How To Do Las Vegas Our Way, and Indian Bread Tacos

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We have always had a goal of visiting each of the fifty states. As this, our fiftieth year of marriage began, we set our sights on reaching that goal, visiting the two states we had not yet seen. In April we flew to Nevada to check off state #49. I was not particularly excited…my knowledge of Nevada was limited, and when thinking about Nevada, the mental connections I made were desert, Las Vegas, and gambling.

But then we took a tour of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and my mind’s eye view of Nevada will never be the same.

Millions of years ago, the land that is now Red Rock Canyon laid under a deep ocean. When this ocean receded it left behind deposits of shells and the skeletons of ocean life that lay up to 9,000 feet thick. These deposits, when compressed, formed into limestone and other carbonate rocks.

Over subsequent millions of years, the land changed again and again. At one point, movement deep within the Earth caused the sea bed to rise. Mud and sand entered from streams draining into the landscape and eventually became compressed into shale and sandstone.

By 180 million years ago, the area became the arid desert we know today. Red Rock Canyon is in the Mojave Desert, the driest desert in North America. The dunes that stretched across the area blew and blew, they shifted, then shifted again. The dunes grew and they receded, and over time, they formed lines, “crossbeds” which were cemented together by new sediments, fusing them forever. Iron present in the  sandstone is what gives the rock in the canyon its red color.

And then, finally, about 65 million years ago, there was a dramatic uplift, the Keystone Thrust Fault, from deep within the Earth’s crust. This caused the oldest rock in the crust, the gray limestone carbonate rocks to push up and above the younger sandstone.

To take a look at Red Rock Canyon, we took a jeep tour with a knowledgeable and passionate guide. He took us all around the canyon and answered any and every question we had. If you ever find your way to Las Vegas, look up Pink Jeep for some of the very best tours available anywhere.

One of my favorite places in the canyon is that place where you can see real evidence of Native American life and activity from centuries long past. We spent a bit of time in this area, enjoying the beauty of the place, as well as discussing the lives of the people who, at one time, called this place home. Hunter-gatherers were the first to inhabit the area, with the most recent occupations being of the Paiute and Anasazi people.

These petroglyphs on the red sandstone are evidence of a people who wished to leave evidence of their having been here, their having been part of the story of mankind…

The rock formations in this area are absolutely amazing…

There is evidence at several places of fire pits that were used by the Native Americans. Today those fire pits are home to many desert plants.

I love the flora of any landscape, and Red Rock Canyon was no exception. The canyon is filled with beautiful wildflowers, trees, and bushes. Here are my favorites…

The most impressive was this very old, lone Juniper Tree…

This Cliff Rose was my very favorite…

The Creosote is a very important plant in the arid desert landscape…

This squat little Barrel Cactus…

There are Joshua Trees everywhere throughout the park…

I loved looking “through” this Joshua Tree…

This beautiful Desert Marigold…

and the unique Desert Rhubarb…

So, if you ever find yourself thinking about a trip to the American southwest, and you are not a city person, or a gambler; you would describe yourself more a nature lover, an adventurer, don’t count Las Vegas out. Once outside town, and its hotels where you can spend your nights. there is so much more to the area than casinos and glitzy shows. I am so glad we found ourselves in Nevada!

Indian Bread Tacos

After returning home, I found this recipe, and tweaked it a bit, to help us remember the time we spent at Red Rock Canyon. Fry Bread was a typical bread made by Native American women…and these bread tacos are delicious, and we think much more filling than typical tacos.

Indian Fry Bread Tacos

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Fun and filling way to make tacos.

Ingredients

For the Bread

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp.salt
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup warm water

Directions

  1. Mix the dry ingredients and add warm water. Work with hands until dough forms and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Break dough off to a bit larger than the size of a golf ball.
  3. Roll dough into 6 inch circles.
  4. Fry each piece in 2 inches of hot oil in a medium saucepan. When the dough is golden and poofed up, turn the bread and fry on the other side. Drain on a paper towel.

Ingredients

For the Topping

  • 1 pound of ground beef or ground bison
  • 1 pkg. Taco seasoning
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz. can of refried beans
  • 2/3 cup water, you may add a bit more if you like.
  • shredded lettuce
  • diced tomatoes
  • sour cream

Directions

  1. Brown ground meat.
  2. Add package of taco seasoning and the water.
  3. Stir in the refried beans.
  4. To assemble the taco. place some of the meat mixture on top of a fry bread, then top with lettuce, tomatoes, and a dollop of sour cream.

Enjoy!

The Lines of Time

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We have just returned from a trip to Las Vegas where the highlight of our trip was a tour of Red Rock Canyon. The lines of time can be seen everywhere in the park,

lines from the layering over time of sedimentary sandstone…

and lines caused by folding that occurred during dramatic uplifts…

as our Earth was forming and preparing itself to be our home.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge

Just Me and My Camera…Sunrise and Sunset

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Almost fourteen years ago, April 17, 2004, I was doing one of the things I always liked best…bicycling on the Katy Trail, the very best bike trail in mid-America, right here in Missouri. And suddenly, in the middle of a beautiful ride, I had a heart attack. I am fine now, probably healthier than I was before that day…

But I am changed. I wake up each and every morning and instantly feel a smile crawl across my face…it is a new day, and I have another chance to make the most of all I have been given. I never understood how precious that is until I almost lost it.

Shortly after my illness I woke up each morning and rushed out to see the sun rise. I created a small portfolio of 30 sunrise pictures that I named “A Month of Sunrise”. I even took a picture on the days the sun could not be seen. I knew it was there in the eastern sky…right where that brighter spot was. It started as just a trigger to get me going, to wake up my day to what it could be, but by the end of the month it was so much more.

I noticed things I had never noticed before. I learned to look at the whole sky. There were so many colors behind me that I had never before turned to see. I saw people up and about, starting their day just as I was starting mine. I realized that for each of them, there were things they were thinking about…some good things and some bad things, some things that filled them with joy, some things that terrified them. For each of us, we were facing a new day…and it would be whatever we would make of it. I learned to listen as well as to look. I heard birds I had never noticed before. I heard wind blowing through the trees, across the field, behind the buildings. I smelled the dew, and the freshness of a new day. I saw critters waking up and starting their daily routine. I understood better than ever before that the world is a lot of us, doing a lot of things, living a lot of different realities.

I no longer take any day for granted, and I still run out to see the sun rise every chance I get. Sometimes, when I am visiting them, or they are visiting me, my children come with me. They, too, have learned to welcome a new beginning each day.

My favorite sunrise picture is one I took at one of our favorite places along the Mississippi River, Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary. It was shortly after my husband had recovered from a significant illness, and the bright sunshine was the beginning of a truly good day…an almost perfect day…

Falling in love with the sunrise, led me to begin to notice the sunset. The morning sunrise got me going, the sunset gave me time to reflect on how I had done with this one more day I had been given…so many one more days! One of my favorite sunsets was on a trip we made to southern Missouri, on a small lake…

The sunrise gets me going, lights my way…the sunset makes me grateful, and helps me to sleep each night…after I run out to catch the moon in whatever phase it is in!

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Rise/Set

 

Just Me and My Camera…in My Favorite Place

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I go to my favorite place to be quiet, to be thoughtful, to reflect, to be renewed, and to escape all those things that would steal away all the goodness that is my life. I go to the woods…

in the spring to see the earth wake up after its long slumber…

I go to the woods in the summer when the whole world is alive…

I go to the woods in the autumn when it is alive with the vibrant colors of its last dance before the cold winds blow…

and I go to the woods in the winter, as it rests, and so must I…

Just me and my camera…in my favorite place!

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge My Favorite Place

I’d Rather Be…

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in the woodland…

on the prairie…

at the ocean…

in the mountains…

But if today I cannot be those places, I want to be right here…

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge

The Oregon Coast, and Oregon Style Salmon Cakes

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Here, in the great Midwest, here in Missouri, winter has not been a spectacular season. It has been, quite often, very cold…but without snow, and I believe that cold without snow is a waste of freezing temperatures. When we have had precipitation, it has been rain. The rain is much welcome, since we have been in drought conditions for some time now…but, snow melts into fresh water! I do not want anyone to believe I enjoy ice on the roads, but in a winter like we have had, a little ice on the bare branches of our trees has been a glittery, welcome sight on two occasions. As you can tell, winter fatigue has set in.

So, I remember the ocean, the Oregon sunshine, the walks on the beach with some of our family, the rocks I explored that I knew nothing about, and best of all…the sea creatures I got to see up close and personal.

The Pacific Ocean meets the beach in Lincoln City, Oregon.

I have written a couple posts about our trip to Oregon last summer, but now I want to share my favorite part…our week on the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City. Each and every  morning, we awoke to the foggy layer that covers the ocean at sunrise, and watched it as it lifted and left a crystal day. Each night we went to sleep after watching the sun set off our patio…

The view from our beach house, where…

we watched the sun set each and every evening.

Each morning we got up, had breakfast, and went out to explore…up and down the coastline. The waters off the Oregon coast are pretty cold, too cold for most of us to swim in, but that did not mean we did not get wet, we did not tempt the waves, nor that we did not climb back in the car, many times, with really cold toes.

Our first big stop was Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area in Newport. We walked on the rocky beach to peer into the tide pools, and looked across the rocks and into the sky to find other wildlife. The two kids were awestruck…so were the big “kids”.

Peering into the tide pool

Sea anemones are amazing creatures

It did not matter that walking was challenging, because…

well…because getting to a new place to explore was the name of the game.

“Look at that, Luke!”

Look at all those birds…and what could this be!

And the birds…so many on the rocks of Yaquina Head. Many birds come here to nest.

And my personal favorite…the seals…

We also visited the light house at Yaquina Head, a most beautiful backdrop to the tide pools…

and we stopped to take pictures of the scenery on our way.

 

 

Another day we traveled to the Neskowin Ghost Forest…also known as the petrified beach. In the winter of 1997-1998, heavy storms uncovered the petrified remains of ancient sitka spruce trees that had been buried for centuries. At one time, possibly as many as 2000 years ago, these trees were part of a forest that was destroyed. Many believe the forest was destroyed by an earthquake or a tsunami. While we will never know for sure what destroyed the forest, what remains is a beautiful, almost haunting area of ocean fog, and over 100 petrified stumps.

Walking out to the petrified beach

There is something mystical and magic about this place…

But I have saved the very best for last. Not far from our beach house was a place, known to locals as the Secret Beach…and several people I spoke with indicated they wanted to keep it that way. We were so happy the owner of our rental house shared its location with us. It was to the Secret Beach that we went to walk, to explore, to hide behind big rocks, to run until we were exhausted, where I went to draw, and to gaze out on the ocean, knowing we could stay only until the tide came rushing back in.

Enter our Secret Beach…

The scenery was incredible, but for me, the ocean life exposed at low tide was the most amazing. It would have been impossible to count the number of sea stars and the number of sea anemones we saw. Here is but a sampling…

And then there was this little guy…

What an extraordinary trip it was to the Pacific Coast of Oregon…and now I am ready for warmer weather, further travels, and new discoveries! I hope you can find a secret beach, a secret forest…a secret and special place to relax too! I just can’t tell you where our secret beach is!

Oregon Style Salmon Cakes

I remember when I was a little girl, and my mom used to make “salmon patties”. The prize for each of us four siblings was finding the little, chewy bones in the salmon. These salmon cakes remind me of those patties mom used to make, but maybe just a little bit better…and I still look for those little bones as a special treat.

Oregon Style Salmon Cakes

  • Servings: 6 patties
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is a delicious way to get dinner on the table in half an hour using a can of salmon.

Ingredients

  • 1 (14.75 oz.) can of high quality salmon
  • 2Tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or 1 Tbsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard, plain mustard will work just fine
  • 3 Tbsp. shortening

Directions

  1. Drain the salmon, reserving 1/4-1/2 cup of the liquid. Flake the meat.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until translucent.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the onions with the reserved salmon liquid, 1/2 cup of the cracker crumbs, eggs, parsley, mustard and salmon. Start with 1/4 cup of the reserved liquid and add more if the mixture is too dry.
  4. Mix until blended, and form into six cakes.
  5. Coat each cake in the remaining cracker crumbs, and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on each salmon cake.
  6. Fry salmon cakes in shortening, turning once, to brown on both sides.

Enjoy!

That Expression!

Our two year old grandson came to visit this Christmas. He was intrigued by our German Christmas Pyramid, and he would ask me to light it several times a day.

One day, just before Christmas, he came to me and said, “Grandma, can we put the fire on the spin thing?” So, how does a Grandma say no to a request like that…not to mention I love taking pictures of all my grandchildren, and here was another perfect chance.

And how sweet is that picture…can you not just see the wonder in his eyes! Well, let me tell you the rest of the story. My camera caught that little boy at just the perfect moment. He was not at all enthralled by the “spin”. Not two seconds later, his real intention was as clear as the fire on the candle wicks…the real purpose was to light the “spin thing” so he could see how long it would take to blow out all those candles, and to display pride in his accomplishment. Unfortunately, my camera did not capture that expression, but it was equally endearing…because he is a lot like his Daddy.

These are the moments I treasure, my most beloved moments, supplied by family.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Beloved

The Moon is Never Quite the Same

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I love to go out each night and look at the moon. Sometimes I take a photo, sometimes I note its place in the sky, many times I just look and wonder.

On January 31, the sight of the full moon should be something truly spectacular. It is the second full moon of January, called a blue moon. It is also a super moon, the last one we will see in 2018, and we will also see a lunar eclipse as the moon moves across the shadow of the Earth. Now I just have to hope it is a clear night.

As I think about January 31, I think of the many pictures I have taken of the moon, and its many moods…my variations on a theme

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge, Variations on a Theme

The Silence of Snow

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There is a very special stillness I have always felt in a snowy woods…

And,

There is a special, still silence that has always warmed my heart, as I have watched my children, one by one, walk out and about in this great big world.

In response to the Weelky Photo Challenge, Silence.

Weathered

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Just before Christmas I was “window” shopping at an antique store in St. Charles, Missouri with my daughter-in-law and my granddaughter.

The moment I saw this weathered old Adirondack chair…well, I had to have it. So much for just looking! My husband just looked at me when we went back to the store to purchase the chair…but he is a saint, he said very little…and took out his checkbook.

No one will ever sit in it, but treasures of the seasons will rest on it all year long. Right now it is sitting on our front porch as light snow gently falls in this mid-January.

When summer comes I will put it out on our patio where it will share the sunshine and moonlight, the rain and the wind, with flowers and summer greens.

I love lichen, and this old chair, sitting out in a field in Tennessee had a perfect surface on which lichen could grow as it lay in the elements for a very long time. The woman who saved it from the fire heap told me that the color of the lichen turns a vibrant, almost luminous, green when it gets wet. I can hardly wait! But for right now, I love how it looks right on my porch, in the snow, sharing space with the greens of winter.

In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge