Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park is a fascinating place. When I arrived there the evening before, I had little time to get a feel for it. Sure, I saw some red formations but they were just at the campground and the eastern entrance. That morning after packing up camp the plan was to ride through the park to the west entrance, visit the visitors center, and get a more full experience. Most of the terrain in the park is your standard, brownish landscape with a more typical mountainous look, but here and there are these outrageously odd outcroppings scattered about randomly, making for some serious contrast. Add a huge blue sky as a complimentary color and you have a picture taking paradise. Just point and shoot. They will come out good. Close one eye with a hand behind the back, or better yet close both eyes and spin in circles, odds are you will still manage to capture some of the unique beauty of this place. Everything against the blues and oranges seems brighter and more alive. Even the rangers white trucks seemed more white as they were parked near the visitor centers craggy bunch of cliffs. The visitor center was pretty extensive for a state park. Not only did they have the typical displays, featuring time lines and historical artifacts, but they had a collection of some of the local deserts, live wildlife on display and a stuffed full sized big horn sheep. I was impressed. At this point in my trip I’ve been to quite a few state parks and this one went the extra mile for sure. After that I continued to the parks western entrance and on to the little town of Overton where I found a McDonalds for some wi-fi. One deluxe breakfast with hot cakes devoured and a new post in the history books, it was time to hop on 15 north and make a run to Zion National Park in Utah. A few miles out of town, I noticed an American Flag perched high atop a peak in the desert all by itself. It stood there strongly against the wind. “Why not spread some pride?” I thought. “I’ll take a picture and share it for the folks efforts who had to lug it up all the way up there and set it up.” At that point, I had a couple of pictures in the bag and was about to take off for the interstate when the mornings coffee pressed against my bladder, so I ventured down an embankment to take a wiz. Before I knew it some gravel broke loose and my hands hit the desert floor, gloveless, to stop my fall. Bad mistake. I stood up looking like Edward prickly hands. There were easily 100 tiny thorns lodged into my hands, palms and backside. At first it really wasn’t that bad, but after a minute a slight pain, bad irritation, and severe itching set in. Perhaps if I wouldn’t have left them in long enough to get a picture then it wouldn’t have been so bad. After a half hour the symptoms wore off and my grippers were back to normal. Moral off the story. If you have to take a leak in the desert, look for a flat spot. Everything in the desert is spiny and unforgiving.
My route from that point in Nevada would take me through the extreme northwestern corner of Arizona and into the state of Utah again. By the time I crossed into Utah, it was about 3:30 pm and I was tired and feeling pretty burnt out on the bike. All day I fought a tremendous side wind that had the Goose swerving like a drunk texter. I arrived in the town of St. George Utah and made up my mind to head to Zion national park the next day. I just didn’t feel like camping, plain and simple. Motel 6 was in my sights. I found one, checked in, grabbed a very refreshing shower and made my way to the towns one and only bar. Called, literally, One and Only bar. Here in St. George everything is up to par with the rest of the nation except the bar scene. I was only out to chat with the locals, since it has been a few days since I’ve really had any sort of meaningful human contact. Upon entering I thought the place was decent. I met a nice fellow named Kelly who seemed welcoming enough. He and I talked about travel to the east coast of the USA. His dad told him that nothing was worth seeing east of Colorado and he has lived his life by that motto. I’m guessing that he was pushing 55 years old and he confirmed that he has never been east of Colorado. I told him that it is worth at least one visit in life just to experience the vast difference in terrain. All was well with my little visit to St. George until a fellow who looked somewhat like a long haired cult member walked over and introduced himself to me for whatever reason. I’m not going to name his name due to my decency. This fellow had had a few drinks and all he wanted to talk about was his religious beliefs, the old testament of the bible, taking pills, and being violent over his religion. I told him my opinion was that there is never a reason to be violent over religion and I tried to change the subject several times after that. Every time I’d mentioned something different he would completely ignore my subject and get back on his high horse and the old testament. Eventually when I just would not agree with him on his views he gave me a sinister glance, walked to the next guy over and started preaching to him. By that time this guy had me a bit freaked out and I grabbed my belongings and headed for the door. I will close with this thought. If you are religious that is fine with me and I will like you the same either way, but I see no need to use the actions of pushing, forcing, manipulating, convincing, or acting violent for any reason when practicing your religion around others. Why not try accepting, caring, helping, understanding, and for crying out loud, loving others. This cat was truly a religious extremist and I wish that I’d never met him.
Some little furry guys doing what they do at the visitors center at the Valley of Fire State Park