Tag: Death Valley National Park

Happy Monday from the Salt Creek Pupfish!

Happy Monday from the Salt Creek Pupfish!

Hello, Salt Creek Pupfish here, just wanting to wish you a Happy Monday! I’d be willing to bet that your Monday will be happier than mine, because even though I may mate a few times today, chances are good I’ll be dead in a month 

Death Valley in Black and White

Death Valley in Black and White

I only took black and white pics in Death Valley this time through. Got a couple good ones. I think B&W is more forgiving of tough exposures, but I still managed to only really like about 10% of the photos I took. Here are my 

Goodbye for the Third Time, Death Valley

Goodbye for the Third Time, Death Valley

We went back to Death Valley for the third time, a place we said we wouldn’t visit again on this trip, at least until we got a more rugged version of our Toyota Sienna (lift kit, anyone?). But it was a place that I still thought about, endlessly, and I’m so happy we had a chance to return. We managed to find plenty of new things to see, along with the best showers in the park.

On our second to last official night in the valley I had a strange dream. I dreamed that a 10,000 mph windstorm was coming for us. The campground host and hostess stopped by each site, letting us all know we’d probably die soon, due to the wind, but that we should just relax, as there was nothing we could do about it. No point in trying to leave — we’d never outrun that wind. Then, the next day (a Monday), I started to hear people talking about a wind advisory. The older ladies started bustling about, putting extra stakes in their tents and chattering excitedly. Then the campground host came around with a handout about the wind forecast which predicted 70 mph gusts starting at midnight. I was a little creeped out. Sure, they weren’t talking about 10,000 mph winds, but 70 mph gusts is pretty serious. I was once out in 60 mph gusts in Chicago, and it’s only due to luck that I didn’t blow away. I walked out the door of my office, right next to the Sears Tower, started being blown down the street, stuck out my arm, grabbed onto a lamppost, and hung on until I hailed a taxi. Panels of glass blew out of the Sears Tower that day.

On Monday night, we decided not to sleep in the tent. We sweated it out in the van, and it was calm all night. No winds, not even a breath of air. Tuesday morning, we renewed our campsite for that night. It was a calm and warm morning, very pleasant. Thirty minutes later, a gust blew up. It tipped over my chair, knocked over Paul’s tea, and knocked over my tea. Suddenly everything changed. We were being pelted with sand and pebbles. We secured our stuff and tried to set off on a hike. Paul was halfway up a dryfall when I said…wait a second. This might not be the best idea. Wind is one of the forces that shapes the canyons in Death Valley. Paul said, yeah, now that you mention it, I feel like I might blow off this rock.

So we couldn’t hike, and we couldn’t sit outside at our campsite. We also couldn’t sit inside, because it was over 80 and the sun was intense. The wind gusts were only projected to get worse, and they were supposed to last for another 24 hours. I saved someone’s rain fly from blowing away and most of the other tents looked like they wouldn’t last another hour. We decided to cut our losses and leave. If we wanted to get out of the wind, we needed to get a hotel. If we wanted a cheap hotel in the area, we needed to go to Vegas.

And that’s how we ended up back in Las Vegas, back at the Hooters Hotel and Casino, which is not a bad place. The rooms make you feel like you’re sleeping over in a California college chick’s dorm room or sorority house – they’re very feminine, probably designed to make women feel comfortable and make men feel trashy. But hey, it’s cheap. And we could park Rocky inside, in the center of the parking garage, out of harm’s way. He had a hard trip to Vegas, pelted by sand, stones, tin cans, plastic bottles, tumbleweeds, and gusts up to 85 mph (in Pahrump), but now he could rest in relative safety.

Imagine us in the lobby of a casino, tired, sweaty, smelly, covered with sand, in the midst of crowds in their Vegas best. Our room wasn’t ready, so we gambled away a dollar at the Flamingo to waste a half hour. It took an epic effort to get back to the hotel and up to our room. When I finally stepped into the shower, I realized I smelled like desert. Hot, dusty, dry. I was emitting the smell of rain in the desert, the scent of creosote bushes. Goodbye Death Valley, I’ll always love you!

It's like you're exploring the surface of the moon. Except for the blue sky part.
It’s like you’re exploring the surface of the moon. Except for the blue sky part.
Paul on the moon.
Paul on the moon.
Storm clouds blew in Monday night, but there was no wind on the ground...yet.
Storm clouds blew in Monday night, but there was no wind on the ground…yet.
Monday's stormy sunset was the most beautiful one we saw in the park.
Monday’s stormy sunset was the most beautiful one we saw in the park.
Tuesday brought dust storms and dirt devils.
Tuesday brought dust storms and dirt devils.
It was still very windy and dusty in Vegas, but at least we were enclosed by four climate-controlled walls.
It was still very windy and dusty in Vegas, but at least we were enclosed by four climate-controlled walls.
Eureka! I have found a gold mine ghost town!

Eureka! I have found a gold mine ghost town!

Eureka Mine is a tiny dot on the grand Death Valley map. It’s located off Emigrant Canyon Road, a small, in-and-out road whose primary purpose is to take hikers to the trail to the highest point in the park, Telescope Peak, and to take tourists to 

Death Valley’s Gower Gulch Loop Hike through Golden Canyon

Death Valley’s Gower Gulch Loop Hike through Golden Canyon

The first time we were in Death Valley, we tried to do the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop hike. We tried, but didn’t succeed, because the beginning of the hike, the Golden Canyon portion, is on the tourist must-do list. It was so busy the last 

Crazies in the Death Valley Desert

Crazies in the Death Valley Desert

“Excuse me,” the guy asked Lisa, “how do we procure a campsite?” That’s what this hipster said — “procure.” He and his significant other had just parked at the campsite next to ours inside Death Valley’s Emigrant Campground. They were on what sounded like their first camping trip.

Crazies in the parking lot.
Crazies in the parking lot.

Lisa told them — they’re free, just set your shit up (but she said it nicely).

“Can you build campfires here?” a creepy guy in a minivan asked.

Lisa told them — technically you’re not supposed to, but things aren’t patrolled that strictly here.

“Can we stay here all night?” a white-bearded man with a conversion van asked.

Lisa told them — yes, it was a free over-night campground. No problem. Lisa was becoming the unofficial campground hostess.

Another guy pulled into the campground just to fill up his water jugs before heading out back into the nothingness.

And another guy just nodded a greeting before breaking into a jog and heading straight into the desert, not on a trail, just aimed due west.

“Allez! Allez! Allez!” a third guy yelled to his wife who was biking into the campground from the bottom of the hill. He was cheering her home after a long day in the saddle.

Then a torpedo-tittied older woman in a Prius drove up. “Have you seen any white pickup trucks?” she asked in an Eastern European accent. 90% of the pickup trucks in Death Valley are white.

“I’m meeting my daughter here and she drives a white Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.” We reiterated that we hadn’t seen her daughter or any Toyota Tacomas (white or otherwise).

We got the backstory — she was up from San Diego, her daughter was meeting her from Bakersfield. She preferred camping at Stovepipe Wells — it was sandier there, not so rocky. Something about the weather. Something about her history with visiting Death Valley. TMI. Don’t really care. We just wanted to enjoy the warmth, the sun, our books, and the wine. Yes, we’d relay a message if we saw a confused driver of a white Tacoma.

But that wasn’t the weirdest. A couple nights later a man approached our campsite wearing a “your proctologist called, he found your head” t-shirt and looking concerned. “The women camping next to you, do you know if they’re around.” They weren’t — the campsite was empty.

“I think they moved to another campsite,” Lisa told the man. We’d happily overheard them in the morning discussing their move after overhearing their snoring all night.

“Well, with the wind, we wanted to invite them down to our camper. We’ve got room for them. Can you let Linda know that Ron invited them over for the night.”

Sure, Ron. We’ll find these two woman we can only identify via snore and let them know. Not a problem. This visit was our weirdest yet to Death Valley. Maybe we look a little too comfortable there.

Going all the way in Mosaic Canyon

Going all the way in Mosaic Canyon

We’re back in Death Valley and it feels both like we’ve never left and like it’s our first visit. The great thing about being able to return to the same place for the third time is that we can pick up where we left off 

An Ode to Death Valley

An Ode to Death Valley

Oh, Death Valley, how I love thee! Let me count the ways… You’re silent. I don’t mean quiet – I mean silent. As soon as I’m a mile away from a road, the only thing making noise is me. Maybe there’s a little wind, or 

A Failed-Flasher’s Guide to Death Valley Showers and Baths

A Failed-Flasher’s Guide to Death Valley Showers and Baths

“Yeah, the Hearst Castle is amazing. The guest houses are four-bedroom mansions! Can you believe that? I’ve been there 10 times.”

I’m getting travel tips from a gent that’s probably 60+ years old. He works in the area and just finished a night shift. I assume he works at one of the casinos in Pahrump, but I don’t get a chance to ask. He’s got old-man glasses and calloused hands. His glasses keep fogging up and he dips them in the water to clear the condensation. Which is why this situation is a little odd. We’re in Tecopa, California, and, to quote Seinfeld, sitting in a tepid pool of our own filth. Naked, natch.

I hear about the Hearst Castle’s artwork and pottery and landscaping. Sounds nice, but I’m having a tough time picturing it because there are two too many penises visible during this conversation. We’re the only ones in the baths.

“He had bench seating in the dining room and ketchup and mustard on the table. He said it was so that his guests remembered they were still on earth when they were staying there.”

Sure, fine. I’m enjoying learning a bit and getting some travel ideas, but I wish he’d quit it with the yoga poses and the hamstring stretching. I’m seated in the corner, having trouble limiting my peripheral vision when I make polite eye contact. I wish for showers. This is only my second soak.

Searching for showers at the Stovepipe Wells campground.

The showers aren’t exactly intuitive at the Stovepipe Wells campground in Death Valley. Here’s the tip: they’re across the street by the resort’s pool. Go to the resort’s front desk to pay the fee ($4 per) and get a key.

The layout isn’t great — instead of a connected changing area, the showers and dressing rooms are separate. Fresh off my nude bathing experience in Tecopa, I’m ready to stride nakedly across the bathroom to the showers, but instead I decide to be a bit more modest and cover up with my towel. It’s not until after I’m finished and about to throw back my shower curtain that I realize what I’ve almost done.

I look first, because somebody has propped the door, and immediately see a little girl diving in the end of the pool. Her father is shooting a picture right outside the door. A few seconds earlier and the little girl would have had a perfect line-of-sight view of my immodest exit. Why is this door propped? I picture myself arrested, the Death Valley flasher from Chicago. Cripes.

Lisa barely avoids the same fate. There’s a foreign family full of petulant children in her bathroom; one is a young boy. The mother fails to reign them in, but Lisa is able to avoid being a flasher too. “All you hear about is how terrible American tourists are,” she starts, “but I’m learning it’s not just us. Terrible tourists come from everywhere.”

Pièce de résistance showers at Furnace Creek.

We ask some fellow travelers about the showers at Furnace Creek. They dismiss the showers at Stovepipe Wells and tell us they can’t compare to the showers at Furnace Creek. Furnace Creek is basically Death Valley’s urban center, so we avoid it at first.

“They’re the pièce de résistance. Is that the phrase?” the man asks his wife. “They’re amazing. The water is naturally heated and they’re beautiful.”

We should have stopped there instead. It’s the same setup as at Stovepipe Wells — fee showers ($5 per), ask at the resort’s front desk. The National Park Service doesn’t manage any of the showers in the park — they’re all private. The campgrounds have nearly no lights so that they don’t pollute the night sky. Water is scarce. Electrical hook-ups for RVs are rare.

Panamint Springs has “showers” too.

Later, we’re staying in Panamint Springs at the Panamint Springs Resort. It’s in Death Valley’s Saline Valley, but it’s a private campground. For $7.50, you can camp, use the shower, use their flush toilets, and enjoy the solitude of the western edge of the park. But the prices are inconsistent. At the restaurant, there’s a pizza that is priced at $35. The all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet is $10. The beer selection is amazing.

Careful where you sit in Panamint Springs.
Careful where you sit in Panamint Springs.

The quality of construction is wildly inconsistent. Picnic tables in the tent-camping area are falling apart. The women’s bathroom is missing its screen door so it’s filled with bugs. It’s also missing the privacy doors on the showers. The men’s bathroom has two showers, but only one has a door. Both of the men’s showers have plastic chairs to hold your clothing while you shower, something both the women’s showers lack. Neither, however, will turn you into an accidental flasher. This place is pretty quiet, but it’d be exponentially nicer if these honey-do projects would get wrapped up.

When we first arrived, I asked Lisa how the showers looked. She replied: “Well, they spray water from the wall.” In every other way, they could be improved.

Tecopa has the best showers in the Death Valley area.

Tecopa hot springs from above.
Tecopa hot springs from above.

Tecopa takes the prize as having the best showers in the Death Valley area. The usage fee is built into the camping free, so you don’t get double dinged. But it’s not too low like in Panamint Springs where they can’t seem to afford the maintenance. And the showers next to the baths are great even if you don’t want to commit to a nude soak. Or you can pay for a private room, but no lewd behavior, please (say the signs).

If you’re planning to camp in Death Valley, stop in Tecopa on the way in and again on the way out (and don’t miss the China Ranch and its awesome date bread). The weirdness of the nude bathing is liberating, but I can’t imaging traveling thousands of miles for a bath like the foreign tourists that flock here. Just remember to bring a nice big towel. Good luck with the eye-contact.

UPDATE: We tried the Furnace Creek showers and they’re pretty good. Definitely the best showers inside the park boundaries, but Tecopa is still better if you include the surrounding area. The showers are in a pool house, just like Stovepipe Wells. They only have a single curtain, but they’re warm and wet and you can get clean in them. That said, beating the system is a hot topic here. You could theoretically buy a single key and let your significant other in with it and save $5. Or you could do the reach-around and break into the place which is what the people at the campsite next to ours recommended doing. Best idea: plan to spend the day at the pool lounging around in the sun. Then $5 is a deal.

One Last Look at Death Valley

One Last Look at Death Valley

Our posts from the last few weeks have been a little out of order. Over Christmas, holed up in Las Vegas, we had hoped to catch up on our backlog and get back to the order of reality. Guess what: it didn’t happen, and if 

The Best of Death Valley: Avoiding the Crowds at the Hot Spots

The Best of Death Valley: Avoiding the Crowds at the Hot Spots

Even though there’s plenty to do in Death Valley without visiting the named attractions, sooner or later you’re going to want to see these places too – after all, when you return to civilization, everyone in the know is going to ask if you’ve seen 

Finding a Decent Drink in Death Valley

Finding a Decent Drink in Death Valley

We’re at the Corkscrew Saloon in Furnace Creek and in search of saloon salvation. We’re on a run of bad bars and can’t seem find a decent drink in Death Valley. Seems odd to complain about this so close to actual tragedy and tribulation. Death Valley has been the sight of countless catastrophes and a few survival miracles. We need a miracle. Let me explain.

We think we find the worst bar in the world: The Crowbar Cafe & Saloon in Shoshone, California.

It started at The Crowbar Saloon in Shoshone, CA. It’s our first bar in California and we’re looking for a treat after a few days on the road, a failed trip to Mohave, and a ghost town experience in Katherine Landing. Shoshone is a tiny town and more than one person remarks that it’s entirely controlled and owned by one family. They own the gift shop, the tourist businesses, and the gas station selling gas for $5.10 a gallon 27 miles from where we last filled up for $2.97. The town has all the makings of a quaint, tiny town, but is instead a money grab and monopoly nightmare. Our experience with it is horrible.

Crowbar Saloon in Shoshoe, CA. One of the worst bars in the world.
Crowbar Saloon in Shoshoe, CA. One of the worst bars in the world.

It’s a Sunday, we’re out of cell coverage, so we have no idea what’s happening with the Packers. Up until that day, we had been pretty lucky catching the games as we traveled around. We’re coming off a wild experience in Phoenix, and are starting to get a little cocky about finding Packer-friendly places in nooks and crannies of America. And up until now, the Packers had been winning. The day’s game was supposed to be a gimme – the Kansas City Chiefs had a losing average and weren’t playing consistently. Aaron Rodgers had about as much luck as us that day.

NFL-themed coasters are only there to fool you.
NFL-themed coasters are only there to fool you.

So we’re in Shoshone, surprised to even find a saloon at first, but soon feeling entirely confident we’ll be able to catch the game, because that’s how it has worked up until now. It just works out, so we go for a bit of a hike and then roll into the Saloon at what we think is about half-time. It’s an afternoon game, which had made kickoff around 11AM in California.

When we enter the bar, we find it quiet. No problems there, it’s just past noon and a small town, why would it be packed? We get odd looks when we say we’re just having a beer – no lunch. Odd indeed. This is a small town and it should have some regular drinkers like all other small towns.

A football-compatible TV not fulfilling its life's purpose.
A football-compatible TV not fulfilling its life's purpose.

We’re the only ones at the bar. Lisa asks about the game. The response is odd: “Honey,” the waitress begins, “I can’t even turn the television ON!”

We assume that means it’s broken. Oh well, not the end of the world.

A younger waitress appears to chat us up. She must be bored because she’s attached herself to us. We, having spent the last few days with only ourselves as company, are happy for a new voice. But then we learn the real reason there’s no football in this bar.

“The owner doesn’t want to turn this into a sports bar,” she confesses to us.

We look around. Surely the owner must want customers. Another couple enters and gets a sandwich to share to go. We’re it – the sports-hungry, rabid fans the owner is scared of. A sports bar? Come on. Just turn the fucking TV on and show the game. Showing a sporting event does not turn your bar into the damn ESPN Zone. We hide our incredulity until we leave and try to be nice.

The waitress suggests we take a look at the museum next door. It’s fine, but it’s no Packer game. The Packers end up losing 14-19. We’re convinced it’s because we didn’t watch it. We can’t believe our bad luck until we stumble into an even worse bar later in the week.

Actually, the worst bar in the world is the Badwater Saloon in Stovepipe Wells.

We’re still stinging off the Shoshone experience when we’re camped a few days later in Stovepipe Wells. The Stovepipe Wells bar, we’re encouraged, is run by ‘new management’ … which, in hindsight, should probably always be taken as a bad sign. It’s in another bar-monopoly situation – the only bar in town/at this particular crossroads bearing a name that is also home to a gas station. However, the gas station prices aren’t even at Shoshone-levels, and we’re in the middle of Death Valley now instead of the edge — we stay positive. We enter after a long day of hiking and exploring. The dim light in the bar is nice after a day in the Death Valley sun.

The waitress/bartender greets us. There are TVs that are on. We have no interest in what they’re playing, but we still take it as a good sign that this place isn’t as backwards as the last bar. We grab two stools at the bar. There are a number of beers on tap and an impressive selection of booze, signs that point to success. We’re ready to order. Fat Tire for the lady and an IPA for me, please. All we need is the waitress.

The waitress is a woman in her mid-40s or early 50s. She has long gray hair and a bit of a gut. Her glasses turn her eyes into laser beams of hate, fired at every customer. Her scorn is only matched by her ineptitude, but we wouldn’t learn that for a few more minutes.

We’re the second group in the place. There’s an older gent trying to crack the code of the menu and stumble into some decaf iced tea. There isn’t any, but he presses on. Surely, there’s something, so he reads through the menu again. The waitress leaves him to ponder his options, walks over to the bar by us, wipes down a few things, asks us how we’re doing, we start to utter our orders, and she walks away. Tea-guy hasn’t ordered yet, and we’re not ordering until he’s finished, evidently. Transactions happen serially here; it’s too complicated to transact business in parallel.

Our frustration passes from tea-guy to waitress as we continue to wait … and wait. Just pour us some fucking beers, lady. It finally happens … eventually. But first.

A woman comes in asking about happy hour. The front desk told her it was happy hour in the bar and she’s ready to have a drink and give the bar money and all they have to do is take it. The waitress, who we’re learning hates humanity and most of all customers, glares at the woman. “There’s no happy hour here,” she says. No shit.

She  jumps on the phone in an attempt to berate the front desk. She’s unsuccessful – they don’t pick up. She yells to the manager. “Go down there and make sure they know there’s no happy hour. That’s against the law,” she rails. The manager agrees. The horror of all this! The manager leaves to do her bidding.

The customer, after some brow-beating, still attempts to order. She just wants some food to go, presumably to feed to her young children that are with her or perhaps she wants food for her older mother who’s also in attendance. Her daughter crawls up on a bar stool. “You can’t sit there,” the bartender snaps, “not unless you’re 21.”

After yelling at the woman’s child, she tells the woman she can’t get soup to go (no container) or a salad (no container either). When the woman says she’s a guest and will bring the plate back, the waitress gets slightly nicer and ends up giving her a salad in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. I want to comment on her Gandhi-levels of patience. The customer is a saint. I was ready to snap.

Then the bartender reluctantly pours a British couple a beer after failing to help them choose between the foreign selections (they default to Bud). I’m almost laughing now at the insanity of all this, but Lisa is ready to leave.

Before we do, the waitress/bartender drags her feet through a cheeseburger-to-go order. The manager decides he’s doing such a bang-up job managing that he has her pour him a beer and a Jager chaser. Or maybe it’s a Jager shot with a beer chaser. Whatever it is, he definitely deserves it. He’s managing this shit out of this place and shouldn’t just drink plain-old beer all night … which is what he had been doing. He leaves just after 6PM, the bar is, after all, in good hands.

Meanwhile, the computer system is printing out drink orders from the dining room almost constantly. The bartender ignores them. The waitstaff have to physically enter the bar all night and verbally confirm their orders. She screws them up constantly and then tells the waiters that they were entered wrong (they weren’t). She just sucks at this.

We order another round (I want to watch this all continue to unfold — it’s great entertainment) and some chili fries, something we deem un-fuck-up-able on the menu. When our fries arrive, the waitress is told that the order was to-go and that she has screwed up. The fries disappear for a minute and come back in a to-go box that would have easily held the salad the earlier woman had tried peacefully to order. The bartender kinda half apologizes/half complains about the order being wrong. Not our fault, chica. Give us the fries.

So we finish our drinks and food and when I take my last sip, I start the timer on my phone. How long will it take to get our check?

The bartender is in the middle of a complaint session with another member of the staff. She knows what’s right and will take whatever time is needed to explain it. Lisa and I discuss ditching on the bill. Finally, Lisa gets up to go to the bathroom, walks past the woman, walks back, puts her jacket on and just stands there, waiting to catch her eye to ask for the check. We get our bill. It’s been just shy of 11 minutes.

The fates smile … we owe $19 for four beers and the fries. Something’s not right. I ask for a receipt and pull out some money. I leave her a $20 and we get out of there as fast as possible, nearly forgetting the receipt. She has mis-charged us for the beers and left a round off — it should have been $30+.

We take the money we would have spent to the store across the street, buy two beer loosies, and retreat to our van.

The Badwater Saloon, only tolerable in extreme cases of dehydration.
The Badwater Saloon, only tolerable in extreme cases of dehydration.

Thank heavens for the Corkscrew Saloon.

It’s on this run that we enter the Corkscrew Saloon in Furnace Creek. The two big disappointments are fresh in our minds and still sting. We enter and find TVs (an inconsistent sign of quality), a good selection of beer and booze (another inconsistent sign), and a regular customer at the bar (historically a good sign). The bartender and the guy at the bar are chatting like old buddies. We grab a table and a Ukrainian college student takes our order. When our beers are low, she asks if we’d like another. Later, she doesn’t just let us sit there wondering what’s next, she brings us our bill. And there’s free popcorn here. The niceness and friendly service are almost too much to handle. I fight back tears, not wanting to waste any water in this inhospitable desert.

Cold beer, fresh popcorn, and attentive service make the Corkscrew Saloon the best bar in Death Valley.
Cold beer, fresh popcorn, and attentive service make the Corkscrew Saloon a great bar in Death Valley.

The company that manages Furnace Creek is Xanterra, and later I look them up and take a peek at their job listings. Briefly, I dream about working at one of their resorts and living in the employee barracks with Lisa. I bet they have WiFi and electricity. But I’d have to work, so I abandon the plan or at least put it on hold. For now, a cold beer is enough.

We’re back on the good streak in Panamint Springs.

The beers are big in Panamint Springs.
The beers are big in Panamint Springs.

Later, we find our way to Panamint Springs and the Panamint Springs Resort. For a resort, there’s certainly a lot of scrap metal and junk laying around. When we register to camp, the guy working the registration desk/gas station cash register tells us they have nearly 200 beers available at the bar. We decide to check it out that night.

The ~200 claim isn’t an exaggeration. Bottles of beer fill their own room off the main bar area. It’s self-serve, so you can browse, which is nice. They also offer various sized pours of beers on draft. I get a big Ranger IPA draft (24 oz.), Lisa grabs a bottle of Fat Tire after minutes of choice paralysis.

About half of the selection of beer bottles.
About half of the selection of beer bottles.

The beers are good, but the real entertainment is the conversations we overhear. We learn that Aron Ralston hiked into Panamint Springs after his ordeal and that he’s an idiot for not telling anybody where he was going. “I’d be ashamed to be that guy!” we overhear. “He was so unprepared.” (Later, the interwebs clarify that AR was in Utah, not California.) Then we hear about how difficult it is to run the resort, how they’re not where they thought they’d be when they drafted their 5-year-plan. (We wonder if the they know CA is bankrupt and that the economy dived into the shitter in the last 5 years.) Then there’s a discussion on coyotes and how they get friendly to humans too quickly after a few are chased down the street, and a discussion on the deliciousness of the resort’s food. “The bacon is amazing!” (Meanwhile, some guys from Germany seem daunted by the $35 pizza price and hesitate to enter.) It’s surreal, but it’s also wonderful. It’s how a bar at the edge is supposed to be — not as polished as Furnace Creek, more welcoming than the other two we’re trying to forget — a place to grab a drink and relax and find reality temporarily improved.