A red car drives through the freeway towards the red sandstone outcrops of Valley of Fire.
The Lumineers’ Cleopatra album is on for the whole trip. My friend said that she had the playlist for over a year; I said I did not mind, because I liked the band too. I find traveling more fun when there is music.
No matter how many hours a trip takes, we both liked traveling except for being caught in slow traffic.
On our way, however, to Valley of Fire one summer’s day in Las Vegas, Nevada, there was not much traffic thankfully.
Yet, when the car finally arrived at the entrance to the state park, we spotted a sign which said that there was extreme temperatures today.
When my friend checked in the morning though, it was less than a hundred degrees.
But we were already there, and it’s not every day one gets to hike in the Valley of Fire on noon-time during summer, so we rode on.
Arriane and I became classmates only once in high school, specifically in our third year. During our fourth year, we were still able to work with each other in the schoolpaper.
I remember appreciating her editorial cartoons before for the schoolpaper and for the press conferences that our school joined in.
These were only but a few memories I had with Arriane! She went to a different college than I did too. We were not that close during high school, but it is only recently that we were able to get re-connected again through Instagram, shared circumstances, and the love of hiking and drawing.
I think it was a year ago when I got connected with her again. I followed her on Instagram and then saw one photo months after of a house in Vegas. I am naturally shy, so sometimes, it takes a little bit courage for me to open a conversation with someone. I shared to her that my Mom, Dad, and I would sometimes visit Vegas when we had the chance, because a few of our relatives lived there. She said I should let her know when we come visit again. Inside me, I got excited and nervous at the same time, because “Ah! How does one make friends again? How does one be a friend again? How does one reconnect with an old high school friend before?”
I also loved Arriane’s sharing of her hiking adventures in Instagram, then one time, she said that we should hike together.
This was all in 2016.
It was not until the last week of July 2017 that I messaged her finally, “Arriane, I’m in Vegas!”
We caught up with each other on the 28th over ramen at Jinya Ramen Bar. It was great to see a familiar face in Vegas, besides our family. I enjoyed listening to her stories, about school, hiking, her family, the city, driving, and college before. After our merienda, we planned on hiking soon, but we still had no specific dates yet.
Then came one time last week; she invited me to come hike with her at Valley of Fire. We were supposed to have lunch, but since we saw that there was good weather in the valley, we decided to go.
It turned out though that the weather intensified, and the sky was cloudless when we arrived.
Sunblock came to the rescue though!
We were able to sit in the shade of red, see petrified logs washed out to this area millions of years ago, spotted lizards and big-horn sheep, traverse through soft sand in the middle of giant outcrops, go through a long winding road surrounded by these wonders of nature and history and time, and experience the heat and exhaustion of a Vegas summer.
*Take note though that it is not recommended to hike in high temperatures. My friend and I had our water bottles, snacks, sunblock, and hiking clothes during this day. We must be responsible when undertaking an adventure such as this.
I would never exchange this hike for anywhere on that day, for it was an amazing experience to have seen and traversed through this state park, especially too with a good friend!
It felt like being in Mars, it being called the red planet and all.
After deciding to not hike anymore in the rest of the stations (because of how hot it was), Arriane and I went to the museum and learned more about the people who lived in this area before, as well as the tools they used and the species of flora and fauna in the valley.
As the afternoon passed, we went to the last part of our trek before heading back to the city and getting ramen for our late lunch/early dinner.
On some outcrops too were rock art or as what we call petroglyphs. We read in the museum that there was no story or narrative there, so probably, the people who lived in this valley before could have just drawn what they saw or did during their time.
Arriane and I sat for a while on top of a staircase nestled against the Atlatl Rock, making guesses as to the reason the early people made their art: to record, to convey a message, or to simply just draw?
While driving too, we had fun trying to name some rocks that looked odd: we found ones that looked like a sinking ship, ones we called the balancing rock, the snowman (with three boulders on top of each other) and the most unique one – the ‘rectangular rock’ which we found on our 1.4 mile hike to Mouse’s Tank, another hiking station in Valley of Fire. It was just so rectangular that it stood out from the other ones that looked organic… She said I was so original in naming. Haha!
Anyway, it was an awesome day of breath-taking visions, driving, hiking, talking, taking photos, and munching on yummy wasabi peas and shoyu almonds for us!
I definitely learned a lot from the Valley of Fire hike experience I had with my friend.
Here are some of the lessons I learned from our conversations and from the awe-inspiring state park of red sandstone:
Do not be afraid of opening yourself to other people and letting others open up to you. Do not be afraid of being quiet sometimes in conversations and simply listen.
Do not be afraid of taking adventures. Do not be afraid to see the world and travel by yourself – one that my friend does so courageously!
Do not be afraid to get to know others better, especially friends we weren’t able to know more before. Who knows – you may learn so much from them and be inspired by them!
Do not be too careful, but do be balanced in vigilance and taking risks; one cannot live a life and making decisions based on fear. There is a fault too by being too cautious for one does not give room for faith to work.
Let faith hold you, carry the conversation, make the adventure more meaningful, and lead you to meet other people and kindred spirits and a braver version of yourself.