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Old Feb 6, 2011, 9:53 PM   #1
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Default Salt and Rhyolite

Or rather, the Devils Golf Course and the ghost town of Rhyolite.

Many places in Death Valley have fanciful names. The Devil's Golf Course would be torturous to play, even for miniature golf pros. It's made up of (mostly) salt crystals that are constantly re-forming themselves, dissolving in rain and then re-forming as the water evaporates.

There was a full moon when we were there and the photographers were all over, picking interesting spots to take pictures of the sunset/moon rise. This evening the wind picked up and blowing dust/sand started to obscure areas around where we were. It didn't seem to deter these two photographers.

The sunset really was pretty. You can see how extensive the salt "flats" are (they are anything but flat, as you can see!) in the above shot and also this one, which shows the mountains to the east of the valley.

The next day we got up early, grabbed some gas and snacks in Beatty, Nv. then visited the ghost town of Rhyolite, a few miles from Beatty. How's this for a wine rack?

Or rather, unusual building material?

One of Rhyolite's claim to fame is this house that was constructed completely with bottles.

At one time Rhyolite had been a big mining town, but died when the mines played out. The facade of the town's 3 story bank building speaks of the once prosperous times.

There's something rather funny about the American West's history. I've traveled in a bit in Europe and remember a very pleasant stay at a place called the "New Inn". It was called that because even though it was 500 years old, it had been built next to an older inn, that was over 600 years old. The New Inn had been (and probably still is) in continuous use as an inn, being restored over the years. So I'm sure that when most Europeans think of ruins, they would think of structures centuries old. But not so here. This ghost town really isn't all that old at all:

Here's a town that was built just over 100 years ago and yet there is little left any more. Such is the way of things in the mining world, especially in what is otherwise a rather inhospitable place. It's typical desert - nothing much grows beyond brush and wildflowers in the spring (sometimes). so when the mines aren't as lucrative as they appeared to be or they play out, people just leave.
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Old Feb 6, 2011, 10:26 PM   #2
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How did those photographers ever get across the salt "flats"? Carrying tripods, camera backpacks,etc across that landscape looks to me like the perfect formula for a twisted ankle or a blown-out knee. It's a fascinating area though, and you photos give me a feel for the otherworldly character of that place.

The town of Rhyolite also looks fascinating. Apparently whoever built that house from bottles never heard the expression about people living in glass houses!
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 12:05 PM   #3
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Great photos, Harriet!
I remember going through there many years ago.
I was told the man that built that house, drank every drop of refreshment from those bottles. It looks in better shape than when I saw it, somebody must have taken over the restoration and preservation of it.
Thanks for the memories.

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Old Feb 7, 2011, 12:18 PM   #4
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Those are awesome shots! What par is that course?
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Old Feb 7, 2011, 1:33 PM   #5
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I agree that those photographers must have been very careful and dedicated. I didn't walk very far into the area and worried about losing my balance - the crystals are hard and I figured it was a recipe for cuts and bruises.

The bottle house has a sturdy wire fence around it (made it easy to stick a lens through for photographing) and has been maintained/restored. The land is managed by the BLM, but it looks as though someone maintains parts of the buildings, and I think there's a store/museum. We were there so early that nothing was open and I didn't pay much attention - it was just fun to walk around the outside of the old crumbing buildings and take pictures.

The train station is in better condition than the bank or the school, in that it has all it's walls and a roof, but it's not been restored to safe condition by any means. Wooden railings are crumbling and falling off, weeds growing up around it. There's a chain link fence so someone is trying to limit access to it, but it made it much harder to photograph.

Eddie - I would assume that it's a par 1,000 course! And average time to play a round would be 20 years or more. That's assuming you have enough balls with you to replace all the ones that get lost in the maze.
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 1:55 AM   #6
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Hah I have to laugh but some of the family just had to leave some things around ... My greta grand father married a Porter woman whom had loads of kids they were of the Lemon cove area Exeter Calif... they rest in Three Forks / River area as one is heading up to see the General Sherman..

That bottle house is something I have wanted to do... the bottles collect the heat that warms the place it gives a warming feeling to me ...
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 6:46 AM   #7
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Another fascinating glimpse of incredible landscapes and "humanscapes" as well. Thanks so much for sharing!
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 8:32 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Goldwinger View Post
I was told the man that built that house, drank every drop of refreshment from those bottles.
That explains the uneveness (is that a real word?) of the rows of bottles. Looks like some of my handiwork, without drinking.
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Old Feb 8, 2011, 5:30 PM   #9
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Nicely told (and photographed), Harriet! You do get around.
If life brings you lemons, you can make lemonade.
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