Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rhyolite, Ghost Town Fabuloso

The ghost town of Rhyolite, Nevada was one of the highlights of our trip to the Death Valley region this fall. (Yep, I still have a few blog posts left to cover that trip!) Rhyolite has it all--a plethora of ruined buildings in a setting of scenic desolation. Above: the Cook Bank Building--photo by Bill Dahl. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the former three-story building on Golden Street:

"Finished in 1908, it cost more than $90,000, equivalent to $2,330,000 in 2013. Much of the cost went for Italian marble stairs, imported stained-glass windows, and other luxuries. The building housed brokerage offices and a post office, as well as the bank."


The town sprung to life in the early 1900s with the discovery of gold and went bust within a few years. Above: the famous bottle house, which is fenced and kept in good repair.

Above: The Last Supper by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski at the Goldwell Open Air Museum, which sits at the entrance to the town. (Photo by Bill) This museum features sculptures by other European artists, including Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada by Hugo Heyrman, a cinder block sculpture said to be based on the idea of the pixel. There's a little gift shop with a caretaker who will talk your ear off--he specializes in taking pictures of lightning over Rhyolite, and they're really quite astounding. He will also sell you postcards and a "Death Valley Rock Racing Kit."

If all this wonderment weren't enough, the museum also has one of Eames Demetrios' "Kymaerica" plaques, placed in 2006, a tall tale that reads:

Rhyolite's District of Shadows 

"Up the hill lies the financial and population core of Rhyolite, capital of Rhyoleind, and trade center for rhyoleir, the rare lighter-than-air mineral that gave the city its power, wealth and, some said, purpose. You'll see bottlehouses built from discarded rhyolyaseh and the Cook's Banke, where the pure substance was stored and the Brave 57 killed by Federica the Unifier. Indeed, the city feels much the same today as it did after her forces looted it.

"But there were those who believed the treasure of this gwome was its land, light, and the extraordinary nature--not value--of rhyoleir itself, mined nowhere else. Right here was Geldwll, or "District of Shadows" in the Cognate tongue, after the miners of many faiths who prayed and created here out of sight of the greedy. As Rhyolite grew, this became the spiritual and cultural heart of the community, with several legendary museums. One, where art and even hallways floated just above the desert floor, was run by Porfire Golden who, ironically, saved the city's hoard at the cost of his own life."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Adventures in Borrego Springs

Borrego Springs is a place we like to go back to again and again. This time we stayed at Borrego Valley Inn (much fancier than our usual hotel): great mountain views, totally private rear patios, two pools, and gourmet breakfasts to die for.
We went to Blair Valley for the first time and hiked the Morteros Trail, which is in a remote, boulder-strewn area. It's a very old Kumeyaay site with lots of bedrock mortars (the larger holes below) and cupules (the smaller depressions). We were there during the cold weather that affected most of California--some of the morteros had ice in them!
We had some new food adventures on this trip, too: lunch in Julian (where it was too cold to linger); dinner at Assaggio (an Italian restaurant at the "airport" which was excellent--how did we manage to miss it all these years?!); and a couple of fine meals at our old favorite, the Red Ocotillo/Krazy Coyote. On Saturday night, a piano player at the Red O/Krazy C delivered an impassioned performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2--we were on our way out and stood rooted to the spot until he finished.

The main occasion for making this trip was for Bill to attend an all-day photo workshop in Canyon Sin Nombre. The photos below are both his; both were taken in Del Diablo, a wash at the far end of the canyon. The top photo shows petrified wood; the bottom photo shows a group of rock formations called concretions.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A New Year's Greeting: Photo by Margaret Dodd, Poem by Rumi

Vestal Virgin by Rosandic, 1935, in the White Garden, Sissinghurst Gardens, Kent, England. Photography © 1991 Margaret Kay Dodd. All rights reserved.

I received a new year's greeting from my friend Margaret Dodd in Santa Barbara which included this photo along with a poem by Rumi. I enjoyed it so much that I asked for her permission to share it here, and she graciously agreed.

Why does the soul not fly
when it hears the call?
Why does a fish, gasping on land,
but near the water,
not move back into the sea?
What keeps us from joining the dance
the dust particles do?
Look at their subtle motions
in sunlight.
We are out of our cages
with our wings spread,
yet we do not lift off.
We keep collecting rocks and broken bits
of pottery like children
pretending they are merchants.
We should split the sack
of this culture
and stick our heads out.
Look around.
Leave your childhood.
Reach your right hand up
and take this book from the air.
You do know right from left, don’t you?
A voice speaks to your clarity.
Move into the moment of your death.
Consider what you truly want.
Now call out commands yourself.
You are the king. Phrase your question,
And expect the grace of an answer.

Rumi