I’m a bit behind having severely underestimated what driving, camping, tenting, dogging, caregiving, etc., add up to in time and exhaustion. All is well, but writing time has been minimal. Time to catch up!
First of all, I owe Nevada an apology. I have always thought of it as, well, pretty ugly and not very interesting. Red Rock Canyon to the West of Vegas is an exception. It is stunning and you look at the blood red walls and know that if someone told you there was evidence of an alien visitation secreted in a cave on those treacherous walls, you would believe them.
But we were well up the road out of Vegas on I15 when the traffic came to a dead stop. On a grade. In the 85 degree heat. If you are looking for a formula to kill an air cooled engine, that’s it. Either the clutch or the motor is going to give it up with the start and stop. Fortunately, there was an exit and I pulled off to look for an alternate. Yeah, right.
There was one but it added 110 miles to the day and I had to consult with the driver. That would make the day well over 400 miles. But what choice did I have? I might as well just shoot the bus to get in that vertical parking lot, so after consulting with some now grown up hippies who concurred, we left them to their soft cheese and organic juice and started the detour.
My expectations were low in the scenery department, but I was dead wrong. Within ten miles or so this broad valley appeared and in it were warm springs. Many of them and these weren’t little trickles they were real streams, with palm trees and micro-environments. You can only imagine how sacred this must have been to the first Americans, what a magical place. We stopped for cheese and juice of our own and parked under a massive shade tree near the entrance to a private spa where the warm stream had been subdivided by chain link fence “stations” for massage and heaven only knows what pampering.
Then off on the additional miles. Through great beauty! Low passes that go from Joshua trees at around 2500 feet of elevation, trees that look like some Dr. Seuss form of cactus, to Juniper trees at around 3000 feet, trees that look trimmed and perfectly hedged, to Pinons around 4000 feet which are unpredictable in shape and size, each completely unique.
We dropped down through deer country at deer hour late in the afternoon and had to jump on the brakes when one emerged close to the highway, through rolling hills with the cliffs of Cedar City in the distance. We made it just fine.
Finally arriving at a campground where we met a couple who were brush painting a coat of brown paint on a picnic table and, shall we say, enjoying each stroke in an altered state of some kind. The owners marveled at how long it was taking them.
A good night, I slept outside under the stars, Michelle in the bus. The sound of a stream and the two-lane highway our serenade. I had found unexpected beauty in Nevada but Utah is just flat out gorgeous.
Cedar City is lovely and home to the Utah Shakespeare Festival. I had always wanted to work there. Imagine doing Lear at night and hiking Zion in the day. Heaven.
Mo was well, Michelle was well, and Storm was perfection.
BTW, Caliente, NV is a gem that has a Motel you may want to consider.