I get together with my friend Lynn on occasion for some sort of outdoor adventure. I’m pretty fit but Lynn is the real deal-she bikes and hikes and climbs both rocks and ice. I just do my weights, walk and swim.
We decided to meet halfway between us, in Las Vegas, but not THAT Vegas. We were there for the outdoor playground that surrounds Vegas. We didn’t even get close to the strip and did not play any slots. We only had 3 full days so we didn’t make it to the Hoover Dam nor did we see any petroglyphs. But we had a rip roaring adventure!
NOTE: No Photoshop on these colors-that is the pure beauty of the desert showing!
Las Vegas is smack dab in the Mohave Desert and is surrounded by mountains, which act as barriers to cut the flow of moisture. It is very arid and almost other-worldly looking. It’s sunny 310 days a year, which makes it the idea outdoor playground in the winter. We experienced abundant sun and temps from the low 40’s to high 60’s.
We stayed at the Lake Las Vegas resort in Henderson.
Our condo was ridiculously inexpensive, probably because the resort appeared to be largely uninhabited. It was pretty at night, all decorated for Christmas.
Most of the restaurants at the resort were dead, but the French bakery was hopping! Oh my, I can’t even begin to describe how fabulous the buckwheat galettes were for breakfast. Sublime! And of course, like all proper outdoor adventurers, we had to take French pastries with us on our hike.
Our first day’s hikes took us to Lake Mead and Red Rock. There is a wee bit of water in the desert, providing some actual green plants.
Plant life there is more on the mico-level. You need to search for the beauty. Loved this happy little almost-clover looking succulent (?).
I named this the “Ring-Tailed Bush”. Knew its name when I was there and have now forgotten it.
Loved these ghosty-looking bushes with their gnarled branches.
Sometimes the plantings arranged themselves in a way that appeared deliberate. Love this grouping.
One of the interesting things about the desert is the stark value contrast. The shadows are so strong there. It doesn’t really show in this photo, but it was striking.
Red Rock had a lot of….red rock. It was so pretty and so stark. Isn’t this almost moon-like? No green here.
We had an…um…interesting experience. Airbnb sent us an ad for a “Sustainable Chef Cooking Class Experience”. We thought that sounded like fun.
Wow. It was so weird. We arrived at the home of the chef and it was, well, kind of run-down looking. The chef took us on a tour of the grounds-very Road Runner looking terrain with old mobile homes slated to become Airbnb’s, a huge tent Airbnb, chickens, a veeeeeery pregnant goal and a slimy pond/pool that housed lobster and something else. The goat joined us in the house as she needed to be watched–it was near “her time”. Okeydokey.
Soon the other guests arrive, two attractive Millennials that were surely disappointed to see that the only other guests were two old ladies. They were very polite and well-mannered and at least pretended to be interested in us.
Dinner began. Salad. Normal salad. Okay. Good bread. And kombucha was the beverage. Really? Ick.
Then another course was served. The cook was proud of his practice of using every part of the animal. This course was pork from denuded, smoked neck bones, with roasted root veggies and a fried egg atop. Some parts were, um, quite chewy. On a small salad plate, tapa size. Good. Ridiculously salty.
Keep in mind, the cook was in the kitchen for most of our visit, leaving us to chat with these poor Millennials. Then Lynn abandoned me to check out the kitchen and the guys pretended to be interested in my book. Were they?
Next course–hmm, it’s sweet. A date mouse kind of thing. He said it was goat cheese but I’m tasting a LOT of butter. Goat butter he said. I’m thinking, how curious that this is a sweet course already. It was so heavy. I mentioned that I was going to save room for the next course. It was clear at this point that there was no “cooking class”.
Our cook said, that’s it, the third and final course! Again, really?? Those poor Millennials must be starving! The host then began to explain how he gets around the water regs and taxes and other regulations by creating a “church”. I am being polite now. He gets into politics. I’m working hard to be polite as he self-righteously pontificates.
Thankfully, our appointed departure time arrived and we left. We envisioned the Millennials leaving a blue streak as they headed to Taco Bell. Poor guys. So nice.
This is the only photo worth showing of the following day at Sloan Lake. There are some great hikes in that area, but we were steered astray by a local. He pointed to a road and said it was a great hike with a little-known sitting area that had a sweeping view of the city. Sounded good-we headed out.
Reality: it was a maintenance road up a hill topped with communication towers. I’m sorry but views of Las Vegas in the daytime are NOT worth a whole day’s super-strenuous hike. Total bust.
The following day we headed out the Valley of Fire. Gorgeous! There was lots of great scenery and hikes. Above is a photo of, you guessed it, Elephant Rock.
Embedded within the desert are these areas fed by springs. This one had dire warning signs to not let the water enter your body (nose, etc). It had some deadly microbe. Eww. But it was kinda cool to see this in the middle of moon-like terrain.
Look at those beautiful fronds! How elegant. I have a ton of photos of this.
Back in the desert, more awesome plants. Love the sweep of this one!
We walked through a slot canyon on one of our trails. Isn’t this awesome?
Lots of red rock there! Love the arch. We were not allowed to go on it.
This guy just came strolling by our car! Everyone else was busy looking at petroglyphs. He walked right next to the car like he owned the place. So cool. He was a Big Boy.
The end of a long day and a great vacation of hiking, discovering, adventure and rock scrambling. I LOVE an active vacay!
Just a note. One thing that struck me on our travels. The Visitor’s Center log at each location showed that people from literally all over the entire world visited these parks. How cool is that? Our national and state parks are a treasure. It makes me proud of our great country.
One more note about what I call The Other Vegas-there really are slots. Everywhere.
The grocery store had slots! OMG!
Of course the airport is basically one big casino. The lady on the left played the machine unceasingly for the 98 minutes I sat there. I don’t understand the machine, but it flashed $949,682 (or something like that) 72 (maybe an exaggeration) times. She did not move except to punch the machine and take tickets.
I find that profoundly sad. I know I’m being judgmental. Watching reality show reruns or playing video games tops that, no? Shaking my head.
I’m off to Tucson next with Hubby for Christmas and to see a boy. Yippee! I’ll be linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday which has fabulous links!