Death Valley National Park


Faced with all that Las Vegas had to offer (insert sarcasm), Bob and I decided we preferred the desert. The morning was spent in the car heading out of Vegas to Death Valley National Park. This is the only park I’ve ever visited where an entire page of the Visitor’s Paper is devoted to a section entitled “Survive!” We were perhaps not exactly equipped for an entire day in Death Valley. We had a nice drive and Bob got some great photos of the park. We walked across Badwater Salt Flat, the lowest place in the western hemisphere, and called it a day.


I knew the famous Amargosa Opera House and Hotel was in nearby Death Valley Junction, and that they had a café that I was looking forward to patronizing.

Amargosa Opera House and Hotel

The café was about what you would expect it to be out in the middle of nowhere. I wanted to go take a peek back in the kitchen to see if I could spot Odd Thomas (who is both my favorite short order cook and Deen Koontz character). Our waitress was an interesting character herself. For one thing, she had her right arm all slinged up because of carpal tunnel that had manifested itself after much griddle cooking. In addition to being a mother of three small children and working at the café, she is also the town’s Fire Chief.


We tried to stay overnight, but the young lady working the front desk assured us that there were no vacancies. An older gentleman passed us on the dirt driveway and inquired about our current state of affairs. We assured him we were doing just fine and posed the question back at him. He said he was “Tolerable. Now, tolerable covers a multitude of sins.” We thought this was just about the best response to a “How are you?” that we had ever heard. Before I could ask him just what sins, exactly, he was guilty of, he was gone.



There has been quite a bit of media attention addressing “Spooky Hollow” over in the old section of the hotel that hasn’t been refurbished. I understand that Pacific Borax built the town for its miners in the early 1920’s, and the hotel housed them. The building also contained a hospital and morgue. Since we weren’t officially investigating or spending the night, I don’t have any paranormal tales of my own to share.

The stop was more interesting to me because of Marta Becket’s story. In 1967, a flat tire brought her here. While the tire was being repaired, she wondered around the complex and peered into the old abandoned theatre. Marta was a dancer from New York City and she was immediately moved by the building and knew she would spend her life here. I am fascinated by her story of being pulled to a place that was so drastically different from the place she knew before as home.



It was her dream. This place, out in the middle of nowhere. She chose her life and by all accounts loved it. Maybe it doesn’t look like a picture of success for you, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to. Each individual striving to live their life in their own way is what success is. That’s it. To focus on anything else is to be distracted from the purpose and will keep you from staying on the right path.

That’s my thought from the desert. Oh, and Bob said to mention how quiet it was. He was sitting outside the opera house on one of those benches while I strolled around snapping pictures. He said he could hear the gravel crunch under my feet from a hundred yards away. Sweet sounds of isolation.

As always, we log and index our adventures inside our “Play” Journal, by Stealth Journals. “Play” is an indexed book journal that should be used to record all of your good times.

Further Reading: