Las Vegas, Nevada
It is very likely that little of what I post about this stop will look like the Las Vegas you know. We're not here for The Strip - although we did see part of it, from the Jeep.
Our Tuesday morning drive north on I-15 is surprising because I don't remember so many hills to climb, steep hills. My memories of miles of flat desert must be from some other route. A few strong gusts of "where-did-that-come-from" wind break up the otherwise uneventful trip.
Signs of continued, seemingly out-of-control, growth start well before what used to be the beginning of Las Vegas, Nevada. Drought is clearly not the only reason for the lack of water in Lake Mead and the Colorado River.
The Las Vegas KOA at Sam's Town is on the southeast side of the city, not a great area, but fine for our needs. Access is easy with little driving on city streets. Clean, quiet, safe, and level!! FHUs with 50 amp and good water pressure. No space between sites, you couldn't walk around a chair if you put one out. Gravel sites and asphalt roads. There is a little green space on the perimeter, enough for Tessa to do her business. If we were gamblers we'd appreciate the large casino next door. Our weekly rate combined with our KOA membership give us a reasonable cost of $33/night including taxes.
Our plan was to stay at our very favorite place for the week before our annual reunion in Laughlin, Nevada. However, the dreaded Spring Break is this week and the spaces are first-come-first-serve. At 40 miles to another option I didn't figure it was worth taking the chance. Thus our stay here, which is closer than last year's in Boulder City. Having now done both, I'll take the longer drives with much nicer views over the big city option.
Our first morning we head out for that very favorite place - Valley of Fire State Park. As Sue pointed out, it's nearly impossible to have a single favorite place with everything we see in this life. So maybe it is the most beautiful place we've seen so far, or the most beautiful place in the desert, or the most beautiful natural colors. It's definitely high up on many lists!
A quick drive up the Interstate takes us to the 15 mile, two-lane Valley of Fire Road. It isn't until you're almost to the entrance kiosk that you see the fire. And the Wows continue for the whole visit.
As expected there is a line of cars, and signs tell us the campground is full. A very friendly ranger takes our $10 fee and then we're here - yay! Looking across the valley at the rich red hills I feel like I do when I see Mickey's face of flowers at the entrance to Disneyland!
|Spring Break reality.|
|The very first glimpse confirms why we've returned.|
|There's so much "going on" everywhere we look.|
|We could spend the whole day exploring just the first stop.|
|Red dirt make flowers we've seen elsewhere look completely different.|
|Unique erosion patterns|
|look like miniature cliff dwellings.|
|Rock with legs....so cool.|
|This guy insisted that if he posed for a photo I had to make him look big and menacing (in real life he's maybe six inches long).|
|Mouse's Tank Road|
|Lunch stop at Rainbow Vista|
|"Layers carved from sand deposited when dinosaurs walked the earth."|
|Domes of silica tower over the red valley.|
|My reminder that the king size bed won't fit makes Bill reconsider his suggestion that we change rigs.|
|...to this, in less than a mile.|
|Hanging out for millions of years, and still looks like it's going to slide "off" at any minute.|
|Prickly Pear cactus offer bursts of vivid color among the rocks.|
|When you know Mother Nature is just messin' with you :-)|
|A couple of the 'sisters' just hanging out.|
|A red island in the dark sea of surrounding desert.|
|What a gift......|
|Bright yellow Brittle Bush tucks in among the boulders.|
I stop at the next turnout and turn around, trying to hold the wheel with all my fingers crossed that they will still be there. I needn't have worried as once I get pulled over and find them again (no easy task as they blend in perfectly) they move only a couple steps while I take several pics. We are beyond excited!!!!
|Our first Big Horn Sheep!!|
|Even with the zoom he looks like part of the rock.|
|Hey there handsome.|
Also high on the list is being able to visit great friends we haven't seen in decades, and those we've yet to meet in person, but feel like we've known a long time.
Both of those happen over the remainder of our visit :-)))).