Monday, October 26, 2009

Valley of Fire

We've had visitors here for the last few days and on Saturday, a perfect day for being outside in the desert sun without roasting (as are most October days), our guests decided they wanted to see some Vegas glories of the natural versus man-made variety. Not being either shoppers or out-of-towners who are obliged to clog up the Strip on weekends in order to see it at all, we were delighted (and a bit relieved) by this choice. Our definition of hospitality includes letting guests decide on plans, then chauffeuring them, keeping them company, and otherwise doing what we can to make sure they have a wonderful time. This policy occasionally leads us down dubious paths activity-wise, but not this time.

Valley of Fire, Nevada's oldest state park, is within an hour of Las Vegas. Its name comes from its eye-popping red sandstone formations. These
fantastical shapes and sinuous layers were created 150 million years ago by enormous shifting sand dunes, then sculpted by both the uplifting and faulting of the entire region (which occurred in pulses from about 80 million years ago until about 35 million years ago) and by erosion, geology's most dogged player. The park also features layers of limestone, shale and other gorgeous and geologically fascinating rocks, chipmunks as bold as game-show hosts, lizards, jackrabbits, coyote, birds, and the usual array of desert plants.

It's amazing how distinct and colorful these plants now appear to us. When we first moved here, our eyes accustomed to the splashy colors of Midwestern foliage, all the desert flora looked similarly scrubby and more or less beige. Familiarity has transformed subtle beauty into vivid beauty, as splashy in its own way as the rich rainbow of humid climate colors or the gaudiness of the Strip. Here as elsewhere, I guess, perspective is everything.


kimberly salem said...

Beautiful shots as always :) It's all about the texture and light out there.

Unknown said...

Your eye for a picture and accompanying words always seem to transport me. Especially loved the final photo showing Mans tiny impact on the view.

N.L. Lumiere said...

VALLEY OF FIRE, what a wonderful name.
Lovely pictures and colors.
I love the desert, the silence and the clean air.
And there's so much life in a desert: bugs and snakes (was that a chipmunk stretched out in the shade of a rock?) and foxes and scorpions and roadrunners. I was so excited the first time I saw a roadrunner, I thought they only existed in cartoons!

Lea said...

I agree, perspective IS everything. When we lived on Colorado's Front Range, we had some Midwestern guests who were similarly unimpressed with "all the rocks." We tease them to this day about that comment!

I would have loved to take a geologic walk with you in Deer Creek Canyon, near our old home. The rock formations were very smooth and red, and they looked as if they were made of a thick, goopy liquid, then frozen in place.

Lovely post!

Angela said...

Those huge blue skies and alien rock formations, such a shocking landscape to a Brit like me. Makes you feel so humble. Thanks for the words and the pictures.

NW said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the virtual mini vacation, Debra!

Anonymous said...

How beautiful! Thanks for the tour.

I definitely wish my husband and I would have signed up for one of the riding or four wheeler excursions out that way instead of heading towards the strip for the one time we visited Las Vegas. That will be the only way I'll be coming back, that's for sure :)