Mount Charleston

morning 2

My daughter and I, have spent every weekend for the past year hiking, either in Lassen Volcanic National Park, or around Mt. Shasta, in northern California. We moved to Las Vegas in August, and we are searching for new favorite places. This past weekend we started to explore Mount Charleston. Mount Charleston is part of the Spring Mountain Range, and Toiyabe National Forest. Charleston Peak, at 11,916 feet (3,632 m), is the highest mountain in the Spring Mountains. Mount Charleston is located about 35 miles NW of Las Vegas. It’s a refreshing, green, alpine heaven. Last weekend when the temperatures peaked at 109 in Las Vegas, it was 30 degrees cooler there! Only an hour away. One hour, and several thousand feet of elevation that is. 


The scenery is absolutely breathtaking. The winding roads that takes you there, climbs steadily up, up, up. It was fairly easy to drive all the way to the campgrounds without a 4×4. My daughter had begged me for an adventure, so tent camping it was. She LOVES that. She loves setting up the tent, and create a cool spot for the night. She likes decorating the outside with natural material that she finds, pine cones, rocks etc. My hope was to get us a campsite at Fletcher View Campground, based on reviews at trip advisor, and trails I found at AllTrails app. When we got there all the sites were full. You can’t make reservations in advance from July through September, due to monsoon season. It’s first come first serve only. The gentleman who served as a camp host, approach the car as I drove in to Fletcher View, and asked how he could assist us. I said that we were looking for a tent campsite. He informed us that all of the sites on the whole  mountain (several campgrounds) were taken. (In my head I started to think of a plan B, since we were already packed and VERY ready for an adventure.) He offered us a map, and pointed out a couple places for dispersed camping. Areas where we could camp by ourselves, without an organized campground. He gave us a map, and as I looked at it, I thought that if I had driven my old truck, it would of been a no-brainer, but risking to go on those roads with my 

ht (1)

I decided to drive by the other campsites, one by one, just in case. My second choice of campground, after Fletcher view, was Hilltop, so I started our search by driving up there. I was not alone. There was a long line of vehicles doing the same thing as I did. All sites were booked. As I drive around Hilltop for the second time, I notice that one of the double sites only have single occupancy. I see a young couple on the right side, but no-one on the left side of this double site. I take a chance and pull over on the side of the narrow road. I approach them and ask if they are expecting company, explaining that all sites are booked. This was on the very top of the hill, at perhaps the best spot of them all. We were so lucky! They were not expecting company, they just got the only site they were able to get, and sold me the other site. I was thrilled, and my daughter very happy. I was almost prepared to drive down the mountain and do something completely different. (Like going to Sedona, or Grand Canyon.) It was great to be able to unload all our things, and put up the tent. 

morning (1)

My highlight of the whole trip was that my daughter needed to go places to take pictures. Both with the camera that I got her for her birthday, and with mine. She begged me to hike up on different hills, and climb down in narrow canyons. It was a blast! She on the other hand said, that her best thing was toasting marshmallows by the campfire at night. 

hm2 (1)

hm3 (1)

It was chilly in the evening, and it felt great to put on a jacket, and long pants (compared to shorts and t-shirt, the usual summer outfit in our area.)


The whole trip was a big adventure, and I am so happy that we did it. I would consider myself an experienced camper, and I feel that my skills are solid. Still it feels extremely good when everything just works out. Not a big thing, but in a way a big thing. I want my daughter to see, and experience, that there is not a limit to what’s possible. She wants an adventure? Well, she has to make it happen, and put in the work along with the fun. Which she happily did. I feel that there’s no limit to learning opportunities when you bring a child out in nature; handling a knife, gaining knowledge about poisonous plants and animals, learning about local flora and fauna, safety, wilderness survival skills, where to find water, planning ahead, leave no trace in nature, sharing with others, being respectful etc. etc.  

mg1 (1)

My daughter took this picture of me and Gretchen, while playing around with my camera. I haven’t seen the ones she took with her own camera yet.

hp (1)

hp2 (1)

Tent camping at Mount Charleston (NV,) was a 5-star experience in my book. Nature does something to my soul, and I know my daughter feels the same way. I feel so blessed that we share this.

view (1)

I hope you enjoyed the photos, and maybe feel inspired to visit yourself? If camping is your thing, do you have a favorite camping spot? That you find yourself returning to time after time again? 


Ms Zen


Weekend Coffee Share – almost a Las Vegas local…. or not?

Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? All are welcome! 

c (1)

How are you doing today? It’s Friday, and life is good, right? There’s plenty of coffee, if you’d like a cup? How is your week so far?

I’d say that I feel great, on top of my world great. I have a fun adventure planned for my daughter this weekend. She’s going to be so stoked, and that makes me very excited. I told her about it this morning, but she doesn’t know exactly how awesome it really is going to be. I spent a lot of time planning this adventure, and getting everything ready. As you might remember she asked me two weekends ago why we never go on adventures anymore… (like if moving over 600 miles, to another state, isn’t adventure enough…) When she said that, I immediately started to think of fun adventures. Girl..I’m going to give you a good one! I can give you one clue, and tell you the rest when we get back on Sunday. It will include getting out of the city. (It’s going to be 109 in Las Vegas this weekend, I don’t really care so much for more heat.) Lol, what did you say? You already knew that I wasn’t going to stay in the city during a weekend? So that’s not a good clue? Sorry.. that is the only clue I will give you, for now. I promise a full update afterwards. Well, I guess I could tell you that the adventure will include roasting marshmallows over a campfire. Do you have any fun plans for the weekend? 

4 (1)

It’s been a great week here in southern Nevada. I’ve had lots of fun at work, getting to know the kids better. I’ve had time to work on my photography, learning more about my new Canon EOS 6D Mark ii. I’ve also edited all the photos from last weekends adventure, even though I haven’t had a chance to share all of them yet. The best ones, if you ask me, are yet to come.

I’ve made some new local friends. People seem very friendly, and open here. I take the kids at work out to parks, and talk to other parents, or they talk to me. When I go out on photo excursions I often meet other photographers, that likes to talk. When I work with my German Shepherd a lot of people approach me. I’ve had a few offers from people wanting me to train their dogs, and a few people trying to buy Gretchen from me. I have been offered several thousands for her, even though I didn’t pay a dollar for her when I got her, she is worth a lot now with all the training I’ve put into her. For me she is priceless, and I will never sell her. She is my best friend. Anyways, it seems easy to make new friends here. Actually a lot easier than in northern California. Not that I ever had a problem making friends, but here it seems very easy. The days are just flying by. I might not feel like a local quiet yet, but I do like it here. (As long as I get to do some exploring outside the city every week.)

The sweet family I work for took me out on Wednesday night, to a very good buffet at the M RESORT SPA CASINO. It was absolutely delicious, and everything was super fresh. The casino itself was exquisite. I particularly liked the entry, it had beautiful flower arrangements in a glass wall. I was kicking myself a little, because I knew that the lens I had on my camera wasn’t going to do the sen justice, so I didn’t even try taking the picture. I will be back for that one..

I hope you’re having a wonderful, amazing weekend!


Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share – Viva Las Vegas

c (1)

It’s already Friday. I can’t believe it! Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)! Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about? All are welcome! 

This week have been really intense in a great way. The result of the past two weeks major life changes (that started here.) This week started out in a smoky northern California on Monday morning. Taking care of the horses at my old job for the last time. Saying my goodbyes to friends there. Driving to Reno (still Monday morning,) with a stop in Tahoe National Forest for a well needed hike. I just walked at a familiar trail, that I’ve stopped at a hundred times before. Taking in the scenery, and catching my mental breath. I purposely planned a short drive for Monday. I stayed in Reno for the night. Just relaxing, trying to grasp that I actually did it. I decided to be happy that my daughter finally get the chance to have a real relationship with her dad, not just the “Santa is back in town” kind of relationship. Instead supporting her decision in the only way that made sense to me. No matter what changes I needed to make. Was it fun to sell the horses? NO! Or leave a job I loved, my garden, and my friends? NO! Was it the right decision? YES! Sure I did it for my daughter, but I also did it for myself. I could never be happy living  far away from her. I feel that it undoubtedly was the right decision. 

Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls.

– Joseph Campbell

I got up at 4am Tuesday morning. When I know that I have an early start, and a long important day ahead, I always bring my own french press (see photo above,) my favorite coffee, and a water kettle. That way I know that the day gets the best possible start. LOL. It may sound silly, but a good cup of coffee gives my morning a great start. I enjoyed a couple cups before hitting the road Tuesday morning. The traffic jam going out of Reno at 5am took me by surprise. Until I realized that I was taking the same road as all the Tesla workers. As soon as we passed their turn it was almost empty. I had hoped to see wild horses, and I did. Plenty, hundreds if you count all the mustangs I saw during the entire drive. Unfortunately they were all in places where I could not stop, either because of traffic, or road conditions. I’m used to driving a truck with high clearance, I realized (without any damage to my that I need to obey different rules now when I’m driving a car. In places where I normally just would of driven of the side of the road, to get that perfect shot, I didn’t dare to do so. Something I had not considered. Hm.. On the other hand as I came further south, there is many places where you can see wild burros without endangering safety, or your vehicle. I took mental notes of different places, close to Las Vegas, and I will go back soon. With my camera.

I drove the majority of the stretch on Tuesday. Landing in the outskirts of Vegas around noon. I got a Nevada insurance for my car, and registered it here, while waiting for my daughter to get out of school. It felt great to have those details taken cared of. Gretchen was with me the whole time, and behaved perfectly at the DMV. Great training for her. I can’t describe the emotional rollercoaster, and pure happiness when my daughter got off the school bus, and I could hold her in my arms. I’ve never been away for her a whole month. We had a wonderful afternoon/evening together.

I spent Wednesday morning taking Gretchen for a long walk, organizing my things, meditating, and driving the final 45 minutes to my new job. It’s in a safe part of Vegas. I felt good driving through the area. I met the mother of the two boys I’m going to take care of. She was as sweet as I imagined while talking to her. I felt very welcome. Which is wonderful, sense I am going to live in their house, and spend a lot of time with the children. The two children are adorable. I’m thrilled to be able to be a small part of their important beginning. I spent Wednesday afternoon playing with them, and getting to know them better. Yesterday, Thursday, it felt like I’ve known them for a long time. Kids are amazing that way, with their flexible minds, just accepting a new person in their life so quickly. I took them to a nearby park yesterday morning, and they loved it. I’m going to do something outside with them every morning, before it gets too hot. 

I haven’t really mentioned Gretchen, but she is very happy. She is used to be outside a lot, and there is a big back yard here, with a huge swimming pool. She is a waterdog, and is thrilled! She sleeps with me in the house, but when I work she plays in the pool. She is happy as can be. The family also have a dog. In the beginning their dog seemed slightly scared of Gretchen. Gretchen is much bigger, but she have overcome that feeling now. We introduced them in baby steps, a few minutes at the time. Yesterday they were playing great. I feel good about it. They are going to have fun together. I am going to work with Gretchen every morning before work, and then again in the evening. Both Gretchen and I enjoy it a lot. It’s time to go out and go over our training routine as we speak.

I’m looking forward to spend time with my daughter this weekend, and to experiment more with my new camera. What do you look forward to? Ay fun plans? Grab another cup of coffee and tell em all about it!  


Ms Zen