Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"the most awesomest place ever," my sister said

All photos in this entry mine.
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My youngest sister said "This is the most awesomest place ever!"

I can see why she thought so - the Valley of Fire State Park really is a remarkable work of nature. I'm so glad we took the time to go there during out visit to Nevada.

I've actually never heard of it until I saw this sign on our way to Lake Mead a few weeks earlier:

The name got me very, very interested. Valley of Fire. I supposed it was a valley full of reddish rock that looked all "fiery" when sunlight hit them. Hmmm.

It was just a few days before we headed back to Manila that my Mama thought of taking us to the Valley of Fire (It was her birthday that day, BTW. Thank you Ma!). She has never been there before either, but she heard it was a beautiful, must-see place that would really make our trip to Nevada more memorable.

But "beautiful" and "must-see", as we learned later, were gross understatements.

A bit of trivia before I continue: Las Vegas is Spanish for the valleys. Anywhere you go in Vegas, you would be surrounded by mountains. They aren't blue, distant mountains like the ones I'm used to seeing on the outskirts of Metro Manila - these are huge, up-close mountains and mountains and mountains and mountains, brown and near-bald, with horizontal striations carved by wind and water.

Seeing the ridged mountains driving through Vegas, I thought those were pretty.

Then we drove out of the city and into the desert where we saw a lot of interesting rock formations. And I thought those were pretty.

We drove on and on, until we finally got to our destination.

As we followed the curve of the road around the mountain ...

... a burst of bright, red rock peered over the dull gray.

We couldn't help saying WOOOOOOW! It was just ... - ... - ... - breathtaking.

Throughout the valley, there were these massive, fascinating rocks, mostly in various reddish hues - from a soft peach to a vivid magenta to a deep bittersweet.

It was as if we were on another planet. Like Mars. Or Tatooine.

Coming to think of it, a lot of movies had a couple of scenes shot in these unique, alienesque vistas (Transformers, Star Trek: Generations and Total Recall, to name a few).

Every now and then, the Hubby, my sister and I went out of our vehicle to take closer looks. We made sure to monkey up and down a few smaller formations.

We went up a stairway to a massive balancing rock named Altlatl to see the ancient petroglyphs on its face.

We trekked through a half-mile long canyon trail that featured more petroglyphs and peach-toned rocks.

There was an area aptly called Rainbow Vista, showing off rocks decked in various colors. Not just reds now, but even the lightest creams and the most royal of purples.

The road twisted through colorful formations that looked like lumps of striped candy and molten marshmallow. Really, surreally, pretty.

There are a lot more breathtaking sights at the Valley of Fire, but I couldn't possibly squeeze all the photos I took into this single entry. Besides, whatever pictures I take wouldn't ever suffice to convey the beauty I saw. ^_^

As we drove out of the valley, the interesting rock formations thinned out. The sun set the scenery cooled down from dynamic reds into soft blues.

If it were an easy thing to do, I'd love to visit that place over and over again. It's a definite must-see. If you are anywhere in the area of Nevada, like, if and when you decide to check out what Las Vegas is all about, clear a day in your agenda to visit the Valley of Fire State Park (Especially if you're a movie buff or a sci-fi geek; i.e., you might just want to sight the site where the Autobots rolled out to save the world, or where Captain Kirk fell). Be sure to slather on your sunblock, bring a lot of water and food, and wear comfy-but-sturdy shoes and a good hat. An air-conditioned vehicle would suffice, but I'm sure a decked-out RV wouldn't hurt.

Monday, June 6, 2011

the drive to southern cal

June third, Friday prevening. The Hubby and I rode with some family-friends to Southern California. We thought it would be good to come over and say hello to some relatives over there since California is just a few hours' drive from where we were in Nevada.

We were told it was going to be a five hour drive through the desert. No biggie, I thought; it would be the same length of time driving from Manila to Baguio through very light traffic. Nonetheless I prepared myself for a possibly boring few hours, keeping my inflatable pillow handy in case I decided to sleep the ennui away.

But I hardly slept a wink -- the scenery outside was extremely photo-worthy.

We made the trip in the late afternoon through the early evening, so there was a warm, golden glow about.

Since we were just hitching a ride, I thought it best to just considerately and discreetly snap shots from where I sat. I did my best in a moving vehicle, through tinted windows, no tripod, fully manual.

I found fascinating the way the cirrus clouds marbled over the mountains.

We also stopped by the world's tallest thermometer at Baker.

I kept taking pictures until it was too dark to shoot with high shutter speeds. Which was fine by me, since we were almost at out destination by then anyway.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

vacation mode

I haven't been blogging the past few because I've too gladly put myself on Vacation Mode. Two weeks ago, the Hubby and I flew over to see my Mom, her husband and my little sister in Nevada. We're still here by the way. So far, we've had somewhere to go and something to do every day.

I'm quite enjoying the "new environment" - the cool, non-humid climate, the alien scenery, the differing culture.

I love most of all how I've finally gotten to spend time with this slice of family.

We've had so much fun snapping and sharing photos too.

The Hubby and I have around two and a half weeks before we head back to Manila, and we hope to make the most of those days.