On Sunday, I packed up the bikini and beach towel and boarded a plane back to Las Vegas. With my base tan established, I was prepared for more desert sunshine!
My car had been relaxing at the airport for about six weeks, and I was starting to feel like that was my big Vegas gamble. As the parking lot shuttle rounded the corner, I saw her there smiling at me. What a relief! I assessed the exterior: no flat tires, no broken windows, and no new dings, dents, or scrapes. In the final test, I turned the ignition. Voila! I was on the road again.
Since my time in Vegas had been pretty brief (and I wasn't sure that my car would be ready to roll on down the road), I booked a few days at an Airbnb on the outskirts of town. My plan was to see some of the natural beauty surrounding this land of slot machines, roulette wheels, and poker tables.
Monday, I took a short drive west to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The park was full of people enjoying a gorgeous, sunny, mid-70's spring day. I drove the scenic loop, stopping at most points of interest to take some short hikes, snap photos, and drink in the beautiful landscape. I was afraid I had missed spring in the desert, but there was still a pretty abundant sprinkling of flowers to be seen.
Following my tour of Red Rock, I spent some time on a more typical Vegas activity - shopping. My hiking shoes were ready for retirement, and probably had been for quite some time. After a few tries, I was happy to be able to locate the same type of shoe (Ahnu Sugarpine Air Mesh), which had worked really well for me for the better part of a year. I guess I'm not very "adventurous" in my wardrobe choices! :-)
Yesterday, my trek was a little more extensive. I drove about an hour through sparse desert terrain to the Valley of Fire, a Nevada State Park. I had seen a lot of photos of this park, especially its "Fire Wave," and it did not disappoint. It is home to some really unique formations, intensely red rocks, petroglyphs, canyons, and petrified logs. I drove most of the park roads and stopped at many of the scenic points. Hiking the Fire Wave trail, I saw more lovely desert flowers and made the acquaintance of a few chuckwalla lizards.
Leaving the park's east entrance, I wound my way through Lake Mead National Recreation Area. After about an hour of the area's varied desert vistas and distant glimpses of the lake, I caught up with the throngs of tourists who were headed with me to see Hoover Dam.
I can't say that visiting Hoover Dam was anywhere near the top of my list of places I want to see, but it was actually pretty interesting and picturesque. I am definitely a fan of Art Deco architecture, and it's a fantastic example of this style. The Lake Mead side of the dam was pretty surreal looking, with its blue water, art deco towers, and the waterline on the surrounding cliffs. I'm glad I stopped and braved the crowds!
Today, I am doing some work, catching up on things (like this blog!), and painting. I wanted to take it relatively easy since I have a long drive ahead of me tomorrow, when I head south to Phoenix, Arizona, my home for the next two weeks. Stay tuned for more reporting from the Valley of the Sun!