Las Vegas is a great jumping off point for exploring -you’re in nature right after getting out of town, which is pretty well delineated at the end of the "burbs". One minute you’re on a watermain, the next 100 yards and you’re in the desert. Go west to the Panamints and Sierras, or east/northeast in the wedge between Denver and Sante Fe to the great greenspaces of the southwest-Zion, Grand Canyon, Grand Escalante, Glen Canyon, Mesa Verde…
A lot of the trip out was above cloud, sort of dreamlike.
Coming into McCarron, a glimpse of the geologic ages unfolds below:
Getting closer to the ground we catch first views of the Vegas suburban landscape, and the extent of sprawl that exploded in the last 10 years.
And then it’s back to urban reality, as we see the start of a new cell block of homes, stopped in its tracks by implosion of the housing bubble.
On the ground, in the car, off to REI in Henderson for supplies on a bright sunny afternoon. I read somewhere that Vegas has 360 sunny days each year.
Stopping for gas, a real chuckle once again. McDonald’s has a knack for advertising next to the worst subliminal labels imaginable where even the colors of the competing messages are the same.
Sure the locals are adjusted to Terrible’s car wash, but the rest of us? It was just like on an earlier trip with one of the worst sign placements you could dream up.
So then after getting our camp stove butane and waterproof matches, it was time to crank the throttle and blast our way out of Dodge, heading northeast toward Zion on Highway 15.
Our plan this time round was to spend a few days in an new place before heading out for the bigger hikes... so we decided to visit a State Park "up the line" just outside St. George (about 90 minutes out from the landing zone in L.V.)
St. George is a fair sized town, and is very popular with the retired crowd since it has a pleasant and moderate climate, and is reasonably close to LV and holiday destinations.
There is a lot of money spent here on making it an attractive community for pedestrians, bikers and outdoor lovers....paved bike paths, first class walkways, friendly people, and good roads.
If you'd like to read and learn more about the history of St. George, and more, have a look at my friends' blog for April 2009, where they're visiting right now as I write this report. Heidi and Bryan are having lots of fun exploring...
Notice the creative architecture on the outskirts of town. Now take a look at some fantastic and beautifully integrated housing nearby. Who wouldn't love to live there???
You have to appreciate buildings that fit in an overall community plan, with similar earthy styling, looking almost as if they were born to be there.....sort of like Frank Lloyd Wright's "Fallingwater"
and all over the place, little cactus gardens at roadsides and along the trails.
Like everywhere else desirable, there is a demand for more housing, and St. George is no exception. Just like Snake Road up in San Leandro (looking across the bay towards San Francisco) there are lots of ups, downs, and hills so there is plenty of space for 3 dimensional street design. The general lack of snow and freezing rain for the most part means that steep roads are no problem.
After that little bit of a local tour, we grabbed groceries from the store and found a Lucky's to buy two styrofoam coolers. Why two? Can't you guys make do with one? Wellllll...after long experience out in the desert, two cheap ones (1.59 ea) are better than a more expensive one ...because...they use less foam....and they can be made waterproof so they don't pee water onto the floor through the pores, or if one of them cracks. Just put a green garbage bag inside one of them, then carefully insert the other cooler inside. Presto, a protected waterproof membrane that makes it easy to keep things dry, easy to drain, and can be used at the end of the trip for all the stuff that collects under the seats after a two week trip deep in the Outback.
Land in Las Vegas then head for the hills!
It's Sept 2008 and this time my friend Dave and I plan to explore a bit more of the Grand Canyon, also with shorter visits to some other old and new places "along the way". We plan to spend a few days exploring Snow Canyon State Park near St. George Utah, then a few warmup and hiking days at the official North Rim of the Grand Canyon. After that, going through the Kaibab-Paiute Reservation, it's a 60 mile foray across Antelope Valley and into the Mt. Trumbell wilderness to get to Tuweep for a hike down the remote Lava Falls route to the Colorado. After all that, we wanna revisit Mahogany Flat in the Panamint Mountains and spend a few days at altitude before heading home.
Yet another new golf course
...and for sports people who like it on the edge...
click any blue-framed picture for enlargement
If you want to jump ahead, pick a place: