The man in the video shop in Needles, when he found out where we were staying, told us that 'Spirit Mountain' is the white mountain that can be seen from pretty much everywhere around here. It is up the river behind Laughlin and is a white mountain that stands out from all the red and black and tan ones around.
Needles, California seems to be a friendly town and is one of the quaint, historic places along Old US Route 66. We looked around to see what folks did to earn a living and then I asked the young woman in the KFC what industry supported Needles. She said "Oh, well. They make some things..." When I asked what, she said didn't know because she had just moved here from Northern California! Judging by the automobiles in the park 'n' ride lot by the railroad station a lot of the population must commute elsewhere for work.
We went to the Chamber of Commerce where we usually ask about industry but the lady there was so excited about a city council meeting the night before that we got sidetracked talking about the Harvey House and how it is to be restored if the city can purchase it from Santa Fe Railroad... last night they agreed to negotiate. It is an immense, deserted building that still looks sturdy enough to support a new life as a visitor/museum/chamber center for the city. I guess the person with the money intends to restore several of the Harvey Houses but the one stipulation is that they cannot be owned by the railroad.
Needles heats up to 125° in the summer but a lot of the folks just stay there and tough it out. It doesn't seem to be a wealthy community at all, and it's charm is in the Old Route 66 district and it's waterfront property. People stay at the RV Parks and resorts here and travel by bus, plane and boat to Laughlin for big city life.
Across the river and north on SR 95 is Mojave Valley, Arizona, where we are staying.
The woman in the Needles laundromat said the the casino next to us was known for great cheeseburgers so we unloaded the laundry when we got home and went to the casino for 'lunner' ... a combination of lunch and dinner that we usually do. It saves one meal's cost, calories and mess. We also dropped a few quarters. I came away with $1 more than I went with but Steve didn't fare so well. However, comma, our losses are never great because of a $20 limit we have. I used $3.75 worth of leftover laundry quarters and played for an hour or so. Not bad.
Wednesday was day two of hideous wind. I love everything about Arizona except the wind... oh, and the snakes, scorpions and spiders.... but it is winter (hard to believe down here) and they are all hibernating. (I hope).
We're learning some new things... one of which is the use of Phone Cards. I'd never used one other than my long distance carrier card when I had a real phone. What we've learned so far that Wal Mart is not the place to buy one. Other than that they are a pretty useful addition to a travelers possible bag.
After a chilly night the wind was still howling around the rig and whistling in all the windows that never seem to fit down tight enough.
There's always a downside of living this lifestyle. Our heater is malfunctioning and we will have to replace it... not that we ever want to be anywhere where we would use it, but it happens. Steve found a furnace in Phoenix, via the internet, and called to have it sent out by UPS.
We headed out for Oatman, to escape the wind (ha!) and to check out the Blackstone RV Park on the way. It looks nicer than this one but has no phone hook-ups or trees. Oatman was a kick. The burros, the people, the gunfights, the ambiance, the rickety old buildings, covered sidewalks and narrow street. Yes. I said 'street' not streets. We bought some carrots to feed the burros. They just wander up and down the street looking for handouts. When there is not enough tourist traffic and the townspeople don't feed the as they usually do, they just wander out into the hilly desert to graze.They are so cute... all fuzzy and furry with their winter coats.
Clark Gable and Carol Lombard spent their wedding night in the Oatman Hotel after getting married in Kingman. They got married in Arizona to avoid the blood test wait in California.
It was cold and windy in Oatman also, but not nearly as windy as it was down here in the valley.
From Oatman we followed the back country original Route 66 to Kingman. The beauty in the Black Mountains defies description. The twisting, cliff-hanging, narrow road is much the same as it was years ago along this stretch. It must have been an frightful challenge to the folks who packed up their families and all their worldly goods in a Model T and headed west to find a better life. It probably took them all day to cross desert-hot Golden Valley between the Hualapai Mountains and the Black Mountains. A historical marker along the way said many travelers would have locals drive their vehicles over the difficult mountain road in the cool of the evening. (On our return trip from Kingman we crossed the Black Mountains at sunset, but on straight, wide SR 68.)
In Kingman we followed Old Route 66 almost the length of the town, stopped at the visitors center... an old converted powerhouse that has model electric trains running all around in it... had dinner at a Sonic (fast food drive-in) and headed back through town to pick up SR 68 and head for Bullhead City and SR 95.
The Golden Valley, between the Hualapai Mts. and the Black Mountains is an immense expanse totally dotted with homes... trailers, RVs, manufactured homes, and 'original' homes. It's difficult to describe just what it looks like, but the sun was just setting over the mountains and the houses sparkled and reflected the sun's light making the high desert valley appear to be sprinkled with gold. That may be why they call it Golden Valley. The lots must all be 1 acre plus because the houses are distant from one another but spread out all over. With no industry or agriculture visible it must be a snowbird haven.
We were treated to several 'sunsets' as we moved westward, and cresting the last ridge to look down on the Colorado valley, Laughlin and Bullhead City bustling with activity and sparkling with neon was awesome. It is quite a sight to see. We headed for home with the wind pushing us all the way.
Friday we headed back to Bullhead City to get the truck serviced and washed and then explored the part of the city that is closer to the river. There is more of the city on the riverside of the highway than on the other side and there are some really nice places along the riverbank side of the closest road to the water. The lots (and houses) are long from the water back to the road, and narrow across, and the houses seem smunched together, but there is no way to reasonably grow grass anyway, so who needs a big yard. Not too sure what industry provides jobs for folks other than construction, tourism and service people for the casinos across the river.
The city is really spread out along SR 95 on both sides. The people are really friendly and helpful, but there is way... way... too much traffic. It is hard to get out onto the highway or make left turns almost any time of the day. We found a stained glass shop called 'A Touch of Glass'! (the name of our old stained glass studio)Imagine that.
The barbershop Steve wanted to go to in Fort Mojave on the way back was already closed ... at 4 p.m.... so we got a propane tank filled, did some grocery shopping... at a Safeway store!... and headed home. We have actually found a couple of Safeway stores in this area.
Saturday we met Bill and Jean, who are from near Seattle and have come here for a few winters and Carol (male) who hides here from winters in Nevada. They all usually stayed at a RV resort we were thinking about moving to, but a dispute occurred between Bill and Jean and the manager of the park so they moved over to here. Carol, the other fellow who had spent many winters at that resort said when he called this year the manager simply said he couldn't come in. Needless to say we have rethought our plans to spend a month there.
Anyway, Bill, a rock carver, showed me some of the things he had done... a beautiful peace pipe and some little bears, a roadrunner and a Wiley coyote. I brought Bill, Jean and Carol home to see Steve's stuff and we all had a nice chat in the warm afternoon sun.
Valentines Day. I told Steve not to give me a card, just the money he would spend for it and then I could go over to the casino and see if I could double it!! Well, he did, and I did and I didn't. But, hey, my birthday is coming up! I guess we won't be near the casino then, though.
We drove around locally a bit this evening and decided that if we had some money to put into it we would build a really nice RV resort by the Colorado River. This Mojave Valley is handy to Laughlin and Las Vegas, to Kingman and Oatman, to Parker and Lake Havasu, and to Quartzsite. It's got a great climate and the folks are easy goin'.
It is a proof reader's nightmare however.... sometimes they spell Mojave with a j and sometimes they spell it with a h and I haven't figured out the pattern yet. This is kind of a bilingual problem where g's and l's are y's and when you hear a word and then see it written you don't recognize it. Saguaro = sah-wah'-ro; Gila = hee-la. Hmm, I wonder if since it is now in Arizona it is called the Yun-don Bridge?!? At Yake Havasu?
We'll leave here Tuesday morning. Don't know where to, we'll keep you posted though.
2-15-99 - Til further notice.... Fran & Steve
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Last modified on: February, 11 1999.