Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kingman Arizona - Oatman and Bullhead City

We were up before 6:00 AM and had an early breakfast of cereal and blueberries. I did some blog work and was only one day behind when I got done. That won't last for long. The temperature was 29C (85F) when we headed over to Ed and Carl's at 8:00 to start our ride. Carl wasn't able to go with us today because of a dentist appointment but Ed had his Vulcan ready and they had one of their tricked out Kawasaki KLR650 dual sports for Sherm to ride.

After stopping for fuel, we followed Old Route 66 through town and out through a canyon. Then the terrain flattened as we paralleled I-40 for a ways before turning to head across the valley towards the mountains in the distance. As we started up, we made our first stop at Cool Springs. As Sherm pointed out, there was nothing cool about the place except for the antiques that were on display. A man was patching concrete and I found he had been a cement contractor in Chicago for 30 years employing 22 people until the business folded in the 2008 crash. He said many easterners were coming out here and I suggested it was like The Grapes of Wrath, except with city folk instead of farmers. The temperature was not yet 100F as we continued on.

The concrete man warned me to be careful on the road we were traveling to Oatman because of some treacherous corners. It was tight with some unprotected drops but not a real concern except for how the slow pace and steady climb to Sitgreaves Pass was affecting the marginal GoldWing cooling system. The gauge finally pinned past the red into the letter H (for hot) but, following my discussions with Willie Wonka at SEVROC, I ignored it. This made the ride much less stressful than it would have been before the talk and the bike made it to the top without spewing coolant all over.

From Sitgreaves, we wound our way back down past some newly repopened gold mines to the town of Oatman. It is named for Olive Oatman, a survivor of the famous Oatman Massacre, who was held captive for years by local indians before being returned to European society. Her story is quite remarkable. The town is now known for its unique businesses that keep the old west alive as well as its burros. When we arrived, there were no burros to be seen so we walked the streets before heading to the Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon for lunch. Sandy and Sherm had peach fry bread covered with ice cream and whipped cream while I had a BLT and potato chips and Ed only had fries and a diet Coke. There was a crew of German Harley riders dressed again in leathers and other paraphernalia, which looked cool but I'm sure wasn't as the thermometer neared 100F in the blazing sun.

Leaving the restaurant, a number of burros had appeared as if by magic. Since we had no carrots, they pretty much ignored us and we headed west out of town before they shut the street down for the daily gunfight. We continued on down and turned towards Bullhead City, the Arizona town that sits across the Colorado River from the Nevada casino town of Laughlin. All I remember was the never-ending line of stoplights that seemed to turn red just as we got to them and the ever increasing heat, which hit 112 F before we got out of town. We stopped at an air conditioned convenience store where Sandy and I each chugged a bottle of Gator-Ade to replenish our electrolytes. A word to the wise. Don't leave your GPS in the hot sun at 112F. When I fired it back up, it started displaying all manner of alien characters until I shut it off and started over. Who knew a Zumo could get heat stroke?

The climb out of Bullhead on Arizona 68 was one of the stiffest climbs I can remember on a major road. We went all the way up to 3,571 feet through Union Pass blazing by trucks that were barely moving and, despite a drop to 36C (97F) on the Wing readout, the temperature gauge pinned again. Good thing Willie told me not to worry about it. From the pass, we descended to the valley floor and rode back to Kingman where the 95F temperature seemed rather nice. Carl was waiting when we pulled in to his place and, after a brief visit, we went back to Judy's and went inside. Sandy was beat and had a nap after showing us the mottling the heat had caused in her upper legs.

Later in the afternoon, we went and got a few items at WalMart, where the cash machine at the self checkout shortchanged Sherm when it ran out of cash. They actually have a system in place to be able to confirm this. We also looked at Autozone for some White Diamond metal polish but they never heard of it. It looks from the website that it is only at Advance Auto Parts, which doesn't seem to have any locations in Arizona or California. There are lots in Denver and Cheyenne so I will get some on the way home and then make my ratty old aluminum wheels all nice and shiny.

Back at the house, Sherm couldn't find his phone. I called his number and a nice lady at WalMart answered. We headed back there and I went in and retrieved it from the Customer Service desk. Then we went for Chinese fast food at Panda Express. It wasn't bad. Well fed, we stopped by Staples where I bought a 0.5 TB WD USB hard drive for backups and archives on the road. Then we toured Old Town before returning to the house where our beds were calling. It was an excellent but tiring day.

Today's Photos

Some of the photos today will appear washed out.  We're not sure how the exposure compensation setting on Sandy's camera got set to +1 1/3rd but I didn't catch and correct it until the end of the day.

Ready to go at Ed and Carl's

Another DamBar on Route 66

The turnoff to old town Kingman

Not hard to tell you are on Route 66

Challenging terrain for a railroad

The canyons out of Kingman

And then it was flat....

....but the horizon is interesting

Another beaut of a butte

Cool Springs Arizona

Sandy taking care of business

I'll bet these haven't pumped fuel in a while

I think this is still a working truck

Not quite 100F

It ain't easy being green

Hiding in the shade

There is a flag up there

Desert rocks

Sitgreaves Pass (the Wing is cooling down)

It was a good, twisty climb

Sherm in Sitgreaves Pass

They have some rudimentary barriers in a few spots

Following Ed downgrade to Oatman

Ed, Sandy and I winding down
(Photo by Sherm)

A great road

Oatman Arizona

Sherm on the borrowed KLR650

Mining town humour

Burros are the Oatman trademark

This bit of history was closed for renovations

The story as we know it

Olive Oatman Restaurant and Saloon

More German Harley riders

Interesting stained glass window in the Olive Oatman

Sandy's lunch - peach fry bread, ice cream and whipped cream

Getting ready to chow down

This sounds interesting

Tell me it doesn't get hot here

This is an old one

Main (only) street in Oatman

At last, the burros

Extorting carrots from the visitors

Little ones learn early

So we went to Bullhead City

42C = 107F but it went to 112

Laughlin Nevada across the Colorado River

It is a dry heat but it is still really, really hot

Carl called this Finger Rock - along Arizona 68

Union Pass - 3,571 feet

Carl and Ed back at their house

4-8-4 Northern No. 3759 on display in Kingman

Sandy's heat rash

Today's Route (111 motorcycle miles):

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