Valley of Fire State Park-Las Vegas March 2016

The Valley of Fire State Park was such an amazing, beautiful place! It was one of those places where the scenery and landscape just kept changing and dazzling me at every turn and bend in the road.

Valley of Fire is located in the Mojave Desert about 58 miles Northeast of Las Vegas. Valley of Fire is the oldest Nevada state park and was dedicated in 1935 and covers about 35,000 acres. Named for its magnificent red sandstone formations that were formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago. These formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. A 10.5-mile road connects the east and west entrances to the park.

Rainbow Vista is a viewpoint where the road reaches the top of a low ridge revealing a vast area of multicolored rocks stretching for miles. Rainbow Vista was also carved from sand deposits 150 million years ago.

Seven Sisters are a series of stone formations that were once part of nearby red rock formations. These rock towers are all that is left after the relentless forces of erosion stripped away the surrounding sandstone deposits. Numerous “blow holes” in the formations forecast the eventual destruction of the towers that will take place many thousands of years into the future.

A few other miscellaneous photos

Death Valley, CA-March 2016

Death Valley was an amazing place to visit. So much more beautiful than I ever thought. My friend, Becky, and I left Las Vegas early and drove two and a half hours on Hwy 95 to Beatty, which is the east entrance to Death Valley. Our first stop was the Rhyolite Ghost Town which was an interesting place. I did not know anything about this place when we arrived and there really is no information around at the site that tells you anything, so it wasn’t until later that I did some research on Google and found out more about Rhyolite that I will share with you. Two men, Shorty Harris and Ed Cross were prospecting in the area in 1904 when they found quartz all over a hill that was full of gold. In a very short time, thousands of people soon arrived and several camps were set up. A townsite was laid out and given the name Rhyolite for the silica-rich volcanic rock in the area. There were 2000 claims that covered an area of 30 miles. The most promising claim was the Montgomery Shoshone mine, which prompted everyone to move to Rhyolite. The town soon was booming with hotels, stores, a school, an ice plant, an electric plant, machine shops, and a miner’s union hospital. The stock exchange and Board of Trade were even formed. The townspeople had baseball games, dances, church picnics, variety shows and pool tournaments at the opera house.  In 1906, Countess Morajeski opened the Alaska Glacier Ice Cream Parlor and a miner named Tom Kelly built a Bottle House out of 50,000 beer and liquor bottles. In April 1907, electricity came to Rhyolite, and by August, a mill had been constructed to handle 300 tons of ore a day at the mine. It consisted of a crusher, 3 giant rollers, over a dozen cyanide tanks and a reduction furnace. The Montgomery-Shoshone mine had become nationally known because Bob Montgomery once boasted he could take $10,000 a day in ore from the mine. It was later owned by Charles Schwab, who purchased it in 1906 for a reported 2 to 6 million dollars. The financial panic of 1907 took its toll on Rhyolite and was seen as the beginning of the end for the town. In the next few years, mines started closing and banks failed. Newspapers went out of business, and by 1910 the production at the mill had slowed and there were only 611 residents left in the town. On March 14, 1911, the directors voted to close down the Montgomery Shoshone mine and mill and in 1916 the light and power were finally turned off. Today you can find several remnants of Rhyolite still standing……Mercantile Store, School, 3 story Cook Bank, and Overbury Building. The Las Vegas & Tonopah Train Depot is one of the few complete buildings left in the town, as is the Bottle House. After the town was completely abandoned the Bottle House was restored by Paramount pictures in January 1925 for a film. The bottle house is the oldest and largest bottle house in the United States. Rhyolite is not within the boundaries of Death Valley National Park.

Goldwell Open Air Museum

An outdoor sculpture park at the entrance of the ghost town Rhyolite.

The Museum began in 1984 with the creation and installation of a major sculpture by Belgian artist Albert Szukalski titled “The Last Supper”– a ghostly interpretation of Christ and his disciples set against the backdrop of the  Amargosa Valley.

To make the life-size ghost figures, Szukalski wrapped live models in fabric soaked wet plaster and posed them as in the painting “The Last Supper” by Leonardo Da Vinci. When the plaster set, the model was slipped out, leaving the rigid shroud that surrounded him. With more refining, Szukalski then coated the figures with fiberglass making them impervious to weather.

Since then six additional pieces were added to the site by three other Belgian artists who, like Szukalski, were major figures in European art who chose to create in the Nevada desert near Death Valley in the early 1990s.DSC09634DSC09619DSC09642DSC09644DSC09636

Shortly after leaving Rhyolite Ghost Town we entered Death Valley, National Park. Death Valley is the lowest, driest and hottest area in North America. It covers more than 3.3 million acres of beautiful desert scenery, desert wildlife, undisturbed wilderness and sites of historical interest. Nearly 550 square miles lies below sea level. Death Valley was named by gold seekers, some of whom died crossing the valley during the 1849 California Gold Rush.

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At Furnace Creek, there is a visitor center and headquarters of Death Valley National Park. Furnace Creek was once the center of Death Valley Mining and operations for the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the historic 20 mule teams hauling wagons of Borax across the Mojave Desert. There are a few remnants and ruins of the Harmony Borax Company as well as the 20 mule wagons. After the discovery of Borax deposits in 1881 business associates, William Coleman and Francis Smith obtained claims to the deposits which opened the way for the large-scale borax mining in Death Valley. The Harmony Borax Company became famous from 1883 to 1889 for the use of the 20 mule team-double wagons which hauled Borax along the Overland route to the closest railroad in Mojave, CA. During the summer, when it was too hot to crystallize borax in Death Valley, a smaller borax operation shifted to the Amargosa Borax plant which is near present-day Tecopa, CA. The Harmony Borax Company remained under Coleman’s operation until 1888 when his business collapsed. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 31, 1974.

Salt Creek Pup Fish

As Becky and I drove along the main road of Death Valley we saw a sign that said “Salt Creek” and we could see off in the distance other cars so we decided to get off the main road down this white, dusty road to see what Salt Creek was all about. Little did we know that it was home to the “Pup Fish”.  There is a one-mile boardwalk that loops along the creek through low thickets of pickleweed and saltgrass. The creek is a very shallow, slow running salinated creek. Looking at it you would wonder how anything could survive in it, but the Pup Fish are so very tiny and there are thousands of them and boy are they tough little fish who seem to survive in some pretty harsh conditions.

The Pup Fish cannot escape from this creek that fluctuations in temperature year-round. The Pup Fish are among the most heat-tolerant of all fishes. They have been known to survive water temperatures at 112 degrees. The Pup Fish is so adapted to the warm water that they must burrow into the mud and become dormant when the shallow stream becomes cold in the winter. They also survive the high levels of salt in the creek. Pup Fish can survive in water 2-3 times saltier than seawater. Salt Creek evaporates in the summer and the dissolved salts become even more concentrated. Fish living in freshwater can absorb water through their body by osmosis, but the Pup Fish must drink to get their necessary water. Excess salts are then excreted through their kidneys and gills.

 

Las Vegas-March 19-26, 2016

Viva Las Vegas!……..Wow! what a great week and a half I had here. So much fun!

I arrived in Las Vegas and hooked up for a late afternoon lunch with a childhood friend from my hometown of Truckee CA….I had not seen Vickie since she moved away during our Freshman year of high school. It was so great to see her and get caught up on each other’s lives and our families.20160318_184317-1

I then went to Sam’s Town KOA where I had reservations for my RV. This place was the best camping rate I have had on my whole trip so far. I basically ended up storing my RV here for a week since I was meeting up with my friend Becky from back home in Washington who has a timeshare at the Polo Towers just one block off the strip. It made more sense to stay there for the week where we had two bedrooms, my own bathroom, and a small kitchenette, a living room, kitchen and dining room, a swimming pool and a hot tub.

I arrived in Las Vegas first, Becky was flying in later that night. I found my way to the Las Vegas strip via a shuttle bus from Sam’s Town to Harrahs. I only had a few hours before it was going to get dark so I did not wander too far and I just wanted to get on the strip and just take it all in. It was just amazing with all the people, the grandiose size of the casinos and all the different shapes, sizes, colors, and sounds. I loved it! I made my way down to Treasure Island and tried my luck at gambling………No luck……. lost $40.00!

My friend Becky arrived later that evening, she picked me up in her rental car from Sam’s Town KOA and made our way to Polo Towers. We had so much catching up to do plus make our plans for the week that we were up till 4 A.M.

Here are random pictures of the Las Vegas strip during the week:

Here are other weeks activities:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon is located about 17 miles west of Las Vegas. A very easy, nice drive to get to. We took the 13-mile one-way scenic drive loop which was just beautiful. The best time to get there is in the morning before it gets too crowded. The area has miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, bike riding, and picnic areas.

Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Spring Mountain Ranch is a small preserve within the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I did not know anything about this place, but my friend, Becky wanted to check it out and I am glad we did. It has a really interesting history. The many springs in the mountains provided water for the Paiute Indians and later brought mountain men and early settlers to the area. In the mid-1830s, a campsite was established along the wash that runs through the ranch. The spring-fed creek and grassy meadows formed an oasis for travelers using the alternate route of the Spanish Trail through Cottonwood Valley. The use of the site by pack and wagon trains continued until their replacement by the railroad in 1905. This remote trail was also used extensively by outlaws involved in Indian slave trading, horse stealing and raids upon passing caravans. In 1840, a group of American mountain men and Ute Indians conducted a famous raid on the Mexican Ranchos in California. Mountain Man Bill Williams, a member of the raiding party, brought his band of horses through Red Rock Canyon where he rested the horses from the hard trip across the desert. Apparently, he revisited the area several times and for many years the site of Spring Mountain Ranch was known as the “Old Bill Williams Ranch”. In 1876, Spring Mountain Ranch was homesteaded as the “Sand Stone Ranch” by Jim Wilson, a former Army sergeant from Fort Mohave. In 1929, Willard George, a friend of the Wilson family, acquired the ranch by paying off the outstanding debt incurred by Jim Jr. and Tweed. George was largely an absentee owner, leaving the ranch operation to the Wilson’s. During 1941-43, the George family lived on the ranch. George was a prominent furrier in Hollywood, and during this time, he raised chinchillas in addition to the cattle operation.

In 1944, George leased (with the option to buy) to Chet Lauck, (Lum of the “Lum and Abner” radio show). Lauck exercised his option to buy the 520-acre oasis in 1948 and renamed the property the “Bar Nothing Ranch”. He kept the cattle operation going but built part of the ranch into a family vacation retreat with an expanded ranch house, a boy’s camp and a large reservoir that he named “Lake Harriet,” after his wife. He sold the property in 1955 to Vera Krupp, a famous German movie actress. She renamed the property the “Spring Mountain Ranch”. Krupp was the longest residing owner. She expanded the business of ranching by raising a large herd of a hybrid strain of white-faced Hereford and Brahma. She added a swimming pool and expanded the west wing of the main house. It was her principal residence until 1967. Sometime after that, Howard Hughes owned the place for a while. Three generations of Wilson men are buried in a small family plot on the ranch.

Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve is the birthplace of Las Vegas and is located about 3 miles west of downtown Las Vegas. Springs Preserve is 180 acres of culture and history that sits on the site of the former springs. There are exhibits, galleries, walking trails and botanical gardens that teach visitors about the city’s rich heritage.

The Origen Experience teaches visitors about the spring’s early inhabitants. The Natural Mojave Gallery has interactive exhibits that explore the geological history of the Mojave Desert and the formation of the valley and springs. Visitors can play with fossils, see how desert animals adapted and learn about erosion. There is also a flash flood re-creation to show the danger of flooding in the area. Visitors are also able to see a variety of live wildlife that live in the desert…..the Gila Monster, Lizards, Bats, Snakes, Desert Cottontail Rabbits, Tortoises, and a Gray Fox.

The People Gallery focuses on the city’s cultural history and development. Visitors can see reconstructions of Native American dwellings, walk through a 1905 Las Vegas land auction and view actual footage from the construction of the Hoover Dam, and the arrival of the railroad which put Las Vegas on the map.

The Nevada State Museum is a 70,000 square foot state of the art building that is within the Springs Preserve. The permanent exhibition takes you through Nevada’s geology, fossil, and desert wildlife. Visitors learn about mining to early settlers—minerals that were mined, tools and technology of the mining profession. The railroad boom, the formation of Nevada’s government and construction of the Hoover Dam. The museum takes you through the Native American inhabitants of Nevada, the Nevada nuclear test-site, WWII history, Bugsy Siegel and the Flamingo Hotel. Displays of old slot machines, neon signs and a $25,000 poker chip from the Old Dunes Hotel. A 1911 Desert Love Bug that is considered one of the most popular cars to cruise Fremont Street….used mainly for promotional purposes made its first appearance in a parade in 1939 and its last in 1994. The museum has an amazing collection of vintage showgirl costumes…..lining a large pink sequined wall, the costumes and headpieces are encased behind glass windows. The Museum also has revolving temporary exhibits that change every few months.

Hoover Dam

The last time I made the trip to Hoover Dam I was 14 years old. My uncle and cousins at the time lived in Boulder City and we had made a trip to see them. At that time we were able to drive across the dam, we took the tour and also spent time on Lake Mead. I wanted to return and see Hoover Dam again but due to the changes in the new freeway, security and congestion I chose not to drive on the dam or take the dam tour. Becky and I found in our research a museum in Boulder City that was only $2.00. This museum is small but so worth the $2.00. It was full of great information….. a movie about the building of the dam that was great, the displays and exhibits were well laid out to describe the social and economic struggles from the 1929 stock mark crash and depression that drove thousands of unemployed citizens from their homes into the Nevada desert where the Hoover Dam project was one of the few places where men could get work. Photographs, artifacts, and oral histories tell the story and give you a sense of the complexity, and danger of the construction of the dam. The museum also had displays and exhibits that showed how they lived ordinary lives in an extraordinary time and place, how the women set up their households in the sandy Nevada desert along the Colorado River and the dangers that the men faced in building the dam….an engineering project unlike any attempted before.

The museum is located in the Boulder Dam Hotel……The hotel was built to accommodate official visitors and tourists during the building of the Hoover Dam. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style. The hotel was restored and still operates with 22 rooms.

Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge

A new freeway opened across the Colorado River above Hoover Dam in October 2010 which rerouted US 93 from its previous route along the top of the Hoover Dam. The previous narrow, two-lane road could no longer handle the 14,000 cars that passed over the dam every day causing congestion. The road was dangerous with two hairpin turns, blind curves, and pedestrian traffic. There were also vehicle restrictions on the Hoover Dam, loaded trucks and buses could not pass over it. Since 9/11 trucks and other unauthorized vehicles have had to go through Laughlin, NV to cross over the Colorado River and other vehicles were subject to inspection due to increased security.

Since the building of the Hoover Dam was an engineering feat that had never been done before it seems fitting that the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge was also a new engineering feat. Construction of the bridge approaches began in 2003, construction of the bridge began February 2005. The bridge was the first concrete-steel composite arch bridge built in the United States and it incorporates the widest concrete arch in the Western Hemisphere. It sits 840 feet above the Colorado River and is the second-highest bridge in the United States. The new bridge is 4 lanes wide and has a pedestrian sidewalk which provides spectacular views of the Hoover Dam. To reach the pedestrian sidewalk there is a parking lot and interpretive plaza on the old road to Hoover Dam. The bridge was named for Mike O’Callaghan a decorated Korean War Vet and Governor of Nevada from 1971-1979, and Pat Tillman, an American football player who left his career with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the US Army and was later killed in Afghanistan by friendly fire.

Fremont Experience-Old Downtown Las Vegas

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You can’t leave Las Vegas without visiting Fremont Street! What a fun place this was from people watching, free entertainment and street acts! A fun atmosphere!

Here are a few highlights from Fremont Street:

Light Show – The Viva Vision canopy is the world’s largest video screen, an awesome musical, light entertainment experience with a 550-watt speaker system!

Zipline-We did not go on the zip line but it sure looked like everyone who was doing it was having a lot of fun. The zip line runs the whole length of the canopy above everyone’s head. There is the lower “Zipline” which is 77 feet and the upper” Zoom line” which is 114 feet.

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Vegas Vic stands to watch over the Pioneer Gift Shop

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“Glitter Gulch” – A nickname given to downtown Las Vegas because of all its dazzling lights.

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Golden Nugget Casino – is the home to the world’s largest nugget and the “Tank” which is home to sharks and other fish with a water slide running through it.

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Heart Attack Grill – We saw this place but did not go in. It apparently is a one of a kind restaurant, there is a scale outside and anyone who weighs over 300 pounds eats free.

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Binions  Casino opened in 1951 and was the first casino in Las Vegas to have carpeting.

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4 Queens Casino has been around since 1966

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Fremont Hotel and Casino opened in 1956 and was the tallest building in Nevada when it opened.

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Free entertainment and Street Acts

Before leaving Las Vegas I got to see another old friend from high school and my hometown of Truckee, CA. It happened that Joann and her husband, Scott were having a small family reunion with Scott’s family in Las Vegas and were in town the same time I was. We were able to hook up on a Friday night at the place they were staying at to catch up and had awesome BBQ elk. It was another great time seeing an old friend I had not seen since high school…. 42 years!DSC00065

 

 


   

Grand Canyon-South Rim March 2016

After seeing Kingman and still having a few days left before I needed to be in Las Vegas I decided to go to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon…….A three-hour drive away! I decided I had to take Route 66 which was 130 miles to Williams, AZ (The gateway to the Grand Canyon). From Williams to the Grand Canyon was another 50 miles. I had come this far and learned so much about the famous Route 66 I just had to experience it. Not that two hours is that long but as I was driving across this vast desert land with not much but several little small towns I could just picture how hard and difficult it must have been to travel that highway back in the 1930s when times were so hard, cars were not made to drive the speeds that we can now nor were they very durable to travel such a long way on what was then mostly dirt, muddy roads. Cars would break down, over-heat, tires would wear out or get a flat. People were poor back and did not have the means to easily replace or fix their vehicles. But here I am in the year 2016 traveling on a fairly well-paved highway in a 34 ft motorhome with all the luxuries of home and the power to travel at speeds of 60-65 miles per hour. It makes one stop and think how lucky we are to live in a time where things are so much easier.

So the last time I was at the Grand Canyon I was 14 years old…….42 years ago! What I remember most from that time was how grand and beautiful it was and that we also went to the North Rim where we were able to ride mules partway into the canyon which was really awesome.  I was very excited to be returning to the Grand Canyon after all these years to see the beauty of it all again. Obviously, after 42 years the South Rim Village, visitor center, and so many things had changed, grown and offers many more amenities. Once I entered the Grand Canyon National Park my first choice before even reaching the Visitor Center was the option to take the Desert View Drive to my right which is 22-miles to the Desert View Watchtower. As I took the turn to the right and drove a short distance I came to my first vista viewpoint and there it was…………..The Grand Canyon! Just as the name implies it is so grand, so beautiful, so huge and massive it looks like an artist had a blank canvas and just starting painting the most beautiful picture. I felt like I could just reach out my hand and touch it. The Grand Canyon is a unique combination of geologic colors and forms caused by erosion. The canyon is 277 river miles, up to 18 miles wide, over a mile deep, and attracts about 5 million visitors each year.

The park has a shuttle bus service…….The blue line, the red line, and the orange line. The orange line travels 8 miles from the Visitor center to Yaki Point (personal vehicles can not travel on Yaki Point Road)…..you can only get to that view point if you are on the shuttle bus, so if you want to go the rest of the route to the Desert View Watchtower you need your own personal vehicle, which is what I did. Traffic along this route was not bad and I was able to easily get in and out of most of the vista viewpoints with my RV.

By the time I arrived at the Grand Canyon at midday and did the 22-mile drive to the Watchtower it was getting close to evening time and I still needed to find a place to camp for the night. I checked with the only two RV parks within the Grand Canyon National Park and of course, they were all full, so I left the park and went to the town of Tusayan which is only about 5 miles outside the park where I was able to stay at the RV park there for a reasonable price and had plenty of spaces available.

The next morning I drove my RV to the Visitor Center where I parked for the day and caught the Blue Shuttle line to the Red Shuttle bus. The Red shuttle bus line then takes you along the Rim to Hermits Rest for 8 miles. The only access to this route is the shuttle bus as it is closed to private vehicles from March 1st to November 30th. I thought the shuttle bus would be an easy way to see this route of the Grand Canyon, no driving and having to deal with the RV. Well, it wasn’t long into this venture when I found what a pain it was. Now mind you this was March and I found this mode of traveling to be very crowded and busy due to schools being on Spring Break. There were 8 vista viewpoints along this route that you could get off at and explore, take pictures, etc. Well after about the third stop I decided to stay on the bus and ride it all the way to the end to Hermits rest because I was getting a bit annoyed with the crowded bus that the drivers would shove as many people onto as they could which always included people standing in the isles holding onto the poles and bus railings. In addition, there were times that there were so many people waiting to get on the shuttle bus once it arrived at the vista view that I would have to wait for another bus. Now the buses came about every 10 minutes so it wasn’t a long wait, but it just started getting annoying to me and by then I decided that after seeing the 22 miles of Grand Canyon on the route from the day before and the few stops I made on this route I had seen enough of the Grand Canyon because the 8 miles on this route was beginning to take the whole day. Once I got to Hermits Rest I got some lunch from the little lunch shack they had there and took in one last big view of the Grand Canyon while I ate my lunch before heading back on the Red Shuttle, then the Blue Shuttle to my RV.

 

At the Visitor Center – Mather Point, I watched a film on the Grand Canyon which was really interesting and well done. Visitors were also able to take a short walk to a section of the canyon here, which was again absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. There was never a bad view of the Canyon at any of my stops. It was all so amazing.

Hermits Rest and the Desert View Watchtower were both designed by the famous architect, Mary Colter who was an employee of the Fred Harvey Company who also created and designed other buildings in the Grand Canyon.

The Desert View Watchtower was built in 1932 and stands 70 ft tall. The tower was designed to resemble an ancient pueblo peoples watchtower. The structure is composed of a circular coursed masonry tower rising from the rubble base. The base is arranged within a large circle with the tower to the north. Tiny windows are placed around the tower. The main entrance floor is the Kiva Room with a roof made of logs that were salvaged from the old Grandview Hotel. On the main floor, there are three large windows with “reflector scopes” – a black mirror that reflects the view of the canyon in a more abstract way, providing an alternative view of the canyon. Between two of the large windows is a fireplace. The tower has a second and third floor which is accessible by a small, narrow stairway. At the top of the second floor is a door to the left which leads out to the balcony where you get a great birds-eye view of the canyon, or you can keep going a few more steps to the second floor enclosed observation level. The tower is decorated by bold murals with petroglyph-style decorations that rise up through the tower to the third floor. To access the third floor there is another set of narrow stairs that goes from the second floor to the third floor.

Hermit’s Rest was built in 1914 to look like an old miner’s cabin with a giant fireplace and front porch. The location was named for Louis Boucher-around 1891, Boucher, a Canadian-born prospector staked claims below present-day Hermits Rest. With help, Boucher carved a trail into the canyon and for years lived alone at nearby Dripping Springs. Hermits Rest was built as a rest area for tourists on coaches operated by the Fred Harvey Company on the way to the now-vanished Hermit Camp.

 

 

 

 

Kingman, AZ-March 2016

I left Blythe, CA on March 14, 2016, and headed for Kingman, AZ.  It was such a great week spending time with my old high school friends Konny, and Carl.

I pulled into Kingman just before dark and settled in for the night at Cracker Barrel, they are another company that lets RVers stay overnight in their parking lots.

Kingman is in the “heart” of the longest (remaining) stretch of the 2,400 mile-long US Route 66. I started my day in downtown Historic Kingman where there is so much history and so many original buildings are still standing and in use. My first stop was at the Powerhouse which today houses the Kingman Chamber of Commerce, The Route 66 Museum, Route 66 Gift Shop, and the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum.

In 29 short years, the Kingman Powerhouse was a primary influence in bringing the town of Kingman and Mohave County into the 20th century with its power. Kingman was flourishing as a mining town with faster and more efficient methods of ore extraction. In 1906 a man named, Mr. Monteverde had a plan to bring power and water to Kingman, he felt Kingman was an appropriate site and that the surrounding mining camps were literally a “goldmine” of customers.

Groundbreaking for the new power plant started June 10, 1907, and on July 31, 1909, the first power generation was documented. By mid-August lines were being strung throughout Kingman and by October 1909, almost all Kingman businesses were electrically lighted and many of the residences soon followed. Through the next several years the plant grew and more engines and horsepower were added. In 1927, the plant was sold and managed by the Public Utilities Consolidated Corporation of Arizona. In 1935, the Citizens Utilities Company of Delaware purchased the plant and added the final 500 horsepower turbo-generator. The plant was put on standby in 1938 to serve as a backup to power received from the newly completed Boulder (Hoover) Dam. For many years, the powerhouse sat idle while neglect took its toll on the plant. After a structural report in 1987, the city of Kingman and a citizens group called the “Powerhouse Gang” received a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office for historic building analysis. Between 1990 to 1995 after more grants and fundraising projects the Powerhouse was totally renovated and re-opened in 1997.

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Operated by the Mohave Pioneers Historical Society, the Arizona Route 66 Museum opened in May 2001  in Kingman’s Historic Powerhouse. In the museum, you can view displays from photos to life-sized dioramas depicting travel and travelers along this road which was so important in its day. You can follow the early trade routes and the Beale Wagon Road which enabled pioneers to cross the land. An old Chevrolet truck and Grapes of Wrath helps one understand the tough times along Route 66 during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Storefronts, murals, and a 1950 Studebaker Champion car reflect the good times of the post-war era.

In 2014, the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum, the first of its kind anywhere, opened its doors and is accessible only through the Arizona Route 66 Museum. The 3,600 square foot Museum includes vehicles on loan from the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose is to preserve the history and examples of electric vehicles from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century for all to enjoy.

Bonelli House

I toured the Historic Bonelli House which was very interesting. I really enjoy learning about early settlers and families in the early 1800 and 1900s who established themselves in their communities and invested their time and money to build up many of the towns and cities that we are able to live and visit in this country. The Bonelli’s were a wealthy, well-established family in Kingman. As you tour their home you learn much about the family as well as their home. Mrs. Bonelli played the piano for the Methodist Church across the street, the family operated a few stores in town as well. Their home was built with safety in mind because, in 1915, their home of nearly 20 years burned to the ground. The home was insured and George Bonelli quickly began to make plans to rebuild the home on the same site. They later found that faulty wiring in the house caught fire and since the home was built of wood it burned quickly. The family was fortunate to have escaped unharmed. Their new home and the one that still stands today was constructed of Tufa (Limestone). Every room has an exit door. The second-floor rooms all exit to the veranda and have ladders in the closets so that the children could escape if needed. By the end of 1915, the family moved into their new home. A Bonelli member occupied the house through the 1970s. It was eventually sold to the City of Kingman and placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1975, with the house opening to tours in 1978.

The Little Red Schoolhouse was built in 1896 and replaced Kingman’s first schoolhouse. The red brick structure was built in the late Victorian Style and is the only pre-1900 public building. It is currently used as the City Court.

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The Hotel Brunswick opened its doors in 1909. It was Kingman’s first three-story building constructed of local Tufa stone. It is currently under renovation, with plans to open a restaurant, hotel, ice cream parlor, and bakery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Havasu City, AZ

On Friday, March 11, 2016, my friend, Konny and I took a drive from Blythe, CA to Lake Havasu City, AZ.  We drove to Parker AZ  and followed the beautiful Colorado River up and over the Parker Dam, then on into Lake Havasu City.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Havasu_City,_Arizona

 Colorado River

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Parker Dam

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/ReclamationDamsIrrigationProjectsAndPowerplants/Parker_Dam.html

Wild Burros

When you drive into Lake Havasu City it really is not all that appealing, it’s a town sitting in the middle of a desert with palm trees and surrounding mountains.

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But when you get down near and on the water then you realize what the beauty of the place is and the vibe that generates from all the boat activity and the awesome splendor of the London Bridge.

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DSC09034Lake Havasu attracts the college crowd for “Spring Break”. Konny and I were standing on the bluff here near one of the lighthouses and taking in the beautiful view of Lake Havasu when the young men in the boat you see in the above picture were waving at us. We in return also waved. They then were yelling from the boat as it approached closer to the beach a bit beyond us if we wanted to come and get on their boat. Konny and I realized that these boys surely were drinking decided that it was time that we be going on our way, so we hopped back in the car and went on our way. It was comical and Konny and I had a good laugh about it LOL.

The entrance gate to the English Village was part of Witley Court in Worcester, England. Witley Court had been remodeled for the Earl of Dudley in the 19th century. There came a time when there were money problems and the house was sold in 1920. Then in 1937 after a fire Witley court changed hands several times and was purchased by a salvage dealer in 1954. Everything of value was sold. Mr. McCulloch bought one of the gates and shipped it to Lake Havasu City.

City of London statue Lake Havasu City

The marker here reads: “The boundary of the City of London, established in Roman times, is marked by a heraldic dragon at each entry by freeway. This dragon marks the boundary of the City of London Land in Lake Havasu City.”

It is very mind-boggling when you are standing there admiring the London Bridge and realizing that this bridge was completed in 1831 and was taken apart piece by piece, moved all the way by boat and truck from London to Lake Havasu City and put back together.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Bridge_(Lake_Havasu_City)

How London Bridge came to Lake Havasu City began over 5,400 miles away in London, England. This bridge spanned the Thames River in London, England between 1831 and 1968.  The nursery rhyme song  “London Bridge is falling down” that was referred to in that song was built between 1176 and 1209 to replace an earlier timber bridge.

The new bridge survived more than 600 years. By the end of the eighteenth century, it too needed to be replaced and another bridge was completed in 1831. As time passed, that bridge began sinking at the rate of an inch every eight years. In 1967, the City of London placed the bridge on the market.

The winning bid went to Lake Havasu City founder Robert P. McColluch for $2,460,000. Each block on the bridge was numbered, the bridge disassembled, shipped overseas through the Panama Canal to California, trucked to Arizona, and reconstructed for a total relocation and assembly cost of $5.1 million. The bridge was built over dry land on a peninsula. When the building was complete, a mile-long channel was dredged, turning the west end of the peninsula into an island. Today, London Bridge is a tourist attraction. An “English village” has been built along the river underneath the bridge with walkways, shops, and restaurants, boats, and ski-doo rentals.

The inside of the bridge is hollow. When it was rebuilt, it needed to be able to accommodate auto traffic. During the London Bridge’s reassembly, a steel framework was faced in granite, rather than using solid granite blocks, which reduced its weight from 130,000 tons to 30,000 tons, while strengthening the structure. In London, engineers and construction workers disassembled the bridge and marked each granite stone with a four-digit code: one number for the arch, one for the row and the last two for the position in the row. There were no two stones connected when they got here. They were all separate.

The project engineer had acquired the original plans for the bridge, drawn by 19th-century engineer John Rennie Sr., and the workers used those plans, along with photographs taken as the bridge was pulled down in London, to attach the blocks to the concrete frame, much like putting tile on a wall. A crane moved along the span to lift the blocks. Sand from the channel acted as molds for the archways.

The bridge is 952 feet just shy of its length back in London, where there were longer approaches to the river.

The lamps on the bridge are melted down cannons of Napoleon Bonaparte army.

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On Oct. 10, 1971, the lord mayor of London traveled to Arizona and helped dedicate London Bridge on the shores of Lake Havasu.

Lake Havasu City Lighthouse Replicas

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Lake Havasu is home to more lighthouses than any other city in the world. Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club built and maintains the 24 one-third scale lighthouse replicas. Lighthouses from the East Coastline the east side of the lake; lighthouses from the West Coast are on the west side of the lake and the Great Lakes lighthouses are around the island in Lake Havasu. All the lighthouses function as actual navigational aids and were built to the specifications of famous lighthouses.

This collection of lighthouses was originally started for safety purposes. The Lake Havasu Lighthouse Club wanted to make the lake a safe place for night boating and fishing. But instead of just settling on simple and mundane lighthouses that could be cheaply produced, they took pride in their development and chose to pay homage to the famous lighthouses in the U.S. by making smaller replica lighthouses.

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Split Rock-Lake Superior, Two Harbors MN

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East Quoddy-New Brunswick Canada

Across Lake Havasu is the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe Casino. Konny and I were wanting to take a boat ride and so we decided to take the $2.00 ferry crossing ride to the casino.

We caught the ferry here

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My good friend KonnyDSC09053

We only spent an hour at the Casino since the ferry ran every hour. Here are just a few pictures of the sun going down on our return trip back to Lake Havasu City.

 

 

 

 

 

Quartzsite, AZ

The last of my weekend travels with Colleen ended in Quartzsite, AZ where Colleen’s hubby met us to pick her up. But before heading on their way we found a few oddball attractions to visit there. Quartzsite is a small town with not much to do. It is a flat desert, some roadside businesses, and tumbleweeds with a population of about 3,500. In the winter, Quartzsite comes alive with thousands of campers and RVer’s that camp out on the desert in primitive desert conditions. The attraction to Quartzsite is the warm winter weather, inexpensive camping and the biggest gem & mineral/swap meet show in January and February every year which attracts well over a million visitors.

On the internet, there is a website called “America Roadside Attractions” and so the few stops we made in Quartzsite were recommendations from that site. One of our stops was to the “Hi Jolly” monument at the cemetery. Hi Jolly was born Philip Tedro, a Greek-born in Syria. He came as a camel driver to America with a batch of camels that the US government was trying out in LT Edward F Beales expedition called the Camel Corp to survey for a wagon road across AZ in 1857. When the civil war broke out the US Camel Corp ended and various circumstances happened with the camels……some were captured and others were auctioned off. Hi Jolly remained in the desert and became a prospector scout and a courier. Hi Jolly died in 1902 in what is now Quartzsite and in 1934 the AZ department of transportation erected a monument over his grave. His grave became the beginning of the pioneer cemetery and is dedicated to Hi Jolly for his service to the U.S. government.

The U.S. Army’s “Camel Corps” Experiment

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20160307_124013Then we had this roadside attraction……A camel made from wheel rims and painted red.

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And at Hassler RV Park, we were able to see all these art features made from horseshoes and other various metals of scrap iron.

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Dolly Steamboat Tour-Canyon Lake Superstitious Mountains

On Sunday, March 6, 2016, Colleen and I booked a tour of Canyon Lake. We made quite the entrance when we got ourselves delayed from other sightseeing and lunch earlier in the day and then got behind sloooooooooooow traffic from Apache Junction to Canyon Lake. When we purchased the online tickets for a 4:00 boat tour, it said to be there 30 minutes early. Well, we were in Apache Junction at 3:30 PM and it’s a 15 mile, curvy drive. I said to Colleen if we make it, it’s going to be by the skin of our teeth. Well, sure enough, we pull into the parking lot, I am dropped off right at the boat loading dock while Colleen goes to park the car. The assistant captain is just starting to walk down the ramp to the boat when he sees me and says “Are you trying to catch this boat?” I said, “I am so sorry we are late, but yes we are.” I was feeling so bad and guilty that everyone else was already on the boat ready to go and here they are waiting for us. The assistant captain was so nice and kept reassuring me that it was fine. Colleen came half running from parking the car and the assistant captain says “slow down you have time we don’t need to have you falling.” LOL.  So we made the boat tour by the SKIN OF OUR TEETH! But boy was it worth it, it was just the right temperature, just the right time of day so we were getting different lighting and shades on the lake and the canyon. It was just breathtaking. One would never know from just driving on the road down to the lake that it actually went back so far into the canyon. Our tour was 90 minutes and they also had a dinner tour for later and it was for an additional 4 miles up the canyon. We saw bighorn sheep twice up on the cliffs and two different places high on top of the canyon where bald eagles nests and we could see the white heads of the eagles up there.

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https://dollysteamboat.com

Big Horn Sheep

 

 

Governor Hunt’s Pyramid Tomb- Papago Park Phoenix AZ

Governor Hunt’s Pyramid Tomb was another one of the things we found on America’s roadside attractions website.

George Hunt was Arizona’s first governor and served 7 terms between 1912-1933. He is buried in a pyramid made with a white bathroom tile in Papago Park that overlooks the Phoenix Zoo. The pyramid stands 15 feet tall and sits on a hill overlooking downtown Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa and Scottsdale. You can also see Camelback and South Park Mountain.

Hunt got the idea to be buried in a pyramid mausoleum from when he traveled and visited Egypt. When his wife died in 1931 he had the mausoleum erected at the top of the hill to bury her, himself and family members. Hunt died 3 years later and was later joined by his in-laws, his wife’s sister, and his daughter.

Hunt was an influential man who loved Arizona. He was directly involved in creating the Arizona constitutions, supported organized labor, women’s suffrage, income tax, prison, and labor reform, opposed capital punishment and advocated for Arizona rights to the Colorado River water. He was a descendant of an unnamed “Revolutionary War patriot,” and he allowed women to vote in his state eight years before the rest of the country.

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 http://arizonaoddities.com/2012/10/the-story-of-george-wiley-p-hunt-arizonas-first-governor/

 

 

 

Roadside Attractions-Phoenix, AZ

My friend Colleen loves to take pictures, find whacky stuff and just go, go, go! She told me about this internet site called “America’s Roadside Attractions.” You go to the website, enter the state and city and you will be directed to some interesting places. So on Saturday, March 4, 2016, we headed out to find these attractions in Phoenix. Hope you enjoy the ride:

1). Guitar Tree

Just a local family-owned business that finds, repairs and restores used and vintage instruments.

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2). “Release the Fear” Sculpture

Pistols, knives, rifles and other deadly weapons are fused to the base of the sculpture. The sculpture was erected in 2005 in a tiny park at the corner of Central Ave and East Roosevelt St. It is composed of 8 1/2 tons of metal of which 8,000 pounds is from weapons used in violent acts collected throughout AZ. Artist Miley spent 10 years finding sponsors and sources for the building materials. The funder’s names are inscribed on irregular stone slabs on each side. Miley continues to promote the power of education and art to combat violence, running a community awareness program since 1996.

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3). Art made of metal

This was not on the list of Roadside Attractions, but we ran across it as we were driving around and thought it had some interesting characters. As we were looking around, the guy running the store came out and asked if he could help us. We said no, that we were just looking. We asked if these were made here…….No they are imported!

4). Arizona Falls

Arizona Falls is formed by a 20 ft drop along the AZ canal. The canals are a public utility providing a water supply & irrigation to the desert climate. Beginning in 1902 the falls have been used to generate hydroelectric power.

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Water is diverted from the canal into new aqueducts framing each side of the water room. The aqueducts release the water back into the canal creating the waterfalls.

During the excavation of the site, artifacts from the old power plant were discovered. At the rear of the water room, you can see the gears and pipes through the falling water.

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