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Red Rock Canyon

Lisa's hip had been giving her some trouble recently, so she decided to skip the trip to Red Rock Canyon and catch up on some work at home. The rest of us packed some extra water and a snack, and put our walking shoes on.

Red Rock Canyon is about 30 minutes drive away from Las Vegas. You basically go South on 95, exit on to Charleston Blvd and head West into the hills. Eventually you come to this valley nestled up against the mountains, filled with canyons and large sandstone outcroppings. It's pretty cool. A favorite location for filmmakers apparently.

We pulled into the car park - there were about 4 other cars there - and walked through the cactus gardens to the nearby cluster of buildings. These turned out to be a toilet block and an information kiosk set into a landscaped section of land.

The valley is boarded to the West by tall vertical cliffs, and these were lightly dusted with snow. There was a chill in the air even though the sun was up and felt warm on my skin.

After walking through the natural science displays and dioramas - quite a few stuffed animals in there - we found out what the landscaped section was about. It was a tortoise habitat. No critters to be seen, unfortunately. The explanatory panels informed us that most likely the tortoises were all hibernating.

From the information lodge there's a 13 mile loop scenic drive that you can take around the valley. This seemed like a good idea. As we drove slowly around the one-way loop, we could see that there were numerous places to stop, get out of the car, and trek around the outcroppings.

At the first place we stopped, a couple of friendly squirrel-type critters came out and fearlessly checked us out. Unfortunately for them we didn't have anything to feed them with, and it probably isn't a good thing to do anyway. Given their boldness I suspect people do feed them anyway. They were very cute.

There was a walkway down from the car park that gradually changed from a graveled path to jumbled rocks, requiring serious free rock climbing gear to get much further. There were no fences or anything, just a sign that said, "Use proper equipment when climbing. No responsibility taken etc etc..."

We walked as far down as seemed safe, then stopped for a few photos. It was difficult to get a sense of scale. The creviced landscape seemed to "flatten out" as you look. Then we'd catch a glimpse of some climbers with ropes and everything, and realise that the rocks were a lot further away - and larger - than they appeared

At the highest point on the scenic drive there is a lookup stop. It is not that high up when you look around at the cliffs and mountains behind you, but the view was still pretty good. You get a good appreciation of the size of the sandstone outcroppings when you see them in there entirety, nestled in the valley.

There are some great canyons on the South side of the valley that look like a lot of fun to scramble around in, but the sun had dropped behind the mountains and it was getting pretty chilly.

The scenic drive actually looked like a rather good loop to cycle around. One day I fully intend to do that. Of course I'll have to get a bike first. And then put in some preparatory exercise!

I think we fired up the outdoor gas grill that evening and had steak, spuds, and salad. Kind of a Summer meal, but what the heck. It smelled good. It tasted good.

Here's the thing: The only reason not to grill in the Winter is that it's cold, and it seems a shame that the waste heat doesn't go to warming up the house instead.

The rest of the evening was pleasantly spent watching _Barry Lyndon_ on DVD.

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