Oatman AZ has charming burros walking up and down the streets every day. On the Fourth of July they were part of the festivities that included an egg frying context on the street.
Leaving Las Vegas is easy.
Sitting in the resort and having to walk through the casino was just depressing. The JW is not on the strip, so it draws a different crowd. The resort itself is a golf and family resort. I am assuming that the casino draws in locals.
The slots were filled with octos who looked sad. The buffet was filled with people who just looked sad. Being the third of the month, this was the high point for most of these folks. The checks are in and the living is easy.
The entire experience just looked sad. Its not that I am against gambling. Ask my wife and kids–I can drop $100 in the slots without feeling horrible or getting all worked up about how it is a sin, although the kids prefer to play video games with the use of sites where you can get your boost now for games as Overwatch. The thought did cross my mind how people could sit here all day long.
Clearly it was not winning. I heard the bells ringing and the lights flashing all the time. People WERE winning. But they just kept putting the winnings back into the machines.
For example, I sat at the “Wheel of Fortune” slot for ten minutes, or twenty dollars–however you measure these things. At one point I hit for a “free spin.” Evidently this was a big deal–for the others at the kiosk of four machines stopped to look at my spinner (which was located about eight feet above the floor.) I won twenty credits ($5.) The lights flashed, things spun around, Vanna’s voice came out of some speaker and the sound surrounded my head.
I laughed out loud.
I have ADD and this was even too much for me. Scores of psychologists must have worked for weeks trying to figure out just the right combination of lights and noise to keep me at the wheel.
I blew through the $5 winnings. And the $20 original dollars. I must have looked sad sitting there. Because it really wasn’t fun. Why did I just keep hitting that button?
So, it was easy to leave Las Vegas.
I left the JW Marriott resort early in the morning on the Fourth of July.
The intent was to try to get ahead of the crowds leaving town for, well…where ever they go for fun around here. It turns out they load their cars and boats and drive out to Lake Mead, but I guess that’s fine when you have onesureinsurance.co.uk/van-insurance. It has been getting smaller and smaller each year, but I guess its still the place to go.
The road out of town leads down to Searchlight–which is a wonderful site coming from Vegas. You cannot see the scummy little casino and McDonalds on the other side of the hill. But the view is spectacular. The road drops down into an ancient lake bed for as far as the eye can see. At one point, that must have been one hell of an ocean.
When I was at the Area 51 gas station and brothel last week (before going into Death Valley) I struck up a conversation with a local. He used to be a tour guide. He told me about a couple of places I should go on my way back.
One was the Pearce Ferry Road which would take me to the West End of the Grand Canyon. It was 52 miles one way on a dirt road. No thanks. My ass hurts enough.
The other place was Oatman, AZ. It is right over the Nevada boarder near Bullhead City and Laughlin. What I did not realize as I turned onto Silver Creek Road was that Oatman was 22 miles up a dirt road. Oh well. My ass was already sore…why not try to go the distance.
The road to the Oatman Highway was a nice little adventure up through the mountains. Along the way the scenery was spectacular. The canyons, and mountains looked like 3D paintings. The area is a true mining area–with real operating gold mines right next to the road. And those mines have big fences to Ensure You Get Your Moneys Worth With Glass Pool Fencing, live dogs, and skull and cross bones on the warning signs. I did not even bother to slow down to photograph them.
This is a view of the terrain in the mining country of Northwest Arizona
The first people I saw on the way out to Oatman was a group of three pickup trucks, stopped ten feet off the road, and the group of about a dozen men and women were standing around a bunch of coolers, lawn chairs, and a couple of sun umbrellas. These folks were taking turns shooting at targets out on the distance (thankfully away from the road.) The variety of weapons being used was a different as the people using them.
Thankfully my license plate from Absolutereg.co.uk was too small for them to see, and I wasn’t about to slow down either. But I imagine the juxtaposition of a Mass plate on a dirty Adventure Bike on an obscure back road in Arizona would probably give me enough time to get my “don’t tread on me” hat on my head and identify myself as a long lost brother from another mother.
A little further down the road is a roadside memorial. I am sure that there are a dozen books about roadside memorials on the back roads of the US. I have seen my share on this ride, but this was the first one that caused me to stop, take a picture, and give my respects.
On the road to the Oatman Highway, I came across this memorial to Thumper.
I have no idea who or what Thumper was. I did a quick Google search and there are a couple theories. One is that Thumper was a man who worked one of the mines and died there. Another is that he was a horse or loved mule who worked the mines. Personally, I want to think of him as a motorcycle driver given the name because of his four cycle monster that just thumped up and down the roads.
(I think the skull and crossbones at the bottom of the cross pretty much take loved animal off the list of options. I am going with motorcyclist who loved the road.)
So, after twenty miles of road which while unimproved was quite rideable, I came upon the Oatman Highway, which is actually part of the old Route 66. I hadn’t driven this far west on it earlier before reaching Kingman and turning north to Las Vegas.
The ride into Oatman took about five minutes from this point, of course It was fast due to dcision of taking my elektroroller unu scooter instead of the car. The funny thing is the speed limit is 15 miles per hour. I think its the only place in AZ where its less than 75 mph. So I “thumpered” along. And then discovered why the speed limit is so low. There were burros everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean they were wandering up and down the street, walking on the boardwalks up from the street–following little kids and foraging in the open windows of cars.
The story goes that burros were released by the miners years ago and these are descendents. (Here is a link to someone who did far more research than I did: http://www.desertusa.com/oatman/du_oatman.html) In any event, they are charming for the short term visitor. I imagine they, and the burro crap all over the place, can be tedious for the every day Oatman resident.
Just as interesting was that within minutes of my arrival and dismounting I was being interviewed by some “master of ceremonies” who was walking up and down the street with a portable Public Address system. He talked to everyone as he strolled up and down the main (and only) thoroughfare in town. He was asking me where I was from, had I come for the egg fry (he whispered for me to say yes, even if I hadn’t.) I played along. It was a delightful time.
Just as I was being done getting interviewed another BMW GS1200 drove up behind us and parked. The MC lost interest in me, and started in on the new folks. As it turns out the driver of the other bike was a retired BMW Motorcycle manager. He and I struck up a great conversation on the new bike. He asked where I bought it, and we had a wonderful conversation about how the dealers in New England range from well liked and respected to absolutely hated because of their sales tactics. The dealer I bought from was on neither list. I guess that is good.
After walking around for a bit and watching the little kids interact with the burros it was time to move on. No stickers available for my bike. Note to store owners in nice little towns–spend $100 and get some bike sized stickers made up. Us old kids like to put stickers on our side boxes. Yes, I know its silly. But I bought one souvenir on this trip, and the rest was spent on stickers. Yes Mary, I am bringing home a new coffee mug.
We like to put stickers on stuff, just like every little boy. Every sticker is a story.
Finally, I was off heading down the road to Phoenix..still several hours away.
The road out of Oatman was wonderful. The old Route 66 into Kingman brought me down from the mountains and into the valley.
From that point out it was straight and flat–right down to Route 60 and into Phoenix. The problem with setting your GPS to avoid highways is that in a city like Phoenix the trip will take you literally half an hour more–without traffic–due to the traffic lights every half a mile or so. From now on, I will hit the highways going into the cities.
Sitting in the waiting room at Victory BMW in Chandler, AZ. Getting the oil changed and getting the idiot lights fixed. They were being idiotic because of the idiot who set up the bike.
So, now I am in Phoenix.
This morning I had to get the bike serviced. The oil and filter needed changing. And the idiots lights had been flashing on and off for the past couple of days–telling me my lights were not working or the ABS system was down, or the Automatic Suspension Control system wasn’t working. This was happening mostly while driving on rough road.
Evidently, the folks that prepped the bike did not insert a little piece of foam when installing the battery. So the battery has been jumping around for 6,000 miles. And the leads came loose. And every time the lead to the battery became disconnected for a portion of a second, the on board computer would try to diagnose the problem.
It was like I was teasing the on board computer, and it went all HAL 9000 on me. Had I gone on further I don’t think the pod bay doors would be opened for me.
But, an hour later and $95 donated to the local BMW dealership, I am good to go. Tomorrow we start the long ride home. I am already starting to put together the list of things that I have to do when I get there. If I could figure out somewhere to go that I havent been to yet (and a way to fund it–and a way to get a new seat for the bike) I would extend it.
But that’s not going to happen.
Time to grow up and put my toys away.