What can you do with an open afternoon before flying back from Las Vegas? Especially on the last day of a trip having lived the likes of Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National parks. What else could possibly capture your attention, leave alone amaze you? Arrogant in the knowledge that you have seen it all.
Now thats the thing about the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. It doesn’t care that you came to visit. It just stands there, confident in own existence. 40,000 acres of Aztec Sandstone nestled in gray and tan limestone, playing brilliant optical games with both your imagination and naked eyes. The sun’s rays slant off the petrified pre-historic stones and trees as if aflame. Hence the name – Valley of Fire.
The truth is – it’s beyond ‘amazing’. Fiercely meditative is how i would describe it.
From the winding serpentine roadways into the park, to the valley that engulfs you while in it. It is all quite transfixing.
The entrance warns you of the vast expanse of impending fire to behold.
And surely, the fiery reds, scarlets, ambers, vermilions and bronzes make a grand demonic entry. The stark blue and white from the skies above play the angelic contrast.
And then the bee hives take center stage.
So do the double, triple, quadruple humpback camels.
The sleeping giants.
And the woolly mammoths.
Along with numerous other side characters who only reveal themselves at will.
Unless of course you sincerely wish upon them.
Most of the park can be covered in an hour long winding loop drive.
What lies ahead is as intriguing as what you leave behind.
The sights along the slow cruise unknowingly impart lessons in the virtues of patience, silence, persistence, and the resilience of mother earth.
Thousands of years of shifting sand dunes now frozen in time all witnessed by the mighty skies, the flippant clouds, the transient wind and the fiery sun put you in your place.
The insignificance of your existence in this very moment hits you hard.
All you hope for is to leave this place with the little humility left within, without causing much ruckus.
As the Valley of Fire leaves you behind, you wonder how many other places, people, and stories exist that are left out of the mainstream. How many will ever receive a place on a must-do packed itinerary?
But then again, how many even care?
Maybe some places, people and stories are better left unexplored. Because the act of discovering them will render you insufficient.
So if the next time you find an open afternoon in Vegas, and you choose instead to play another round at the tables or watch the fountains at Bellagio one more time, just know that the Aztec Sandstone 50 miles west will keep blazing stronger still.
But if you do want to burn ablaze, leave your arrogance behind in Las Vegas.
All pictures taken with an iPhone 7+ Check out my previous blog on 7 investments to make in your tweens, teens and twenties and the one coming up!
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