Valley of Fire

Yesterday morning, I returned from walking Cadence to the bus stop with rigid fingers and a red nose.  Winter has finally arrived here in the desert, but I won't complain because at least it didn't bring too much rain with it.  In fact, most days I wouldn't even know it were cold outside if not for these daily trips to and from the park.  The sun still shines brightly and the clouds are puffy, white, and sparse.
(^)This is the view from Noah's aunt and uncle's house.  Gorgeous, right?
I punched in the code to our front door and stepped inside the warm house, comforted by the familiar hum of the dishwasher and washing machine simultaneously cleaning and creating more work for me. Such is the life of a stay-at-home mom auntie.

We've settled into a sort of quiet consistency here at the Rowan household.  Most of our days look pretty much the same. And while there is simple beauty in routine, I think we all were getting just a little stir crazy.

Which is why I was so excited when Amanda suggested we take advantage of our three day weekend and Noah's rare day off and go explore the Valley of Fire State Park.  Ummm, hiking? Nature? Picnic? Adventure? Count me in!

It only took about a week and a half to bathe, change, feed, pack, and load everyone/thing into the minivan, but we managed to pull out of the driveway a mere 5 hours after our scheduled ETD (anyone who has ever attempted traveling with children knows this is quite the impressive feat).

I exasperated entertained my brother-in-law with a rousing game of "Deep, but not Profound" for much of our road trip, which was totally hilarious until he retaliated with some game involving geography (not my strong point).

Finally, we arrived at our destination and oh my goodness was it ever breathtaking.  So beautiful, in fact, I couldn't wait until we stopped the car to begin snapping photos.
This picture doesn't do it justice, but it was quite the spectacular experience leaving behind the monochromatic brown and dusty desert and entering straight into the majestic red rocks.
At one point along the drive in, the rocks change from red to rainbow.  Noah slowed long enough for me to take this picture out the window.
I wanted to capture EVERYTHING.  I also wanted to eat. (typical)

Luckily, I wasn't alone in this (you can pretty much always count on a 5 year old to be down for a picnic), so we unloaded the essentials from our minivan stockpile and started walking.

Then we started climbing.
(^) As in, we basically walked straight up the face of a giant rock until we reached the summit.
Not only were the views from the top incredible, but my heart flooded with new appreciation and amazement for my sister.  After nearly 6 months of modified bed rest, where the most physical activity she was permitted required a wheelchair, not to mention the major abdominal surgery she had just endured less than a month prior, she hiked up a miniature mountain - with a newborn strapped to her chest.

I guess you don't always appreciate the severity of someone's captivity until you witness the strength of their release.
You go, girl.
Our perfect little picnic spot.

Cadence could hardly wait to start exploring. I watched in wonder as her fiery little spirit manifested itself in new - mildly terrifying - ways.  She scurried all over the jagged rock faces, completely undeterred by the vast difference between her pint-sized frame and...well, everything pretty much everything that surrounded her. (Keegan was understandably a little less impressed.)
My attempts to assuage her mother's fears by requiring that she hold my hand when climbing up or down a new rock did very little to slow her down.  In fact, most of the afternoon went like this...
...with her dragging me from place to place, but it was totally worth it because we packed a whole lot of adventure into just a few hours.
We left our picnic site and headed over to the Petroglyph Canyon Trails, where Cadence continued her exploration, crawling into every nook and cranny she could manage to access before the grown ups ushered her along the trail.
Noah pointed out that this rock looks like the Starship Enterprise.  Dad, I thought you would get a kick out of it. 
Do you see the little petroglyphs carved into the black spot on the rock?
"I want to stay in these little holes FOREVER!" - Cadence
Cadence's joy was undeniable. She absolutely radiated with delight, and it blessed my heart tremendously to watch her fearlessly take on each new obstacle, unabashedly celebrating all of her successes.
God bless this child and her sweet adventurous spirit.
Up until now, the majority of my posts about the desert have been rather metaphorical in nature.  And while it is true that my soul has experienced tremendous beauty and transformation during this season, a few weekends ago I learned to appreciate the literal beauty of the desert as well.
Valley of Fire, you won my heart.  Big time.
P.S. So, now that my hiking obsession has been fully re-engaged, who wants to join me for my next big adventure: THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL?!?!  Anyone?  (This is the number one item on my "Things I Would Do If I Weren't Afraid" list.  What's yours?)


BreAnna said…
Everything is so beautiful! Also so different from the Portland area hikes. Enjoy the scenery there while you can. :)
Vanessa's Dad said…
Great photos. Like being there. Such a contrast to the Monument to Man that is Las Vegas.