Category Archives: Outdoor Adventures

In Search of: Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

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Valley of Fire State Park is one of my absolute favorite places on the planet.  The park is about an hour outside of Vegas, and it’s positively breathtaking.  These pictures only crack the shell of what Valley of Fire has to offer.  The rock formations and colors are so diverse, it’s like a world away from reality.  And you would never know it by the drive out there.  It’s amidst middle of nowhere dirt and rocks with nothing spectacular to see.  Half the fun is the surprise of driving through barren desert — that suddenly becomes a veritable rainbow of rock.

As much as I love this locale, I haven’t spent nearly as much time there as I would like.  It’s one of those locations Vegas is famous for — and by that, I mean it’s hotter than hell in the summer, so you have to remember to get out during the late fall through early spring months.

Seeing as how my hiking slows down tremendously as winter approaches (I’m a weather wuss, peeps), I sometimes miss out on this beautiful locale because, honestly, I forget to go!  Sort of like this past winter.  I missed it.  Someone slap me, please.  Trust me.  Valley of Fire is not to be forgotten.  So much so that I’m considering an overnight camp and and a 4am hike (to avoid the wretched heat of the day yet still revel in the beauty of it all).

Can you imagine watching the sunrise from atop one of those rock formations?  I bet it would be stunning.  And the stars out there?  Out of this world.

Who’s up for camping at Valley of Fire?


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In Search of: Hiking White Rock Loop, Red Rock Canyon

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I discovered a new favorite trail at Red Rock Canyon.  It’s called White Rock Loop.  I went on a whim because the weather was bad, and I wasn’t sure my first-choice trail would be safe in the wind and rain.  Turned out there was no wind or rain (at least not while we were out), but I’m not disappointed my plans changed.  White Rock Loop boasts beautiful scenery and the perfect spot for lunch (I’m a fan of lunch with a view).  It’s also an awesome fitness hike – a great incline to get your heart rate up and thighs burning without being overly intense.  The perfect day hike.  Check out specific directions for the trail here.  Happy hiking!

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In Search of: Some Fun in the Mud — the Mad Mud Run

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I’m not exactly the world’s worst runner.  But I’m not that good either.  Actually, I sort of suck.  I mentioned this to my students the other day while we were having a discussion about human characteristics — how much is genetics and how much is environment.  They were like, “Do you have one of those really awkward runs?”  No.  Not really.  I just suck at running.  I’m slow.  And it hurts (quite literally, as I have iliotibial band syndrome that affects both of my knees).  Yet, I still seem to want to run!  The truth is, my running often turns into some sort of run-walk and, eventually, into a walk.  I don’t mind though.  I just love the idea of traveling by foot.  I also love getting dirty.  Who doesn’t like a little mud?

Last year, I discovered there are companies that actually put on events for people like me, runners that like to get dirty.  They’re called mud runs!  If you’re looking for some fun and can’t travel too far outside your area, this may be the adventure for you.  It likely requires no travel, it occurs on the weekend (thus, no vacation days used from work), and it makes you feel like a kid again.  (I’m all for acting child-like.)

My first mud run was the Irvine Lake Mud Run in California.  It was full of mud pits and obstacles — crawling under nets in the mud, jumping through tires, sliding down hills.  I had so much fun I decided to do it again this year!  I can’t do the Irvine Lake Mud Run, as it’s on March 31, and I’ll be out of town.  But I discovered a mud run literally within walking distance of my house — the Mad Mud Run in Las Vegas.  It’s 4.6 miles, and the course map looks like a ton of fun.  There are balance beams and belly crawls and walls to scale and, of course, mud!  The date is April 21, and it’s at Knickerbocker Park in Providence.

If you live in Vegas and you’re at all inclined to run, walk, act silly or get dirty, I highly encourage you to consider the mud run.  It’s so much fun.  Who cares how slow you are!  It’s all about getting outside and playing.  So what do you say — join me?

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In Search of: 4 Amazing Places to Hike

A while ago, I wrote a post about my hiking wish list — all of the places I want to hike in the near future.  I went looking for that post the other day to get some inspiration.  Summer vacation is inching nearer (okay, there are still a few months to go, but what can I say?  I get excited thinking about my summer plans!).  Anyhow, it would seem the awesome post outlining my hiking fantasies disappeared.  Poof!  It’s gone.  This makes me sad, yet at the same time — gives me an excuse to make a whole new list!

There are four big hikes I would like to undertake this summer.  I’m planning a five week trip to Guatemala and Honduras around the same time, so this makes planning a bit tight.  Luckily, as a teacher, I get summers off.  With the right hiking partners, this should be doable.

Here’s what’s on my mind this hiking season:

Havasu Falls.  A friend of mine hiked to Havasu falls last year and put it this way:  the turquoise rivers looked straight out of a Disneyland ride.  Enough said.  I’m a sucker for water, waterfalls and the color blue.  Turquoise rivers?  Yep, that’ll get me there.  It would seem the waterfalls of Havasupai are quite literally an oasis in the midst of a desert.  This one has been on my list for some time, and this June, come hell or high water, I’m going.

Lost Coast Trail, California.  I learned of this hike last year and haven’t been able to shake the thought of hiking along the coast of Northern California.  Three days spent along the Lost Coast Trail, the way it looked prior to masses of people moving in would be fabulous.  The trail is described as a spectacular meeting of land and sea.  My experience with the California coast in the area leads me to believe that description is likely spot on.  I’m also planning this trek for June.  (So much awesomesauce to look forward to, peeps!)

The Subway, Zion National Park.  This one involves a bit of route finding, down-climbing and rappelling — even a few bone-chilling swims.  The hike is about 7 hours, and from what I hear, it’s worth it.  (Besides, isn’t any great challenge in the outdoors worth it?)  What you get in return for all that work is simply awesome.  I would like to do this hike in August.  Who wants to go?

The Narrows, Zion National Park.  This is a 16-mile hike and requires an overnight stay (in a lovely lodge called Pop-Up-Tent).  The Narrows is a slot canyon, and my friends tell me it’s breathtaking (as do the pictures).  The route takes you through water and perhaps a few swims.  Nature at its finest.  I also plan to take this one on in August.  Any takers?

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In Search of: Bowl of Fire, Lake Mead

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You know what gets me seriously excited?  Great hiking weather!  Let’s hope I don’t jinx it, but I daresay, the spring hiking season is finally here.  Woohoo!

This weekend, I hiked near Lake Mead at a place called Bowl of Fire.  The views were stunning.  We hiked amongst the red rocks and found the perfect spot to cop a squat for lunch.  We lounged for over an hour, taking in the views and watching birds fly overhead.  I played liked a lizard and laid back on a rock, soaking in the sun rays.  Good times, I tell you.  Good times.

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