The sand is finally out of my shoes, my is gear unpacked, and I’m just starting to process a few of the images from our recent Death Valley workshop. We began our journey with a brief stop in Beatty, a small gateway community to the entrance of Death Valley National Park. We stopped in Beatty after our driver noticed a small object in one of our tires, so we thought it would be best to get it inspected. When we do these workshops I’m all about redundancies, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Death Valley, it's that it eats tires like I eat donuts: fast and messy.
We drove to the local tire store where we met up with James, the store owner. I had never met James before, but I’m a pretty good judge of character and his straight-shooting, honest demeanor, coupled with Nascar pit skills made me instantly trust that he knew what he was doing.
While James looked over our tires, we ventured out and photographed the surrounding area. A few of us walked over to the local flea market where we met John, the owner. John was a character and when I asked him if James knew his stuff, John simply replied, “James is the only tire shop within 30 miles, so not only does that make him good….that makes him the best!” We all had a good chuckle and tended to agree with John’s pointed, and accurate assessment of the situation. I picked up a knife from the table and asked John, “how much would this Buck-knife cost?” That’s where the schooling began, as I was educated on the finer details of how any ol’ knife isn’t a Buck-knife. Upon leaving John’s flea market I became yet another victim to his shrewd negotiating skills and marketing prowess as I found my wallet $30.00 lighter, but reassured my new knife would cost $65.00 anywhere else. I don’t know if it was the desert heat, or if I’m a sucker for a flea market, but my buyer’s remorse slowly faded as I found footholds in a story that I was sure to tell for some time to come.
Small towns like Beatty have a history sewn together with hard working people trying to make a living, a few characters here and there, and possibly an outlaw or two 🙂 It’s this grit that makes Beatty part of what we've come to know as the fabric of the Great American West. And lucky for me, it seemed as authentic as ever.