Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ghosts and Burros

Oatman, AZ is the remains of an old mining town, now a tourist town located on historic Route 66. The old buildings have been turned into shops.

The Oatman Hotel is the home of a mischevious ghost named "Oatie." Oatie was from Ireland and died behind the hotel in 1930 and has been here ever since, often heard playing his bagpipe. This is not Oatie, but the lunch entertainment in the dining room. You can see some of the thousands of autographed $1 bills left by tourists.

Clark Gable and Carole Lombard also spent their wedding night here in 1939 and are said to haunt the hotel.

But the biggest attraction today in Oatman is the wild burros, descendants of the Burros that miners turned loose when the mine closed and they left town.

You can feed carrots to all the burros except the babies, who have stickers on their foreheads warning that they could choke on the carrots.

The burros can get rather pushy, and this one learned how to open the door to this shop. The owner told me she also learned how to operate the peanut machine inside.

Several times a day they have an old West gun fight in the street. Before the fight, they asked if anyone wants to be in a "Cowboy Sandwich." They didn't have to ask me twice -- I ran up and was the first sandwich.

The gunfight started when one of the outlaws tried to rob the ATM, but couldn't get any response.

So they went into the bank, and came out with a bag of gold.

An exciting battle then took place, and even the burros got involved.

The tourist shops had some cute things -- I really liked this two-way sign.

On the way back to Bullhead City, we found this old car. I think more lead was expended on shooting it up than the car was worth!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Murder at the Deadwood Saloon

While at Boulder Beach, the WINs put on their 2nd annual murder mystery party. With a cast of 20, there were only slightly more than that in the audience. The show takes place in 1874 in Deadwood, where a big poker tournament is about to take place. Poker Alice and Anna Belle were dressed to the hilt.

Black Barbara, an outlaw who probably robbed the bank, and Banker Bonnie, who's the wife of the bank owner. Remember we saw Bonnie shopping for her (his?) outfit on the last blog entry.

Anna Belle and Holly Hickok were adorable.

But sooner or later, someone has to die. A cheer went up when Mitch Maverick bit the dust. Oh wait, that was me cheering....

Marshall Dalton is sorting through the clues to determine the perpetrator.

And he has help from Sheriff Sam, who questioned Harry High-Stakes, the owner of the saloon.

And of course he questioned Jesse Wales, an outlaw and old comrade of Harry's.

Harry and really hot Gambling Jack had some words about Jack's cheating.

Saloon girl Sally Starr knows a lot about what is going on.

In the end, it seemed like everyone had a motive to kill Mitch. The audience (and the participants, since they didn't know) then voted on the guilty party. Three people (including me) got it right, but mine was just a lucky guess. No, I wasn't allowed to vote for myself -- I was just in the audience.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

On to Lake Mead

I'm on my way to Boulder Beach, NV, on Lake Mead, to rejoin the WINs. On the way, I saw this strange "cloud." Then I realized what it was -- the pollution from the coal fired power plant in Page, AZ. I've been to Page quite a few times, but never saw anything like this. It sometimes affects the view at the Grand Canyon, as the pollutants settle into the canyon. But what are you going to do? The Southwest needs its electricity.

I also went through the Virgin River gorge on Interstate 15. I was in this exact spot 14 years ago when the OJ Simpson verdict was announced. Everyone was stopped along the highway, because they were afraid they would not have any radio reception in the canyon. My sister was with me, on my very first RV trip. Do you remember that, Barbara?

Boulder Beach was having their annual triathlon, and bikers were all over the road.

The first day of the gathering, we all went to the local thrift stores looking for costumes for our Murder Mystery. Brad is playing a woman, and enjoying it way too much. Check out the expression on that shopper's face in the background. I wonder what is going through HER head...

Boulder Beach is near Hoover dam, the dam that creates Lake Mead from the Colorado River. After 9/11, security was vastly increased here, since the road goes right over the dam. All cars are stopped, and RVs and trucks are searched.

If you see a suspicious person like this, call the police. I don't mean to make light of terrorist activity, but what the heck is this?

In order to bypass the dam, a new bridge is being built WAY up in the air. This year the arch is done, but the roadway over the top is not yet completed.

I think by next year it will be done, though. Notice the portable potty up there. I'm glad the workers don't have to climb all the way down to go to the bathroom.

This was the picture from last year. The arch was just starting out from both sides.

Fifty-seven WINs are taking over the Boulder Beach campground, and tonight we had a Hobo Stew.

We even had a little visitor, a taranchula. He's about 4 inches long. I guess I should have put my hand in for scale. (Or not....)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Zion National Park

The day started out a little cold, judging by the windshield, but it was supposed to finally warm up. Zion National Park is one of my favorites.

To get to the park from our beautiful campsite near Mt. Carmel Junction, you have to go through the 1.1 mile Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. The tunnel was completed in 1930, and at the time was the longest in the U.S. Several arches in the tunnel give you a quick preview of what's to come.

After the tunnel are a series of switchbacks where you can look back and see the arches from the outside.

Since I only had one day in the park this visit, I just rode the free shuttle bus around and did the short hikes. Court of the Patriarchs was the first stop, where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob pose. (Jacob is actually the white tower behind the red rock on the right.)

Weeping Rock was weeping up a storm, but you can't see it in the picture. It's an afternoon shot and I was there in the morning.

Canyon Junction allows a nice view of the Watchman, also better later in the day.

But the view up canyon was nice, with some really bizarre clouds.

At the end of the Canyon is the narrows, where you can hike farther in the water if you want to. New this year, an enterprising new business in town rents sticks, and waterproof pants and shoes. Judging by the number of people with the sticks, they must be making a fortune!

Near the end of the canyon, there are always lots of rock climbers climbing up the sheer cliffs.

Look how this woman is standing!

In the gift shop, I took this picture of a picture of the hike up to Angel's Landing that I did last year. The top is at the very top of the photo, and Walter's Wiggles are the set of switchbacks at the bottom. It's a fantastic hike.

This quick trip through the park really doesn't do it justice. The best parts are on some of the longer trails that I didn't have time for this year. For sure, the 5 national parks in Southern Utah are one of my favorite areas of the country. I fell in love with the area almost 20 years ago, and have been coming back often. And I never get tired of it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Scurrying Through Bryce

Bryce Canyon is the favorite national park of many people, especially Europeans. The scenery is great before you even get to the park.

But brrrrrr!!! This was the high temperature at 2 pm. (That's 7 degrees Celsius if you're so inclined.)

I knew I looked goofy, but I didn't care.

It was cloudy, but this park is so pretty, it didn't matter. This is the view from Sunset Point, probably the best overlook.

Natural Bridge is not really a bridge (formed by water), but an arch.

The sun came out for about 2 minutes. It's strange how the best pictures at Bryce seem to be looking into the sun.

Had a great free camping spot about 4 miles north of the park entrance, but I forgot to take a picture of it. Moved on to Zion National Park thinking it would be warmer. This is the free camping spot here, one I discovered 9 years ago. It's on a side road just south of Mt. Carmel Junction.

The fall colors this year are better than I've ever seen them.

Near the campsite was this hole in the mountain, so of course it needed to be investigated.

I was expecting an old mine, but it appeared to be just a hole for water to go through when it rained. It came out into a wash on the other side.

There were lots of modern day petroglyphs all through the tunnel. Looks like Darth Vader was here.