Lost in the Valley of Fire?

We’re spending a week boondocking here northeast of Las Vegas, on BLM land out in the desert. Lots of RVs come and go around us, but, with the exception of one audacious #vanlifer who pulled through our campsite, between the truck and trailer, to get to the site next to us (that has its own entrance), everyone’s been truly far away, so we feel like we have the desert to ourselves.

Valley of Fire State Park

Just five minutes away is this state park that is like Red Rocks and Arches rolled into just a few miles. We did our usual waking up early to get a head start on people, but due to a lack of decent maps, it took us a while to find our first trailhead. So worth the work though.

The giant rocks towering above us were dwarfed in beauty only by the striated rock faces running alongside the earth.

Banjo enjoyed being able to walk in a park for a change (dogs are banned from trails in all national parks and many state parks, but not here).

At a weird juncture in the trail on the rocks, marked only by painted metal posts far apart, Tracy and I lost each other. He would say that I got lost, but I saw that the trail was on the other side of a ravine, shouted about it and jumped over there, and then couldn’t see him anymore. He must’ve climbed up to look for me at exactly the wrong spot so that he was blocked from me where I had climbed up to look for him. We both waited for each other and looked for each other from high places, but without cell signal, we just kept missing each other

After we both waited and looked some more, he walked on along the loop trail, and I backtracked on the trail we’d just come from. We both ended up at the truck at the same time, but both frustrated that we hadn’t seen each other where we separated, and him worried, since he had the map and the water.

A positive surprise were these desert big horned sheep we saw at a different trailhead. They all have horns, but the males’ looked so heavy it was a wonder they could keep their heads up. Their bodies are as small as goats, it seems like, half the size of the big horn sheep we saw in the Teton mountains.

St Thomas Ghost Town

Also near our desert campsite is the remains of a Mormon town that had been irrigated by rivers flowing into the Colorado, but when the Hoover Dam was built and Lake Mead created, the town was entirely flooded.

Tracy is walking toward the town, above; the snow-capped mountains behind him are the edge of the Grand Canyon.

In modern times, the water in Lake Mead continues to fall, revealing the town’s remains. What’s interesting is that the descendants of the town’s pioneers continue to gather here routinely to celebrate the spirit of their hardy families.

What I remember from walking through this “ghost town” is that the ladies sure did love their dogs. My kind of place.

Sand Mine Road

Back at the campsite, we’ve had interesting times. We take turns walking Banjo high above the wash as well as deep inside it.

We had fair warning of an extremely windy day on Tuesday, with 60 mph gusts, so we pulled all the outside furniture back into the truck and stocked up on snacks, games, and videos, and planned to stay inside the trailer all day.

I went for a long hike in the morning right before the wind was to hit, and I did not get lost. I feel like I keep saying this, but I’m in earnest. I hiked down the wash for about an hour, and then I cut over to Sand Mine Road that runs alongside the wash to the west.

Except, at that section, the wash had run away from the road, so I couldn’t just jog over to it. I hiked to the top of a plateau to get cell signal to ensure that the road was right there (and it was), so I figured I’d just climb down into the canyon and find my way out, surely right at the road.

Over and over though, I would be shown on Google Maps that the road was nearby, but I would scramble up a plateau and see there was yet another canyon between me and it. If I’d had better cell signal, I would have turned on the topography feature of Google Maps and seen my mistake.

Again, though, I wasn’t lost! Just scrambling among cacti and the tracks of wild burrow, knowing that a fierce windstorm was imminent. (But you can see why Tracy would be frustrated when he couldn’t find me while hiking together in the desert a couple of days later.)

When I finally made it to the road, Google Maps told me I had a 45-minute walk back to the trailer. And I got there just in time; within ten minutes the wind started so strongly that the trailer swayed as if we were at sea. Banjo quivered under the kitchen table, and Tracy and I played a round of the Gloomhaven game with music on to distract her. The good news: we did not get blown into the canyon!

Ukulele Segment

This week I’ve been learning yet another Bob Dylan song that’s super challenging for me. The chords and chord changes are simple, but getting the measures down in time with Bob’s lyrics is super tricky.

As always, I’m posting because the sunset on the mountains behind me is lovely.

We have one more weekend here before we head closer to Las Vegas. I’m looking forward to more desert quiet, and maybe a little less not getting lost.

4 thoughts to “Lost in the Valley of Fire?”

    1. Thanks, Whit! I reread to find out why (still don’t know), but I found a typo and a spot to edit for clarity. I’ll just take the compliment.

  1. what I always love, is your ability to tell a story, even a story about getting maybe or maybe not, lost. I LOVE the big horned shepp.