Monday, November 17, 2014

Laughlin Nevada River Walk

On Friday, November 7th we decided to take a stroll along the Laughlin Nevada Riverwalk and add a few Geocaches to our found list.  On our way from Golden Valley, AZ to Laughlin, NV, before we crossed the Colorado river, we took a short side trip to see Lake Mohave. 

Lake Mohave is a reservoir formed by Davis Dam on the Colorado River just north of Laughlin, and is fed by the outflow of Lake Mead thru the Hoover Dam to the north.  Water leaving Lake Mohave flows into Lake Havasu to the south.  Popular recreational activities at Lake Mohave are swimming, kayaking, fishing, boating, and skiing.

Lake Mohave on the Colorado River.
Lake Mohave on the Colorado Rover.
The Laughlin Riverwalk is a paved walkway that runs along the west side of the Colorado River connecting seven of Laughlin's eight river side casinos.  From the Riverside Casino on the north end, the Riverwalk runs approximately 1.5 miles to the River Palms Casino on the south end. 

Laughlin Riverwalk looking north from the Aquarius Casino.
River Rick at the Pioneer Casino Laughlin, NV.  Remember his brother, Wendover Will, in West Wendover, NV?
After walking the length of the Riverwalk from the Riverside Casino to the River palms Casino, we elected to ride the water taxi south to Harrah's Casino, rather than hike the steep "overland route" from the end of the Riverwalk.

Harrah's Casino Laughlin, NV as seen from the Colorado River.
Heading north on the Colorado River via water taxi.
We also found 10 of the 13 Geocaches along the Laughlin Riverwalk we set out to log.  Not a bad Geocaching day! 

Moonrise over the Black Mountains, Laughlin, NV.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Highway 66 to Oatman, AZ

On Wednesday, November 5th we took a drive southwest from Kingman, AZ along a section of historic route 66, called the Gold Road, up over Sitgreaves pass to the ghost town of Oatman, AZ. 

Our journey began in Kingman, AZ along Interstate 40 for the first few miles, as the interstate was built on top of, and alongside of, historic Route 66.

Route 66 in Kingman, AZ.
After leaving Interstate 40 we picked up Route 66 and began our journey on the Gold Road thru scenery that has remained largely unchanged since the heyday of the mother road.

Imagine this view from the side window of your 1932 Ford Coupe.
Or this view thru the windshield of your 1953 Chevrolet Corvette.
This section of historic Route 66 boasted several traveler centered service and accommodation stops between Kingman and Oatman.  Superbly restored Cold Springs was one of the first such stops catering to weary travelers.

Cold Springs, AZ.
Cold Springs, AZ.
Cold Springs, AZ.
Just past Cold Springs the road begins a twisting and narrow climb up towards Sitgreaves Pass.  Of all the stretches along Route 66 this was perhaps the most intimidating of all, with its steep grades, narrow road , hairpin curves and lack of guardrails. 

Historic Route 66 westbound towards Sitgreaves Pass.
The road was barely wide enough for our full size F250.
Imagine negotiating such a tight harpin pulling your camper.
 As we approached Sitgreaves Pass we began seeing something you don't see everywhere.....signs warning of burros.  Burros were heavily used in the early mining days, with many escaping, and even more set free after mining ceased.  Their descendants now roam the area on both sides of the pass.
Watch for burros!!
 Imagine cresting Sitgreaves Pass after your long and arduous climb, expecting to see the sandy beaches of California and the Pacific Ocean, to only be greeted my many more miles of desert.

Sitgreaves Pass, Historic Route 66.

From here travelers could see three states, Arizona, California & Nevada.


After crossing Sitgreaves Pass we descended into the ghost town of Oatman.  Named after a woman who was captured by the Mohave Indians and later released, Oatman is still alive today.  While active gold mining is still underway in the mountains, Oatman's main business is now tourism. 

Welcome to Oatman, AZ.
Main street, Oatman, AZ.  See anything unusual?
One of the most unusual and notable tourist draws about Oatman are the 'wild' burros freely roaming the streets.

A burro gives Tom some advice on buying the best watch in Oatman, AZ.

'Wild' burros at the hitchin' post Oatman, AZ.
You can't drive thru Oatman without coming nose to nose with a burro.
If allowed, the burros will walk right into shops as if they own the place!
If you don't stand aside, the burros will just push you out of their way.
Feeding of young, nursing burros is discouraged until they are weaned. Note the tag on this young burros forehead.
 The burros are so accustomed to being fed by people, this one has learned if it hangs out in front of the restaurant door where we ate lunch, it might get a tasty tidbit.
Pardon me, but are you going to finish those potato chips?
The panhandling burros can be quite insistent.  As we were leaving town a couple of burros walked over to the truck and stuck their heads in the open driver's side window looking for a handout.

Eye level with a hungry burro.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Exploring Chloride, AZ

On Tuesday, November 4th we headed north to the living ghost town of Chloride, AZ.  Chloride is a former silver mining camp and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited mining town in the state.  American author Louis L'Amour visited Chloride sometime between 1927-1929 after the Weepah, Nevada gold rush, where he had bought, and then sold a claim for $50.  During his visit the town of Chloride caught fire.  L'amour assisted the town citizens in a bucket brigade that ultimately failed to stop most of the town from burning to the ground.  Today Chloride is home to approximately 350 residents, some interesting old buildings and hosts a gunfight at high noon every 1st and 3rd Saturday during July and August, with a gunfight every Saturday the rest of the year.  Chloride may have the largest collection of yard art anywhere..we're not really sure, but there is a lot of it. 

Chloride cemetery, Chloride, AZ.
Main street shoot out location, Chloride, AZ.
Sheila at the Dead Ass Saloon, Chloride, AZ.

Chloride post office selfie.
Located in the hills behind Chloride are the famous Purcell Murals painted by the artist Roy Purcell.  In 1966, Roy Purcell took a break from pursuing a Master's degree in Fine Arts at Utah State University to labor as a miner in the Cerbat Mountains near Chloride, ArizonaWhile he was there, and with the support of local residents, he painted "The Journey," a 2000-square-foot set of murals on some boulders about a mile and a half outside of town.  The murals have held up well during the many years, and the colors remain vibrant.
After exploring the town of Chloride, we decided to go see the Purcell Murals and set off on the dirt road that wanders up into the mountains west of town.  Fortunately for us our truck is a 4 wheel drive with high ground clearance as some portions of the road were somewhat washed out and steep.
Dirt road to Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.  This is one of the better sections of the road.
Climbing into the mountains above Chloride, AZ looking for the Purcell Murals.
After 1 1/2 of bumpy and rutted dirt road, we arrived at the Purcell Murals.
Purcell Murals "The Journey", Chloride, AZ.
Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.
Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.
Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.
Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.
Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.
Purcell Murals, Chloride, AZ.


Golden Valley, AZ

On Sunday, November 2nd we departed Verde Valley, AZ for Golden Valley, AZ.  We had spent two enjoyable weeks at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails preserve and were somewhat reluctant to leave, as it had come to feel like home.  A cold front with rain showers had moved into the area and we were treated to a lovely rainbow on our way out, as if Verde Valley was wishing us a kind farewell.

Farewell rainbow Verde Valley, AZ.
Our journey took us thru the Prescott area, past stunning Watson Lake.

Watson lake, Prescott, AZ.

After arriving at our destination for the next week in Golden Valley, we dropped the 5th wheel and headed over Union Pass into Bullhead City, AZ and crossed the Colorado river into Laughlin, Nevada for dinner. 

Crossing Union Pass west of Golden Valley, AZ.
We sat down to a buffet dinner at the Riverside Casino in Laughlin and were treated to a wonderful river and desert mountain panorama.

Fellow diners silhouetted against the panorama at the Riverside Casino, Laughlin, NV.

Our dinner view at the Riverside Casino, Laughlin, NV.

Laughlin is located on the Colorado river 90 miles south of Las Vegas, Nevada and is best known for it's gaming, entertainment and water recreation.  Laughlin is the third most visited casino and resort destination in the state after Las Vegas and Reno, and is one of the top five destinations for American RV enthusiasts.  There are nine hotel/casinos and one motel in Laughlin providing over 10,000 rooms, 154,000 square feet (14,300 m2) of meeting space, 60 restaurants, two museums, a 34-lane bowling center and a variety of boutiques, spas and salons.  More than 14,000 casino workers now cross the Colorado by shuttle boat or the Laughlin Bridge each day. The city by the river currently attracts approximately 2 million visitors annually who visit Laughlin to gamble, enjoy water sports on the Colorado and attend many high-profile special events hosted by the community.

Fun in the Verde Valley Area

The next week from Saturday, October 25th began with Sheila back hard at work and Tom still wondering what he wanted to be when he grew up.  Though this was a busy week for Sheila workwise, we did fit in some fun distractions during our second week in the Verde Valley area.

On Saturday we headed out to do some Geocaching, one of our favorite past times.  Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.  Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  There are currently over 2.5 million active caches and over 6 million geocachers world wide.

Occasionally, we run into other geocachers looking for the same cache we are and we combine our efforts to make the find.

Tom teamed up with another geocaching couple looking for a cache at a stop sign.

Geocaching also takes us to so many places we would not visit otherwise, like the geographic center of Arizona located in Rezzonico Park, Camp Verde, AZ.

The geographic center of Arizona, Rezzonico park, Camp Verde, AZ.

Tuesday, October 28th we paid our first visit to an Arizona vineyard.  Alcantara Vinyards is situated on a 87 hillside acres at the confluence of the Verde River and Oak Creek.  The vineyard grows a dozen varieties of grapes from which it has produced over 20 different white, red and dessert wines.

Alcantara Vinyards, Cottonwood, AZ.
The rocky limestone soil and sunny climate in the Verde Valley is very similar to the wine making regions of France and Italy, and produces some interesting varieties of wines, distinctly different from the Washington and Oregon varieties we are accustomed to.  We tasted five different wines and left with our own set of vineyard wine glasses.

Sheila hamming it up for the camera.
Wednesday, October 29th we paid a visit to the red rock country of Sedona, AZ. 
Approaching Sedona from Cottonwood.
How many Staples stores have this kind of view behind them?

Talk about a beautiful skyline!
Red rock country, Sedona, AZ.
Many RV people accessorize their campsite when they are set up with signs, or flags, or other small items unique to them.  While we were exploring the shopping district of Sedona, Sheila found this little piece of art we felt would brighten up our campsite.

Home is where you hook up!
On Friday, October 31st we attended a Halloween party hosted by Verde Valley Thousand Trails.  Food, drinks and fun were in great supply, and many stepped up to the karaoke microphone.  Sheila joined in with the other ladies in a wonderful rendition of Delta Dawn.

Karaoke at the Verde Valley Thousand Trails Halloween party.