I took this "selfie" in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.
I knew I had been getting a lot of sun on the desert lately,
but I didn't know how weathered I had become!
        It seems that water is the desert's elixir of choice for sudden, dramatic change to the landscape and we witnessed this force of nature "up close and personal."  As soon as we returned to Zion National Park from dropping Bryce off at Las Vegas airport, the remnants of Hurricane Norbert let loose.  Our campsite was only 50' from the Virgin River and we watched this ankle deep trickle rise to a roaring, churring mass of mud and debris as massive trees and logs crashed their way down this torrent.  Although I continuously monitored the river level throughout the night, we were fortunate as our campsite was located along a very broad portion of river and the river never crested its banks. However, it was a different story along the Virgin River in Zion NP, Nevada and Arizona as the storm flooded the Virgin River to wipe out I-15 between Utah and Las Vegas, and forced the closure of 2 of the 3 roads in Zion.  
The view of Virgin River from our campsite.  This photo was taken
the morning after the storm and the river had already dropped a few feet.

Hurricane Norbert clears out of our campsite in Zion.
          One of the advantages of meandering throughout the countryside in an RV is that you can travel to places that would not normally appear on a typical travel itinerary.  As a result of our meanderings we have been able to discover a few gems--Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah; Valley of Fire in Overton, Nevada; Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada; and Red Rocks National Conservation Area, 1/2 hour south of Las Vegas.  Initially, we stumbled across Snow Canyon and only planned to stay 1 night.  We ended up staying 4 nights.  Snow Canyon was a spectacle of black lava flows, red and white Navajo Sandstone cliffs, petrified sand dunes, and fun desert trails through slot canyons and up washes.  I ended up doing a lot of hiking and since my head is always on a swivel taking in the landscape, I found myself frequently off-trail, turning 1 hour hikes into 7 or 8 mile adventures.  At one point I discovered a very large (approximately 3"), black & red flying insect.  As I approached the insect I noticed a huge stinger hanging off its butt.  I quickly backed away from this now terrifying looking thing.  The next day I asked a ranger about my insect friend.  She explained that I encountered a Tarantula Wasp--WHAT!!!!  She advised me that the sting from one of these creatures is rated a 10 out of 10 on the pain scale.

Snow Canyon.
A view from one of the petrified dunes, across
a "tank," filled by Norbert, toward the white Navajo
Sandstone mountains.
Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

Petrified Sand Dunes, Snow Canyon State Park, Utah
     One night in Snow Canyon we were watching TV.  We had all the lights off, but I noticed a rather large, at least 1', beast running through our kitchen and then under Nancy's chair!  Needless to say, this scared the heck out of me.  I immediately turned on the lights and tried to locate this monster which had now grown to over 2' with giant fangs.  Of course, we could find nothing and Nancy was now looking at me like I was insane.  (Not an uncommon look from Nancy.)  The next day we went into town and purchased some sticky traps.  I set out the traps and sure enough when we woke up the next morning, there was a cute little mouse in one of the traps.  Problem solved--monster eliminated!
     Next was Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada.  This park is truly in the middle of nowhere, not far from Nevada's "Extraterrestrial Highway" and "Area 51."  Cathedral Gorge is a large valley with unusual formations created from nothing more than the erosion of hardened mud.  A very cool feature of Cathedral Gorge was the slot canyons that wound their way deep into the mud formations.
Cathedral Gorge State Park.
Believe it or not, there is a slot canyon sneaking
 its way through these hardened mud spires.
Cathedral Gorge State Park.
A view of the sky looking up from one of the slot canyons in Cathedral Gorge.
     Snow Canyon State Park in Nevada (1 hour north of Las Vegas) turned out to be fantastic.  This was another unique park with rich red Aztec Sandstone rock formations, combined with a palette  of white, green, purple and yellow in additional rock and mountain formations.  I made a fatal mistake here when I purchased a black-light flashlight.  I used my new purchase to try to spot scorpions which are florescent.  At first I thought it was cool when I was able to spot a couple of 1/2" sized baby scorpions.  Then I started spotting the mommas and poppas--holy cow!  The larger scorpions measured 2"-3" and were every bit as scary looking as I had imagined.  The weird thing was that when you turned off the black-light and turned on a normal flashlight, the scorpions vanished and blended perfectly into the desert dirt.  My mistake was that I realized I was discovering these friendly little critters not only near our campsite, but also actually in our campsite.  Talk about creepy, especially since if a mouse can get into our rig, it seemed that a scorpion could easily find an entryway.

Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park

Nancy hiding along the petroglyph trail in
Valley of Fire State Park.

We were very fortunate to catch this spectacular sunset.  It turned out that we were looking across the illuminated valley to a massive lightening storm over the distant mountains.  Apparently, we had the view of choice as a wedding party was near us taking pictures.  Upon seeing our location, they not only asked to have their pictures taken from our spot, but they also asked to use our chairs to pretend they were lounging at a campsite.  They even asked that our beer and cooler be left by the chairs to be part of their photos.  It was fun providing a location and props to this happy couple.
     After Valley of Fire we relocated to Boulder City, Nevada.  Boulder City was a great location to tour Red Rocks National Conservation Area, Lake Mead, and the Hoover Dam while avoiding the craziness of Las Vegas.  We were there for 10 days awaiting our flight from Las Vegas to Connecticut to visit family and friends.  Boulder City is a cute little town where gambling is prohibited.  It was the town which was created to construct the Hoover Dam.  One night we found a great bar full of locals.  We found a seat under a canopy and watched as a 20 minute "cloud-burst" completely flooded the main street and crested the curbs.  We ended up staying at the bar for several hours as we met a fun local couple, Paullette and Jeff.  They were a blast to hang out with and gave great advice regarding touring the area.

Paullette, Jeff & Nancy at Jack's Place.
Lake Mead.
It was quite disconcerting to see how low the water level is in Lake Mead.
The top of the white is the former high water mark.
It was over a 1/2 mile drive for us to deliver our kayaks from the high water mark to the edge of the water. 

Calico Rocks in Red Rocks National Conservation Area
         Now it is off to Connecticut-Can't wait!

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