Sunday, December 1, 2013

Almost Winter Camping

This year our school district had decided to close the schools for the entire week of Thanksgiving. Since we were at the point where we thought it would be nice to go away if even only for a few days we packed our tent and camping stuff and headed south east, to the desert.

Our destination was the Valley of Fire in Nevada, just 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas. You wouldn't really believe that so close to Sin City there would be so much natural beauty. But there is. However, that will be another post.

This was our campsite - snuggled between the incredible red rocks of the Valley of Fire. There were two campgrounds - one more suitable for RVs and trailers, with flush toilets and showers; and one more primitive one with private campsites and vent toilets. However, there was potable water available at each campsite, and that was a huge plus. The roof over the table is mainly for giving shade in the hotter months of the year. Valley of Fire gets incredibly hot in the summer, 100 F isn't rare at all, and temperatures often reach 120 F.

At this time of year, tent camping is not for sissies. It is quite comfortable during the day - we usually hit the lower 60s - but as soon as the sun had set it became pretty nippy and the nights were cold. Since it gets dark early at the end of November, the cold nights were also long nights. It was almost dark by 5:00 pm.

This was the other side of our campsite. We camped in the shade of Poodle Rock - which made for cold mornings as well since the sun wouldn't reach our site until the afternoon. The other side of this rock looks much nicer:

But - isn't this color phenomenal? All the campsites were snuggled among those rocks - take a look here, where you can see a bit of a small trailer standing in another campsite. It was really neat and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

This was our way to the restroom (= vent toilet); such eye candy wherever you looked.

And this is right across from our campsite:

However, as I mentioned above, (almost) winter camping isn't for the faint of heart. A campfire in the evening and in the morning was a must. This wasn't our first attempt at winter camping. Years ago we had camped in Arches National Park on Christmas when night time temperatures dropped into the 20s. Compared to that, this was still very comfortable. But still...

Mornings were chilly and we wrapped our hands around mugs of hot chocolate and coffee while sitting next to the fire. As you can see, I even wore fingerless gloves and a hat.

The hat I even wore during the night - and quite some layers: a cami, long sleeve t-shirt, sweatshirt and a fleece; long pants, socks and fuzzy socks. I had layered two fleece blankets on top of each other beneath our sleeping bags and then each of us had another fleece blanket over the sleeping bag. This way we stayed cozy and warm. We actually slept pretty well.

However... did I mention that we really needed a campfire?

After a couple nights in the Valley of Fire we reluctantly left again - it is such a gorgeous place! We then made our way back into California and camped in Death Valley. It was slightly warmer, we camped just above sea level - but the next morning there was snow on the peaks of the mountains around us.

Would I do it again? Absolutely, in a heart beat.


Amanda said...

So beautiful and it was a fabulous, fun trip!

Our photos said...

You were nice and warm when I see the photo and then the cozy campfire, Carola!

Elephant's Child said...

What an absolutely amazing place. Thank you so much for taking us along.

Julia Dunnit said...

Great way to do a thanksgiving break Carola...being away from the every day luxuries and still safe and warm with your lovelies. as usual, beautiful photos.. The rocks are incredible.

Cheri said...

You are very brave people. I hate being cold and would have to be dragged kicking and screaming to sleep in a tent! (bad experiences in the past).

Sally H said...

Stunning photos! I am afraid I am not a happy camper in the cold. brings back memories of camping in a cow field in the peak district when the ground was frozen many years ago. My hips didn't cope with it and it took me a couple of hours to get my legs walking properly the next day - not good when the cows want to go in your tent and you need to get it put away!!!

Jeanne said...

lovely shots and looks like quite an awesome place to camp! Loved seeing you in your hat and it reminded me of a very cold and rainy camping trip that I had in the smokies. Finally ended up in the car with the heater on full blast. Hope that your Thanksgiving was wonderful sitting in front of that fire!

KB said...

That is gorgeous! I'm putting that area on my list for when we have time for a long trip. You captured the rocks wonderfully.

Funny, we were doing something similar for all of last week... near Arches National Park!!!! And, it was wintery. It even snowed.

Silvia(Barnie) said...

Wie toll, ihr habt bestimmt ganz viel Spaß gehabt... ich glaube mir wäre es zu kalt, bin ich doch von Natur aus eine Frostbeule ;) Deine Fotos gefallen mir super gut :)

Magic Love Crow said...

Love the photos! Stunning place! You look so cute in your hat ;o)

Maria Ontiveros said...

The colors are gorgeous, but brrrrr!
We're not really campers. We like the idea of it, but not the reality I'm afraid.

Deborah Tisch said...

Carola, you look great, by the way! Love this post and all your images. I used to camp a lot when I was still living at home with my parents. My fondest memories are from those times around a camp fire. Your images and words took me right back there!