Monday, September 20, 2021

Come they told me, pa-rum-pa-pum-pum

Pat captured a pretty sunset Friday.

No, I'm not starting Christmas carols already!  The town we went to for groceries Sunday is Pahrump, pronounced like pa-rump and now that song is stuck in my head a few months too early!  It's about 45 minutes from our RV Park.

Pahrump has a population of 37,000 but it seems smaller.  It did have 2 major grocery stores, plus a super Walmart. No other major stores. We leave here Tues. so we needed to stock up.

Seven miles from the RV park, on our way to Pahrump, is Death Valley Junction.  It is quite famous for the Amargosa Opera House, Hotel and Café.  Currently the Opera House and Café are closed, not sure if that's a seasonal or more permanent thing.  I'm not so sure but what the hotel is closed too, although there was a review in July.  

The Spanish Colonial Revival style, U-shaped, adobe buildings were built in 1923-1925 by the Pacific Coast Borax Company, along with the entire town of Dealth Valley Junction.  These buildings included company offices, employee headquarters, a dormitory,  and a hotel with a dining room, lobby and store. There was also a rec center at one end used for community events.  When the railroad stopped in 1942 the hotel and buildings changed hands many times.  The rest of the town is basically a ghost town,  empty buildings and houses. Reviews indicate that the hotel is in need of many repairs but that is part of its charm.

In 1967 things changed when Marta  Becket, an actress, dancer, choreographer, and painter, rented the rec hall, Corkhill hall.  She repaired, painted (she completed the murals in 1974) and renamed it Amargosa after the original mining town.  People came from around the world, including Ray Bradbury and Red Skelton, to see her dance and mime performances.  Being closed we didn't get to see the inside of the Opera House, but from the pictures I saw on Google the huge handpainted murals are gorgeous.

Marta died in 2017. The Death Valley Junction  Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is owned by a nonprofit, set up by Marta, to oversee it.

Even with peeling paint on the outside you get a feeling for the grandeur of the complex.  Wish we could have seen the inside.

You would think that after triple digit temperatures the water would be warm.  I assure you it was NOT.  We stuck to the hot tub.

It looks like we are always doing something, but really we're not.  Like today,  we have days where most of it is spent grocery shopping, laundry, planning, maintenance, repairs, etc.  

Saturday was a bit of it all.  Pat lubed the large slide rollers.  Our large slide is long and the way it was designed is notorious for problems.  We're hoping to slow down the problems.  We lost the end cap on one end of the awning.  Maybe a low branch?  Whatever, we need to keep dirt and debris out.  Thanks to Amazon we got the part in one day and Pat put it on today.  Pat also worked some more, OK a lot more, organizing the pictures I had scanned in.  We're organizing by year first.  I did laundry.

Tonight we found out that we don't get to go to Sequoia and Kings Canyon for a week beginning on Tues.  Forest Fires have forced the parks to close and our campground sent us a notice they they will close too.  Bummer!  Pat spent tonight rerouting us.  Not an easy task at this late date.  So instead of one week somewhere we move every couple of days.  Weekends are tough period but especially at the last minute.  Did I mention that I did do laundry?  I kind of took a day off.

Friday morning took us to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1984.  Probably an undervisited area, but free, and interesting.

Loved the sign.

The Refuge was only 5 miles from our RV Park.  The journey, however, began after we got there.  Our little Chevy Sonic pitted against gravel roads.  Tucked 9 miles down a gravel road within Ash Meadows was a small square, 40 acres, of Death Valley National Park called Devils Hole, established before the Refuge.

Devils hole was well protected.  To the far left there was a fenced walkway that you could take to the cave opening where you could look down through fencing into Devil's Hole #1.

This had me checking my surroundings!

Devils Hole N.P., established in1952, is a geothermal, water-filled cavern cut into the side of a hill in the Amargosa Desert (part of the Mohave Desert).  It is part of an extensive underground water system.  It is also an unusual indicator of seismic activity around the world.  An earthquake as far away as Indonesia, Chili or Japan can make this water slosh like water in a bathtub. The water temperature? A constant 92°.  It has a 500' pit whose bottom has never been reached.

Why is it this spot so important?  It is the only naturally existing habitat for the  endangered Devils Hole pupfish, which lives just above a shallow rock shelf.  Devils  Hole pupfish are small, ranging in size from .9 to 1.2" in length. In 2019 their count found 136 pupfish.  Actually, it is  the home to 26 species of endemic plants and animals including 3 endangered fish (2 are pupfish) and 7 endangered plants.

I don't see any pupfish.

I hadn't seen a cottontop cactus at any previous desert stops.

Devils hole #2 was also blocked by fencing.

You can see the road and almost our car.  We weren't allowed to use the service road so we had a good walk.

We did see a fox but I had to get a picture through the car window because of the next picture. 

Pretty sure these weren't the aggressive bees, but everytime we stopped they buzzed around the car and they were huge.   Worse than having them buzz around the car would be having them IN the car, so I didn't want to roll the window down for a picture.

Where are the Piepers now?  Amargosa Valley, Nv

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