On the last leg of our trip, we got in line with the Las Vegas traffic on I-15 at Barstow, but blessed be, we abandoned it for state route 127 at Baker, where we headed north to Beatty. A few RV-ers, headed for a big encampment along the way, were just about all the traffic we encountered. And the mountains got bigger and more glorious the further north we went.
This is country that doesn’t hide its bones and sinews. Even more than the John Day valley, here you can see all the geologic features you might recognize — and the 99 percent that you can’t identify.
We stopped for a photograph and then got drawn into the tiny hamlet of Shoshone right at the edge of Death Valley National Park:
The exterior of the gift shop looked like the typical tourist trap, but whoever ordered this inventory knew we were coming. The books were wonderful! just what newbies who planned to stay a while needed to get oriented. I was also fond of the old gas station building and car. Very California.
The Amargosa River surfaces just behind the Gift Shop (mostly it’s underground) and to the left was another building that housed the Amargosa Conservancy:
While the trappings were a bit hokey, the conservancy is quite serious about its work, and the signs for tourists in the kiosk had more than the usual information. Shoshone was a place that felt just right to me — maybe a bit of painting there will be in order.
Down the road apiece is the Amargosa Opera House, worth a blog in itself and something I think we’ll get back to. So I’ll save that. But this sign caught my attention, not so much for the information it contained as for the signatories:
This was the sign marking the junction of a long defunct railroad, one of hundreds that came and went in mining towns across the west. The plaque was placed by Billy Holcomb, Joaquin Murrieta, Slim Princess, and John P. Squibob Chapters of E Clampus Vitus. For further information on this fraternal order of cahoots and scalliwags, see the Wikipedia article linked above. I didn’t know about the august group until I read the article, but a bit of its flavor can be found in the following quote:
“The organization’s name is in Dog Latin, and has no known meaning; even the spelling is disputed, sometimes appearing as “Clampusus”, “Clampsus”, or “Clampsis”. The motto of the Order, Credo Quia Absurdum, is generally understood as meaning “I believe it because it is absurd.””
And finally, we drove into Nevada, paralleled Death Valley through the Amargosa (unseen River) valley, and arrived in Beatty on Sunday. We were introduced to the Red Barn studio, just down the road from the ghost town of Rhyolite, found the house in Beatty which we’ll be living for the next 6 weeks, and on Monday, were happily ensconced and eating soup made by the chief chef. The internet access is superb, the house spacious and well-furnished, and Charles and Suzanne, the chief founders of the Goldwell endeavor are charming and will be great partners for the next six weeks.
And it was raining. In the desert. At least it wasn’t snowing, although a few feet higher and it would have been. –June
The storm closes in over the Beatty hills. According to the local grocer, this storm means good wildflowers this spring.