Sunlit Water

March 1, 2009

Day Twelve

Filed under: Personal — by teofilo @ 11:37 pm

I left Las Vegas in the morning.  My plan was to head to Death Valley, but there are several possible routes and I wasn’t sure which one to take.  On the spur of the moment I decided to go south and check out Mojave National Preserve on the way.  It’s a pretty interesting place, and I ended up spending quite a bit of time there.  From I-15 I headed south into the preserve and through a forest of Joshua trees until I got to the visitor center at Kelso Depot, which was formerly the train station of the small railroad town of Kelso, little else of which survives.  There are a bunch of exhibits in the museum, which is very well-done.  There’s a bunch of other stuff in the preserve as well, and I wasn’t going to be able to see it all, so I decided to focus on seeing Zzyzx.  This involved going back up to the freeway and down again, but it wasn’t very far and it was totally worth it.

Zzyzx is a fascinating, very weird place.  It’s basically a spring in the middle of the Mojave Desert on the edge of the salt flats of Lake Mojave where an eccentric radio preacher built a resort in the 1940s and used it to promote his quack medical elixir.  None of this was legal but he somehow managed to keep it going until 1974, when the authorities caught up with him and the government took possession of the resort, which eventually ended up as a research center for California State University inside Mojave National Preserve.

When I was done there I ate in the nearby town of Baker and headed north through Shoshone to Death Valley.  It was almost sunset by this point, so I only managed to get to Badwater Basin in time to take any pictures, but that was the main thing I wanted to see so it was okay.  I continued in the dark through the rest of the park to the small town of Lone Pine, where I got a motel room.  Lone Pine is kind of a neat little town.  I’ll take some pictures tomorrow.



  1. Does Lone Pine still have a Mexican restaurant called the “Cantina” or something like that? I remember it being very good after a week spent in the Sierras. The Owens Valley is gorgeous. Independence has a museum that I’ve been curious about but have never gone to. I did see it mentioned in a story a year or two ago about earmarks; guess the representative from the area was trying to direct some fund its way.

    I suppose with the passes closed you’re not going up 395 and then over, but it’s worth driving it all the way up to the Tahoe area (and beyond), if you ever get the chance.

    Comment by andrew — March 2, 2009 @ 7:54 pm |Reply

  2. There were a couple of Mexican restaurants in Lone Pine. I didn’t eat at any of them, but they’re probably pretty good.

    As you can see from today’s post, I went to that museum in Independence. It’s definitely worth a stop.

    I am in fact going up 395 to Tahoe and then over. Time is not of the essence on this trip. I haven’t been to the Tahoe area since I was very little; should be interesting to see.

    Comment by teofilo — March 2, 2009 @ 10:41 pm |Reply

  3. I try to point people who are traveling out that way to the Mojave Preserve, but I find most prefer to stick to the more well-known places (probably for the best). Chris Clarke (used to do Creek Running North, this is his new place, Coyote Crossing) has written a lot on the area, particularly Cima Dome, which you came over on the way to and from Kelso. Did you get to the Kelso Dunes/Devil’s Playground? Sounds like probably not. Too much good stuff to see. I recalled ZZyzx coming up on Unfogged and searching I see that it was you.

    Comment by JP Stormcrow — March 4, 2009 @ 10:13 am |Reply

  4. I didn’t get to the dunes, no. I ended up seeing quite a bit of the Preserve, but since I hadn’t really planned on doing it I was kind of winging it as far as planning what to see.

    I remember that Unfogged thread. It’s where I first heard of Zzyzx, so it definitely wasn’t me bringing it up, but I think I was somehow involved in the conversation.

    Comment by teofilo — March 4, 2009 @ 10:19 pm |Reply

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