Day Seven ~ Oatman to Lake Havasu City

Oatman Travel Blog

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Welcome to Oatman, Arizona.

Our room at the Comfort Inn in Kingman was sitting right on historic Route 66, which would take us to the tiny town of Oatman, Arizona.  All we had to do was pull out of the parking lot and turn right.   Once we passed out of the Kingman city limits, the well-maintained 4-lane highway changed into a narrow twisty-turny road with no shoulders and in desperate need of repair. 

Oatman is a mining town in the Black Mountains of Mohave County, Arizona.  It began as a tent camp after two prospectors struck a $10 million gold find in 1915.  Along this forsaken stretch of Route 66 were many indications that this was once a productive mining community.

Oatman tee-shirt shops.
  Tall chainlink fences with numerous strands of razor wire on top served as a reminder that trespassers were not welcome.  I would imagine that anyone curious enough to get inside these fences would be met with the business end of a shotgun.   We later found out that these mines are only closed temporarily because gold is trading at such a low price.  When the price gets up where it should be, the mine will again be up and running at full capacity.  So in the meantime, the No Trespassing signs should be taken very seriously.

Beware ~ Wild Burros Next 20 Miles.  These warnings were posted all along the road so Jerry and Randy kept their eyes peeled for the elusive wild burro.  Where could they be?  No burros in sight.  The road began a gradual descent into a valley between the mountains.

Begging for a snack
  This was the town of Oatman and this is where the burros can be found.   Burros everywhere.   All sizes and colors.  Every one of them begging for carrots, their favorite snack.  They crossed the road with no regard to traffic.  They walked on the wooden plank sidewalks in front of the stores.   It appeared that these delightful little creatures ruled the town. 

Yes, they are wild, although they appear very tame.  They are actually descended from pack animals turned loose by early prospectors and are protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior.  They roam the streets freely and can be hand-fed "burro chow" and carrots, both readily available in every store in town.

The Oatman Hotel has an interesting story.

Oatman Hotel (in background) provided Clark Gable and Carole Lombard a get-away for their wedding night.
  It seems that when Clark Gable and Carol Lombard married in Kingman on March 18, 1939, they had to sneak away from the pesty reporters in order to have any privacy at all.  Oatman was just a short drive away on Route 66, so they managed to make their "get-away"and spend their honeymoon night at the Oatman Hotel.

Downtown Oatman consist of a dozen or so stores and several cafes and ice cream shops.  The four of us separated with no fear of getting lost in the tiny town.  Of course, it was absolutely necessary to buy new tee-shirts declaring "Oatman" so we would be sure and remember where we had been, just in case we forget.  Jan and I bought some small odd-and-end memorabilia before we headed on down the road.  We were able to investigate every square inch of the small mining community in about an hour.

The London Bridge moved from London, England, to the middle of the desert and strategically rebuilt over the man-made Lake Havasu.
  The sun was quickly climbing high into the sky and the temperatures were climbing, too.

We figured we had about a two-hour ride across the desert before we would stop for lunch in Lake Havasu City.   Once we crossed into the city, it was easy to find the celebrated London Bridge.  There it was, just sitting there, spanning beautiful Lake Havasu, like it had no memory of it's previous home over the River Thames.  The bridge spanned the River Thames in England for 130 years before it was sold to Robert McCulloch (chainsaw McCulloch) on April 18, 1968.

Mr. McCulloch had the bridge dismantled block by block and shipped to Long Beach, California, where it was then trucked to Lake Havasu for reconstruction.

Randy hiding behind Jan with London Bridge in the background
  Forty men worked from September 23, 1968, to October 10, 1971, to reassemble the 30,000 tons of granite.  The bridge was built on land and when completed, a channel was dredged to allow the lake to flow under the bridge.  Total cost of relocating the bridge to Lake Havasu City was $7.5 million. 

We found an air-conditioned restaurant that overlooked the lake and the bridge.  It was nice to sit and enjoy the food and the view out the large picture window.  After lunch, we strolled along the lake's edge.  The temperature had soared to 106.  Oh, my.  We were indeed in the middle of the Mohave Desert and it was HOT!  Several local residents were enjoying the lake, too, and we struck up a conversation.  The man-made lake actually serves as "air conditioning" for the city and today's temperatures are not uncommon.

Shriveled Saguaro Cactus
  Without the lake to "cool" things off, it would probably be 115 or more!  Fortunately, we spied an ice cream shop beside the busy road.  We weren't hungry but we sure were HOT and an air-conditioned ice cream shop was terribly inviting.  Forty-five minutes inside the shop, snacking on delicious ice cream, helped pass the time but it didn't do anything for the smoldering weather.  We had procrastinated long enough.   Tucson was our next stop and we had a good five or six hour ride in front of us.  Time to hit the hot pavement.

We rode south on Hiway 95 as it followed the Colorado River into the edge of California.  This made Jerry happy.  Now he could tell all his friends back home that he rode his motorcycle all the way to California.

Sun setting behind the Gila Bend Mountains
  That would be true, even if it was in the middle of nowhere.  Interstate 10 East would take us right into the middle of Phoenix, but we took a detour on 85 South in order to avoid the busy city.  The giant saguaro cactus were standing at attention on every hillside and in every piece of flat desert wasteland all alongside the highway.  They were shriveled and looked rather pitiful.  This indicated to me that they had not seen any significant rainfall in some time.  As the sun dropped down behind the Gila Bend Mountains, the sky was turning every shade of orange.  "Please pull over for just a minute."  It was almost sundown and we would soon be riding in the dark.   But I needed a picture.  Thankfully, Randy was nice enough to comply with my wishes.

Gila Bend was as far as we could go today.  Tired and weary from hours of riding in scorching heat, we needed a tall glass of iced tea, dinner, a shower, and a comfortable bed.  In that order.  Everything we needed was right here in this small city.  Tomorrow would be another day.

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Welcome to Oatman, Arizona.
Welcome to Oatman, Arizona.
Oatman tee-shirt shops.
Oatman tee-shirt shops.
Begging for a snack
Begging for a snack
Oatman Hotel (in background) provi…
Oatman Hotel (in background) prov…
The London Bridge moved from Londo…
The London Bridge moved from Lond…
Randy hiding behind Jan with Londo…
Randy hiding behind Jan with Lond…
Shriveled Saguaro Cactus
Shriveled Saguaro Cactus
Sun setting behind the Gila Bend M…
Sun setting behind the Gila Bend …
photo by: brett4321