“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” ~Anonymous
As I promised, it’s time for my short story, entitled “Klaudia and Monika on Route 66”, but that story will have a little different and for sure better ending. Of course, it’s story about a road. And what every story about the road needs?
And not any car.
Because if you want to drive down Route 66, you need to do it classy.
So this is how that beautiful, graphite Ford Mustang took us on our adventure on legendary Route 66. According to Google Maps road starts (or ends) in village called Kingman. This is were at 1 o’clock in the morning we were trying to find a place to sleep (where of course we could sleep without being affraid about rented car stolen or distroyed). Finally we found pretty, cozy motel, my mum’s dream, you know that kind where people stops during thunderstorm in American horrors and get murdered there.
But, in the morning we woke up alive and headed down (or East). So first thing, if you think you’ll find a little rusted sign with number 66 on it, on every mile of the road, you’re wrong. I thought that, but I wasn’t super disappointed. For most of the time road looks like that:
No homes, no gas stations, one other car every 5 minutes.
But finally we got to something… Amazing.
It wasn’t gas station probably, it wasn’t also a store. Maybe shop with souvenirs. Or the only base(?) on the road? Two things I know for sure, it was in the middle of nowhere and it was one of the amazing places I’ve ever seen.
I was curious if they have lots of clients (five minutes after we got there, there was ten other cars). Seller said plenty, but mostly from abroad (behind the cash desk he had almost all kinds of bills from all over the world). Apparently Americans prefer faster and easier drive on the highway that goes paraller with the route.
At the end (or at the beginning) of the road is village called Flagstaff, they say old, for sure pretty. What I can recomend there is alpine pizza in really pretty restaurant on Leroux St., really similar to those I saw in Austria or Switzerland. But remember, don’t trust their descriptions, individual pizza is enough for lunch for two women.
Driving from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon you can see closed (I think, last eruption had place in 1085) Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument with ruins of indian village. Unfortunately, because of 20$ fee for entrance to bothe places and 5 pm on a clock, we decided to see only the first one from far. Even this way it was impresive.
According to my guide road from Flagstaff supposed to have better lookout at canyon (I won’t confirm that, we took another one when it was dark), for sure was full of Navajo indians and their markets with jewellery and those special rugs.
Then, well. Grand Canyon. What should I say? What was my first impression? You pay 30$, turn into “first view” and what you see? Ha! Probably you expect me to say: great red rocks, amazing, breathtaking views. Well… No. First thing you see is a parking lot with tens of cars and hundreds of people with children, without children, with small cameras, big cameras with lots of kinds of hats to cover their heads or faces from hot sun.
So, if you want to connect with nature and run away from tourists for sure you will not find peace in “first view” or in the village.
But what can I say? You leave your car on that parking lot, you take your camera, you take your hat and together with your kind you go to see that first view. You feel excited, you feel hot, you smell your neighbour’s sweat. And then… You forget. Forget about people, forget about heat, forget about smell. This time you feel that weird feeling in your belly, in your stomach, that full you with joy and pride, because you saw. You saw THE Grand Canyon.
On the drive to the village you can have plenty of possibilities to watch that view from other perpective. Some of places are more crowded, some are less, everytime you can find a way to make your own path, to see something other way, by yourself, when all other people stay in exact special place.
I told you already about the village once or twice. Most of that place are just very intresting hotels and cabins, from that place goes also most of the trials. My adventurous soul couldn’t stop thinking about getting on one, but unfortunately no time and no good equipment had to stop me.
But at least they had delicious and big Reese’s ice cream.
What everybody who ever been in Grand Canyon and every webpage will tell you? You HAVE TO SEE SUNSET. And what I will tell you- at least 30 minutes before find yourself nice, not crowded place with a good view. I don’t want you to end like we, driving like crazy from place to place, looking for that wasn’t already covered in shade and which didn’t look like California beach in the middle of season.
When you find one, just wait.
This is how my last evening being teenager looked like. About my teenager-last dinner… Remember when I told you about big two-person pizza? No. I wasn’t kidding.
And a little “joke”.
In Poland we have Bambis running on the road.
In Arizona the have….
… mountain lions!
Best regards, Klaudia, terrified of mountain lions in convertible car, with roof down.
Now, let’s get back to, for sure not less beautiful, Nevada. And exactly to Nelson, village an hour drive south from Las Vegas.
It looks cool, doesn’t it? Just next to Nelson there is a Ghost Town with old gold mine, in the past the most populated village around, now with only 7 citizens, who live in creepy houses, so they can match surronding. But they say inside they are very modern.
If you’ll ever be there and you’ll hear a name Bobby, don’t call any men working there with that name. Bobby is a woman.
So the whole town are: souvenirs store, together with museum and “front desk”, where they want you to check in first (they need to warn you about rattlesnakes and cactus with spikes that can go through your sheo); 3 or 4 houses with hundreds of signs “private property” like in horror movies; lot of abandoned machines and vehicles, starting with motorcycles, with airplane ending; and one old mine, that goes 3 miles underground.
Have ever thought they have snow in Nevada?? Me neither. But they do! In 2008 (more or less) they had snow for whole week!
The mine is pretty intresting, but don’t think you’ll wondering around the tunnels for more than hour. Most of the time you just listen stories and legends from a guide.
I will share the best of them with you.
Let’s start with famous Queho: Renegade Indian. We still don’t know if he was a killer or an innocant man, wrongly accused for unresolved crimes.
Queho was born at the end of XIX century close to Nelson, NV. He commited his first crime, according to newspapers in 1910, his victim was another indian- Bismark. In 1911 he was suspected of murdering 5 other people, most of them were results of street fights or depts. As his cache he chose Eldorado Canyon. After many years there was reward $3000 for Queho “dead or alive” and he could “pride” himself on more than 20 kills and was called Nevada’s Public Enemy No 1.
In 1940 in a cave in Eldorado Canyon some men found body that later was identified as the indian.
Intresting part of that story was way how they connected all those kills to Queho. Our guide told us Queho was a worker in the mine. During work miners were exposed for injuries and they haven’t got money and possibility to get medical help. Queho could have his ankle (leg, whatever) broken, that haven’t cured correctly. Theoretically they found very strange tracks on crime scene that could be left by Queho’s not very straight legs.
There was lot of conspiracy theories around. For example after John Nash and his two partners found “bridal chamber” (with silver vine in it) both partners died in mysterious circumstances two weeks later.
There is lot of stories about indian workers in mine. According to stories there was one who had jaws so strong he could crush rocks with his teeth.
Once one of indian chiefs was invited for a “party” to Washington, after coming back he said: “Americans too much talk, too much eat, too much drink, no work, no raise pumpkins, corn, watermelons. All time walk, talk and drink… no good.”
What was funny and sad in the same time, in XIX century usually the only sheriff around was 3 days horseback ride away, so very often even murder wasn’t enough reason for sheriff to come to the village.
These days village is apparently famous in showbuisness, there were few music videos recorded, place was also set for few movies. The most famous is “3000 miles to Graceland” with Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell. For those who saw a movie, scene where Costner blow up the gas station wasn’t exactly made with a screenplay. The plan was strength of a blow-up would make the airplane hit the building. Pyrotechnist thought plane would not fall in correct place so blow up the building himself.
A propos the airplane, it was the real airplane bought from the base, few miles away. It still is in the town, right in front of the entrance to the mine.
Like Hollywood, doesn’t it?
I know it’s a lot of reading, and probably you didn’t understand half of it (I can’t be an interpretor), but pls stay with me for two more minutes!
You know, renting a car is an additional, not very small cost, but if you’re there, leave crowded and hot Vegas for one little day and come to Colorado River bank; you can rest a little bit from heat of the desert- cool of in amazing water, so clean, clear and beautiful; rent some boat, kayak, paddleboard or just go jump once or twice from the cliff. It’s worth it, believe me.
I hope that “short” story showed you that not everything on american desert is about Las Vegas.
If you got here, know you’re great!
Let me know what you think 🙂