links from the previous post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…

Good Gray Matter in these Blogger’s Links

I am looking forward to seeing your favorite places where you vacation and relax! Speaking of relaxing, Sunday Stills is taking a break next Sunday as my family celebrates a long Memorial Day weekend. See you in June and have a great week!

SUPSIG

© 2021 Copyright—All rights reserved—secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: Fall Color Challenge–Acres of #Ochre

Banner yellow ochre color challenge

I’m introducing some color into the Sunday Stills photo challenge! Once a month, I will feature a seasonal color, which I hope will spark loads of creativity on your part as a photographer or writer.

Photo by Adonyi Gu00e1bor on Pexels.com

October’s color is ochre, a brownish yellow, as shown above, but can range from yellow to deep orange. Perfect for showcasing your Fall colors!

I dug into my archives to find images of the range of colors seen in ochre.

Seeing the Fall display of leaves is what I miss by not being on the university campus these days. By late October the ginkgo trees have shown their glorious yellow leaves. Once the leaves fall, the groundskeepers arrange them into circles and other shapes.

ginkgo leaf display

This next image isn’t very exciting but it shows yellow ochre in the form of saffron fields grown in the Central Valley of California.

saffron field of ochre
Saffron Fields

I managed to find an image of a yellow Anna’s hummingbird, perfect for Lisa’s Bird Weekly Challenge, starting with letter A. I have to admit, I’m not sure hummers have yellow feathers; it may have been a trick of the light. I did not change the color, but it sure works!

yellow Anna hummingbird

These dried marigolds could have been the star of last week’s “dry” theme. They show a nice range of the ochre color.

dry ochre marigolds

On my last visit to the Big Island of Hawaii, I captured this gorgeous peachy-orange hibiscus on my walk with Graham at Hilo’s Hawai’i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. Both floral images are submitted for Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge.

Orange hibiscus
Orange hibiscus

What do I miss now? Having my fall decorations on my fireplace mantel. They are packed away!

hello fall

The rusted yellow sun is still hanging from my backyard shed. Why haven’t I packed it yet?

Metal Aztec sun showing a little rust

Last winter, I held some of the orange sand from Nevada’s Valley of Fire in my hand. I was surrounded by this rich ochre color.

Valley of Fire's Sand
Reddish-orange glow of sand

In November, the show begins in my front yard with the reds and oranges of my Japanese maple juxtaposed onto my mulberry tree’s yellow leaves.

Autumn Peak

These leaves and the ginkgoes’ are submitted for Dawn’s Festival of Leaves challenge!

I hope you enjoyed the color challenge today and that I sparked your imagination! I attempted to show each image from ochre’s lightest hue to its darkest. I’m looking forward to your version of ochre!

Autumn SIGNature

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Walking in the Valley of Fire

Walking into the Slot Canyon in Valley of Fire

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?

Walking two dogs

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.

Hello from Valley of Fire
Canyon Drive
Driving through Valley of Fire

The first area to visit, because it gets busy, is the White Domes area that is also home to the slot canyon.

Red Rocks Nevada
White Domes Area

I played around with some photo-editing of the image of me walking into the entrance of the slot canyon, camera at-the-ready.

Ready for the Slot Canyon in Valley of Fire
Walking into the Slot Canyon in Valley of Fire

I feel like this image really defines me! Thanks, Ingrid, for the inspiration!

Once inside, the light is incredible.

Slot Canyon Hike
Almost Antelope Canyon

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.

Hiking in Valley of Fire State Park
More walking in the Valley of Fire
Ancient Anasazi Petroglyphs

Yes, the sand is also this red!

Valley of Fire's Sand
Reddish-orange glow of sand

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.

Elephant Rock, Valley of Fire
Elephant Rock in Valley of Fire
Surrounded by fiery rocks

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!

This post is partially inspired by this week’s Lens-Artists challenge hosted by Tina this week for Distance. To help you get your steps in today, connect here for Restless Jo’s Monday Walk.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge resumes next week as we kick off April with a whole new set of themes. Visit my Sunday Stills page for a preview.

Sunday Stills: What Do the #Shadows Have to Say?

dragonfly's shadow

Shadows. This was a theme I had been considering from my long list for Sunday Stills, then realized I instinctively chose it for Groundhog Day. This seems to be an East Coast tradition, as Punxsutawney Phil, the long-lived groundhog, makes his annual weather prediction of when we can expect spring to unofficially begin.

Although we basked in the light in January with Becky B’s square photo challenge, this week Sunday Stills will explore the absence of light, the shadows.

The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.

Gregory Maguire

Let the shadows in your images be the subject. Different than a silhouette or a reflection, a shadow is a dark area or shape produced by an object coming between rays of light and a surface.

Shadows produce depth and interest to an image. Although most photographers prefer well-lit images, even a shadow created by a setting sun can steal the show.

fire in the window

Shadows play in front of and behind these fall leaves.

Red Fall Leaf in Shadow

For landscape shots, the winter’s lengthening afternoon shadows create a vivid contrast in the image.

Cave Creek, Arizona
Cave Creek area, near Phoenix, AZ

This semi-transparent windsurf window hanger casts an orange shadow on a wall … or is it a reflection? Hmmm.

My hubby mugs for a photo at Valley of Fire State Park. Note the three shadowed figures with their phones.

shadow selfie

This dying dragonfly rests in our trailer, but casts a shadow full of life!

dragonfly's shadow

Got shadows? Share your shadowy images this week! I’m looking forward to not only your fab images, but your poems, music, stories and quotes!

© 2020 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: Living in Shades of #Gray

Gray Tree in Fog

The end of January in the dead of winter is, well, just that…dead. Here in the Central Valley where Sacramento is situated between the snowy Sierra Nevada Mountain range to the East and the Coast range to the West, gray seems to be the predominant color.

Most everything is colored in shades of gray and white. I could take a photo and wouldn’t have to edit it to black and white! Even this flower is gray!

white and gray flower

Descent into Foggy Light

After enjoying almost three weeks of southwest desert colors, we were immediately greeted with the inevitable gray fingers of low fog as we entered the Central Valley from the Tehachapi Pass.

Gray Fog Descends
Fog Descends into the Central Valley
Gray Tree in Fog
Foggy Fingers, even the tree is gray

Light from the Past and Some Color Infused into Gray Days

Just because I was on a bit of a break from Sunday Stills while Hugh graciously co-hosted, doesn’t mean that I don’t have a few photos to share for “round” and “old” (although I have been feeling round and old lately 😊).

Both photographs are from our day trip into Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.

These petroglyphs span over 1,500 years.

Ancient Anasazi Petroglyphs
Ancient Petroglyphs tell amazing stories

Originally occupied by the Basket Maker people and Anasazi Pueblo farmers from around 300 BC to 1150 AD, the Valley of Fire rock formations offered protection from the weather as well as a primitive form of lodging.

https://blog.maverickhelicopter.com/the-history-of-petroglyphs-at-the-valley-of-fire/

These formations were exposed where older rocks of Cambrian age (about 500 million years old) were pushed sideways on a thrust fault over younger rocks (Jurassic, about 160 million years old) of the Aztec Sandstone. The sandstone was originally laid down in a colossal, long-lived sandy desert much like today’s Sahara.

https://www.thoughtco.com/valley-of-fire-state-park-nevada-4123246

Of course, hubby and I had to pose in the rounded rocks near the visitor’s center.

Fun at the Valley of Fire State Park
Round and Old?

I can’t live for very long in a gray world. I was blessed to be able to travel south for our winter road trip to enjoy the vibrant colors of the Arizona and Nevada deserts. What can you do with gray? Here are some examples to help you!

Maybe a gray sunset?

Gray sunset

It was so wonderful seeing so many visitors to last week’s Sunday Stills post after my absence! I can’t wait to see what you all come up with for this week’s challenge, gray. You have all week to link your post to this one. Remember, I share your posts when I can!

For February’s themes, please visit my Sunday Stills page.

This post was also inspired in part by Becky B’s January Lights Photo Challenge which ends this Friday!

Enjoy your week and I hope you have sunny skies peeking through the gray!

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Wordless Wednesday: Afternoon De-Light

Elephant Rock, Valley of Fire

I’m sharing three photos for Becky B’s January Squares Challenge today for Wordless Wednesday.

The theme for these images is “Afternoon Delight” taken while on our winter road trip.

Before dinner on Christmas Eve, we walked along the Sail Bay side of Pacific Beach in San Diego. The light was amazing!

Afternoon Light on Pacific Beach's Sail Bay
Afternoon Light on Pacific Beach’s Sail Bay

After our cold and snowy tour of the Grand Canyon, the afternoon light glowed on the snow-covered areas of Highway 17 on our drive back to Phoenix.

snowy forest
Afternoon Light along Hwy 17 from Grand Canyon

I finally got to see the Elephant Rock in the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Elephant Rock, Valley of Fire
Elephant Rock in Valley of Fire

When you stand among the red rocks and sand, everything glows!

Don’t forget to join me here this Sunday for the Sunday Stills photo challenge where we explore the theme yin-yang!

© 2020 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: Your #Favorite Photo

Lonely Fisherman

With the holidays upon us, I thought I would make it easy for all of us at Sunday Stills this week to share a few of our favorite photos or some oldie-but-goodies. If you have a new favorite to share, well, go right ahead!

I went to Instagram and looked at past posts from 2019 to see which ones seemed to generate more likes than others.

Lonely Fisherman

I loved capturing this shot our first day back on the Big Island of Hawaii. The waves were big and the light was amazing. My cousin remarked that it reminded her of an old pic of our grandfather fishing off the rocks on the Northern California coast years ago. No wonder it caught my attention!

Lonely Fisherman
Lonely fisherman casts his net on Hilo Bay

Dog and Butterfly

This is one of the first captures of my dog Brodie using my camera, Panasonic Lumix FZ300. The picture was taken from afar but I was able to crop it enough for a quality close-up. I was very pleased with the crispness of the water droplets suspended in time.

Brodie's First Water Experience

This pink lady’s image was captured on the side of the road in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I hadn’t yet played a lot with the macro setting on my camera and it didn’t disappoint. All this while still hopping around in my cast last July!

Pink Lady Butterfly

The heading “Dog and Butterfly” is in reference to one of my favorite songs by Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson.

Wild Road Trip

A rare sight to see snow covering the red rocks of Sedona. This amount of snow had not fallen in several years, (impeccable timing?) and the experience changed the trajectory of my entire trip earlier this year.

Snow on Red Rock of Sedona
Snow on Red Rock of Sedona

Because of the necessary detour, I was able to visit Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, and still get my slot canyon experience as we walked through the “Narrows.”

Entrance to the Valley of Fire slot canyon, the Narrows

I am happy to share a couple of my favorites, from my “Bucket-List Photos” in 2018. Whenever a photographer captures “the one” (or more) iconic image, it is worth crowing about!

Moon captured with the camera in the manual setting.

Moon shot

My best live-action sports picture taken at full zoom in 40mph winds.

Windsurfer
Local windsurfer gets a lot of air in Sherman Island

After our winter road trip last January, driving home from dropping off the trailer, we stopped for a few minutes in Walnut Grove, a small, quaint Sacramento River Delta town. With the fog and still water, the dock appears to float in space!

FLoating Dock Reflections
“Floating” dock on Sacramento River

All images in this post were taken with the Lumix camera instead of my trusty Samsung cell phone. It is probably why these are among my favorites, because of the high quality only a “real” camera can provide.

Show us your favorite photos from 2019 or before. Share your other creative ideas in the form of your favorite poem, song, or story, too.

I’m traveling in the Pacific Northwest as you read this post, so please be patient as I may be a little slow to read, share and comment on your posts.

Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating this week!

© 2019 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: The Great #Outdoors

Great Outdoors American Flag

The last day of June 2019 is a wonderful way to spend in the outdoors, our theme for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge. June was National Great Outdoors Month, which seems appropriate as many folks begin their summer vacations.

To help inspire you, today I am sharing some of my favorite photos of this year’s visits to the great outdoors along with some motivational quotes.

You know that I am an outdoors person, therefore most of my leisure time is spent outdoors appreciating nature. Since hubby is an adventurous spirit, anything outdoors is our first choice for time together.

Last December found us in the Arizona desert enjoying a warm hike on one day and snowy New Year’s the next.

“Wilderness is not a luxury but necessity of the human spirit.”

Edward Abbey

In January we completed our road trip in Las Vegas in awe of the red rocks of Valley of Fire State Park. Once home we towed the trailer back to its storage location in the Sacramento Delta (in Antioch) and enjoyed the serenity of the valley fog.

During my spring break from teaching in mid-March, we spent as much time as possible outdoors in Hilo, Hawaii.

April is the start of windsurfing season. We moved the trailer again for the summer and enjoyed some water sports.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and winds long to play with your hair.”

Kahlil Gibran

In May, I spent a lovely weekend in South Lake Tahoe at our ladies retreat taking moments to contemplate the still waters of Zephyr Cove.

There is no wi-fi in the forest, but you will find a better connection.

Before the retreat, I arrived early to take a bike ride around the Tahoe Keys Marina, a residential boating area amidst the pine trees. How amazing to walk outside your back door and hop on your watercraft! Yes, please!

Boats in Tahoe Marina

Of course, John Muir inspires countless generations to enjoy the great outdoors!

Wander a whole Summer
Everyone needs beauty...and places to play in...

“There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in this process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I love this quote. The U.S. will celebrate Independence Day on July 4th this week. In the image below, the American flag stands tall and proud amidst the sacred lodgepole pines of Yosemite National Park.

Great Outdoors American Flag
Flying the flag at the Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite

Did you notice that this image is square? Beginning July 1, join Becky B for Blue July squares. Until then, Happy Independence Day!

Sunday Stills July themes can be found here!

Sunday Stills Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme.
  • Title your post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be shared all week. Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

As the first half of the year comes to an end, did you experience the great outdoors?

© 2019 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: Journey Into the #Fire

Slot Canyon Hike

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!

Sunday Stills Fire Banner

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!

Slot Canyon Hike
Almost Antelope Canyon
Red Rocks on fire
Another view of the Narrows

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!

Entering the Narrows
Hubby and dogs

After we hiked this area, we stopped on the route to explore and take more photos.

Striated Dome
Striated dome
Surrounded by fiery rocks
Surrounded by fiery rocks

Later, we drove back through another area where the rocks looked like they were on fire!

Canyon Drive
Driving through Valley of Fire

My husband thought this formation looked like Gandalf the Wizard from Lord of the Rings.

Red Cliffs along the road
Surrounded by Fire

This stretch along the road was awe-inspiring! The colors were vivid and bathed visitors in an orange glow.

Driving through fiery rocks
Driving through fiery rocks

“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!

Pictures without Film

Tea and Paper

The Reluctant Photographer

Stevie Turner

I am excited to see what you share for Sunday Stills FIRE this week!

VIVA Las Vegas: A Positive End to the Winter Road Trip

VIva Las VEgas Graphic
VIva Las VEgas Graphic

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.

View of Rancho Sedona Campground
Pink arrow marks our trailer/truck

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.

Sams Town RV Park
A nice spot on the corner!

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.

Posing in Valley of Fire Arch

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!

Red Rocks and Dogs
Hans with Brodie and agile Aero!

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.

Red Cliffs
Immensity of the slot canyon

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

Terri and Maria
Lunch with Maria in Las Vegas

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

Boulder Dam Hotel

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!

rings
Turquoise Ring Collection

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.

Saying Goodbye

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.

Sam's Town Sign

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.

Snowy mountains
A look at the snowy Sierras on the drive 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!

Sharing today’s photos for Snow’s Friendly Friday photo challenge!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Has anything beyond your expectations ever happened to you while traveling?