Thursday, November 26, 2009

To Revisit or Not To Revisit

I'm going to market
Jacob's Tails
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I have a lot of uncertainty about going back to places we’ve already been. I never did want to disrupt the memories I had of New Orleans by revisiting after Katrina. At Mesquite there just wasn’t the energy and excitement there used to be. The Oasis RV Park was just the overflow. The Oasis is like a ghost casino with five lit slot machines sitting in the middle of a slot machine cemetery with no visitors – eerie! Not a place we wanted to stay very long.

But then some things change so slowly you don’t notice them – places like Overton or the Valley of Fire. It took how many millions of years to create these anomalies? They’re not bound to change very quickly (unless Man gets involved).

Even if geology isn’t your thing, you can’t look out there and not question how it could have ever got that way. For miles there are areas that look like dirty, lumpy mashed potatoes with the mountains in the background. Great crevices in the earth reveal layer upon layer of different rock formations. Each stratum represents eons of geological time of rain, wind and erosion and here we stand on the edge of the cliff wondering if we have clean clothes for tomorrow – ludicrous, isn’t it?

We took a day-trip to the Valley of Fire. It got its name from the colour of formations and the earth – again how did they get that way?

Back to our reality – we parked right on the edge of the cliff at Overton – and the winds started! As we sat there looking out over this vast moon-like terrain, we were just a-rocking in the wind. I looked out of the window and realized, in fact, we were VERY, very close to the edge. It was then I turned to Fred and told him, “I think we need to move back before we get blown right over the edge.”

“It’s only 600 feet to the bottom,” he said. Overton 006.JPG

Later he told me that he had to hang onto the front of the motor home to get around to the driver’s side. Enough of this wind and dust, we went off to Pahrump, NV to start our revisit of Death Valley.

Death Valley

If nothing else, I love the sound of the word Pahrump – Pahrump, Pahrump, Pahrump, pump, pump. We stayed at the Escapees Park there and did daytrips into Death Valley. Again, the question of revisiting places: we revisited Death Valley Junction – the place with the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House; the Badwater Salt Flats; and the Artists’ Drive.

The highlight was our trip up to Scott’s Castle. We missed it last time we were here because Fred refused to believe the compass and took a wrong turn. Mind you, that was the time we found Amargosa and figured that was a great find.

The Amargosa Hotel and the Opera House haven’t change much except they changed to chairs in the alcove and there are new cafĂ© owners from Colorado. (We’ve run into a few people this year who have come from away to open businesses).



Marta, the woman who opened the Opera House in the 60's has been doing performances there at least weekly. She is now over 85 but is hospitalized with broken leg, arm, etc after a severe fall so the performances have been suspended. Apparently there was going to be a wedding there that weekend.

The majority of the valleys in this Great Basin region have been formed from debris sliding down the sides of the mountain ranges that surround them. What few streams there are flow into enclosed basins such as Death Valley. The Badwater Salt Flats are 252 feet below sea level. Even though it seldom rains, pools of water dot the salt white land and tiny salt-resistant pupfish flourish in the water.

The Artist Drive is a one-way trail that winds in and out through the lava and sedimentary rock. The Artist Palette gives a fascinating view of the layers created from the movement and folding of the earth’s crust.

This raven was the local attraction. He must have had his picture taken a dozen times just while we sat there.

Scotty’s Castle is Death Valley’s greatest SCAM. It is a home build way-y-y out in the middle of nowhere (or so it seems now but we were told there had been a railroad) in the Grapevine Canyon and well worth visiting.

Scotty (Walter Scott) was the scam artist who convinced an Eastern millionaire (Albert Johnson) and his wife to build this magnificent mansion. He told visitors that he had financed it with money he made from a secret gold mine (presumably under the house) that never really existed. According to the story, even with all Scotty’s yarns and stories, there was an extraordinary bond of friendship between Scott and Johnson. Johnson enjoyed Scott’s tall tales and engaged him to entertain both themselves and their visitors.

The springs of Grapevine Canyon provided the water supply for the ranch, and were used to generate electricity. The springs were located at an elevation about 300 feet (91 m) higher than the villa, and there was enough water flow and pressure to turn a water turbine, which ran a generator to generate the villa's electricity.

Death Valley has been great – next stop – Laughlin – dry-camping at the Tropicana and the chance to meet up with old and new friends.