Travels in the American Southwest

Valley of Fire and the Plane Trip from Hades

It was finally Sunday morning, a couple of hours before dawn. Had a trace of rain overnight and the air had the type of chill that announces that summer is waning. Since I still had a car, I decided to go off to one of my favorite haunts - The Valley of Fire. This oldest Nevada State Park is a photographer's dream, especially in the early morning as the new sun highlights the area's red-hued rock. Colored from the palest pink to blood red, the sandstone takes on a life of its own in the morning light.

Valley of Fire   Valley of Fire

Since the area received only a trace of rain overnight, I wasn't overly concerned with flash flooding to which this area is prone. But there was just enough rain to form new gullies in the colorful sand providing interesting photo shoots.

Valley of Fire is also the location of petroglyphs which have been dated from 400 to 2000 years old. Who drew them may never be known...only their primitive drawings remain.


Valley of Fire is located about 55 miles north of Las Vegas via I-15 to SR169. The exit off I-15 is well marked and the Moapa Indian tribe has a store at the interchange so you can stock up on beverages and munchies. Fireworks and tax-free cigarettes are also available.

There is a $5 admission fee to Valley of Fire, payable at the entrance or visitor's center.

Since checkout time at the Golden Nugget is noon and my flight was eleven hours later, I spent the day roaming through the downtown casinos leaving more than I won! It was during these explorations that I finally realized why there aren't any panhandlers or vagrants on Fremont Street. They're simply banned, along with the distribution of pamphlets and any unauthorized selling. It seems that Las Vegas, in an effort to put forward a good face for we tourists, has deigned that no "unpleasantness" should be permitted to disturb us.

Had dinner at one of the buffets and then toured the strip. Saw the volcano erupt and the new Bellagio's fountains dance. The crowds were not as large as I expected but idiots still try to dash across the Strip, heedless of the cars and buses zipping along. No wonder so many tourists get picked off! I wondered why the police, who were everpresent, didn't write some good old fashioned jaywalking tickets!

Drove to the airport and checked the backpack at the baggage drop off, returned the car and headed to the gate. Butterflies in my stomach were chalked up to the realization that this year's trip was coming to an end. Certainly did have a lot of fun this year. Went through the security checkpoint where I, again, had to explain why I was carrying a compressor and some souvenir rocks in my hand-held carry-ons. As the departure time got closer, my stomach's butterflies were replaced with urgent messages from the stomach to the brain saying that there was some discontent "down here". With ten minutes to go before boarding, the messages of discontent became flashes of outright rebellion. I rushed behind the ticket counter, much to the consternation of the ticket agents who seemed ready to ask why I was taking their trashbasket...until they saw why and quickly diverted their attention back to their waiting customers. After utilizing the wastebasket, I joined the other passengers and boarded the plane. In preparation for what could be a very difficult flight, I pawed through the in-flight magazine, until I found the "bag" and left it within easy reach. Turned out to be good planning as an hour into the flight, when most of the other passengers were asleep, the bag was used...and filled. "Thank God that's over now," I thought, only to be quickly overruled by the stomach. "Not yet, you're not!" it exclaimed. My hand dove into my seatmate's magazine pouch, but came up empty. Knowing a very messy situation would soon be at hand, the fellow across the aisle quickly handed me the bag from his seat. I muttered, "Thank yobrooomgh" and used his timely gift. (Later, I wondered if he was being a good samaritan or was simply aware that he'd be the first in direct line of "fire"!)

The flight attendants were very sympathetic and provided me with ginger ale and an ample supply of "bag" which were dutifully used and disposed.

my best friend

Well, if you're going to be ill, it might as well be on the way home rather than on the way to vacation!

And so ended day 7, and so ended my 1998 trip.

More Information
Valley of Fire
Virtual Airsickness Bag Museum

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