A Travellerspoint blog

Nevada

sunny 95 °F

I got to Vegas late in the afternoon on the 27th right after Brad had finished work. We played some disc golf while catching up on the last couple years since we had seen each other last. Some burritos for dinner then went to bed early. Brad and his roommate, RJ, had gotten into mountain biking and that night was suppose to be a full moon. So they woke up around 3 AM to go biking under moonlight. Without a bike and nothing to do, I figured I would go win some money at the casinos while no one was there. Too bad I didn’t accomplish my goal of breaking even. After just 4 hours, I was a couple hundred short and ready to get out the oxygen enriched gamblers paradise. I spent the rest of the day sulking about my losses.
The next day Brad had agreed to help one of his friends cut down a tree in their backyard (he is a certified arborist) and I tagged along to help drink beer and watch. It was kind of fun to watch as we demolished this tree. After which we went to his girlfriend’s mom’s house to swim and eat dinner.
On Friday it was RJ’s birthday and they had planned a b-day party with a bike ride following it. Brad had been busy since college fixing up bikes and storing them in his garage. He had nearly 10 bikes that we brought over for other people to use. After swimming and indulging in several beverages, we set out in a group of 12 over to UNLV where apparently on the last Friday of every month people meet up and ride around town. The group of 12 grew to around 50 as we set off from UNLV. Of course that was short lived and the group broke apart. Within a half hour we were down to five of us riding along the strip. It was too much fun. One of the bikes that Brad had rebuilt was a trike that he attached a cooler to, perfect for toting beers around town, and in Vegas, it’s not a problem. We spent the next hour plus riding from MGM all the way down to the stratosphere and back along the side roads. Afterwards we rode straight to a bar and put down a few more brews. I’m not sure how we were able to ride home, but I do remember a late night stop to a breakfast place, then an all out race back home. The next morning after dragging us off the couches, we finally went back to Brad’s and slept the remainder of the day and our hangovers away.
I left the next morning determined to keep going. It was a fun trip to Vegas and I only spent a few hours in the casino, much to my satisfaction. Five states down.

Posted by Nomad'en 00:57 Archived in USA Tagged las vegas nevada Comments (0)

Arizona

sunny 100 °F

I decided to take the long route in getting to Tucson from New Mexico which involved going over the mountains rather than take the interstate. The drive was pretty nice until I hit the monsoons. I was maybe 120 miles outside of Tucson when the rain began to fall and it was intense for the next 50+ miles, which of course was mountain road which switched back and forth along some crazy terrain. I finally got to Tucson around 10:30 PM. John and I caught up a bit before hitting the sack.
The next morning we went to breakfast only for John to get the call that he was going back to work (he is a wild land fire fighter and gets called whenever a forest begins burning). With nothing much for me to do, I spent the afternoon swimming and drinking beers by his pool. That night I went out to dinner with his parents and sister, whom I hadn’t seen in over 5 years.
After another day of hanging out by the pool, John finally had the day off and we opted to go climbing in a canyon on Mount Lemon. I can’t even remember the last time I went climbing, so it was great to get back on the rock. We didn’t get many climbs in before the light disappeared and we were forced to go home.
The next day, John was on call until 5, so right at 5 we went straight back out to the same canyon for some more climbing. We decided that we would try and get further into the canyon and ended up having to jump down some ledges before we found a spot we liked. Once down, we saw another group who mentioned we took the hard route to get down and there was an easier path above. We made a mental note to take that route back. Again, we climbed until it was dark then packed our gear to head out, this time along the “easier” route. I was in the lead and automatically thought the trail would go up, so I continued up the mountain side. It was dark by this point and we hiked with our headlights. I was trying to just power up the mountain and wasn’t necessarily looking down at my feet, a poor choice in the desert. Sitting in the middle of a large rock (maybe 8 ft dia) was a rattlesnake. John saw it at the last second and yelled “Rattlesnake!!” just as I put my foot on its head. I immediately jumped as high and backwards as far as I possibly could. We grouped together to survey my legs only to find one pouring with blood. I initially thought it was simply a stick wound, but upon further review there was another small puncture wound on the opposite side of the leg; almost definitely a bite mark.
We had to cross back across where the snake had been sleeping and continued upwards on the mountain only to reach the top and realize there was no trail down. We would have to double back and again cross the snake’s path. This time we found it. John pinned it down with a stick while I bashed its head in with a rock. After cutting the head off, we placed the rest of the carcass in our pack and headed out for the car.
John drove straight to the hospital where I walked into the ER calmly informing them I had probably been bitten by a rattlesnake. They were skeptical because of my demeanor, but took a look. Sure enough the blood work came back with venom and I was admitted into the ICU. I thought it was a bit of an overkill since nothing hurt and my leg wasn’t swelling, but poison control was running the show and doesn’t take any chances.
I would spend the next 36 hours in the ICU getting blood drawn every two hours connected to multiple machines that beeped and sent the nurses in a scramble ever time I fell asleep (apparently I have a low resting heart rate, in the low 40’s when I sleep, and they thought I was dying). By the end I didn’t even wake up for them to draw blood. It was awful.
I got really lucky from what the doctors were saying. Rattlesnakes store the venom in sacks behinds their head and need to draw it into the fags before they strike. Since I had woken it up with my right foot, it didn’t have time to get a lot of venom. Combine that with the fact that one of the fags hit my shin and it didn’t get a good bite. Fine by me.
After 10 vials of the anti-venom, the doctors finally let me go. I went back to John’s and began marinating the snake (John had skinned it while I was in the hospital) for dinner that evening. I had the last laugh by eating the SOB. Not a whole lot of meat and really boney, but very rewarding.
The next day John convinced me that I needed to head back to the canyon and do some canyoneering to get over any fear that would prevent me from going out into the desert. John doesn’t take no for an answer, and I wasn’t about to argue so I agreed.
We met up with one of his friends, then drove back out to the mountain. Leaving one car at the bottom, we started from the top bushwhacking. It was so much fun. The whole time we would come up to large drop-offs where we would repel down, and then continue onward. At one of the drop-offs our rope wasn’t long enough and we were forced to jump into a small pool of water. Awesome! It was a great time.
The next day I decided I had been in Tucson long enough and had to keep moving, so I drove up to Phoenix to stay with my cousin Mike and his family. The next day we went to a Diamondbacks game and back to their house for dinner. I hadn’t seen Mike and Wendy (his wife) in a couple years and it was nice to catch up.
The following day I continued north up through Sedona and the Red Rocks, which are really cool, through Flagstaff where it was projected to continue to rain for the next week, and up to the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is so amazing to look at, just unbelievable what nature can do. Unfortunately for me, I had the dog with me and couldn’t really do much. National Parks are not dog friendly and require them to only travel where cars can, so it didn’t allow me to take any cool hikes. Combine that with the mass of RVs and generators in the campgrounds and I was out of there the next day. I called my friend Brad who lives in Vegas, and headed straight there crossing the Hoover Dam. Four states down.

Posted by Nomad'en 23:13 Archived in USA Tagged arizona rattlesnake Comments (0)

Oklahoma

sunny 90 °F

There isn’t much to say about Oklahoma. When I finally got to the border it was 11 PM and I was already pretty tried from the previous stop. With my state line ultimatum met, I found the nearest state park, pulled in, set-up my tent, and passed out.

The next morning I woke up fairly early and packed up quickly. I had nothing really to keep me there and I was already inching to leave Oklahoma. Maybe because I don’t know anyone or maybe because it was so close to Texas, but I had no desire to stay. I decided the next best place would be somewhere I had never been and while looking at a map I thought Santa Fe was the spot. Two states down.

Posted by Nomad'en 22:27 Archived in USA Tagged oklahoma Comments (0)

New Mexico

The Pecos Wilderness

sunny 75 °F

I got into Santa Fe late in the afternoon and decided I would get a hotel room to prep for a backpacking trip leaving the following morning. I made a quick Walmart stop and put all my gear together. I was short on a few items I wanted, didn’t need, so I hit up the local REI in Santa Fe the next morning picked up a map, and cruised out to the Pecos Wilderness, a local’s recommendation. I really didn’t know where I was going, but thought it sounded cool.

The trailhead started at around 9,000 ft, which for me was quite high coming from flat old Dallas hovering at a whopping 650 ft. The first mile and a half or two was killer, and since I didn’t start the trail until after 3 PM, I made it to the first creek I found with water. After breakfast the next morning I continued up the trail to Pecos Baldy Lake, a lake nestled at the base of a 12,500 ft peak. I set my pack down and went to the top with Dixie (my dog) close behind. It was unbelievably gorgeous on top. I had been to New Mexico before down in the Gila Wilderness and thought that was pretty cool, but this place blew it out of the water. Beautiful mountain ridgelines with forested valleys, just exactly what I had wished to see. When I came down from up top, I sat down to eat some lunch only to find I was spent. I set up camp and passed out for a few hours, then made a fire, watched some stairs, and out again.
The next morning I hiked out to Truchas lakes, which were a set of two alpine lakes situated at the base of the second highest peak in New Mexico. The lakes were actually at around 12,000 ft making them the highest lakes I had been to. On the way there, I lost the trail several times and ended up diverting course to another trail along a ridge line only to find a herd of mountain goats that decided it was their turf and chased Dixie and I off their mountain. It was pretty funny seeing them keep coming after me totally unphased by my loud voice and Dixie’s barking. I made good time and got there fairly early in the day and decided right away I wanted to stay to camp. I found a perfect spot and set up camp.
Within an hour or so, I started to hear someone else walking around the area. For the most part thus far I had been pretty much by myself with occasional horse back rider here and there. The weather began to look a little grim and the guy, Steve, came by to ask whether I mind if he set up around me with his two dogs. Obviously, I could care less and told him no problem. Eventually the weather cleared up with no rain and I made it down to the water to sit and enjoy the view. Twenty minutes later another guy started to make his way around the lake. This guy was carrying just a plastic grocery bag which seemed a little odd considering we were nearly ten miles down the trail. He walked all along the edge of the water until he got right next to me, then just sat down. His first response (I think even before hello) was, “so how’s the fishing?” I had no clue and hated to fish, so obviously I was no help. He fished a bit without success, then Steve meandered down from the camp.
Immediately the two started talking gear. Turns out they are total minimalist in every sense of the word. Together they probably had less gear and pack weight than I did alone. It was crazy hearing them converse about this pack vs. that pack and the ounce weight between both. Champion, the guy with the plastic grocery bag, didn’t even sleep in a tent. He used a small tarp which doubled as his raingear for cover at night. His stove was a cat food container with holes punched into it. I mean I looked like the general store compared to these guys. That’s ok by me, I practice what I like to call comfort camping.
The three of us talked a bit, then retired to our respective camps. That night we got a little bit of rain and I was damn glad I had a tent.
The next morning Steve and I talked over some pancakes I made. I told him my general story of leaving my life behind to see the country/world and he mentioned I should make it up to Alaska via ferry and do the Chilkoot trail. Sounds like fun, but we’ll see. Later Champion joined us just before we headed off. Since Champion and I were going in similar directions we hiked together for the next couple hours along another ridgeline, this one just as beautiful as the last. We eventually parted ways, Champion going deeper into the woods and myself headed backed to the car. That day I hiked maybe 10 or 12 miles down to Beatty’s flats, then out the next day. Total mileage, maybe pushing 30, I wasn’t going for the distance on this trip. All and all, I would certainly come back to the Pecos Wilderness and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is in the area.
When I made it out that Friday, I called my friend John who lives in Tucson. He mentioned that he may on a four day weekend and that if I was going to come and visit now would be the most opportune time. Tucson here I come.

Posted by Nomad'en 22:14 Archived in USA Tagged mexico new wilderness pecos Comments (0)

Texas

Starting Point

sunny 100 °F

I've decided that the best way to update the blog would be to go state by state (or country by country whenever that rolls around). Where else to start than my "stomping" grounds of the last eight years. I can’t believe I was really there for that long…

My last night in town a group of 6 of us went out to my favorite steak house to celebrate. Bob’s chop house was the place and the meal was extraordinary. Between the Kansas City cut and the Lobster bisk, I was on my way to enjoying an extended vacation. After dinner we all went out for drinks which lasted longer than expected. It was a late night which caused me to sleep in until around noonish when I finally packed my remaining belongings as well as my car. By then it was dinner time, so Rankin, Tony and I went out for a last Plucker’s send off, then I was off. It was nearly 9 PM.

I started driving without even knowing which highway to get on. All I knew was that I had to be out of Texas before the end of the night. I finally settled for I-35 and headed North.

Posted by Nomad'en 20:16 Archived in USA Tagged texas Comments (0)

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