JIMMY HOFFA, AN ARIZONA GHOST TOWN AND VALENTINES DAY
What do Jimmy Hoffa, a scenic Arizona ghost town, and Valentines Day have in common? To be honest the only connection I can find is they all tie into our Valentines Day adventure.
For several weeks my wife and I had talked of a lunch in Chloride, about twenty miles north of Kingman, and then a drive to Windy Point high in the Cerbat Mountains above this dusty old Arizona mining town. After several weeks of postponements due to a string of winter storms, I decided that Valentines Day was the perfect opportunity for the lunch if not the drive to the mountain top.
So, after work on Saturday we saddled up and headed north for Chloride, an historic mining town that dates to the 1860s. We chose to take US 93 because the old highway from Mineral Park Road to Chloride crosses a number of washes and requires the fording of a small stream even during the months of summer.
As we rolled into Chloride it was easy to see that a drive to Windy Point was something that would have to be saved for another day. The snow line on the towering peaks was far lower than the ridge line along which Big Wash Road runs.
I have always enjoyed Chloride. There is an anemic effort among business owners and the chamber of commerce to lure the tourist from the main road that runs five miles to the south but for the most part it is a sleepy little community of a few hundred souls.
My wife’s family has a long association with this old town. Her grandfather worked in the Tennessee-Schullyhill mine, the deepest in Arizona, during the 1930s. Filled with happy childhood memories his son retired here.
My son and his cousins also enjoyed many a happy hour here riding ATV’s down the quiet streets and into the surrounding desert. I can’t count the times we enjoyed the pleasant company of my wife’s uncle here or the laughter of the kids as they toasted marshmallows in the back yard, and the comforting smell of a mesquite fire under a clear desert sky filled with stars that seemed close enough to touch.
The family element is now gone. The cousins all live in California, my son is a grown man, and my wife’s uncle and grandfather have passed away.
So, this Valentines Day in Chloride it was just my wife and I, a small herd of fond memories, and a cowboy crooner who wasn’t half bad. As always the food at Yesterday’s was a cut above average (I had the grilled bird sandwich), the coffee was excellent, and the atmosphere was tailor made for our liking – simple, quaint, old fashioned, and not to touristy.
The perfect desert after a good meal and good coffee shared with a great friend is a long walk in the cool mountain air. After strolling the quiet streets of Chloride we decided that an afternoon this perfect needed an encore so we decided to add one of our favorite drives, old Route 66 from the Colorado River to Kingman.
This meant traversing the future metropolis that is Golden Valley as well as the generic world of suburban Bullhead City but the reward was worth the price. For a treasure as wonderful as seeing the deep shadowing of the Black Mountains frosted with patches of snow, the iconic buttes and mesas standing in stark contrast to the snow covered mountains on the horizon, and being able to enjoy the view from Shaffers Fish Bowl Springs with my best friend I would gladly battle the traffic of Los Angeles and Phoenix.
Now, let me explain how Jimmy Hoffa ties into our Valentines date. As we enjoyed our delighful lunch the staff at Yesterday’s was taking down the banners and party decorations from the previous evenings festivities.
It would seem Yesterday’s had hosted Jimmy Hoffa’s 96 birthday bash on Friday night. The waitress noted that even though the guest of owner was invited, he failed to show up – again.