The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #26
March 18th and 19th, 2009:
Spent the final days in Tucson visiting mom, taking care of family business and preparing to once again, hit the road. We have a date in Las Vegas to watch over our two youngest grandchildren while their parents take a much needed and well deserved vacation to the coast.
Friday, March 20th, 2009:
Underway to points north. Weather was clear and warm and there was very light traffic. Since this was to be a two day transit we planned to travel as many back roads as possible.
We cruised US-85N to Buckeye Arizona where we stopped at a wide spot in the road to make lunch just past Sore Finger Road (probably named that because there is a preponderance of road rage in that area).
Continuing on we headed into Quartzite, AZ and spotted the unofficial town motto which states: “Quartzite-Where it’s Always the Weekend”. Quartzite is the boondocking mecca of the desert southwest. Mostly comprised of BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, RV’ers can boondock (dispersed primitive camping….without external hook-ups) almost anywhere by displaying a nominal fee BLM permit. We saw literally thousands of boondockers spread out over many miles. The place is amazing…..every winter the population explodes with trailers, motorhomes, hippie buses, and tents. This menagerie is all serviced by itinerant trades folks that set up in temporary canvas shelters. An actual thriving city that basically disappears in the spring. We noticed that a lot of “Winter Arizonians” have already pulled up stakes and headed for home. We might have to stay a few weeks in Quartzite on our next trip.
Stopped in Parker, Arizona on the Colorado River (elevation 417’) for provisions and fuel then continued through Buckskin where we viewed many more boondockers camped along the river with their dune-buggies, four wheelers, boats and jet skies.
Decided to stop for the night at the Crazy Horse Campground in Lake Havasu, Arizona. This place was a zoo. It contained 635 campsites and on this particular weekend the campground was hosting a bass tournament, a triathlon and a motocross race. A more diverse group of folks you will never find.
As it turned out they were all very well behaved and seemed to pretty much mingle peacefully. The campground was full and we were worried that with all these folk and being a Friday night there might be some late night partying. H owever all the “athletes” apparently took their particular sport very seriously and were mostly asleep by nine o’clock on order to rest up for Saturdays events. Now Saturday night might have been a different story…..we bailed out on Saturday morning.
Another reason for stopping in Lake Havasu was to cross the famous London Bridge. Now the last time I crossed this bridge was in 1966 on a double decker tourist bus in London. So either Lucy really messed up and we were hopelessly lost or someone moved it. As it turns out an American bought the bridge, dismantled and numbered each piece and had the whole thing shipped to Arizona. Since there wasn’t a convenient river to reassemble the bridge over, he placed it on dry land and then dredged a canal under it from one side of Lake Havasu to the other. Bet he couldn’t get away with that today!
My fair lady Kit was nervous about crossing the bridge as she felt it might fall down. However we crossed without incident and weaved through the myriad fish and chips joints and fake English pubs.
Saturday, March 21st, 2009:
Underway early…..still heading north. Decided to take the Route 66 National Historic Byway from Golden Shores Arizona through The Black Mountains. This portion of the original highway travels through the resurrected ghost town of Oatman, over Sitgreaves Pass and on toward Kingman Arizona.
We had previously taken the other few remaining sections of classic US-66 and wanted to travel this portion while in the vicinity. The road was steep, winding, and had scary drop-offs with no guard rails……a challenge for any car. But with a truck and trailer…..this is gonna be interesting.
The steepest scariest point on this portion of Route 66 is Sitgreaves Pass at 3500 feet it looked like the top of a rollercoaster before you go screaming down the other side.
As we crested the summit the road appeared to just drop away as it plunged down into the next valley. Legend has it that the dust bowl Oakies of the thirties would hire locals to drive their model T’s up and over the pass. On occasion the substitute drivers would have to actually turn around and back up as the steep grade would starve the engines of gasoline otherwise.
Now it probably wouldn’t have been too bad but on this particular day there were some real jackasses on the road. Made life kind interesting as they tended to not be very courteous.
Eventually we entered Oatman. A once thriving mining town that turned into a ghost town when the copper played out. In the 60’s the town was brought back to life by a bunch of hippies and is thriving once again. The wild burros that roam the streets are the off spring of animals brought to the mountain to work the copper mine and then turned loose when the mine closed. They are well fed by the residents and tourists that walk the streets. In the picture below, it shows what we saw as we entered the town with our 7 foot wide trailer. As we slowly inched forward a woman, who appeared to be a local, walked along with us and asked if we actually intended to go through the town. I said sure!
Kit said #%&@#*. The women then said, “You know there isn’t anywhere to turn around at the other end”. To which I replied, “Not turning around, we’re gonna head down the other side of the mountain”. She just shook her head and walked away.
This is gonna be interesting.
Made it…..but just barely. Fortunately oncoming traffic stopped and let us squeeze through. I think they were looking for some cheap entertainment as I dodged, parked cars, wandering tourists and the occasional jackasses.
Back on the level ground we beat feet for Las Vegas and a long anticipated reunion with our youngest daughter, Suzie and her family.
Still very much enjoying life on the scenic and unusual backroads of America,
Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit