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Vegas: Red Rock hike 2014/11/01

Las Vegas, for the uninitiated, is a city seemingly adrift among the vistas of the harsh Mojave desert. While there are several small towns and cities within an hour’s drive of the ever-expanding edges of the Vegas cityscape, once you pass those you’re pretty much in the wastelands. We’re talking the land of infamous Area 51, the Nevada Nuclear test site, Graboids, and Fallout New Vegas. The benefit to all this expanse of unrepentantly rough terrain is that much of it is exquisitely beautiful if you dare brave getting to it. Red Rock Canyon is among these prettiest of places while conveniently close to the city limits and relatively low on the difficulty. You can certainly opt to scramble up challenging rocks and scurry through caves and cracks, but you do so at your own discretion. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is named for the signature red rocks that proliferate the land. Other colors also streak through the stones, providing contrast and context.  Lighter stones could indicate mineral leaching from being underwater, while darker colors might indicate the presence of dense clays or different combinations of compounds. While I’m no geologist, I have to admit it’s a bit awe-inspiring to peer upon stones that chart the changes of eons in their striata…and besides, the red rocks are simply pretty. Many of the plants that grow in the desert are a less vibrant shade of green than you see in forests or grasslands, but the subdued hues contrast against the red quite nicely.
Despite the unyielding temperament of the desert, animal and plant life still flourishes. After hiking around for a little while, we found this little amphibian and his pals in a small pond that had sprung up atop a stone during the last rain. Rain is a scarce commodity and the ecosystem has adapted to take full advantage of it when it finally arrives. 

Driving back into Vegas from Red Rock is especially pretty during sunset, as the sky grows moodier and the city lights begin to twinkle to life. If you have the time to linger, enjoy the stars unhindered by the distant city lights.
 Few things in life are quite as lovely as the stars in a crisp, clear desert sky. 
Have you ever ventured into the Red Rock Canyon conservation area outside of Vegas?
If not, I highly recommend it during your next visit!

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Boulder Beach campout 2015-10-01

Back in Nevada, we set up base on Boulder Beach!
We were able to park reasonably close to the water, which was lovely.
While we stayed up for a few hours after leaving Willow Beach it was simply too dark for photos…
 Sunrise, however, was a whole different story.
A shame, too, because we witnessed a coyote prowling the beach a stone’s throw away!
Louie had played his guitar for us, which seemed to incite the coyotes into yipping. 
I thought that was pretty neat, but our neighbors down the beach packed up and were gone within moments! Scaredy cats. 😛 Coyotes shouldn’t be brazen enough to attack humans unless extremely desperate. There should be plenty of bunnies for them to enjoy by the lake!

More photos after the cut~

Antho caught me napping in our home away from home~
I was pleasantly surprised that our shelter didn’t take off on us in the middle of the night! 
It did, however, do so later on while we were swimming… ^^;
We were able to retrieve it and put it away, thankfully!

A cute little dragon fly that came by to say “Good morning Louie!” 🙂

The only evidence of our coyote friend the night before…

The water was a lot warmer than the river, but that still didn’t mean Antho was especially excited to go diving in!

I found this small tide pool the night before and was eager to check out in the daylight.
There were a lot of plants and even some little fish!

In the distance we noticed this guy with his parasol. 
Nothing particularly unusual about that, but he was nude ^^;
Alalala~! He wasn’t hurting anyone and kept to himself. 

After exploring the tide pool we wandered into the water to cool off. 

This looks like it should be the cover of Louie’s next album~

We could see all sorts of things in the water, from animal tracks in the mud to crab parts!

Once the day started to get uncomfortably hot and our shelter attempted to blow away, we decided to head into Boulder City for some grub and civilized amenities. 
Check back tomorrow for the post! ^_^

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Arizona: Willow Beach Day 2015-09-30

Only a short drive from Las Vegas lies the Lake Mead National Park & recreation area. 
I’ve been making trips out to the lake ever since I can remember, riding in my dad’s old van that reminded me of the Mystery Machine. (If she doesn’t get that reference she’s too young for you, bro)
It’s a beautiful area, really. A man made water reservoir fed by the Colorado river and dammed by the marvel of engineering that is the Hoover Dam. If you bypass Lake Mead you can head down to the river, which is where Willow Beach comes in. This beautiful beach and boating area is tucked away a short distance from the state line. 
On a bit of a whim, our pal Louie invited us to join him on an expedition. 
We happily agreed!

When we stopped for supplies, Antho found these inflatable light sabers! 
The force is strong with this one.

It was a bright and sunny early summer evening when we arrived so there was still a good bit of daylight.
The gift shop was already closed for the day, so we were unable to rent canoes or kayaks or anything, but we found plenty of enjoyment to be had without such things. 

Lead the way, boys! Louie’s friend Mason also joined us for our adventure, though he came in his own vehicle as he had to leave early.

The boys scoping out the guest dock.

Brr! The water was surprisingly chilly! 
The water in the Colorado river can be up to 20 degrees (F) colder than Lake Mead!
I suppose that makes perfect sense since the river has fresh water flow while the lake is sitting there, allowing the absorbed heat to remain rather than dissipating. 

Ah, that explains the temperature difference!

Rendezvous at the cars before heading on a hike!

We came into this little valley area and found a large tree standing alone.
The tree itself had a lot of character, but we noticed something…

Hidden among the branches were turkey vultures!

Then this happened… ^^;
Silly boy!
We explored the area a bit longer but it was rapidly growing dark. 
We spent much of the evening on the public dock, star-gazing and enjoying each other’s company.
More posts about our adventure coming soon!

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Leaving Las Vegas July 8th, 2015

To celebrate our one year anniversary Antho & I ditched the scorching summer heat of Vegas for the cooler breezes of San Francisco for 6 days. It was an all around wonderful trip! As you may have noticed we really like to travel fairly often having gone to Los Angeles in April and hitting spots like the Whiskey, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, and Union Station as well as having gone to L.A. last fall. It’s always nice to explore someplace new and when the tickets are going for as low as $44 it’s pretty budget friendly. Hopefully we’ll be celebrating our anniversary with new locations for many years to come!

Shortly after departing McCarran airport you’ll be privy to views like this in the window seats. Since we flew with Southwest, I was able to choose my own seat due to their open seating policy. If you’ve never flown with them before or experienced this, it works by assigning customers into boarding groups (A1-60, B1-60, C1-60) based upon their time of check in then letting them board in that order and choose their own seats. Trying to catch some sleep and don’t feel like gambling your shut eye on the whims of a teething baby? Grab another open spot! The earlier you check in the better your selection.

We had a brief layover in San Diego, which provided beautiful views of the city and ocean as we flew in. I’ve passed through the city a few times but rarely ventured beyond the freeways or airport. Someday we’ll make the trek! 🙂

Leaving San Diego en route to San Francisco. A very brief journey.

It’s always lovely to see the clouds from above.

First views coming into San Francisco!

Welcome to the BART, the Bay Area Rapid Transit. A high speed affordable transit system running throughout the city as well as other nearby locales. The BART runs directly to and from SFO so it makes for an extremely convenient option for traveling into the city with many stops throughout various neighborhoods. You can ride from SFO to West Oakland for roughly $9, a solid 40 minute commute one way from the airport. According to their website: 
 BART’s Excursion Fare allows anyone to tour the BART system (all 44 stations) for up to three hours on a $5.55 fare, as long as you enter and exit at the same station. 
That may not sound like much to get excited about, but if you get lost it could be helpful.

Once off the train our senses were confronted with the busy streets of the inner city, vibrant with murals and pretty painted buildings and colorful individuals galore.