Getting Closer

Getting Closer
Getting Closer

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

3 AM thoughts…and back to the Valley of Fire

Las Vegas Trip 014I am listening to the sound of rain on the roof at the moment, around 3:30 am I think, and with sleep deciding to take a holiday around 2, I decided it might be a good time to catch up on things.  We are parked at the lovely Fort Stevens State Park, on the far north Oregon coast near Astoria, in one of only two open loops, and our rig is just steps from the showers.  To spare the sleeping Mo, I slipped over to the unlimited hot water for a very long shower before settling in with computer and tea to remember how it felt back in Nevada just 8 days ago.

Las Vegas Trip 009While we were traveling in Las Vegas, I didn’t have my computer or camera with me, and of course, didn’t take time to read all the blogs I try to follow.  Sometimes when I let the reading slip, I get a little bit worried about folks.  What if I miss something truly earth shattering that has happened to someone I care about, even though I may have never met them?  I know this is a bit silly, but then it happened again.  A distant blog friend experienced a life changing moment and I missed it. It is their life and their story, so I won’t link to it here, but if you know Sherry and David you might want to be sure to check in and send good thoughts.

Las Vegas Trip 067Blogging is a personal hobby, reading blogs has been a diversion that I enjoy, but we all know it doesn’t require the kind of commitment that up front, real life friendships require.  It is somehow ephemeral, and when we slip away for a time, the world doesn’t end.  At least not usually.

So when I slip away from writing, I have learned to at least try my best to catch up on my reading.  I would hate to jabber away on some stupidity, all lalala about whatever is going on at the moment, completely ignoring that someone is seriously ill, or has lost their life-time pet, or worst of all, their life.  Yeah, this blog is all about me, but somehow things shift a bit, and it is also about my interaction with readers as well.  After all, all those comments and all those hits mean I am no longer in this thing alone.  Just one of those 3am thoughts, I guess.

DSCF0803Now, here in the darkness of a rainy night, I will slip back into the photos of our day at the Valley of Fire more than a week ago, and remember. 

Las Vegas Trip 025Our second night at the Main Street Station was fabulous.  We were moved down to the 4th floor, without the expansive views of our first night, but with only the tolerable white noise of the big fans on the casino roof just below us.  We were also blessedly on a non smoking floor.  To bed by 2am or so, we slept on the perfectly firm bed with a cushy top, snuggled up by a great comforter and several different kinds of pillows, soft to very fat.  Take your pick. 

Las Vegas Trip 031Sunday morning we ambled down around 10 to enjoy one of the best Sunday brunches in Las Vegas, or so it said.  It was wonderful, 8.95 each for an amazing spread, including unlimited pourings of champagne, with or without the orange juice. Our waitress was diligent in keeping our coffee and our champagne glasses full. The choices were just about limitless, but we did manage to keep our meal somewhat reasonable in size, picking and choosing among our favorites.  Everything was scrumptious.

Las Vegas Trip 042After that leisurely breakfast, it was time to get out of town and see the desert.  The last time we were in the area, we went to Laughlin, and we also have been west of town in the Red Rocks area, and thought it might be nice to try something different.  A quick check of Google maps on the phone showed the route east to Valley of Fire was a simple turn north from our Main Street location to I-15, and another simple 20 miles or so to the turn toward Lake Mead. 

Las Vegas Trip 058The desert was incredibly gorgeous on that Sunday, with brilliant skies made even more beautiful with wild clouds that threatened rain, although it never actually fell. Our first view of the Valley of Fire was lovely, but if you only pass by on the highway and maybe stop in at the visitor center, you could miss the full effect of this remnant of the Colorado Plateau.  I am a red rock canyon country junkie, and had no idea there was a piece of red heaven this far south.

pink and yellow slickrock in the Valley of FireThe visitor center was a great stop, with wonderful displays explaining the complex geology and faulting of the area.  I saw familiar names that I carry in my heart, Chinle, Moenkopi, Navajo, names of the sandstone formations I am so familiar with farther north.  Here, the Apache sandstone overlies Chinle, pink and yellow as well as red, a rainbow of hues that seemed especially surreal in the late afternoon light.

We drove north into the park toward the White Dome area, where I found a trail leading down a canyon and across slickrock that looked like pastel watercolors. Again, only the iPhone to try to capture that color, but Mo had her Fuji mini camera as well, and took a few shots while I was running around oohing and aahing at the amazing color and formations. 

We checked out the campground as well, 30 bucks a night for hookups, with several spaces big enough for two or three rigs with unobstructed views of the desert beyond.  There were plenty of vacancies, and we added this spot to our list of places that we might like to camp someday.  It would be great to just hang out here and have time to wander among the rock formations.

hiking slickrock above the trail in the Valley of FireWe took a circular route back, traveling east toward Lake Mead and then along the North Shore road into North Las Vegas.  The drive was so much fun in the little Fiat, and the gorgeous sunset over the lights of Las Vegas as we dropped back into the valley was the perfect finale.

The next morning, Monday, we explored our own casino a bit more.  The one thing we didn’t like about Main Street Station was the lack of simple restaurants.  We only had the big buffet and the fancy restaurant and brewery, but no place to get a morning cup of coffee, not even a pot in the room to brew tea!  As we were leaving, we discovered that the Main Street Station is linked with a closed skywalk to the California casino across the street, and there were half a dozen different venues, just steps away from our room that included espresso and bakeries, little coffee shops, and lots of other goodies.  We were really happy with our choice to stay Downtown at Main Street rather than on the strip and would choose it again.  Especially since it is so easy to get out of town entirely from this area.

iPhone shot in the Valley of FireOnce again, we did the cattle call seating option for Allegiant, with a bit less success this time.  Our number was  too high to get seats together, and I ended up in the very back of the plane, in an aisle seat across from the big exit door with no window at all.  A bit claustrophobic to say the least.  We arrived home a bit late to rain and snow in Medford and snow on the pass.  Gotta love winter coming finally in February, I guess. Overall, the trip turned out to be a delightful little winter escape.