A Joshua Tree in Red Rock Canyon State Park

I was on the road early, hoping to put the few hours behind me that I should have done the night before. In a couple hours, I left I-5 toward Bakersfield and then to Red Rock Canyon State Park. It is a beautiful place, and I even went for an actual hike, but drat it if that rain never, ever, let up. Pouring pouring all damn day. Dude. I am so tired of rain.

Yellow flowers glow in the grey day

Well, perhaps because of the weather, I had the trail to myself. There were a lot of stolid campers in the park’s Ricardo Campground – Kudos to you guys!! – and I steeled myself to future cold wet days later in the week when I hope to be in a campsite myself instead of a hotel room. I dug a trash bag out of my camp gear (put there for just this reason!) and wore it as a raincoat. I climbed through the muddy trail of Hagen Canyon with chilled fingers and found some incredible views. I hiked up to the cliffs, and crossed streams that I’ll bet are almost always dry – except today. Finally, when my hat and jeans and shoes were soaked through, I headed back for the car. There were a couple of other trails I had considered walking, but I was in a very crabby mood at that point.

Canyon wall rising above the campsites

I love Joshua Trees. Aren’t they amazing?

I grabbed dry shoes and socks and sweater from the trunk and changed in the car (cursing a blue streak all the while) and settled back into drive mode as the heater kicked in. Oh come on already! Ok, I get it: Rain. Can we do something else now?

I am listening to the book Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. Audio books are an excellent way to get through hundreds of miles of highway with no trouble. This story is the author’s imagined account of how the legendary female Pope came to be. It is a fascinating read and I haven’t had cause to fret about the miles I’ve traveled because I’ve had so much fun “reading” along the way.

A rock juts into the skyline

In Las Vegas, the rain finally stopped! I made it to Boulder City early in the evening, and checked into my hotel room. I am anticipating that this will be the last hotel for much of the week. I expect to camp from here on out, so cross your fingers for me that there won’t be the same amount of rain and cold that I’ve endured so far.

Since it was early, I decided to go check out Hoover Dam. I’ve got wireless in my room and it says that a new burst of rain is due to arrive overnight and will harry my morning. I have not been here since the new highway was built,  and was eager to see a view of the dam from a distance. First I drove the new highway, and discovered that there is no place to park and barriers are built to protect vehicles from canyon winds, so even if I could park there would be little to see. However, as I drove past, I saw people right next to the highway, beyond the barriers.

Hoover Dam from the new bypass bridge

I turned around and took the exit for the old highway. I drove only far enough to get to the observation part of the bridge of the new highway (the place where I had seen people on my first pass through). It’s easy to find, free, plenty of parking. The rain had not yet started again, and though it was indeed very windy on the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, it was warm. I managed to snap some nice shots of the dam in the dusk. As I skipped down the steps back to my car, I could see a security officer was preventing any new people from entering the observation point. I had made it just in time, whew!

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