Home Away From Home, Nevada

Valley of Fire State Park

We got a later start than usual simply because they were RV things to be taken care of. Unhooking and pulling out took only minutes but then we had to stop at the entrance to empty the black and gray tanks and fill up the fresh water tank. In 27 degree weather poor Jerry had to stand out there and do those chores and then hook up the car. His hands were freezing! In the meantime I ran up to the Visitor’s Center yet again and bought another long sleeve T-shirt just like the one I bought yesterday. It is absolutely the softest shirt I have ever had and despite the gray color I wanted two, one to sleep in and one to wear. The sales lady said she had one and they were so cool, not exactly what I was looking for right then but I knew it would be nice later in the day because today’s destination was supposed to be much warmer.

I was a little sad at leaving Zion as it is definitely one of the prettiest, most refreshing, most serene place we’ve been. As Jerry said when you’re driving the scenic drive every time you turn a curve (and there were a lot of those) it’s a different stunning sight too beautiful to describe with my limited vocabulary. I would have loved to do a couple of more hikes, River Walk and Angel’s Landing but our time there was up.

As we left Utah, breezed through Arizona and ventured into Nevada the terrain and topography changed so. We had mountains covered in green with occasional cacti standing sentinel. With three conflicting GPS’s we continued on our way. For some reason the Garmin had us going an extra 100 miles so we chose to go with the Clarion and Mapquest and we arrived all in one piece.

Valley of Fire SP campground is a small park on a first come, first serve basis so after riding around the park and not finding optimum level spaces we finally decided on one. After spending nearly an hour getting level and setting everything up Jerry was getting things out for lunch and then…. There were two chairs in the picnic area but nothing to denote that the space was occupied. Just as we were sitting down to lunch a Class B pulled in and said they had already paid for the site and they had left their chairs to indicate it. Oh well, Plan B. Jerry got out and begin to scout out for another site. He found one and it was the dickens to level. When we finally got it leveled and the power and water hooked up I suggested he go and pay for the site immediately before someone else claimed it! He was gone for quite a while and I couldn’t figure out where he was as I thought he had just gone up to the camp host. No, he had to go to the Visitor’s Center which was not nearby.

When he finally returned we ate a quick lunch and then returned to the Visitor’s Center for some information and possibly a short sleeved t-shirt for him. It was much warmer here than in Springdale. No such luck on the T’s but we did get some information on hikes.

We rode all the way down the White Dome Road marveling at the differing colors in the rocks but not stopping at all knowing we’d do that on the return trip. We ended at the White Domes Hike, a 1.25 mile hike that should have taken about 45 minutes. Of course when we hike it always takes longer because we stop often to take pictures. The beginning of the trail is deep sand and then some rocky paths but the trail was well marked. We climbed boulders, sat in alcoves etched by the wind and then went through a narrow slot canyon. It was curvy so I kind of peeked around each corner to make sure that there was nothing ahead that I might not want to run into. The domes are spectacular, sandstone formations with brilliant contrasting colors, pinks, oranges, whites, sienna, purple, just so many vivid colors. Again, it was indescribably beautiful and a wonderful state park. It certainly was busy today but then it was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine but not too hot, just perfect for hiking. We learned later that the summer temperature ranged from 100 to 120 degrees. Now I know why people are flocking to the park in January.

After we hiked the White Domes we decided we had just enough time to hike to Mouse’s Tank, a ¾ mile, round trip trail. Mouse’s Tank was named for an outlaw who used the area as a hideout in the 1890’s. It is a natural basin in the rock where water collects after rainfalls, sometimes remaining for months. We hiked all the way to the end where indeed the water was still standing. It looked like a strange place to hide as there was only one way in and one way out. If they discovered him then he’d be captured for sure. Along the trail there were numerous examples of petroglyphs close enough in some instances to nearly touch them. There was a bulletin at the trailhead explaining the possible meaning of the different petroglyphs and it was interesting to try to figure them out. I especially enjoyed seeing the petroglyphs as the ones we had seen earlier in the trip were so far away that it was difficult for me to distinguish them. Poor distance vision is the pits!

After the hikes we came on back to the coach and got out one of the casseroles I had prepared at home before the trip. Believe it or not I found some pears in the pantry so we were able to have a pear salad along with the casserole.

Today was a good day and tomorrow promises to be busy as well. After a morning hike we are going to North Las Vegas to visit with a former employee of Jerry’s.

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