Wild West

Woohoo,  finally the day I get to ride Route 66 from Kingman to Oatman, AZ!!  I had heard good things about the route prior to leaving for the trip and have always had a bit of a fascination for the mother road so it was quite exciting to be on my way.  After another quick continental breakfast, I was on the road heading toward the small mining town.

Route 66 West of Kingman

Route 66 cut through the desert making its way toward the Black Mountains, as always the desert awed me with its unique beauty.  Before entering the twisty section of the ride, I decided I should stop for a quick drink and rest, low and behold there sat Cool Springs Station an oasis that marks the entrance to the Black Mountains.  Originally built in the 1920’s, it was left to ruins in the 1960’s after Route 66 was bypassed.  In 2001, restoration began on Cool Springs with it reopening in 2004.

I grabbed a pop and a couple of Route 66 stickers for the bike and did some exploring around the store.  Part of the store houses a museum dedicated to the story of Route 66 and Cool Springs, there was a load of cool memorabilia (and most importantly old pictures).  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera into the store so I didn’t get any pictures of the inside, but there are some nice ones on the website linked previously.

Outside, a group of riders had just pulled into the station’s parking lot and we struck up a conversation.  They were a group of guys from Kingman and Bullhead City (one was originally from Michigan) that got together on weekends for rides – they were also heading along Route 66 for a day in Oatman.

Couldn’t resist taking this picture, it screamed Route 66 to me!!

The next 13 miles into Oatman was definitely the most interesting and challenging part of the day’s route with switchback upon switchback and a very distracting (beautiful) beautiful landscape.  I had to chuckle when I came around a corner to see a “Burro Crossing” sign 🙂

Sitgreaves Pass

Beautiful Scenery along the route

As I pulled into the old town, I could see it was quite the attraction with a ton of people milling about in the streets.  Finally, I spotted several of the famous Oatman burros, wild burros that roam around the town begging carrots and the like from tourist.  From what I’ve read, they are descendents of the burros that miners left when abandoning the town.  They wander down into the town during the day and return to the mountains at nightfall.

The view down Oatman’s Main St.

A couple of Oatman’s burros

Random Oatman Pics

Cowboys of Oatman’s shootout

Since my destination for the evening was Tulara, CA, 7 hours from Oatman, I figured I should mosey on out of town and be on my way.  The remainder of the ride to Needles, CA was quite pretty, I was amazed at all the green fields as I got closer to the Colorado River.  At a cool 95 degrees, the heat radiating off the pavement was overwhelming, but at least it was a dry heat 🙂

After what seemed like endless miles of lonely rolling desert hills (and power lines) I finally reached civilization in the form of Barstow, CA where I would begin to make my way north.  The section of road from Barstow to the Tehachapi Mountains was, despite the traffic, one of the most lonely feeling roads I had been on thus far.  For some reason it just had a very eerie feeling, though I did get to see some very large Joshua Trees along the road and the town of Boron, CA where borax is mined (think 20 Mule Team Borax cleaner).  Through to the Tehachapi’s I saw endless miles of wind farms – I can understand why they were there, it was blowing hard!!

After after a couple more hours of green fields, fruit orchards and palm trees, I reached my final destination and checked in for the night.  A little KFC hit the spot before quickly falling asleep.


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