July 19 – Artoria Gibbons

Leave Moapa on 168 (98 degrees) passing through an “area of critical concern,” perhaps desert tortoise? The area is very dry with lots of small mesquite and palm trees. North 93 aka Great Basin Highway to Kane Springs Road to Elgin. The Mojave Desert and Great Basin meet in the Kane Springs Valley, and is the most arid area in the country. Beautiful hawks, Joshua trees, Cholla (my nemesis) Barrel Cactus.

Into the canyon with Jack White and Robert Johnson serenading us, stop to watch several ravens soaring and playing in the wind, visit Elgin Schoolhouse, and head into Rainbow Canyon (317). We turn on Carp Road then Meadow Valley Road. A quarry we have visited before produced no material this time, but we did find a pot full of crawdads in the creek! We pass The Yellow Brick Road, then continue paralleling a railroad track.

We find our way to Caliente, a former train stop with large station. Decide to stop for a sandwich at Carl’s (open sign in window) but found the front door padlocked! So, we went across the tracks to Train Stop Cafe. Good food, and the owner’s great aunt is featured – for some reason – and has a real interesting history. Her name was Artoria Gibbons. She married a tattoo artist and he used her as his canvas in order to make a better living with Artoria performing as the tattooed lady in such as Barnum & Bailey, Ringling Bros. and many, many more. She lost her husband when she was about 60 and kept on working in “freak” shows until 1981. She died at age 91 in 1985.

Head west on 93 toward Area 51 and make our way to 375, aka The Extra Terrestrial Highway. Had to stop at the Little A’Le’Inn (close to Area 51) for refreshment, and met several characters there. The barkeep was especially fun, calls himself Benjamin Button because he is “reverse aging” and showed up photos to proof it. We have to admit, seems like it!

Continue 375 to west 6 and stop at Warm Springs. This is an out of business hot springs “resort” with large pool, pool “house” and such. Water was too hot for us this day to jump in, but we did explore an old homestead nearby. The house and the barn were built into the hill. Steve found a really beautiful horned lizard and Diane found fire ants – Yikes! Their sting hurts! Continue with Tonopah in our sights going through Taiyobi Forest at 6500′ and so many wild horses. Into Tonopah, we see a spot we stayed once, the world famous Clown Motel (really) but declined the urge to stay there. Moved on, had dinner and collapsed. Great day.

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