One month ago I left CA for home, CO. Two parts of the tale have been posted here:
With coffee at my fingertips and a warm cat in my lap, here I finally wrap it up.
The 1800 miles from CA to CO varied from jagged Sierra teeth, points below sea level, wide-open nothingness, scary Vegas freeway, sandstone cliffs and towers finished with a topping of familiar faces.
I last left you in Death Valley.
Across the NV border lies Rhyolite, a ghost town 120 miles NW of Vegas at 3800′ elevation. Must’ve been HOT there! Sprouting in 1905, it served as a mining camp for those prospecting for gold, mostly, in the surrounding hills. It’s said the camp started with two people and boomed to 1500 residents within two weeks. WOW! Wealthy investors put in electricity and water. Estimates range population from 3500 to 5000 in 1907-08. The town boasted a hospital, an opera house, telephones, a school, 50 saloons, numerous brothels, 19 lodging houses, 16 restaurants, a local newspaper, even a stock exchange.
Imagine the excitement and hope those folks ran on?
The town dwindled away as quickly as it rose. Investors had the mine’s profitability evaluated. Finding it was exhausted and overvalued the stock plummeted. This, coupled with the 1906 SF earthquake and it’s financial repercussions stopped the capital needed to keep the town going. By the end of 1910, the mine was operating at a loss, and it closed in 1911. By 1920, the population fell to nearly zero. I saw a trailer home and, I think, one permanent home above the Depot.
Now on Bureau of Land Mgt. land, there are a few structures standing. Most were pilfered for building materials. Seems a shame to lose such snippets of history. Below, pics of what’s left:
Looking towards CA through an old bank:
There was a Golden and a Colorado St/Rd!
The town was nestled in the Bullfrog Hills:
Looks like it was used as a casino.
A former bank:
Felt rather surreal standing under remains:
Glass Bottle House complete with walls made from bottles, and a neat, fenced in yard with categorized and orderly piles of artifacts and scrap metal:
Someone built a little model town from flotsam and jetsam. It was shiny, pretty in a way:
Next to the town site, the Goldwell Open Air Museum lies on private property. It’s an odd collection of open-air art containing sculpture, a labyrinth of rocks, and more sculpture. It’s oddness pulled me in, shaking my head in disbelief yet admiring it in ways.
Maybe I should split this into one more post. Nope. Bear with me.
Rest of the trip took me through (around) Vegas. That city scares me. Spent a day in Zion National Park, UT where I managed to forget my camera on the hike that day. What survived:
The geology of the park is grand. The walls loom overhead. What I was fixated on was the smaller picture. imagine those layers of sandstone being laid down and slowly revealed over time? How long did it take for that arch to form?
I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon. The North Rim was still closed (it sits at over 7,000 feet. Thwarted, I headed through Page, AZ. There, Lake Powell backs up to the Glen Canyon Dam. I made a mental note to return and better explore the hills and folds you seemingly drive into then leave for the wide-open of Northern AZ.
Off Hwy 89:
Drove through Navajo reservation lands. Saw a woman wrestling a not-yet-dead deer into the back of her pick-up. Did she hit it? Disturbed me greatly and I still think of it, one month after the fact. She must have used the fruit of the animal, but still disturbing. Couldn’t find camping. There is none out there. Stayed in Kayenta and made for Monument Valley the next day.
The Navajo name for the valley is Tsé Bii’ Ndzisgaii(Valley of the Rocks). A different kind of park, one pays to drive through a loop road. Annabelle had a prime spot on my lap. It was too bouncy and rutted for her in her kitty cage. You can’t hike around in here. There are tours given by the Navajo, in their vehicles should you wish. Some towers stand 1,000′ above the desert floor.
Bad pic but the tall, skinny tower (below) is the Totem Pole, off limits to climbers but famous for some trying, mostly long ago. Looks about ready to topple. Wonder how long it will stand?
Leaving the park I met a fellow wanderer named Sho:
I helped Sho jump his battery. Sho left Japan two years ago, with a Mitsubishi 4×4 (drivers apparatus on our passenger side) and has seen all of North America. He told me tales of driving on the “Blue Ice” of the Arctic Ocean, down into Mexico, and all around the US. Mitsubishi tracked him down, filmed part of his journeys, and made him an “Honorary Employee.”
Trusty camera’s lens cover is getting fussy. Won’t always open.
Seems his alternator belt was loose and worn, not fully charging the battery. He had a snowball’s chance in hell getting it repaired anywhere near here(I recommended Flagstaff or Phoenix.) I sure hope he made it!
Nearly done with his journey, we’ve swapped emails and I hope to stay in touch with him. He returns to Japan in May.
On to UT to meet friends outside of Moab.
Mexican Hat, just outside the same named town:
Found The Valley of the Gods and Cedar Mesa just above it, reached via a very twisty dirt road. On top, a mecca of pre-historic ruins await a return visit from me. Seems a quiet, stunning place I’m itching to revisit in depth.
Looking out into forever, my kind of view:
My kind of road:
Found friends that night and caught up. Nothing like a week long trip, through new places, and a rendezvous with old friends to recharge the batteries. I scouted out many places to return to!