December 2013

16 articles in December 2013

Barstow California is a FUNNY little town. It is at the crossroads between two highways in the middle of the Mojave. I stayed one night at the Rainbow Basin Campground, which has a long washboard dirt road, no electricity and a lovely view of very DESOLATE desert. It was also 25 degrees at night. Only I can nearly freeze to death in the Mojave, I swear. It was chilly, but I had the dogs to keep me warm. I was a little glad of the cold, just cause, ya know, snakes come out when it’s hot. Eesh. In the morning I heard a huge boom, which I’m assuming was some kind of weapons testing at the nearby …

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I am FINALLY out of the mountains. Hello, Nevada! I knew I was past the hard part when I exited the HUGE Virgin River Gorge outside St. George, Utah to be greeted by the town of Mesquite, which has a desolate and lovely view, yet can still grow palm trees I visited Valley of Fire State Park, which borders Lake Mead. It gets its name from the bright red sandstone rocks that are pitted and shaped by the strong wind. You can see three sets of mountains from the vista (usually) though today snow was happening. For once, I didn’t have to avoid it, and it avoided me. The park gets only 4 inches of precipitation annually. …

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Zion, UT

We woke up to MORE SNOW. Even though I’m sure that it was gorgeous, I’m pretty glad that we drove the road down into the canyon at night before it iced over. I took one look at it in the morning and I knew that there was no way I’d be able to go back that way. At least the wind had died down a bit and the sun had come out, so Monty and Niko and I hit the Pa’rus trail. It is the only trail in the park where dogs are allowed, and it snakes along the bottom of the canyon along the beautiful Virgin River. We took many pictures of snow covered canyon walls …

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I took the northern route out of Piedra Lumbre west, past Pedernal, towards Farmington and the Continental Divide. On the map, it looks like a flat plain. In a way, this is true. Going into the drive, I thought I would come out of mountainous territory and slope downward towards a place that resembled Texas. It was not like Texas. (Also, I had to take quick snap pictures as I went, because I was trying to avoid an impending snow storm. His name was apparently Cleon. Who names these things? If you click on the first photo, a slideshow of the drive between Piedra Lumbre and Page, Arizona will appear. It will be like you’re actually driving …

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Abiquiu, NM

On our last sunny Sunday in the Chama River Valley, Monty and Niko and I hiked to the top of Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch Presbyterian Retreat. I have a soft spot in my heart for Ghost Ranch, because I spent several summers here growing up. I remember each little nook and cranny, all the paths, all the good rocks to climb, because as a kid I was always exploring. Okay, I’m still exploring, but in this particular place it brings back fond memories. Here is some perspective: Yeah, I know. I can hardly believe I was that high up either. Monty and Niko probably thought that was the top of the world. I had to tie …

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Abiquiu, NM

The Piedra Lumbre Basin (or Valley of the Shining Stone) stretches from Abiquiu to Chama along the Chama River. And it is, probably, the most beautiful place in the world. I’m biased, though, I have many pleasant memories from childhood vacations here. Its icon is Pedernal, a 9000 foot mountain whose cap was produced in the Jemez volcanic field. Georgia O’Keefe lived in the valley below, and she painted it many times. I couldn’t help but take a zillion pictures of it. It’s like a benevolent version of the eye of Mordor, looking over everyone in the basin all the time, rain or shine. The lake is Abiquiu Reservoir, and from atop the dam you can see …

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