“That’s a long ride on your bare bottom.”
-Lee Marvin to Claudia Cardinale in “The Professionals,” 1965
I’m standing in front of what is left of the set that the moviemakers built in Valley of Fire State Park in south central Nevada. This is where Marvin read that line to Cardinale, after he and his mates kidnapped her from Jack Palance.
The hacienda and mine that Burt Lancaster and Woody Strode blew to hell with dynamite stood where the parking lot now is. Woody Strode played Pompey in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1960?) – one of the few movies John Wayne made where he didn’t spank Maureen O’Hara. Lee Marvin was in that one too, as Liberty Valance. I refer to the title character on the first page of my first novel. You guys knew that, right?
There’s a trail that winds for a mile and a quarter around huge mountains of solid rock called the White Domes. Somebody, probably workers of the CCC, put in stone steps so tenderfeet like me can climb down and see this wall, so it was fairly easy to get to, as getting to things in this vast desert goes.
I know the photo is a bit fuzzy and it looks like you’re seeing me from half a mile away, but I cropped it and you should see the pic the way TVNA took it – he just HAD to get the 300 feet of rock escarpment behind me into the shot, so I look like a very small blip on a very large landscape in the original.
Then there was Mouse’s Tank, a waterhole that’s viable almost year round where a renegade Paiute called Mouse hid from the authorities in the 1800s. I tramp in the desert quite a bit with TVNA, but this was the first time I ever had to negotiate water hazards. This isn’t it, Mouse’s water hole, but the rains a month or so ago were almost unbelievable, as you can see in these photos.
These below are some petro glyphs from a few hundred or maybe a thousand years ago. I can read them, of course. It says, “The mule deer in these parts are mine. If you bag one I get a cut, so drag it along the dry wash due south of this big giant rock to where my hut is and we’ll divvy up.”