until non-pandemic time

After leaving the diner in Hurricane UT (and what a name for a town!), referenced in the last entry, and a brief stop for coffee at the edge of nearby St. George UT, I headed into Nevada again, this time for two last stops. The first: The Whole Foods on the Strip in Las Vegas. The second: A dude ranch in the Mojave, about 45 minutes south of the city on I-15.

I would be bypassing Vegas altogether, really, except for needed foodstuffs. I only needed some place to get things to cook, and the Whole Foods location near the Strip casinos and the airport was perfect. It also wasn’t at all crowded, so I managed to pick up a New York Strip steak, asparagus, butter, and one tall beer for the night in short order. The objective was to get down to the dude ranch and cook at a place I was staying there, while having enough time to see a sunset. I made it.

That place was a tipi, a glamping setup, on the property of Sandy Valley Ranch, located about three miles south of the Nevada border in San Bernadino County CA, about 30 miles from the Mojave National Preserve. It was located on a piece of land behind the ranch house, along with a (then-taken) tiny house and such.

I wouldn’t say that the place was wildly glamorous if you expect that with the “glamping” name. But the tipi and deck had all the cooking utensils I needed properly cook and cut a steak, along with a propane stove and a fridge for butter and the beer and such. It also featured an outdoor shower, a fire pit, and a couch and chairs on the deck, then a heated mattress and plenty of thick Navajo blankets and such inside the tipi.

I won’t say that any one part of the night stood out as The Highlight. The sunset, however, clearly made for the most dramatic shot. And I did not notice the big red line for a bit, being busy with moving things around and starting the fire and all. Once I did notice, I went immediately for the camera. Otherwise, I cooked a steak while a ranch dog longingly looked on, read on a big red couch next to a fire, looked at the stars in the remarkably clear desert sky, and so forth. Then I went to sleep, with the assistance of a propane heater (safe to use with a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm inside) and a heated mattress, along with a Navajo blanket. I still struggled to keep warm, but loved every second of the experience.

The next morning, just after sunrise, I thought maybe my lucky streak on this strip had finally come to an end, given that the shower wouldn’t turn on. Oh well, I thought, I can at least get a shower at the Concourse F lounge in Atlanta, since I planned to go there again Wednesday (December 9, specifically). Even so, I called the owner, who figured the pipes must have frozen, and he sent me over the then-empty ranch house for a shower. So all worked out fine.

I used an extra K-cup from a hotel to make coffee in an old pot. Worked out beautifully. The cup I had felt like the best in a long, long time, given the bitterly cold morning. Then I finished packing and headed out.

I was a tad worried when my smartphone, after sitting on deck while I had a shower, wouldn’t fully turn on afterward. But within a couple of minutes inside the car, it was going again. Then came the Joshua trees with Christmas decorations on them, one after the other on the way back to I-15, and I started cackling, while making sure to pull over and get at least one photo.

If U2 ever gives up and releases a holiday album, one of these trees could be on the front cover– say, “The Christmas Joshua Tree,” featuring the hit single, “I Still Haven’t Found the Gift That I’m Looking For.” (A friend sad another single could be, “Where the Malls Have No Name.”)

And that was it for the trip. I watched “Singin’ in the Rain” on the plane back to Atlanta, and had a nice margarita and such at the Delta Sky Deck. Really, though, that was it.

Maybe I’ll have some thoughts on COVID and travel later, and on funding for and treatment of national and state parks and such, or climate change. You never know. I did write in a journal entry that I wondered a couple of years ago if I’d gotten back into travel via a middle-class salary just as all the fun would be ending, thanks to political and possibly economic instability and climate change (even a budding backlash against air travel pre-COVID thanks to the latter).

Maybe I could extend that idea into an entry down the line? Hmm. Otherwise, this is it for now.