I thought it was just me, but all the locals I know are going through the same thing – a touch of the ol' "lakawanna." It could be the weather, it could be the "been there, done that" syndrome or it could be that pretty much every time we hear of Gold Butte or the Bunkerville Mountains any more it's in the context of some political idiocy.
The weather was cold when we arrived (unusual), got intermittently wet (not enough to do much good), snowed (not really unusual, but early) and completely warmed up (odd) – so perhaps that's it.
With the weather being so capricious, and gas prices being so unearthly high, we didn't want to trailer very far; so, I guess it might be a bit more difficult to get excited seeing the same things over again. However…
Political IdiocyThe paid lobbyist Nancy Hall is still trying to think of ways to keep the old paycheck coming in and attempting to get everyone to dummy down and believe that making the entire butte, all the way up to Scenic Arizona, a wilderness area: "really won't have any effect at all on offroad use… honest!" Unfortunately for the majority senior population of Mesquite, her "keep 'em in the dark, and lie to 'em for their own good" techniques have been effective for her in the past. After all, it's not the plane truth that counts, it's which mayor's coffee-clutch you can be in that matters, right?
Or, it may be that the last ditch, multi-million dollar, public relations con by the Sierra Club pretty much saved democrat Harry Reid's proverbial *%! from certain defeat by the Tea Party last year. You remember Harry, he's the one who had his secretary rework a minuscule, extra-bit-of-land-in-the-corner into his Hell's Kitchen Wilderness boundary for the sole purpose of crossing, and thereby closing off, an entire (and only) trail through Pierson Gap into the Devil's Cove area! Among other things.
Or, it could be that the BLM's Gayle Marr Smith is still doing all she can to obfuscate due process to the public and bury us with condescending, platitudinous rhetoric and endless "public hearings." This year, if you can believe it, it is to obtain public input from the NON-motorized access group. After all, there must be something ELSE we can do for the poor Sierra Club hikers besides preventing access to those nasty seniors from EVERY popular destination on the butte accessible by ATVs! After all, seniors really don't need to actually get anywhere, we should be content with merely riding the dirt roads. That should be enjoyable enough, shouldn't it?
Whoa… where did all that come from? I guess we know which it is that is probably causing this years loginess in us all don't we?
Anniversary MineAnniversary Mine and Oar Car Mine are on the radar of just about anyone who had ever picked up any offroad trails map, or any off road publication for the southern Nevada area. On the tip of the mountain between Nellis AFB and the Northshore Road, these two mines are in nearly every offroading publication you read. [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Offroading Home: Anniversary/Oar Car Mines.]
For us, the attraction came from the fact that the Oar Car Mine is described as being owned by a Las Vegas Rock hounding Club who allows visitors to look for, and keep, mineral rocks suitable for polishing. Not to mention the fact that it is immediately adjacent to what is called the "Bowl of Fire" – named after its more famous cousin the "Valley of Fire" the next canyon over.
The reason we haven't done it sooner? It's about a 45 minute trailer from snowbird headquarters. So, with all the other unexplored areas it has taken a back-seat; until now, when we definitely need something new to rejuvenate our senses.
Gordon has finally arrived for his stay this season and we loaded our rigs into his big trailer and headed south to the Overton turnoff on I-15. Through those little towns is a refreshing drive, even if the Lake Mead water level is so low that it is still many miles from the once bustling boat ramps.
Oops, I though we were done moaning; but, look directly ahead of us… a TOLL BOOTH under construction! The Park Service in their infinite, mercenary, entrepreneurism isn't content with charging tolls to drive through the Valley of Fire, now the entire Northshore Road will charge an entrance fee! Once it is open, the citizens of Overton and Logandale nor any of us will have any alternative except the freeway to get to Vegas.
Today, however, the toll booth isn't finished so we took what may be our last ride down this scenic route. As we began the ride along the lake, both of us realized that we didn't bring any coordinates for the trailhead or the mines! We've seen it so many times on the map we both thought we would recognize it, but the next thing we knew were at another toll booth on the other end asking what looked like a high-school kid in a park service uniform where we had missed the turn off.
Inordinately patient (for that age of person) he said that his dad took him to the mine a couple of years ago, but only had vague recollection because he wasn't driving. We did turn around and find what looked like the right exit, but really wasn't.
The exit makes a VERY sharp turn and immediately plunges down so is nearly invisible from the road unless you are really looking and not passing any snails along the road. There was plenty of room to stage in the wash, but you probably should have 4-wheel drive if your towing a toy-hauler.
As you can see if you're following along on the accompanying free map of our ride, we rode north up the wash and explored several canyons looking for the mine… any mine! Then we turned west along a well ridden trail for about five miles before we were willing to admit we were going in the wrong direction.
The scenery was really nice, and was probably worth seeing, but when it's not what you had intended to go (especially for Gordon, not a MINE) it lacks a bit of luster. Almost back to the trailer, we saw another barely visible trail heading east, the direction we now "knew" the mines should be, so took it.
Lowell Wash "Narrows"The highlight of the trip was the serendipity in finding what is known as "the Narrows" up the wash from the current mine opening. The Lovell Wash runs north between two canyon walls and gets smaller and smaller until only a foot path over slick-rock before opening into the "Bowl of Fire" area.
We took many photos and they all turned out great in the afternoon sun. As I was uploading them to Panoramio, I discovered that many had done the same thing before me – the place is sooo photogenic.
Oar Car MineSo, what of Oar Car Mine? Now knowing where we were, we took a trail to the south that ran up, out of the wash and explored until we found the sign. Expecting, as the sign said, that we would need to register we looked all over for a "geo-cache" box of some sort, but to no avail.
There were indications that there had once been a "kiosk" of some sort, but no more. There were even post holes in a circle like there had been a pavilion of sorts. Nothing there now though.
In fact, we scoured the area all around for even a tiny sign of "Agate" (Bacon, Christmas or otherwise) or "Travertine" like the sign said, but there was nothing. The whole area has already been really picked over. We did find a fenced hole in the ground where someone had been digging previously, and a few of the rocks had "petrified algae" on them, but nowhere near like the deposits we've seen up around Bunkerville, Mesquite and Gold Butte.
That was a bit disappointing but we did find an area covered in Bentonite and a nice deposit of some rose colored Gypsum up another side-canyon; so – considered ourselves well rewarded.
In all a worthwhile day's exploration, especially if you're coming from the Vegas direction, and we can now cross it off our "bucket list."
Learn A Little More
We've been doing a bit of nostalgia in this section for awhile now. And we've seen several portions of a great performance that John Denver and George Burns did called "Two of a Kind." They really seemed to hit it off after they co-starred in "Oh God" and appeared together many times afterward. In fact, it became sort of a tradition that they would do a yearly television special.
Unfortunately, those things just seem to be aired one or two times and are then filed away somewhere, most likely never to be seen again. Fortunately, some fan had decided to video tape the special off the air; but, unfortunately, it was back in the days of beta-max or something so the quality is quite poor.
Fortunately, the fan has decided to upload his video recordings to YouTube; but, unfortunately, he just seems to be a John Denver fan and deleted sections which were only of George's performance. We've already seen parts one, three and four. I wrote to him, and he responded that "part two was only of George Burns telling jokes." Well, yea! That's what he did and why John and he became such close friends.
Fortunately, they are such strong performers and had such a great time when they were together that the music and intensity still comes through; so… here's:
George and John - Two of a kind - part 5
[[ That's what I get for linking to someone else's post. Apparently YouTube acquiesced to someone claiming rights and removed the free versions in place of a multitude of advertisements. Here is a link to the full version of the concert, a couple ads, we'll see how long they last. ]]