Saturday, March 1, 2014

Alone II

Continued from the preceding post

But most of my work focused on Ash Meadows including that strange rift in the crust of Earth called Devils Hole.  Back in the day, there were several ways to reach Ash Meadows. One route took you through what is now the Las Vegas bedroom community of Pahrump.  Another route was to drive north of Las Vegas for an hour or so, past Area 51 (with all of its reputedly strange goings-on), and turn left at the crossroads of Lathrop Wells almost across the street from the brothel with it’s deep red light. From Lathrop Wells the route takes you toward Death Valley Junction, with it’s unique opera house.  Just before you reached the Junction you would turn left again and head out across the desert at the cement factory.  Only in Nevada do you give directions by referencing Area 51 (As Agent Mulder might say, ‘The Truth is out there.’),  a brothel, and a cement factory. But this was the area in which we did some very exciting biology and conservation.

Strange things happened in that patch of desert in those times. Like the time that another student and I were driving into Ash Meadows from Pahrump only to be stopped by a Deputy Sheriff who refused to let us past because there was a body in the road. It was a man and he had been shot. We could see the body there in the dirt of the road with blood staining the gravel.  There were those in Las Vegas then (and I suspect even now who solved disagreements in a terminal manner).Shifting into four wheel drive, we circled the place of execution bumping through the sagebrush and across the stone-hard caliche.  As we came onto the main dirt and gravel road and drove on, I remember wondering how the man had died.  Was it quick or had he laid there bleeding his life out all alone in this this great, seemingly empty stretch of high desert …violent death in a land so filled with life. 

Continued in next post