Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Located 17 miles west of Las Vegas, Red Rocks was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area.

During a recent visit to Las Vegas, my friend Andrew took me to explore this incredible place.

From the first moment we entered Red Rocks, my jaw was dropping.

The vast, wide open landscape, with those incredible peaks rising to the sky, blew me away!

The colors of the desert are so varied, and I love the multiple layers shown in the next image.

It’s incredible to think that the Las Vegas strip is just a few miles away.

The conservation area showcases the most incredible sandstone red rock formations.  “These sandstone cliffs are made up of Aztec Sandstone.  The formations, 180-190 million years old, are comprised of lithified sand dunes that formed in the a vast desert that covered a large part of the southwestern United States during the Juraassic Time.  Lithification is the process of changing unconsolidated sediment into sedimentary rock”.

“The red color of some of the outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone is due to presence of iron oxide or hematite. Exposure to the elements caused iron minerals to oxidize or “rust,” resulting in red, orange, and brown-colored rocks. Areas where the rock is buff in color may be places where the iron has been leached out by subsurface water, or where the iron oxide was never deposited”

The highest point in Red Rocks is over 8000 ft high.

“In marked contrast to a town geared to entertainment and gaming, Red Rock offers enticements of a different nature including a 13-mile scenic drive, miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and visitor center with indoor and outdoor exhibits as well as a book store”.

 https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/nevada/red-rock-canyon

Andrew and I followed the 13 mile scenic drive, and he was patient enough to pull over every time I said “Oh my gosh, look!”

The 100 degree temps required much drinking of water … and we were driving!

Next time, perhaps a winter visit is in order, and we can hit one of the many hiking trails within the conservation area.

Please visit here to see some amazing photography.  Just incredible!

Thanks, Andrew, for showing me the natural beauty of Nevada.

Thurmond West Virginia: Historic Train Town

Oh how I have missed riding the bike!

The passion for travel with my sweetie, the drive to elect women and men who share my values (ie the values of Presidents Obama and Carter), and the hours at work have diminished my time on the bike significantly.  The desire to ride, however, is ever present in my mind and two weeks ago, I finally had a weekend without travel. I spent one whole day riding 225 miles through Virginia and West Virginia. Happiness! The destination was Thurmond, West Virginia, an early 1900s boomtown.

We had many miles to ride before arriving in Thurmond, and our first stop was Bluestone Dam, a popular place for bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill fishing.  After a brief stop to look at Bluestone Lake and dam, we were off through New River Gorge country.

  While the others took off down a gravel road, I stopped for some photography.  I did not know when shooting this image that I was looking towards the historic Thurmond bridge.

The bridge has been rebuilt and rehabbed a few times, but the original bridge was built in 1889.

If you know me, you know I love a bridge, and I had to park the bike and walk out to capture this image looking down into the river.

The view down river from the bridge

The National Park Service restored the Thurmond Depot as a Visitor’s Center in 1995, and the NPS has made learning the history of Thurmond a walkable experience.

Two major fires, the arrival of roads, and the switch from steam engine to diesel engine led to the town’s decline.  Thankfully, the outdoor adventure industry and commercial whitewater rafting through the New River Gorge National River, have revitalized the area.

“Presently, the park owns approximately 80% of the town of Thurmond, including the historic Thurmond Depot. Three times each week, Amtrak uses the Thurmond Depot as a passenger stop and coal trains continue to roll through town hourly.  Though it is a shell of its former self, the historic town of Thurmond still stands as a reminder of the past. It truly is where the River meets History”! http://thurmondwv.org/about/history

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for riding, only made better by being with good friends.  Learning some history just added to the experience.  One more thing: the movie Matewan was filmed in Thurmond, WVA.

#MySawyerBracelet

A friend’s 10 year old son Sawyer (nicknamed SOY) died unexpectedly in October 2016.  Sawyer’s loving and devastated family had bracelets made for their friends & family to wear and to remember Sawyer by.

To remember the joy of his life not the sadness of his death.

Sawyer’s mother, Jaime, created a blogspot so that folks can post pictures of the places they take the bracelets.  Having friends wear the bracelets helps the family connect with Sawyer’s memory and reminds them that he has not been forgotten.   As friends, we know that we are carrying the memory of Sawyer on the adventures we have and the places that we visit.

In addition to wearing #mysawyerbracelet throughout New Zealand and Australia, I wore a bracelet in honor of my friend David, who died in 2010.

The bracelets never left my wrist and accompanied me while I sat in the Chair for Contemplation at Rippon Winery in Wanaka New Zealand.

Through the pine forest along the Queenstown Hill Time Walk and when adding a rock to the pile

From the summit of Queenstown Hill

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu

From the top of Bob’s Peak

On the train to Sydney …

… and on the train back to Melbourne

While driving on the left side of the Great Ocean Road (and on the left side of the car)

While talking with another bracelet wearing bar patron about the friends and loved ones we carried along with us

Outside this tiny little house and over this tiny little door

and while enduring three rounds of incredibly “intimate” security checks.

#mysawyerbracelet was along with me while riding a gondola, a jetboat, a kayak, a 5 person trike, 3 summits, and 11 different planes.

It was an honor to bring the spirits of Sawyer and David along with me on this journey.

The Final Day Down Under

It had finally arrived (in “real time” 3 months ago): my last day in Australia and the final day of an amazing three week adventure.   I started the day in the mountains of Grampians National Park (Gariwerd) and finished it on the coast in Adelaide, the capital city of the state of South Australia.  After enjoying my breakfast under the watchful eyes of the Kangaroos, I was soon on my way.

A gorgeous morning sun burned off the mist and I was once again awed by the beauty of the countryside.

The road to Adelaide was sometimes tree lined and at other times led me through wide open spaces.

As I passed through Coonalpyn, I was stunned to see these incredible silos murals.

Created by artist Guido van Helten, these silo murals are “already paying dividends, with an increased number of cars passing through town,  stopping and spending their money there”

Van Helten says that the children represent the future of the town, and he hopes the giant art work might inspire those children and others “to a path through creative industries”.

Pretty incredible!  I just wish I’d taken more time to capture each of the 5 children depicted on the silos.  Please follow this link to see much better photos and to learn more about how “the tiny rural town of Coonalpyn is showing signs of rejuvenation and community pride”.

After almost 800 miles in 3 days, my little rental car carried me safely to Adelaide.  Driving on the left was pretty fun, and with only the occasional correction, I had little trouble.  After checking into my hotel, I walked down to the ocean.

It was a beautiful evening and people were out and about, enjoying the pier, the boardwalk, and the beach.  The surfers were out as well, and although I’ve never been much of a sports photographer, I had a blast trying to capture the scene.

RIP Jordy

All too soon, I had to pull myself away from the water, and walk back to the hotel.  My early flight to Melbourne required that I check out at 4am.

My time in Adelaide was all too brief, and I regretted not being able to explore.  Even still, I’m glad I was able to spend even a few hours there.

Next Post: Final Thoughts and more photos of the Blogging Babes!

 

Continuing the Journey: Grampians National Park

In “real time” and since I last posted, I’ve worked many hours and traveled many miles, some for civic causes and some for fun, including a first ever trip to  Las Vegas (I cannot wait to work through those photos!).  In “blog time” though, I’m still in Australia.

After leaving the Great Ocean Road (see posts about my two days driving the road here and here), I drove to Grampians National Park (Gariwerd).  Gariwerd is the Australian Aboriginal name for the park, which is a nature reserve in Victoria, Australia. It is known for its sandstone mountains, which rise out of surrounding farmland.  The first views of those mountains required a stop for photos.

After checking into my motel, and knowing that I’d only have 3 hours or so before dark, I made the decison to hike the Pinnacle Trail.  Thinking “how hard can a 2.1k (one way) trail be?”, I hit the trail head guided by this sign.

Some times the trail was obvious, although challenging.

 

Other times, the trail was not as obvious, and I was thankful for the trail markers (which were also hard to find at times).  If you have a moment, click on the images to check out just how challenging that trail was.

 

As you can tell, the hike to the Pinnacle was straight up most of the time.  The view at the top was well worth the effort.

The wind was blowing hard all around me, and pushing me a bit, too, and I swear, when I sat down to eat my snack, I felt that mountain move!

The views were incredible and I dearly wish I’d been able to spend more time in this 413,000 acre park.  Soon enough, though, it was time to head on down,  and find that post hike beer.  After that, I sat on my little porch, watched the Kangaroos, and planned the next day’s route to Adelaide.

 

 

Three months after returning home, I only have one more day to share from my Feb / March trip to NZ / Australia.  Believe it or not, I have saved all of the notifications about your posts and dearly hope to visit soon!

The Great Ocean Road to the Grampians

 

At the end of Day 1 on the Great Ocean Road, and after a yummy dinner of Fish and Chips in Apollo Bay, I took a short walk along the water to end an incredibly satisfying day.

Thankfully, I still had several hours and many miles to travel along this spectacular road, so I was up and on the road early the next day.  Frankly, I’m really not sure how I ever completed the drive because I stopped … and stopped … and stopped.

What magnificent scenery, and a super fun road to drive.  My little rental car, with me on the right side of the car, on the left side of the road, drove the entire 243 km (151 mi).

Sometimes I was able to see the ocean and sometimes I wasn’t, but at all times I saw stunning natural beauty.

 I pulled over at almost every single stop, this one the London Bridge and I simply could not stop shooting!

I also made sure to take the time to be still.  I would just stand there, breathing deeply, and enjoying the sites, sounds, and smells of the ocean, the sand, and the air.

The power of the waves crashing against the rock formations had me spell bound.

I just never knew quite what to expect as I rounded the next corner of the boardwalk,

and I was never disappointed.

Arguably one of the most famous places along the Great Ocean Road is the Twelve Apostles.

“Situated in the Port Campbell National Park, the massive limestone structures that tower 45 metres above the tempestuous Southern Ocean, leave its visitors awe-struck in wonder at their size and beauty.  Behind the eight remaining stacks (five have fallen since their discovery) are majestic cliffs, around 70 metres high” (https://www.visitgreatoceanroad.org).

Absolutely stunning!

Before I knew it, I had arrived in Warrnambool. I left the Great Ocean Road and headed for Grampians National Park.  More on that next!

Let Me Re-introduce Myself

Along the Great Ocean Road

Victoria, Australia

Hello my friends!  You may be wondering if I’m still driving the Great Ocean Road, since that’s where I was when I last posted.  Actually, I left Australia two and a half months ago, and I’m still seeking time to share images from the last few days of the trip.  The last 9 months have been full, even more than normal, with organizing, chairing, co-chairing, and facilitating.  The next couple months, while scheduled with a good deal of travel, are not so full of leadership work, and I hope to soon post about the last few days of a once in a lifetime trip.