Last week I went to Las Vegas to visit one of my long time patrons, who has become a friend over the 4 years or so he's been collecting my art. It was awesome to finally meet him, and to see some of my personal favorite paintings that he owns again!
Here's the link to part 1 if you missed it
After visiting the wetland area called "The Wash", the next day we drove out to the Valley of Fire State Park. It's a huge 46 000 acre park, so we only saw a small part of it. There were all sorts of beautiful and strange rock formations. I took lots of pictures,it was hard to choose just a few for this post! lol One of the first rock formations that caught my eye was this one that looks like The Sphinx in Egypt.
Next we stopped at a place called Atlatl Rock. It's a stone face high up a cliff covered in ancient rock art, with a stone staircase carved into the cliff to reach it. Now there's a metal staircase and barriers around the rock art to make it harder for people to vandalize them. I had to reach my arm through the barrier to get a good picture. On the stone face, there's many different petroglyphs, left by ancient people who used to live in,or at least visit the valley. It was fascinating to see them, and imagine someone sitting there with a chisel making them hundreds, or maybe even thousands of years ago. No one really knows what they mean, but there are many ancient rock art sites in the area with some similar motifs, so anthropologists assume they meant something as opposed to all being random "doodles" done by people to pass time.
After that we drove to another spot, and hiked a little ways into the area beyond the parking area. We went to go look at a stone arch, but then when we were coming back we took a little longer route where there was no trail, and noticed these markings in a little cavern/sheltered area. As opposed to the rock art we saw earlier, these appeared to be "painted" onto the rock instead of chiseled into the rock. Since there was no info about them at all, it's hard to say if they were ancient, or from the mining days, or something else. They clearly look to be done by humans though, so it was a cool little "find"!
Then we went to a trail that led to a place called "Mouses's Tank" that's usually full of water, but on our visit it was dry as a bone. There was more rock art too, but it was also almost 110 degrees and right in the sun most of the way, so I didn't take too many pictures, I was focusing more on not dying! lol I did get this picture of a cool rock formation that made me think of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek.
And I managed to snap this picture of a juvenile chuckwalla, a type of lizard that lives in the desert from Utah to Northern Mexico. This one was about 7-8 inches long, but they can grow up to about 15-16 inches long and can get a lot fatter as they get bigger too.
Once we got back to the car, we drove to one last scenic trail and hiked for another 20 minutes. I saw this rock formation that made me think of Donald Trump's hair.
The next day we went to the Nevada State Museum - Las Vegas. The one thing that totally blew me away was a huge fossilized skeleton they had on display of an ichthyosaur. The jaw alone was almost 18 feet long, you sure wouldn't want to mess with one. For that matter neither would a great white shark! A great white would be a snack for this thing lol
Then the day after that we went to Mount Charleston. It's about an hour from Las Vegas, and has an elevation of almost 12 000 feet. As we drove up, we turned off the AC in the car and opened our windows. It smelled like an alpine forest. First we stopped at a lookout point about 6000 feet up. The trees were getting much bigger, and it was getting much cooler. One thing that jumped out at me was this bright red flower.
As I stood up from taking the flower picture, something flew past me, and landed close by. I saw it fly by me, and I saw roughly where it landed, but it was so well camouflaged it still took me a minute to find what it was - this grasshopper! I'm lucky it stayed put while I got this close up picture.
Then we continued up the mountain to another amazing lookout point. The day we drove there, the temperature down in the valley was close to 102. Up on the mountain, it went down to 62, a 40 degree difference! Good thing we brought sweaters lol The view was stunning, one of those that's hard to capture in a photo. You could see for miles.
Next we drove by the ski area on the mountain. There was no snow left on the trails at this time of year, but I was pretty amazed there was a ski area at all more or less right in the desert!
On our way back from Mt Charleston, we took a route that took us near a little desert oasis called Corn Creek Spring. We stopped to hike a couple of the trails. One awesome thing there is an aquarium housing Pahrump Poolfish. They're an endangered species, and were introduced to the creek in the 70's after their own natural creek completely dried up. Then in the 90's, somehow crayfish were introduced to the spring, and their population went down to almost nothing, so a "refugium" aquarium was built for them that keeps them separate from the actual creek. They hope one day to release them back into the spring. I managed to snap a pretty good picture of this one snacking on some algae growing on the window.
At the Corn Creek visitors center we walked across this big Mandala made of little tiles. It was about 20 feet across. While walking across it, it was hard to tell what the design was, but then I climbed up onto a bench to get a better view, and it became clear - a turtle! So awesome :)
Then as we were leaving the visitors center, I noticed this one purple flower. All the other ones around it were already dried up, but this one was right next to a fence post and got more shade, where it was waiting just for me to notice it and take this beautiful picture. A nice way to end an awesome vacation!
The next day I flew home, but the story doesn't end there - my patron commissioned me to do another Mandala for him! Stay tuned to find out what the theme will be. When I start working on it in a few more days, I'll make a post about it.
In the meantime, thanks for reading my blog and have an awesome day! If you'd like to start a collection of my art yourself, visit my store, or hire me to do a custom Mandala for you! -Adam