New Friends & Weird Stuff in the Desert

When we hit the road again after returning from Mexico we met up with some traveling friends, Liesbet and Mark, in Arizona.

March 17 – 24, 2019.

I know I have probably written more than once about making friends on the road – but meeting people when we travel is kind of an event and we just made some new friends so here I go again…As I may have said before, unlike sailing where you meet people in cruiser bars, at beach happy hours, or by someone coming to your aid in some small sticky situation (dinghy swamped, boat gone aground, small electrical fire on board), we have initially met most of our land traveling friends in the virtual world (Facebook or through this blog).

For the longest time my sailing friend, Ellen, had been telling me that I needed to check out a blog called Roaming About, written by her blogging friend Liesbet. Ellen reads tons of blogs and has lots of blog friends – she reads and comments on their blogs and in turn they read and comment on her blog. At the time I only read a couple of blogs regularly – and those were people I knew personally. Ellen was sure I’d like Liesbet and her husband, Mark since we had so much in common – they used to sail but now they house sit and had just bought a van – yeah – just like us!

I am not much of a blog reader – although I’d like to be. I have dozens of blogs cued up in my Bloglovin’ account but I never even look at them. I think it has something to do with being an introvert. Even just being a reader can feel kind of personal and overwhelming. But I did start to read Liesbet’s. And then commented. And then she started commenting on Make Like An Apeman. And then I started reading her blog and thinking OMG – that’s exactly what I/we would do – or OMG – we did do that exact grueling hike or had that same exact reaction to visiting that same amazing place. Then after a while I started occasionally mentioning Liesbet to Greg, telling him, Mark and Liesbet did this or Liesbet made this comment on our blog (and every time I had to remind Greg who they were – the blogger Ellen turned me on to, the house sitters, the Wirie people [Another thing we had in common – they used to manufacture and sell a wifi boosting product for boats and we used to own one!]).

And so we were in Arizona just back from Mexico and Mark and Liesbet were also in Arizona – also just back from Mexico! (Albeit at 4 days theirs was a much shorter trip south of the border). And now that I had said Liesbet’s name enough times to Greg, I no longer had to add “The Wirie people” as if it was her last name. It was time to meet these people in real life and see if having so much in common would lead to a real-life friendship.

* Click pics to enlarge and open into a slide show.

Liesbet and Mark arrived in Lake Havasu City a few days before we did, securing a primo spot for us to camp at on BLM land along Craggy Wash.

On the first night camping together we did tours of our rigs, had van pizza for dinner in Ballena Blanca, and good conversation. (Of course, when meeting new people you never know how things will go – at least Mark looks like he’s not sure.)

The next day we hiked around the Craggy Wash area.

Things are going good here. And not only was it fun to have hiking buddies but we also had someone to take pics of us on the trail.

Since everyone seemed to get together well at Craggy Wash we packed up and met up again at Telephone Cove on Lake Mojave (Part of the Lake Meade Recreation Area).

Being on a lake meant another chance to take the kayak out.

View from our hike around Lake Mojave.

Liesbet and Mark’s van, Zesty (the silver one on the left next to Ballena Blanca) is a limited build Sprinter Westfalia. It is quite nice inside with a table with seating for 4, a galley kitchen reminiscant of ours on the boat, a private bathroom with a shower, and a loft sleeping area.

On our last night at Lake Mojave we met the neighbors and Greg played a few tunes. All together we spent 5 nights with Liesbet and Mark before we went our separate ways. This is the longest we have ever traveled with anyone.

Liesbet and Mark absolutely adore dogs. They completely charmed the neighbor’s shy dog which is not surprising since they are so wonderfully warm and fun. When we parted the next day we didn’t get kisses but did get an invite to drop by and see them on their next house sit in Albuquerque. Our meetup was a success!

After we left Liesbet and Mark we headed up to Nevada. It was time to start looking for weird stuff in the desert. I had seen the Seven Magic Mountains from the highway just south of Las Vegas last year but we didn’t have time to stop so I put it on our agenda for this trip. This work by artist Ugo Rondinone was created with locally sourced limestone inspired by hoodoos and naturally balanced rock formations.

Visitors have left homages to the Seven Magin Mountains.

From the Seven Magic Mountains we headed to the northern outskirts of Las Vegas to visit Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. This was the site of the “Big Dig” in the 1960s. Fossils of large mammals and tools were found.

We looked around. We didn’t see any mammoth skeletons but did find this. Could it be anything?

From Tule Springs we continued north to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.

This 1.6 million acre refuge was created in 1936 to provide a habitat and protection for desert bighorn sheep (unfortunately, as usual, we did not see any). There are a few short trails leading from the rear door of the museum. One lead us to this cabin built out of railroad ties by one of the previous occupants of the property.

After the visit to the museum we went on another fossil hunt at the desert refuge. We had much better luck at Fossil Ridge here behind this Joshua Tree.

Here is a Paleozoic gastropod.

There are lots of these in the strata on a hillside here.

Another Paleozoic fossil.

Fossil of a sponge.

After our trip back in time at the Desert Refuge, we went on the hunt for some much weirder stuff in the desert at the Goldwell Open Air Museum outside of Beatty, NV. Here is Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada by Dr. Hugo Heyrman.

The Goldwell Open Air Museum is a popular place. A group of maybe sixty bikers showed up to appreciate the art.

The Last Supper by Charles Albert Szukalski. To make these figures Szukalski posed models as the figures appeared in Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper. He then wrapped them in plaster-soaked fabric. When the plaster set, the model slipped out. Szukalski finished the casts by coating them with fiberglass making them more weatherable.

This piece by Dutch artist Onny Huisink was made to decay. A plaque encourages spectators to sit with the puppets, to take a selfie, and it in an email to the artist in the Netherlands. This way Huisink can monitor the condition of the characters. Once figures reach a certain state of unraveling, he will retrieve them and put them in an exhibit with a selection of selfies and other puppets from other installation from around the world.

Just up the road from the Goldwell Open Air Museum, we found the ghost town of Rhyolite. Established in 1904 it was once a booming gold rush town and home to an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 people, but by 1910 people were already moving on. The town’s population had dropped to 14 by 1920. Pictured here are (from left to right) the Overbury Building, The Cook Bank, and the jail.

This unique Rhyolite house was built in 1906 with empty bottles.

The three-bedroom house was raffled off and served as a residence for the winning family for many years.

The only grave site at Rhyolite is of Isabelle Haskins aka Mona Belle. There are many different stories of her life and her death – that she was a prostitute or a proprietor of a dance hall, that she was murdered by her pimp, her estranged husband, or her lover. In fact, she may not even really be buried at this site.

Entrance to the National Bank Mine.

The most well-preserved building at Rhyolite is the Las Vegas & Tonopah Depot erected in 1909.

Inside of an abandoned train car behind the Depot.

Our campsite for the night near Rhyolite. See Ballena Blanca on the right. No one in sight for miles…

Ok – except for this guy.

4 thoughts on “New Friends & Weird Stuff in the Desert

  1. JOHN COKOS said:

    A cleaned up version of Slab City ?

    • Duwan said:

      You can find a little bit of Slab City almost anywhere you go.

  2. Here’s another thing we have in common: the inability to spot big horn sheep. 🙂

    I’m humbled by your blog post, Duwan. What a wonderful account of our meeting and of our emerging friendship. I guess we have to (and I should) thank Ellen for this. It makes me feel bad for only dedicating one paragraph about our good times together on my blog. I’m so behind blogging about all our destinations and experiences…. And I love those photos, especially the top ones.

    The fossils are spectacular and so is the art you found in the desert. I’m especially captivated by that ghost town. I guess now we should put Nevada on our list again!

    Speaking of “exchanging” destinations, I hope you’re getting lucky with the Wave! Fingers and toes are still crossed. See you soon in ABQ!

  3. Duwan said:

    I hate that about the bighorn sheep. We met a guy the other day who said he saw three from his campsite that morning – I was soooo jealous!

    Don’t feel bad about the one paragraph – you had lots of catching up to do – and besides, hopefully, there will be other occasions to blog about traveling together.

    Thanks for the wish of luck – two strikes and we are still out so far – perhaps the third time will be the charm?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.