The famous neon of Glitter Gulch, on the Fulmont Street Experience
A friend of mine recently moved from San Francisco back to her home town of Las Vegas, NV. She was upset that whenever any friends visited, all they wanted was to drink and gamble. ”Fine,” I told her. ”I’m flying out there for a weekend, and you can show me the Nevada that you grew up in.”
The first night we hit the Strip, not to gamble, but to people watch. The lights, the sounds, and everything else were overwhelming, and everywhere people were caught up in the heady illusion of instant gratification without apparent consequence (the next morning, of course, would be different).
The next day we drove two hours north to Beatty, which is five miles west of the ghost town Rhyolite. Between 1905 and 1911, the gold-rush town grew to a population of 5,000 and then dropped to nothing. Financed largely by Charles Schwab, the town in its heyday was highly advanced and sophisticated. Now, all that stands are a few empty shells of buildings.
The gold dried up in Rhyolite, but its sister town, Beatty, proved to have a much more abundant, important, and reliable resource: water. Beatty provided the water for the gold mining town, and when Rhyolite blew away on the sands of time, Beatty stuck around. It’s still a lonely little town, but it’s full of incredible characters.
A ghost in Rhyolite
Stuck in Beatty with not much to do, we hit the town’s three bars, which had all sorts of locals who welcomed us with arms wide open. They were a trip and a half, and we made some memories that won’t soon be forgotten: climbing into an abandoned basement church, wearing a viking helmet, and the urinal whose flushing mechanism was the brake lever of wall-mounted motorcycle handlebars.
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 2:05 pm. Add a comment
New Mexico is a state with a population density of 16.2 people per square mile, ranking 45th in the nation. With a land area of over 121,000 square miles, it boasts huge expanses of unpopulated land, and its geographic diversity lends itself to some incredible natural beauty.
Far from the mountainous northern part of the state, the eastern and southeastern portions make up part of the Llano Estacado, a place so flat and empty that the curvature of the earth is visible. Many of the communities on these plains tend to be small, with residents enjoying the simple, quiet life under the big blue sky.
The Llano Estacado is oil country. Derricks dot the landscape, and the refineries fill the air with the heady smell of black gold, their facilities glowing at night against the black sky, punctuating the darkness with pinpricks of light.
It’s also ranch country, where pickup trucks and stetsons abound, and the cattle and antelope graze on the wide open terrain. Very little rain falls, but when it does, the land is so flat that it pools together in a huge mess of mud.
Melrose is a small community just west of Clovis. Its claim to fame is as the birthplace of William Hanna, of the famous Hanna Barbara cartoon duo. West of Melrose, between Clovis and Fort Sumner, is the village of House, with a population of less than 100. Near House is a large wind farm, with huge turbines spinning swiftly in the wind generated on the open plains.
Old and New Windmills in House, NM
Well south of House and Melrose is Lea County, home to the Lea County Rodeo. Just near the Texas border, the communities of Hobbs and Lovington feel much more Texan than New Mexican.
Peeling Paint in Melrose, NM
Sunset in Lovington, NM
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 11:39 pm. Add a comment
Last week I headed down to the southeast corner of New Mexico, to the Lea County Fair and Rodeo, held at the Jake McClure Arena in Lovington. As a city slicker from Cleveland, it was by no means something I would normally attend, which made it all the more incredible of an experience.
Fairs in general are an otherwordly experience. There are the bright lights and tinkling, repetitive sounds of the Midway. The sickeningly alluring odors of deep fried twinkies, roast turkey legs, funnel cakes, and other things you probably shouldn’t eat but are too intrigued to resist. Not to mention odors that are just plain sickening without being alluring – overflowing trash bins, port-a-potties, and the livestock yards.
Ah, livestock. This is one part of the county fair to which I’ve never had much exposure. Down in Lea County, though, livestock is a way of life.
Lovington is just a few miles away from Texas, and it shows; it feels much more like the Lone Star State than it feels like New Mexico.
See the entire photo gallery here.
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 6:12 pm. Add a comment
5:20 AM, Monday 3-Aug-09
I had a dream that I was back in Cleveland, biking in and around the Cuyahoga river valley. It was ahead of a really big ride – a century ride, a charity ride of some sort that I was completely unprepared for. I hadn’t trained, I hadn’t registered, and my bike was in need of all sorts of repair.
I decided to do a couple of laps around the valley to get warmed up. I headed out with a friend of mine. We rode out along the rim, several hundred feet above the water. The trail made a turn and led down to the river bank, and then out on a long, continuous boardwalk that rode us out offshore by about 30 feet. It was a series of small wooden planks about six feet wide. Every so often, a perpendicular boardwalk led back to shore.
We were coming up on a bridge which towered high above us, and I was dreading the thought of climbing up it. Off to our right was an elderly couple on a bench on one of these perpendicular pieces.. The next thing I know, the bridge gives out.
Now, because this is a dream, it defied the laws of reality. When I say the bridge gave out, I mean all of the wood instantly disappeared, leaving only a narrow strip of concrete support, about six inches wide, with a two inch rut running along the middle.
My friend and I were somehow balancing our bikes in this rut, while the elderly couple’s bench had vaporized, and they were sitting – looking rather dazed – on top of a perpendicular concrete strip.
I get the bright idea to bike along the rut to the next strip to try to get to safety. That’s when the concrete collapses.
The bikes are gone this time, and my friend and I are now standing on this concrete strip, the top of which is about an inch under water. The strip the old people are on is on an incline, from just under the water leading up to a concrete walk on the bank. My friend starts to walk up the incline, and I begin to follow, when the submerged piece crumbles away, and I fall into the water.
Keep in mind that, while the Cuyahoga River is sometimes even more of a pathetic trickle than the Rio Grande, at certain points it is quite deep. It is also murky and cold. I sank like a stone.
I got all the way to the bottom before I was able to push off and send myself to the surface for a gasping breath of air. The cold set in quickly, though, and I was unable to move my legs or arms fast enough to stay afloat. I sank several more times before a medic arrived and pulled me – and the other three – to safety aboard his boat.
As the paramedic was interviewing all of us to figure out what the hell happened and who was to blame (yes. Biking on the boardwalk caused the wood to mysteriously disappear and the concrete supports to collapse), many people were coming along the boardwalk on the other side, unaware that it suddenly stopped. The first was a young guy with a baby, and they went toppling into the water, the bike making an audible “thump” against the side of the boat.
Somehow, the scale of the river and the river bank had shrunk drastically. They were able to stand up in the knee-deep water and climb up onto the grassy bank. This happened several times to all sorts of people before everyone aboard this boat started yelling “STOP! THE BRIDGE IS OUT!” All this shouting woke me up, and I sat down to write this before I forgot it all.
(The image of the Cuyahoga Valley is not my own; it came from this website.)
Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 2:52 pm. Add a comment