Part 2-Pahrump NV- Death Valley Days, Again!

Welcome to Part two of the Desert adventure. I was remiss in not mentioning (in part 1) that China Ranch has the best date milkshakes on the planet. After traveling in the hot dry air of the desert there is nothing more refreshing than a freshly made China Ranch Date shake. Honestly. Yum!

After the Goldwell Open Air Museum we took a day for Titus Canyon in Death Valley. To see and experience the Canyon you need an early start and a whole day. Titus Canyon is accessed by a 27 mile one way (east to west) gravel, rock and 4 wheel drive road. I love dirt roads so this was an adventure. To top it off, there is a section in Titus Canyon that has PETROGLYPHS which were picked by the Timbisha Shoshone! The Canyon is a deep gorge in the Grapevine Mountain section of the Mojave Desert. The canyon was formed during the Cambrian era 500 million years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed the place.

Leadfield is a ghost town we passed through on the east side of Titus Canyon. It was an unincorporated area 4,058 above sea level. The Western Lead Mine Company, particularly CC Julian, promoted a get rich quick scheme through false advertising to get investors. The town formed and boomed to a population of 300 in 1925 and was abandoned in 1927 as the mines closed (not productive). Mr. Julian simply disappeared. Even in the 1920s if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. The only person to make money was Mr. Julian.

We traveled through the Stovepipe Wells settlement on our way to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. When most people think of deserts they think of sand. Death Valley is less than 1% sand dunes. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is expansive and impressive. There are three kinds of dunes there: crescent, linear, and star shaped. It is also a protected wilderness area but they do allow people to go out on the dunes. Very nice. Bring plenty of water!

Next we were off to explore the Harmony Borax Works ruins. It is located at Furnace Creek Springs in Death Valley and it is on the National Registry of Historic Places. Borax was discovered there in 1881 by Aaron and Rosie Winters with William Coleman and Francis Smith obtaining mining rights. They were the original twenty mule team borax folks. The operation began in 1883 and collapsed in 1888.

Manzanar Internment (Concentration) Camp was a very somber experience. It is one of 10 camps where 110,000 Japanese Americans were held from December 1942 to 1945, during World War II. It is now called the Manzanar National Historic Site. This is a sad history of a dark time in our country. Reading and viewing the exhibits was overwhelming. How could this have happened in the United States of America? Can it happen again? We don’t tend to learn from our historical mistakes.

We took a day to experience the Hoover Dam and Lake Meade. The Dam is amazing and it was a great tour. It is on the Colorado River and borders both Nevada and Arizona and was built during the great depression, 1931-1936. It is a marvel, even by today’s standards. One story of interest to me was the Hoover Dam Dog. He was a part lab puppy that was born in 1932 in the crawlspace under the police department of Boulder. One of the workers started bringing him to the dam every day. The pup came and went with the workers each day and the commissary started making lunch for the pup. He carried his lunch bag along with the men. He went to sleep under a truck on February 21, 1941. He was accidentally run over and is buried on site at the dam and was honored with a plaque above his tomb. Hardened construction workers broke down in tears over his death and are responsible for making a place of honor for him at the dam.

The Chicken Ranch! No trip to Pahrump is complete without checking out the Historic Chicken Ranch Brothel, so we did. Got the tee-shirt! It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. We had to be buzzed in and out through the gate and the front door. It was a nice place to have a coke and get some souvenirs. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Lastly, we had a divine lunch at the Pahrump Valley Winery at their Symphony Restaurant. The food was deliciously savory and the ambiance outstanding as was the wait staff. It was a special gift that we gave ourselves. Well worth it. Give it a try if you are in the area.

That wraps up our Pahrump, Nevada adventures. Good fun was had by all! Please stay tuned for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Thanks again for reading.

Death Valley Days-Pahrump, NV April 16-28 (where gambling, weed and prostitution are legal)

We arrived on April 16 at Preferred RV Resort (Good Sams $18/night), Pahrump, NV, for an adventure that spilled over to Death Valley, California. We stayed until the 28th and enjoyed many days in the desert, which was in full bloom. I never thought about a desert in bloom but let me tell you that it was beautiful. We averaged hiking about 6 miles a day and enjoyed every minute of it. The Furnace Creek area was 102 degrees but no humidity. Just remember to take plenty of water, sunscreen, good hat and walking shoes. We made an obligatory trip over to Las Vegas (haven’t lost anything there), and we enjoyed ghost towns, China Ranch, Manzanar, Hoover Dam and last but not least Chicken Ranch!

Death Valley National Park is Homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone tribe and is on the border of Nevada and California. 91% is wilderness area and the Valley is the hottest, driest place in North America with annual rainfall of 1.5 inches in the basins to 15 inches in the surrounding mountains. We were fortunate to be there in a full blooming spring desert. There were amazing salt flats and Badwater Basin with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. The Valley encompasses the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert. Elevations vary as does the terrain. Titus Canyon was one of my favorite places, accessed by a one way gravel/dirt/boulder 28 mile road(?). Blooming plants draped many canyon surfaces and looked like hanging baskets. Loved it!

Dante’s View is a scenic terrace overlooking the Valley from 5,476 feet above sea level and on a crest of the black mountains. For the adventurous soul, hiking out to the edges of the terrace is very rewarding in wonderful views.

Zabriski’s Point is part of the Amargosa Range and was formed 5 million years ago when an ancient lake dried up. Erosion and volcanic activity caused the landscape.

Furnace Creek is 192 feet below sea level and has the record of the highest temperature on earth, recorded at 201 degrees on July 15, 1972. It has a population of 24 hardy souls.

Artist Palette Drive is on an alluvial fan and the landscape was created by volcanic activity in the Miocene Period. It is known by the various colorful rocks.

Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level and is so named because the water is inundated by salts from the surrounding area and is undrinkable.

Ashford Mill Ruins is the remnants of a gold mine started in 1914 by the Ashford brothers. It played out around 1938.

China Ranch and Date Farm is another favorite. We stocked up on dates and breads. Delicious and the ranch was an interesting place. It is located in an oasis on the Amargosa River, adjacent to Death Valley. It is family owned and operated and surrounded by abandoned gold mines. The trip in was a “trip!” Some history can be found here:

Rhyolite Ghost Town is on the eastern edge of Death Valley. It was founded as a gold mine by industrialist Charles M Schwab in 1906 and closed in 1911. At it’s peak in 1906 the population was some over 3,000. Next to Rhyolite is the Goldwell Open Air Museum which is wonderfully eclectic.

Goldwell Open Air Museum at Rhyolite is a one room museum with historical pictures and artifacts from the area. Interactive art is on the grounds outside. The museum was started after the death of Albert Szukalski, a Belgian artist who created the first sculpture there, “The Last Supper” in 1984. It is eclectic and wonderful.

Please stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure. Titus Canyon, the tragic tale of Manzanar Internment Camp, and more. Thanks for reading!