Saturday, January 12, 2008

Scottie's Castle/Ubehebe Crater

Today we visited Scottie’s Castle. The tour was quite different from the way either of us remembered it. I visited in 1970; Mike earlier than that. When we went through the first time, the curtains were open, the place was very bright, and we both remember being quite taken with the cooling system that consisted of an indoor waterfall, among other things. We also remember hearing a lot more about all that went into constructing the home, including the many imported items. Keep in mind that the place is built in the middle of nowhere and that it was built in the 1920’s. It was quite an engineering marvel in its day. They even had figured out a way to insulate using a brick that resembled styrofoam. Very impressive. This tour was a lot more about the people who lived in the house—the Johnsons who owned it and “Scottie,” whose real name was Walter Scott. It seems he was quite a con man and many people thought he should be in jail. However, these people, the Johnsons so enjoyed his company that they practically supported the man. When asked, Mr. Johnson said that “Scottie” repaid them with laughter. The indoor waterfall has been turned off because the plumbing fell apart, and the curtains are now drawn. It’s too bad because it is hard to see the beautiful Spanish tile; however, flash photography is allowed and so I was able to get quite a few pictures of the place.

After that we drove to Ubehebe (You-bee-hee-bee) Crater, which is where a volcanic explosion took place. The whole area appears quite volcanic with black sand—kind of a reversal from the way the rest of the desert looks. The crater was impressive for its size and also the many colors of the layers of sediment. We’re also been impressed by the size of the “rivulets,” which in any other part of the world would be called “gullies.” The park is so vast (3,300,000 acres—the biggest in the lower 48 states) that all of the geological features taken by themselves appear small despite the grand scale. (I hope that makes sense.)

We have decided to stay an additional night so that we can do a couple of hikes that we have not yet had time for. Our generator is still working and Mike thinks it is some other thing called an “inverter.” Maybe you high tech types will know what the heck that is. We ran out of water today, but Mike has a 40-gallon bladder he can use to refill the freshwater tank so that we don’t have to move the trailer. Water is really the deciding factor when we are camping without hook-ups. This is only the second time we’ve used the bladder, but it is a very handy tool.


felix's dad said...

Mike emptied his bladder in the water tank??? You guys are getting desperate! ;-)

Barbara said...

Forty gallons worth! Can you believe it? Must be a world record of some kind. I wonder about the person who would keep track of such a thing!