More Death Valley musings.

(I'd intended to do the entire trip as one or two blog postings, but I have too much on the go to commit the time needed, so it's coming in instalments. I'll get to the good stuff soon, I promise.)

So I'll tell you a little bit about Renee Robyn. I met her in 2001, very briefly. She wandered past me on Whyte Ave and I trotted down the block after her. I don't remember the entire conversation, but here's the gist:

"Photos?"
"Seventeen."
"Talk to you in a few months!"

And a few months later I did just that and yadda yadda. 

Flash forward ten years and she's hopping up and down in the parking lot at the Excalibur Casino and Hotel. After returning her rental car - which I seem to recall was time consuming and involved her telling a few rental car folks just what's what - we headed Northwest to Beatty, Nevada, where I'd booked a hotel room at the Atomic Inn, an interesting and rustic motel with a cool sign and a serious lack of reliable wi-fi.

The wi-fi was an issue, since Renee had to do a certain amount of remote work for her job-type-job, making internet access a necessity. I've discovered that if you don't plan your accommodations around reliable wi-fi, you end up spending a lot of time in Denny's and McDonalds.

Incidentally, I'm of the opinion that every major hotel and/or restaurant chain that doesn't offer free fast wi-fi should be burned to the ground.

Having said that, I'm not here to speak ill of the Atomic Inn - the room was clean and comfortable and the front staff was very pleasant. The wifi worked - fitfully, but it did work. This was to become a common occurrence over the next few days.

Two things Renee and I have in common: Paranoia over getting our gear stolen and a love of a decent burger. Long story short, after she and I made several exhausting trips back and forth from the rental car to the room to get our stuff nicely under lock and key, we headed out to find food. I believe we were both in the same frame of mind insofar as our preference went, considering it was nearly midnight: "Give us food and no one gets hurt."

Beatty's not a huge town, and it has a very tumbleweeds-and-cactus feel to it. Because of its proximity to Death Valley, it has lots of restaurants and hotels. Also, it has a huge candy store and wild donkeys that saunter through town from time to time. It's a wonderfully photogenic spot if you're interested in places that are gritty and authentic and have lots of character - I think I mentioned to Renee that if for some reason we couldn't get into the Valley, I'd be happy to spend the week shooting in Beatty. 

We found KC's Outpost Saloon and Eatery and got some of the best fresh-baked bread I'd ever had, along with salad and spaghetti and great friendly service. We left agreeing that we'd have to visit again to sample their full menu - we got there late and the salad and spaghetti was pretty much all they had. Unfortunately, scheduling didn't allow for that, but I do mean to make it back some day.

DMCPhoto February 16, 2013 1833

An exhausted Renee awaits delicious spaghetti and bread.

DMCPhoto February 16, 2013 1834

An exhausted Renee subtly conveys the possibility that she's not in the mood to be photographed.

All images under copyright.