Amargosa Valley, Nevada
I have already confessed that although I lived in California my whole life I hadn't been to Yosemite until last year - now you know I've also never been to Death Valley! Bill hasn't either so we're both excited about exploring a new area of our home state.
We take Highway 95 through Las Vegas and across wide open desert. At the Area 51 Alien Center we make a left on Highway 373 to the Longstreet Casino and RV Park. I chose this location based on average temps in Death Valley this time of year - it's supposed to be up to 20 degrees cooler. I didn't realize that the casino is nearly the only thing in the valley. The views from our level dirt site are beautiful and unobstructed. 50 amp FHUs and the park WiFi work well.
Our first night we're treated to a sunset with colors that surround us. The small duck/Koi pond in front of us add to the beauty. We really like it here!
The RV-Dreamers are having a Reunion Rally in nearby Pahrump (45 miles, the closest grocery store). Friday morning we drive over to meet up with Steven and Linda (The Chouters) who are attending the rally. In hindsight I should have signed us up as well, there are several people we know who are attending. We have a nice lunch and another good visit with this fun couple. We're already looking forward to seeing them in Idaho this Fall!!
Saturday we get a late start under partly cloudy skies. It's 50 miles to the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. Established in 1905 after two miners strike gold the year before. Remarkably, the town grows quickly to nearly 8,000 residents, with hotels, stores, a school of 250 children, a stock exchange, two electric plants, and a miners' union hospital. It is a short lived boom as events in other places have a negative impact on investments in Nevada mining. Many leave in 1908 and the post office closes in 1910. By 1914 the population is 14.
Today the remaining buildings include the three story Cook Bank Building, the train depot, and the large 2-story school. The Tom Kelley bottle house on the "edge of town" is the best maintained.
|We follow the dirt road behind the town.|
|Feels like we're being watched......|
|A peek of snow on a distant peak.|
|A single rail car fades behind the depot.|
|The train depot was built in 1909. Three railroads served Rhyolite at the time.|
|Beautiful detail remains on the bottle house.|
|Built with hundreds of bottles, the house was given away in a raffle. The winning family lived in the three room home for many years.|
|Now there are only furnishings for a single ghost.|
|Bottles were even used as walkways.|
The original Last Supper sculpture by Belgian artist Albert Szulkaski marked the opening of the site in 1984. Since then other artists have provided pieces for Goldwell, which is recognized nationally as part of the "Save Outdoor Sculptures" project.
|"Is that a penguin?" I learn from the curator that artist Fred Bervoerts always included himself in his pieces. For this sculpture he said he always felt out of place in the desert. I like this guy!|
|The original piece - Last Supper|
|Lady Desert: the Venus of Nevada (she has a block bottom too)|
|Icara - hand carved on-site as a counterpoint to the Greek myth of Icarus. She's very powerful.|
|Our first view of The Valley.|
|Keane Wonder Mine. Operations closed in 1912 after pulling over a million dollars of gold up a tram of pulleys and cables from a thousand foot deep tunnel.|
|Although this is a gold mine, it looks like raw silver everywhere|
|Cork Screw Mountain becomes our favorite landmark in the park.|
|A mountain of chocolate grabs my attention.|
|Wow! Only 80 miles from Mount Whitney!|
|What we imagined was how most of the valley looks is only a very small part of this amazing place.|
|Mustard Canyon - a short one-way drive.|
|A combination of salt and other minerals created these weird mustard-mud dunes.|
|Stunning hills on the drive home.|
You can't drive in any direction in Amargosa Valley without passing a sign for the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. From the highway it's hard to believe there's anything to "refuge" at all! Let's go see what's there!
I know I say this all the time, and it continues to be true. The unexpected roads we travel give us the most interesting experiences. Ash Meadows is no exception. We spend most of the day discovering a beautiful oasis with endangered fish, and as many as 30 other species of wildlife found nowhere else on the planet! The trails and visitor's center are designed by people who really care about this area and it's place in a healthy desert.
|Surrounding mountains contribute to the diverse environment.|
|Dry grasslands with small dunes behind.|
|Thick brush and Mesquite forests.|
|6 foot tall grass lines the road.|
|We have no idea what to expect, but I agree with the message.|
|Lovely carvings and colorful paintings enhance the experience.|
|Sign posts along the trail.|
|The area's namesake Ash Trees are making a comeback.|
|Each stream crossing has a metal bridge with different representations on the floor of each one.|
|This little guy watches us from the side of the stream.|
|A peaceful view point.|
|For viewing gorgeous mountains.|
|The music of water plays throughout.|
|We watch the bright blue Pup Fish in Kings Pool.|
|More special touches - medallions of different wildlife on the deck.|
|I highly recommend taking a walk through this beautiful place.|
|Crystal Reservoir. Oddly we see no birds here.|
|Looking very beachy, but Tessa isn't fooled. No zoomies.|
|Like everything here, the Visitor's Center and the movie are well done.|
|Meanwhile, back in civilization......|