Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Nevada and Utah in September

As soon as you cross into Nevada near Lake Tahoe there are several casinos. Seems like every town had some sort of gambling opportunity.  As we drove through the desert toward Las Vegas to visit family we noticed a reservoir that didn't have any water.  Lake Lohotan dam was a dry river bed. Boat ramps and lake shores in the park were dry.

Near the Walker Reservoir, we stayed in Tonopah Station casino RV park  After making ten dollars in the slot machines we took the dogs for a walk. The neighborhood now sidewalks and foundations had been military housing.  Along the highways we were reminded how many bases still exist in Nevada.  Knowing some of the history of the atomic age, it was a realty check watching on-going military training games.

We drove past acres of bunkers containing ancient military secrets and current technologies of potential destruction.  These images reminded us how far away we actually are from world peace.  In Las Vegas, we camped in Main Street Station Casino and RV Park.  Although basically a parking lot it has some trees for shade and was a mere $16.00 a night for full hook ups.  It was also perfect for ease of access to downtown and family, Kathy's sister Karen.

We were excited to see her since it had been over three years. We  headed toward the Container Park, a yuppie group of metal container buildings and adult toys such as a large slide and a fire breathing preying mantis.  It was a fun  night.The next day was a family backyard BBQ.  We did the friendly thing and brought both dogs and loads of laundry.

As we made our plans to go on to Zion National Park, we invited Karen along. She decided to join us for one nigh.  Kathy and I drove on to Zion, an easy drive from Vegas.  The view of sandstone cutout gorges are very beautiful images.  We camped at the Zion Canyon Campground just a half mile from the south entrance.  A little pricey but well maintained and easy access to Zion National Park.  In fact the free shuttle bus stops right out front.

Kathy and I took the bus into the park and then on to Emerald Pools.  Kathy was easing me into hiking with stories that her mother and sister had previously hiked the pools.  There are three paths the lower pools hike is completely paved and is an easy hike for anyone.  Getting to the middle pools you climb narrow switchbacks with one hundred foot incline.  The pools spill down a waterfall to the lower pools.  The upper pools is at the end of a narrow rough and sometimes steep trail.  The pools an inviting oasis, in which one can no longer swim, is framed by three sheer rock faces.
We enjoyed lingering by the cool waters as the day warmed and we shed layers of clothing.  On the way down we purposefully made sure we felt the spray from the falls we walked under. These cooled us.

After getting Kathy's Passport stamp and purchasing a pin at the bookstore we headed back home.  Passport stamps are dated rubber cancellation stamps each national park has to record your visit. They also sell passport books for you to keep your cancellation and notes.  Kathy also has a National Wildlife Refuge passport book for our visits there.

 That evening we biked to town.  Springdale Utah is the little town adjacent to the the southern entrance to Zion National Park.  Springdale claims to be "the gateway to scenery and adventure."   The town of 500 permanent residents welcomes a millions of Zion visitors from all over the world. This charming community was welcoming and eclectic with its artists at its roots.  Although a tourist community, along with other town like Valdez AK, this town goes on our list of communities to further explore for future longer stays.

As we bicycled back to camp the trip was mostly up hill.  Our legs tired from hiking and elevation it was somewhat challenging.  As dusk approached quickly, I wanted to get off the roads since our bikes do not have lights.  I pushed on harder and shifted down. suddenly I got a burst of energy and began humming the Bicycle Song or Miss Gulches theme from The Wizard of Oz.  There I was singing do dey doont de do duh, day do dey do de do duh, as a came up from behind and passed Kathy who had slowed down to a crawl on the final hill.  She laughed so hard she couldn't continue her ride and came to a complete stop. Kathy fondly remembers this event vividly even months later.

Karen came to join us the next day.  She hiked the infamous switchbacks of Angel Landing.
Kathy joined her in support but didn't finish the final nearly deadly ascent.  It was Karen's trek.  She succeeded.

The next morning Karen drove us to bison farm through the tunnel that we would be taking the RV through the next day.  Zion Mountain Ranch is a private park offering cabins, horseback riding and immediate trail access to Zion's southeast entrance. It is a great locale and is highly recommended for those without an RV.  On the way back to our campground in town we stopped to watch a herd of mountain goats.
It was awesome seeing these quick and nimble creatures.

Karen needed to head home to complete her packing so it was a hard goodbye knowing what else lie ahead for her.  Our departure through Zion's tunnel was an opportunity for me to watch the RV in action as I followed in the Jeep.  The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel is 1.1 mile tunnel completed in 1930, is narrow and has several turns.  All large vehicles must be measured and obtain a $15.00 permit to access the tunnel so the Rangers will stop oncoming traffic during your passage.  It was fun taking video and trying to take pictures through the openings in the tunnel as we drove through.  Leaving Utah on highway 89 south the landscape begins to change from sandstone to forests. Although politics being tainted but religious views is off putting, Utah is a state we remember fondly.

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