Of all the trips I’ve made to Nevada, I’d never been to the Valley of Fire State Park. A few weeks ago, I visited this magnificent natural wonder – well worth the drive from Vegas – to witness firsthand the breathtaking beauty of these incredible rock formations.
Valley of Fire State Park is a public recreation and nature preservation area covering nearly 46,000 acres located 16 miles south of Overton, Nevada. The state park derives its name from red sandstone formations, the Aztec Sandstone, which formed from shifting sand dunes 150 million years ago. Wikipedia
Just back from my first flight since February 2020, for a small family reunion with all four of us vaccinated. Spending time together sans masks, with laughter, hugs and fun was a gift after months of pandemic isolation. When in Vegas, we always visit the fabulous Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Their Conservatory and Botanical Gardens change seasonally and the horticultural creativity and scale of their displays are inspired and breathtaking.
There is something magical about Tennessee that draws me back year after year. With the Great Smoky Mountains as a backdrop and overlooking Wears Valley, the view from my cabin is ever-changing. Rising early to watch the sunrise – this year with a rooster cock-a-doodle-doing in the valley and enjoying a glass of wine while witnessing every sunset is a priority for me. It’s a perfect way to bookend a day in Tennessee and never disappoints.
Road trip 2021, arrived on Memorial Day hours early for my Wears Valley cabin check-in. Already in nearby Townsend it was time to let my vacation begin, starting with an impromptu wine tasting at Cades Cove Cellars, stocking up on wine…. since I was there anyway. Next on to drive Cades Cove Loop, 11 miles, one lane/one way road. The 11 miles is leisurely and slow-moving easily 2-3 hours which lined up with my check-in and a perfect choice as this place is everything I love about Tennessee. My #1 Tennessee trip goal is to see a black bear every trip – hopefully more than one. Photos never truly capture the majestic mountains, abundant meadows and that sky above… what I’d imagine heaven looks like.
And on this first vacay day, I had my first bear sighting, check!
In September I took my first (and only since Covid) vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Traveling solo during a pandemic, I sought new experiences that were safe and uncrowded. The first was a pottery class at Fowler’s Clay Works, something I’d always wanted to try and I loved it!
My creation had to remain behind to cure, be glazed and fired. My expectation was to receive it after three months which would be mid December. To my surprise, it arrived on my front porch this morning. It’s so pretty and I flashed back to an especially fun and memorable day. I’m including photos and this link, https://spencesgirl.com/2020/09/26/tennessee-great-smoky-arts-crafts-community/ to my earlier post about the art classes I took in Gatlinburg if you’d like to check it out.
One of my favorite things is watching afternoon thunderstorms roll over the mountains. Protected by my covered deck, I watched one front move through Wears Valley followed thirty minutes later by another. The heavy downpours, booming thunder and crackling lightning set against the Smoky Mountains is magnificent to witness. As the storm passed, thick fog slowly blanketed the valley, making the mountains disappear before my eyes. The air cooled as mist enveloped my cabin. It seemed I was in a cloud.