Red Rock Canyon and a Hanging: Geo Travels

Hung

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV. Photo by: Sandie Will

When normal people go on vacation, they love spending time on the beach, going shopping, resting by a clear, blue pool, getting a massage at a spa — you know, those wonderfully pampering trips. But, as any of my family members will tell you, I am far from normal and love nothing more than exploring the depths of an expansive rock face along any old highway.  I’m not picky, really. And so, when I visited Las Vegas to participate in my sister’s wedding, it shouldn’t have been any surprise to my family that the week after would involve examining some form of rocks. I mean, I am a geologist from Florida, so I must take advantage of any opportunity!

The victims, this time, were my parents and kids. My husband was unlucky (or lucky) enough to catch a bad cold and was stuck in the hotel room and spared of this exciting adventure. As with any worthy geologist, before we start on a trek such as this, we must always stop at the nearest visitor center and pick up the latest roadside geology book and master our knowledge of the surrounding area. This way, we can “inform” our fellow travelers of any geologic delights they would miss if they too did not ponder the history behind all the rock formations. And as always, my family was very supportive and allowed the time without complaint to purchase and study the facts prior to departing into nearby Red Rock Canyon.

We headed down the road, my father driving, to start our quest on this journey, only for me to realize that I somehow left behind my brand new book and had no information to go further! So, my dad turned around and we headed back to find the book or purchase another, because a trip through the canyons without it was unacceptable. And after the second purchase, we again headed down the road with my nose stuck in a book.

As we traveled, we stopped at all the sites, so I could compare the rocks to my information and share this in painful detail with everyone, especially the old sand dunes that were now known as Navajo Sandstone. And if there was one rock I had to see, it was caliche which is nothing more than a calcium carbonate deposit, but it was a must see!  So, I searched for this illusive, white deposit, only to be disappointed until later in the trip when I saw it along the side of the road which forced me to screamed out, “Dad!  Stop! It’s caliche!” Not knowing what the emergency was, my dad screeched to a halt and backed up fast, almost throwing us off the road. Needless to say, I may have exhausted some patience that day, as I jumped out of the car with everyone behind me, only to stop in front of my long, lost treasure of rock deposit.  It was somewhat anti-climatic.

My kids were of course bored, so we headed farther away and came upon a place called, “Bonnie Springs, Old Nevada.” It looked interesting, so we stopped and walked into this rustic, western town. Before we got too far, a fight broke out between two gun-slinging bandits and a sheriff which was pretty entertaining, but not half as entertaining (especially for my family), as when I was chosen to participate in one of the shows, namely in the form of hanging a man!

When I was chosen from the audience, which was more than mortifying to me, I could hear the roar of my mother’s laughter in the background, as I was escorted to the outhouse where I was instructed on how to be part of the skit. Well, I’m no actress, that’s for sure!  So, I did the best I could and before I knew it, I was standing at the lever with two very persuasive characters prodding me to push it, as well as a very charming man with a noose around his neck. He was very persuasive as well and begged me not to do it! Even telling me at some point, that he loved me in an exaggerated way which set my kids off. At the ages of 7 and 8, there was no way they were going to let some strange man hit on their mom! So, they screamed for me to not believe that liar and that they were going to go get their dad to take care of this! You gotta love boys!

Well, needless to say, the lever somehow automatically moved forward, and there was a hanging in town, but the victim was nowhere to be found! As the boys cheered at the demise of this terrible man, I reassured them that their dad was still the love of my life, and they were more than relieved that I wasn’t being swept off my feet by some double-talking cowboy.

This memory has been the forefront of many stories throughout the years. So, yes, I hung a man once!  But I would have rather been running around on ancient sand dunes of the real old west!

Old Nevada

Old Nevada. Photo by: Sandie Will

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