This time of year can be tricky, especially in the South West. It’s when the air cools off considerably, but the intensity of the big star in the sky beats strong, hitting hard on the side of my face as I drive into Las Vegas. It’s been a few years and I had visions of climbing new rock with good friends. But as I turned onto Charleston Blvd and headed out towards Red Rock Park – something was dramatically different.
I looked around with great attention while driving into the mountains. The crimson colored stone was the same, the dusty desert, same. In my rear-view mirror Vegas was still there, in all of it’s ridiculous glory. As I drove further into the hills, I could feel it’s sprawling energy pumping hard on my tail gate. As a kid from the sticks of Squamish BC, the intensity of the place, the heat, the plastic, began to wear on me, and with Motley Crew singing kick start my heart, I flipped a 180 just south of Bonnie Springs and cruised back the way I came.
As I rolled to a stop hovering over Interstate 215, I began to feel light headed and nauseous. The green arrow lit up and I jolted the van forward, pointing my tires North West, towards Bishop, California and the Sierra Mountains.
Instantly, I began feeling better, my heart beat returned to normal, my complexion recovered and I realized something very important about my ‘self ‘ today. If I’m not in a beautiful place, I just won’t be inspired. Period. Simple I know, but as real as anything under the sky. Naturally of course, Beautiful means different things to different people. I’m sure some believe Vegas to be beautiful, I’m sure, what with all it’s bright lights, big rims and multitude of car wash stations, I find it as beautiful as a decaying deer carcass. It wasn’t always like this, when I was younger, I couldn’t care less, I just wanted to climb rocks, any rocks, as long as they were dry and hard. But now, something in me has changed, I suspect getting older has something to do with it? But during my enduring 45 minutes in the Las Vegas arena, I felt as though I was beginning to die. Seriously, just another second of time stuck in traffic, breathing in the warm smog, I would certainly choke on all the doom and crash through a Starbucks drive-thru, killing a few lazy souls, along with myself (who also has the potential of laziness when tempted by the luxury of the “Worlds best coffee” ready to serve in a plastic cup without getting out from my motorized wheelchair). I deserve to die when I’m in a place like this.
Metalica blared ‘Master of Puppets ‘ from my blown out speakers as I hit Hwy 95, North. My yet un-calloused fingertips tapped the steering wheel with fierce intention, I haven’t climbed anything in over a week, and in less than 5 hours, on Thanksgiving Day, I would come to a place that lands me light on my feet, and high in the sky. Bishop, California. Now THAT is something to be Thankful for. At least for me.
Again, I hope you enjoy the pictures (note: I did not bother taking any of Las Vegas for obvious reasons, sorry).
Death Valley National Park, The Flats.
The Blurry Highway Eyes, 15 miles south of Lone Pine on 395.
6:15 am, driving into the Buttermilks.
Now we’re cooking with bacon.
The beginning of something beautiful. Please pass it on.