Detour To A Tutu


Toward the conclusion of my trip last autumn, nearing a highway junction for Death Valley, I spied a collection of buildings ahead, just beyond our intended right turn—a detour. I’d only driven eight miles that morning, and Ulrich and I were anticipating all we’d see in Death Valley. We didn’t get any farther than Amargosa.

A mostly-forgotten magnet for history buffs, artists, daydreamers, and tumbleweeds, it’s a place you think you’ll stop at for a few minutes, a picture or two, until you’re suddenly booking a room for the night.

The Amargosa Opera House and Hotel, and the artistry of Marta Becket, are the main attractions there. If you look closely, there are many intriguing details, such as a flower in a tutu (one of Ms. Becket’s originals).

The next day we moved on to Dante’s View (a beautiful sunrise) and then Zabriskie Point, where buses of tourists overran everything, selfie sticks in hand. Perhaps Amargosa wasn’t the detour, after all.

Marta Becket danced until she was 85 years old. On January 30, 2017, at 92, she passed away at her home in Amargosa. The link to her name features a short film on her life and art (on YouTube), California Dreamers.

The fine still images my friend Ulrich Rossmann took in Amargosa may be viewed on his online portfolio.

Still round the corner there may wait,
A new road or a secret gate.
—J. R. R. Tolkien



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