Oatman Outing

In keeping with our “Social Distancing” interpretation, we figured if we drive on an old, almost forgotten road, we will see nobody and not talk to them either.  So we set out on the longest stretch of original Route 66 – a very narrow, curvy road through some really magnificent mountains.  This stretch was considered so treacherous back in the day, many folks were afraid to drive it, and either hired locals to drive their cars for them, or to tow their cars – which sounds far scarier to me than driving it yourself! But I’m guessing in 1930 cars weren’t as reliable as we take for granted today… brakes failing, engines overheating, and maybe even steering precision being somewhat sloppy.  All those would add adventure but possibly detract from the majesty of the views.



We saw a few more vehicles than I’d expected…  Some obviously having fun…



Others evidence of the road hazards mentioned above.  (These are 3 separate cars… I’m not sure why statistically orange is such a dangerous color)


The road also passes a few mines and remains of buildings.



This must be the perfect time of year for wildflowers – the hills are showing lots of green, and there are loads of colorful flowers.



As I was looking for a good angle for flower pictures, I almost stepped on this cute little guy.



When the road was being created in the ’30’s, finding water was very important, not only for people, but their animals and cars.  A man named Shaffer noticed water seeping from the canyon wall, and built a little basin out of nearby rocks.  It filled with water, and folks added goldfish to keep the algae down.  Over the years it has frozen or dried out, but people keep adding goldfish to maintain the tradition.  The trail up to the Goldfish Bowl is marked only by the stairway cut into the rock.  There is a closer view in the little movie at the end of this lengthy blog…  (Can you handle the suspense?)



Oatman is now pretty much a ghost town.  Due to the virus, there are only a couple of eating establishments open.  Lots of touristy souvenir shops and the hotel are closed.  There were a surprising number of people there (And we didn’t talk to any of them… am I supposed to be proud of that??)



This is the site of the Arizona Hotel.  In 1915 it was one of seven hotels in Oatman.  It had 45 rooms and extensive fire protection features.  That helped it survive the 1921 “Great Fire” that burned most of the other end of town.  However in 1950 it was torn down to reduce property taxes… So now all you see are a couple of walls and the original vault.



The town and this “Restaurant & Ice Cream Saloon” are named for Olive Oatman.  Her family was crossing through in the mid 1800’s, when they were attacked by Indians.  The adults were killed, and the two daughters were taken as slaves. The young son was left for dead.  After 5 years, the army learned of her situation and arranged for the 19 year old girl’s return.  She had been tattooed with black marks on her chin.  This is pretty much how the story was told at the time, by her and an author writing her story.  It is interesting that the story has been re-written many times since then, apparently to lessen some of the scarier details.  I was planning on writing only about two lines as a teaser to the story, and make you read the details below, but it seems my keyboard is stuck in the verbose mode.  Read the story below if you feel like it.




In a ghost town, what would you expect except old inoperable artifacts.  Like this old inoperative public pay phone.  Remember those?



This hotel supposedly had many famous guests visit, including Clark Gable and Carol Lombard.  I sincerely hope it looked better then!



We missed the “Great Oatman Bed Races!”  It says they even supply the beds, and across the street from the notice we noticed one.


Lots of other ghost towny things…


There are signs everywhere warning of the hazards of entering old mines.  This one had a somewhat more compelling graphic…



Oatman is famous for hosting more burros than people.  As we drove into town, we saw one in the road, but by the time we parked and got back to the spot, he’d left town.  We saw NO OTHERS in town!  Maybe they were practicing their social distancing.

We did see some outside of town…




It was perfect weather for a drive in the desert, and we really enjoyed all the wildflowers.





Near the Kingman end of this old stretch of Route 66, is Cool Springs.  A station for food and fuel, it was a major stop in the 20’s and 30’s.  After this stretch of the highway was replaced with a far easier to drive road (But less scenic), the Cool Springs outpost died and turned into just another Route 66 ruin.  In the mid 60’s it burned to the ground.  It had a brief resurrection when it was hastily rebuilt for the movie “Universal Soldier” in 1991.  During the filming, they blew it to smithereens, and Cool Springs was a ruin again. Early in the 2000’s, Ned Leuchtner bought the place and has restored the shop to its previous funky glory. The guest cabins are gone, but the place looks much like the original landmark.


Here is the video you’ve been waiting so patiently for.  We stopped for lunch, driving out on top of a rise with an excellent view, only to find dozens of memorials or grave markers there.  I’m not sure if it is really a graveyard or just a crowded memorial site… but the view was awesome.  There is also a bit of video from elsewhere on the road, and of course the Goldfish Bowl.


We’re Still in Kingman…

Route 66

We have thought about following the old Route 66 its whole length… but things keep changing and we have only explored portions of it.

It still fascinates me.  Route 66 ran from Chicago to Los Angeles, long before we had interstates.  Over 2,000 miles, through eight states, this “Mother Road” was created in the late ’20s from existing “Motor Trails” and unnamed roads.  It consisted mostly of primitive dirt roads, with a few paved portions.  By 1938 all the dirt stretches had been paved, but it was still mostly a narrow twisty roadway.  Route 66 linked up with key railroad stations, and prompted the creation of “Motor Hotels”, campgrounds, service stations, souvenir shops and tourist traps.

Kingman was Arizona’s biggest stop on Route 66.  There are still lots of old structures that  evoke the history of the Mother Road.  Lately, there is little traffic, as everyone is hiding indoors from scary viruses!  We did a little tour of some of the town, while keeping very far away from everyone!



Even a grocery store had colorful murals…  (Only visited for needed food, and while sporting our cool masks)


This Catholic church was built in 1906.  A bit before the iconic route.



Plenty of interesting old homes and hotels.


This locomotive claims to be the last steam locomotive run by the Santa Fe railroad.  Built in 1929 for $100,064 (Can’t omit the $64!), She ran for 28 years and over 2,500,000 miles!




There are many establishments that capitalize on the Route 66 schtick.



Mr D’z seems to like interesting vehicles…


The Kingman visitor center was pretty lonely.



We drove out of town a ways on a bit of the original Route 66 roadway.





Some more color is appearing!


Everything Needs Washing

In our travels we have seen many washing facilities… Car washes, truck washes, RV washes…


But this is the first we’ve seen of these!


I’m sure washing your rattlesnake is a good idea; they seem to be pretty fierce critters when they are dirty!


Home Improvement Projects

Last week I posted a bit about adding more accurate tank sensors to our home.  I’ve finally finished that project! The new system has a display above the windshield on the curb side (As does the old system) and a secondary display in the “Wet bay” where you fill and empty tanks.  The panel inside also has a switch to turn the water pump on/off, and a cute little LED to show if it’s on or not.  We like to turn the pump off while driving, and sometimes have to walk all the way back to the kitchen to check or turn it off. (Such trouble!)  Now we can see from the passenger seat the status of the pump and adjust as necessary.  In case you are wondering, there are good reasons to turn off the pump while driving.  1) If we are low on water, it is possible that an air bubble get in the pump and it would keep running and we don’t need the extra wear.  2) I read about a couple who, while on a long drive, had a pipe break in the rear bathroom, and the pump just ran for hours filling the back half of the motorhome with water.  Hours later they noticed a tidal wave of trouble.  We don’t need that either.

Here on the left you can see the tanks and a bit of crazy wiring, with the new green sensors on the ends of the tanks… and on the right is the same compartment with the panelling and shelving put back in place.


Inside also has its share of wires… and here on the right is the finished panel.  The little panel third down on the right, with the red LED’s is the new one.  I will still leave the old system in place – it controls automatic filling of the fresh water tank, and tells the toilets when the black tank is full so they won’t let you flush what wouldn’t fit.  You get it…


And when we’re not admiring our new panel this door hides it from view.



Notice To Our Children

I saw this clever plate on the front of a very nice motorhome.  I need one like it because it is equally true for us!



Our Local Environment

Lest you be tempted to feel sorry for us stuck in Arizona, I have to add a few more pictures to dispel that notion.



This is not our motorhome, but it shows off the beautiful sky.



I finally got the drone out to capture our campsite from above.  This is the mountain we look at through our windshield.  It has had snow on top a few days, but not anymore!



There is a gravel quarry behind us, which you can’t see in unless you can fly.  Even though it’s cutting up the mountains, the colors revealed are pretty.




Looking straight down, you can see most all the sites for people traveling and staying short term are empty.  Those along the back are folks staying longer periods.  Extra credit if you can tell which rig is ours!



Starry Eyed

The other night was special astronomically… the Moon, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter were all in a line!  But the Moon is so much brighter than the planets, that it burned out terribly and looks like a full moon.



The Moon actually looked like this:



I really love looking at all the stars, and trying to capture them in a photo.



And I’ve always wanted to do this “Stars rotating around the North Star” photo, so here it is:



So that’s this week in Kingman…  Next week I have another project.  In fact, a rather shocking project.  Tune in next week to see if I manage it!



We are constantly commenting on how thankful we are for our beautiful home on wheels!  This week I got an email from Todd, who with his wife Julie, write a blog about RV’ing.  Check it out at TREKKN.co (but don’t forget to come back here!)

Todd wrote about Gratitude, and had a couple quotes from Viktor Frankl that I really enjoyed seeing again.  So here they are:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: that last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Later he talked more about being truly grateful for all that we are blessed with… When the world seems to be going more crazy by the hour, and pandemic is spelled “Panic” for too many people, it’s too easy to focus on what we are missing or have lost, rather than on the many blessings we really have.  If you are healthy, rejoice and be thankful!  If you are not healthy, be glad our bodies were created to self-repair most any insult.

I am very grateful for a beautiful healthy family.  I’m thankful for the ability to be out in the middle of nowhere, far from any crowds. For food, water, a warm bed, and internet to keep up with friends.  I’m also thankful for FaceTime, so we can still meet up with our awesome family.  Life is good, in spite of a viral panic!  A good dose of Grateful will go a long way to calm the news-inspired panic.


Spring must be arriving in the desert

We’ve been “isolating in place” for a while here now, and we’re starting to see things “Green Up.”



Even a few other colors!


I still try to run most every day: 13 miles or one half hour, whichever comes first!  Last year about this time I was running along this beach in Saipan!


Lately the view is a bit different:



The other day, our “Neighbor” bought a new tractor.  He’s just bought about 80 acres of land near here, and will use this beautiful tractor to help build a house.  I thought it looked pretty good by our house.



Upgrading Sensors

Since we are not moving much of anywhere (one trip to town for food per week) I have time to get some projects done.  Our holding tanks sensors have been acting up, and are not terribly accurate at the best of times.  So I ordered new sensors online, and have been installing them.  The sensors on the tanks are the easy part.  The hard part is getting the wiring from the back of the motorhome to the control panel above the windshield!  I had to take the front shades down, and remove the trim from the windshield pillar.  Then the wires go down the pillar, under the coach, up into the basement, and back to the tank area.  Playing with all this gives me a new appreciation for the complexity of this movable house: there seems to be enough wires running everywhere to build a Space Shuttle!




So I have the main control installed and working; next is the secondary display in the “wet bay” where we fill or empty tanks,  so I can see the levels when working out there.

Camping in a Ghost Town

We are hardly in a Ghost Town (Who writes these headlines anyway?) but the number of transient folks, those only staying for a day or two, has really dwindled to almost nothing.  Some nights there are two or three, leaving 20 or so sites empty.  We enjoy looking at the rigs, and the diversity…  the other night there were only three: a 2 million dollar Prevost Marathon, a tiny R-Pod trailer smaller than the car pulling it, and a class C motorhome in the middle. (Size wise and by location.)  In case you’re not up on these models, here are stock photos of a Prevost and an R-Pod.



Making Masks!

In keeping with the Pandemic Panic Preventive Procedures, Cherryl made some beautiful masks!  We wore them on our town trip this week, and looked really cool!  I felt like we should be bank robbers or something!





The other day was a “Pink Moon.”  This is one of the times when the moon is as close to the earth as it gets, and appears 14% larger than normal.

Supposedly the Pink Moon is named for a North American wildflower, the “moss phlox,” or “moss pink,”  which blooms about the time of the first full moon of spring.  I guess Pink Moon sounds better than “Phlox Moon!”

We also have had some beautiful “Phlox Sunsets!”




Sometime this week we were FaceTiming with our children and grandchildren.  Someone said “With you guys not moving all the time, Dad is going to run out of things to talk about on the blog.”  My oldest, Karen, responded “Dad will NEVER run out of things to talk about!”

So we will see what next week brings… in the meantime, I hope you and yours are staying healthy, sane, and grateful!


Stuck with Cactus!

In a time when most Americans have been told to “Shelter in Place,” we have the privilege of hanging out at the end of a rainbow!



Arizona has plenty of open space… if you don’t count cactus.  Many types of cactus plants, and they seem to be doing the social distance thing, because they seem to space themselves out very appropriately. So here we are, stuck with a bunch of cactus plants!





We have spent a lot of our social distancing time running or hiking in the desert.  One afternoon we decided to hike to the top of the hill behind us.  It was surprisingly steep, and difficult because you had to weave your way between cacti, but the view from the top was great.  We had to build a Cairn at the top to prove we made it.






The campground is an interesting place… a lot of sites are filled by evening.  Then in the morning, most of them leave fairly early in the morning.  They are empty most of the day, then late afternoon they start to fill up again.  So this picture must have been taken about noon. (The rigs on the right are longer term folks)



Do you recognize this contraption??


It is used to repair chips on windshields… and I got to watch while a guy fixed a little chip in ours.  Quite interesting.



Who knew that later that day we would get hail!  Very small, and not enough to stick much on the ground, but it did stack up a bit on our wipers!



Maybe when a person has too much time on his hands, he ends up making silly movies like this…