Category: California – December 2016

Walking With Ghosts in The Desert

Walking With Ghosts in The Desert

The Goldwell Open Air Museum sits just outside of the northeastern entrance of Death Valley and at the edge of the ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada. I’d seen photos of the sculptures that grace the grounds many times online. But, seeing the ghostly shapes of Albert Szukalski’s pieces in person caused a visceral reaction – somewhere deep inside, things felt off kilter. The figures possess a powerful and strange voodoo.


The Last Supper – Albert Szukalski

I find this figure to be particularly haunting.

What an incredible gift to have, to be able to make people feel something with your art.

New Year’s Day with Beggars in Death Valley

New Year’s Day with Beggars in Death Valley

On New Year’s Day, I awoke in Las Vegas. The rest of the world was still asleep after a long night of reveling. As I rode down the strip towards old Las Vegas and the Freemont Street area, a less-than-glamorous film stuck to everything. Once outside of the fantasy bubble of a bazillion-dollar casino hotel, the empty streets seemed gritty. After visiting a few sights scattered about town, I hit the road towards Death Valley. After two nights with a million of my closest friends in Sin City, it was time to get back to nothing.

My ride into Death Valley wasn’t without company, however. I met a car full of young women who also stopped to take photos at the park sign. They didn’t speak very much English, but they were able to convey that they were excited to see me alone on my motorcycle. I guess some things are universal. Women who ride motorcycles kick ass in any language.

I also met these two wily beggars. They were hovering around the roadway, waiting for cars to come along. As a car slowed, they’d move in closer. They must get a lot of food that way. I didn’t feed them but I enjoyed watching what they were up to. Seeing animals, especially ones not typically in your environment, is a simple pleasure.

After the hustle of Las Vegas, being nowhere felt wonderful. It was a perfect way to welcome 2017.

New Year’s Eve in the Valley of Fire

New Year’s Eve in the Valley of Fire

On the morning of December 31st, 2016, when I awoke it was still dark. I was in Las Vegas. I hadn’t planned on being there for New Year’s Eve, it was just the way that my trip unfolded. Though it was a holiday, it was an easy place to get a room and I ended up staying for two nights.

It felt as if I’d personally brought rain to the desert. I arrived among the shimmering signs and the bustle of Vegas in the pouring rain on New Year’s Eve-eve. By morning, there was still dampness pressing down but at least the rain had stopped.

Because of pre-celebration preparations, the strip was scheduled to close to traffic on the afternoon of the 31st. Being an early riser on east coast time worked to my advantage. I was able to head out at 0’dark-thirty, see some stuff and get back before anything shut down. My destination for the day? Valley of Fire State Park.

At first, I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to see the luminescent colors of the rocks in the sunshine. But, that disappointment faded when I saw that the fog brought its own special drama to the landscape. Nothing is perfect and plans deviate from your daydreams. You just have to learn to see beauty in new ways.

Snapshots from Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park

 

The Grasshopper, Scorpion and Serpent Who Stole My Heart

The Grasshopper, Scorpion and Serpent Who Stole My Heart

Coming down from the mountains along Montezuma Valley road there were spectacular views of the desert valley below. I was on my way to Borrego Springs to visit Galetta Meadows and the metal sculptures that live among the sand and scrub.

Though there are over 100 different sculptures scattered about, without hesitation I can say that it was the giant serpent that drew me to Galetta Meadows.

It’s rusting, scaly body undulates hundreds of feet through an ocean of sand. It is ferocious and beautiful.

Though there were dinosaurs, elephants, camels and other more snuggly type creatures around, the giant scorpion was my second favorite sculpture. Something about the way it sat menacingly low and ready to strike really captured my heart. I’m not sure if me liking the creepy crawlies best says something about me.

The hapless grasshopper… face to face with a scorpion. We’ve all been there, probably on both sides.

Incidentally, by the end of my trip I’m pretty sure my legs looked just like the grasshoppers. We’ve all been there. Am I right ladies? 😉

I found two liberty dollars in the sand by the giant scorpion. It was my lucky day. My lucky day indeed.

Riding to Sloan, Nevada to Visit Seven Magic Mountains

Riding to Sloan, Nevada to Visit Seven Magic Mountains

On New Year’s Eve eve, I found myself tracking across the Mojave, on through Amboy, past the world’s largest thermometer in Baker and towards Las Vegas. The sky was gray and a chill settled in. When I made it to Sloan, Nevada the surface of the road whispered that I was chasing rain.

Why Sloan? Well, in the desert stands seven colorful towers: Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains

For some reason I naively thought, “It’s New Years time. I’ll have the place to myself. Who the hell else would come out to see stacked fish tank rocks when Vegas is right over there?

As it turned out – lots of people. The ground around the installation hosted a steady stream of visitors making peace signs and curiously out-of-place “sexy looks” for photos.

I don’t get the need to present yourself as sexy in every situation. This is me being sexy on a bridge. Look at me, I’m sexy by these rocks. Remember that time I was sexy by that tree? But I don’t have to get it, I guess. My job is to mind my own business and follow the colorful cairns scattered around the world that lead a path to my heart.

I bet you’d love me if I were a robot.

Visit:

Seven Magic Mountains
35.839026, -115.272360
S Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89054

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