Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Valley of Fire State Park

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.                     
~Kahlil Gibran
     It was time to head back to Los Angeles and we were determined to make the most of the final leg of our trip. We decided to spend some time at Valley of fire State Park, about an hour north of Las Vegas in Nevada. 
This State park is the oldest in Nevada. Established in the 1930’s, it is named for the red sandstone rock formations that appear fiery in the desert sunlight.   
We stopped for a short hike at an area called Mouse’s tank. Mouse, a renegade Paiute Indian hid out here in the late 1800’s after a rash of drunken violent rampages. He discovered a rare and well hidden water source in a shady crevice where two sides of the canyon meet. He remained safely hidden here till he emerged and was captured. 
     The red earth hiking path illustrated just how these rocks erode leaving an almost beach-like sand that penetrated our shoes and socks leaving our feet a faint orange color.
     The park has wonderful examples of several two million year old Petrified logs. These logs are in essence fossilized. The organic matter has been replaced by stone and retains the appearance of the original tree. At one time a primitive Araucarian pine grew here. A current example of this family of trees called the monkey puzzle tree.
The Anasazi Indians living in the adjacent Moapa Valley used this area for religious ceremonies and as a hunting area. The harsh environment and lack of water would have made it impossible for them to live here full time.

     We climbed up this staircase to view some examples of Anasazi petroglyphs
The petroglyphs found throughout the park depict life as it existed 3000 years ago in the Anasazi culture.  

    It was getting late in the afternoon as we continued our drive down the 15 toward Las Vegas. We don’t gamble but there is great food to be had at some of the strip casinos. It seems all of the top rated chefs have eateries in town. We met our friend Eileen for dinner at Mandalay Bay, one of the nicer Casinos choosing to eat at Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milken’s Border Grill. It was great to take a moment to relax and chat over ripe guacamole, fresh ceviche, and chicken salad. As lovely as it was to linger over dinner we knew we must return to the road and get back to LA before it got too late. We made good time despite a brief period of monsoonal rain as we drove through the Cajon Pass and an accident ahead of us that stopped traffic shortly after we passed Ontario.

     Tired but happy, John and I arrived back home around nine thirty PM, We headed up to our rooftop just in time to enjoy a panorama of countless fireworks shows that dotted the horizon as far as our eyes could see. What a splendid welcome home from our Utah adventure.

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