Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Little Risk, A Lot of Reward

March 23, 2018
Boulder, Nevada

It's been a long time since I've done a single-day post. Our Friday is so full of wonderful surprises and exceptional beauty that I want to capture it by itself.

While sleeping in I dream that Bill wakes me to tell me to get up and make pancakes....he would never! But when I do wake up I'm compelled to fix pancakes with fresh blueberries and walnuts - thus a lovely start to the day.

With our trusty map in hand, we head out for Arizona (it's just over the river). Although we've made the drive to Temple Bar on the southeast side of Lake Mead, today we go straight when Highway 143 turns right to the water. A few miles of well-maintained dirt road takes us to NP 71 where the adventure begins.

Nice start :-)
I'm hoping the trails will take us into the mountains, but I'm completely unprepared for what awaits.

Not far up the fairly rough road we encounter a spot that almost makes me turn around. Bill, of course, isn't having it. On an otherwise safe trail is a washed out section with a deep tire-swallowing hole on one side - with a rocky wash below. The other side is a solid four foot "wall" that gives very little option to avoid said hole. At this point the road looks three feet wide while the Jeep feels ten feet wide. Probably not.... Bill gets out to spot me, where he provides hand signals that say "You have forty feet of space between the tire and the hole." Again, probably not.

Naturally I take the risk and with zero incident we cross the treacherous hazard bump in the road. Hey! you weren't there!

At the entrance to Cohenour Loop (still NP 71) we have the option to go either way. I opt for clockwise, and after completing the drive, I'd probably recommend taking that way at least the first time. There are no bad views in any direction.

A quick stop above the water provides lots of simple exploration. And helicopters. Lots of helicopters. This turns out to the be the norm for the day - at least a dozen fly over every hour - and the only negative in an otherwise perfect trip.

Split rock with fluffy shadow bomb.

Very few cactus in the area. This struggling Prickly Pear will have bright pink blooms in a few weeks.

No one else to see, with lots above to hear.

Once we approach the hills the trail is rock and sand the rest of the way. Cool :-)

When I stop to take a pic of a formation, Bill tells me to bring the camera over to his side where he's getting out with delighted enthusiasm in his voice. He's already looking like this when I get there - can you tell he's a little excited at his discovery?

The Gopher Snake "smells" it's temporary captors. Just as surprised by this encounter as we are I'm sure. 

Easy to see how vulnerable they are to flying predators when crossing the open sands.

Then nearly impossible to see along the edge of the wash.
Only our second snake sighting and Bill declares this already a most wonderful day. But it just keeps getting better.

While the initials rocks don't compete with the glorious snake....just a few yards further we get our next surprise.

Petroglyphs! A small sign warns against vandalism, but provides no information on their origin.

Some are more hidden in the shade.

If we'd seen this first we'd been less surprised by the snake!

This is how I see math equations on a white board.
Soon the low hills become tall canyons, topped with these amazing columns.

Nature's cathedral

When traveling a loop, I try to remember to stop and look behind us. 

The reward of a different perspective.
All. Day. Long. 

There is grass everywhere and in some spots along the canyon's bottom it's tall and thick.

The trail runs through numerous canyons, each one unique.

A delicate bouquet grows from solid rock.
Sometimes we're close up to the formations.

Then we're up on top with long views.

Occasional formations grab our eye - like this baby sphinx head.

In between canyons are volcanic "burps".

Another "up top" view, completely different.

Ridge lines compete for best color and variety.
At the loop's exit we agree our day can only get better if we take the additional two mile trail to Gilbert Canyon (NP 73). And we're definitely right!!

One section takes us down a stairstep of rock where I hesitate again, but without the "we could tip over and die" factor, I figure the risk is much less than our earlier "spot". We smack lightly touch the bottom of the Jeep in a couple places, but we're soon at the bottom and continuing on. 

Brittle Bush are making a late appearance this year.

Nature mimicking man-made walls along the wash.

Strawberry and chocolate walls.

Mint green Tribbles rush down the side.

The end of the road.
Where the road ends, this dry fall continues where I'm sure nimble folks will explore one day.

A dramatic cut in the rock wall.

So many colors!

A pin cushion Easter egg tucked in among the rocks.

Barrel Cactus climb the steep cliffs.

This little guy warms in the sun.
On the way back the stairsteps have gotten steeper and the Jeep stops at the first one, tires spinning in four-wheel-high. No worries, we have four-wheel-low, and in first gear she climbs up and over like a mountain goat. Gotta love a Jeep! Again we make contact but no damage. A small risk for all we've seen today.

Even on in-and-back routes, there's always something new to see on the return.

Just a peek....


We see "signs" of them all day, but only at the end do we finally see these wild burros.

And we only see the burros because we stop to look at a small herd of very healthy, very red cattle.

A single cinder cone stands out on the valley floor.
Unfortunately the wash out has not been filled in, and I swear the passable section is even more narrow. Probably not. I know the Jeep obviously can make it because it already did. Still, when we slide a little toward the massive hole I hesitate before continuing through. A reminder of all we would have missed had I not taken this small risk in the beginning. The rewards were so worth it!

Layers deposited and carved make for stunning views.

Returning to the pavement we spend the 45 minute drive home talking about all we've seen, what a perfect day it was. The weather has been a comfortable 70 degrees with light breeze and clear skies. We agree it's in our top ten, maybe top five, of our best drives.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Vintage and Views - Nelson, Nevada

March 20-22,2018
Boulder City, Nevada

We take a "pause" day, and I never get out of my PJs while we read, nap and generally laze about. In the evening we Skype with Ezra who entertains us with the ABC song, counting to ten, and showing us some of his favorite toys. We love getting to spend a little time with him, although not being able to give him lots of hugs is hard :-(

Oh how we miss you Ezra Michael!!
Monday we make a quick trip into Henderson for a Trader Joe's run. Tessa gets a bath, Bill orders his suit for the June wedding, we check on better data plans (unsuccessfully) at AT&T, and we pick up new chairs from Camping World. A stop at Goodwill unloads the old chairs and a bag of clothes we purged the day before.

One of the great things (one of the many) about "following" our friends around the country is getting previews of cool places to visit. Last week the "local" Jeep gang made a day trip to the ghost town of Nelson, Nevada. Sounds like a fun time, so Tuesday we head out.

Even before we reach the mine and out-buildings we drive through beautiful canyons, and the most Cholla Cactus we've seen anywhere. The area is privately owned and offers tours of the site, including inside the mine. We don't join the very full tour group, so for pics of the mine and great information on the history, check out John's post from their visit. They charge $10/hour to take photos of the out-buildings and collection of vintage vehicles and "stuff", but they give me 10 minutes to capture a few shots. If you Google Nelson Ghost Town Images you'll see that many photographers use the area for photo shoots. Cool place indeed!

About 1/10th of the Chollas that fill the hillsides.

Mining is hard work, I hope there was time to appreciate the view.

Even under cloudy skies the colors are wonderful.

Some pieces are set in venues, screaming to be photographed :-)

Vintage hoods over vintage vehicles.

Lots of random stuff in random places. This saw blade on a window frame.

Gas stations are definitely a big part of the theme.
Making the transition from run-down to ghost town.

The main building includes more artifacts and a couple furnished rooms.

Teenagers' room - they're all aliens at that age.

Today's gold comes from tourism dollars. And lots of space to store a collection of collections.

The road continues to the north end of Lake Mojave, passing through more gorgeous canyons. We pick up a couple dirt roads along the giant washes that combined their contents in 1974 to destroy the small settlement of Nelson Landing. From a storm that only lasted 1.5 hours, these dry expanses became a violent river. It's very humbling to remember this when traversing the dry and dusty trails. And forces us to keep a vigilant eye on the skies and weather apps for the surrounding hills.

Hoodoos formed in this curve.  

We never tire of the many textures along the river valley.

Time, wind and water take their toll on the canyon walls.

Water's edge.

She can get right to the fringe and never get her feet wet.

The Colorado River flowing into Lake Mojave.

Looking for fossils in the many layers.

Success. They're like little time capsules.
While he's looking up, I'm finding treasures along the ground.
Two tiny arches along the ridge top.
Soft bunch grass gives the road a delicate trim.
Deep orange and red color this melting face in the rock.
It's getting late and the apples we snacked on are not holding off the hunger so we turn back to the road for our return home. We enjoy another delicious meal at Southwest Diner where we could too easily become addicted to their comfort food menu!

Wednesday it rains off and on, inviting us to stay home and do some summer travel planning. We get a few important phone calls made, and send more money to Amazon while we're at one address for another week.

I have more errands to run in the city, and although the rain continues sporadically, Thursday is the day to get them done. Navigating this busy area is a little easier this time and although most of my search is fruitless (back to Amazon) I do get a few items off my list. 

The forecast for Saturday is clear skies and the agenda is more Jeep trails. By necessity it's a post of it's own - I took so many photos!!!

Next time!