The adventure family trip was officially underway. With an accidentally glorious start, we were on our way towards the Hoover Dam.

Some Boy playing around in the sand near the Hoover Dam

Sleep did not come easy the night before. A small group of what I could only guess were frat guys decided to have a reunion just 100 feet from us. I counted the minute until they eventually wound down and decided to leave. We were not well-practiced in sleeping in the bed of a truck, and the boys were too excited to settle down.

Camping setup near the Hoover Dam

But sleep they eventually did and they became the largest and warmest little teddy bears I could ask for. I was actually happy Chelsea brought a twin sized memory foam pad that fit perfectly under me in the bed floor.

German Shepherd and Great Dane in back of trailer

The dogs slept outside in the bed of the trailer and gave me some peace of mind. Having had dogs almost my entire life (working class size only, of course) I felt I could count on them being my alarm and security system. They even seemed to enjoy camping out under the stars. When breakfast came I opened the gates of the trailer and out they popped, running around like children, which I was happy to see because they were just as much a part of the trip as the kids.

Truck in Nevada near the Hoover Dam

The road out was hard as we set off to our next destination: the Hoover Dam. The truck was still stock, and a few big rocks threw things around a bit. I also had to be careful not to drive into small canyons in the road caused by erosion. When we bought the truck I'd told Chelsea I wanted to give it a moderate lift and larger tires, and my reasons were starting to become evident. Clearance and traction are two of the considerations when camping out in the wilderness (in situations where Park Rangers haven't paved the road for you).

Destination: The Hoover Dam

Off-road camping near the Hoover Dam

We made it off the dirt road without much more incident and the Hoover Dam was actually just around the corner. After passing through the security checkpoint (to make sure our trailer wasn't full of Yosemite Sam's TNT) we drove out over the dam where there was convenient parking. Pregnant Chelsea wasn't up for walking much after the morning pack-up and bumpy road. From our viewpoint, though, it was amazing to see what we were capable of building in the 1930s.  What was even more interesting to me was that the rock and sand walls along the shore of Lake Mead seemed to be bleached white and drawn with a ruler.

Hoover Dam - extremely low water

We took our time and got some pictures, and I realized I miss so much of what makes the desert beautiful. Driving through it so often it had become simply the space between A and B. A blur outside the window that just seemed to constantly make me thirsty.

testing out the truck in off-road conditions

Not flying gave us the chance to slow down and start to enjoy more of that space. I hadn't actually noticed how many small flowers grew out here. The vast number of small lizards and bugs that walked around. I even found a small mountain of rock to “test” my trailer out on.

Virgin Jail in Virgin, Utah

After Chelsea got done rolling her eyes we were back on the road to our next great stop and first natural landmark: Zion National Park.