Land of Magical Light and Red Rock UT & NV

On the evening of December 19th, 2012 we arrived in the St George area battered by the elements! It had been cold in Colorado and even Arizona. Snow followed us all the way to the outskirts of St George. But in this place we found refuge from winter. It was time for us to regroup and finalize our logistics for the trip. Once again, little did we know how many details remained on our list. On our first day I worked on an electronics order and called the folks at Clik Elite, makers of quality photo backpacks & bags based in St George. We headed down in the afternoon to meet with them and told them about our trip. After a short chat we agreed to meet late the next morning.

I picked up a set of Bosch Platinum Spark plugs at Napa for $20 since my tach had been dancing more and more. I was worried of my distributor being on the fritz. A fellow I met at the Pull N Save north wrecking yard in Spokane, the kind gentleman who helped me pull a shift linkage, told me one of the weak links in this generation of Subarus can be the distributor. I almost pulled an extra distributor for the trip a couple of times on my many trips back to Pull N Save. Our extreme lack of space said otherwise though. I had seen my tach ‘ticking’ or ‘skipping’ for years without a distributor failure and when I replaced the plugs before heading to AK it cleared that nuisance up not to mention pulling harder up the hills. This is one of the most simple fixes a person can make on a gasoline car. Change your spark plugs! .. air filter, fuel filter & of course oil according to their service intervals! Your car will thank you!

The next morning we headed back to Clik Elite’s headquarters and talked gear. They hooked us up with a Venture 35 backpack, a hiker and Chest carrier in addition to some odds and ends. Their gear is is well engineered with attention to detail. Just as important, it’s well constructed- ie strong. I am putting it through the ringer on this trip and will see how it holds up. So far after about 2 months it’s doing well! A camera bag I started the trip with tore a seam on its first use- lame. We will be sending them images through the course of the trip and seeing how their products hold up to months and months of abuse through the Americas. We headed by the AAA office to pick up SoCal maps and headed back to Charlie’s house and had a yummy dinner. It was 4 days to Christmas so Kathy cooked us a turkey dinner.  Thank you!

The next morning Charlie and I woke up around 5am and headed out early for Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas for some sunrise shots. This place is beautiful! The rocks are so textured and have a lot of depth. Beyond the arches and red rock features I really enjoyed the variety of colors across the valley floor to hill tops. I gave the D800 some solid exercise that morning before we headed back in time for him to open his gallery in Kayenta Art Village. Check out his work at He has a lot of beautiful images that come to life as wall sized canvases. I’m fortunate to have him as a friend and to have gone on so many spectacular photo excursions in the Southwest!

Back in Ivins I worked on my electronics orders figuring out exactly what I needed for video equipment to accompany my D800 and how much storage to carry in the form of memory cards. This rounded out most of what I needed in that realm to shoot photos and video on this journey. We thought we’d make it back on the road that day but HA! We packed the following morning and finally left Charlie’s place at 1pm the next afternoon after a stop in Charlies gallery per custom. We were thankful for a wonderful visit and time to recharge with Charlie & Kathy! Up and over a pass and we found ourselves in the Mojave desert of the Arizona strip for 20 minutes before getting on I-15.

We purchased the cheapest gas of the trip in Mesquite NV at $2.79/gallon and headed over to Valley of Fire since Lynne had slept in the previous morning. The light was flat and other visitors abounded but it was still neat to look around again none the less. Lynne wanted to see Hoover Dam so we headed through lake Mead National Recreation Area. I balked at the $10 entrance fee since it wasn’t a NP to my (or Charlie’s) knowledge but the times are a changing. I avoided buying an annual park pass since we left so late on this trip and would be missing most of the parks I wanted to visit and didn’t want to be sucked dry by day fee after day fee. I was able to shut up about this rather quickly though as the light through the desert in Lake Mead was spectacular! The sun started to set just as we finally saw Lake Mead.

We motored on towards Hoover Dam after dark and passed through the security checkpoint and across the dam- the main highway when I was last over it. Gawking at the dam in the dark we headed out after a bit and made our way to US 95 & headed south towards Searchlight NV. I was tired and prefer to drive in the daytime anyways so I was happy to find a dirt road leading off the highway about 15 miles north of Searchlight. It took a spell to find the right way deeper into the desert and a level camp but eventually we had a good tent site for the night. In the morning I woke up early and was happy to see more nice light. I shot photos until the light started going flt. Back at the car I noticed we had a flattish drivers front tire. I aired it up with our 12V compressor. Its loss of air is still a bit of a mystery as it never lost air again even a bit after sitting for a couple weeks in Mexico City. We packed up camp after drying our tarp more from the deluge in Page, AZ and drove the dirt roads back out to US highway 95. South we went passing Searchlight NV faster than I thought and the last cheap gas for a long while. Before we knew it we were in California.



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