Wednesday, April 17, 2019

A Salty Sad Story and the Threat of Extinction

On our 4th and last day visiting Death Valley, CA our only goal was to drive the 27 mile one way trip through Titus Canyon and to visit the abandoned Ghost Town of Leadfield near the middle of the route.
We saw this beautiful rock formation
right before the heavy driving began
The sign at the beginning of Titus Canyon Road
Mostly scary warnings





















If you find yourself in Death Valley you must do this drive. If you visit the canyon from the valley side you will miss the best part of it.

The drive that began with a winding road perched precariously on the ledges of steep mountains tested my driving skills but our trusty 2005 Jeep Wrangler who I lovingly call "Felipe the Jeep" did a great job. My husband in the passenger side faired well also even though it was hard for him to not be at the wheel and to trust his wife to stay on the narrow and rocky roads.
The Leadfield sign, a sad warning to the gullible,
who seeks fast and easy money.
The view of Leadfield from the opposing hillside

The colorful view west and just left of center is the slot
path out of the canyon
The colorful view east of the mountain ledges we had
arrived on


Looking through the canyon, this picture does
no justice, the walls were hundreds of feet high

Even though we took our time and enjoyed every minute of the drive it ended all too soon and we were left with several hours of daylight to burn up.

It was shortly after lunch time and we were hungry so we decided to find a place to eat some dehydrated food in our JetBoil. Remembering that Mesquite Springs was a dozen miles up the road to the right, we set our sights on lunch on a picnic table in this popular camp site.

Upon our arrival we discovered that this particular area of the park was closed for some unknown reason. We weren't sure if it was a result of the 2015 flood that nearly destroyed the area around Scotty's Castle or something else but there we were, hungry and looking for a place to cook in Death Valley.

There was a ranger station up the road a bit and even though there weren't any picnic tables, there was a nice cool ledge for me to cook on and to sit in the cool dry breeze and eat.
My husband Jim enjoying my cooking
At the ranger station we read how the flood closed the castle and the rules of the park which we probably should have read before we entered but more importantly I found a park guide book.

We were excited to see that we had checked off nearly every sightseeing location along the east side of Death Valley except a small attraction called "Salt Creek" which promises a 1/2 mile flat walk where you can witness the rare Pupfish that only exist in two locations in Death Valley and no other place on earth.

No other fish can live in the conditions that this eco system provides. Pupfish can live in water that is four times more salty than the ocean and can live in water up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here is a Wikipedia Link if you'd like to find out more about these rare little fish.

I was excited to go especially since I found out it was spawning season. The male Pupfish take on a blue and golden color during the season and it promised to be a sight to see.

The Pupfish are listed as ENDANGERED and if you combine the two areas of Death Valley that they live in, they would be considered CRITICALLY ENDANGERED.

Upon our arrival, we found several signs telling tourists to stay on the boardwalk and observe from a safe distance to not disturb the delicate ecosystem of the creek but only a few dozen feet onto the boardwalk we saw this sight.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I became more and more outraged as I neared this atrocity.

A family of five had decided to leave the boardwalk, remove their shoes and the parents allowed their children to wade, frolic and splash in this delicate ecosystem.

It was sad to watch as nearly a dozen other tourists simply walked by and said nothing while this family negligently harmed this area.

My husband knew I was outraged and my mind ticked as I wondered what to do about this situation.

From the distance you see in the picture above, I yelled out to the family, "We are expected to stay on the boardwalk for the protection of this ecosystem!"

Immediately, the father yelled back, "OK! Kids, get out of the water, come on, back to the boardwalk."

I took this picture and waited to make sure they left the water. As I walked by I thanked the father and he responded, "Sure, no problem."

We went on to enjoy the walk and since the family did not catch up to us on the walk, I assume that they left the area.

There were several things wrong with what happened here and I hope you will realize the damage we can do with our negligence and ego.

1.  Did these people have bug spray on their bodies that could have effected the water they entered?

2.  More than likely, these parents had applied sunscreen to their children or themselves that could have altered or poisoned the ecosystem.

3.  Even if you have soap film or lotion on your body, these toxins can seep into the ecosystem unknowingly.

4.  If you have walked in other areas of the park and picked up pollen, seeds, larvae, etc. you could unwittingly deposit them into this delicate system that has flora and fauna specifically adapted to the life that exists here now.

5.  No one said anything till I came along and told these people to comply with the rules. This does not have to lead to anger. If you simply state fact, without emotion, you will get a positive result.  We all have a responsibility to take care of our world and the risk is worth the reward.

6.  Leave No Trace does not just consider whether or not we are leaving trash or using trash receptacles.  There are 7 Leave No Trace Principles that include:
     a.  Don't make any new trails, stay on designated trails
     b.  Noise, keep your voice down so others may enjoy the silence of nature
     c.  Click for more information on the "7 Leave No Trace Principles" or visit https://lnt.org

7.  Teach the children. What these parents were teaching their children was not the preservation of the environment but to be selfish and destroy. They taught them to disregard the well thought out rules of the area. They taught them that it's ok to go wherever you want without regard to it's effect.

8.  Now everyone who visits the area has to see the footprints of others who were here before and some may even feel that they are also allowed to leave the walkway.  This is a terrible legacy to leave behind.

I could go on for pages but I won't.

The moral of this story...

They tell us it takes a village to raise a child but it also takes a village to save a national treasure.

Don't be afraid to speak up when someone is harming our natural resources.

Speak kindly and use facts, not emotion. Imagine how differently this may have gone if I simply yelled, "Get your filthy kids out of the creek!" or "Hey stupid, you're killing the fish!" both of which are thoughts that crossed my outraged mind.

Teach the children and fellow adventurers how to be ethical and principled in nature so confrontations become unnecessary.

We went on to enjoy the Pupfish and I hope that the thoughtful presence of our generation and future generations to come will allow for the enjoyment of this treasured ecosystem and others like it.
Not good focus but here is a male and female in a spawning knot


A male Pupfish looking for a female to dart after

A lizard near the creek who was just as curious about me

One of the signs along the walk path
For more photos and stories, check out my website at
www.lizzieflower.com
Follow me:
Instagram @thelizzieflower
Twitter @lizzieflower
Snapchat (I don't do Snapchat because it's for children, I don't like it)

Peace and Love,

Lizzie



Thursday, December 6, 2018

Beefy's - A New Year's Resolution

I honestly don't like the concept of New Year's Resolutions and I see it as just another way to set myself up for failure year after year.

For years I swore, on every New Year's Eve at the strike of midnight, that I was going to quit smoking or lose the massive amount of weight I'd been carrying around.  In 2009 I quit smoking and in 2014 after 7 years of life changes, I had lost over 140 lbs and I can honestly say that none of it was a result of a New Year's resolution.

Instead of being motivated, I found myself buying useless gym memberships and drugs that promised fast and effortless weight-loss. I even bought the drug that Anna-Nicole Smith was pushing and all it did was lighten my wallet.

As a result of my weight loss life changes I have had to learn how to pass on certain foods to maintain my weight because my motto is "never lose the same pound twice". I don't want to always pass on the chocolate and my favorite foods so every now and then, if I've exercised and maintained a healthy frame of mind about food, I indulge.

That being said, shortly after I moved to Reno, NV I found myself in a small and I mean extremely small burger joint called "Beefy's". In this picture the entire restaurant looks smaller than the black pickup truck in the foreground but trust me, it's just perspective. The joint is actually a little bigger than that black pickup and I tell you that lovingly.

View of Beefy's from Virginia Street
Beefy's Street View-Thanks Google Maps
Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google LLC, used with permission.
https://www.google.com/permissions/products/
When you walk in the door you are greeted with a loud and happy, "Sit anywhere ya want, I'll come get your order." There is only one table in the joint and it seats about 5, the counter with old school truck stop type stools will seat about 6 (I've never counted), there is another counter against the south wall that will seat about 4 and then in a little cubby in the corner, there is a tall ledge that will sit 3. I jokingly call this "the table for lovers".

If you were counting there, it comes out to about 18 and you'd better not stand around loitering or take too long to find a place to sit because you will be told to sit down and get out of the way because things move spectacularly fast at Beefy's.

Have no fear my darlings, if you don't like to share a table with strangers or sit at a counter, feel free to sit at one of the two picnic tables on the side of the building and have your burger while you watch the eclectic foot traffic of midtown Reno on Virginia Street. You don't have to worry about rain or weather in Reno, you are in the high desert and there is sunshine about 270 days a year.

I love the tight and bustling atmosphere of the restaurant and I hope they never change a thing about the place. Trust me, it adds to the charm and you never know who you will be sitting with because if you are the first one to the table made for 5 and it's only you and a buddy, someone will sit at the table with you and if you're lucky, they will leave as your friend. (Caution: don't over chat though, it's a fine line)

I guess it was September 2017 when I was introduced to Beefy's and the burger of the month was the "Monster Burger". If I remember right, the price was somewhere between $10-$15 and the meal included a generous stack of fries and a can of soda.

Below is a picture of the Monster Burger and I'm afraid I can't tell you everything they put on this beauty but the one thing I can tell you is that the condiment that tied this amazing burger together was a handmade sundried tomato catsup (ketchup if you prefer) that was the design of the owner himself.

Beefy's Monster Burger - September 2017
On this particular day, the owner was also our waiter and when he asked me how the burger was, I had to gush about how delicious the it was. The blend of flavors was flawless and when I asked what kind of catsup he used he graciously described the way he'd made this delicious condiment and even brought out an extra little cup of it for me so I could have some extra. How cool is that?

He then told me that they have a different "Burger of the Month" every single month and that each of them are his own creation.

I know that it was nowhere near the end of the year but I'd already started to devise a plan. I turned to my husband and said, "I never want to miss a burger of the month at Beefy's" and that is how I decided the New Year's resolution to beat all others.

On New Year's Eve I loudly proclaimed that 2018 was going to be the "Year of the Beefy's Burger" and I eagerly awaited the opportunity to try each and every one. I wish I would have taken a picture of all of them or at lease written down what each of them included because each and every one is a work of art but I feel like if I'd done that, I would be giving away the secret recipes of Beefy's and that is not my intention.

I'm going to highlight a few of my most memorable burgers.

The first stand out was in March and the name of the burger was the "Jersey Shore". This bad boy lived up to it's name. I wasn't certain where the name came from till they brought it out and it was Spam, Burger, Cheeses, an Egg, onions and who knows what else on a mouth watering onion bun. I realized as they put it in front of me that it was so named because of the hodge podge of ingredients (whatever washes ashore) which was a genius name.

Don't go thinking you can recreate this one of a kind burger. There is magic in the sauces and ingredients that the maestro uses to create these works of art. Notice that I had the parmesan garlic herb fries on this occasion.

The Jersey Shore - Beefy's March Burger of the Month
I was out of town most of April and had a busy May but I squeezed in a burger here and there but when June arrived and I found myself at the Beefy's counter I was met with a challenge that I fear makes my resolution a failure.

The June burger of the month was a Jelly Donut, sliced and used as the bun with a burger and peanut butter condiment. I stood on the brink, something in me cringed at the thought of a jelly donut as a bun and based on principle, I could not order the jelly donut burger and I wussed out and ordered a substitute burger. I think it was the Vietnamese burger or Korean burger. The truth is that I was so shook up that I could not eat the monthly burger that I actually forget the exact Asian nation that hosted this burger but it was actually delicious. Would you like to see a picture?

Beefy's Korean Burger and Garlic Fries
With more determination than before, I decided then and there as I licked the last of the juices from the Korean burger from my fingers that I was not going to wuss out again. Carbs be damned, I was never going to use a substitution burger again.

The months and burgers came and went and each one was delicious and worthy of mention. Have you ever had Steak Diane? Well, the genius that owns Beefy's made a Burger Diane on a toasted french roll for August. It required 3 napkins, a fork and knife and it created a huge smile of satisfaction as I devoured it. Not my favorite but still delicious.

The last week of August and the first week of September I hiked the rim of Lake Tahoe which was 174 miles and took 15 days. It was the equivalent of hiking Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 four times. All the while, I knew that my reward was going to be the September Beefy's Burger of the Month. I told all the other hikers about the burgers and my resolution but I was worried that I would not have time in my schedule to go have the burger. I was expected to leave the trail and within a couple of days, attend the Reno Air Races for 5 days and then with a one day turnaround, we were planning to leave for a month long visit to Nebraska to see the grandchildren.

In the few short days between the hike and the air races I headed to Beefy's, I was tired and starving and when I got there I found out that they had a lunch rush and had run out of ingredients. The owner was going after a resupply of lobster for the "Lobster Burger" they had for the special.

Of course I had no problem waiting for the lobster to arrive. I was more than willing to wait so I could fulfill my September obligation to my resolution and after a relatively short wait, I was served with what I would describe as the absolutely most amazing burger of my lifetime.

"Lobster Burger" Beefy's September Burger of the Month and Parmesan Herb Fries
When this burger arrived I knew I was in love. You can not imagine the aroma rising from this burger. I doubt that this will ever be beat, not only was it covered in lobster, the beef patty was resting on lobster and covered in a light sauce and cheese. All the flavors blended to a lovely symphony of flavors. I savored this one slowly and lovingly. It was obscene.

October brought a Burger Cordon Bleu that included a burger, chicken breast, ham and cheese and yes it was as amazing as it sound. Again, not my favorite but definitely yummy.

I'm not fond of curry since I had an unfortunate experience during a 5 day hike of the Grand Canyon where I swore off anything with the word curry but remembering the Jelly Donut Burger of June that I'd avoided, I bravely ordered the Thai Curry Burger they were offering for the November burger of the month. I wish I had a picture of the burger they served. I wanted to devour it before the plate hit the counter.  It was a perfectly cooked beef patty on a french roll smothered in a mildly spicy curry sauce of coconut and eggplant. Fantastic!

As I left the establishment the owner told me he hadn't locked it in yet but he was thinking of a Greek Burger for December. Mediterranean has some of my favorite flavors so I was excited to hear that. Unfortunately it was November 9th when he told me this so I had 3 weeks of anxiety as I waited for December to arrive.

I finally found my way into Beefy's on December 6th and I'd brought a couple of friends to share the whole experience. They all loved the cozy atmosphere. We sat at the table and I anxiously ran over to the specials board to see what the special was. "The Greek"!!! I was so excited and as an extra bonus, it was served with "Greek Fries".

Everyone at the table ordered something difference, my husband had the "Awesome, Awesome", Ray had the Nevadan, Vicki had some veggie thing with avocado that actually looked pretty yummy too but I had no question about what I was having, it was "The Greek".

This heavenly burger was a perfectly cooked hamburger, feta, homemade tzatziki, kalamata olives, other heavenly spices and ingredients topped with  dolmathakia (dol-mah-THAH-kya) which is normally rice and herbs wrapped in grape leaves all served on a lightly toasted ciabatta bun. ((deep breath) The fries alone are worth a second December visit to Beefy's, this abundance of fries was tossed with herbs, feta and chopped kalamata olives. Look at this delectable dish...

"The Greek" Beefy's December Burger of the Month and Greek Fries
The only regret I have about this visit is that Stella didn't take my order but she arrived before I finished my meal and she adds a ton of flavor to anything you decide to have at Beefy's. The owner wasn't there today and I would have loved to have gotten a picture of him and me with "The Greek" but I will have to save that photo op for another time.

There is a lot more to Beefy's to discover since they have a full menu of unique burgers from the "Plain Jane" to "The Moo, Cluck and Oink!". Check out their menu. (Beefy's Menu) If you have a thirst, they have dozens of beers, wine and soft drinks and if at the end of it all you decide you have the room for it, you must order one of their shakes. After they mix it up for you, they even give you the mixer container that has the overflow in it.

Since I skipped June and didn't try the Jelly Donut burger with the peanut butter it feels like this resolution is incomplete.

What do you think, should I do the same New Year's Resolution for 2019?

It looks like it's Beefy's Burgers for another year and if you're smart, you'll do it too.

Tell them Lizzie Flower sent you


Peace and Love,
Lizzie 

For more photos and stories, check out my website at www.lizzieflower.com
Follow me:
Instagram @thelizzieflower
Twitter @lizzieflower
Snapchat (I don't do Snapchat because it's for children and I don't like it)




 




Thursday, October 25, 2018

Pine State Biscuits

Entrance to Pine State Biscuits

I've been known to post a Google Review or two and if the food comes out looking really good I'm more than happy to include a picture but every now and then a restaurant comes along that absolutely blows the doors off and exceeds all expectations.

A block off Virginia Street in Reno, Nevada; not quite downtown; not quite midtown; there is a restaurant called Pine State Biscuits.  It's in the middle of the block east of the intersection of Center and Pine Streets. It has a Center Street address but the door is on Pine Street.

First things first: How I learned that this restaurant was even in Reno. If you are lucky, you have a Ray and Vicky in your lives.  This couple has great taste if food, entertainment and friends and when I moved into my building and met them, I knew immediately that I wanted to spend more time with them.

The other day when we were going to a forum breakfast, Ray mentioned that they had gone to a biscuit restaurant. Being a paleo girl, I immediately cringed at the thought of a big heavy carb-laden white flour biscuit but then he told me that he'd had the shrimp and grits and for some reason, I'm not sure if it was the excitement in his description or the way he described it to us but the thought of it started to tickle the cajun/creole sensors in my brain.

The next day, my husband and I set off on foot to find the biscuit shop and much to our surprise, found it quite busy at 1:20 in the afternoon. A steady flow of customers ebbed and flowed in and out of the establishment. They ranged from older folks to millenials with children albeit that the children were running around untethered but that is a whole other blog.

We ordered at the counter and took a number. The place smelled delicious and the biscuit sandwiches that were being delivered from the kitchen were humongous and dripping with fabulous looking sauces to say the least. An example of a s'mores toaster desert was on the counter by the registers and it also looked delectable but being unable to workout at this time due to an injury, I knew I hadn't earned a treat like that.

As we waited we watched the staff working and delivering food. We noticed a nice note on the table noting...
Thanks for supporting small independent business by
bussing your own table

 Simple instructions with a thank you card

After a pretty short wait, this was delivered to the table

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits southern style. The butter swirled on the plate and the bacon grease shimmered on the shrimp. My husband and I looked up at each other and simply smiled.

Every bite was delicious and we left there feeling quite satisfied.

We happily bussed our own table as they politely asked and headed down the street certain to return again.  


Peace and Love,
Lizzie  

For more photos and stories, check out my website at www.lizzieflower.com 
Follow me:
Instagram @thelizzieflower
Twitter @lizzieflower
Snapchat (I don't do Snapchat because it's for children and I don't like it)


Sunday, October 21, 2018

METAL not mental

I found a wonderful little photo club in the downtown Reno area that consists of a few loyal followers and a few lovely and talented outliers.  Just before I left to do a thru hike, they started an "inspiration" project where one member choses a subject like; three, bubbles, candy, and as you will see, metal.

You have 5 days to post 2 pictures of the inspiration subject.

Now, normally I would not find an inspiration subject interesting enough to blog about but this particular subject led me to a particularly fun afternoon with my husband in tow as my photo assistant. His job is to block light, add light, hold gear and most importantly, make sure I don't get hit by a car.

It was the last day before I needed to post and I was determined to find a street cover that had the words "metal work" on it and was having absolutely no luck when my trusty assistant suggested that I take pictures of the new Virginia Street Bridge. "Genius!" I exclaimed and I immediately found inspiration in that bridge.

Here is a picture of the struts that hold the suspension bridge in place.

Metal Supports on the Virginia Street Bridge
While taking the picture, I saw a dashingly handsome man in a well tailored suit walk by and as the breeze blew his jacket back, a badge flashed in the light of the sun. As he walked away, I had wished I would have taken a picture of the badge but the opportunity had escaped me. I could not get it out of my mind.

We continued to explore downtown Reno for other metal subjects.  Jim had a thousand ideas, "Let's go by the ballfield." There were a lot of photo opportunities in that area but I particularly loved the color contrast in this photograph.

Aces Ballfield
Near the Ballfield is a sports bar / restaurant that has a bunch of machinery and equipment around it. I found a large saw bolted to a fence and found the patina to be beautiful but I still begrudged the missed opportunity of photographing the man's badge.

My assistants favorite shot of the day.
I finally found a manhole cover worthy of a photograph but the word "metal" was not where to be found on this. Dang, that guy's badge was so cool!

Manhole Cover in downtown Reno


We headed to the Plaza near the Truckee River and I saw this metal sign attached to the ground pointing to the plaza. I had not idea that it was called the Art Landing. I wonder where the guy with the badge is now? Dang!


The Art Plaza near the Truckee River in Downtown Reno

There is a fellow that plays saxophone in the plaza that I like to photograph. He will play just as hard when no one is there as he does when the plaza is crowded. I asked Jim to give him $5 so I could take a picture of his sax. (It was a little distracting that spellcheck caught me putting an a in the middle of saxophone instead of an o. I had no idea it was spelled that way) This sax is the same color as that guys badge.

Street Performer's Sax
We headed across the street to City Hall where I found a recycle can and took a photograph of that. I particularly liked this shot.

Recycling Can at City Hall
We were done, it was time to go home and process these photos and get them submitted but when we began crossing the street at City Hall I was surprised to look up and see that gentleman with the badge. I decided immediately that I was not going to miss this opportunity.  I stopped him and quickly explained to him that I had a photo inspiration project and I asked him if I could take a picture of his badge. He was thrilled and proudly posed, pushing back his fine lapelled jacket to expose the badge on his belt.

I got down on the ground and began shooting close up shots of the badge and he stood there patiently.

When we were done and all gratitudes had been given, my husband and faithful assistant started to chant, "I am such a good boy. I am such a good boy. I stood there and let my wife take pictures of a man's groin and crotch area and didn't say a word."

Now, anyone who knows my husband knows that he is all about the laugh and joking and I'm sure it took everything he had in him to not tease both me and the kind code officer that let me take pictures of his midsection.

The result was awesome though!

Reno Code Enforcement Badge
This is one of my favorite photos and goes in the top five


Peace and Love,
Lizzie 

For more photos and stories, check out my website at www.lizzieflower.com 
Follow me:
Instagram @thelizzieflower
Twitter @lizzieflower
Snapchat (I don't do Snapchat because it's for children and I don't like it)

Vampire Photo Shoot

Just a few short weeks till Halloween, 2018 and my friends at "Reno Camera Club" had a photo shoot with a wonderful model named Natalie Irene Munster Crab. (no kidding, that is her real name and she is cool enough to pull it off)

We started at 9:00am at the Oxbow Nature Park in Reno NV and didn't finish till 1:00 in the afternoon.  I could have taken photos all day long but 487 releases of the shutter later and I have 11 favorites that I processed and have for you to see below. The truth is that I have 48 favorites but had to narrow it down so I don't bore you.

I've named the photos which I thought was a fun change. You will notice that the model gathers more and more blood as the morning progressed.  What was funny was when her right bicuspid started falling out. There we were, all chewing gum and hoping that the gum she used would hold the tooth in.

I also have some blooper shots that I may add in another blog of teeth falling off and wigs getting flown in the air as we went for the "hair in the wind" effect.

The truth is that I do so much Macro and Nature photography that I had no interest in this photo shoot and nearly backed out from going. I was totally out of my element and 5 minutes into itm, Mike Smith, the dapper british gent who organizes the photo club had me taking dream photography and making me feel like a pro.

More than once I took a photo, looked at the preview on screen and danced around like an excited school girl.  I learned what "rear flash" is and how to use my flash as my aperture. I was hypnotized by the model whose every movement I wanted to capture.

When I sat down to the computer, it was daunting to find a few handfuls of photos that I would use to process, I wanted to do them all but I doubted that anyone would have any interest in that besides me.

Enjoy these photos and I hope they give you nightmares!


Moon Worship

Satisfied Hunger

Desire for More
 Experimenting with hair flipping for the first time ever had some great results. I did a serious happy dance when I saw this on my screen.

Under Cover of Night

Pursuit
I didn't even ask for Natalie to come at me through these weeds and I'm so glad I had my camera ready when she reached for me. The effect was chilling.


Sinister Intentions
This one might be my favorite since I used three flashes, one from the front, Judith holding one near her face on the model's right and then Mike was backlighting the models hair. I love this effect.

The First Morning Light

The Light of Day
I'm very excited about this one since I created the sunlight in post processing.  It was my first attempt and I loved the result.

Predator

The Bride Wore White

Into the Eyes of Evil
For more photos and stories, check out my website at www.lizzieflower.com
Follow me:
Instagram @thelizzieflower
Twitter @lizzieflower
Snapchat (I don't do Snapchat because it's for children and I don't like it)

Peace and Love,
Lizzie

Friday, July 13, 2018

Candelaria Ghost Town Anniversary

On Sunday, June 24th 2018 Jim and I celebrated our first year of marriage and I would wager a bet that no one reading this has celebrated an anniversary in quite the same manner that we did.

Neither of us are great romantics nor do we have grand expectations when it comes to birthdays or anniversaries so making plans to celebrate our first full year together was easy. We didn't really plan it and we just let it happen.

We had already decided to head out to our favorite place in Nevada, the ghost town of Aurora, before we realized that our stay would include our anniversary.  We had already spent two full days running around the sagebrush and kicking up dust in our side-by-side and had decided that we were going to run over to the ghost town of Candelaria, NV sooner or later.

Candelaria is a small spot on a dusty rock road about 60 miles northwest of Tonopah, NV. If you've never been to Nevada I will describe it briefly for you.  The sun shines constantly, the air is brutally dry and the wind blows relentlessly.  That being said, I can barely describe to you the misery that lays itself upon you as you drive through the barren sandy valleys that are lined in every direction by rocky and equally barren mountain ranges.

There are very few trees and the ones you see are limited to the tiny deteriorating towns that are stumbled upon as you travel east across the high desert of Nevada. I come from Iowa and Nebraska where every yard is lush and green so this is quite startling to me.

You would think by this description that I loathe Nevada but the truth is that I love the high desert as long as I'm on the western edge of it romping among the lush Sierra Nevadas. If you take me too far into the interior of the state I soon suffocate in the barren loneliness of the mountains and sagebrush and I find it quite amazing that there are people who settle there and call it home.

When the morning of June 24th started, Jim asked me if I would like to go to Candelaria for our anniversary instead of hanging around Hawthorne, NV where our RV was parked.  I was interested in this since I knew that Jim's family had some history in Candelaria but there was one bit of business that I wanted to attend to first.

The day before when as we headed into Aurora I had caught a glimpse of a bright and beautiful yellow flower along the side of the road. Jim is alway patient and eager to pull over and let me photograph a flower for as long as I like but I didn't ask him to stop, instead I told him that there was a flower that I wanted to stop and photograph on the way back.

By the time we returned that afternoon, the blazing desert sun had caused the flower to close, wilt and look like a pitiful mess.  I took pictures of it anyway but I was sad that I'd missed the opportunity to photograph this gorgeous flower and since it was apparent that the flower blooms in the night and closes when the heat of the day arrives, I'd asked Jim if we could return early the next day to get a shot of this flower. Mind you that this area is 30 miles into the mountains from where our RV is parked where he roads are so rough that we rarely exceed 25 miles per hour when traveling there and much of the roads are designated as 4x4 only.

When we woke up on our anniversary, Jim asked if I'd like to have lunch in Candelaria and I eagerly agreed but asked if he'd be willing to drive me into the mountains to take a picture of the elusive yellow flower I'd seen the day before. He graciously obliged me and I'm happy to say I was able to spend several moments with this wildflower.

Smooth Stem Blazing Star
I like to think of this flower as "Our Flower" because I took it's picture on our anniversary and went to great lengths to get the shots. Basically, it took 2 hours of travel and a terrible amount of dirt and dust to get a picture of the ditch weed I would come to know as the "Smooth Stem Blazing Star".

I only found one or two of these blooms so I felt quite lucky to have captured this elusive plant only to find two weeks later upon our return that the entire area was covered with these yellow flowers.  I felt a little silly for taking us so far out of the way to take the pictures when the hillsides would be covered with them in the following weeks but to tell the truth, it was worth the effort.
________________________________________________________________________________

On our way to find Candelaria, we wondered around the ghost town of Columbus which was one of the saddest spots I've ever driven around. I kept seeing what looked like tufts of soft fuzziness and I finally asked Jim to stop. I took my camera out expecting to see nothing but what I discovered were these thorn covered cactus.  Not the soft fuzzy plant I was expecting to photograph but amazing to see nonetheless.

Cactus
We had gone around the mountain from south side and after a long bumpy and slow ride, we came to a gate. We felt tired and defeated and hungry and I wanted to call the day a bust and head back to the RV but Jim wasn't done exploring. Due to the narrowness of the road and the high rocks on either side, Jim had to back out a great amount of the way. To get off the road ran the risk of putting a hole in a tire and trust me, help would not be coming soon since there was absolutely no traffic on these roads and we hadn't had cell service for over an hour.

We drove back around the mountain and tried to find Candelaria from the other side (the touristy side) and found success.  There were very few structures remaining in the town and most of the mill was gone except for the lava rock foundations seen here.
Lava Rock remains of the Candelaria Silver Ore Mill

When you enter a ghost town, there are very few bricks remaining even though there may have been several brick buildings when the town was in it's glory.  When a gold or silver town would boom, they would build brick buildings and then when the town would go bust, they would sometimes disassemble the buildings and move the building materials to the next boom town. On other occasions, bricks and building materials would get looted by the builders of other boom towns. On a much sadder note, in modern times there are visitors who remove artifacts and take them as souvenirs.

I beg of you, please do not remove or move anything you find in a ghost town or other historical site. First of all, it's against the antiquities laws and second, when you move or remove an item from an archeological site, you remove the ability for the next person to enjoy discovering the remnants of our past.

Most of the bricks we find are blank but this town had it's own brick yard and apparently it was the Snowbal brickyard because most of the remaining bricks were stamped "Snowbal".  To discover this, I had to put broken bricks together to spell it out. I am not sure why they did not include the second "l" in the word snowball.

Brick from the "Snowbal" Brickyard

Jim and I decided to have our anniversary lunch at the top of the dilapidated mill.  Jim is quite the reconstituter of dehydrated meals.  I would feel safe to say that he is a gourmet at the JetBoil.

Cartoni Anniversary Dinner

As we ate lunch looking over the town of Candelaria, Jim pointed out the southmost of the two remaining stonewalls.  As you can see below, there isn't much left of the once sprawling town of Candelaria.  You can see a stone wall on the left, a stone wall to the right and above that, the town cemetery.

The stone wall to the right was the building his grandmother had worked in as a young woman. It had been owned by her brother-in-law Ben Edwards and it was where she would meet her beau, Jim's grandfather Edward Scott.
Our view of Candelaria during lunch

Below, I found these photos of the town main street, the store/post office is the second building from the left that is made of stone and the men are standing on the porch. This photo is taken from the book by Lorena Edwards Meadows called, "A Sagebrush Heritage"

The stone bank building in Candelaria where Jim's Grandmother met his Grandfather


Credit to "A Sagebrush Heritage" by Lorena Edwards Meadows
Candelaria 1888
6 points to the flagpole in front of the bank where the grandparents met

On page 69 of the book, the building was described like this by the newspaper,
"The walls are marvels of strength and durability and will remain in place until the crack of doom".
My later photos will prove that this is unlikely.

The building was later used as the Ben Edwards' Bank and general store.  The post office was moved to the brick building next door when Ben Edwards took over because it is said that he had so much merchandise there was no room for a post office.

In those later years when the building became Ben Edwards' Bank, general store and Wells Fargo Company office the history of Jim's family began to take shape.

Jim's great grandfather Richard Barlow had died in Aurora leaving his wife and children. They had moved several times before they moved to Candelaria in 1890 so the sons could work in the mines to support the family.  The young Barlow boys earned $3.00 a day for a 12 hour shift.

Ben Edwards, already living in Candelaria, was a charming and ambitious young man that much of the town respected.  When the Barlow family came to town, including Jim's great Aunt Lou, the young Mr. Edwards only had eyes for the lovely Lou Barlow. They were later married and Ben went from doing the muckiest work as a miner to being a banker and businessman.

When Ben owned the bank and general store, (around 1900) he hired his young sister-in-law Bessie (Jim's Grandmother) to manage the general store.  Ms. Meadows wrote in her book that the store was visited by the likes of Wyatt Earp and the book has a picture of a bill of sale to Mr. Earp for $12.75 worth of merchandise. I wonder sometimes if it was Jim's grandmother who entered into the transaction with the famous lawman.

It was in this store around 1902 that a young man, Edward Scott, came into town and noticed the young Bessie Barlow and swept her off her feet. They were soon married and since Edward had just made a $40,000 fortune in gold in just two weeks, he took his bride on a whirlwind tour around the world. After the year was over, they returned to Nevada and made their home in the state.

Their daughter Anna Lorena Scott married James Mario Cartoni and is the mother of my husband and so here we are, in this dusty ghost town dreaming of the past and gently visiting this historic location with extreme reverence.

There were lots of things going on in this town at one time and you can't help but look at the traces of life in these abandoned piles of stone and decomposing wood and tin and realize that there was once a bustling town where lives were being made, couples were falling in love and getting married.  There was once love, joy and tragedy but the only sound that remains is the blowing of the wind and the occasional buzzing of an insect in my ear.

Ms Meadows' book also describes a meteorite hitting. Here is an exert from her book "An otherwise dull year, 1894 brought a staggering spectacle to Candelaria. on the night of February first, a meteor fell. The awesome event was described by Fred Corkill in a letter to the editor of the Mining and Scientific Press.

"The thermometer registered 15 degrees above zero. At ten o'clock, seven minutes, a brilliant meteor appeared, coming from the southwest. It made a tremendous illumination. So intense was it in brilliance that those who were out of doors were dazed, but few could tell whence it came or whither it went.  It was a dazzling, electric blue, lasting about four seconds,. It brought all who were awake to their doors, awe stricken, thinking some slumbering crater had burst into flame.  Thirty seconds later a terrific explosion occurred, like tons of dynamite suddenly exploding, shaking the hills and echoing through the rocky caverns,

"It was like a huge bombshell hurled in our midst. There followed a boiling and sizzling roar like an immense mass of red hot iron cooling in water.  The sound grew fainter and gradually died away.

"Those who were sleeping and did not see the illumination were aroused and rushed out of doors, supposing it to be an earthquake, or the crack of doom.

"When the snow melts and the focus of the explosion is definitely located, a search will be made for the meteorite.  None who heard or saw this will forget it, and they will relate it in future years as a great event; nor will anyone here desire to be nearer to those celestial bombs than he was this night.  Some ducked their heads to let it go by and considered it a very close shot for a star."

How exciting that meteor must have been and I wonder if they ever found it.

I can only imagine the past and the sound of the mill on the hill overlooking the town as it crushed the rock to extract the silver ore that this mountain bled for a few short bountiful years and when the mountain stopped bleeding silver ore, the town began to disappear and families moved on to other prosperous areas.

The front of the Ben Edwards' Bank and general store 2018
There is no remnant of the flag pole or boardwalks.
The remnants of neighboring buildings in the previous pictures are also gone.
Quoted; the True Fissure newspaper, 1880, "The iron doors have been set in place...."
2018
The remains of the bank
1888
The bank in the center of the picture
View of the Ben Edwards' Bank from the back, note the strong box in the foreground
In the background, the tailings pile from the mine
Tailings are what remains after crushing the ore from the rock
Behind the bank/store and to the west, these three structures can be seen.  I have several views of these structures. I'm not sure if they were businesses or residences.  In mining towns including the silver mine town of Candelaria, most miners lived in veritable holes in the ground with roofs made from flattened oil tins nailed together.  Evidence of these small structures are all but gone but considering the cold and snowy Nevada winters, I can't imagine the existence to have much pleasure.

For the businessmen and investors of the mines, life was good and the town hosted dances and social events not to dissimilar from the big cities on the coast.

One can only imagine who lived in these dwellings.
Behind the bank and to the west are these three neighboring structures.


Here are the photos of the building on the North side of the Main Street.  Unfortunately, this building has been vandalized to great extent.
Other remaining standing building in Candelaria. I am unsure of it's use but it is very well built
View from inside of the other building
Candelaria Silver Mine can be seen out of the front windows

Besides a few other small piles of rubble that were once homes, and a cemetery of unmarked graves, not much remains of Candelaria.
Unidentifiable Grave in the Candelaria Cemetery

Overall, I would say that it was one of the best days of my life.

I was thrilled to sit on that hill looking over the foundation of an old silver ore mill to eat reconstituted Beef Stroganoff with the man I love.

We sat quietly looking over the town that barely exists when out of the quiet my husband says, "Don't say I didn't take you anywhere special for our anniversary."


Peace and Love,

Lizzie


For more photos and stories, check out my website at www.lizzieflower.com
Follow me:
Instagram @thelizzieflower
Twitter @lizzieflower
Snapchat (I don't do Snapchat because it's for children and I don't like it)