Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Adventure of Death

On Memorial day we snuck in an adventure. It can take a while to post some of these things do to not always feeling, or rather mentally, up to writing anything when you get home from work.

I planned our route, and found a hotel for $32 for the night. The destination....The lowest place in the Continental United States. Death Valley.
We decided to start out early from State Line Nevada. We drove up there and got our room and dropped some quarters in the slots. Not the luckiest time we have ever had. We might have left a couple of dollars in the hole but not bad. Had breakfast and hit the road. Unfortunately, do to the lay of the land, there is no direct route to Death Valley from anywhere. One option was to stay in a hotel in a place called Baker Ca. There is only one Hotel in Baker and according to a review by some one it is expensive and a truckers dive. Baker is actually the "Gateway to Death Valley" and strategically would have been better but starting out from there was un-attractive. We had to drive to Las Vegas first and then head west towards a town called Pahrump. The climb up through an area called Red Rock Canyon was beautiful. You have to go over a 4000' pass to get back to Pahrump. It is funny to be out in the middle of the desert and it is all dry, and you see a sign that says "chains required during cold weather". Cute fiancee got some rest and woke up in the interestingly named town of Pahrump. If there are any people out there that listen to a late night radio show called "Coast to Coast AM" I solved a personal mystery when we crossed into the county that Pahrump is in. At one time this radio show was broadcast from Pahrump and the announcer would intro the show "from the kingdom of Nye". Pahrump is in Nye county...lol Coast to Coast is good to listen to if you have to drive through the night. They talk about stuff like UFO's, alien abductions, black helicopters and such, just thinking that these people they interview believe some of this stuff can keep you up for hours.

We stopped in Pahrump and got some snacks and stuff for our adventure, and headed to a place called Death Valley Junction. If there is a destination in this area this Junction is the place.
The stop there is a must. You will love the story you hear when you get there.
The story starts with Borax, and 20 Mule Teams. Death Valley is geologically very interesting place. Almost every element of the periodic table can be found in this area. The area is littered with silver mines, and a substance called Borax or Sodium Borate for short. This stuff is used for soap, cosmetics, and ceramic glazes.
Sometime after 1923 the Pacific Coast Borax Company built themselves a little corporate town at a stop on the Death Valley Railroad. The town was not much more than this large U-shaped Mexican Colonial affair.

It was pretty self contained with a Hotel, Gas Station, Post Office, Workman's Quarter, Hospital and Morgue. Plus a Recreation Hall that was set up for those crazy films of the time, the Silent Movies. The Hey Day of this town lasted up until the 1940's
Then came along Marta Becket. In 1967 Marta had a flat tire in Death Valley Junction. The story goes that she took a look around at the charming little town and peeked in a hole in the door of the Recreation Hall and saw a huge amount of possibilities. She fell in love with the place and she stayed. She rented the Hall at first to put on her own performances. She upgraded the place and even was able to buy the place with the help of a foundation. The part we liked is that some of her shows didn't have an audience so she painted one on the walls. We paid $5 each for this tour and it was well worth it. She painted everything but the floor.
At the back in prominence is the King and Queen of Spain.

I'm sure there is a story to all these characters she has painted. There are things going on in the paintings and the young tour guide hadn't heard all the stories yet. To the right of the royal couple is their entourage and in the boxes further right is some Nuns.

The tour guide said that Ms. Becket thought that everyone should see the show so she included everyone. To the right of the nuns in the upper box is a Madam and her ladies from the brothel up the road. The Madam brings them here to get some culture and refinement.

In the box below the ladies of the evening is a upper class couple. The lady of the house in kind of in the center with a younger lady to her left, with her, I presume, Husband in the left corner.
On the right seams to be possible suitors for the young ladies affection. Lots of goings on in each mural. At the bottom of some of the boxes are Local Indians entertaining by doing tricks or shows of strength.
The place is very dark and I had to position correctly so I didn't get a glare from the flash.

I would like to go back and do this tour again and hear what is really happening in all Ms. Beckets' paintings. She is a rather good artist
This is the royal couples entourage to the left.

You can see in the pic above that a man is handing a lady some flowers. In the next one there is all sort of action. A court jester in the top box and what looks like a lady dancing for some judges.

At the sides of the stage there are characters, I think are actors for a play or something.
We had a double take on this one. The lady in the vale has a cigarette in her mouth...lol

Ballerinas, and a Nordic god...

on the Ceiling she painted the facsimile of a dome. It has the gods of the 4 winds blowing from the corners.


and lots of Cherubs..

Her stage is ready for her to perform. She still does plays, from here.

The Hall was originally called the Corkhill Hall. Ms. Becket transformed it and renamed it the Amargosa Opera house. There is a plaque outside commemorating it.

They also let us see some of the rooms of the Hotel. Ms. Becket has painted in the rooms too.
This one was painted for Red Skelton, a friend of hers, he stayed in this room a few times.

She likes doing headboards.

And other paraphernalia.

This was a great stop. If it has a great story to it, that will make the adventure that much better. If there was money to be had this place could be fixed up to original status and bigger tours could happen. We looked in some more windows and decided to head on down the road.
Death Valley to the west beckoned. Will post part II in a bit.

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