Travels with Tucker

Travels with Tucker

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Red Rock Canyon, a Gem near Las Vegas

Like bookends, Las Vegas is flanked by two amazing parks that offer camping, hiking, rock climbing and biking as an alternative to the glitzy scene on The Strip.  We had visited Valley of  Fire State Park, 45 minutes east of Vegas, back in 2015 and really loved it--one of our favorite places and not that well-known. This year we decided to try staying at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on the west side of town, and we are very glad we did.

Red Rocks is very popular with locals and visitors alike, being only 10 minutes from the west edge of the city and boasting its reputation as one of the top five rock climbing destinations in the country. We had to jump through some hoops to even get a campsite at Red Rocks, but we moved in and spent a week there. We have family in Vegas and we had visitors on several days, including lots of kids, so that was fun. We went hiking and bouldering a lot and I did some nice adventures for the Outdoor Project which should be published soon.

While we visited The Strip once, we never dropped any coins or played any blackjack. But we did get to see Vince Gill and Lyle Lovett do an acoustic show that was out of this world.
Here are some of my favorite shots of Red Rocks:

After hiking 2 miles up this canyon, we could see Las Vegas from the top
Calico Tanks are small pools in the rocks of this canyon

Lynnae hiking the Pine Creek Canyon trail

Our campsite in Red Rock Canyon was spectacular

Hiking around Kraft Mountain 

Driving the Scenic Loop Drive in Red Rock Canyon

Doing a little canyoneering around Kraft Mountain

Beautiful hiking in the canyon

Beautiful rocks

Viewpoint from the Scenic Loop Drive

The beautiful Red Rock Canyon

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Tecopa Hot Springs

On our way to Death Valley this year we decided to stop and stay for  a few days at Tecopa Hot Springs. We knew this was a small outpost in a pretty remote place, but we really didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be fabulous. Our little RV park was not fancy, but the people were friendly and it was roomy and clean. But best of all were the private hot spring pools that were available as often as we wanted to use them. 105-degree mineral water and long hot showers were a real treat that we have not often had in this journey. To top it off, there was an excellent body work person right next door and Lynnae got to have her neck worked on a bit, then into the hot pool. We liked it so much that after our Death Valley stay we came back for a few more days of soaking before heading to Las Vegas.  It turned out the area has some beautiful scenery and a very unusual  landscape that was fun to photograph.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Death Valley Daze Revisited

We first visited Death Valley National Park in 2014, our first full year of full-time RVing.  We fell in love with the place--the vast distances, the stark mountains, the colorful and weird rock formations, the remote dirt roads, the dark skies and the sense of an indifference to human beings and their comfort. Last year was a so-called super-bloom of wildflowers in Death Valley, an event that happens about once a decade. We were hoping to get a repeat of that in this wet year, but in that we were disappointed. Secondarily I was hoping to photograph the full moon on the Mesquite Springs sand dunes, and that did happen as planned.
Camping in Death Valley is rough, with most campgrounds being exposed gravel parking lots without any amenities.  There is a real sense of peace, though, being in the middle of the desert with dunes and sun-baked sand and sparse vegetation as far as the eye can see.  'Course, we also had access to swimming polls at both Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek, so there was an aspect of a mini-vacation while camping here.  We'd hike or explore by truck in the morning, come home to eat lunch and head to the pool in the heat of the day. And it did reach 95 degrees most days we were in the valley, so the pools were welcome relief.
We repeated some favorite hikes like Mosaic Canyon and the Mesquite Dunes, and explored some new areas like the Chloride City mine site and Desolation Canyon. We also visited the Devil's Golf Course and the Badwater salt flats by the full moon for some amazing views.  Enjoy some highlight photos below and check out the Outdoor Project adventures I published while there.

Huge dune in Death Valley

Late day sun on the dunes

Mesquite dunes at sunset

The day before the actual full moon is the best time to photograph it at sunset

Full moon rising at sunset

Full moon rising over the dunes

Dunes at sunrise

The lonely path of a landscape photographer

The full moon setting at sunrise, Mesquite Dunes

The Devil's Golf Course by moonlight

Desolation Canyon

Badwater salt flats by the full moon light

The Devil's Golf Course by the light of the full moon

20 Mule Team Canyon

20 Mule Team Canyon

20 Mule Team Canyon

Sunrise on on Zabriskie Point

Sunrise from Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point badlands

Gower Gulch from the Badlands Trail

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Joshua Tree, Our Favorite Desert Park

Well I guess we've been having too much fun to update in the blog :-/

We HAVE been having fun since we reached the desert and started drying out from the months spent between the Oregon coast and San Francisco this past rainy winter.  After spending a couple nights in Bakersfield and seeing Buck Owens' club ...

Buck Owens' custom convertible behind the bar at the Chrystal Palace

 ... we headed for Joshua Tree National Park.

We visited Joshua Tree for the first time back in 2014 and really loved the park. We had a favorite campground and really hoped we could find a spot there this year.  Unfortunately we had to spend a night in an overflow camping area because Belle Campground was full, but the next morning we got a great spot there.

Joshua Tree is a unique place and a photographer's dream.  Everywhere you look there are huge vistas, weird-shaped Joshua Trees and piles of boulders looking as though a giant child had just dumped them out on the floor. The lighting is magical and the park is so huge the other visitors are not in the way.

We did some great hikes, including one to an abandoned mine site that has a stone shelter built in the 1890s that still has original artifacts in it. We hiked through the most beautiful desert scenery and scrambled up ravines full of boulders. There are also dirt roads to explore that lead far out in the desert where the solitude is incredible. Check out these Outdoor Project adventures that I published from here:

Here are some photo highlights:

Joshua Tree with rocks

Joshua Tree with sunset

The geology tour road at Joshua Tree NP

Historic Keys Ranch--a homesteading family lived here for decades

Original artifacts at the Eagle Cliff mine site

View from Eureka Peak (second-highest in the park) across to Mt. San Jacinto (second-highest in So. Calif.