Thursday, March 22, 2012

Oatman Burros & Needles, CA

We got up early today so we could get on the road back to Tucson and pick up a few geocaches in Needles, CA. We stopped at a Carl's Jr to get a cup of coffee and two breakfast burritos. The coffee was super hot and burritos warm, but they hit the spot.

We left Laughlin and crossed over the Colorado river bridge into Bullhead City, AZ and I thought we'd be out of there in a couple minutes. I don't know how long it took, but we drove for miles with gas stations, stores, bars, tattoo parlors, Family Dollar store ( yeah, our two grandsons work for the them in the corporate office. Buy Family Dollar stuff and help them!), and many other shops.

We drove for quite a while and we noticed the sign for Oatman, AZ and I made a hard left turn and pointed the car to Oatman. I have read about the Oatman wild burros for a long time and the uniqueness of the town so we made the 15 mile drive there. The road was good ( not great ) and we made it there in no time. I expected to see 3-4 burros and was shocked to see more than 20 of them out begging in the middle of the highway. There were people feeding them all over the place and some were just standing there waiting to be fed. What a sight to see.

One burro decided to see what Gerry had to feed it and stuck his head in the window on the passenger side of the car. He did this slowly and when no food was forthcoming backed up and just looked at Gerry. Since these are wild burros, you never know what they may do or how they handle rejection. No problem with this one though.  Gerry breathed a sigh of relief.

It looks like they never throw away anything in the town since there were cars, a/c, old fire engines, signs, wrecked race cars all over the place. Somehow, it didn't look out of place in Oatman. The mines opened in 1906 and they took out 18 million ounces of gold right up through the 1930s and closed the mines in 1942 since they didn't contribute to the war effort. Most of the buildings looked like they were built in 1906 and are still standing. There are a few newer homes, but for the most part the buildings looked quite old.

Oatman is on Old Rt 66 and there are plenty of signs out attesting to that fact. Gerry and I lived only a few miles from RT 66 in Illinois and never thought much about it. Now there are tourists from Europe coming over and traveling the “Mother Road” just to say they did it. I am sure they all will remember Oatman over most other towns on the route. 

While Gerry was taking the sign photograph I took one of some stacked stones along the side of the highway.  It is common to see stacked stones out here in the Southwest for a variety of reasons from marking trails, roads and just stacks for the fun of it.  There were around 100 or more stacked stones in this area from 3ft high to 6 inches high.  

Needles, CA was the next stop on the trip and we drove down the twisty narrow RT 66 to get there. Needles stands out because the gasoline prices there are 70-90 cents higher than in Arizona just a few mile away. One station had regular unleaded for $4.99 and another had it for $4.79. We filled up in Bullhead City for $3.79/gallon and later in Avondale, AZ for the same price.

Needles was founded as a railway town and still serves as a transportation hub for that part of California. There was a nice RV park on the river and Gerry checked into the cost by the month. $325/month plus electricity. It was full of Canadians and the activities consisted of golf and playing poker. We picked up a few caches in town and headed east on I-40 for Arizona. The Colorado River goes through Needles and there is a wildlife preserve a few miles east of town. Gerry got a nice picture of the Colorado as it flowed along the AZ/CA border.

We made a beeline for Tucson since it was getting late and we had a long drive ahead of us. We spent a few minutes in Havasu City, but it looked like all the spring breakers were still in bed or had gone back home. We stopped at the Kofa Cafe just off of I-40 near Bouse, AZ and had a nice meal and then kept on trucking until we got back to Tucson after 10pm. We were in bed shortly after that and were trying to get some energy back in these old bodies.

It was a great trip and we enjoyed seeing Erin and her family, loved Las Vegas and had a good time in Laughlin on the way back.

1 comment:

  1. We have loved Oatman! You gotta buy a bag of carrots, and those burros will just follow you everywhere. The thing to remember is -- don't feed the babies! Their stomachs can't handle carrots yet. We spent about three hours there last time through. We understand Arizona has the largest stretches of still navigable Route 66 in the country. We've had the pleasure of several visits along the Mother Road. Wouldn't care for the long day's drive you had.