THE JOYS OF A SUNDAY DRIVE
After nearly a week of storms this morning dawned clear and cold with temperatures hovering just above twenty degrees. A thick layer of frost covered the Jeep, the neighboring roofs, and the old Adventurer. It was a perfect day for a Sunday drive, a grand adventure on the old double six.
So after the traditional Sunday morning activities we gassed up the Jeep and headed west across the Sacramento Valley, into the Black Mountains, and on to Oatman. Stop one was Fishbowl Springs just to the east of the summit at Sitgreaves Pass.
I have been stopping here to immerse myself in the history, the stunning views, and to bask in some of God’s finest handiwork for more than forty years. On our first visits during the mid 1960s there was a tree and picnic table here.
For most of the past thirty years I been fortunate enough to share the simple joys of these springs with my dearest friend. Does it get better than this?
Today our visit was picture perfect. The weather was a brisk forty degrees with no breeze. The skies were clean and blue, the mountains on the far horizons frosted with snow, and it was so quiet you could hear the cactus wren in the brush and the sound of water trickling over the rocks below.
As I have a very full plate right now the inital game plan was to return after a visit to the springs. However, the day was so perfect we just could not bear the thought of a fast return.
So we continued west over Sitgreaves Pass, the site of Snell’s Summit Station, a gas station that was well known for its ice cream and sandwiches when this was still the main street of America. When we moved to the area in the summer of 1966, the old visible register pumps still stood on the concrete slabs in front of the ruins.
Both sides of the pass are scarred by the path of a pipeline but the scenery here is so stunning even this is but a small distraction.
Evidence abounds in signs about private property, expanding tailings, and equipment on improved roads into the side canyons that mining is again transforming the old town site of Goldroad. This historic mining camp dates to 1903 but little remains and even these faint traces are fast vanishing.
Oatman is, well, Oatman. Kitchey tourism has transformed the old town into a rustic Disneyland, a curious blend of gift shops, buildings built to appear old and condemned, and a few surviving remnants that give the once booming mining camp a new and dubious lease on life.
As a kid Oatman was really kind of neat even if most everything was closed and boarded up. It had a feel of realism, a sense of mystery, and palpable history.
Times change. If it wasn’t for the new found fame chances are the old town would today resemble Goldroad.
The Route 66 trivia for the day pertains to these two venerable old mining towns. Both date to the early 1900s even though initial mining exploration began in the area during the 1860s.
In Goldroad, a service station offered either towing or a driver for those intimidated by the steep grades or whose vehicle was incapable of making the steep climb to the summit for the pass. The driver was often a kid of 15 or 16 that traded his pay for ice cream before the return walk from Snell’s Summit Station.
Gas prices are a far cry from the days when a gallon at the summit station sold for .19 but it is still tough to beat the simple joy found in a Sunday drive, especially if you are sharing it with a friend and the drive is on Route 66.
Now, a bit of shameless self promotion. If you would like to know more about Goldroad, Oatman, or the dozens of mining towns in the Kingman area I respectively suggest a copy of my latest book, Ghost Towns of the Southweshttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=widgetsamazon-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0760332215&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrt.
On a final note, a new page has been added to the companion website, Route 66 Info Center. Here you will be able to share tips, vent, post photos, and in general develop an online community of like minded travelers.