Death Valley National Park might have an ominous name, but it is certainly worth a visit. Bring the family and explore all the park has to offer, from the unique Salt Creek Interpretive Trail to the beautiful views from Zabriskie Point. Read more at MiniTime.com.
Baseball season is here! Hop in the car and head to Arizona for MLB Spring Training. Or, catch the Chicago Cubs and the Oakland A’s when they come to Las Vegas’ Cashman Field for two games on March 13-14, 2015.
Read more at Desert Companion’s “bulletin board.”
As the holidays were drawing to a close and the prospect of a return to real life began to sink in, my family and I decided it was time for some fresh air. Off we went to Boulder City, where we hiked a portion of the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail.
We accessed the trail near the Alan Bible Visitor Center, located just off US-93. Hemenway Park and downtown Boulder City are a short drive away. At the trailhead, you’ll find a parking lot, restrooms, and a dirt path that leads you up a slight hill. Here you will find a large metal gate. Walk through the gate, and you’re on your way to beautiful views of Lake Mead and impressively large railroad tunnels. (You can also access the trail from the Hoover Dam parking garage.)
Originally, the railroad system helped in the construction of Hoover Dam. Once the dam was completed in 1935, the railroad had served its purpose. It was used sporadically until 1961, and the tracks were removed in 1962.
This trail does not form a loop, so keep in mind that you will be retracing your steps when you return to your car. Even though the railroad tunnel trail is wide and flat, hikers and bicyclists should use caution. There is no guardrail on the side of the trail and the drop-off can be pretty steep in some places.
Along the way, you’ll find plenty of places to take photos of Lake Mead. You’ll also see a few informational signs and benches if you want to sit for a while and enjoy the scenery.
The first of the railroad tunnels is located about one mile into the hike. The size of the tunnels is pretty impressive. One of the informational signs along the way explains that the tunnels are over 20 feet tall and have been reinforced in recent years to add stability. The second tunnel comes soon after the first. The entire trail consists of five tunnels and is 3.7 miles one-way.
Be on the look-out for a dose of history while you hike. You’ll see several huge concrete plugs off to the side of the trail that were used in the construction of Hoover Dam and were left behind. A small plaque explains the function of the plugs and includes a picture of them when they were still in use.
When we visited the trail on a weekend afternoon, we saw several other hikers. Helicopters on their way to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead zipped by overhead, and we could hear highway noise in the distance. This is not an isolated nature hike full of peace and solitude. However, it is fascinating and worth a visit.
For a trail map and information on the railroad’s history, visit the National Park Service online.
Lately, I’ve become obsessed with very, very, very short fiction, stories so succinct that they conform to Twitter’s 140-character limit. I like the challenge of squeezing as much story as possible into a small space. Plus, it’s kind of freeing to know that if a story doesn’t work out or gets rejected it will be easier to move on and try again. For me, bidding a fond farewell to a failed story and accepting that it is destined to be nothing more than a file on my computer is easier when the story is Twitter-sized.
Another advantage to writing super-short fiction is that the entire process moves along faster. With many Twitter-fiction publications, the response time is very reasonable, and the time from acceptance to publication is days or weeks rather than months. Twitter-fiction is great for those of us who hate waiting.
In recent weeks, my Twitter-fiction has appeared at Nanoism, 7×20, and Cuento.
I’m excited about my story at Nanoism (#628), since it took me a few attempts to get an acceptance there. You really should take a look at their archives. You’ll find some great stories. I’m honored to have my flash fiction in such good company.
You’ll also find my stories at 7×20 and Cuento, two places that have been kind enough to publish my work in the past. Here are two recent examples:
For a more thorough round-up of my super-short, Twitter-sized fiction, stop by my portfolio.
Happy writing, everyone!
I’m honored that my flash fiction, “Gray Area,” was selected for the Best of 2014 issue at Nailpolish Stories!
If you’re not familiar with Nailpolish Stories, it’s an online flash fiction publication that features stories of exactly 25 words, the titles of which are the names of nail polish colors. Writing in such a short format is a challenge, but I enjoy boiling down a story to it’s most essential elements. After all, in the world of flash fiction, less is more.
As 2014 winds down, I’m proud to say that my fiction is forthcoming in the following publications: 300 Days of Sun, Black Denim Lit, Eunoia Review, Vending Machine Press, and others. And I’m already looking forward to another year of writing adventures!
Thanks for stopping by, happy new year, and safe travels. See you in 2015.
Who would have thought the coolest hike at Valley of Fire would be the one without bright red rocks?
My family and I were due for a visit to Valley of Fire. Fall and spring are the best times to go, for obvious weather-related reasons, and I always look forward to climbing on rocks, taking photos, and marveling at the fact that I now live in the desert rather than the plains.
On previous trips, we had hiked the Mouse’s Tank trail, marveled at the beehive rock formations, and climbed the stairs to check out the petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock. In an attempt to try something new at a park that we’d visited many times, I did some research and decided that the White Domes Loop would be a good fit: an hour of hiking round-trip and home to plenty of interesting geology. Plus, it was located in a part of the park that we had yet to explore.
To get to the White Domes trailhead, drive toward the northern part of the park. You’ll find parking, restrooms, and picnic tables near the beginning of the trail. Right away, it becomes apparent why this is called “White Domes,” since the rocks look very different from the bright red that encompasses the rest of Valley of Fire.
The majority of the trail is sand-covered. There are a few places where it is unclear which way the trail leads, but luckily there are signs to help guide the way.
Along the way, the trail will take you through a slot canyon. You’ll also find the remains of a structure that was used as a movie set in the 1960’s. A nearby sign indicates that the fragment is left over from the filming of The Professionals. The rock formations are fascinating, and the caves and crevices look like they could be home to Sand People on Tatooine. (Sorry, had to throw a Star Wars reference in there somewhere. It was either that or The Hills Have Eyes.)
Toward the end of the hike, the White Domes Loop provides a beautiful desert vista, which is the perfect place for a few photos.
As with all other trails, the normal words of caution apply at White Domes Loop: arrive prepared with water, a map, snacks, good walking/hiking shoes, sunscreen, etc.
For more information about Valley of Fire, drop by the official Nevada State Parks website.