“We’re [on the] the corner of no and where.”
Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly
When we were hiking across Spain we often talked to Europeans about how great it was to have such a long and rich history in their countries. They talked about how big America was and the wide-open spaces. We are a big country in comparison. For example, the entire country of Germany is just over half the size of the state of Texas.
This results in greatly different ecosystems across our country. On our journey, we’ve had a chance to enjoy some desert hikes, a very different climate than our home in the Pacific Northwest.
Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. This park is one hour northeast of Las Vegas and only six miles from Lake Mead. The name comes from striking sandstone formations. It reminds me a lot of Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs. We spent a couple of hours here with Laurie’s grandmother. The Visitor Center has great displays on the geological history of the area and human residents beginning with the “Basket Maker people” starting in about 350 B.C. Near the entrance is a memorial that demonstrates how unforgiving the desert can be. A stark white cross atop a white brick base graces the spot where John Clark, his horse, and his dog died of thirst in June of 1915. For more information check here.
Valley of Fire Slideshow
Hawes Trail System, Mesa, Arizona. This trail system is on the outskirts of Mesa—just east of Phoenix, and is free. We arrived at 7:15 am to beat the worst of the heat and enjoyed some great views and trails as we hiked for almost three hours. We shared paths with runners, mountain bikers, quail, hares, and lizards. Maybe scorpions and rattlesnakes as well, but we didn’t encounter them.
Because of the wet winter there’s a lot more greenery than usual. Some of the cacti are only weeks from blooming. It was a treat for us to see the different varieties of cactus and other desert plants up close.
Hawes Trail System Slideshow
Trip Update. Our route takes us through Tucson, Arizona, Las Cruces, New Mexico and then on to San Antonio by Saturday, March 18. It looks like we’ll be spending Saint Patrick’s Day in some small town in West Texas. Do they celebrate that holiday in that part of Texas? We’ll find out.