Written By Renee Aldrich
Over Thanksgiving week, we had a great vacation and road trip, Dan shared the first part of our road trip last week. Today, I am going to share one of my favorite parts, from the many wonderful and memorable experiences we had. We will likely post more stories from our Thanksgiving road trip in the weeks to come.
When we drove from Las Vegas, NV to San Diego, CA, we decided to drive through Joshua Tree National Park. Neither of us had been there before and, even though we were only driving through, we were extremely excited to see it's sights.
In the park, we of course saw many Joshua Trees, which I absolutely love, but the way we drove through, we also got to experience the Cholla Garden and the Ocotillo Patch. Both were absolutely awesome and gorgeous. Especially the Cholla Garden, which we were lucky enough to catch at sunset. The setting sun created an amazing glow through the needles of the cholla, producing a wonderful glow show. The ocotillos are awesome! They are giant plants with long spindly stems that shoot up toward the sky. I want to come back and see them when they are blooming, they have many lovely red blooms.
We drove through Joshua Tree quickly and didn’t get to see as much as we would have liked. We're hoping to make it back soon to explore and experience more of what the park has to offer.
Check out the slideshow below for more pictures of the Cholla Garden and the Ocotillos:
Hiking with dogs is always so much fun! Just look at these cuties--including Dan!
By Daniel Montero
We are on the road this week, in Las Vegas visiting our family (Renee’s mom and sister) and the afterward will be driving to San Diego for another family getaway, this time with my siblings and their families.
Due mostly to the storm that blew through Reno last week our plans changed a little and we were able to leave Reno on Sunday morning instead of Monday so we decided to make a 2-day trip out of it and to take a new route to Las Vegas, down 395 along the Sierra Front to Big Pine where we cut across the south end of the White Mountains, through Deep Spring Valley. Our first stop, a quick one, was a little north though. Passing through Bridgeport we stopped at Travertine, just off the highway for a quick break. It was busy, but we got a pool to ourselves and had a nice little soak.
We drove farther south, past Mammoth and down into the Owens Valley, down to Big Pine, and then east into the Whites. We’ve always had a real love affair with the Whites, and Coco and I had been down to this south side way back in 2006 or so, but Renee hadn’t been this wa, so it felt very new. The day starting to slow down we decided to try to find a nice, Prius friendly place along the road to the Ancient Bristlecone National Forest. The whole thing being impromptu, we hadn’t really thought about how fantastic this would be, but when it presented itself we certainly did jump to the opportunity. We drove a few miles up the road and then, just about to lose the sun on these ultra short days, we found a nice little undeveloped spot easily Prius accessible but off of the road a bit on a still sun-bathed ridge and with a nice little rocky outcrop just across a well-space juniper and piñon forestland. We scrambled up the hill for to the rocky outcrop for the last light on the Sierras and were treated to an amazing show while we did the Larry and generally raised a ruckus of being alive and in the world.
In the morning we decided to try to venture up higher toward the bristlecones. We’d been listening to a Louis L’Amour novel, The Quick and the Dead, as a sort of western reminder of my early reading list and for the tone and cadence of another Western project I’ve got boiling and we joked and laugh about a pretty corny line in the novel about being at “1o,000 feet!” We stopped at an overlook with the morning light just bathing the whole sierras and scampered and played. We wished my sister-in-law happy birthday via a video greeting. There had been a bit of ice and we were just a little bit concerned about the road up higher. And with somewhat good reason, in the deepest of the north shadows there was thick ice but the Prius took it like a champ and then we were out at the Shulman Grove Visitor Center, closed for the winter, but there all around us, young and old, we were among the ancients. In the quiet morning (we had it to ourselves for most of the time we were there) it was so easy to get lost in them, for me to learn more about them, for me to want to learn even more about them, but mainly just to respect life and our momentary little piece of it, just a slender breath, a whisper of the rings of even the young ancients. We were all touched by it, so of course we played as hard as we could, doing the Larry, hugging trees, attempting some elephant calls, and just really luxuriating in life.
But then onward, to family to dinner to, to slow-cooked tortilla soup and the next day Renee’s mom took us to her new haunts, the Las Vegas Wash.
A different experience, a different landscape, but no less wonder at life. We saw road runners! We saw cormorants, we saw great blue herons, we saw lots of wild fowl down in the wash and we got to enjoy it with our family. A great day!
I’m writing on the deck of Renee’s mom’s condo and today we are exploring on our own.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
I love the constantly moving Nevada Sky and one of my favorite local places for sky watching is Huffaker Hills Park. In this evening these tremendous shapes stretched across the sky. To me they have the appearance of some mythical creatures sniffing each other or touching noses. What do you see?
By Renee Aldrich: Originally posted on womenbewild.com on 11/4/16
A couple of weeks ago I headed to the Santa Rosa Range, north of Winnemucca, NV, to check out the fall colors. The trees were turning, but I was a bit early for the brightest of the fall leaf show. I decided while I was there I'd hike up Granite Peak. It's the highest peak in the Santa Rosa Range, but the hike is relatively short, as a road goes most of the way up.
I hiked up the mountain enjoying the views, seeing the fall color and the vast, wide open space that is Nevada. At the top it was windy and a bit chilly. I ate a snack and enjoyed the 360 degree views and headed back down.
On the way down, I got a little rock stuck in my shoe. I sat myself down on the steep slope of the mountain to remove said rock. I took off my shoe, shook my boot and the little pebble rolled out. I put my shoe back on and got ready to go on my way. As I started to stand, I realized how pleasant I felt. How comfortable I was right here and now. So I stayed. I stayed seated right in that spot and I felt the nice warm sun on my shoulders.
It was wonderful. It was a bit chilly out but the sun on my shoulders provided the perfect amount of warmth. Sitting there, on the side of the mountain, I noticed I was perfectly content, not hungry nor overly full; not thirsty nor needing to pee; and my seat was quite comfortable--not one single sharp rock. As I was enjoying the moment, I realized if nothing changed, I could sit here forever. I could be completely happy if it all just stayed the same. Unfortunately things change. They always do. I would eventually have to move. The day would turn to night and get cold, I would become hungry and thirsty and eventually I would have to get up and pee. But in this moment I took the time to sit and enjoy this perfect, peaceful, gratifying space I found myself in.
When you're out in the wild remember to take some time to sit and let the elements in. Appreciate the perfect moments. It's so easy to forget to take that time, we get caught up in reaching the summit or reaching our destination without fully appreciating the journey that gets us there. Often the journey is hard, you ache, you strain, you're uncomfortable, but when those perfect moments creep in, take the time to enjoy them!
by Daniel Montero
I love shadows. A temporary imprint, a trick of light and opacity, they are also strong reminders that our existence is temporary, fleeting, and that we need to seize every single moment. They are also, well, especially in sunny Nevada, almost always with us on our explorations. Silent Companions imprinting themselves along our routes, Impossibly long caricatures at the beginnings and ends of days, hidden directly underfoot when the sun beats mercilessly high above us. Sometimes cast by moonlight, sometimes cast by the swirling lights of a dance floor. We strive to leave no impact when we are out exploring, whether in the desert or on a city bike path, and in this we can do well to emulate our shadows, who never leave anything behind. Here’s to you, shadow, may you always follow me everywhere!
I think this guy wanted to jump in the car with me! There is a big group behind Hidden Valley and I went home that way after an afternoon walk and stopped to hang out.
By Renee Aldrich
As I mentioned in an earlier post, Dan and I don't really consider ourselves "peak baggers," even though we love to climb peaks. The term peak bagger just doesn't sit right with us. It's like you're conquering the peak rather than experiencing and learning from it. We like to think of ourselves more as explorers, We love to take in the wild, remote areas we play in. We like to move slow and almost always leave an area with an intense desire to come back to see, learn and experience more.
One day, Dan and I hiked up a tall peak in central Nevada, we were making our way back down the mountain when we heard a voice call out "Renee, Renee" and we were confused by who would be calling out my name in such a remote area. When we turned around a man was coming down the mountain behind us. He had apparently learned our names from the peak register we had signed just a little while before. He had made the peak a bit after us--much to his chagrin--and was trying to catch up.
He was a nice guy and very much what I envision a typical "peak bagger" to be. One of his first questions to us was, "are you peak baggers or geocachers." We mumbled, "well, we like to hike." We then had a nice chat as he discussed peaks he recently climbed, peaks he planned to climb and his plan to climb all of Nevada's high peaks. I don't remember what led to this remark, but at one point he said "I'm so glad I made this peak, at least I don't have to come back here again!" Dan and I didn't respond to that, but looked at each other knowing that we were thinking the same thing, "WHAT?!"
That sentiment is just so different from how we like to experience the great outdoors. We now have a running joke that comes out often, especially when make a peak or are in a exceptionally cool spot, we look at each other and say, "At least we don't have to come back here again!"
Slideshow of places we love and definitely want to visit again ;)
This blog is dedicated to stories and ideas from our explorations. We hope you enjoy!
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