Saturday, April 25, 2020

Two last drives

Spring Mountains tower over Las Vegas

Thursday we set off to find a different sort of landscape.     Our destination was the Mt. Charleston area in the snow capped Spring Mountains.     It was a long drive, but we enjoyed the changing views and marveled at the wide new road systems growing along that edge of Las Vegas.    Seems someone is expecting new growth.....

This area is a little over 70 miles northwest of Boulder City and the scenery is very different.   The elevation of about 8500 feet resulted in tall pines and snow with no wildflowers.   Mt. Charleston itself is much higher, but we didn't get up that high on our drive.     A real change from the environment we've been in.

The weather has been steadily heating up in the desert below so the roads and trails were full of people parking in the scenic view areas, playing in the snow and hiking - sans masks and any sort of social distancing.   

Since neither of us really enjoy snow, nor the company of that many oblivious people, we contented ourselves with a loop drive to see what the area had to offer.

On the last leg of the loop road, a dirt track called to us so we turned off the paved road and up onto a flat plateau with beautiful views of the snowy peaks and  blessed solitude.

see Dave?

Yesterday Pam and John invited us to accompany them to the quirky town of Chloride, Arizona, about 60 miles to the south.    We never pass up a chance to see something new, especially with friends, so off we all went.

Pam told us about some really interesting rock paintings, murals,  just past the little town - they were our destination.  We drove through the town of about 350 people and out the other side on a dry, rocky road, following "signs" painted on large rocks. 

this way

that way

   We passed the remnants of silver mines that made the town famous by 1870, swelling it's population to 5000 people.    By 1917, however, it was virtually a ghost town and today the hardy souls live quietly and as they please.    There is a small restaurant, a post office, an rv "park", a VFW (or was it an American Legion?) and a combination of run down abodes surounded by junk piles, neat and tidy manufactured homes and quirky places displaying "art installations" made from found objects.   More than one garland made of colorful broken glass bottle necks decorated porches and fences.

a townie getting ready to plow

I'm never comfortable photographing people's homes so I can't really give you a good flavor of Chloride.

tiny, weedy lawn town

So, back to the Murals.    They were painted in 1966 by Roy Purcell.   His canvas was 2000 square feet of granite boulders and cliff faces.

Their colors remain brilliant as a result of Purcell retouching them once in 1975 and again in 2006 to celebrate his 70th birthday.

They are called "The Journey: Images from an Inward Search for Self"  and are to be read from right to left.    No matter what these images mean, they are stunning and so very detailed.

Interestingly, these murals exist amongst native american petroglyphs.

You just never know what you'll find when you set off down a dirt road in the desert!

We head for home in the morning.....stay tuned.


  1. I trust Purcell did not paint his murals over the original native graffiti. Interesting artwork attempting to attract tourists into town.
    Safe Travels!

  2. Great artwork that blends in with nature.
    Safe Travels and Enjoy being Home.

    It's about time.

  3. It's been interesting to hear from different friends about whether or not people in their area are social distancing and wearing masks or not. Here in Austin, people seem to be taking it seriously - at least at the grocery store and other public places, but I've heard from a number of friends in other places that you wouldn't know anything was even going on. If you're in one of them, staying in the car sounds like a good choice.

  4. Love the gold collard lizard. I haven’t seen one in over two years! My favorite photos are the two you included from the dirt track you and Dave found when exploring in the mountains. I hope your journey home is pleasant and safe. Hugs to you, Dave and Lew!

  5. Those interesting. Now I wish we drove there when John and Pam told us about it when were we were in the area.
    Have a safe and uneventful trip back home.

  6. The collared lizard is so beautiful!! Although I love seeing murals painted on buildings, I find paintings on rocks in nature jarring unless they are ancient pictographs. Interesting the judgements my mind makes, because it's all essentially graffiti! That's a very intricate series of paintings, and obviously meaningful to the artist. Safe travels, and enjoy your journey to the lake!

  7. Yes, coming across the wild colors in the desert setting was jarring, but it was easy to get caught up in the details of the paintings. Seeing them right next to the ancient petroglyphs was what really brought me up short. You're right, it's all graffiti!

  8. I did read in one article that no petroglphs were covered and the location was chosen to not be visible from long distances. I love the art work and the durability of the car paint and appreciate the isolation of the work. Chloride reminded me a bit of Darwin with it's sloooow transition from mining to artist community. I know you all had a great time. Safe travels!