Home Away From Home, Nevada

More Valley of the Fire!

Since we had plans to go into North Las Vegas for lunch with Jerry’s former employee we decided to get out early and do a little hiking. Our goal was the Fire Wave Trail however on the way up the White Dome Road we missed it and also on the way down. We stopped at the Rainbow Vista trail but were not sure how long it was nor did we know if we had enough time to complete it so we decided to skip it for today and just went by the Visitor’s Center. Neither of us had any clothes for a 70 degree day but Jerry was lucky enough to find a short sleeve t-shirt. Of course, I got a magnet!

We rode around the park first stopping at the petrified logs. Had we not gone to the Petrified Forest earlier in the trip it might have been interesting but as it was I was glad it wasn’t their claim to fame. There was a short loop trail and on that trail were four difference wired fences with a log inside. The fences were only four feet long so you can imagine the size of the four logs.

Next we rode the loop by the campground going by the Atlatl Rock and on into the canyon. While we saw some amazing scenery we didn’t stop for anything as we were sort of in a time crunch. We did see some rocks that we would like to have climbed but had no time.

Back to the coach, showers and a change of clothes and off to Vegas we went. We’ve been to Vegas twice before and each time I said that was the last time and here we were going yet again to visit a special friend. Kelly was one of Jerry’s teachers when he was a principal but had moved away some years ago. She was an excellent teacher and Jerry always held her in a special place in his heart so getting to visit her was a treat. She had prepared a delicious lunch for us, taco soup and taco salad. The lunch and the reminiscing were such fun plus we got to meet and visit with her precious son, Eli. Husband Dan was at work.

As soon as we got back to the campground we changed into our hiking clothes trying desperately to get in one more hike before leaving. We decided on the Fire Wave which was near the end of the White Dome Road. As we rode along I suddenly yelled “Stop” and nearly gave Jerry a heart attack but he did stop. I had seen some people who had pulled off of the road and were taking pictures so I looked to see what they were seeing and lo and behold, finally, I saw a big horned sheep. In fact there were about 10 of them, a couple of them babies. We got out and took some pictures being careful not to get too close to them.

The Start of our Hike
The End of the Trail, Time to Start Back
We headed on to the Fire Wave Trail. The park closes at 5:00 so we knew we didn’t have a lot of time but we started out anyway. Oh my goodness, what an array of colors, 50 shades of ochre and we could climb all over them. The path was fairly well marked, sandy and rocky but easily navigable. We walked until we realized that the sun had set and we needed to turn around if we were to get back to the car before dark. We cut it close as it was not dark but close to it when we got back to the parking lot. When we walked up we saw a guy at the other lone car and he asked if we had seen anyone else on the trail. Actually we had seen a couple of people about ¼ mile in front of us when we turned around. We could tell he was worried although he said several times that he wasn’t. One of the guys on the trail was ex-military and had a full backpack with him but the other guy was according to him “a city guy” with little sense of direction. Although he said we could go on we stayed with him until his friends arrived safely.

Back to the coach for dinner. We have reservations tomorrow at a KOA in Needles, California but will only have 30 amp. I surely do hope it’s not hot because we will only be able to run one air condition. The main reason for going to a full service campground is to wash over a week’s worth of laundry. Hope it all works on 30 amp!

Indescribable Beauty

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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.