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Published: August 10th 2012
Mojave sand dunes
Sand dunes outside Tecopa CA
This morning, I’m in the town of Tecopa
Most Californians have no idea this town exists, and most residents like it that way.
It’s one of several small towns that dot parts of the Mojave Desert.
This particular one grew up around a set of hot springs east of Death Valley.
Downtown Tecopa consists of two hotels, a large RV park, a really good organic coffee shop, a gun store, a tiny bar, and an artist run gallery selling folk art.
Most of these are contained in buildings so weather-beaten they look like they have been here since time began.
Surrounding this are seemingly endless desert mountains and the occasional sand dune.
Small desert towns in the Mojave mainly attract two types of people, desert survivalists and aging hippies.
The hot springs mean this particular town has more of the latter than usual.
For hopefully obvious reasons, Burners tend to feel right at home in places like this.
I came here to rest up before an incredibly intense couple of days ahead.
Tecopa was wonderful, until I had to do laundry.
This town is so
The entirety of the town of Shoshone, on the way to Pahrump
small it has no Laundromat.
The few equally small towns nearby also have no Laundromats.
I ultimately had to drive over two hours to the largest town in the area, Parhump
, just over the Nevada border.
The road goes over a mountain ridge into a valley, and then follows it.
For the most part, the scenery looked like a less extreme version of Death Valley next door.
It crests a rise, and a mountain ridge appears in the distance with buildings at its base, the city.
Getting closer, the scenery starts to look very peculiar.
Roads branch off from the main road into the desert.
These are dirt, ramrod straight, and have no buildings whatsoever.
The desert has other roads like these, but never so close together and close to a major town.
The occasional building appears, large houses.
These houses are sun bleached, sand blasted, and clearly abandoned.
I finally realized what is going on when I saw the billboard.
It too is old and weathered.
Parhump, like all descent sized towns in Nevada, has casinos.
That type of gambling
On the road to Pahrump NV
is incredibly small stakes compared to the other recent gambling around here, represented by that billboard.
Parhump is just over two hours from Las Vegas, which developers believed was tolerable commuting distance.
During the recent debt fueled building boom, several tried to build housing developments
Those abandoned roads and buildings are all that remain, now owned by banks that can’t unload the property at any price.
Parhump has a single Laundromat, Dirty Laundry.
It looks totally unremarkable.
When I mentioned where I went to the owner of my hotel back in Tecopa, I discovered I had a brush with pop culture fame.
I found the story so unbelievable I looked it up
and confirmed it for myself.
Dirty Laundry is owned by former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss!
After she got out of prison, she moved to Parhump to open a brothel.
This town is the closest to Las Vegas where they are legal.
Nevada would not give her the needed license due to her criminal record, and she opened the Laundromat to get income while fighting her appeal.
A decade later, she still owns it.
As noted above, Parhump
REAL Nevada gambling
All that remains of the craziest building boom in Nevada history
has a number of casinos.
The largest is called “Terrible’s Town
”, named after its founder.
This is an old school casino from the 1950s, aimed at locals and low rollers.
Nobody else would travel this far to gamble.
The outside is covered in bright lights.
Inside is mostly filled with slot machines.
People smoke everywhere in this place; even the bathroom stalls have ash trays.
I went here for dinner because I figured this old school casino would have an old school restaurant, the type with dull but descent food deliberately underpriced to keep people in the place.
It rewarded me handsomely.
served diner style food, and I got change back from a ten!
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