After a lovely three-day drive down through Oregon, Nevada and California, we landed in Death Valley National Park, the first destination of this year’s travels.
Despite its reputation for inhospitality, Death Valley is an unbelievably interesting place to stay, especially in the spring, before the high heat of the summer arrives. The main basin is at or below sea level, but it is surrounded by multiple mountain valleys and dunes, with plenty of wildlife (and wildflowers at the right time of year), beautiful vistas and more. Like many of the larger national parks, it’s just about impossible to see the whole thing in one extended visit. Continue reading →
We spent the last week camping at Wallowa Lake State Park, which is about six miles south of the town of Joseph, in the northeastern corner of Oregon. The park is one of the small jewels of Oregon’s park system: the lake and surrounding mountains are gorgeous, unlike anything else in the state, and there are lots of hiking trails that take you deep into the Eagle Cap Wilderness area. The town of Joseph is pretty: small and arty, but it’s clear that farming and ranching remain the lifeblood of the area. The big event every year is the Chief Joseph Rodeo, which reportedly draws thousands of people to this tiny town.
Five weeks into the trip, I finally got out the Crockpot! Woohoo! I was beginning to think that maybe it was an unnecessary use of storage space, but suddenly…it was the right time and place to make chili.
I seldom follow recipes exactly. One of my superpowers is the ability to take whatever random food is in the fridge and pantry and create a delicious—or at least, edible—meal out of it. This is a great skill to possess, but the downside is that many of my best creations are impossible to duplicate, because I can’t remember everything I put in them, and that particular combination of ingredients existed in my kitchen in only one moment in time and space. My family has, on occasion, found this frustrating.
We spent a week at the end of March at Valley of Fire State Park, which is about an hour northeast of Las Vegas. It’s a beautiful place that screams red, from the desert sand under your feet to the gorgeous rock formations throughout the park. We were also lucky to have been there at the right time; we’re witnessing a banner spring for the deserts of the Southwest. At Valley of Fire, there were wildflowers everywhere, and, in addition to the colorful flowers, there was a nearly indescribable symphony of green on top of the red. We tried hard to capture the essence and the beauty of this pretty place.
We set up camp on a gorgeous March morning in the camp.
Across from our camp
These wildflowers were everywhere in the park.
This rock formation had terraces of green.
End of the day
The full moon was so bright, I was able to capture the rocks at night.
Near Rainbow Vista
We happened upon a few early blooms on these cacti.
View of camp from the rocks above.
Rick is lord of all he surveys.
Beautiful sunset in the green valley.
Looking for the Arrowhead Trail. One of the things about the park that we didn’t like was the paucity of trail markers.
Susan heads out on the Arrowhead Trail
Last rays of the sun on our final night in the park.
My idea of good “road food” has shifted dramatically in the last few years. It used to mean lots of crunchy snacks and possibly some candy to eat while driving; lunch stops at A&W or Burger King for burgers, fries and floats—the kinds of “treats” I didn’t usually eat at any other time—and some kind of easy camp dinner, usually involving large amounts of processed carbs. And possibly Spam (but that was a REALLY long time ago). Road food was kind of like fair food: you knew it wasn’t good for you, and you might be really sorry later, but it tasted so good that you didn’t care.
Since adopting a clean, whole foods, low-carb way of eating (I won’t call it a “diet”; it’s simply the way I eat), I have experienced such a huge improvement in every area of my health, energy levels and body composition, that I no longer view a road trip as an excuse to eat junk.