Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Beatty, Rhyrolite and Death Valley

October 25 - 27, 2013:

We arrived at "The Pond" BLM campsite to find one other RV'er there and room plenty of room for us, but the short road into it was pretty rough.  It was a beautiful setting right next to a small pond, complete with ducks, beautiful mountain views and even an old mine site above us on the hillside. 

View of the campsite from the hill above

The Pond BLM boondock site in Beatty, Nevada

We went downtown to check out "Beatty Days" that just starting, it's a big deal here, all kinds of activities.  We than tried to find a grocery store, one would think that a small town like Beatty would have something, No !  All we could find was a poorly stocked convenience type store.  If you want a real grocery store you must drive 30 some miles.  We then decided to splurge and eat out at a restaurant/bar on Main Street.  The dining room was full with a Model A Ford car club group all eating pizza.  The menu was not very appealing so we also ordered pizza, which they were baking in a small two pizza oven, so it took quite a while.  I must admit though, it tasted real good, might be the best in Nevada ? 

Mural in downtown Beatty

Saturday morning we went 4 miles outside of Beatty to Rhyolite ghost town.  It was another mining boom town that went bust rather quickly.  In it's short existence many large substantial buildings went up, but only a few still survive today.  The most complete is the old Las Vegas to Tonopah Railroad Depot.  There also is a house with exterior walls built using glass bottles that has been restored. The town was quite large in area, old foundations, rusty cans, broken bottles and other assorted debris covers the whole area.  We then went to the cemetery and a weird sculpture park that seemed totally out of place.

Old Rhyolite Mercantile Store

Glass Bottle House

This was an early form of rycycling

All that is left is the front

Old Freight car

Las Vegas to Tonopah Railroad Depot

A very large masonry building shell

A mine entrance in hillside at Rhyolite

The "Last Supper" sculpture by Albert Szukalski at the
Goldwell Open Air Museum

Monument at the Cemetery

In the afternoon, we checked out the "Beatty Days" celebration downtown.  It's the usual small town america event, fairly corny, farm tractors, chill cook-off, music, car show, but you gotta love it.  The locals are a strange mix, pretty rough looking for the most part.  We saw the Pickle Liquor Hoot-N-Holler, it involves filling a shot glass with some nasty tasting pickle juice or something which the contestants are suppose to gulp down (like doing a shot) then scream into the microphone.  The first group of contestants were about 5 years old, I told Twinkles; look there're teaching the kids how to do shots.  That was enough for us, we didn't stay for the root beer belching or the Chicken Drop Bingo contests. 

Lots of BBQ smoke

Hot Rod flames were the rage

These guys seemed to play non- stop and were pretty good

The old Beatty fire engine

Lots of farm equipment

A young contestant in the Hoot-N-Holler competition

Unfortunately the Death Valley Firepit BBQ is now closed

Looks like someone crash landed to get to Angel's Ladies,
They have Truck parking but no RV parking ?

Beatty Days banner

In all of our time in the southwest, we finally saw our very first wild Tarantula Spider today, I had attached the power cable to the rear of the RV and I turned around to look at where the cable was laying on the ground and saw this big Tarantula sitting right next to the cable.  I proceeded to connect the generator and start it up and the spider just sat there, I didn't mess with him.  We also saw wild burros today eating grass on the outskirts of Beatty, they do roan wild here, descendants of the original mining burros.   

Back at the RV, we met the neighbors, a full time RV, single, interesting ex-fishing boat captain (Steve) and Judy and Rick, a very nice friendly couple who had been drinking rather heavily.  The conversation with Rick became most bizarre as he kept telling Steve and I that he had a secret power source (rejected by the government) for his RV, not solar or the need for a generator, but would not tell us what it was, or why he continued to run his generator so often.   He also brought out his 3 foot long Walrus Task (He is an Alaskan) and kept showing it to us over and over.  

Sunday we took off on a trip into Death Valley National Park. The scenery far exceeded our expectations. It is a strange ride, you leave 3,308 foot elevation Beatty, go uphill for a few miles, then travel almost steadily downhill to below sea level in Death Valley. We did a one mile hike into Mosaic Canyon which turns into a narrow slot canyon with beautiful water polished multi colored rocks.  We then visited the Furnace Creek Visitors Center where they had great exhibits and a ranger put on the absolute best, most entertaining park lecture. It was then a stop at the incredible Zabriskie Point viewpoint and then a short loop drive on "Twenty Mule Team Canyon" followed by the "Harmony Borax Works interpretive trail".

Road into Death Valley

Going into Mosaic Canyon

Twinkles on the trail

Lush green plant growing from the rock

This is a raging torrent when it rains

Marbleized Dolomite polished from the water

Furnace Creek Visitors Center on October 27th

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point in black & white

Inside 20 Mule Team Canyon

Borax, it really became more valuable than gold

Old Twenty Mule Team Wagon

We plan to head out on Monday for Pahrump, Nevada, not exactly sure where at the momment.

Keep watching,
Twinkles and Slick

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gold Field and Gold Point exploration

October 24-25, 2013:

We now seem to be on the old mining ghost town tour, a favorite of mine, heading south on route 95 towards Las Vegas.  It was a busy morning in Tonopah, fueling up the truck, washing it and filling a propane tank before the usual preparations to move.  We still managed to be on the road just after 10 AM heading south on route 95 for 26 miles to the town of Goldfield, NV.  We parked the rig along the road just before the old downtown and walked the Main Street and wandered around a bit.  Goldfield was another mining boom town about the same time as Tonopah, but is more like a ghost town than Tonopah with many old deserted buildings.  This was a prosperous town in its day with large stone block structures, especially the Goldfield Hotel that are now closed and in need of total restoration.  Lots and lots of photo Op's everywhere !

Old County Maintenance Truck

Deserted glass bottle house in need of help, soon !

The Goldfield Hotel, also in need of help and $$$
A few unique vehicles in downtown Goldfield

No students in the Goldfield High School anymore

An old Arch that now leads to nowhere

Goldfield historical sign

Deserted spaces in Goldfield where building used to be

After about two hours we continued south on route 95 to route 266, then route 774 heading for Gold Point, NV.  As we approached town the strategy was to grab a boondock spot if something good materialized, if not we would continue into Goldfield and camp at the RV campground there. We found an easy spot to pull off the road and set up a couple of miles outside of town with endless desert/mountain vista in all directions.

View of the RV at our campsite

After unhooking, we drove into Gold Point to explore.  Gold Point is yet another mining boom town that went mostly bust.  It became a true ghost town, except for a couple people, but a new savior in the name of Herb Rollins, referred to as "Sheriff Stone" arrived on the scene in the late 1970's.  He bought a couple of old miners cabins, moved in and little by little over the years has bought up additional property and cabins.  He has with his own money and occasional fund raising events been saving artifacts, fixing cabin roofs, rebuilding cabins and generally preserving the town.  The place is quite amazing now and is starting to get noticed by the media.  We pulled into town, parked and started looking around, not feeling too comfortable, until a guy who turned out to be the "The Deputy" who has also been there with Herb all the way invited us into the Saloon to look around and put us at ease.  It was incredible inside, totally chock full of all kinds of antique and old mining stuff, gaming tables, a player piano, signs and just fun stuff, along with a great bar. It was like a treasure chest, ultra cool.  They rent out a few of the miners cabins for overnight stays, have a small RV park there and have special events there once in a while to support the restoration efforts.

Hornsilver was the original name of Gold Point

Tons of mining artifacts everywhere

Outhouses remain

Front porch of the Saloon building

An old mining cabin that can be rented overnight

Lots of old cars and mining equipment remain

Interior of the Saloon building

Back at the RV sitting outside relaxing in the warm sun, there is no noise except a weird sound from the electrical wires a hundred feet or so from the RV, (that's how quiet it is here), it's been a while since we camped anywhere this remote, kind of relaxing !  The town of Tonopah claims the dark sky prize, but the sky outside of Gold Point is definitely darker, really dark, so many stars visible.  It was cold at night, 6,000 ft elevation, low 30's for sure.  We went most of the night without running the furnace, to conserve battery power, pilled on the quilts, but when the interior temperature dropped to 45 degrees, the heat went on. 

In the morning, we drove back to Gold Point and explored more out behind town where the mines are located.  It seems there are hundreds of mines all over and dirt roads going off in all directions. A couple of friendly locals saw us and stopped to give us advise on things to see and places to go out beyond Gold Point on the dirt roads.  We cruised a couple roads for a while, but the dually is not the preferred vehicle for this, you need a jeep or an ATV to really get around.  I can see where the search for gold and Silver (or just cool rocks) could be addictive, (must be some left) and living in a little miners cabin holds some appeal for me.

Old Mine site

Open Mine shaft, Watch your step !!!

View of the mountains behind Gold Point

Gold Point sign
Old mine entrance at Gold Point
Incredible flowers growing all over the area

Interior of an old weathered mining cabin

At noon, we packed up and pulled out, back on route 95 south about 60 miles towards the town of Beatty, Nevada.  It is the gateway to Dealth Valley National Park and this weekend happens to be the annual "Beatty Days" weekend parade and festival.  We have located on the internet a potential boondock spot just outside of town known as "The Pond".  Not sure what we will find there ?

More will be revealed, stay tuned,
Twinkles and Slick