Archive for April, 2010

valley of fire   7 comments

Posted at 8:47 am in desert,nevada

The second day after leaving Bisbee to return to the northeast, I stopped to visit Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. The park is within an hour’s drive of Las Vegas, so it wasn’t too surprising to find a long line of vehicles at the entry gate. I used the time inching forward in line to eat some salad made before leaving home. By the time lunch was finished, I was at the front of the line. Once inside the park, the crowds dispersed – some to the campgrounds and others to the visitor’s center and trail head parking areas. On this day, I would just be passing through to the east side gates and beyond after touring around a bit to appreciate the rock formations and take a few photos.

Early April is a good time to visit — not yet too hot, and the desert vegetation was fresh and green against the intensely red rock formations. As usual, it’s difficult to convey size or scale in photos, but most of the formations are large, but not on the scale of other red rock places such as Zion or Bryce Canyon. I was particularly drawn to the strange partial circle pattern in the above formation (click on all photos to see larger views). Similar formations always catch my eye when I’m traveling through southern Utah.

As I was planning to camp the night up near Kanab, Utah, there wasn’t time for hiking on this day. However, it would be terrific to return to walk a few trails to sites that are not visible from the road system as there are petroglyphs and petrified trees to be seen. Having Sage and Sabrina along, I did not want to leave them in the van for more than a few moments. When you’re in the desert, the temperature in a vehicle can begin to soar immediately when you’re not moving along with the windows open, so any stops for photos were minimal and consisted of quick leaps out of the van to shoot an image or two of particularly striking formations. A couple of times along the roadway, a Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) raced out of the sagebrush and bounded ahead of us for a few moments before leaping for cover. Sage stood perched with front feet atop the cooler between the front van seats where she could get the best view of the action.

Although the brilliant red rock formations are signature of this park and seemed to attract the greatest visitor attention, it was the “painted hills” section that most appealed to me. It is like a somewhat scaled down and more concentrated version of the landscape in the Escalante-Grand Staircase region of southern Utah. Softly rounded hills and domes of rock in pastel tones of pink, yellow, violet and brown.

After leaving through the east gate of the park, I took a roundabout route back to the freeway and on up to Hurricane, Utah. Quite by chance, I took a wrong road going out of town — intending to go towards Springdale to look for the place on the cottonwood flats along the river outside of Zion where I had seen RVs and campers boondocked on my way through last March. Within minutes, it became apparent that I was on the wrong road, and actually cutting back into Arizona on the narrow strip between the Utah border and the Grand Canyon. Rather than turn back, I drove on to Fredonia and then up to Kanab. It wasn’t such a bad thing as we spent the night at one of my favourite campgrounds – a quiet place which only ever seems to attract one or two fellow travelers. Which one? As the movie saying goes, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

Well, it is morning and I’m about five days away from Ottawa. I crossed the border into Canada yesterday and am making good eastward progress. I’ll be spending about a week in Ottawa, loading up the van with tools and other items that will be needed at the place in Nova Scotia. In the meantime, I’ll try to post a few more trip photos as we’ll be moteling it at least one or two more nights along this route. More coming up soon.

Written by bev on April 7th, 2010

the memory trip   12 comments

Posted at 2:08 am in california,Don,loss,memory,rivers

I’m on my way back to Ontario now. It won’t be long and I’ll be meeting the new-old house in Nova Scotia. However, I’m still a few thousand miles away from that space. I’ve taken a lot of photos, but it will take some time for me to sort through them, so they will keep for awhile. Today’s photos are from different points in time — not from this trip, but from others of the past. Don’s birthday was yesterday – he would now be 58 if he had not died on September 6, 2008.

In a recent post, I mentioned that my autumn 2009 trip ended with a long, strange loop. After running ahead of the bad weather pushing me further and further south to the Mojave, I circled back through the Sierras and ended up on the Oregon-California area of the coast. My purpose in revisiting that location was that I felt compelled to go to some of the places that, for me, have strong associations with Don.

One of my first stops was to see if the giant redwood stump was still lodged in the sand at McVay Beach. Sure enough, it was. It felt odd to see it sitting there, unchanged, roughly three years from the day when I photographed Don sitting on a section of root. How is it possible that a seemingly lifeless stump still persists, while Don is no longer here with me? Since the day that I photographed him at the beach, so much has happened.

The above photo of Don was taken on October 12, 2006 when he came west to travel with me for a week. It gave me such pleasure to take him around to my favourite places such as this shoal on a river in southern Oregon. I photographed him as we talked about the colorful riverstones. The photo of me was taken moments later.

Now he is gone and I am alone. I see these photos from a happier time and realize how much has changed – and how much the experience of the past three years has altered my life, mind, and appearance.

The last pair of photos are perhaps the most important to me. In November, I returned to the secluded river where Don and I watched ouzels singing and diving into the torrent between water-sculpted rock formations. I photographed Don’s hand resting upon the thick moss that carpeted one of the larger formations.

Upon my return, I photographed my own hand on the same little patch of moss. It felt good to place my hand in this spot – almost as though placing my hand on his – with only time between us — and of what importance is time anyhow?

Written by bev on April 6th, 2010