Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Up a canyon without a garageWarm Spring Camp was built in the 40's by a woman. It shows. This is the only desert camp I have ever seen that has a swimming pool. Empty now, of course, but only a woman would have thought of something like that to get workers into a very desolate place for what was the most profitable mine in.Death Valley -- producing talc!. Photos coming!So in the last installment my KLR had started running like crap, overheating and sputtering above 5000 rpm. There obviously was no garage available at the abandoned Warm Spring Camp, so I made a diagnosis - dust-clogged air filter - cleaned the filter with wd-40 then soap and water all of went on the fire pit, set it out to dry overnite along with my washing (hey I had lots of water available thanks to Warm Spring and my soap was out so I washed clothes too!). Then I tossed out groundsheet and sleeping pad and bag and slept under the stars.The next day I used the last of my wd40 oiling the filter. WD-40 is life to a motorbike so this was trouble. I was also still tired. So after breakfast of Caf? Mocha and a breakfast bar I set off back down the canyon to go to the next town, Shoshone, determined to stay on pavement and end up in Beatty and sleep in a nice comfy hotel room. Thanks to my new mastery of the Banzai Theory of keeping the rubber side down I.e. when facing deep sand, gravel, or a steep rocky upgrade on a big fat dirtbike the correct answer is always shout banzai! and give it more gas, I swiftly got back to pavement, then to Shoshone. The bike ran great. My diagnosis of a clogged air filter was apparently correct. I filled up with gas, bought a can of wd40, and went across the street to the only cafe in 'town'.The burger was good. The fries were only average but still better than the stringy things at Panamint City Resort. There was not, alas, any desert. The pie maker apparently was on extended leave (!). I then headed north to Death Valley Junction. The roadbed of the old Mojave to Rhyolite railroad paralleled the road for most of the way. At Death Valley Junction a narrow gauge spur once led off to the company town of Ryan, which still sits up atop its mountain of almost pure borax like a gleaming citadel, waiting for the Boron deposits to play out (the mines at Ryan could not compete with the more accessible Boron deposits and the mines went bankrupt, were bought by the same company that owns Boron, and shut down to keep the price of borax up... but the old company town has been kept ready to resume production.for over 70 years now!). At Death Valley Junction the mining company had once maintained a small hotel and community rec hall for railroad workers and visitors to the mines. This is now owned by an eccentric old lady who fancies herself a ballet dancer, although since she is well past 80 you can imagine that she isn't very good. Yet she dances, and the former rec hall is reborn as the Armagosa Opera House. At Death Valley Junction I turned west towards Death Valley again. I was going to Dante's Overlook, a standard tourist thing that had been closed last time I was there. The old Ryan railbed parallels the route for most of the way. Just short of the Death Valley boundary I saw something strange to my left... a sequence of roads and slabs in the middle of nowhere. The slabs were perhaps cabin sized, no bigger. A former resort or hotel? I guess I will have to google and find out...Ryan gleams like a citadel upon an enormous ledge cut into a mountain of borax. They have apparently applied white roof sealent to the roofs asw part of the program of keeping the world's oddest ghost town ready to be reoccupied whenever Boron gives out. You can't get near it of course, it is private property and fenced and guarded by a full time caretaker. So I headed up to a spectacular view of the lowest point in the United States...Then I went to Beatty, checked into a motel, and started hacking these tomes out on the tiny keypad of a pda fone...
Posted by: BadTux / 11/22/2006 09:04:00 PM
- Name: BadTux
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