Even though I travel a lot, I rarely actually see much of any given city – unless the backsides count (which they should). There are a zillion interesting things to see nearly every place I visit, but when you spend a lot of time on the road, the idea of staying out an extra day to hit the museums sounds less-than-appealing. Hell, I’ve lived in Las Vegas near two years now and still have no idea where anything is!
Needing a few days to recharge my batteries, I thought it would be fun to remedy my local ignorance with a few days spent in/around the valley.
The first day was more task than vacation, but I did make it fun by going to a different supermarket than usual and scoring a few interesting things at a local thrift store. Then something which I’d been looking forward to for a few weeks – a trip to the Las Vegas Farmers Market.
It’s true, I didn’t love living in Los Angeles. But there are a few things which I did really appreciate – one of the best things about the city is the weekly Farmers Market in Hollywood. We went on a regular basis, buying excellent produce and out of this world sourdough breads (which I can’t have anymore and will never mention again due to lingering bitterness), and mingling with an interesting cross-section of Los Angeles’ citizenry. Since moving to Las Vegas, the Farmers Market has been one of the biggest gaps left in the new zipcode.
So you can imagine my happiness when I found one on the far east end of Summerlin – in a park and everything, every Tuesday! Wahoo! And we were off…
..to the tiniest, most pitiful excuse for a Farmers Market you can possibly imagine. I bought a couple cute bars of soap wrapped to look like candy (for Angel) from the folks running the Muscular Dystrophy booth, and there was a guy selling so-called kettle corn and a sno-cone stand. We also purchased a snocone (trying to support our local Farmers Market and all)…
…which was the worst, most watered-down snocone ever created.
Damn. Strike two.
Then there was a brisk walk of approximately eight feet to the ONE produce stall. They were selling stuff out of the box, just like at the supermarket, waxed cucumbers and all. Strike three.
While the place was a disappointment, the looong drive there and back afforded a nice view of parts of the city I’d not seen before; it’s pretty here, for the most part.
Not to be put off my task of finding neat things to see around my new hometown, I went home and packed my picnic basket and ice cooler, and set out my SPF 110.
The next day we were up and out early, since neither of us could sleep the night before, so we arrived at the Valley of Fire State Park before it was too terribly sweltering outside. Here’s me, totally happy and fully hydrated, lying inside a rock formation which has been there for something like several hundred thousand years:
Valley of Fire
This was my first desert exploration-type thing, other than walks to the supermarket in August, and the mountains and surrounding views were beautiful.
But we came for the petroglyphs:
About four thousand years old, these marks show up here and there throughout the park, but this particular trail has this:
It looks like some kind of ancient chalkboard or message center – or graffiti. But these marks are up high enough on the wall that the geography would have to have been different when they were made – I couldn’t reach them, even after doing a bit of reckless climbing.
After a few more hours of tramping around the desert, we loaded up and headed home…in an entirely different and unplanned direction than I’d driven in that morning. An impromptu driving adventure along the north edge of Lake Mead began, culminating in my dipping my toes in the water’s edge at Virgin River.
This was a great day trip, and one that I’ll do again – in spring.
Next morning I did something, the possibility of which I would’ve spent the majority of my life denying. I drove from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. I know, it doesn’t sound like that big a deal to you, but for a girl from the flat part of the country who doesn’t drive often, the mountain passes and desert winds were a little angst-inspiring. A 4 1/2 hour drive took about two hours longer, due to numerous stops to look at cool things, pick up rocks, and wander around in the middle of the damn desert. This is an activity which I suggest that everyone try at least once, within reasonably safe distance of your air conditioned rental car.
Here’s me during one of the many pauses, standing in front of a mural in Kingman, AZ:
Then, around 3:30 pm, this:
You can just see part of the Bright Angel trail, leading out over the flat part in the center of the photo, from the South Rim where I’m standing. Note: I did NOT walk the trail, unless you count the approximately 300 feet which I haltingly and timidly tripped down and right back up again. To say that the view and trail are precarious would be putting it mildly (at least to anyone else with an unnatural fear of heights), and my bravery only extended about as far as the first turn in the barely-three-foot-wide trail hanging onto the side of the mountain. Thanks, but I’ll just stand up here…
Isn’t it beautiful?
It’s probably pretty nerdy, but I brought along my Field Guide and spent a little time identifying different animals encountered at Valley of Fire and Grand Canyon, and took photos of several species (you’ll thank me for not including photos of every single bird, mammal, and reptile I took), including a herd (flock, gaggle, murder?) of wild bighorn sheep clustered atop a desert plain – and dozens of teeny tiny chipmunks who, according to the signs posted everywhere, are aggressive and known to bite. Hence, no photos of the chipmunks, as I didn’t want to start something I couldn’t finish.
Here’s a handsome guy who was kind enough to pose for this photo, even in the hot sun.
We spent the night in a pretty little lodge in the park, and after a morning of further exploration, got back on the road to Las Vegas.
After another couple days spent bumming around the house and generally being shiftless and lazy, I’ll be up to my elbows in bratting, as Angel will be here all this week. Yes, that’s right. I’m following my vacation week by spending the next several days spanking Angel repeatedly. Ahh, such a hard life.
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