When it comes to road trips, Richard and I are a little bit….ambitious! Some might say we are crazy but I don’t think we are quite there, yet! I’ll let you be the judge, though. Whenever we have a few days off together we try to capitalize on the opportunity to head out on another adventure. Our most recent trek was over a three-day period smack dab in the middle of the week! We decided on a destination…7 hours away, Cathedral Gorge. Along the way, we discovered many places not many get out to see.
We took two different routes, going there driving the Extraterrestrial Highway and coming back taking the loneliest road in America, Highway 50! They each had different gems to offer along the way and both had open ranges, where the cows roamed free.
Driving down through Tonopah, we did not stop for anything other than a few Arizona teas, gas, and potty breaks, since we have driven that road numerous times. The adventure started to come alive just as we were about to turn onto the Extraterrestrial Highway. We found the, now abandoned, stopover town of Warm Springs. We interrupted our drive to admire and take a few pictures of the two still standing buildings and other remnants of civilization that once were alive here. While stopped, I had a moment with one of the aforementioned free-roaming beasts. Holy COW was he intimidating!
In the act of mosying along, on US route 93 these odd, alien-looking, palm tree type things started speckling the ground as we drove; I knew we had to pause our road trip for a photo op. Before we stopped to confirm, via an information board along the side of the road, I speculated that they were Joshua trees. I had remembered reading that these types of trees grow in the area and lo and behold they WERE! These were my very first Joshua Tree sightings! Not quite a UFO, but out-of-this-world nonetheless. After a few minutes taking in the sights and snapping quick shots, we hopped back in the car to continue our journey.
As we neared our destination, we were READY to be out of the car. Driving into Cathedral Gorge State Park, the sandy formations opened up before us. Nothing like it had been seen the whole drive and boom, magic, our road trip fatigue gone, we were revitalized. Excited to get out and explore we picked our camping spot in the park campground; it was fairly busy for a weekday at the end of summer, but for $15 a night we were paid up and set up. There were showers and flushing toilets, even WIFI, and every site had hookups.
We spent a bit of time exploring our surroundings but mostly used what little was left of the day setting up camp, eating dinner, planning our hikes for the next couple days, and photographing the brilliant night sky before heading to the tent to recoup for the next day. We woke up to a blazing hot sun that begged us to get out of the tent as fast as possible. Our packs ready, we set out on our first hike, the Juniper Draw loop, a 4-mile excursion into the gorge. Our old pup, Oliver, did pretty well for his age and the heat, but once we finished, he was out for the count.
After a bit of a break, because we were pretty wiped as well, we refueled and headed out to the “caves” of Cathedral Gorge. They are not quite caves but passageways through the formations. It felt like a maze that nature created. The caves kept us busy until we headed back to prep for golden hour photos and an attempt at a sunset time-lapse. The wind may have gotten a little carried away and took down our tripod setup. Sad day. But we did get some fun shots in the sun anyway.
The next day was teardown and a sad goodbye because we hadn’t explored every inch; it just means we have to come back again. Oh no! A few last photos with Oliver and we were…on the road again. Does anyone else sing that song when those words are strung together? Just me? Ok. Not far down the road, we stopped for road fuel (coffee) and a bite to eat in the wild west town of Pioche. It became an unexpectedly long stop as we found out the town was home to many old mines, and we had to explore, respectfully. The owner told us where we could easily discover them and WOW…how freaking cool!
What a treat for an accidental encounter, but we couldn’t stay too long. We were on our way to Garnet Hill in search of some true Nevada gems to take home with us. And find them we did! This was one of the most unique experiences I have ever had. An area that allows you to go out and encourages you to TAKE HOME what you find. After a good hour or so we decided to keep moving because we wanted to make sunset at the natural hot spring we planned to stop at on our way back.
This hot spring was, literally, in the middle-of-nowhere. Not being familiar with the area it took a while to find. After watching sunset from the car, we eventually found our hot spring. When we hopped in, the waters were warm and relaxing as we soaked, and THAT was what mattered the most at our final destination before heading straight for home.
Now, it is your turn to offer up your thoughts. Are we crazy for all of this in three days? Is this a trip that you could see yourself doing? Share with us your thoughts or a crazy road trip you have been on! We love to hear from you. Til next time, Pengminions!