Originally posted on 7/11/2011 in the Desert Valley Times
David Bly, Editor
The Desert Valley Times regularly covers these monthly lectures — they offer interesting and instructive insights on a broad range of artistic subjects, and we enjoy writing about them. It wouldn’t be kosher to write a news feature about myself, but I have no hesitation writing a column about Gold Butte and sharing some of the things I talked about at the art gallery.
The first time I saw Nevada was from the air in 1973 as I was flying to California to cover the return of a Vietnam prisoner of war. I looked down at a bleak, grayish landscape and said to myself: “Who would want to live in Nevada?”
Then family moved here, and we began visiting regularly, enjoying the grandkids and respite from winter. I think it was during our second visit that we drove the Gold Butte road. We came up over a bit of a rise, and saw a magnificent view: a broad landscape hemmed in by mountains, Joshua trees and other plants adorning the desert, the intriguing formations at Whitney Pockets.
“I have to live here,” I said to myself.
Further visits only reinforced that impression, and here we are.
Gold Butte has never disappointed. It is a landscape so incredibly varied. One photo I showed last week is of a sandstone formation that is part beige, part red. One color doesn’t blend gradually into the other — the dividing line is sharp and straight, as if someone had come to paint the formation red, and stopped halfway through the job.
The intriguing rock formations would be enough, but added attractions are the array of plants and animals, the petroglyphs and other traces of the original inhabitants, the artifacts from the mining and ranching eras — there’s something for everyone, except for those who like their scenery well groomed, their adventures tame, with plenty of modern conveniences at hand.
The best way to explore Gold Butte is with someone who has been there, someone who knows the way. My favorite places were first someone else’s favorite places, and I’m grateful for the introductions.
I am still a Gold Butte neophyte. I have seen only a fraction of its 345,000 acres, nearly 600 square miles. I’m trying to remedy that, but part of the problem is I keep going back to my favorite places, seeing each on in a new light depending on the time of day, the season, or the company I keep.
These days, when a flight in or out of Las Vegas takes me over Gold Butte, I’m eagerly studying the landscape for familiar spots, as well as looking for more trails to explore.
It’s a treasure worth protecting, and the best way to do that is for people to love it and appreciate what is there.