Art and Dessert in the Desert

It’s hard to beat finding unexpected good eats in a town with a population of just over a thousand. I’m not saying small towns are without culinary talents. Until the help of Yelp, locating the best restaurants in an unknown place was a hit-and-miss affair.

Traveling from Las Vegas to Death Valley National Park, we found our gourmet oasis at KC’s Outpost in Beatty, Nevada. An order of freshly carved turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce sandwiched between two slices of homemade bread was just the nourishment needed a few hours into our road trip. We capped off our meal with a piece of red velvet cake covered in moist crumbs and accented with a thin layer of chocolate for added oomph to its subtle cocoa flavor.

Stuffed but unwilling to leave it behind, I packed what remained in a to-go carton.

The art scene in the ghost town of Rhyolite was our next sweet reward on the road to Death Valley. Established in 1984, the Goldwell Open Air Museum is the first roadside attraction upon entering town. The museum states a mission of preserving and encouraging “artistic exploration in, and of, the Amargosa Desert - an evocative landscape along the eastern edge of Death Valley National Park.” 

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The mountains serve as a dramatic backdrop to eerie white ghost-like figures forming an outline of The Last Supper. Belgian sculptor Albert Szukalski created this first art installment of the museum and other Belgian artists followed.

A mosaic couch by artist Sofie Siegmann glitters and beckons the weary traveler to rest and ponder awhile.

Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada towers over the desertscape. Hugo Heyrman used cinderblocks to create this piece representing the highly pixilated world of the 21st century.

After perusing the art, we checked out what remained of this mining boom-and-bust town. Placards show what the ruins looked like in their heyday.

Demonstrating its early artistic roots, one town jewel is Tom Kelly’s Bottle House built out of empty beer and liquor bottles by the saloon owner in 1906.

Shortly after departing Rhyolite, the road ahead marks a first and lasting impression of Death Valley National Park. Straight as an arrow, the open road leading to the east entrance of this 3.3 million acre park unrolls like a red carpet to nature’s star attractions.

Furnace Creek Inn was one manmade star along the journey. It has the same classic feel of many of the historic lodges in the national park system, but the unique Spanish architectural style surrounded by palm trees stands in stark contrast to the rest of the arid terrain.

What looks like a mirage from afar is no dream. It’s the beautiful reality that became our home for two nights.

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