We left our lovely spot at Hole In The Wall in the Mojave National Preserve, continuing north on the pretty good dirt Black Canyon Rd to Cedar Canyon, which becomes paved and eventually out to I-15S. We exited at Baker just before noon and stopped at Mad Greek Café, which had a lot of cars and trucks parked outside, always a good sign! The place is a bit crazy, very busy but service is fast, and our “authentic” Greek pork gyros were really good! The side rice was lukewarm, almost cold but tasty. We recommend stopping in if you’re in the area at meal time.
We drove on out Hwy 127N to the tiny town of Shoshone just outside of Death Valley, where we were camping at the Shoshone RV Park. While certainly nothing to write home about, it was quiet and adequate. We walked into town and had a seat at the bar of the Crowbar Café & Saloon for a drink, wings and chicken quesadillas. Like the RV park, just adequate, but fun as the two waitresses were trying to fix a broken beer keg and in the process blowing beer all over themselves and nearly us!
Next day we headed out to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert. Wetlands, small streams and seven major springs of 92* warm water bubble up to the surface here creating the greatest concentration of endemic life in the US! There are two entrances, and not knowing any better I directed Ed to the closest. This requires driving just shy of four miles over very washboarded dirt road before getting to anything of interest. Ed HATES washboard roads, but our first stop put him in a better mood. The Point of Rocks boardwalk, a half mile loop trail, wanders over and beside a fast running stream flowing from Kings Pool spring.
Ash Meadows is home to four threatened or endangered native fish species, the Ash Meadows speckled dace and 3 different species of pupfish. We had fun watching these very small blue (males only) fish darting about.
Not too far down the still washboarded road is Devil’s Hole, where a vast underground aquifer fills a cavern so deep the bottom has not been found. Home to the Devil’s Hole pupfish (found nowhere else) earthquakes from as far away as Japan and Chile have caused the water to wave/slosh video here! Surrounded by a fence to keep folks out of the water and away from the endangered pupfish as well as scientific equipment, even from a distance we could feel the warmth rising from the water!
Next stop was the visitor center and the boardwalk out to the lovely Crystal Spring. We had noted at Point of Rocks and again here the boardwalks were very well done and beautifully decorated with laser cut iron work and decorative sculptures. The visitor center itself was artistically designed and quite lovely, so we asked the obvious question of the volunteers Kelly and Dave where did the money come from? NOTE: they are full-time RVers like us and write this blog. Turns out BLM (Bureau of Land Management) owned some property outside of Vegas that folks there wanted, so BLM sold it and used those funds to build Ash Meadows! WELL DONE! 🙂 While we were disappointed to not be able to see the other parts of the refuge due to flood caused road closures, we do recommend you put this interesting place on your MVL (Must Visit List).
After one last night in Shoshone we took the time to visit the town museum and Dublin Gulch. Filled inside and out with mining equipment, all kinds of rocks, old photos, newspaper clippings, stories of bootlegging and brothels, Indian cultural items, fossilized animal tracks and local mammoth bones this free museum was great fun!
Just across the road and down a bit on the edge of town is Dublin Gulch, where miners in the 1920’s carved out homes in the caliche (ka LEE’ chee) clay hillside. Some just rudimentary others have levels and window openings, the last being occupied until 1970.
Down closer to town right along the road is the old cemetery where either 33 or 55 people (depending on who you ask) have been buried beginning in 1924. Many of the graves are just lined with stones or completely unmarked. All in all, a pretty sad sight.
Even so, I sort of liked Shoshone.
Oh, by the way, Kelly told us that Shoshone is the only place for miles around where you can buy a Powerball ticket. They were in town the weekend before the big $1.6 billion drawing and there was not a parking place to be had and the line for tickets was a third of a mile long. Apparently, you can’t buy a ticket in Nevada so they all come across the border to here. Go figure.
As I type this up Ed is working on the photos from our last adventures. We give fair warning now…..it might have to be 3 posts, it’s that AWESOME!! 🙂