Fire, Death, and Parachute Shields.

Lily and I wrapped up our month in Utah and prepared to head into Nevada for the final stretch of our West Coast trip.

Enjoying one final Utah evening around the campfire.

Alas, the snow caught up with us and we woke up to a winter surprise on our last morning in Kanab.

The day before it was super windy with dust and sand blowing all over everything. Combined with the overnight snow, everything was a filthy mucky mess! So, on the way out of town we stopped at a car wash to spray off the gunk and grime.

Valley of Fire State Park

This was our first stop as we entered Nevada and we planned to spend two nights at the very popular Atlatl Campground. I was pretty anxious about this stop because the campground is very popular and operates as first-come first-served. All the online reviews I read told stories of how people drive in circles all day frantically looking/waiting for an open site. As cliche as it sounds, we got the last open site on the day we arrived.

Site 19 dry camping space.

It rained one of the two days we were there so I only got one hike in and that was the Fire Waves Canyon Trail. It was spectacular. At one point, I accidentally hooked up to another trail that took me into a slot canyon and around the White Domes. This state park is fantastic and rivals some of the National Monuments, IMO.

The waves of colors in the sandstone were simply phenomenal. I had to stop and pause periodically just to take in the incredible landscape. This was the first time I have ever seen purple sandstone.

Eventually the slots widened and the trail took me around the White Domes and then returned me to the truck and Lily.

Hoover Dam

On a day that it rained in The Valley of Fire, we took the drive through Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the Hoover Dam. The dam tours were cancelled due to the damn virus so the best I could do was walk around and take dam pics from the damn viewpoints.

Here’s a damn video from the Dam Visitor Center viewpoint.

Death Valley National Park

Truth be told, Death Valley wasn’t even on the list to visit, but when I saw it would fit nicely into the itinerary, we made the stop. And, I’m glad we did. It was nice to be out of the winter weather for a bit and also the park is remarkably interesting, and the sun was very bright.

Dantes View overlooking Badwater Basin – the lowest point in North America.

I did the short hike into Mosaic Canyon which is yet another slot canyon on my journey. I have only explored slot canyons carved out of sandstone so this one carved out of actual rock was really fascinating.

The rock was marble smooth and you could easily slip and slide down it.

On to The Devils Golf Course which was my favorite stop inside Death Valley and Lily got to explore here as well. It was strangely serene being in this place and I wished I had packed a lunch to enjoy there.

Next, we drove the 9 mile Artists Drive Loop and marveled at the multi-colored volcanic deposits. National Parks are truly special places.

The one-way Artists Drive through multi-colored painted hills.
Stopped for a selfie with Artists Palette in the background.
The Artists Palette.

And that wraps up our day trip into Death Valley NP. Here’s one last sunset pic before leaving this fascinating place.

Great Basin National Park

Since it was still winter, most of the roads and trails in Great Basin NP were snowed over and/or closed, but the Lehman Cavern was open and I took the ranger guided tour. Parachute Shields are the most unique feature of this very interesting limestone cave.

This is a Parachute Cave Shield – the shield is the round flat top part and the parachute is the bottom portion.
The innards of a broken Stalactite.

The cave was discovered about 100 years before it became a National Monument and later protected by the NPS so it’s been somewhat abused and altered. Before becoming a National Monument, tourists and explorers were encouraged to break off stalactites to take as souvenirs. “Whatever you can break, you can take” was the motto.

The biggest scar on the cave is the graffiti all over the ceiling in the “Inscription Room”. Some of the markings date back to the very early 1900s.

Early explorers and tourists would use charcoal and soot to engrave their legacy into the limestone ceiling of the cave.

Heading Home

Lily and I left Nevada and continued north. We are only one week from the conclusion of this West Coast adventure. Long drive days and overnights on BLM land and Harvest Host wineries are the theme until we arrive back in Seattle.

Parked overnight on BLM land near the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Sunglow behind the Superstition Mountains.
Lily loves roaming free when we are boondocking.

Finally, we enter our home state of Washington and spend our final Airstream weekend at the Columbia River Gorge on the WA/OR border.

Sunset over the Columbia River.

In a few days, we will drive the final few hours to Seattle and wrap up this incredible four month trip. Stay tuned for one last blog before we sign off for the summer and start planning our next adventure.

6 thoughts on “Fire, Death, and Parachute Shields.

  1. As always, the pictures and writings are fantastic! You have to be having mixed feelings now that you are nearing home. It will be good to get home, but sad to leave the road. Be safe!

    Like

  2. Thank you for sharing your adventures!! Wonderful pictures and what I am sure are lifetime memories! You won’t know what to do with yourself being back in the big city! xoxo

    Like

  3. I so love watching you and Lily in your adventures. I have absolutely adored you sharing this trip! Thank you, Paul. Looking forward to “our” next trip!

    Like

  4. Looks like you had a great adventure Paul. We leave BS in two weeks. Hard to believe we have been on the road nearly 9 months. Stay well. Watch for us passing through SEA in early April.

    Like

Leave a Reply to Amy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s