History Is My Love Language

I’m typing all this on my iPad because I can’t find the cord to my laptop. I think I left it at work, but who knows. Yesterday my friend, Lipstick, and I went on an adventure. This is us:

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The Vulgar Historian and Lipstick Go on an Adventure.

She took the picture. She’s the pretty one. I’m the one with the awesome hair.

We did a lot of talking and driving, and one of the things we talked about was our love languages. We both have the same love language – cuddling and history adventures. Lipstick called it something else, like, umm, quality time and physical affection or something. But she prolly read the whole book. I only read about four pages.

We also discussed a much better book, Anne of Green Gables, which we both love with all of our wistful little hearts. And we vowed to be bosom friends forever since we are such kindred spirits. Hopefully that means plenty more adventures ahead!

Yesterday, we kind of had a vague plan to do history stuff since Lipstick likes that kind of thing as much as I do. We heard there were some old buildings in Searchlight, but we didn’t see much interesting. We stopped in and got jerky at Gus’s Really Good Fresh Jerky, which definitely lived up to its advertising. The brisket was amazing. The Searchlight Museum hadn’t opened yet, and we were hungry, so we decided to head down to Laughlin for lunch,

Unplanned trips are the best, and I had never been to Laughlin before. Apparently, it was named after this dude, Don Laughlin, who saw the potential for tourism in the area, and bought up some property and opened the Riverside Resort. Most of Laughlin looks like it was built in the 1980’s, but that’s just a visual observation and shouldn’t be taken as a fact or anything. There was a statue of Mr. Laughlin in town that we got out of the car to look at. The statue had cobweb boogers that needed to be cleaned.

 

Lipstick was in charge of finding a place for us to eat lunch. She chose a place called Bumbleberry Flats, and I have to admit I was a bit skeptical. But she liked the name and it was close, so away we went.

The restaurant was in a place called Pioneer Hotel and Gambling Hall, which actually was built in the 80’s.

When we pulled up, I was even more skeptical. It was very old-west-saloon-and-brothel themed. It had that kind of western Main Street false storefront thing going on. The casino itself was actually closed, but the hotel and two restaurants were open. River Rick is the casino mascot (known as Laughlin Lou by some), and he’s pretty much the same dude as Vegas Vic of the Pioneer Hotel here in Las Vegas. I didn’t get a picture of the sign, but they have a weird rock art landscaping portrait that I did snap a pic of.

 

We went inside, and it was a 20 minute wait to be seated, which was surprising since it was a Monday afternoon. The hotel sits right on the river, so we went outside and looked around while we waited. It was gorgeous, y’all. The river was a beautiful blue-green and there was a cool breeze coming off the water. Lipstick and I sat on a bench and just soaked it all in.

After some time had passed, we went back inside and were seated after a couple of minutes or so. I have never been so happy to be proven so wrong about a place. The food was fucking amazing. We shared a bowl of chicken pot pie soup that was so creamy and buttery that I could barely stand it. And it had a little square of puff pastry on top that was like two orgasms in a row. I ordered the pecan french toast which was just about as perfect as it could be – crunchy on the outside and creamy and buttery and cinnamony on the inside, covered with pecans and maple syrup. Lipstick got cheddar bacon waffles with chicken and Louisiana honey hot sauce. Hers was pretty good too. If you’re ever in Laughlin, stop by Bumbleberry Flats, you won’t be disappointed. While you’re at it, stop at the hotel gift shop on your way out. They have candy cigarettes for fifty cents, which were somehow the perfect end to a perfect meal (since I gave up real cigarettes back in 2012).

After lunch, we headed back north and ended up in Nelson, Nevada. We stopped just past Nelson and did some hiking up through an area that was pretty much a tin can graveyard. We saw some cool stuff – giant sheets of metal on the ground, something that looked like a furnace, and a lizard that was too quick for me to get a picture of. We had so much fun that I forgot that I wanted to visit the graveyard. I’ll have to save that for another day.

 

After we hiked around Nelson, we went a couple miles down the road to the Eldorado Canyon where they have all this old stuff rusting in the desert. They do mine tours and rent kayaks too. It’s private property, but they let you go out and explore if you want. You just hafta stay out of the restricted areas and you can’t take professional photographs or go in the mine without paying.

Signs in the parking lot direct you to check in to the general store before doing anything. We needed water, so that was gonna be our first stop anyway. The lady at the counter was super-awesome. She was really friendly and knowledgable and funny. She told us to watch out for rattlesnakes because they had caught 16 so far this season. She also showed us a binder of pictures of dudes who didn’t listen when she said not to touch the cacti. Yup, she had “binders of men” – XD. She said that women never seemed to come in with cactus spines stuck in them, but it seemed like the lads couldn’t help themselves. For the record, here’s the cacti she was talking about.

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Don’t touch me or the cacti.

The site had also been used for a bunch of films and stuff. There was a book of pics from movies shot there, as well as musicians who had performed there or visited there. There were even a few shots of models from ads that were shot out there.

I don’t really know how to describe what the place was like. Like if the stuff on the walls of Cracker Barrel took steroids and started a resort for other old oddities, it would be this place. It was really jarring and surreal and completely fucking awesome. Lipstick said she could envision an entire season of American Horror Story shot there, and I completely agree. We’ve vowed to return to do the mine tour.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures because I was looking at everything with my for-real eyes, but here are a few.

 

There was this one weird marker that told the story of Queho who was a murderer who had somehow escaped justice and had been found dead in a cave some 20 years after his murder spree. So of course that piqued my interest and I wikipedia’d it when I got home. Queho was apparently a mixed-race Native American who either killed, or was blamed for killing, several people in the Eldorado Canyon area, including his half-brother, between 1910 and 1919. Prospectors found his mummified body in a cave in 1940. I guess the Elk’s Club thought it would be totes cool to exhibit the body one year at Helldorado Days (WTAF Elk’s Club?!?!), but the District Attorney at the time managed to get hold of the remains and give them a proper burial. Here’s a pic of the marker that tells a little bit of the story. Which is interesting for another reason that I’ll get into in a sec.

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Satisfactory! is the best I can hope for.

If you look at the bottom, you’ll see that the marker was placed in 2006 by The Queho Posse Chapter 1919, E Clampus Vitus. Well, friends, I’ll tell you, I didn’t know what in the fuck that meant. So I turned back to my good friends wikipedia and google and found out a little more.

So E Clampus Vitus (ECV) is a historical fraternal organization dedicated to the study of the old west, particularly mining. They call themselves “Clampers.” I got all this info from wikipedia, and you can read it yourself, but here’s the short version… The order started sometime in the 1800’s and a whole bunch of notable white dudes were members. Currently, they all wear red shirts and more pins than a TGI Friday’s waitress. The group seems to be a mixture of serious historical inquiry and drunken mirth-making. It sounds very much like a white-dudes-with-beards thing. I’m not a dude, but drinking and history and fucking around are my jam, so I’m curious. These kinds of things fascinate me, but I’m planning adventures at the moment so I’ll have to come back to this. If you, dearest reader, know anything about it please post in the comments.

The Queho Posse Chapter is the ECV chapter in Las Vegas. They’ve done a shit-ton of historical markers, which you can look up on their website. I peeped their fb group, and the only name I recognized was Mark Hall-Patton, which surprised me not at all as MH-P is a mirthful, bad-assed white dude historian with a beard. Fun fact, I met MH-P through church. Another fun fact, Lipstick had Mrs. H-P as a prof at uni. Isn’t the world small and weird and just as lovely as fuck-all?

Anywhoo, I didn’t mean to make this entire blog post about ECV. I just happen to get distracted rather easily.

After we were done in Eldorado Canyon, I took Lipstick to the abandoned pet cemetery in Boulder City. I’m not going to go too much into detail about that because I’ve previously written a bunch about it here. It was just as hard to find and just as big as it was last time I was there, and we explored a section that I didn’t get a chance to see last time. Here are some pics:

 

I want my grave to read “Fatums” when I die.

If all of that isn’t creepy enough, this grave has a fucking hole in it. Katie Dog, where are you? That’s a good girl….. aahhh fuck, it’s a zombie.

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So, um, yeah, we saw that movie and we knew it was time to nope the hell out of there. Lipstick said she was glad I hadn’t taken her out to the desert to kill her and make her into delicious blood sausage. I could never do that. She’s like one of those really pretty desserts that you can’t take a fork to because you don’t want to mess it up. However, I don’t think she was reassured much by Katie Dog’s possible resurrection, so it was definitely time to go home.

We’re already making plans for a return trip to Boulder City to check out some museums, and I want to show Lipstick the abandoned airport. And of course another trip to Nelson for the graveyard and the mine tour, plus our friend Chewie was talking about an abandoned boat dock which sounds kinda cool too. And we have trips to Lake Mead and LDS Dixie coming up as well. This is gonna be the summer of historical adventure, so buckle up dear reader, it’s gonna be an amazing ride.

History really is my love language. I’m lucky for all the beautiful souls in my life who fill that bucket. ❤

The Damn Airport, the Damn Pet Cemetery, and the Damn Dam: Part 2

You can read about the damn airport here.

At the airport, we got a text from Crazypants Clems that she was coming into Boulder City, so we headed towards the Hoover Dam to meet her there. On the way, we stopped at the Memorial Bridge, or as I like to call it, the Bridge of Nope. Because there was no fucking way I was walking out on that thing. The kids did, however, and took this pic of the dam.

View from the Bridge of Nope.

 We hiked back down and Middle Little checked out a neon green Corvette and a white Ferrari in the parking lot. The white Ferrari was most definitely NOT a Porsche as I was very not-so-kindly informed by Middle Little who seriously and rightly doubts my intelligence when it comes to motor vehicles. We met the Clems family at the bridge and then headed over to the dam. After we peed in real bathrooms (not the kind that were basically holes in the ground) we went down and paid for the $30 tour. Splurge, baby. You gotta treat yourself to the finer things every once in a while. We had an hour and a half to look around before our tour group got together so we hung out in the visitors center.  I also may have played a little Pokémon Go.

The first thing we did was watch a movie. I don’t remember a whole lot about it except for some line about touching the calloused concrete skin of the dam and watching the water sparkle like jewels behind her crown. I’m pretty sure that the script was written by a romance novel writer. However, I tried the “touch my sparkling jewel with your calloused concrete skin” sexytalk with my husband when I got home and he was not. turned. on. at. all.  

What a diverse group of white people!

One of the things I noticed about the visitor’s center, and it carried throughout the tour, was that everything was presented from a really Eurocentric point of view. It was all about taming the raging wild river with American ingenuity and making the desert bloom. As if nobody was here and there was all this wasted water and then white people came and made everything better. Yay white people! The presentation reminded me of when I visited Little Bighorn in the eighties and it was all like CUSTER! CUSTER! CUSTER! oh yeah and some Indians too. Except here there were no “Indians too.”  From a public history standpoint, I found the presentation extremely troubling, particularly given the history of the struggle of Native Americans for access to water rights to the Colorado River. Struggle that is still happening today. Not to mention sacred spaces and other lands that were covered by lake water as a result of the Hoover Dam and other dams on the Colorado River. The story of American ingenuity and engineering is great and all, but why are we not also exploring what the cost is and who pays for it? 

So it was kinda fucked up.

After going through the visitor’s center, we took the tour through the dam and power plant. I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but there were a couple of things that I found interesting.

Oh look, here are the Native Americans. Appropriated in the floor designs.

The floors were fucking amazing. They were made of terrazzo marble or some shit. The marble was black and white in the power plant and pink and white inside the dam. 

Straddling the power plant and the dam.

They used a designer named Allen Tupper True to help with the interior, and he designed the Native American themed (but still very Art Deco-ey) floor inlays. You can read more about the design here. The Hoover Dam wasn’t the only thing True did. He was pretty well-known for his murals, his design on the Wyoming license plate, and his Native American inspired artwork. He made quite a bit of money selling paintings that depicted Native American life before contact with whites. No, I’m not kidding. He’s actually kind of an interesting guy, and if artwork of the American West is your thing, you can check out this website

Another thing I really loved about the dam tour was being inside the engineering hallways inside the dam. It was cool because you got to see marks in the wall left by the inspectors and how the concrete blocks that make up the dam were grouted together. As cool as the marble floors were, the cramped little tunnels felt more real.

Math is only cool when it’s graffiti.

Ventilation tunnel created by pouring concrete over a cypress wood mold.

Where two blocks come together. Brass tacks inserted to gauge alignment upon settling.

After the engineering part of the damn dam tour, we went to the top via the crowdedest little elevator imaginable. Everybody else looked around. Being afraid of heights, I mostly freaked out while everybody laughed at me. Then we went to the old visitors center and watched the presentation there which consisted of a really fucking cool papier-mâché-or-something topographical map with lights narrated by someone in “booming nineteen-sixties authoritative male” voice. It might have been my favorite part of the whole damn thing.

What is this? Why is it so awesome! Where has it been all my life? AND IT HAS LIGHTS THAT LIGHT UP!!!

 By the time the last presentation was over, our sore-assed feet were ready to walk the fuck back to our cars. So we did.  And we grabbed lunch. And laughed a lot. And talked about cat hair pie. And hugged. And made plans to meet in a couple of weeks to hike out to a concrete arrow and I’ll tell you all about that later. And I’ll tell you about the awesome freaky pet cemetery tomorrow. 

Also, I’m sorrynotsorry for all the damn/dam jokes. They’re kind of like penis jokes – when you come (heh-heh) across one, it’s really hard (ha) not to say it. Plus, they made me laugh when I was like seven and visited the dam the first time and they still make me laugh all these years later.