"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime"-MARK TWAIN

Thursday, February 21, 2013




We arrived home around noon today.  After departing the Lake Mead area last Sunday morning, we traveled Southeast across Arizona back to the Benson area.  We thought that traveling through Phoenix on a Sunday afternoon wouldn’t be too bad.  We were definitely wrong.  Four to six lanes of traffic, all moving over the speed limit.  We saw two rear end pileups, but thankfully we weren’t involved.

Our original plans were to spend another day or two around Tucson/Benson, then slowly make our way East.  As we watched the local weather Sunday evening, everyone was talking about the major storm that was on its way.  We made the decision to start toward home on Monday morning.  Monday night, Van Horn, TX; Tuesday night, Fredericksburg, TX; Wednesday night, Jasper, TX.  Lots of driving with not much to report on.  Thank goodness for Cracker Barrel and their audio book rental.  David Baldacci and John Grisham make the miles go a little faster.  The worst of the storm is to affect our area tonight. Severe thunderstorms and the possibility of tornados. Hopefully, we will dodge the bullet, so to speak

We had a great three and a half weeks on the road.  Met a lot of new friends, and saw a bunch of new sights.  We even ran into some old Casita friends at our stop last night.

We managed to get the Casita unloaded and parked before the rain arrived.  It has a good wash and wax coming before getting put away for a few weeks. 

Sally wasn’t sure if she was glad to be home, or not.  She lay by the trailer for an hour or so, waiting to see if we were heading out, again.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lake Mead National Recreation Area


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We have moved on from the dry Death Valley area to near the beautiful waters of Lake Mead.  After fighting the traffic through Las Vegas and Henderson, it was great to see the sign for a campground just before reaching Hoover dam.  Passed it by, did a u-turn, and got a great $5.00 a night spot overlooking the lake.  Even had a Casita from Idaho as a neighbor.

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The view from the campground.

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We had no plans, so just enjoyed the local area.  we did do a visit of Hoover Dam, but the hassle made the visit somewhat of a downer.  First was the security check to even get near the dam, then $7.00 for parking,  $8.00 to get into the visitor center, and even more if you wanted any kind of a tour.  I’ve never visited another facility that charged a fee for the visitor center.  Needless to say, we gave it a pass.

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The new bridge that now routes traffic from over the dam.

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There’s a walkway that allows pedestrians access to the bridge.

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Hoover dam from the bridge.

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The town of Boulder City is a pretty unique place.  Lots of nice shops and also street corner sculptures.

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For much more information on the town, and area, check out Marks blog.  He and Bobbie were there just a few days before us and he posted a great blog on the area.  His pictures and words are much better than anything I could put together. 

For a final note on Lake Mead.  The two vehicles barely visible in this picture are a full size pickup and a van.  Using the two of them for comparison, you can see how low the lake is, compared to the high water mark of years ago.

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One has to wonder how much longer it will be able to meet the needs of the cities of the Southwest…jc

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rhyolite Ghost Town


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Located just out the East side of Death Valley and near Beatty, NV lies what remains of Rhyolite.  A town which came into being in 1905 when gold was discovered nearby.  By 1907 the town had water mains, concrete sidewalks, electric lights, telephones, railroad depot, newspapers, a school, and everything else a modern city of the time had.  The famous Charles Schwab was one of the biggest investors in the town. There were three banks; one three stories tall, which had Italian marble staircases and stained glass windows.

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Just hanging on after a hundred years.

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Another bank building.

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Old vault.

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General Merchandise.

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Old depot.

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Tom Kelly’s bottle house is still there. It has been restored and is now behind a protective fence.  Over 50,000 beer and liquor bottles were used to build it beginning in 1906.

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Probably one of the first recycling projects in the country.

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By 1910, or so the town was on the skids.  The gold was gone, and so were most of the people.  By 1916 everything had closed down including the post office and train depot.  Many of the buildings were moved to the town of Beatty, NV; and others were dismantled for the materials and hauled to other mining camps.  It is hard to imagine an entire town go from boom to bust, and mostly disappear, in just a few years.  Rhyolite proves that it can happen.

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Just another great find on a Blue Highway….jc

Monday, February 18, 2013

Scottie’s Castle

In the Northern end of Death Valley there is a group of structures known as Scotties Castle.  A spring flowing out of the desert hills defined its location.

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Rear view.

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It is an unbelievable place to find in Death Valley. 

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Filled with the furnishings and belongings of those that lived here from the late 1930’s until the 1950’s, or so.

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Hand painted lambskin drapes.

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Furnishings from around the world.

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Guest accommodations that could not be beat for hundreds of miles, around.

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Awesome woodwork, hand carved from California redwood.

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Unique furniture was scattered around.

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Unfinished pools outside the front entrance.  Shallow and deep, both very large.

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Power room, located in the castle like building, that generated the electricity for the entire estate.

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The front entrance.

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Other miscellaneous pictures.

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Oh, I almost forgot a picture of the  docent that led our tour.  A NPS employee dressed in period costume of the 1930’s.  She did an awesome job of telling all the history of Scottie’s Castle from beginning to end.

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And another thing.  Scottie didn’t build the castle, nor did he live there.

The real builder, and Scottie.  Can you figure out who’s, who?


It was all a big tall tale, told by one of the best flim-flam artists of the twentieth century. Once a member of of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, he learned self promotion from the best.  He coned money from many different people through the years, ostensibly as partners in his non-existent gold mine.  And, he got this fabulous estate named after himself.   For more information just Google “Death Valley Scottie”.  The man died in 1954 and is buried on the hill behind the castle.  He was quite a character.


The best thing we found in Death Valley.  We loved the house and the story.  If ever in the area, don’t miss it.  In my opinion, it beats the Vanderbilt mansion in Asheville, NC, hands down…….jc