Category Archives: Las Vegas Hikes

In Search of: My Top Priorities for 2014

Before the new year, I did a bunch of work to plan and scheme for 2014. I usually do something like this each year. But this year, I took it to a whole new level. I joined a group of women to do something called the Holiday Council. My friend, Molly, does it every year, and I decided to give it a go this time around. And let me tell you, it rocked. I got so much out of it. I basically made an entire workbook dedicated to evaluating 2013 (small portion) and plotting for 2014 (large portion). This will definitely become a tradition.

Here are a few of the fundamental things I decided for the new year. First, my theme for 2014 is Daring Greatly. I got it from the Man in the Arena speech given many years ago by Theodore Roosevelt. If you’re curious about the speech (and I assure you, it’s awesome), click here. For me, Daring Greatly is about taking my theme from 2013 (Brave) and kicking it up a notch. I feel like my need to practice being brave is truly a two-parter, and I need more than one year to focus on it. So Daring Greatly means being brave and taking action — it means not only speaking my truth but also living my truth. Digging deep, getting dirty and doing the hard work.

To go with my theme of Daring Greatly, I’ve come up with 5 guiding principles for the year. They are:

  1. Be Connected: nourish current friendships, and cultivate new ones; work to build a few close friendships with the girls; surround myself with “my people”
  2. Be Business-Minded: create a solid business plan, and take the needed steps to successfully launch my part-time photography business
  3. Be Loving: learn to love without expectations and lose the fear of showing that love
  4. Be Adventurous: travel, hike, celebrate nature, and do things that make me feel strong
  5. Be Creative: find ways to express my artistic side that have nothing to do with making a living and everything to do with fun!

I made a list of specific things to do that go with these guiding principles. Things like making monthly random act of kindness packages for friends, having more get-togethers at my house, working through a complete business plan, planning an absolutely amazing solo trip to Australia for Spring Break, etc.

I’m excited. I think there’s so much potential for the coming year! And I’m doing my best to stay positive and believe in the possibilities. So, cheers, my friends! Here’s to making it happen in 2014 — and feeling overjoyed because we dared greatly!

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(This photo was taken atop a rather large random rock at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, perhaps my favorite place in the state!)

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In Search of: The Daily Photo – Valley of Fire

This is why I love Las Vegas. For some people it’s the shows, the proximity to the strip, the gambling. For me, it’s these dam pretty rocks! I mean, how can you get tired or colors like these? Gorgeous. I took this shot in Valley of Fire, about an hour outside of Las Vegas. It’s one of my favorite places ever. For reals. You drive along for an hour, and there’s nothing but desert. Nothing wrong with desert, but it all pretty much looks the same. And then, it’s as if a mirage appears. A red mirage. The land is so bright! Go a little deeper into the red, and you discover all sorts of colors: yellow, orange, purple. So, so pretty. This particular shot was captured on the way to the Fire Wave. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of this place.

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In Search of: A Full Life (and Self-Portrait Series No. 6)

Yesterday, I was talking with a friend.  He’s several years older than me and is considering an early retirement (because who wouldn’t want that?!?).  That conversation was a happy one.  And then he told me about a personal situation that might force him to retire early, regardless of his plans.  That part of the conversation, well, not so happy.  He said, “I hope it doesn’t come to that.  I don’t want to be forced to retire and not be able to enjoy my retirement.”

Then he said to me, “You just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Me: “Huh?”

Him: “I mean, all the stuff you do, all the traveling and hiking and stuff that makes you happy.  Keep doing that.  Because you’ve got it right.  You never know what’s going to happen when it comes time to retire.  People shouldn’t save all the fun stuff for later.  I admire you.  You’re bold and independent, and you go out and see the world and you do your own thing and don’t worry about what people think of it.  Keep doing that.”

That part of the conversation made me smile.  Because, honestly, I sometimes second-guess myself.  I mean, yes, I put money into my retirement account.  In addition to planning my travels and the next fun adventure, I do think about the distant future.  But I get the impression from a lot of people they think spending money on travel the way that I do is somewhat frivolous.  And I worry that no matter how much of my income I send to the 401K, it’s not going to be enough.  And what then?

But then I have to ask myself.  If that does happen, if my numbers don’t come out perfect when the good old age of 65 arrives, will I regret all that I’ve done?  Will I wish I had stayed home more and saved that expendable income of mine?  Truthfully?  Probably not.  Up to this point, I would say absolutely not.  There isn’t one adventure I would take back, not one experience I would return.

I love my life.  I love the fact that I have a separate savings account labeled, “Travel Fund.”  And I LOVE that I use it just for that.

In the spirit of adventure, here’s one more self-portrait from a hike I did last weekend near Lake Mead.  The hike is to Anniversary Narrows, a beautiful slot canyon in the midst of the desert.  It’s unexpected and really quite wonderful to see.  It also makes for beautiful backdrops when acting silly and modeling for the camera!

Self-Portrait No. 6

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In Search of: Self-Portrait Series No. 4 and 5

I went hiking up at Red Rock Canyon today.  It’s one of my favorite hiking spots (because, seriously, whichever trail you pick, you can’t go wrong — all sorts of beauty up there).  I knew I was due for another selfie (actually, two), so I brought along the tripod.  And let me just tell you — the day was phenomenally perfect.  Sometimes I’m amazed by how flawless the weather can be in Las Vegas in February (which doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s simply lovely).  I set out to discover a new trail today and found myself scrambling in the Calico Basin area.  There’s a chance I was on the Grand Staircase hike.  There’s a chance I was just scrambling randomly up the side of a mountain.  Either way, good times my friends.  I do hope you’re enjoying the weekend too!

Self Portrait No. 4

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 Self Portrait No. 5

(As you can see, I had a blast with my hiking buddy.)

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In Search of: Hiking and Singing and Dancing, Oh My!

Great news!  School’s — out — for — summer!!  Yes, I’m totally singing that 80’s hit in my head right now.  No, you may not laugh at me.  Because you know you’re singing it in your head now too.  Oh how I deeply love summer vacation.  Life is good, my friends.

One might imagine my first act of summer vacay would be to sit around and get my relax on.  But not this girl.  Instead, I hiked to the highest peak in Southern Nevada!  On Sunday, I checked Charleston Peak off my hiking wish list.  I’m pretty proud.  The route we followed was just shy of 18 miles, with an elevation gain of over 4,000 feet.  The first 4 miles were the worst, with the majority of the elevation gain being in the wicked switchbacks at the start.  But after that it was smooth sailing (okay, not quite smooth — but in hindsight, I can make that claim).

If you’re interested in mild torture to achieve your life’s goal of seeing the best view of Pahrump there possibly is, this is the hike for you.  (If you’re not from the area, I assure you, that statement is pretty damn funny.)  If you like a good challenge and peak bagging is your thing, this is also the hike for you.  And if you’re not interested in any of that, I still highly recommend you follow the route just past the halfway point.  There are some lovely mountain meadows that were calling out for the recreation of a certain Twilight scene and a damn good picnic.  Had I the time, I would have been happy lazing amongst those wildflowers for a few hours.  Of course, I was a man on a mission (or woman, as it would be), thus there was no time for dilly-dallying.

I reached the peak in time for lunch in the bunker (there’s a small bunker dug out at the peak, surrounded by rock walls, that protects you from the wind).  The bunker was my life saver.  It was pretty damn windy up there, and the wind made me cold.  But in the bunker — it was all sunshine and lollipops.

Want to take a peak at the hike (and some obviously professional singing and dancing)?  Take a look at my Charleston Peak video:

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